Sermons

Summary: Two lessons appear within letters to the Churches of Revelation (Asia Minor) to teach us valuable truths to strengthen our faith and resolve to holiness.

THE BOOK OF REVELATION CONTAINS AN UNMISTAKABLE AND CLEAR MESSAGE TO EACH OF THE SEVEN CHURCHES. THE LETTERS CONTAIN A MIXTURE OF CRITIQUE, COMMENDATION, CRITICISM, EXHORTATION, AND CALLS TO REPENT AND CHANGE. WHETHER IT WAS PRAISE OR REBUKE, ALL THE CHURCHES HEARD THE CHALLENGE TO “LISTEN TO WHAT THE SPIRIT IS SAYING!”

I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN THANKFUL FOR FRIENDS, MENTORS AND SUPERVISORS WHO HAVE HELPED ME KNOW WHAT “RIGHT” LOOKS LIKE AND WHAT “WRONG” LOOKS LIKE. I GREATLY APPRECIATE GUIDANCE SO THAT FAILURE IS NEVER AN OPTION.

IN REGARD TO THE CHURCH, THE BIBLE, ALONG WITH OUR DENOMINATION, THEY ARE CLEAR IN WHAT A CHURCH SHOULD BE AND WHAT IT SHOULDN’T BE. WE ARE WITHOUT EXCUSE AS ANY FAILURE TO BE THE CHURCH IS STRICTLY ON US. WE OWN THAT!

I LIKE THE DEFINITION OF “CHURCH” AS STATED BY THE FREE METHODIST CHURCH FOUND IN OUR 2019 BOOK OF DISCIPLINE IN PARAGRAPH 121. IT STATES: “THE CHURCH IS CREATED BY GOD. CHRIST JESUS IS ITS LORD AND HEAD. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS ITS LIFE AND POWER. IT IS BOTH DIVINE AND HUMAN, HEAVENLY AND EARTHLY, IDEAL AND IMPERFECT. IT IS AN ORGANISM, NOT AN UNCHANGING INSTITUTION. IT EXISTS TO FULFILL THE PUPOSES OF GOD IN CHRIST.

IT REDEMPTIVELY MINISTERS TO PERSONS. CHRIST LOVED THE CHURCH AND GAVE HIMSELF FOR IT THAT IT SHOULD BE HOLY AND WITHOUT BLEMISH. THE CHURCH IS A FELLOWSHIP OF THE REDEEMED AND THE REDEEMING, PREACHING THE WORD OF GOD AND ADMINISTERING THE SACRAMENTS ACCORDING TO CHRIST’S INSTRUCTION.

THE FREE METHODIST CHURCH PURPOSES TO BE REPRESENTATIVE OF WHAT THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST SHOULD BE ON EARTH. IT THEREFORE REQUIRES SPECIFIC COMMITMENT REGARDING THE FAITH AND LIFE OF ITS MEMBERS. IN ITS REQUIREMENTS IT SEEKS TO HONOR CHRIST AND OBEY THE WRITTEN WORD OF GOD.”

OUR EXISTENCE IS TO FULFILL THE PURPOSES OF GOD IN CHRIST AND TO HONOR CHRIST AND OBEY THE WRITTEN WORD OF GOD. 2 CORINTHIANS 5:20, “SO WE ARE CHRIST’S AMBASSADORS; GOD IS MAKING HIS APPEAL THROUGH US. WE SPEAK FOR CHRIST WHEN WE PLEAD, “COME BACK TO GOD!”

WE REPRESENT JESUS CHRIST TO THE WORLD. WE DO NOT DEVIATE FROM THIS MISSION NOR CHANGE COURSE TO RIDE ALONG WITH THE WORLD. WE NEVER COMPROMISE SCRIPTURE TO SEDATE OUR GUILT AND TO JUSTIFY BEING WORLDLY AND SINFUL. WE GUARD SECURELY OUR MISSION FOR THERE TO BE MORE CHURCH IN THE WORLD THAN WORLD IN THE CHURCH.

CONTAINED IN THE DESTINTIVE PRINCIPLES OF OUR FREE METHODIST “BOOK OF DISCIPLINE” STATES, “FREE METHODISTS MAINTAIN A LIFE OF DAILY DEVOTION TO CHRIST THAT SPRINGS FROM INWARD HOLINESS AND SEPARATES THE CHRISTIAN FROM THE WORLD, EVEN WHILE HE/SHE LIVES IN THE WORLD. THEY BELIEVE THE BEST WAY TO KEEP WORLDLINESS FROM INVADING THE CHURCH IS FOR THE CHURCH TO INVADE THE WORLD WITH REDEMPTIVE PURPOSE.”

HEARING THESE WORDS, IT CAN’T BUT INSPIRE US TO SOUND THE MESSAGE TO ALL THE CHURCHES AGAIN: AWAKE, EVALUATE YOUR CONDITION, LOOSEN YOUR WELCOMING-GRASP ON THE WORLD, LET GO, REPENT AND BECOME SOLD-OUT TO THE KINGDOM OF GOD.

THE DECREES WENT OUT TO THE CHURCHES OF ASIA MINOR TO TAKE THE NECESSARY ACTIONS TO: NEVER FORESAKE THEIR FIRST LOVE, JESUS CHRIST; NEVER FEAR SUFFERING AND BE FAITHFUL EVEN TO THE POINT OF DEATH; REPENT OF ALLOWING WORLDY NORMS INTO THE CHURCH; STOP TOLERATING AND LETTING THE STANDARDS OF THE WORLD INFLUENCE AND THWART BIBLICAL TRUTH; WAKE UP AND STRENGTHEN YOUR FAITH; KEEP GOD’S WORDS AND COMMANDS, NEVER DENY HIM, ENDURE PATIENTLY IN TIMES OF TRIAL, AND FINALLY, DON’T LIVE SPIRITUALLY INDIFFERENT BUT BE SOLD OUT AND ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT THE THINGS OF GOD.

I FIND IT QUITE MEDICINAL AND HEALTHY WHEN REBUKE IS WARRANTED, YET GRACIOUSLY DELIVERED WITH ROOM ENOUGH TO MAKE NEEDED CHANGES AND FOR GROWTH TO TAKE PLACE. I AM GLAD WE CAN LEARN FROM THESE SEVEN CHURCHES.

THERE ARE TWO STATEMENTS MADE IN THE LETTERS TO EPHESUS, SMYRNA, PERGAMOS, AND PHILADELPHIA THAT WE CAN LEARN EVEN MORE FROM TODAY. THOSE STATEMENTS ARE IN REGARD TO NICOLAITANS AND THE SYNAGOGUE OF SATAN.

FIRST, THE NICOLAITANS, WHOES TEACHINGS WERE NOT ONLY HATED, BUT REJECTED. WE FIND ANOTHER INSTANCE OF “LOVING THE SINNER BUT HATING THE SIN.” SADLY, THE ENEMY, HERE, IS NOT FROM OUTSIDE, BUT INSIDE THE CHURCH ITSELF.

THE OVERALL CONCERN THAT I SEE ADDRESSED HERE IS A DISTORTION OF SCRIPTURAL TRUTH AND A DEVIANT ATTEMPT TO CHANGE THE MESSAGE OF CHRISTIANITY. THE CHURCH WAS FACED WITH A CHALLENGE TO CONFORM THEIR FAITH TO THE CIVIC, RELIGIOUS, AND POPULAR CULTURE OF THEIR DAY.

EXPLAINING THIS EVEN MORE SIMPLY, I WOULD SAY THAT THE NICOLAITANS WERE BELIEVERS WHO HAD COMPROMISED THEIR FAITH IN ORDER TO BLEND-IN WITH THE WORLD AND ENJOY SOME OF THE SOCIAL AND SINFUL PRACTICES OF THEIR LOCAL SOCIETY.

THIS COMPROMISE GAVE BIRTH TO AN ENTANGLED MESS OF GREEK PHILOSOPHIES, JEWISH LAWS, PAGAN BELIEF-SYSTEMS THAT THEY WERE TRANSFORMING MORE INTO A CIVIL RELIGION.

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