Loyal to Christ?

Thus, this Revelation 17-18 passage is about the marriage of the Lamb to the Church, His dowry being the pain and suffering, His spilt blood that He endured on the cross, something that no one else could pay, so we can be redeemed. Jesus is giving the call to the Bride, His Church, to be pure and faithful and to rejoice in Him.

The theme of a marriage feast shows the joy and celebration we should have in Christ and in His Church. So, Church, your church is to be a celebration of the Majesty, Presence, and Goodness of God.

We respond by solid Biblical teaching, heartfelt worship and discipleship with celebration and devotion.

The themes of the world and things to come are on evil, sin, its judgments, and those who miss it and their mourning; for we who believe, it is about celebration for those who are faithful and loyal while living and practicing the Christian life point to Him. Those of us called to lead and teach must rejoice in God’s faithfulness and their vindication, which points to Him. Sin has been judged and God is glorified; He rewards those who are true to Him.

 

Being Loyal to Christ and His Bride

Read Revelation 17-18

What is the Bride?

As we know, the “Bride” is the Church. This is Christ’s identification with His people and an image of our Redeemer’s intimacy and the community between God and His children.

This is beyond a mere metaphor as it is about the life, love, and joy that a first century marriage celebration represented that Christ shares with us and calls us to share with one another in our covenant of Grace.

And in Revelation, this is also a contrast to the divorce of the harlot and a stern warning to John’s people in his church, to not to cheat on our Lord by way of our pride, false worship, false teaching, or our apathy or arrogance, or anything that gets in the way of us pointing His Bride to the Redeemer (Ex. 22:16; Is. 54:5-7; Hos. 2:19-20; Matt. 9:15; 22:2; John 2:1-3; 3:29; 22:2-14; 2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:25-32; Heb. 2:5; 6:5; 1 John 1:3-10; Rev. 19:7; 21:1-8 ).

The passage goes on to say that evil is judged and condemned while true spirituality in Christ is eternally rewarded and beneficial. This is also about our own vindication, and all the benefits we have when we are in Christ. We are a part of His Kingdom that is being showcased in this passage, so we who are in Christ can sing a loud and clear Hallelujah!

The imagery of Rome in this passage is “Babylon” and may be referring to the persecution and martyrdom the early Christians faced in life under Rome, perhaps as illustration for some of us and reality to many others today and the principle point to his churches. In addition, this is a template for how evil and its power operates in the past, present, as well as in the future. This is about how pastors and church leaders go wrong by chasing themselves and not Christ. This is about how evil does not always know it is evil, because it is blinded by pride and self will, in the church and in society. This is also leading to its future–its self-destruction.

Here is a simple test to see if you or the pastor is loyal is this. Does the teaching and character point to Christ or point to themselves or something else? Does the first response and vision showcase the Lordship of Christ or the way I want things? What does Christ call us to do and what betrays Him?

Rome gave away food to appease its citizens while they enticed them with sins and heinous amusements of people being slaughtered in arenas. Placating to Rome gave one privileges; standing up to it gave one death or the loss of land and rights. The issue before the Church was compromise and loyalty–would their allegiance be to a prostitute Rome, to Christ, or to what?

Some theologians have suggested that “Babylon” referred to apostate Jerusalem, but there is little Jewish evidence for that. Jerusalem has already fallen. Also, the principle arguments against Jerusalem as the subject matter of this passage is that it does not sit on many waters nor did it reign over other nations at this time!

The bottom line for us in church leadership is, how is evil affecting and effecting your ministry, your vision, you perceptions and your church?

What is a Harlot? Hopefully not you and your church!!

 

Read Revelation 17-18

Harlot? Yes, there are far better ways to make a point than to use the word “harlot’. But this is how God used to get people’s attention; does he have your attention? However we may feel, this is the word God uses, and it may wake us up to our dysfunction and the predicament we have in how we lead and manage churches these days.

If not, if we dare to go to our pulpits, boardrooms, small groups, classes and families with what I want to say and ignore Him, we are in fact being disloyal. If we dare teach what is false, give only half truths and merely feel good messages, like “sermonettes for Christianettes ,” we are in fact being prostituting His Word and Truth.

Let’s look at this upfront, close and personal. Let us be challenged with the Word of God and be humble to see what we may be doing wrong.

First off, do you know what a harlot is? Also called whore, it is not a fun, happy word. You might even be offended by the use of this word. It is from the Greek word, “porne,” from whence comes the English word “pornography.” It means promoting and/or partaking in the grievous sin of fornication that hurts, steals, and destroys relationships and families. But, it means so much more (Lev. 17:7; Is. 1:21; 26:16-18; 57:3; Jer. 3:1-14; Ezek. Chaps 16 & 23; Hos. 4:15).

This is an image used in the Old Testament to mean the abandonment of one’s covenant to God or the unfaithfulness and faithlessness of Israel. Also, this means the seductions of the world and that we have to be on guard as Christians, so they do not corrupt us or the church we are called to steward. This is also about people being lured into sin, yet knowing it is sin and being able to resist even as people seek to disobey God and/or to serve evil–like deliberately teaching what is false when we have God’s Word right in front of us for correction. And, this word applies to how we lead and manage His church. Remember, Revelation is a book to churches first, how to lead, be loyal, handle persecutions and so forth.

In the very early church, when John was penning these words from God, there was trouble, struggle and conflict–just like we have in today’s churches, in your church, in my church, the struggle of loyalty to self and trends or loyalty to Christ as LORD.

This is all about betraying God by committing not only acts of immorality, but disrespecting His Word and ignoring or failing to teach and pass on His precepts-the prime responsibility of a church leader and pastor.

The majority of people in John’s day had no reservations or protests to following an evil empire and being used by them. Their belief was that one has a license to sin; thus, one does not need to be obedient to God, His precepts, civil law, or any moral standards, and many Christians felt as they do today, they do not have a need to bear fruit. God says this is evil as it portrays evil as being good. This can also be practicing and promoting trends that dilute God’s truth, using it as an excuse for extreme immorality and wickedness (Judges 17:6; Jer. 2:31-37; Rom. 6:1-2; 14-15; 13:8, 10; Gal. 5:14; 6:2; Gal. 5:22-25; James 2: 14-26; Jude 4; Rev. 2:20).

The point? This means to choose sin is a deliberate choice, one that God hates passionately. Or use the pulpit for personal gain, false teaching, amusing the goats and not feeding the sheep. Harlot was also a term used by the early church for Rome (Lev. 17:7; Is. 1:21; 26:16-18; 57:3; Jer. 3:1-14; Ezek. Chaps 16& 23; Hos. 4:15).

These people thought they did not need Christ and that they would escape the judgment of God! (Does the deceptive thinking sound familiar?) Such people and thinking is contemptible and self destructive, because nothing can challenge God.

Is your Church pointing to Christ or to something else?

We got trouble in our churches–a lack of loyalty. A tough question needs to be asked of ourselves, are we being “harlots” with His Church? 

Read Revelation 17-18

Yes, there are far better ways to make a point than to use the “harlot’. However, this is the word God uses, and it may wake us up to our dysfunction and the predicament we have in how we lead and manage churches these days.

God is calling you and me–those who lead and pastor churches, who influence people in the church, who sit on committees, teach, or the like to flee from manipulating and gossiping behind the scenes-to wake up and SEEK HIM, not ourselves or ideas or plans or trends! The problem is, many of us are doing the opposite!

The main prostitution we should worry about as Christians is Church Leadership falling to pride, apostasy, and the ways of the world versus faithfulness to Christ! 

So, how is your loyalty to Christ?  

Here is a simple test to see if you or the pastor is loyal is this.  Does the teaching and character point to Christ or point to themselves or something else?  Does the first response and vision showcase the Lordship of Christ or the way I want things? What does Christ call us to do and what betrays Him?

  • Is our church about a personality or a Person?
  • This is about who you pledge your life to.  Is it to your own pride? Or, is it to His Church and the glorification of Christ?
  • Or, do you chase bad trends, sins, and the ways of the world?
  • Are you so concerned with your way of doing things that His Way is pushed aside or skewed? 

The bad pastor and church leader is into themselves, and they lead their people away from God’s path, becoming disloyal to God and His true Truths to the point they blaspheme God.  They focus their people to trust in materialism and trends that neuter the Bible, water down His Word and replace discipleship with entertainment and lead others to do so, too.  In so doing, she is not ashamed, but rather boisterous and proud of sin. 

Why is this so important?  

Our loyalty helps us lead the life that bears the life of Jesus, the character of Jesus and the theme of what it means to be a real authentic effectual Christ like Christian. This is the essential mark, the most important thing we can accomplish in our life, to be Fruitful, to be faithful and be His and act like it. This means to allow the Holy Spirit to nourish and energize us, to speak to us and work in and through us.  

Do you want to be safe and adequate or powerful and used in ministry and life?   Really think about this.  We do not have to lead the Christian life as a Christian.  We can peach merely feel good messages do not instruct or edify.  

We can be bullies in the boardroom or apathetic and uncaring and even obtuse to our families–frankly, most of us are.  We don’t live with Fruits of the Spirit. As a pastor, may I say honestly, very few Christians do.  Few pastors do. I met very few real Christ-like fruitful pastors in my thirty plus years in ministry. This is sad.  Most of us just do not get it.  We live our lives to ourselves.  It may not be outright sin, but it is placing our desires first, and we do not want to learn and grow. We do not what to be convicted and grow beyond where we are.  

Most pastors do very little time to build their spiritual life. That is why the cheap messages that tickle our ears and move our emotions are so popular—more popular than the meat of the Word of God.  It is why so many of us stopped growing so we stopped teaching.  We created congregations who want to be told, we are OK, we want to hear encouragements and feel good stories, and we do not want to be taught the true Truth of Scripture so we can be used to further renew and transform the people in our care by the example and flow the Fruit of the Spirit.  

The main call for us is to heed Christ’s love, grace, and call, and that any evil power–past, present, or future–is not to be feared by us Christians!

The phrase, God has put it in their hearts, refers that He is still in control.  Even when the world seems to be in chaos and discord, He is there with us, ever faithful and still in charge.  Our duty and call is to fix our eyes on Christ, not on the troubles.  This is the key to dealing with suffering and when life does not seem to make sense. The answer is not making up our own Gospel or changing His Message to our own (2 Cor. 4:18; Heb. 12:1-3). 

Do not refuse God.  Teach, preach, be loyal, be fruitful, be faithful, be real for Christ and live it out.  By our example, we are used for His glory, giving people known and unknown to us a chance to repent and be saved. 

Are we being “harlots” with His Church?  If so, stop, pray, and get right with God. If you can’t, then get out of leadership until you are right with God and His call and His precepts! 

More here: http://www.churchleadership.org/apps/articles/?articleid=84331&columnid=4544