Summary: The Lord had three things to commend this church for, but the rebuke brought focus to the very real problem of loosing your love for Christ.
As I believe the Lord is leading, it is imperative for us to consider exactly what type of church Jesus desires to have. While opinions and ideas could, and probably would run rampant concerning that topic, there is one place the answer may be clearly found. That is in God’s Word.
While many pastors often avoid this particular subject, I cannot avoid it. Along with the divine calling of God to the ministry comes a heavy responsibility to both God and to the people of God. As I stand in the gap, my calling has but one way to be truly fulfilled. As Paul gave the charge to Timothy, “Preach the Word,” that very same charge is given to me. I am not responsible for part of it. I am responsible for all of it. So, this is one subject I cannot shy away from.
About two weeks ago the Lord impressed the letters to the seven churches, found in Revelation, upon my heart. It is amazing how that as I began to study these letters, it became ever so clear that these letters are very relevant to our churches today. As we look at these letters, I challenge you to seriously consider the question, “Do I want this church to be the type of church our Lord Jesus would desire for it to be?”
As we consider the first church, lets read Revelation 2: 1-7.
Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 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. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 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.
Why is it important, preacher, for us to consider the type of church that Jesus would desire? Scripture tells us that the church is to be the salt of the earth and a light to the world, Matthew 5: 13-14. Paul said it was the pillar and ground of truth in 1 Timothy 3:15. When these elements are brought together, it forms for us the mission statement of the church.
Before we consider this church in full detail, there are a couple of preliminary things that we must look at first. Were you to notice in verse 1, Jesus mentioned the holding of seven stars, and walking around seven candlesticks. If you were to look in chapter one at verse 20, you would notice that the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches.
There are three possible interpretations for what the angels represent. The first one is that they are the pastors of the churches; one for each church. There are two reasons that this interpretation is probably not the right one. First, there are 67 references to angels in the book of Revelation, outside of the letters to the churches. At no time in those 67 references did the word angel ever refer to a man or human being. To say that it means pastors is stretching any solid principle of interpretation. Secondly, the churches in this particular day did not have a pastor. They had multiple pastors, bishops, or elders. No one pastor out-ranked the others, but they all stood on equal ground as ministers of the Word of God.
The second possible interpretation is that the angels are the guardian angels of the church. There are two reasons that this interpretation is incorrect. There is no scripture that would indicate that guardian angels were assigned to the churches. And, secondly, the letters were addressed to the purpose of correcting church conduct. You wouldn’t address an actual angel with a letter to correct church conduct.
The third, and what I believe to be the correct interpretation, is that the angel represents the “essential spirit”, or the “projected message” of the church by its conduct. It is the prevailing spirit that is sensed in the church. Some churches have the spirit of love that one can just sense when they enter into it. Others have a strong spirit of being missions minded. Others would project a spirit of division. The possibilities are limitless at to the essential message that the church may project.