Revelation 2:3 “And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.”
“And hast borne,”
So this church really put up with it, they bore it.
“and hast patience,”
They put up with it, they had a lot of patience.
“and for my name’s sake hast laboured,”
They worked so hard, sweating in pain, for Jesus’s namesake. That sounds like a good church.
“and hast not fainted.”
They didn’t faint, they didn’t throw in the towel yet.
If you feel like you’re this church, if you think that you’re so spiritual, you’re not a Laodicean church but you’re like the church of Ephesus, I guarantee that verse 4 is going to convict you.
Revelation 2:4 “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.”
“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee,”
Jesus said, despite all these good things, nevertheless I’ve got something against you.
“because thou hast left thy first love.”
They left their first love for Jesus Christ.
Revelation 2:5 “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”
“Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen,”
Jesus now wants them to remember where they fell from their first love, where they’ve forgotten.
“and repent, and do the first works;”
Jesus wants them to repent and start recalling that first love where they did their first works.
“or else I will come unto thee quickly,”
If they don’t do it, Jesus is going to come quickly.
“and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”
Jesus is going to remove that church. Remember that seven candlesticks are the seven churches, so this one part of the candlesticks, the church of Ephesus, Jesus say I’m going to remove it out of its place, except you repent, except you get right with God.
San Jose Bible Baptist Church can boast all the numbers of souls, faithfulness, labor, sweat but if you’ve forgotten your first love, your first works, and you don’t remember where you fell on that and you don’t repent, then God’s going to quickly remove this church. And you’re going to recall, ‘I recall those days at San Jose Bible Baptist Church, why did I forget my first love?’.
Some of you might be wondering, what do you mean by this first love?
Think about this, why are you coming to church? Is it because you’re supposed to because you put your name on a sign-up sheet?
Why is it that you read your Bible and pray? Is it because it’s an obligation and duty?
Why do you praise the Lord? Why do some even run around the room? Is it because somebody else is doing it? Think about it, you’re doing this because you love Jesus to begin with but it is so easy to be caught up with the weariness of the flesh, ritual legalistic duties, just like the majority of independent fundamental baptist churches and colleges.
The problem with these churches is when they lay out all these rules and dress codes, they think by doing that they’re going to get the kids right with God. No. There was a Bob Jones University alumni who had a queer homosexual alumni gathering. Some went to Pensacola Christian college but ended up in some ecumenical church, complaining about their rigorous legalism.
What happens is that they did not emphasize first love, loving Jesus and that’s why your dressing will be right, that’s why you’re going to abide by these rules, that’s why you’re going to love learning the scriptures, that’s why we think homosexuality is a sin. But they don’t do that, they think that by establishing all these rules, you just follow. No, what you need to do is to put the love of Jesus in their hearts and that has to be prioritized. Then all these other things, it’s going to come out.
In San Jose Bible Baptist Church, the pastor gives a lot of freedom but he still draws a line and says ‘Hey, we carried it this far so you got to get this right’, he’ll only do that when he has to. But what the pastor aims for is the heart and let God’s word and preaching convict you, and his testimony and prayer to affect you and that’s how we all eventually change. The reason why you change more and more is because of the Lord convicting your heart and your love for Him. When you love Jesus Christ, you don’t need a bible verse from the pastor on why marijuana or smoking marijuana is a sin.
Look at Matthew 22 and read what Jesus said on how to fulfill all the rules of the law.
Matthew 22:37 “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
It’s not just loving Jesus but loving others as well, when you do these 2 things, ‘hang all the law and the prophets‘.
Pastors should not have to state a rule concerning the length of a skirt etc, we just look at the heart of the man. It’s that simple, and all the rules and regulations will come out.
Revelation 2:6 “But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”
“But this thou hast,”
Jesus says there is something you do have though.
“that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”
A good thing they had was they hated (yes, you should hate. There’s a good hatred) the deeds of these Nicolaitans, Jesus called them, which He also hate.
Who are the Nicolaitans? ‘Nico’ is concerning about conquering. ‘Laitans’ is the laity. The clergy is like a pastor, the laity is the common audience or people. Nico is like conquering the laity.
This makes sense when we look at the prophecy of the church age. The Catholic church eventually came out, the apostolic fathers had a problem with conquering more and more of the laity. Where do we get these terms, ‘pope’, ‘cardinal’, ‘bishop’ and ‘priest’, it started from Ephesus but at least Ephesus resisted it. When you get to Smyrna, it talks about where Satan’s seat is and then when you get to Pergamus, they compromised with the wrong doctrine.
The church of Ephesus hated it at the beginning but they lost their first love. What does that mean? San Jose Bible Baptist church will end up like a cultic room one day if we are not careful. A lot of fathers during the early centuries are really good people, there are good stories about Ignatius where he died for Jesus Christ, embracing the lions. Polycarp burnt at the stake. Tertullian is probably the best church father out of all the church fathers but some of these people indicated water baptism for salvation, it was like they were slipping that in and more of a conquering laity and some Catholic doctrine here and there. That’s why the Catholic church loves church fathers because they’ll see the support of their doctrine through this historical evidence but our historical evidence is simple, it’s the word of God and it already warns you a long time ago about these people.
Revelation 2:7 “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.”
“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches;”
You all got ears? Then that’s what it means, then hear what Jesus is speaking to you. This is prophetic to the whole church age.
“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life,”
If you overcome, you can eat the tree of life.
“which is in the midst of the paradise of God.”
In God’s paradise up in heaven, there is a tree of life.
Now, how we do this double application is very simple. When you read the Bible, the first thing you do is try to learn something from it. You read it as if it was talking to you, what you do is to try to apply everything to yourself until there’s something that contradicts your Christian doctrine. If it contradicts your Christian doctrine, then you have to put a red flag and say ‘I wonder if there’s a different application’.
That’s what we’re going to do here, notice that eating the tree of life is for eternal life is by overcoming. A lot of people say ‘What about this verse in Revelations 2 and 3 about overcoming? So I have a problem with my sins, so I lose eternal life’. That’s not applied to you, that’s to the tribulation.
This passage is not talking about us. Overcoming here is referring to tribulation saints. Why? Because we already overcome, by believing in Jesus Christ for our salvation. Tribulation is going to be different, you’re going to see works that they’re overcoming, so that’s for tribulation saints.
1 John 5:4-5 “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?”
So you already overcome. Then this passage in Revelation does not apply to you.
Revelation 22:14 “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”
Notice that the verse does not say ‘Blessed are they that believe in Jesus Christ alone, not by works.’ No, it says ‘Blessed are they that do his commandments.’ That matches in the book of Revelation itself, about overcoming to eat this tree of life. So this is tribulation saint.
Tribulation salvation is different. In the tribulation, they go by works for salvation, not just faith. Why is that? In the tribulation, you can’t deny Jesus Christ and you must resist the persecution of hell and the Antichrist. That’s a lot of work. But we are different, we’re saved by faith, not by works and we’re not going to go through the tribulation under the hell of the Antichrist. We’re going to be raptured before then.