The Book of Revelation and Church Leadership, PVIII

love lostRead Revelation 2: 1-7

These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstandsYet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.” Revelation 2: 1, 4

How important is it to you to be loved? How important is it to you to love others? How does your church show love? How are these three connected? If you get this, you can grow your church! Thus, consider the ways your church can do to make sure you are a golden lampstand that radiates Christ’s love, and never forget or lose our first love? 

John is asked to write a letter to seven churches, giving them encouragements, blessings, and condemnations. These are areas we all must carefully and seriously examine our own church to see if we are doing our best for His highest! As you read Revelation, consider that each of these seven churches is an actual church, then, and a representation of every church that has ever been, including yours. Read Revelation 2-3 and examine and pray, which one are you?

The letter is a clear proclamation of the sovereignty and eminence of Christ, who stands in authority and judgment to show that He is in charge, that He does care, and that we need to get aligned with His will or else suffer the consequences. His Church is His Church; it does not belong to us even though we are the Church in unity and being. We belong to Him with a distinction and a purpose, we must heed, take to heart, and practice to the best of our abilities and endeavors.

Thus, we need to have the mindset we are in worship and disciple and be effectual stewards of this endeavor to glorify Christ. 

Golden lampstands” refers to God’s Light, as the Church is the light to the world for God’s Glory. Christ is the destiny and pattern we follow and emulate. This shows His care, that Jesus is God and omniscient (all knowing and all seeing), and the One who is to inspire us, lead us and Who we worship.

So, why do so many churches fail and close down?

Because we did not do as we are called to do and as the letter states, as the warning proclaims, remove your lampstand. Judgment will be at hand soon, unless they repent!  The same for us, unless…  Jesus threatens them with judgment if they do not start to love again! This is also a parody of words, since the city of Ephesus had to be removed and then moved. So, is your church a golden lampstand or one whose has flamed out? All you have to do is repent and catch the love again (1 Cor. 13; 1 Thess. 1:3). 

So, keep in mind the principle purpose of the writing is to encourage and chastise them for how they were running their churches (Rev. 2:1-3:22). Which should cause us to heed how we run the ones we are called to steward?

John restated the importance of discipleship and Christian formation so they (we) could be authentic Christians of excellence and distinction, bringing no disrepute to Christ or His Church.

Jesus ends this letter with the importance of listening and heeding His precepts. God wants His Church to succeed, He wants you to succeed. John was fully convinced that Christ would triumph over the forces of Satan and his work in the world. As can we. He then exhorted them to be faithful and discerning between what is false and what is truth, and warned them not to worship the Emperor or to comply with evil, apathy, or compromise.

So what does this come down to?

We are to allow the flow of the Holy Spirit, and to be Love led, Sprit-led and Word led, not self-led, especially with how we lead the Church. A church can only be successful as long as love is penetrating and being modeled from its leadership and members with a zeal for Christ and His love. When love is lost, so is the church (1 Cor. 13; 1 John 4:19)! 

Reflection 

Why do you suppose this church in Ephesus had trouble with loving? Do you think people could become victims of the ‘ugly’ that happens when a key component of doing church is left out? 

What does it mean to your church that Jesus is in charge and that He does care for you? How can this help you be aligned more with His will?

What if your church refuses to heed Christ as Lord? Does He have the right to judge your church? Would you deserve to suffer the consequences? Why do many Christians feel the answers to these questions is “no?” 

What are you going to do now about God’s call to heed Him and love them?

 

The Book of Revelation and Church Leadership, PVI

see ChristHow we are to see Christ 

Revelation 1: 12-16 

The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.  

How would you react if Christ appeared to you as He did with John in this passage? How would this affect the way you lead and manage your church? What can this attitude do to help you be more reverent to Christ in your daily life? 

The image of Christ in this passage is breathtaking. It is not that of the humble servant, Son of man; now it is the immeasurable Sovereign of the universe standing in the heavens, holding the stars. If you have a basic understanding of modern astronomy, you can begin to see this wonder. He was blazing as radiantly as the sun with a voice that thundered as He held the Churches in His grip. John’s only response was to fall face down as dead in total reverence and humility to Christ’s Lordship. Just as we must do when we see Who we serve and Who we give glory to.

A testimony to how we are to see Christ, as LORD, over all, our lives belong to Him, we serve in His church!

Let’s see what the Word has to say with these key words:

“Lampstands.” The image that God is Light refers to the Church as the body of believers and whose duty it is to be a light as a witness for Christ. His character is the Light we follow and proclaim. Christ is the Priest, Head, Lord, and Prime Shepherd of the Church. He is the Object and Reason why we meet and function.

This is what we must get, Who we serve, why we serve, and how we are to serve!

This refers to the O.T. account of how God’s Glory descended into the Tabernacle. How He loved and gives His presence to His Church. Now, our purpose is to point to His glory, as the Church is the light of the world. Christ is the destiny and pattern we follow and emulate. Proclaiming the Church as a lamp stand is saying the Church is significant as the true place of reverence to God, and Christianity is the true practice of Judaism (Gen. 1:3; Ex. 25:31-40; 1 Kings 7:49; Zech. 4:2; Matt. 5:14-16; 18:20; 28:20; John 1:4-5; 8:12; 14:18; Acts 26:13; Eph. 1:10; 5:8-13; Phil. 2:15; 1 John 1:4-5; Rev. 2:9; 3:9).

Like a son of man,” refers to His supremacy, distinction wisdom, honor, respect, dignity and role as Lord Ruler and Love for the believer. Christ appears in overwhelming brilliance and glory that was extremely difficult to put into words, as the world cannot contain His essence. The high priest was dressed in expensive, decorative, full-length girdles and robes. This alludes to Ezekiel and Daniel and portrays Christ as Judge and Ruler over all, especially the Church in which we think we rule. These key words refer to His Glory, Deity, and the victory and conquest over sin, and His guarantee of the final victory in the last days. It also refers to Christ being our High Priest. In context, this is also powerful Trinitarian imagery (Ex. 28:4; 29:5, 29; Lev. 19:32; Ezek. 1:13, 25-28; Prov. 16:31; Isa. 1:18Dan. 7:9-13; 10:5-6; Ezek. 1:25-28; Mark 8:31; Col. 1:16-17; Rev. 1:17-18; 2:27; 3:21;15:6; 17:14; 19:11-16).

“Blazing fire” means God’s penetrating insight and strength, His Sovereignty as Warrior, and His role as victor in the final battle to come. It also refers to the great victories of battle in the O.T. This points to the Transfiguration (Ex. 15:3; Duet. 32: 41-42; Judges 5:31; Isa. 59:17-18; Zech. 14:3; Dan. 10:6; Matt. 13:43; 17:2; Rev. 4:6; 19:11-21).

Bronze… feet” means bearers of God’s throne, and that God is irresistible and firm (Ezek. 1:7; Dan. 10:6)

“Seven stars.” Jewish texts often display angels as stars. In contrast, pagans saw stars as the rulers of their destiny when, in fact, God, who is LORD is that ruler.

Double-edged sword” refers to the Roman “Thracian” sword that a small double edge dagger used as an offensive weapon, it is referring to the power of His Word and the testimony of our Lord. It symbolizes His divine judgment and decisive action (Isa. 4:12; 11:4; 49:2; Eph. 6:17; Heb. 4:12; Rev. 2:12, 16; 6:8; 19:15, 21)

Sun.” Angels are sometimes described as shining like the sun (Isa. 60:1-3, 19-20; Dan. 10:6; Rev. 21:22).

Obviously, this is a figurative, not a literal description of our Lord! Christ is shown as Supreme, and Head over the Church. He controls the Church. Does He control yours, or do you think you do (2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 4:13-15; 5:23; Col. 1:15-20; 1 Tim. 3:1-7; Tit. 1:5-9)?

This passage displays God’s splendor in the best symbolic words and imagery available following Daniel chapter seven, where mere words are insufficient to convey who He is.

Look carefully at these key words. Let them remind us of Who we are to worship, and motivate us in the day to day activities as we give direction and leadership the sheep of His Church. (Rev. 5:6; 14:14; 19:11-13). 

What does it mean to you and your faith that Jesus is the ultimate Priest, Judge, King, and Ruler of the Church?

How and why is it important for a leader to lead by example by going first to the destination to which they are leading others? Can someone lead effectively if they have never been there before, such as teaching of character yet not having it? 

What is the image of Christ to you in this passage? How does this give you more information so you can have a better, healthier concept of who God is? How can this translate into your daily life?