If this part could be called by any other name, it would probably be something on the order of, “Recharging Your Light Source.” By reading the previous 3 parts, you may assume that I am anti-church when in fact I am not, not even a little. But —- what I am against is the ingrown atmosphere that has arisen from the church and the sense that the church organization has become very, very selfish. If you have learned anything from my teachings, I sure hope that you realize that my spiritual perception of love is the opposite of selfishness.
What then does this say to the majority of religious organizations that are operating today?
“To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”
“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
“And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.”
“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write, “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works. Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden. But hold fast what you have till I come.”
“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.”
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie–indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”
“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ –and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked–I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
“To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it. And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations– ‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’ –as I also have received from My Father; and I will give him the morning star. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. And I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” —- Excerpts from Revelations 2:1 – 3:22.
Now when reading these Scriptures, keep in mind that a church organization, whether at a denominational level or a local level is a mirror of the personalities and attributes of its leadership; as well, to a lesser degree, of its congregants.
I have been involved in ministry for forty plus years and one gift the Lord has blessed me with, is the ability to see things as a whole. I can see things from its individual components to the organization as a whole. I have been blessed with the ability to see the “bigger picture” of human nature. And, I’m not the only one as I have discussed with some of my peers.
Church organizations are just like business in the world of men. The leadership always dictates the “personality” of that organization. But, church organizations are also and extension of its people. Most people gravitate to others that have similar likes and beliefs. That is why there are so many denominations and independent organizations all over the world. In essence, this is what and who the Lord is commanding the angel of these different churches to speak too. But, keep in mind, in the spiritual realm, the Lord is also speaking to the individual who also fits into one of these categories. ALL who claim to be Christian, a disciple of Christ Jesus, will fall into one of these categories, but you can see some of these aspects in some of the denominations prominent today!
I am NOT here to point a finger at denominations or even independent churches in particular, what I am trying to point out is that we all belong to one of these categories for the Lord, through His Holy Spirit is speaking to OUR hearts and spirits!
Now, with this as a foundation, what is the reason that the church or assembly was established? What is the reason we come together in the first place or better yet, what SHOULD be the reason we come together?
We come together to bring the presence of the Lord into our midst. He is always present with us individually as we develop our intimate relationship with Him, but when we invite Him into our presence with as little as two or three people, we are then corporately in HIS presence as well!
Matthew 21:13, “And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,…'”
“For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” — Isaiah 56:7
Matthew 21:14, “Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them.”
Jesus, Himself spent time in the synagogues teaching, but also asking questions meant to stimulate seeking the truth in Scriptures. He made it a habit and when He wasn’t in a synagogue or temple, He was out in the land skirting the cities talking to those who hungered for truth and meaning. Jesus, taught that the temple and the meeting places where meant for prayer but also for good works towards those hurting and hungry! Can you tell me how many churches you know today that are practicing these very same things? I ask this only to cause one to consider why it is we go to a weekly assembly.
Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Now I love this scripture as so many others do, but I love it for a reason that might just be a bit different than most. This is the scripture, these two verses, that are used to “persuade” people that assembling together at a minimum of at least once a week is so important. But this also leads to one of my pet peeves.
We need to meet together to pray for one another, to bring in the presence of the Lord corporately but also to teach, to ask questions and as Hebrews states to “stir one another to love and good works and to exhort, meaning to teach and encourage one another.” But as happens with too many Scriptures, a few verses here and there are used to put forth an ideology, or theology, as the case may be to further one’s beliefs. Many times they are taken out of context and yes, I understand it is easy to do, but we need to remember that the Word of God was given in its entirety for our knowledge and growth into the spiritual person that the Lord wants us to become.
You HAVE to go back to the beginning of those Scriptures where the paragraph starts in verse 19. The writer of Hebrews is letting us know that we can have BOLDNESS to enter into the very presence of the Father because of the Son, Christ Jesus. He referenced this in Hebrews 4:16 and reiterates it here. Christ, the Anointed One is the High Priest who allows us to enter into the Holy of Holies, the Presence of God, our Father! With this in mind, we can come together, at a minimum of two or three and stir one another to good works and love, etc. When you come before the Throne of God boldly, we come in humility and worship. When our High Priest, Christ Jesus is in our midst, that is when our prayers are heard and our supplications are taken to our Father’s Heart through the Redeemer!
There is no where in the Bible where it speaks about coming together for programs or special events as a means to garner the Father’s favor or that is what’s necessary to worship Him. This doesn’t mean that programs and events aren’t a means to evangelism or teaching, but they have become the norm instead of the exception. Worship, true worship without time constraints takes a back seat to the ticking clock on the back wall. Everything is scheduled so that services can get over so that everyone is able to make it to the nearest restaurant before the crowd hits.
When I was Worship leader at Desert Chapel in Tucson, Arizona back in the early ’80s, our Pastor listened to the Holy Spirit and wanted worship, true worship to take precedent only second to the teaching. We learned to let the Holy Spirit lead us and direct our “programs and times” and we were rewarded continually with not only Spirit-inspired and infused teaching, but true healings, physically, emotionally and financially and it wasn’t always because somebody stood over another in prayer. When we emptied our minds and allowed the presence of the Lord to have the time, He touched hearts, minds and spirits like no amount of programs could. From that, we had evangelism in our part of the city that was unprecedented and our numbers increased not because we had a great “program” but because people truly wanted to feel the presence of the Lord in the midst of the congregation! Word had caught on that God’s presence was being felt and seen in a simple church in the middle of Tucson.
That is was ignited the power to let out light shine elsewhere and in our everyday lives! We didn’t come together because we were so wore down from the trials of life that we needed to rekindle the spark just to get us through to the mid-week service and then from there to the Sunday service, no, we couldn’t wait to come together to see what the Lord had in store for us so that we could share it with others in the community! It energized us in our daily devotions and prayer time and meditation time. We were learning so much from the Word of God, it was like the Holy Spirit had transformed us into spiritual sponges!
We made sure that those in the area who couldn’t make it to church, was able to have some fellowship and encouragement; remember, the two or three together? We had precious times in the homes of those disabled or those for what ever reason, unable to keep to our scheduled times of service! You don’t see that much now if ever and I am sad to admit that.
So, what is your reason for going to your church? Is it because you think that is what the obligation of the Christian is? Or is it because your church has the best song-service with its three or four songs, maybe a couple of worship choruses added in then a 30-45 minute teaching to help us get through the work week or maybe to “stir us up” to take part in some social program?
The only way that our light will shine the way that the Lord meant it to be is to get back to the basics. We need to recognize we have a High Priest in Christ Jesus that allows us to come before the Father’s Throne in boldness; a Father who WANTS to hear our supplications and prayers, who wants to be worshipped in awe and wonder. Our light can ONLY be recharged if we are intimately plugged in to the Holy Spirit our source of power in Christ Jesus! We come together with as few as two and as many who are like-minded in the Lord to stir up one another in LOVE (action) which leads to good works. Works that are acts of service for others unselfishly. The thing that made the early “Church” stand out so much were it’s acts of love for others! Not for themselves and any selfish gains, but unselfishly that others may gain. That is when the light is shining and the world can’t help but take notice.
We don’t have a lot of time, if the events that are happening all around us are any indication that prophecy of old is unfolding. The one thing a loving people would want is the same thing the Word says about Christ Jesus, that no one should perish, because He loved each of us enough to die for each of us! (John 3:14-17)