By Kenneth Allan Clark. © Copyright 2008
“The Seven Church Ages.” was written by Kenneth Allan Clark and first printed and published in 2008 by
VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL.
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1. MAPS AND CHARTS.
2. THE SEVEN CHURCH AGES.
In this book we will take a look at the seven letters from Jesus Christ to the seven churches in Asia (modern day Turkey). In Christ Revelation to the Churches, John is instructed to write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this (Rev 1:19). Things which you have seen, is referring to things past. Things which are, is things present. Things which will take place after this, are things that will happen in the future.
So in these letters, we are looking at things past, things present and things future. These seven churches are real churches that existed around 1,900 years ago, and they are also a representation of seven types of churches. Every local church that as ever been, is, or ever will be, is more or less represented by one of these seven churches, or they are in transition from one to another. These seven churches are also a representation of seven church ages, in that each church in succession (starting with the church of Ephesus through to the church of Laodicea) is a type picture of the majority of the local churches of each church age.
At the same time we will be comparing these seven churches ages with the seven kingdom parables (Recorded in Matthew chapter 13). These parables also give us an overall view of the Church age (from the resurrection of Jesus Christ to His second coming). By doing this we not only increase our knowledge and understanding of the letters to the seven churches, we also bring in a second major witness.
The purpose of this book is not to bring judgement and condemnation upon churches past or present, but rather we accept and understand, that in the past we the Church of Jesus have not always done things right. There is much we can learn from our past mistakes that will help the Church of the present, become the overcomers Christ desires His bride to be. It is important that we do not point the finger at the church down the road, but rather we examine ourselves and get our own lives in order.
Jesus Christ warns us not to judge and condemn others, for the measure we use judge others, will be used to judge us also.
Matthew7:1 "Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged: And with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."
Revelation 1:9 I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, 11 saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”
12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. 14 His head and hair were like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; 15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; 16 He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.
The Church Age starts with Jesus Christ standing in the midst of the seven churches, which are represented by seven lampstands, which also represent the fullness of the presence of God and power of the Holy Spirit within the early Church (Zechariah 4:1 – 6; Revelation 3:1 & 5:5). In a sense Christ is the tree of the Light of truth, and through Christ the power of the Holy Spirit flows to the branches, the churches, whose purpose is to shine the Light of the Gospel to the world (John 5:14).
Christ is clothed in a garment down to His feet, the garment of righteousness, and He is girded about the chest with a golden band, the breastplate of righteousness. The garment of righteousness represents the outward working of Christ righteousness, while the breastplate of righteousness represents the inner righteousness of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ white head and hair speaks of His purity of mind and thought. His eyes of fire, speak of how Jesus judges each man’s work with fire, to see if it is of gold and silver, or of hay and straw (I Corinthians 3:9 – 15). His feet were like fine brass, refined in a furnace.
This was written in a time when strong rooms, city gates, and soldier’s armour were often made of brass. Jesus Christ as the Captain of the host of the Lord (Joshua 5:14) has His feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15). For it is by taking forth the gospel of peace into the world that we take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the very gates of Hell, and claim very inch of land that we place our foot on (Deuteronomy 11:24) and our enemies we shall trample under our feet (Luke 10:31) just as Christ crushed the head of Satan with His foot (Genesis 3:15).
But it is no use us having our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, if we will not open our mouth and speak the words of God, and when Jesus speaks His voice is like the sound of many waters. This speaks to us of the power of the spoken word of God to sanctify and cleanse the Church of Jesus Christ, and not only of the importance of the local pastors to speak the word of God over the church, but also of the importance that very man should speak God’s word daily to his wife and children.
Ephesians5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of the water of the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself as a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.
In His right hand Jesus Christ holds the seven stars, who we are told are the angels of the seven churches. The Greek word for angel means a messenger. These angels are the local pastors of the seven churches, and as such they are Jesus Christ’s messengers to the churches. When Jesus speaks His word through the local pastors, His word shall not return void, but it shall accomplish that which pleases God, and it shall prosper in the thing for which God sent it (Isaiah 55:11).
Hebrews4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and joints and marrow, and the discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength (Revelation 1:16). Jesus Christ is the true Light which gives light to every man (John 1:8 - 9). Prior to Jesus Christ earthly ministry the Jews had the written word of God as a prophetic word, like a torchlight shining in a dark place till the coming of Jesus Christ, whose countenance was like sun shining in its strength.
II Peter 1:19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
To recap, the Church age starts with Jesus Christ, the tree of the Light of truth standing in the center of the churches. The power of the Holy Spirit flows through the branches to the churches, the lampstands, whose purpose is to be the Light of the world (John 5:14), and the local pastors are the messengers of God, who declare God’s word to His people the church.
John after hearing and seeing these things falls as dead before Jesus Christ.
Revelation1:17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. 18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and Death. 19 Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this. 20 The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.
Man is an eternal soul who lives in a body and has a spirit. So what does Jesus Christ mean when He says that He has the keys of Hell and death. For mankind death is not the end, but a separation of spirit, soul and body. Upon the separation of spirit, soul and body, our spirit returns to God who gave it, our body is placed in the grave, and our soul is carried by the angels to the world of the dead, also known as Hell. Hell is divided into at least two areas, Paradise the resting place for the souls of the righteous, and the pit of Hell, into which the souls of the wicked are cast. More often than not, when the Bible couples Hell and death together; Hell is a reference to the world of the dead, the resting place of the souls of departed mankind; and death is a reference to the grave, the resting place for the bodies of departed mankind. Jesus Christ holds the keys of Hell and death, for it is only He who holds the power and authority to raise both man’s soul from Hell, and man’s body from death.
It is important to us as Christians, that we not only know Jesus Christ our Lord died on the cross for our sins, descended into Hell, then on the third day rose from Hell and death and now lives for evermore (Acts 2:29 – 35 & Ephesians 4:9 – 10), but that we also know and believe that Jesus holds the keys of Hell and death (Revelation 1:18), and that when Jesus returns, we who are in Christ will also be raised from Hell and death. Then we shall have no fear of death, nor shall we love our lives to the death (Revelation 12:11).
As Christians we should not fear death. For us death is the door between this world and Paradise, with a written guarantee from God that when Jesus Christ comes again we shall be raised from Hell and death.
I Corinthians15:20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the fristfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
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As we read the book of Jesus Christ Revelation to the churches, we are looking at things past, things present and things future. The seven churches are real churches that existed 1,900 years ago. They also represent seven different types of churches, and they also represent seven church ages, in which this type of church represents the majority of the churches of that church age.
Ephesus, the first church mentioned is a type picture of the majority of Christian churches during the first church age, 30 A.D. to 100 A.D. (It was during this age that the first apostles lived). Smyrna the second church mention, is a type picture of the majority of Christian churches during the second church age, 100 A.D. to 325 A.D. (It was during this age that pagan Rome tried to destroy the Church). Pergamos representing the third church age 325 A.D. to 594 A.D. (Pope Gregory the Great, who reigned from 594 A.D. to 604 A.D., not only marks the end of this church age, he also marks the beginning of the Middle Ages). Thyatira the forth church age, began in 594 A.D. and continued till (the day Martin Luther nailed his document of 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg in) 1517. Sardis the fifth church age 1517 to (the founding of the London Missionary Society in) 1795. Philadelphia the sixth church age begins in 1795 (with the Church once again committing it self to “Go into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15) “and make disciples of all nations” (Mathew 28:19). Laodicea the seventh church age, started during the 1850’s, and since then churches of both the Philadelphia and the Laodicea type have, and will continue to exist side by side until the return of Jesus Christ.
Note: The dates given for the seven church ages are only approximate dates, and are only given as guide to the unfolding of church history. Our main aim in this study of the church ages is not to become too pedantic in knowing historical facts, but to gain greater insight and understanding of God’s kingdom here on earth. Neither is it our aim to lay judgment on those of the past or present, but to learn from those who have gone before us.
Along side these letters to the seven churches, we will also look at the seven kingdom parables that Jesus Christ shares with us in Matthew chapter 13. These parables also give us an overall view of the Church age (from the resurrection of Jesus Christ to His second coming). By doing this we not only increase our knowledge and understanding of the letters to the seven churches, we also bring in a second major witness.
4. THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER.
Matthew 13:1 – 9, & 18 – 23.
A parable usually consist of a story about a common everyday advent, that the first hearers of the parable would have been very familiar with and clearly understood, but running parallel to this story there would also be a story about the kingdom of heaven that could only be understood by those who had ears to hear and eyes to see the mysteries of the kingdom.
In the first parable, the common every day story is about a sower going out to sow seed. Two thousand-years ago, sowing seed in a field that you had plowed up and prepared for planting before hand meant walking length of the field with a bag of seed, taking handfuls of seed and scattering the seed before you. The sower would continue walking up and down the length of the field until the whole field was sown. While much of the seed would fall on good ground, also much would fall on unsuitable ground.
The Parable of the Sower.
Matthew 13:1 On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea. 2 And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.
Then He spoke many things to them in parables saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. 6 But when the sun came up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. 8 But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
The Parable of the Sower Explained.
Matthew13:18 “Therefore hear the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. 20 But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately stumbles. 22 Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 23 But he who received the seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
At the beginning of the first church age the disciples of Jesus, the body of Christ on earth, heads out to sow the word of the kingdom into the people of the world.
When we preach the gospel of the kingdom, we the body of Christ sow the word of the kingdom out into the world. At the beginning of the first church age when the disciples of Jesus headed out to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, they sowed into the people of world the word of the kingdom.
5. SOME SEED FELL ON HARD TRODDEN DOWN TRACKS.
In the natural, when a sower scattered seed, some of the seed fell on the hard trodden down tracks that the farmer and his workers would have walked on when tending the plants. This seed would not be taken into the soil and the birds would have quickly snatched the seed away. This seed is likened to a person who hears the gospel of the kingdom but does not understand it, and the birds are likened to the devil (or evil spirits) that quickly snatch the seed away before it can take root in their heart.
There are two reasons why these seeds did not take root.
1: The ground had not been prepared to receive the seed.
From this we learn, there is often a need for us to prepare the ground by breaking it up and softening it before we sow the seed. The main reason why preachers preach the word of God before calling people to repentance, is so the soil of the peoples hearts will be first broken up and prepared by the preaching of word, before the seed of the gospel is planted in their hearts.
For example; when people would not receive healing through lack of faith; Jesus Christ sent the disciples out to preach the gospel and heal the sick (Mark 6:1 – 6 & Luke 9:1 – 6). Why? Because “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). In the Great Commission we are first commanded to preach the gospel. Then it says the disciples “went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs” (Mark 16:20). When we preach the gospel we implant faith into those who hear the word, thus preparing their hearts to receive the gospel.
Another way to prepare peoples hearts for the receiving the gospel, is by we Christians showing love and kindness to our friends, our neighbors and those with whom we meet at school, at work or play; always being prepared to share with them the reason for our faith in Christ Jesus (I Peter 3:15). When people know you love them and that they can trust you, they will listen to you.
In 2nd Kings Chapter 5, we are told of a slave girl who waited on the wife of Naaman, the commander of the army of the king of Syria. Just a slave girl, but because she showed love and concern for her master who was a leper, both her master and the king of Syria heard and believed the gospel and Naaman was healed of his leprosy.
Firstly: Love was shown.
Secondly: The gospel was preached.
Thirdly: Faith to believe came by the hearing of the word.
Fourthly: Healing and salvation followed the preaching of the word.
2: The Devil stole the word away before it took root.
From this we learn, we are at war with the devil, and we are fighting for the souls of man. If we are to be successful in freeing souls from the kingdom of darkness and translating them into the kingdom of heaven, we need to know our enemy and how to effectively use the weapons of our warfare.
6. SOME SEED FELL ON STONY PLACES.
In the natural, some seed fell on stony places where they did not have much earth. These sprang up immediately because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun came up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away.
Jesus likens these seeds to a person who immediately receives the word with joy yet has no root in himself, so endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles and falls away from the kingdom.
As I have already said, we are at war with the devil for the souls of mankind, and you can guarantee that when you go into Satan’s kingdom and set the captives free, the vast majority of these new Christians, because of the word they have received, will very quickly come under attack by either tribulation or persecution.
1: These people live in stony ground.
This speaks to us of a new Christian living amongst people, who for the most part have hearts of stone towards the gospel. Spiritually, they live in a very negative environment for Christians, especially for new Christians.
2: They receive the word with joy, yet there is no root in them.
This can be taken as a warning to us. It is not just enough for new Christians to receive the word with joy. It needs to go down deep and take root.
If a new Christian’s natural family is of another faith, or their hearts are hard towards the gospel, until such time has the word does go down deep into the heart of the new Christian and takes root, they will need a lot of personal care and attention from more mature Christians. Some times for their own spiritual or physical safety, they may need to be removed from their old environment. For many new Christians around the world confessing their newfound faith in Jesus Christ can result in them being persecuted, thrown out of the family home, and maybe even killed because of their faith in Jesus.
Paul in speaking to Christians who lived amongst idol worshipers has this to say.
II Corinthians 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial (the devil)? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
“Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you, 18 I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.
II Corinthians 7:1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in fear of God.
Some new Christians may live in a family environment that is ready and willing to accept the gospel. When this is so, whole households will often very quickly and willingly hear the gospel, believe and receive the gospel of Jesus Christ, and then be born again into the kingdom of heaven. But other new Christians, who live in a family environment that is hard against gospel of Jesus Christ, may quickly find them-selves at war with an enemy that lives within those whom they love the most.
Jesus Christ said
Matthew 10:32 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.”
34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take up his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
To new Christians, born again into the kingdom of God, but living in an environment that is hostile towards the gospel, hostile to good Christian values, and is hostile to you living an active Christian life in their presence, I say to you; “Do seek help, guidance and the support of other mature Christians.
Regardless of whether God is calling you to remain in your situation with the hope of saving all or some of your family and friends, or God is calling you to flee for your own spiritual or physical safety, you are going to need the help and support of other Christians.” Some of us are called to suffer or even die for our faith, while others are called to live for another day by fleeing to a safe Christian environment.
If you follow the lives of Jesus Christ and Paul the apostle, you will see that there were times in both of their lives when God called them to flee for their own safety, yet at other times God called them to take great risk with their life. In the end, both Jesus Christ and Paul laid down their life for the sake of the gospel.
7. SOME SEED FELL AMONG THE THORNS.
In the natural, some of the seeds fell among the thorns, Jesus likens this to those who hear the word, but the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.
II Timothy 2:4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.
Matthew 6:24 “No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Mammon is the God of money.)
25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?”
28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about it’s own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Translation in italics added)
In speaking to a rich man who asked Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life, Jesus first reminds him of the importance of keeping the commandments, to which the rich man replies;
Mark 10:20 - - - - - - - “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.” 21 Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up your cross, and follow Me.”
22 But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
23 Then Jesus looked and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God!
25 It is easier for a camel to go though the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, “Who then can be saved?” 27 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.” 28 Then Peter began to say to Him, See, we have left all and follow You.”
29 So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, 30 who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time – houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions – and in the age to come, eternal life.”
The thorns speak of the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches that choke the word, and he who received the word becomes unfruitful. The cares of this world, food, clothing, a home, health, keeping your spouse, your children and extended family and friends happy; as good as all these things may be, worrying about these things is an expression of lack of faith in God to provide for us and care for us. It is putting your reliance and trust in self instead of in Christ.
In the same way, when we put our reliance and trust in riches; money and wealth becomes our god. Does your love of money rule your life, or are you and your money submitted to God’s will.
Jesus said it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. The eye of a needle was a small door in the city gate (or wall). If you wanted to get a loaded camel into the city after the main gates were closed, you had to take your camel through the eye of the needle.
For this to happen, because the gate is so narrow, the camel would first be unloaded of all the earthly wealth it was carrying. All this wealth would be taken into the city before the camel could enter. Then after entering through the eye of the needle, all this wealth would be loaded back onto the camel. This speaks to us of having to give our all to God, before we can enter into the kingdom of God. But having given up our all to enter God’s kingdom, God then loads us up with His wealth.
Mark 10:29 - - - - - “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, 30 who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time – houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions – and in the age to come, eternal life.”
So we give up our wealth to enter the kingdom of God, but in return we receive God’s wealth, along with persecutions.
The eye of the needle is not only narrow it is also very low. Therefore, for the camel to enter the city through the eye of the needle, it must do so on its knees. This speaks to us of the need for us to humbly submit to the will of God, before we can enter into the kingdom of God.
Jesus said it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God, because it is hard for a rich man hand his wealth over to God before entering into the kingdom of God; especially if he became rich by hording his wealth. On the other hand a poor man as no wealth to lose and much wealth to gain.
But there are other things one must give up to enter the kingdom of God. Can you hand over to God, your will, your ambitions; what about your wife or your husband, your children, your hate, your unforgiveness, your anger, stubbornness and pride, God requires that you unload yourself of all these, and hand them over to Him before you can enter the kingdom of God. And will God give all these back to you. Yes! But He will also redeem and transform them.
Wife, can you trust God to redeem and transform your husband, and hand him back to you as a husband better than you could ever dream or imagine? Then hand your husband over to God, along with your hate, your anger and your unforgiveness towards him, and allow God to redeem and transform your husband from glory to glory, more and more into the image of Christ. It may not happen overnight, but it will happen, if you only trust in God and obey His commands.
Husband, can you trust God to redeem and transform your wife, and hand her back to you as a wife better than you could ever dream or imagine? Then hand your wife over to God, along with your hate, your anger and your unforgiveness towards her, and allow God to redeem and transform your wife from glory to glory, more and more into the image of Christ. It may not happen overnight, but it will happen, if you only trust in God and obey His commands.
Regardless whether it is wealth, husband, wife, family, home, health or any thing else, the question is, can you trust God with all that is yours, and humbly submit your-self to God’s will? If so hand it all over to God and enter His kingdom, and you will receive hundredfold now in this time- houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions – and in the age to come, eternal life (Mark 10:30).
If you cannot lay down your life, your wealth, and the cares of this world, and humbly submit your-self to God’s will, the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches will choke the word, and you will become unfruitful.
8. SOME SEED FELL ON GOOD GROUND.
Then there was the seed that fell on good ground. Jesus likens this to one who hears the word and understands it. This person will go on in his Christian walk with the Lord, and will bear much fruit.
These people live in a positive environment for Christian life and growth. To compare those seeds sown into good ground with those sown into stony places, would be like comparing a child born of Christian parents and living in a Christian country, who has just been born again into the kingdom of heaven, with a young child born of Pagan parents and living in a Pagan country, who has just been born again into the kingdom of heaven.
The young Christian child of Christian parents, living in a Christian world has every thing working towards them becoming a mature fruitful Christian. While the young Christian child of Pagan parents, living in a Pagan world is bound to suffer many trails, and tribulations.
The Church age began with the sowing of the good seed of the word, the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yes, some fell amongst families of God-fearing Jews and God-fearing Gentiles and most of these families would have (as a complete family) gladly accepted the gospel in one day, then all gladly repented and were baptized into Christ.
Other seed would have been sown on the hard ground of Jewish families who loved the traditions of men and hated the truth, Jews who loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. These Jews would have rejected the truth and persecuted any family member who accepted the truth.
John 12:42 Nevertheless even among the rulers many believe in Him (that is they believed in Jesus Christ), but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. (Translation in italics added)
Other seed would have been sown into the stony ground of families, fully committed and dedicated to Pagan beliefs and practices. Among many extended Pagan families, one or two on first hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ would have immediately received the word with Joy; yet with no foundation of truth in their lives the word would not take root within them, and it would only endure for a while. For when their extended Pagan families turned on them because of their belief in the gospel, immediately, because they feared man more than God, these new Christian would stumble and fall back into Paganism.
New born again Christians who come from an environment that is hostile to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Christian way of life; if they are to have any hope of surviving the attacks of the enemy, they will need lots of love and support from other nature Christians; they need to know they will come under the attacks of the enemy, and for this reason they need to be sure of their future eternal reward, and they need to be taught “not to fear those who can kill the body but not kill the soul, but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell” (Matthew 10:28).
9. WHY DO YOU SPEAK TO THEM IN PARABLES?
Luke2:29 “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; 30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation 31 which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, 32 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.
Peter later wrote
II Peter1:19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
For the Children of Israel, the Old Testament was like a torchlight shinning in a darkened world, a torchlight that pointed the way to Jesus Christ. Then, when Jesus came into the world, it was like the dawning of a new day, as the light of Christ brought revelation to all who would believe and receive Him as their Lord and Savour. But, for those Children of Israel who refused to love the truth that Jesus was the Messiah and that there was salvation in no other name but the name of Jesus Christ, it was as if a thick fog came across their eyes and blinded them to the truth.
Romans11:25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
Blindness, in part, has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. This is the setting I would like you to keep in mind as we turn back to the first of the seven kingdom parables.
Half way through the telling and explaining of the parable of the sower, which represents the first Church age, 30 AD. to 100 AD., the disciples ask Jesus “why do you speak to them in parables?” This question of the disciples and Jesus Christ answer, coming as it were half way through the first Church age, is not there just by chance, it is there because God meant it to be there. Prior to the first Church age, the Children of Israel had the light of the Holy Scriptures: giving to them the equivalent of a torchlight shining into a dark world.
Matthew 13:10And the disciples came and said to Him. “Why do You speak to them in Parables?
11 Jesus answered and said to the them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For whoever has to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 13 Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:
‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; 15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears they are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed have closed, Least they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Least they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.’
16 But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; 17 for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”
Here Jesus is speaking of two different groups of Jews. The first group of Jews was those who loved the truth and therefore had a reasonable ability to see, hear, and understand the truth as revealed to them through the Scriptures. After Jesus Christ death, resurrection and ascension into heaven, the Spirit of Jesus Christ (the light of revelation) came down to dwell within the hearts of all who believed and received Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, thus bringing more light of understanding to this group of Jews.
The second group of Jews was those who did not love the truth, and the more they heard and saw of Jesus, the more they closed their eyes and ears to the truth. As God said through the prophet Isaiah, “For the hearts of this people have grown dull, their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed (V 15).” Although many of these Jews followed Jesus around, hoping for a blessing of some kind, they would not accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, and when trials and persecutions came they quickly fell away. Without Jesus these people quickly lost even the small ability they had to see, hear and understand the truth (V 12).
When Jesus Christ, the Light of Revelation came into the world, He preached mainly to the Jews, as did the first apostles; even Paul on his missionary trips to the Gentiles made a habit of first preaching to the Jews before preaching to the Gentiles. But most of the Jews rejected Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savour. Thus it was until around 70 AD., many Jews found salvation while only a few Gentiles found salvation.
What are the times of the Gentiles? This is best explained by saying that from about 1870 BC. (approximately the year God renamed Jacob, Israel) until the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD, there was a period of about 2,000 years in which many Jews came to salvation, but during those 2,000 years very few Gentiles came to salvation. Then with the destruction of the temple in 70 AD, begins the Times of the Gentiles, a time in which many Gentiles come to salvation, but a time in which very few Children of Israel come to salvation.
In a time yet to come, these times of the Gentiles will come to an end, and once again many Children of Israel will come to salvation. For it is written in:
Romans 11:25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
This passage by telling us “blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” Not only tells us that there is a day coming in which the eyes of Israel will again be opened to truth, so that they may be saved. It also suggest there is a day coming in which God is going to say, “the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” and from now on, no more, or very few Gentiles will be saved.
Let us look at the original prophecy recorded by the prophet Isaiah, as it is translated in the King James Version.
(K.J.V.) Isaiah6:8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”
9 And He said,
“Go, and tell this people: ‘Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. 10 Make the heart of this people fat, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes, Least they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed.”
Isaiah gives us other looks at this blinding of the Children of Israel. The following is a good example.
(K.J.V.) Isaiah29:9 Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. 10 For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and He has closed the eyes: the prophets and your rulers, and the seers hath He covered. 11 And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed: 12 And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith I am not learned.
The Lord has poured out upon His people a spirit of drunkenness, and they stagger around as in a deep sleep unaware of what is going on. God has closed the eyes of their prophets, rulers, and their seers, the eyes of those whom have visions, God has covered so that their visions become as a sealed book that no one can read. Why has God done this? It is because although they outwardly praise and honour God, their heart is far from God, and although they fear God, this fear is not based on the precepts (or teaching) of God, but based on precepts taught by men.
Their heart is fat. Fat speaks of wealth. In the natural, if a wealthy man becomes self-indulgent he will put on fat, his heart becomes fat, and his health begins to suffer. If he repents of his self-indulgence and calls on the Lord he will become well, but if he does not repent his fat heart will kill him.
When God says; “Make the heart of this people fat (Isaiah 6:10),” He is speaking of a people who have turned their heart from God and become self-indulgent. Spiritually they have a sick heart, they cannot see, hear or understand, and they are in danger of spiritual death.
A sick heart comes before spiritual blindness.
When God sent His servant Moses to lead His people out of Israel, they continued to doubt and rebel against God and despite seeing many great miracles they would not believe. So God gave them a sick heart that was unable to perceive, see or hear the greatness of God.
Moses speaks to them:
(K.J.V.) Deuteronomy 29:3 The great temptations which thine eyes have seen, the signs, and those great miracles: 4 Yet the Lord hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day.
The vision of all has become as the words of a book that has been closed which no one can understand. “For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep.” and “He has closed the eyes: the prophets and your rulers, and the seers hath He covered.”
As we move on into the next two church ages, we will read that while men slept an enemy sowed tares amongst wheat. Meaning, if we do not watch and pray, Satan will sow false doctrine into the church. We also read that because men grew weary, they no longer tested the prophets to see whether they preached truth or lies. When men grow weary and sleep, they close their eyes and ears and the enemy, through false prophets, sows lying doctrines into the church.
Why does God allow this spiritual blindness and deafness to come upon His people? If we read on we will find out.
(K.J.V.) Isaiah29:13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear towards me is taught by the precept of men:
Verse 13 draws our attention towards two common faults among the children of God.
Firstly: Outwardly, for men to see, they honour God with their mouth and their lips, while in their heart, where God sees, they are far from God. They have sick, fat hearts. They are self indulgent.
Secondly: Their fear towards God is based on the teachings (or precepts) of men, instead of being based on the precepts (or teachings) of God. In other words, they have already closed their eyes and ears to the word of God, and have now chosen to base their fear of God on the false teachings of men. It is a good thing to fear God, but we must make sure our fear is based on God’s written, word and not on the teachings of men.
Because of these two sins God says - - - - -
(K.J.V.) Isaiah29:14 Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.
In Isaiah 3:1 – 2 we are told that God, in His judgment of Israel, will take away the judge and prophet, the prudent and the elder. While in Isaiah 1:26 we are told after God has thoroughly purged away Israel’s dross and removed their impurities, He will restore their judges as in the days of old, and their counsellors as in the beginning.
In this teaching concerning the blindness of God’s people, God focuses on the principle, that when the hearts of God people become sick and fat, they will first turn their hearts from the teachings and precepts of God to the teachings and precepts of men, and then they shall become spiritually blind; but when they repent and turn back to God, God will thoroughly purge away their dross and remove their impurities, and restore their ability to not only to see and hear in the spiritual realm, but also their ability to understand God’s Word.
To some degree this blindness had already come upon the Jews prior to Jesus Christ first coming, for Jesus quotes Isaiah saying - - - -
Matthew15:7 “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you saying: 8 ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honour Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. 9 And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
In rejecting the gospel of Jesus Christ, even a greater degree of blindness came upon the Jews. Right to the end of the age, all who reject God’s plan of salvation, both Jew and Gentile shall be blinded by deception.
Paul writes concerning to coming of the lawless one, also known as the Anti-Christ.
II Thessalonians2:9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not love the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
Satan will deceive all those who are perishing because they do not love the truth, the truth that there is salvation in no other name but the name of Jesus Christ. Not only does Satan deceive them, God will also send them a strong delusion by blinding their eyes to the truth, that they should believe the lies of Satan and thus perish because they did not love the truth.
- - - - - - - - - - -
When we compare the prophecy given in Isaiah 6:8 - 13 with the history of God’s people, we find this prophecy, like many other prophesies, has already been partly fulfilled many times. It is as if history keeps on repeating itself over and over again; there is nothing new under the sun, but in a time yet to come this prophecy will be fulfilled in full.
For the Jews, even though blindness in part had already come to them before Jesus first coming, when they rejected Jesus Christ as their Messiah, even what they could see and understand was taken away from them, so that even greater blindness came upon them. A blindness that will remain upon them until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. Then, once the fullness of the Gentiles has come in to the kingdom of God, this blindness that has come upon the Jews will be lifted.
Let us take another look at the prophecy recorded in Isaiah chapter 6; which was later quoted by Jesus Christ in Matthew chapter 13:14 – 15.
(K.J.V.) Isaiah6:8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” 9 And He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. 10 Make the heart of this people fat, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes, Least they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed.”
At this point, even though Jesus is only half way through the prophecy He stops quoting from Isaiah. Why? Because at this point there is a breach period in the prophecy of approximately 2,000 years or more.
These breach periods of about 2,000 years or more, coming in the middle of a prophecy or vision, are very common to the writings of both Daniel and Isaiah. Usually the first part of the prophecy starts some time before Jesus Christ earthly ministry and may end hundreds of years before His earthly ministry, but most continue into or shortly beyond His earthly ministry. Then they have an unannounced breach period of 2,000 years or more which is followed by the second part of the prophecy. The second part of all of these prophecies will be fulfilled during the last ten-and-a-half-years leading up to Jesus Christ second coming and beyond into His 1,000 year reign.
But to those who do not have eyes to see, or ears to hear there is no gap period. Also because these events seemingly keep on repeating themselves, it is easy to believe that these things have already happen, or that they are being fulfilled by current events.
We are looking at Isaiah chapter 6, picking up from where the people’s heart has become fat and sick through self-indulgence, then on into the rest of the prophecy.
(K.J.V.) Isaiah6:10 “Make the heart of this people fat, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes, least they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed.” 11 Then I said, “Lord, how long?” And He answered: “Until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant, the houses are without a man, the land is utterly desolate, 12 and the Lord has removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land. 13 But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: As a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.
Verses 12 and 13 paraphrased.
12 And the Lord has removed men far away, and there shall very few people left in the midst of the land. 13 But yet in those who leave the land shall be a tenth, and the tenth shall returned as holy seed, to be consumed. As the substance of the oak is found it stem and roots, when they rooted up by the wind and cast away, the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.
10. NOTES ON ISAIAH 6:13.
1 Albert Barnes in his commentary suggests that the Hebrew word rendered as substance would better be translated as ‘stock’ or the ‘stem’ of the tree.
2 The Kings James Version, (in verse 13) adds in italics the two words ‘their leaves.’ These words are not included in the original text. By adding these two words the K.J.V. suggest the coming of light winds that blow away the autumn leaves.
3 But before we throw out the King James, some newer versions in suggesting that the Hebrew word translated as substance, should be translated as stump don’t do any better. As some of them suggest when the tree is cut down, that the stump which remains in the ground is holy seed. However in Ezra 9:2, it is those who return from Babylon, that are referred to as holy seed, not those who has remained in the land.
4 Barnes suggests it would be better translated as ‘stock’ or the ‘stem’ of the tree.
5 Jamieson, Fausset and Brown in their commentary suggest we should read this passage as ‘when the tree is cast down.’
6 Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries, tell us that it is the Hebrew word ‘shallehketh’ meaning a felling (of trees) when cast, that is translated into the King James Version as cast.
7 Matthew Henry in his commentary suggests that God accepts the tenth that is returned as a tithe, to be consumed by God as holy seed.
8 In summing up I would say, it would be more correct to say a strong wind came and up rooted the tree, casting both the tree stem (the main substance of the tree) and its larger roots away.
Some may say that this prophecy was fulfilled by the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. with the casting of the captives into Babylon, and by the later return of the exiles to Jerusalem as holy seed (Ezra 9:2); but Babylonian exile cannot be the total fulfilment of this prophecy, because when Jesus quotes this passage from Isaiah He only quotes the first part as being fulfilled. In many ways the Babylonian exile could be described as a type picture of the final fulfilment of the prophecy which is still to come.
The destruction of the cities of Judea and the exile of the Jews to Babylon cannot be the fulfilment of this prophecy.
1: Because when Jesus quotes this prophecy, He only quotes the first half of the prophecy (concerning blindness and deafness of the Jews) and the full extent of this blindness only came upon the Jews as they reject Jesus Christ as their Messiah, during Jesus first coming, and over the next 40 years.
2: Because the Jews still have eyes that cannot see and ears that cannot hear to this day, we know that the second part of this prophecy has still not been fulfilled.
This second part will be fulfilled in a time yet to come, when most of the messianic Jews who live in Judea (on seeing the abomination of desolation in the temple) will heed to the words of Jesus Christ and flee the mountains (Matthew 24:15 – 22). Thus they will avoid the great tribulation and the destruction of the cities of Judea, while most of the remaining Jews will be cast out of Jerusalem and Judea taken captive to Babylon. Then, after the great tribulation many Children of Israel and Children of Judah shall return to the cities of Judea as holy seed. At that time the eyes and the ears of the Children of Israel shall be opened and great shall be the ingathering of both the Children of Israel and the Children of Judah into the kingdom of heaven.
Because Jesus prophesies in Matthew 13:12, “He who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.” We can say that the blindness this prophecy is speaking of was not fulfilled until after the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ (in 33 A.D.). Then as Paul later writes, in approximately 57 A.D. “That blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in;” we can therefore say that this spiritual blindness came upon the Jews sometime between 33 A.D. and 57 A.D. With this blindness coming upon the Jews, the first part of the prophecy is complete.
Isaiah then prophesies that this blindness will remain until the cities of Judah are laid waist. This cannot be referring to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Because 1: The fullness of the Gentiles has not yet come in. 2: The Jews, to this day, are still blind to the truth. So we are still looking ahead to a time when this prophecy will be fulfilled by three things happening (more or less) all at the same time. 1: The cities of Judea shall again be destroyed; 2: The fullness of the Gentiles shall be brought into the kingdom of God; 3: The eyes and ears of the Jews shall be open.
Let us look at another prophecy record by Isaiah and only quoted in part by Jesus Christ.
Luke4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” 20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
When we look at this prophecy in Isaiah 61:1 – 4 we find that Jesus stops half way through verse two, but to those who do not have eyes to see, verse two continues without break by saying
“And the day of vengeance of our God.”
Why did Jesus stop reading from Isaiah half way through verse two? Because it was during His first coming to earth in the flesh that Jesus Christ came proclaiming the acceptable year of the LORD, but it will not be until His second coming, that Jesus will proclaim the day of vengeance of our God. So in the middle of verse two there is an unannounced gap period in the prophecy of 2,000 years or more, between the first and second comings of Jesus Christ.
Therefore the later part of verse two and all of verses three and four are looking at events that will happen during Jesus Christ second coming.
Isaiah61:4 And they shall rebuild the old ruins, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations.
This is interesting, for in Isaiah 6:10 – 12 we are told that spiritual blindness will remain upon the Jews until cities of Judea are destroyed. Then in Isaiah 61:4 we are told these cities will be restored during the time of Jesus Christ second coming.
This means that in their final fulfilment these two prophecies will overlap. Before the second coming of Jesus Christ the cities of Judea shall be destroyed and the eyes and ears of the Jews shall be open. Then after Jesus Christ second coming they shall rebuild the old ruins, “they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations”.
Let us not forget that blindness came upon the Jews because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. In this, there is not only a parallel between the Jews who rejected Jesus Christ as their Savour, and the Church of the dark ages, who rejected salvation by the grace of God through faith in Christ Jesus. There is also a warning to the Church today: do not lose our love of the truth, or we also will become blinded to the truth.
Through Jesus Christ letter to the church of Ephesus, Christians of the first church age were rebuked for losing their first love and are warned, unless you repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place (Revelation 1:5). If you lose your love of the truth, spiritual darkness will surely overtake you, and you will be blinded, and unable to see or hear the truth.
11. THE CHURCH AGE OF EPHESUS.
Revelation 1:12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man,
Revelation 1:20 The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.
In the kingdom parables, the Church age begins with the sowing of the good seed (the gospel of Jesus Christ) out into the world. In Jesus Christ Revelation to the seven churches, the Church Age starts with Jesus Christ (who is the bright morning star [2 Peter 1:19]) standing in the midst of the seven churches, which are represented by seven lampstands, which also represent the fullness of the presents of God and the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit within the early Church (Zechariah 4:1 – 6; Revelation 3:1 & 5:5). In a sense Christ is the tree of the Light of truth, and through Christ the power of the Holy Spirit flows to the branches, (the churches) to the believers whose purpose it is to shine the Light of the Gospel to the world (Matthew 5:14 - 16).
The Church age of Ephesus. (Approximately 30 A.D. to 100 A.D.)
Revelation2:1 “To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things say He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: 2 “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; 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place - unless you repent. 6 But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”
7 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.”’
Right at the beginning of the church age of Ephesus, Jesus Christ is standing in the midst of the seven golden lampstands. As seven is both the symbolic number of all and the symbolic number for purity, this means that Christ is standing in the midst of all the churches, and all the churches in Christ are pure, the offspring of the undefiled word of God. Jesus also has in His right hand the seven stars that represent the seven angels of the seven churches. The Greek word for angel means messenger. The angels in this passage are the pastors of the seven churches, who are anointed by the Holy Spirit to be Jesus Christ messengers to the churches. It is for this reason the letters from Jesus are addressed to the angels of the churches.
While Jesus can and does speak to all believers in Christ, for there is safety in the multitude of counselors (Proverbs 11:14), when Jesus Christ has an important message to the local church, usually He will speak first to the pastor of the local church.
The seven golden lampstands are also symbolic of the fullness of the Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:1 – 6). The early church began with the fullness of the presence of God and the fullness of the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Historically, the church of Ephesus was planted around 55 A.D and at first the church of Ephesus like most first generation Christians, was full of a love and joy for Jesus Christ their Lord and Saviour, and full of the fire and power of the Holy Spirit. Forty-years later, most of this founding generation had now passed on to be with the Lord and a new generation had become the church of Ephesus; a generation who lacked the fire, the passion and the joy that came with knowing Jesus Christ as their first love.
This Church age is commended:
1. For it’s good works. The early church served one another and their community.
2. For it’s labor. They were not lazy people but hard workers.
3. For it’s patience. They were patient with all people, and patient with God.
4. Because they could not bear those who were evil, neither would they tolerate evil people in the church, who were either non-repentant or proud of their sin. God’s word tells us to put these evil people out of the church (I Corinthians 5:5)
5. For testing those who claimed to be apostles but were not, and finding them to be liars.
I John4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
II Peter2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on them selves swift destruction.
6.For their perseverance, patience and their labors for Jesus Christ name sake, and that they not become weary.
Then Jesus rebukes them, because they have lost their first love.
Can you remember when you were first saved, born again and filled with the Holy Spirit? You were filled with love and joy for Jesus Christ, and filled with love and joy for His people and His Church. You couldn’t stay away from church, for this is where you met with your love Jesus Christ, His Church and your new family, the family of God.
It was this love that drove you to do good works of love for one another. It was because of your newfound love of righteousness that you could not bear those who were evil in the church, and it was because of this love of truth that you tested those who said they were apostles but were not.
Then something happened; slowly over time, more and more you began to do these things less and less because of love and more and more because of a sense of duty. When we do the right things because of love, it brings life and vitality to others and to ourselves, but when we do the right things solely out of a sense duty it brings weariness, a weariness that can bring death to love.
This is not just true of the church’s love towards Christ; it is also true of marriage between husband and wife. When a young couple first marry, it is love that motivates them to serve each other, but if we allow ourselves to fall into that trap serving to each other less out of love and more due to sense of duty, soon we will grow weary of doing good towards our husband or wife, and we will weary of them, then our love for each other will die.
Jesus is our bridegroom and we (the church) are His bride. The church of Ephesus, gives us a picture of Christ’s bride losing it’s first love for Jesus their bridegroom; and losing their first love for fellow believers, the Church, righteousness and truth. Because of this their service to Jesus became less and less because of love, and more and more because of a sense of duty. The Church was in danger of becoming weary of doing good, and in danger of tolerating evil people and accepting the teachings of false prophets.
So Jesus warns His bride to remember from where she has fallen; repent and do the works she first did; works done out of a love for Jesus, or He will come quickly and remove her lamp stand.
When our love of righteousness and truth shine brightly, Jesus Christ places us on a lamp stand, so that we give light for all to see. But when we grow weary of righteousness and truth, our light goes out, and our lamp stand is removed; then neither others nor our-selves can see clearly to judge between what is righteousness and what is evil, nor between what is truth and what is error.
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Then before signing off, Jesus commends them for hating the deeds of the Nicolaitans. Who are the Nicolaitans? In Greek the word ‘Nico’ means ‘conqueror’, and the word ‘Laitans’ means ‘the common people’. So the name Nicolaitans means ‘the conqueror of the common people’. Thus the deeds of the Nicolaitans included the suppression of the common people, under an authoritarian priesthood who held all power and authority in the church. Also the Nicolaitans would seek to suppress any move of the Holy Spirit among the common people, ultimately quenching the freedom we have in the Spirit, and bringing the Church back under law.
Revelation 2:7 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.”
While on earth in the flesh Jesus Christ, when teaching the Jews would often speak to them in parables and then finish with the line. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 11:15; 13:9 & 42; Mark 4:23; Luke 14:35). Then in the book of Revelation, Jesus finishes each of the seven letters to the seven churches by saying, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Don’t we all have ears? Can we not all hear? Then why did Jesus, when speaking in parables and in writing to the seven churches use this line over and over again and again? The answer to this question is found in Jesus Christ answer to the disciples:
Matthew13:10b “Why do You speak to them in parables?” 11 He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to known the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.”
Mathew13:34 All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them, 35 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying:
“I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world.”
The mysteries of the kingdom, also known as the secrets of the kingdom, have all been written down in The Holy Bible for all to read. To those who have ears to hear, and eyes to see, these mysteries are clearly revealed to us by the Spirit of Christ who dwells within us. But to those who do not have the Spirit of Christ dwelling within them, to a great extent the Bible remains as a closed book, and they shall gain little or no understanding of the mysteries of the kingdom.
So when Jesus Christ says, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” He is not just telling us to listen and hear His words; He is declaring a blessing upon those who have an ear to hear; the blessing that we will hear and understand what the Holy Spirit is saying to the churches.
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Jesus Christ declares that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth.
John 16:12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.
It is so important we be filled with the Holy Spirit, that after giving His first disciples the great commission, He then tells them to wait in Jerusalem until the Promise of the Holy Spirit has come upon them (Acts 1:4 – 8). So it was that the first disciples waited in Jerusalem until, on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon them; but when can we who live 2,000 years after the Day of Pentecost expect the Promise of the Holy Spirit to come upon us?
On the Day of Pentecost, after the Promise of the Holy Spirit had come upon the first disciples, Peter declared:
Acts2:38 “- - - - - - - - Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
The gift of the Holy Spirit is promised to all who will repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. The promise is “To all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Even to this day, the gift of the Holy Spirit is promised to all who repent and are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.
The Greek word ‘baptizo’ which we translate into English as ‘baptized’ means to dunk or dip. In the dyeing of garments, the word ‘baptizo’ was used to describe the act of dunking and fully immersing a garment into a vat of dye.
It was also this word the early church used to describe public dunking of a new believer under waters of baptism, symbolizing their death to the old life, the washing away of very stain of sin, and their rebirth to a new life of righteousness in Jesus Christ. (Romans 6:3 – 4) This is more than just a symbolic act, for it was at His baptism of repentance that Jesus Christ received the promised gift of the Holy Spirit, and it is at our baptism of repentance, God promises, we will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
What about those who pray to the Father for the gift of the Holy Spirit? After all does not God’s word say; “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13)
The message here from Jesus Christ is, pray to the Father for the promised gift of the Holy Spirit, for your heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask. Of course, if Jesus Christ tells us to pray to the Father for the gift of the Holy Spirit, it is only reasonable for us to believe that Jesus Christ Himself would pray to the Father for the gift of the Holy Spirit. When did Jesus pray to the Father for the promised gift of the Holy Spirit? Answer: Jesus prayed just before His baptism of repentance, then as Jesus came up out of the waters of baptism the Holy Spirit came upon Him (Mark 1:9 – 11).
Yes I know there is a popular move in the Church today, to skip the baptism of repentance, and just ask the Father for the promised gift of the Holy Spirit. I also know God the Father will often send the promised gift of Holy Spirit upon these children of God, with the evidence of speaking in other languages; but in most cases, if these children of God will not listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, (even if the Holy Spirit does not abandon them) they usually soon return to their original condition of spiritual deafness and blindness. Why? Because they refused to listen to the Holy Spirit and be baptized into Christ.
Before Jesus Christ ascended to the Father, He gave to us the Great Commission.
Mark 16:15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these sign will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
19 So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.
When the early disciples of Jesus Christ went out into the world and preached the gospel, those who believed repented and were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, not only received the promised gift of the Holy Spirit, they also spoke in new tongues, cast out demons, and when they laid hands on the sick they recovered.
So effective was the early church in carrying out the Great Commission with signs and wonders following, as recorded in the gospel according to Mark 16:9 – 20, that the devil tried to have this passage removed from Bible. For this reason a number of incorrect Bible manuscripts, with this passage missing were written in the late 3rd century and early 4th century.
It is very possible that the Arians were responsible for writing some of these incorrect manuscripts. I say this, because Arians did not believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ, and not only has Mark 16:9 – 20 been removed from these incorrect manuscripts, but also a number of other passages that support our belief in divinity of Jesus Christ, have either been removed or altered.
Although the Church later destroyed most of these incorrect manuscripts a couple did survive. In the1840s, those who did not favour the Greek majority text, which was the main text used for the majority of Bible translations for over 1,400 years (including the Vulgate of 405 and the King James of 1611) came up with a revised Greek text, using as its main source these two incorrect manuscripts.
In the parable of the sower, it is the birds, representing Satan who came to remove the word of God. By seeking to remove Mark 16:9 – 20, Satan is not only seeking to remove the Great Commission, but also remove the power of the Holy Spirit who is promised to all who believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ, repent and are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. Without the power of the Holy Spirit, our ability to hear, see and understand God’s written word and spiritual truth is very much limited.
Because Jesus Christ says to all the seven churches, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches,” we can say that throughout the history of the Church, there has always been those without ears to hear and eyes to see. Both Christians and Jews have fallen into the same error, “teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt 15:8 – 9), thus exalting the teachings of men above the teachings God, they have closed their eyes and ears to the truth allowing Satan to both take truth out of the church and sow in lies.
By the early 4th century God’s command to “repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38); was no longer being obeyed by the majority of those who called themselves Christians. Instead, most obeyed the commands of men to sprinkle babies with water. Thus they made the commandment of God of no effect by the tradition of man (Matthew 15:9). Because most never got baptized, neither did they receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, who guides us into all truth (John 16:13), and because they exalted the commands of man above the commands of God, the devil was able to deceive them and blind them to the truth.
Then a final promise to those who overcome:
Revelation2:7b “To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.”
Yes, in the resurrection all overcomers will eat from the tree of life, but this promise is also a promise that all Christians can enjoy in this life. In this life Jesus Christ is the tree of life and we are the branches. Just as life and energy flow from the tree out into the branches, so life and energy flow from Jesus Christ out into the believers.
Jesus only rebukes the church of Ephesus for one thing, that they have lost their first love. If any Christian finds them-self in this position, all they need to do is repent and ask for forgiveness in the name of Jesus Christ. Then by the power of God working within them, they will be able to overcome this problem. The love of God will flood their soul, and the joy and vitality of the Holy Spirit will flood them with life. If they fail to overcome this problem, weariness of soul and spirit will overcome them and spiritual death will surely follow.
12. NOTES ON MARK 16:9 - 20.
In referring to Mark 16:9 –20, most N.K.J. Versions of the Holy Bible carry this note.
“Verses 9 – 20 are bracketed in the NU – Text as not original. They are lacking in Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus, although nearly all other manuscripts of Mark contain them.”
This statement in the N.K.J. Version is saying that of nearly all the early Bible manuscripts of Mark, except the two used in writing the NU Greek Text contain Mark 16:9 – 20.
Stephen Hill in his book “God’s Covenant of healing,” in pages 38 & 39 writes:
“Although these two manuscripts are often identified as the oldest and best, they are not good manuscripts. In reality, they represent mutilated, poorly copied texts. The older of the two, the Vatican manuscript, has no recommendation from any ancient authority. One modern scholar admits that it contains hundreds of omissions of words and clauses. (There are seven ancient versions that include these verses which predate the Vatican manuscript.)”
Dr Charles V. Taylor, in his book “Bible with Holes?” on page 47 writes:
“It is totally false to claim that the passage is omitted in ‘many’ or ‘several’ old manuscripts. In fact it is omitted in less than 10 out of over 600 Greek manuscripts of Mark. Only two major manuscripts omit it.”
Dr. Taylor also points out that in the early Western churches, the four gospels were often bound in order: Matthew, John, Luke, Mark, and also divided up into a daily reading per page, and each daily reading ending with words meaning the end. Therefore if one of these daily reading books was to lose its last page, it would most likely lose Mark 16:9 – 20, and still end with the words “The End” written after Mark 16:8.
Stephen Hill also points out that many early church fathers quote this passage as being authoritative and inspired:
Papias (60 – 130 A.D.) Ambrose of Milan (339 – 397 A.D.)
Justin Martyr (100 – 165 A.D.) Chrysostum (347 – 420 A.D.)
Hippolytus (170 – 236 A.D.) Jerome (331 – 420 A.D.)
Eusebius (260– 340 A.D.) Augustine (354 – 430 A.D.)
Surely if the early church fathers, some going back over a hundred years before the writing of the incorrect manuscripts were written, quote this passage as being authoritative and inspired, what right do we have to suggest that it is not part of the original writings of Mark?
13. THE PARABLE OF THE WHEAT AND THE TARES.
Matthew 13:24 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while man slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. 26 But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. 27 So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”
Matthew13:36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him saying, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.” 37 He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. 39 The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. 40 Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. 41 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father, He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
‘The parable of the wheat and the tares’ starts at the same time in Church history as ‘the parable of the sower,’ with the Church, the body of Jesus Christ going out into the world to sow the good seed, the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This is the same good seed that was sown into the city of Ephesus. Many good Ephesians accepted this good seed and took it deep down into their hearts, and they were filled with a deep love and joy for Jesus Christ and His Church. However the next generation of Christians in Ephesus, did not have that same deep down love the first generation had.
Oh yes! They still attended church regularly, broke bread together regularly, and did all the right things. But now they did these things more and more out of a sense of duty, and less and less out of a great love for Jesus Christ and the Church. Therefore they were in danger of growing weary of doing good.
As time rolled on, the Church did grow weary of doing good, they grew weary of testing the prophets, to see if they were sowing truth or lies into the Church. So Jesus Christ removed their lampstand and they fell asleep. Then while they slept their enemy the devil came and sowed lies into the Church. Sowing the good seed of truth into the world produces more wheat, who are sons of God, thus extending God’s kingdom on earth. Sowing lies into the Church produces tares, who are sons of the devil.
The first generation of Christians were on fire for God, and they went out preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost, they cast out demons, they laid hands on the sick and the sick recovered, they made disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of Jesus Christ and all who believed were saved. However the next generation of Christians in Ephesus, did not have that same deep down love for Jesus their bridegroom and The Church, which the first generation had.
As the natural children of these early Christians grew up, even if they were never born again into the kingdom of heaven, there were many reasons why most of them (baring persecutions) would stay in the church. Just to mention a few of these reasons, to be with family and friends, they felt safe in church; it was good for business, the free handouts to the poor and needy, they liked to play in the band, to sing in the choir, or they may be even eyeing one of the young ladies for a suitable wife. But whatever their reason for staying in the church, if they are not born again, not Holy Spirit filled believers in Jesus Christ, they are in danger of becoming wearing of doing good and falling asleep.
Then when false prophets came into the church preaching lies, many of these second-generation churchgoers accepted these lying doctrines into their heart and became sons of the devil instead of sons of God. So it is that both the sons of God and the sons of the devil dwell side by side in the church.
One of the reasons we keep on preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to regular Church goers, is because each generation of Church goers needs to hear the gospel, believe the gospel, receive the gospel deep down into their heart, repent, be baptized and be born again into the kingdom of heaven.
Although I believe young children who are being brought up by born again Christian parents come under their parents covering, there comes a time in the child’s life when they themselves must accept the gospel of Jesus Christ into their heart, and confess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. From that time, to not accept the gospel of Jesus Christ into their heart is to reject the good seed and accept the lying tares of the devil into their heart. Those who accept the good seed of the gospel of Jesus Christ into their heart become the sons of the kingdom, while those who reject the good seed, receive the lying tares of the devil into their heart become the sons of the devil.
Luke12:8 “Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. 9 But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.”
There comes a point in time for all of us when we must personally either accept or reject Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour. Not to accept salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ is to reject God's plan of salvation and become a son of the devil.
Being born into a good Christian home, and raised by good Christian parents, saves no one. Being very good, and/or being married to a believer in Jesus Christ, saves no one. There comes a time in everyone’s life; there comes a time in your life, (even if you consider yourself a good person, even if were born into a good Christian family, or even if you are married to a believer) when you must personally accept salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ, or you will face eternal damnation in the fires of hell. For there no longer remains any other sacrifice for sins. In the past God may have accepted other sacrifices for sin, but now salvation can only be received through the precious blood of Jesus Christ.
Hebrews10:26 For if we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of Judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.
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To have heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, and then to reject God’s plan of forgiveness and salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ, is to willfully sin after receiving the knowledge of the truth. With this in mind, lets us look at I Corinthians 7:12 – 16. In this passage Paul is writing to believers whose husband or wife is not a believer in Christ Jesus.
I Corinthians7:12b If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. 15 But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. 16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?
Given the Great Commission, to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15), we can assume that the believer, in obedience is regularly preaching the gospel to both their unbelieving partner, and their children. If your partner will not allow you to do this, then they are not willing to live at peace with you, and I would advise you to seek good Christian marriage counseling, and the support of other Christians.
In the natural, there is a weed known as a tare; sometimes this weed would be self-sown by the wind amongst wheat, and sometimes it would be deliberately sown by an enemy amongst the wheat. At first you cannot tell the difference between the tares and the wheat, but when the fruit begins to show, you can clearly tell the difference. At this point in the parable, the servants ask if they should pull the tares out of the field of wheat. The problem with this idea is that by now the roots of the tares and the wheat have become so wrapped around each other, that you cannot pull the tares out of the field without also pulling out much of the wheat and damaging the rest of the crop; On the other hand, because the fruit of the tares is poisonous and will bring death if ground into flour with the wheat, the tares must be removed and separated from the wheat before harvest.
So it was that the second generation Christian Church became a place were both the sons of God and the sons of the devil lived side by side in the Church. In the parable of the wheat and the tares, at first servants of the owner were unaware that there were tares growing up amongst the wheat, and they remained unaware until the fruit began to appear. Only then did they realize that the enemy had sown tares amongst the wheat.
Matthew7:16 (Jesus Christ said,) “you will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 therefore by their fruits you will know them.
The servants of God, now coming to realization that there are both sons of the devil and sons of God growing up in the Church, are faced with the decision, what shall we do? Take Johnny as an example; we just can’t pull him up and throw him out of the Church; for if we do, we may also pull up his father and mother, along with Johnny’s wife and children, his brothers and sisters, and their children. Perhaps, as long as Johnny is happy to come to church along with his family, it may be better for us to up hold Johnny and his family in prayer, and allow him to stay in the Church where he will continue to hear the gospel being preached and believers testifying to the goodness of God.
Then, at harvest time, at the end of the age, the angels of God will first gather the tares, the sons of the devil from out of the Church and tie them in bundles to be burned in the fire. From both this parable and the parable of the five wise and five foolish virgins, we learn that the angels of God will first remove the sons of the devil from out of the Church, before gathering the sons of God together to meet with Jesus Christ in the air.
According to the parable of the five wise and five foolish virgins, before the return of Jesus Christ our bridegroom, there will first be a gathering together of both the wise and the foolish virgins, then a separating of the wise and the foolish virgins. For Jesus Christ our bridegroom is coming for a bride without spot or wrinkle.
The tares, the foolish virgins will be taken out of the Church and tied in bundles for burning. Then Jesus Christ our bridegroom will come with His angels, and they will gather up those who are the wheat and the wise virgins to meet with Jesus their bridegroom in the air.
If you have non-Christian children living in your home, as long as they are willing to live with you, and live in peace with you; the Lord is saying to you, don’t cast them out of your family, let them remain under the preaching of the word of God. Who knows whether you will save them? And the same goes for non-Christians living in the church, as long as they are willing to live at peace in the church, let them remain under the preaching of the word of God. Who knows whether you will save them?
Although the parable looks ahead until the harvest at the end of the age, when the tares will first be removed and gathered up to be burned, then the wheat will be caught up to meet with Jesus in the air; there has already been a number of harvests, in which the Lord has first separated the tares from the wheat, then again scattered the wheat as good seed into the field.
The Lord separated the early Christians from the Jews, the Protestants from the Catholics, the Baptized believers from the Protestants, and before the Lord returns, in the biggest church spilt ever, God will remove all the sons of the devil from the Church. When this happens, the devil will deceive his sons into believing that they are doing God service by throwing the sons of God out of the churches, out of the synagogues, out of the mosque, and out of any other body of people who falsely claim to be sons of God, or the people of God.
John 16:1 These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. 2 They will put you out of synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God a service. 3 And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. 4 But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them. - - - - - - -
Note: For more on the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, read “We Are The Bride of Christ.” Written by Kenneth Clark.
14. THE CHURCH AGE OF SMYRNA.
Of the seven churches in Asia, it was the church of Smyrna that suffered more persecution at the hands of the Jews than most others. Consequently, this church is used as a type picture of the Church 100 A.D. to 325 A.D., for it was during this time that the Church of Jesus Christ suffered its most wide spread persecution. Prior to this time the Church was considered by Rome to be part of the Jewish faith, and they were granted all the rights the Jews had to worship their own God, and pray to their own God, as long as they prayed for the protection and well being of the emperor, but after the Jewish rebellions of the 60’s and 70’s these rights were withdrawn and both Jews and Christians began to suffer wide spread persecution.
Revelation2:8 And to the church in Smyrna write, “These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: 9 ‘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. 10 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.”
11 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”
This letter to the church of Smyrna is from Jesus, who not only rightfully claims to be the First and the Last, He also rightfully claims to be He who was dead and come to life. By claiming to be the First and the Last, Jesus is not just claiming to be a god, He is claiming to be the One and Only supreme God who was before all other beings, and is the creator of all things. For only He, the supreme God, was before all things and will exist beyond all things.
This is an important point. It was not only the Jews and Christians who believed in a supreme eternal God who was both before all things and the creator of all things; this was a common belief held by the vast majority of the ancient faiths, right back to their beginnings. Jesus Christ is not just the God of the Jews, or the God of the Christians, He is the one and only supreme God, who was before all powers and authorities and was and still is above all powers and authorities.
When we talk about the beginnings, we should bear in mind that approximately 4,400 years ago; the forefathers’ of all the world’s ancient civilizations and faiths were all part of one great ancient civilization, whose central point of focus was the tower of Babel. In those days when the tower of Babel was being built, Shem, the son of Noah, or someone very close to Noah or Shem, would have also been there preaching righteousness to the forefathers’ of all the ancient civilizations of the world.
Because of the preaching of Shem, when God confused the language of the people at Babel, and scattered the nations of the world; each nation, people of every tribe and tongue took with them a good sound knowledge of One and only Supreme God the Creator, the fall of man, death, the world of the dead, God’s plan of redemption, the need for a blood sacrifice, and the promise of a deliver, the Son of God born of a virgin, the coming resurrection from the dead and the final judgment.
All over the world, no matter where you go, those who study ancient civilizations have found the vast majority of these civilizations believed in most of these things, along with a belief in the great worldwide flood. The reason why many ancient people groups mummified the dead is because they believed in the coming resurrection.
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Did you know that the promise of a redeemer, the Son of God born of a virgin, goes right back to the Garden of Eden, when God declared to Satan;
Genesis 3:15 “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” ?
Throughout the Holy Scriptures, the descendants of man are always referred to as being born of the seed of man. Jesus Christ alone is referred to as being born of the seed of woman. Why? Because Jesus Christ was not conceived by the seed of man, He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin (Matthew 1:20).
On the very same day that God promised a redeemer, the spirit of anti-christ also came into being. This is why many of the ancient kings of the world took upon themselves the title of the son of god. The people of the ancient world were expecting the Son of God to come as their redeemer, so Satan raised up anti-christs all over the ancient world to usurp the power and authority of the Son of God, and to draw man’s worship away from God and towards Satan.
So when Jesus Christ identifies Himself as the First and the Last, He is declaring Himself to be the One and Only Supreme God, the Creator of all things, who was worshiped by the forefathers of every nation, every tribe and every people group in the world.
Then, by identifying Himself as the one who was dead and came to life, He identifies Himself as the Lamb of God who was killed on the cross for the sins of all mankind, and rose from the dead three days later.
As an interesting side thought, up until the time Jesus Christ death on the cross, nearly all mankind accepted and believed in the need of a blood sacrifice to cover their sins. But since God sacrificed His Only Begotton Son on the cross for the sins of all mankind, most of mankind have turned away from and now treat as abhorrent the thought of a blood sacrifice. Why? Is it because deep down in our spirit, we all know that Jesus Christ is the only acceptable sacrifice for sin, and for this reason all other blood sacrifices are now, not only abhorrent to God but also to most of mankind?
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This letter of Jesus Christ to the church in Smyrna can be viewed as a letter of both commendation and encouragement. Jesus commends them for their good works, reassures them, by telling them that he knows of the tribulation they are going through and of the poverty they are suffering, then He encourages them by reminding them that they are rich in the things that really matter.
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Jesus knows of the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews but are not, they are a synagogue of Satan.
The word blasphemy means to speak evil of, and to speak untruthfully against, especially to speak evil and untruthfully against God and the things of God. To claim to be a Jew, was to claim to be a child of God.
Those who speak evil and untruthfully against God and the things of God, are not God's children; they are Satan's children. They are not the Church, the dwelling place of God; they are the synagogue of Satan, the dwelling place of Satan (Ephesians 2:2).
Many of the parents and grandparents of the second generation Christian had been devout Jews, and these Christians were under pressure from old friends and family members to bring the Church back under the ceremonial and sacrificial laws of the Old Covenant; thus denying the fullness of the redemption that is available to us through the death of Jesus and the power of God made available to us through Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Those who seek to bring the Church back under the ceremonial and sacrificial laws of the Old Covenant, preach blasphemy against God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. They claim to be the children of God, but they are not, they are children of Satan and the dwelling place of Satan.
In the first of the kingdom parables, the good seed is the gospel of Jesus Christ; which tells us of the full redemption available to us through Jesus death on the cross, and the power God made available to us through His resurrection. Then Jesus tells us that the birds (who are Satan) have come to steal this good seed. Those who say they are Jews, and those who say they are Christians; if what they preach takes away from the gospel and brings us back under the Old Covenant, or under a law of salvation by works and not by grace through the blood of Jesus Christ, they are neither Jews nor Christians, they are of the synagogue of Satan.
The Church in Galatia was also a church like the Church in Smyrna, in that many of it’s members had turned away from believing in salvation through faith in the blood of Jesus Christ, and had now turned back to a belief in salvation by works and not by grace. In writing to these people, Paul says, “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth?” The truth is we are saved by faith and not by works. Anyone who would have you believe that your salvation or continued salvation is by works, is not an apostle of God but is a servant of Satan.
Jesus encourages the church in Smyrna not to fear the coming tribulation and the imprisonment many of them will suffer, for although the early church in Smyrna suffered persecution more than most churches at the hands of the Jews, during the coming church age of Smyrna (100 A.D. – 323 A.D.), the church throughout the empire would suffer greater persecution at the hands of Rome.
Jesus does not promise the church Smyrna deliverance of their mortal bodies from the coming tribulation, but encourages them by saying; “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Then Jesus ends this letter with the promise that “he who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”
Take note; Jesus does not promise Christians, even overcoming Christians immunity from suffering, tribulation, nor from imprisonment, nor death for the sake of the gospel, but He does promise us if we are faithful until death, He will give us the crown of life, and that we shall not be hurt by the second death. Therefore as Christians we should not fear death.
The words of Jesus Christ to those who are about to suffer tribulation are
Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell.
Revelation2:10 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.”
15. THE PARABLE OF THE MUSTARD SEED.
Matthew13:31 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, 32 which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.
I John4:1 Beloved, do not believe very spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.
Almost right from the start of the Church age, there was pressure applied to those who were once Jews, to bring the Church back under the ceremonial and sacrificial laws of the Old Covenant, thus denying the fullness of our salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ.
Later, when ex-pagans flooded into the Church, they not only came under pressure to accept these same Jewish ceremonial and sacrificial laws, they also came under pressure to retain some of their old pagan gods and pagan customs, thus further denying the fullness of our salvation through faith alone in Christ Jesus.
At first, these attacks were mainly from without, or from traveling prophets, but little by little, as more and more regular churchgoers began to accept these lies of the devil, false prophets began to dwell in the Church and the Church began to accept and teach false doctrines.
It is in this setting, of the Church accepting false prophets and false doctrines into the Church, that we consider the parable of the mustard seed.
Two Thousand years ago most people had a small garden of herbs plants handy to their home. These may have even been planted in a number of pots kept in the courtyard. Amongst these plants there would usually be a mustard tree. Although the seed of the mustard tree was the smallest of all the herbs, when it had grown it became the largest of all the herbs in the garden, so large it became a tree that the birds of the air came and dwelt in it.
This parable, like the parable of the sower and the parable of tares, begins with the first disciples of Jesus Christ sowing the good seed, the gospel of Jesus Christ into the world. Although the Church, at its beginning was the smallest of the world’s faiths, it quickly grew into the largest. So large that the birds came and nested in its branches.
In the parable of the sower the birds are the devil, who has come to take away the good seed. Then in the parable of the mustard seed, we find the birds, the devil, are now nesting in the branches of the Church, and he is there to take the true gospel of Jesus Christ away from the Church. Jesus Christ is the tree, and we are the branches.
As the Church begins to grow larger we, the branches, can become weary of testing the prophets and fall asleep. Then while we sleep, evil spirits can come and indwell (or attach themselves to) false prophets, who dwell in the branches of the Church. In many larger churches and in churches that are part of a large denomination, it is not so much the devil out there in the world you need to be watchful of; it is the devil that is dwelling in the branches of the Church that we need to be watchful of.
Let me give you an example from my own life. When I was young man and much fitter, I use to take part in running races. Some times on a track, and some times either on the road or cross-country, but most of my training runs were done on the road. Because of the ever present danger of being hit by a car or truck, whenever I ran alone on the road I kept an ever vigilante eye on the traffic; But when I ran with a large group of runners, one could so easily grow weary of looking out for cars and trucks, especially towards the end of a long hard run. You could be feeling weary and pushed to keep up with the front runners, or you may have caught the sent of victory and all caution is thrown to the wind, as you thrust your tired, weary body toward the finishing line.
Whatever the reason, we all started the race full of energy and with an ever-watchful eye, but as the race progressed and the body wearied, we closed our eyes to the cars and trucks. More often than not, we would reassure ourselves of our safety by telling ourselves, “with all these other runners surrounding me, if there is any danger they will see it! They will warn me!” But all too often, the other runners are all thinking the same thing, so nobody looks.
In the natural, you need to always keep your eyes and ears open, because you cannot always rely on others to watch out for you; and it is no different in Church. The bigger the church, the greater the danger becomes of you and others closing your eyes and ears, and depending on others to check out whether the prophets are teaching the truth or lies.
Many a great man of God has fallen, taking many with him to destruction, because they all fell asleep believing others were watching out for them. We are all called to be watchmen. In The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins (Matthew 25:1 – 13), it is not just the watchmen who are exulted to watch, but all the virgins.
Although those appointed as watchmen, will be held accountable for the loss of any sheep they are called to watch over, that is of no comfort to the sheep who Satan drags to the pit of Hell. Therefore we should all watch and pray.
16. THE PARABLE OF THE LEAVEN.
Matthew 13:33 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.”
In the Bible, leaven speaks of impurities, unrighteousness and false teachings. At the time of Passover, the children of Israel were expected to remove and cast out all the old leaven from their homes. Then, for seven days after Passover, the only bread they were allowed to eat was bread that had no leaven in it. This speaks to us of how the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all unrighteousness, and having been cleansed of unrighteousness, we should no longer allow unrighteousness into our lives.
Some of the leaven that was around two thousand years ago.
In Matthew 16:5 – 12, we are not only told to be aware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, but the leaven is also clearly identified as the doctrine (or the teachings) of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.
According to Luke 12:1, the leaven of the Pharisees is hypocrisy. In Acts 23:8 we are told that the leaven of the Sadducees was not to believe in the resurrection, nor did they believe in angels or spirits. In I Corinthians 5:1 – 8, sexual fornication is referred to as leaven, as is legalism in Galatians 5:9. And in Matthew 15:3 – 9, making the commandments of God no effect by the traditions of men, and honouring God with your lips when your heart is far from God is called hypocrisy. What is leaven? Hypocrisy, unbelief, sexual fornication and legalism are just a few of many; and if we were to look around we would not have to look too hard to find these things in the Church today. But instead of looking around and judging others, perhaps, just as the Jews cleansed their own homes of leaven every year, we should examine our own lives, and our own homes at least once a year, casting out all that is leaven, casting out all that is unclean and unrighteous.
Put the parable of the mustard tree, together with the parable of the leaven, and we really need to answer these following questions
1. In the past, were there evil demonic spirits dwelling in the Church?
2. Did they come to take away the gospel of Jesus Christ?
3. Did they also come to plant false doctrine, and add leaven to the Church?
4. Are there still evil demonic spirits dwelling in the Church today?
Today among those who call themselves Christians, there are many who do not believe in all the basic foundational Christian doctrines, such as the Holy Trinity, the divinity of Jesus Christ, the virgin birth, the reality of Hell, the resurrection of the dead, eternal judgments, the doctrine of repentance and baptism for the forgiveness of sins, the doctrine of healing, and the doctrine of the laying on of hands. The devil is still dwelling in the Church today, and he is still taking away the good seed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Some local churches allow Satan into the Church by holding, yoga classes, tai-chi classes, fairy and goblin dances, and they worship idols and ancestral spirits. At a national level we hold inter faith services, where we pray to - - - - - -.
Well who do we pray to at these inter faith services? For at them we refuse to acknowledge God as our Father, nor do we ask of our Father in the name of Jesus Christ. Why? Because we are afraid of offending those of other faiths. Why are we afraid of offending those of other faiths? Is it because we have become more fearful of man than God? Is it because we have become man pleasers, instead of God pleasers?
Jesus Christ said;
Matthew10:28 Do not fear those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
At inter-faith services we not only allow Satan to take away our witness of Jesus Christ, we also deny Jesus Christ before men. Jesus said, “whoever denies Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:33). Jesus also said, that when we pray we should pray to our Father which art in heaven (Matthew 6:9).
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II Corinthians 6:15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
"I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
17 Therefore “Come out from among them and be separated, say the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, say the Lord Almighty.”
The message is clear, we should worship the Lord God Almighty only; We should not worship other gods or others things; We should not join with others in the worship of other gods or other things; nor should we worship God in the presence of non-believers without acknowledging who Jesus Christ is, and that there is salvation in no other name but the name of Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God. Not to acknowledge Jesus at such times is to deny Jesus Christ before man. Jesus who says “But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God” (Luke 12:9).
17. THE ROMAN WORLD IN TURMOIL.
During the last decade of the third century, the Roman world was relatively stable with the West Roman Empire ruled over by Emperor Maximian, and the East Roman Empire ruled over by Emperor Diocletian, but from the beginnings of the fourth century, up till the Council of Nicaea in 325 A. D., the Roman world was in great turmoil. Christianity had reached the four corners of the empire, and in Rome itself, even immediate members of Roman Emperor Diocletian’s household (including his wife and daughter) had become Christians, and many in high places, were either Christians or favourably disposed to Christianity. But in the last three years of Emperor Diocletian’s reign, he turned on the Christian Church. This action may have been to gain a more enthusiastic support from the army, which tended to be strongly anti-Christian.
In 303 he ordered the destruction of all church buildings, the confiscation of all Christian books, the dismissal of Christians from the government and army, and the imprisonment of clergy. This was follow in 304 with an order that Christians had to offer sacrifices to the pagan gods. What followed was the worse period of persecution the Church had ever suffered. Shortly after giving these orders, Diocletian became ill. Although he did recover, Diocletian became the first Emperor to voluntarily abdicate; and at his urging, Maximian also retired with him in 305.
Constantius was promoted to augustus in the West, while Galerius became master of the state, and military commander in the East. Then Galerius chose his nephew, Maximinus Daia and fellow officer Severus, as his caesars, to rule with him over the East Roman Empire.
In 306 Maximinus Daia extended the reign of terror against the Christians, ordering that everyone regardless of age or sex was to offer sacrifices to the pagan gods
With the death of Constantius in 306, the army in the West urged his son Constantine to except the title of augustus, or full emperor. But because Constantine knew this would mean war with Galerius, he chose the lesser title of Caesar.
In the meantime, in the East, Galerius promoted Severus as augustus. Then when Severus died in 307, Galerius appointed his old friend and brother in-law Licinus as augustus. On hearing news of this, Constantine, and Maximinus Daia, who thought his uncle would appoint him as augusti, both declared themselves to be augusti in the West.
Maximinus Daia continued his with his fanatic paganism, ordering all food sold in the markets to be sprinkled with the blood from pagan sacrifices, and that everyone be forced to taste sacrificed meat.
In the spring of 311 Galerius developed a painful malady, and he began to fear he had angered the God of the Christians. At the urging of his wife, in the April of 311 Galerius issued an edict of toleration towards Christians, and ordered the release of all Christian prisoners. Galerius died within a week of issuing the edict of toleration. With his death the empire would go to the man who first claimed it, and could hang on to it.
With Constantine in north at war with the Franks, Maxentius took control of Italy, while Maximinus Daia took control of Asia Minor, thus ousting Licinius, who subsequently teamed up with Constantine. Then to better their own chances, Maximinus Daia and Maxentius conspired against Constantine and Licinius.
In 312 Constantine crosses the Alps with his army and headed towards Rome. On the 28th October, nine miles north of Rome, the army of Constantine met and decisively defeated the army of Maxentius. History records on the day before this important battle, Constantine saw a vision of the cross of Jesus, in front of the sun, with the words, “by this sign conquer.” To a sun worshiper like Constantine this would mean, it is all right to worship Jesus, the god of the cross, as long as I acknowledge the sun as the supreme god and ruler over Jesus Christ.
Constantine was a sun worshiper, a religion that is often referred as either paganism, or Emperor worship. A sun worshiper was allowed to worship as many gods as he liked, providing he did two things.
1. He recognized the sun as the supreme god and ruler over all gods, all kingdoms, all persons and all things. One of the accepted ways of doing this was to place a sunburst or hallow behind and above the head of the leaser god’s image or idol. Thus signifying the lesser god’s servitude to the superior sun god.
2. He recognized the Emperor as the one who sat on the throne of the sun god, and as his spokesperson here on earth. It was believed when the Emperor spoke, he spoke with the power and authority of the supreme god.
It was not unusual for pagans to worship their emperor as the son of god; this was so in ancient Egypt, and is still so in Japan today. The ancient Greeks believed that Hercules was conceived by a union between the god Zeus and one of the daughters of a man, thus Hercules was recognized as a son of god. For these reasons sun worshipers were often happy to worship Jesus Christ as the son of god, has long as it was not claimed that Jesus was God or equal to God.
In some ways trying to convert a sun worshiper to Christianity was a bit like trying to convert a Hindu to Christianity. The Hindus believe in and worship many gods. This creates a problem for Christian evangelist, when presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ to them. For all to often they will accept Jesus as the god of salvation, or god of healing, while still retaining all their other gods. Like wise Constantine would have seen nothing wrong in receiving Jesus Christ as the god of salvation, while he still worshiped the sun as the supreme god.
In the lead up to this Church age, despite having suffered great persecution at the hands of pagan Rome, the number of Christians throughout the empire had increased greatly. So greatly, that Constantine would of feared the possibility of Christians raising up against Roman authorities, or even joining forces with Constantine’s enemies.
The main reason for Rome’s persecution of Christians was not to kill them all, but to persuade then to reject Christian beliefs, and to return to the worship of pagan gods. Ten-years of the worst ever persecution of the Church had failed achieve this, and it was time for the devil, through Constantine to try one of his old tricks; if you cannot beat them join them. Back in Numbers 22; Balaam had taught Balak to beat God’s people by joining them.
History records that after Constantine’s great victory, the Senate commissioned a statue of Constantine carrying a Christian symbol in his hand, while at the same time Constantine authorized the minting of a medallion, giving honour to the sun god, for Rome’s liberation.
This minting of medallion giving glory to the sun god for Rome’s liberation, is a clear indication that Constantine did not become a Christian at this time, but merely added Jesus Christ to his list of many gods that he considered inferior to the sun god.
Following Constantine’s acceptance of Jesus Christ as a lesser god, many other pagans flooded into the Church of Jesus Christ bringing all their idols of pagan gods with them. In time these pagan idols were renamed after Christian saints, and the worship of many saints replaced the worship of many gods. Nevertheless what Satan meant for evil God turned to good, and many good things for the long-term benefit of God’s people came out Constantine’s so called conversion.
18. THE BATTLE FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE HOLY TRINITY
& THE DIVINITY OF JESUS CHRIST.
Prier to Constantine’s so called conversion to Christianity in 312 AD, he was a sun worshiper who saw nothing wrong with worshiping as many gods as you liked, as long as you recognized the sun god as the supreme god. Many view sun worship (also known as emperor worship) as an all-embracing religion, which embraces all gods and the worshipers of all gods.
However we must open our eyes to the fact it is the spirit of Satan who is behind sun worship, and the aim of sun worship is to draw all mankind away from the worship of the one and only true God. Satan has so blinded and deceived those who have chosen not to believe in the one and only true God, that they cannot see that there is only one true God and not many gods. For this reason many Romans, like Constantine, failed to understand the Christian God or Christian beliefs.
Constantine often failed to clearly distinguish between the sun god and God the Father. Therefore, over a decade after his so called conversion, Constantine still continued to mint coins featuring pagan gods, including the sun god.
In 321 AD, ten years after his so called conversion, Constantine declared the first day of the week a public holiday, calling it ‘the venerable day of the sun.’ For Christians this was a good thing, in that it allowed all to freely meet and worship our Lord and Savour on the Lord’s Day. Most of us in the Western World, can still rejoice in this freedom. However if Constantine had truly turned his back on worshiping the sun god and wholeheartedly embraced Christianity, he would have called this public holiday ‘the venerable day of Christ Jesus.’
One of the most common names given to the emperors of ancient Persia was Cyrus. This name means ‘sun throne’ and was given to the ancient Persian emperors, because it was believed they sat on the throne of the sun god and that, when the emperor spoke from the throne of the sun god, his word was considered as unchangeable law (Daniel 6:8). The name of Cyrus’s treasurer was Mithredath (Ezra 2:8). This name means ‘given by Mithra’. Mithra was the Persian name for the sun god. In calling their treasurer Mithredath, the Persian Emperors recognized that their wealth belonged to the sun god.
These are just some of the ancient pagan beliefs that Constantine, as a sun worshiper, would have embraced when he became emperor. On becoming emperor Constantine also took upon him-self the title of pontiff; a pagan title given to ancient kings who ruled over both the state and all religions within the state. Long after his conversion Constantine still continued to attend many official pagan events in his capacity as the pontiff, the supreme ruler over both the affairs of state and religion.
Constantine was a politician, who was very keen to unite all the citizens of his empire under his leadership, and for the sake of unity, he wanted a religion that embraced everyone, and he was not slow in meddling with church affairs when this unity was at stake.
In 313 AD., Constantine met with his co-emperor, Licinius, in Milan. Following this meeting they dispatched a letter to all the governors throughout the empire. This letter, now known as the Edit of Milan, ordered that the state should give complete toleration to all Christians and the return all Christian property and places of worship.
Meanwhile, in North Africa the Donatist controversy was brewing. At issue was the status of Christians who either denied the faith, or had taken part in pagan sacrifices during the persecution. Should they be allowed back into the church, or should they be branded as traitors and excluded from the church? The Donatist opposed accepting those traitors back into the Church, while the more moderate bishop of Carthage, Caecilian, who was not opposed to welcoming them back into the church, quickly gained favour with Constantine.
With Constantine, recognition of the moderate Caecilian as the head of the church in North Africa, the Donatist appealed to Constantine, who arranged for a Church synod to be held in Rome and to be attended by 10 moderate bishops, and 10 Donatist bishops from North Africa. These were to present their case before Bishop Miltiades of Rome, 3 bishops from Gaul, and 15 Italian bishops.
Although this synod upheld the moderate view, the Donatist continued to refuse the admission of the traitors. Constantine again called the bishops together, this time at Arles, and again the moderate view was upheld, and again the Donatist refused the admission of the traitors. So in 317AD., Constantine had the Donatist banned from the Church and divested them of all church properties. However, because many Donatist chose torture, imprisonment, or even death over accepting the traitors back into the Church, the rift in the Church continued to grow. So in 321 AD., Constantine, in disgust, revoked his anti-Donatist edict.
While the persecution in the West under Emperor Constantine had ceased, in the East under emperor Licinius they had continued. So much so that many Christians in the east were now looking to Constantine to intervene and save them from persecution. This only encouraged emperor Licinius to increase his persecution of the Christians. This in turn was just the excuse Constantine needed to move against his co-emperor and gain his long held goal of total domination over the whole Roman Empire. When the two armies meet in 324 AD., Constantine’s army won the battle and the civil war.
When Constantine became the sole emperor of the empire, he became aware of another major rift appearing in the Church. Some Christians rightly believed that Jesus Christ was not only the Son of God, but that He was God Himself come to earth in the flesh, while others, known as the Arians, followed the teachings of Arius, who believed that God the Father alone was the only eternal God, and wrongly taught, that because Jesus Christ was known as the only Begotten Son of God, He had a beginning and was therefore subordinate to the Father.
Alexander, the bishop of Alexandria, and his bishops judged Arius as a heretic, and put him out of the Church. But Arius gained support elsewhere in the East, including the support of fellow Arian, Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea, who would not only quickly gain Constantine favour, he would remain one of Constantine’s chief advisors for the next twelve years. Constantine wanting this matter settled out of court, sent a letter to both parties in the dispute, describing this as a very trifling matter and not worthy of such conflict.
By this time Constantine, had supposedly been a Christian for thirteen years, yet he still had not grasped hold of the truth that God the Father and God the Son were not only both equally God, they were also both The One and only True God.
(For help in gaining a true understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ, The Holy Trinity, and why Jesus Christ is known as the only Begotten Son of God, I have written a book called “The Holy Trinity” and a booklet called “The Only Begotten Son of God.”)
As a sun worshiper, or ex-sun worshiper, who now worshiped father god as the supreme god, and the son of god has a lesser god, Constantine was more than a little upset that the Arians had been banned from the Church and for the sake of unity (not truth) he wanted the Arians accepted back in the Church.
To Constantine, the Arians were not the problem, but rather those who insisted only the truth be taught in Church and that all who opposed the truth should be put out of the Church. The stance taken by the orthodox bishops was unacceptable to Constantine. So Constantine (the politician) withheld his rage and wrote to both parties telling them that this very trifling matter was not worthy of such conflict, but when he saw that this dispute would not be easily settled, he called a council of the whole church, to meet at Nicaea in 325 AD.
Although the devil meant this council for evil, and Constantine as a sun worshiper would have wanted see the Arians win the day and Jesus Christ relegated to that of a lesser god, God turned the council of Nicaea for the good of the Church and for the good of Christians down through the ages. This council ended in a triumph for the truth, with the Church affirming its belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ. At a later council the Church also affirmed its belief in the Holy Trinity.
But Constantine never achieved the church unity he was looking for, for soon after the council of Nicaea, Athanasius, the new bishop of Alexandria excommunicated the heretic Arian and his followers from the church. Despite Constantine efforts to get Athanasius to accept the repentant Arians back into the church, Athanasius stood his ground. Because of this Constantine five times banished him from his post.
Did Constantine ever reject sun worship and become a true Christian? As a sun worshiper, the Arian view would have been perfectly acceptable to Constantine, and from the time he became aware of the Arian controversy, Constantine actively supported Arian and his followers, and as long as he lived he continued to push for their acceptance back into the Church.
Later, under his son, emperor Constantius, the empire moved increasingly towards Arianism, and in his efforts to unite the church under an anti-Nicener banner, he called together a number of councils throughout the empire from 354 AD to 360 AD.
Thankfully “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). Because of these and other attacks against the true gospel of Jesus Christ; the true servants of God searched the Scriptures daily rightly dividing the word of truth concerning the deity of Jesus Christ, the Holy Trinity and many other foundational doctrines of truth. They then wrote them down in a number of early church creeds which helped protect most of the basic foundation truths during the dark ages, which would soon come upon the Church.
Under both emperor Constantine and his son emperor Constantius the empire moved ever closer to Christianity with many pagan beliefs becoming outlawed. By the end of the 4th century Christianity dominated the empire, and orthodox Christians views on the deity of Jesus Christ and the Holy trinity dominated most of the Church.
During the 4th century the Arians and other Heretics wrote many incorrect copies of the Bible, some with many alterations and deletions which added support for their false doctrines. With so many incorrect copies of the Bible in circulation, the Church both decided to standardize the Greek text, and commission the writing of a standard Latin text.
So it was that most of the incorrect Bibles written by the Arians and other heretics were destroyed and a standard text, called the majority text, based a textual examination of the majority of all earlier manuscripts, was made available. This majority text became the base text for all Bibles accepted by the Christian Church for the next 1,000 years, including both the Latin Vulgate Version, and the English King James Version.
However, since the 1850s most Bibles have been using a text based on two incorrect manuscripts, which were rightly over looked in the writing of the majority text. Therefore, it should come as no surprise to us that, since the 1850s the number of churches (and their followers) that don’t believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ, the Holy trinity and the reality of Hell has greatly increased. The Arian controversy that plagued the Church throughout the 4th century is back again.
I do not suggest we should all read the King James Version and nothing else, but we do need to get back to the majority text as the base text for all our Bibles. At stake, amongst other things, is our fundamental belief in the foundational truths of the divinity of Jesus Christ and the Holy Trinity; without these two foundational beliefs, the true Christian faith no longer exists.
Also at stake is the gift of the Holy Spirit, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, promised to all who repent and are baptized for the forgiveness of sins in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38 & Mark 16:15 – 18). Without the Holy Spirit, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Church is blind, deaf, lacking in understanding of God’s written word, and powerless against our enemy the devil.
19. DO NOT JUDGE OTHERS.
As we continue with our look at the seven churches, it would be so easy for us to point our condemning the finger at the church down the road, but that is not the point of this exercise. God is very well able to deal with His church down the road without your help, thank you very much.
Luke6:37 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
We need to focus on our own church, but firstly, and more importantly we need to focus on our-self. First ask God to help you remove the leaven and Satan from your own life. Jesus said, “First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brothers eye” (Matthew 7:5).
There is no denying that idolatry (the worshiping of and praying to the saints) was a major problem in the Church during the dark ages, and idolatry is still a major problem in much of the Church to this day. However, before you even think of taking over Satan's job of condemning those who bow down to statues and icons of Mary and the saints, remember God’s word likens stubborn rebellion as witchcraft and idolatry. We stubborn rebellious Protestants need to first take the plank out of our own eye, so we can then see more clearly to remove the speck from our brother’s eye.
It was stubborn rebellion that lead to the fall of Satan. It was stubborn rebellion that lead to the original fall of mankind, and throughout history it as been stubborn rebellion that has lead time and time again to the fall of the God’s people, and kept generation after generation of the worlds children under the oppression of the devil.
If you are stubborn and rebellious against God and against any God-given authority, then you need to repent of your evil ways and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. If you will not repent you are not a child of God; you are a child of Satan and on Judgement Day you will be condemned and cast into the lake of fire. If we who are leaders in the church, at both local and national level, don’t confront stubborn rebellion in our own church we will be judged a wicked and unprofitable servant and will be cast into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 25:14 – 30).
20. THE CHURCH AGE OF PERGAMOS.
The Church of Pergamos, represents the third church age, beginning with the Council of Nicaeain 325 A.D., and ending 594 A.D. with the crowning of Pope Gregory the Great. Pope Gregory the Great, who reigned from 594 A.D. to 604 A.D. marks the beginning of the Middle Ages; also known as the Dark Ages, because during the this period most people had little or no access to the Bible (or any written words) in their own language.
During the second church age, represented by the church of Smyrna, 100 A.D. to 325 A.D. the Church’s greatest enemies had been external, but by the fourth-church age, 594 A.D. to 1517, the Church’s greatest enemies were dwelling within the Church.
In the Church of Pergamos we see the Church falling from a church that in inhabited by the Spirit of Christ, to a church that is inhabited by Satan and his evil spirits.
Revelation 2:12 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword: 13 I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. And you hold fast 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. 14 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. 15 Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. 16 Repent, or else I will come to you quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth. 17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give to him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knows except he who receives it.”
Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Jesus Christ introduces Himself to the church in Pergamos as the One who has the sharp two-edged sword which comes out of His mouth (Revelation 1:16). The spoken word of God is called the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17). The sword of the Spirit, cuts every way; it convinces of sin, righteousness, and judgment; pierces between the joints and the marrow, divides between the soul and spirit. It not only convicts and exposes sin, so that those who fear God may come to repentance, but it condemns the ungodly, pointing out and determining the punishment they shall endure. Jesus has the sword with the two edges, because he is the Savior of sinners, and the Judge of quick and dead.
Before Jesus Christ closes this letter off, He warns them (the church) to “repent or else I will come to you quickly and I will fight against them with the sword of My mouth” (Rev. 2:16). This means, if we willfully continue in our sin and refuse to repent, Jesus Christ instead of interceding for us, He will fight against us.
In the parable of the mustard tree, the demonic spirits of Satan have come to dwell in the branches of the Church, while in the letter to Pergamos we find the Church dwelling where Satan throne is. Spiritually speaking, during the age of Pergamos, we find the Church and Satan dwelling together, and in many churches today Satan is still dwelling in the church, sitting on his throne in the church.
As Christians, we often think of Satan dwelling out there in the big bad world, but during the age of Pergamos Satan is not out there in the world, he is in the Church. Satan did not just come to visit; he came to dwell together with the Church. We, the Church, are the bride of Christ. We are betrothed to none other than Jesus Christ, yet all too often we choose to dwell with Satan.
How do you think God feels when He sees His bride dwelling with Satan?
It is written of God’s people
II Corinthians 11:2 For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
Exodus 20:1 And God spoke all these words saying: 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house bondage. 3 You shall have no other gods before Me. 4 You shall not make for yourself a carved image – any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
Two thousand years ago, a young Jewish woman was expected to keep herself as a chaste virgin for the day when she would be presented to her husband. If the young woman did not keep herself as a chaste virgin for the day of her marriage to her one husband, it was considered the right thing for the bridegroom to have a godly jealousy and put his unfaithful betrothed away from him (Matthew 1:18 – 21).
Likewise, God is a jealous God and as Christians we are betrothed to one husband, who is Christ. We should not dwell with another. To worship other gods is to commit spiritual adultery by inviting another to come and dwell in us. Then it would be a righteous and godly thing for Christ to put us away from Him.
Two thousands years ago Pergamos was the centre of idol worship and had many pagan temples. The largest temple was built in such away it looked like a very large throne. The pagans believed that their most powerful, all-supreme god would come and sit on this throne. Early Christians referred to this temple as Satan’s throne.
Most of the city’s social activities, such as weddings and memorial services, would have been held at one of these pagan temples and most of the city’s meat would first be sacrificed to pagan gods, before finding its way to market. Many Christians would still have non-Christian friends, family members and work colleagues heavily involved in pagan worship, for these and other reasons it would be hard to make a clean break from paganism without offending others and facing persecution.
Many Christians in Pergamos (just as many Christians are today) were sorely tried, tested, and tempted to live their lives with one foot in each camp. When visiting non-Christian family and friends, they were tempted to give honour to pagan gods before eating meat offered to idols and they were also been tempted to show indifference towards sexual fornication (sex outside marriage), to associate with idolaters in the heathen temples, and join with them in their religious festivals.
It is so easy for us to judge and condemn these Christians, by saying God’s word is very clear, you must come out and be separated from them (II Corinthians 6:17), but for many this meant separation from family, or even death. Would you be willing to pay the price?
It is a question of who do you fear? Do you fear man who can only destroy your body, or do you fear God who can both destroy your body and soul in Hell?
Knowing the great trials and temptations that would soon come upon them, Jesus commends those who hold fast to the name of Jesus, even in the days in which Antipas, Jesus faithful martyr who was killed among them. It is believed that Antipus was burnt alive, because he would not deny his Lord.
Then Jesus rebukes them.
Revelation 2:14 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. 15 Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. 16 Repent, or else I will come to you quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.
Jesus rebukes them, because amongst them are those who hold to the doctrine of Balaam who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel. It was because of this doctrine of Balaam, that the children of Israel were enticed, through the daughters of the pagans, to commit idolatry and sexual fornication. It was because of his many pagan wives King Solomon’s heart was also turned away from God to idolatry. Likewise it would appear that many Christian in Pergamos were being enticed by non-Christians into idolatry and sexual fornication.
Before you say Christians today would never be enticed from God into idolatry and sexual fornication, let us consider what God says about rebellion and stubbornness.
I Samuel 15:23 “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.”
Most young Christians know the word of God tells us “do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common” (II Corinthians 6:14)? Therefore they know even to date a non-Christian is to reject the word of the LORD and rebel against God, and rebellion is as witchcraft. If this is not bad enough, many stubbornly continue to date non-Christians. This stubbornness against the will of God in our lives is as idolatry.
When you bow down to and worship an idol, you invite demonic spirits to come and dwell in you. When you rebel against the word of God and stubbornly continue to live in rebellion against God, you invite demonic spirits to come and dwell in you.
If you want to get rid of demons from your life, what do you do? You submit to God. Resist the devil and he and all his demons will flee from you (James 4:7). However, if you do not humbly submit yourself before God and do not resist evil, the devil and his demonic hordes will swarm all over you, like flies swarming over a rotting piece of meat and you will be powerless to get rid of them.
In the Church today, this is still a major problem. Many young Christian men and women stubbornly rebel against God and are enticed by non-Christians into sexual fornication. Too many young Christian men who go chasing a bit of non-Christian skirt, and end up getting dragged off to the pit of Hell. This in turn leaves a large surplus of young Christian women who, all too often, feel their only answer to their loneliness is to marry a non-Christian man. Unfortunately most of these Christian women end up living a life, full of torment and little or no peace.
II Corinthians 6:14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idol? For we are the temple of God. As God has said:
“I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
17 Therefore “Come out from them and be separate,’ says the Lord. ‘Touch no unclean thing and I will receive you, and you. I will be a Father to you and you will be my sons and daughters,’ says the Lord Almighty.”
We are the temple of God! That means the Spirit of God dwells in us. What spirit do you think dwells in the non-believer? It’s not God. It’s an evil spirit, and there is probably more than one evil spirit dwelling in them. When God says, do not be yoked together with unbelievers, He is not trying to be a killjoy. He is saying it for your own good, for He knows very well the suffering that lies ahead for His children, should they become yoked to an unbeliever.
You’ve probably heard it said a Christian should not marry a non-Christian, but the Spirit of God would say, don’t even date a non-Christian because, before you know it, the lust of the flesh will take over. You just cannot help it; young men and young women are wired that way. Young man meets young woman, hearts go boomity boom, and they believe they are in love. However, you are not head over heals in love, you are head over heals in lust, and you cannot think straight. At this point many young Christians ignore God, and listen to their heart of flesh.
Why? Because the devil, the god of this world, says listen to your heart; but God says; “every intent of the thoughts of his heart is only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). Heart is self, and if you want to please God, you first need to die to self, because self will only take you straight to the pit of Hell.
Young man, young woman, when your heart goes boomity boom, don’t listen to your heart when it says, “dam the consequences and full steam ahead.” Instead listen to God, obey His word and flee from youthful lust.
II Timothy 2:22 Flee also youthful lust; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
Others Christians when realizing they are falling in love with a non-Christian will hear alarm bells start ringing. The Christian backs off, telling the non-Christian “I’m sorry it is all off, I’m a Christian and Christians do not marry non-Christians.”
At this the non-Christian is disappointed, but the evil spirit within them isn’t. He is rubbing his hands with glee, and whispers, “tell them, ‘I want to become a Christian, I believe Jesus’ and they will become putty in your hand.” This evil spirit as been around for six thousand years, he knows all the right strings to pull. Next thing you know the non-Christian is willingly going through all the motions of becoming a Christian, but inside the evil spirits are gathering. For a while things look just fine, but a year or two after the wedding, all of a sudden all these evil spirits manifest themselves and, too late, the Christian realizes they have married a non-Christian.
Don’t marry a non-Christian. Don’t even date a non-Christian, or you will be sorry when the evil spirits dwelling in them rear their ugly heads. They will either drag you to Hell with them, or make your life on earth Hell.
Note: A fornicator is anyone who has any short of sexual relationship outside that of a relationship between a husband and wife who are formerly married to each other. The sin fornication includes adultery, sex before marriage, and any homosexual act.
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Jesus also rebukes them for having amongst them those who hold to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. Earlier Jesus commends the church of Ephesus for hating the Nicolaitans. Who are the Nicolaitans? In Greek ‘Nico’ means ‘conqueror’, and ‘Laitans’ means ‘the common people’. So the name Nicolaitans means ‘the conqueror of the people’.
Opinions are varied as to what the deeds of the Nicolaitans were, but given the literal meaning of the name; many scholars are of the opinion that the deeds of the Nicolaitans included the suppression of the common people, under a dictatorial priesthood who held all power and authority in the church. Thus their deeds would also seek to suppress any move of the Holy Spirit among the common people, and would ultimately quench the freedom we have in the Spirit, and thus bring the Church back under law.
Are you an oppressive, dictatorial leader growing fat on the cream of the land while the bride of Christ goes hungry? As church elders and leaders, Jesus Christ has made you ruler over His household, and left His bride in your care. Yet many of you are beating and abusing His bride. What do you think Jesus will do to you when He finds you beating His bride and eating her food?
Luke 12:42 And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? 43 Blessed is that servant whom the master will find so doing when he comes. 44 Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has. 45 But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. 47 And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten by few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.”
We all know that a worker is worthy of his hire and that those servants whom are faithful and wise, shall be raised up and made to be rulers. But weather that position is in government, business or in the household of God, why does God bless abundantly those He raises up to rule over all that He has? It is all His for He created all things for His pleasure (Rev. 4:11). The reason God blesses those He raises up to rule, is made quite clear; It is “to give them their portion of food in due season.” (Luke 12:42)
The reason God blesses those who rule over us is so that they may bless those whom they rule over. It is not so that the ruling class can grow rich and wealthy, while their workers are oppressed and live in poverty.
If the rulers oppress the workers, what punishment awaits them? God “will cut him in two” and “appoint him his portion with the unbelievers” (Luke 12:46). To be cut in two brings death to our body, which is the first death. To be appointed his portion with the unbelievers is to be thrown into the lake of fire, which is the second death.
Bosses, who oppress their workers while they themselves amass huge amounts of wealth for their own pleasure and benefit, shall be cast into the lake of fire where they shall suffer eternal torment forever and ever. Church leaders and elders, who live on the cream of the land while their flocks suffer in poverty, shall be cast into the lake of fire where they shall suffer eternal torment forever and ever.
Revelation 2:16 Repent, or else I will come to you quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.
Are you an idolater? Are you a fornicator? Or are you a Nicolaitan, one who lords over and oppresses God’s people? If you are anyone of these three and will not repent, Jesus Christ will come quickly against you with the sword of the Spirit. Then if you still will not repent Jesus, Christ like a jealous husband, will put you away from Him.
Revelation 2:17 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. 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.”
“To him who overcomes I will give the hidden manna to eat” (Revelation 2:17). As the church age of Pergamos, comes to an end, the church enters into the church age of Thyatira; an age in which the Church of Rome would come to dominate the Church. During the age of Thyatira, the Bible, the bread of God’s word, was taken out of the hands of the common people. So to most Christians the written word of God became as hidden manna, but there were always little pockets of Christians who had the written word hidden away. If the Church of Rome found any Bibles among to common people, the Bibles would be destroyed, and their owners would be killed.
Jesus also promises overcomers will be given a white stone (Revelation 2:17). In the Roman court of law, to be given a white stone was to be found not-guilty. This is a reminder of our eternal destiny. In this world we may face trails, tribulation, and maybe even the death of our mortal body, but the sufferings of this world all pale into insignificance when compared to our eternal destiny.
Matthew 10:28 Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell.
21. THE CHURCH AGE OF THYATIRA.
Thyatira is the fourth-Church age. This Church age began with the reign of Pope Gregory the Great in 594 A.D. (he was the first Pope to exercise authority over both the state and the Church) and this age ended in 1517 (on the day Martin Luther nailed his document of 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg). During this Church age, most of the Church in the West and most of the Western European kings, were under the rule of the Pope in Rome. This age is also known as the dark ages, because the common people of this age were not allowed to have any personal copies of the Bible, and those Bibles that were available in Western Europe were all in Latin, a language which most commoners could neither read nor understand.
Revelation 2:18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write, ‘These things say the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and his feet like fine brass: 19 I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first.”
In this letter Jesus Christ introduces Himself as the Son of God.
As a Christian, my understanding of what Jesus Christ is declaring when He calls Himself the Son of God, is vastly different to the understanding of your average first to fourth century pagan.
Most ancient religions accepted the truth that in the beginning there was only One God who was before all things and who created all things; most also believed in the resurrection of the dead and of a coming redeemer; a son of god born of a woman.
Therefore most pagans 2,000 years ago had no difficulty accepting Jesus Christ as a son of god. After all, was not Hercules a son of god and did not many of them also worship their king, or the emperor as the son of god. Most also accepted that the spirit of their supreme god would come upon a virgin, and the child she conceived would be known as the son of god, and that he would become their lord and redeemer. What they had difficulty in accepting was that Jesus Christ was not only the Son of God, but God Himself come to earth in the flesh.
When Jesus Christ writes to the church in Smyrna introducing Himself as the First and the Last, He is declaring Himself to be the One and only supreme God, who was before all other beings and the creator of all things. Then Jesus Christ writes to the church in Thyatira and declares Himself to be the Son of God, the Redeemer that all mankind had been expecting since God’s promise of a Redeemer born of the seed of a woman (Genesis 3:15); Join these two declarations together and Jesus Christ is both declaring Himself to be the One and Only Supreme God and the Son of God, the expected Redeemer of all mankind. a
For those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, the words of Jesus Christ clearly declare that God the Father and God the Son are both equally God, and they are both the One and only true God. But to those who do not have eyes to see and ears to hear, no understanding of Christ divinity and the Holy Trinity will be given. a
Revelation2:18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write, ‘These things say the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and his feet like fine brass:’”
These things are taught more fully in my books “God is revealed to us through creation,” “The Holy Trinity,” and “The Only Begotten.”
Jesus Christ has eyes like blazing fire, these are all seeing eyes that can see right through a person and rightly judge the intent of man’s heart. The feet of Jesus are burnished like bronze, and bronze was the strongest mental known to man. The heel of Jesus has crushed the head of Satan (Genesis 3:15); our feet trample over Satan and over all the power of the enemy (Luke 10:18 – 19), and God’s word says we shall trample the wicked for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet (Malachi 4:3).
In this identification of Himself, Jesus Christ is not only identifying Himself as the Redeemer of mankind, He is also identifying himself as the coming judge of the wicked. Then, after identifying Himself, Jesus comments on the works of the church in Thyatira.
Before we look at Jesus Christ’s comments on the works of those at Thyatira, let us again consider Jesus letter to the church of Ephesus. Jesus rebukes them for leaving their first love, and warns them to repent and return to their first works, or else He will come and remove their lampstand.
Revelation2:1 “To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things say He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: 2 “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; 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place - unless you repent. 6 But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”
When we are first saved from sin and born again into the kingdom of heaven, it is our love of God, our love for our brothers and sisters in the faith, and our love for the lost that motivates us to do good works. If we then fail to retain that first love, our motivation to do good works becomes less and less because of a love for God, and more and more because of a sense of duty. In a Spirit filled church, like the church of Ephesus, this lack of love can cause the church to become weary of doing good works. While in a church age like Thyatira, in which the oppressive and brutal leadership of the Nicolaitans dominated and ruled over the commoners, this will lead to good works motivated by fear, instead of good works motivated by love.
This fear that dominated the Church of God during the dark ages (the church age of Thyatira) was not the healthy, clean fear of God that brings peace of mind to all who love and respect their God, but an unhealthy fear brought on by the wrong teaching and a fear of the Nicolaitans. This fear brought turmoil and terror to the hearts and minds of those who knew not what it was to truly love and know God.
At the beginning of The Church age of Ephesus, the Church is full of the love, joy and peace that comes with knowing Jesus Christ as your first love. Their works are wholly motivated by love, but as time goes on, first love wanes and duty becomes the motivation for good works.
The Lord warns the Church to repent and do the first works, works motivated out of a love for God, a love for His Church, a love for His people and a love for the poor, or else He will come and remove their lampstand. Without a lampstand we cannot see in this darkened world. So it was by the church age of Thyatira most who called themselves Christians had little or no access to the written word of God. Also, because very few heard the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, very few received the light from the infilling of the Holy Spirit promised to all who repent and are baptized for the remission of sins, in the name of Jesus Christ. (Mark 16:15 – 18; & Acts 2:38 – 39)
Jesus Christ also commends the church of Ephesus for hating the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which He also hated. But by the church age of Thyatira the Nicolaitans were now ruling over and dominating both the church and state, and the works of the Church were no longer works motivated by love, nor even motivated by a sense of duty, for the greater part their works were now motivated by fear.
So when Jesus commends the church in Thyatira by saying “I know your works, love, service, faith and your patience;” and then adds, “and as for your works, the last are more than the first” He is saying that their works motivated by fear and duty are more than their works motivated by love.
Revelation 2:19 “I know your works, love, service, faith and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. 20 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 to eat things sacrificed to idols. 21 And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality and she did not repent. 22 Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. 23 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.”
In the pervious Church age, the age of Pergamos, the Church is rebuked for having are those who hold to 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 committing sexual fornication (Revelation 2:14). Then again in this Church age of Thyatira we find a woman called Jezebel teaching Christ’s servants to eat food sacrificed to idols and to committing sexual fornication.
In I Kings 16:31; the wicked wife of king Ahab of Israel was also called Jezebel, and she too lead God’s people into idolatry and sexual fornication. Four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and four hundred prophets of the goddess Asherah ate at Jezebel’s table.
In the parable of the leaven, the leaven speak to us of false doctrines (false teachings) that a woman took and hid in three measures (three false doctrines) into the kingdom of heaven (the Church) until the whole Church was full of false doctrine.
Who is this woman called Jezebel? And what are these three false doctrines?
Jezebel is an evil spirit from Satan who can, and often does, indwell, control or influence those who serve him. Any group of people that allows themselves to become indwelt, control or influenced by Jezebel becomes the body of Jezebel. In the context of Revelation 2:20 the false prophets are the body of Jezebel, and through the false prophets Jezebel sows false doctrines both into the Church of Jesus Christ and out into the world.
These false doctrines are:
1: The doctrine of the Nicolaitans. This doctrine teaches the lie; ‘It is the ruling classes right to live in luxury, while they lord over and oppress the common people.’
2: The doctrine of those who say they are Jews, but they are not, they are of the synagogue of Satan. This doctrine teaches the lie; ‘Salvation is by works, and not by the grace and mercy of God.’
3: The doctrine of Balaam. This doctrine teaches God’s people two lies: (a) ‘It is harmless to worship and sacrifice to pagan gods.’ This lie encourages spiritual fornication. (b) ‘It is harmless to have sexual relations with someone you are not married to.’ This lie encourages physical fornication.
We not only see all three of these false doctrines followed widely in the world today, but also see all three followed by many in the Church. Again I say, don’t point your finger at the church down the road, for more likely than not your church also has fornication and stubborn rebellion, which is as idolatry, in it.
By the fourth century, with the so-called conversion of the emperor Constantine, many pagans began to flood into the Church, but instead of doing away with their many idols and worshiping the One and only true God, most simply replaced their many pagan idols with idols of the saints. One of the pagan idols known as ‘The mother of the gods’ was replaced by an idol known as ‘The mother of god’ and was later renamed ‘Mary the mother of god.’ By the late fifth century the Church began the glorification of the Virgin Mary, and to this day many in the Church still worship and pray to idols (and lucky charms) of Mary or one of the saints.
Although Jezebel has and still uses statues, images and icons of the Virgin Mary to lead God’s people into idolatry and spiritual fornication, Mary is not Jezebel. Before we judge those who worship Mary, we should not forget, according to God’s word stubborn rebellion is as witchcraft and idolatry (I Samuel 15:23). For as surely as idolatry leads many into acts of fornication, so also stubborn rebellion leads many into acts of fornication. Let us first deal with the plank in our own eye, before you consider the speck in our brother’s eye.
The true Church of Jesus Christ is “The virgin bride of Christ.” The false Church is “The mystery of Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and of the abomination of the earth,” also known as “The whore of Babylon.” While those who make up the true Church of Jesus Christ are indwelt by the Spirit of Christ, those who make up false Church are indwelt by the spirit of Jezebel.
God’s word tells us that Satan, who is the prince of the power of the air, works in the sons of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2).
As surely as the wheat and the tares grow together in the kingdom of heaven, both “The virgin bride of Christ,” and “The whore of Babylon” have dwelt side by side in the Church ever since the so-called ‘conversion’ of Constantine. “The whore of Babylon” is the woman called Jezebel who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce the servants of God to commit sexual and spiritual fornication and to eat things sacrificed to idols. Why is she called “The whore of Babylon”? Because she has been around ever since she lead mankind into sexual and spiritual fornication at the tower of Babel.
In Revelation chapter 17, “The whore of Babylon” is described as riding the beast, the beast that represents both the Roman Empire she once controlled, and the end time empire of the beast, which she will also control. In Revelation 14:8 we are told she made all nations drink the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
So side-by-side in the Church dwells both “The bride of Christ,” who peaches the true gospel of salvation by the grace of God through Jesus Christ to all people of all nations, and “The whore of Babylon” who preaches salvation by works, and she leads people of all nations (and many Christians) into spiritual and sexual fornication, which leads to eternal damnation.
In the parable of the sower we are told that the birds, who are Satan, have come to take away the seed, which is the word of the kingdom. The following are some examples of Satan taking away from the word of the kingdom.
1. The Word tells us of how Jesus Christ suffered and died on the cross to pay the penalty for all our sins; therefore through Jesus Christ we can receive forgiveness for all our sins (Isaiah 53; Psalm 103:1 – 5 & John 3:16 - 17). However during the age of Thyatira, it was taught in the Church that sinners had to pay a penance for the forgiveness of their sins. Thus the birds took away that part of the gospel, which says ‘Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sins.
2. The Word also teaches that we can have what ever we ask of the Father in the name of Jesus Christ, including healing. It was taught during the age of Thyatira, that we could receive healing by praying Mary or Saint Luke. Today, many Christians still pray to either Mary or Saint Luke with their request for help and healing. By doing this, they not only take away that part of the gospel that says ‘there is healing and deliverance in the name of Jesus Christ’ (Mark 16:17 – 18), they also take away that part which says ‘anything we ask of the Father in the name of Jesus will be done for us’ (John 14:13 - 14).
Also Paul writes
I Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.
We cannot speak to God, unless we do so through Jesus Christ and God has chosen to speak to us; no other way but through Jesus Christ. We cannot speak to God through Mary nor can we speak to God through any of the saints; this would violate God’s written word. The word of God, even the written word of God, comes to us through Jesus Christ. The Holy Bible is the supernatural word of God. Non-believers can read it but, because they do not have the Spirit of Christ dwelling in them, they cannot fully understand it.
Thus, during this age, Satan took away our forgiveness, our healing, the written word of God, and more.
Revelation2:19 “I know your works, love, service, faith and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. 20 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 to eat things sacrificed to idols.”
God is a merciful God, it is not His will that any perish but that all should come to repentance and be saved, but He is also a just God and to those who will not repent and accept God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ, God will come as a thief in the night with just punishment.
Revelation 2: 21 “And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality and she did not repent. 22 Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.
23 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.”
Towards the end of the church age of Thyatira (In 1348 – 52), the great plague of The Black Death swept Europe killing approximately a third of the people. Also this age ended with much tribulation. Why? Because although God had given them time to repent, they did not repent.
There are two important lessons in this for the Church today.
1: The sexual fornication that is sweeping the Church and the world today is an outward manifestation of mankind’s stubborn rebellion against God and God given authorities.
2: God has given us time to repent but, if we do not repent, this church age will end with plagues of death, and great tribulation.
God does not change. If God so severely judged and punished the church of the dark ages, when most did not have the Bible in their own language, will He not also severely judge us who have His written word in our own language, unless we repent.
Revelation2: 24 “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. 25 But hold fast what you have till I come. 26 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations – 27 ‘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; 28 and I will give him the morning star, 29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Jezebel, the whore of Babylon by leading much of the Church into fornication and idolatry, had taken many into the depths of Satan, but there were also a number of genuine Christians who overcame the attacks of the enemy. Of these, those who hold fast till Jesus comes and keep up the good works, Jesus promises power over the nations.
This is a promise that, after the resurrection, the overcomers shall rule and reign with Jesus Christ over the nations (Also see Psalm 2:9 & Revelation 19:15). In times of trials and tribulation we need to keep an eternal perspective. The light afflictions we suffer now pale into insignificance when we compared the eternal rewards of the righteous, against the eternal torment that awaits the wicked.
Revelation2:28 “I will give him the morning star.”
In Revelation 22:16 Jesus Christ calls Himself the Bright and Morning Star. While in II Peter 1:19, Peter likens the Scriptures to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
This is a promise to all overcomers. When we repent of our stubborn rebellion against God and of our fornication and idolatry and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord, we become an overcomer and Christ, The light of Revelation to the world, The Bright and Morning Star comes into our spirit, and we are born again by the spirit of God, into the kingdom of God.
22. JESUS CHRIST, THE LIGHT OF REVELATION.
To those who believe and receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour He is the light that brings revelation, but those who reject Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, even the light that they already have, will be taken from them.
When Simeon saw the baby Jesus, he prophesied.
Luke2:29 “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; 30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation 31 which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, 32 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.”
John 1:8 He (That is John the Baptist) was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light; He (Jesus Christ, the true Light) enlightens every man coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world (that is the people of the world) did not know Him. 11 He came to His own (the Jews), and His own received Him not. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believed in His name.13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but were born of God. (Words in italics added.)
Jesus Christ is the true light. When we receive Him and believe in Him, the Spirit of Christ comes into us and we are born again into the kingdom of God. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).
In speaking to His disciples Jesus said,
Matthew13:16 Blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; 17 for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
In the Gospel of Luke Jesus, after His resurrection, meets with two of His disciples,
Luke 24:27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded (explained) to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
Luke24:44 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” (There is much written in the Old Testament concerning Jesus Christ) 45 And Jesus opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. (Words in italics added)
Before Jesus Christ left His disciples He said to them
John 16:12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you can not bear them how. 13 However, when He, the Spirit of Truth, as come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come,
Paul writes to Timothy.
II Timothy3:14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
When Paul writes to Timothy telling him, that from your childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. We know that Paul was not talking of the New Testament Scriptures, because these had not yet been written when Timothy was a child. Therefore Paul is saying the Old Testament writings are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. But without the light of Jesus Christ to bring revelation understanding of the Scriptures, most of the Jews (2,000 years ago) lacked the understanding of salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. This is why it was necessary Jesus to open the understanding of His disciples, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.
Ephesians2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
For approximately 1,200 years, throughout the dark ages most people in the Church were blind to the truth, because they did not have the Scriptures available to them in their own language, and they believed in many false doctrines. For these reason very few were ever born again, and therefore they never received the infilling of the Holy Spirit who brings us understanding of the Scriptures.
Before the end of the church age of Thyatira two things happened that changed all this.
1. The invention of the printing press meant that affordable Bibles were now available to most Europeans in their own language. People now had the light of the Scriptures.
2. The truth that salvation is by the grace of God through faith in Christ Jesus, spread very quickly like a wild fire throughout Europe, and people in their droves were now being born again into the kingdom of heaven and receiving Jesus Christ, the Light of revelation into their hearts.
23. THE PARABLE OF THE HIDDEN TREASURE,
AND THE PARABLE OF THE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE.
Matthew13:44 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
During the Dark Ages, the treasure of the written Word of God had been hidden from most of mankind. By the end of the Dark Ages this great treasure of God’s written Word had been found and was now being printed in the languages of most Europeans. All over Europe men and women were willing to give all they had to have to own copy of the Bible, and many even paid with their lives.
Matthew7:6 “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”
Matthew13:45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls. 46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and brought it.”
Jesus Christ would win no prizes for political correctness. He refers to those strongly opposed to Godly values and Godly wisdom as dogs and swine, for they, like dogs and swine, do not appreciate things of Godly value and as for giving them pearls of God’s wisdom; more likely than not, they will trample those pearls of wisdom under their feet, and verbally or physically turn on you and tear you to pieces.
Pearls, speak to us the truths of God’s wisdom. The pearl of great price is the truth that salvation is by faith in Jesus Christ and not by works.
Ephesians2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Once the people had their own personal copy of the Bible, they began to read and study God’s Word and they began to find pearls of God’s wisdom and truth. It was not too long before they found a pearl of great price, the truth that it is through faith in Jesus Christ we are saved and not by works. And, again, all over Europe, people were willing to sell all they had to keep this pearl of great price.
24. THE CHURCH AGE OF SARDIS.
The church of Sardis represents the fifth church age 1517 to (the founding of the London Missionary Society in) 1795.
Back in the first century of the Church, during the age of the church of Ephesus, the Church is rebuked for losing it’s first love, and warned to repent and do the first works, (works out of a heart attitude of love and adoration towards God) or Jesus Christ will come quickly and remove your lamp stand.
It would appear that the Church did not heed this warning; for the lamp stand was removed and without its light, the Church began it’s decent into the dark ages, the age of the church of Thyatira. Throughout most of this church age, the Holy Bible was not available to the commoners, (the lay members of the Church). Only the priest had ready access to the Holy Bible and in the West nearly all the Bibles were written in Latten, a language that even most priests had little understanding of. Therefore, there was very little light of the gospel during the dark ages.
Towards the end of the dark ages, Bibles written in the languages of the common people became available. The Holy Bible, a treasure that had been buried for over a thousand years, had been found at great price. Then as God’s faithful servants began to dig into God’s word, they found a pearl of great price; the truth that we are saved by faith and not by works.
So, by the beginning of the church age of Sardis, once again the good seed of the gospel of Jesus Christ was being scattered far and wide, as it had been in the beginning of the church age of Ephesus. All who believed and received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour were born again into the kingdom of heaven, and the Spirit of Jesus Christ, the Bright and Morning Star entered into their hearts.
However, after 1,200 years of spiritual darkness, in which great masses of people were fed false doctrine and bound by the Nicolaitans and idol worship, the hearts of most people had become very hard ground into which to sow the seed, and the devil quickly came and stole most of the good seed away from the hearts of man before it could take root.
In Southern Europe most people quickly lost their Bibles when the church enforced its ban on all Bibles not written in Latin, and very soon they became just as firmly bound by the Nicolaitans, idol worship and false doctrine as ever. While in Northern Europe, although the idols were largely removed, and most of the common people now owned their own copy of the Bible; the Nicolaitans still dominated the Church. This oppression of the common people, coupled with the teaching of false doctrines on baptism, meant very few were born again and even fewer believed and were baptized into Christ. Therefore, most never received the infilling of the Holy Spirit, necessary to become a true disciple of Jesus Christ, capable of carrying out the Great Commission.
Mark 16:15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these sign will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
Thus it was that although the Church in Northern Europe had a reputation that it was alive, except for very few, it was just as dead spiritually as the Church in Southern Europe.
Revelation3:1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. 3 Remember therefore how you 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. 4 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. 5 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 angles.” “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Jesus introduces Himself as He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars. Back at the beginning of the Church, when the good seed of the gospel was first scattered the seven stars (the pastors of the seven churches) are in the hand of Jesus Christ, but with the removal of the lampstands from the churches, the churches lost the Holy Spirit, and the stars, (the pastors) forsook the safe hand of Jesus Christ, and placed themselves unknowingly in the hand of Satan.
During the church age of Pergamos (325 – 594 AD), the church dwelt where Satan’s throne was (Revelation 2:13), and during the church age of Thyatira (594 – 1517 AD), most churchgoers knew the depths of Satan. (Revelation 2:24).
Yes, it is true; you are safe in the hand of Jesus Christ and He will not let you fall from His hand; but you can forsake Jesus Christ, turn your back on Him, and choose to leap out of the hand of Jesus and into the hand of Satan. During the dark ages, most of the pastors were not in the hand of Jesus Christ, and were not preaching the gospel of Salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. They were in the hand of Satan, preaching lies that held the people in bondage to sin and torment.
By the end of the church age of Sardis, most of the pastors of Northern Europe were back in the hand of Jesus Christ, preaching the true gospel of Jesus Christ, and the seven Spirits of God were being restored to the church.
Revelation 3:2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. 3 Remember therefore how you received and heard; hold fast and repent. - - - - - - - - -
This is the church of the reformation; the church that had come out of the dark ages into the light. Yes, though there was much that was not of God which had to be discarded, but there were also many good things that remained, and the church leaders and prophets of the reformation church had to be watchful and strengthen those good things.
During the reformation, the reformers threw out many wrong teachings, but on the heels of the reformation, the devil tried to steel away some basic foundational truths that were still retained by the Church. Truths like our belief in the Holy Trinity, the divinity of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, that man is an eternal soul, the reality of Hell, the coming resurrection and the coming judgment.
Thus it was necessary for the church leaders and prophets of the reformation church to be watchful and strengthen the things that remained. This is also a warning to we who are the Church of this age, to be both watchful of what is taught in our churches, and to make sure that our children and new converts are all taught the truth and are well grounded in the basic foundational doctrines of the Christian Faith.
Revelation 3: 3 Remember therefore how you 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.
How did the church of the reformation received and hear the Word of God? They received and heard the Word of God with great joy, and many were willing to give their all in order to receive their own copy of the Bible.
The Spirit of Christ within me says, “Hold fast to that Word of God. For if you do not hold fast the birds of the air, Satan will come and snatch the Word of God away from you.”
Hold fast and repent. To have received the Word of God, and then not to hang on to it and repent is foolishness in the extreme. Jesus likens such a person, to someone who builds his house upon the sand (Matthew 7:24 – 29). If you build your house upon the sand, it is only a matter of time before the storms will come, and your house will come crashing down. But if you build your house on a solid rock foundation, even when the storms come, your house will not fall.
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 (Revelation 3:3).
For the man who builds his house upon the sand, on the great and terrible Day of the Lord, Jesus Christ will come upon him as a thief in the night, and he will be swept away into the pit of Hell, to burn in the fires of Hell forever and ever. But to the righteous who look forward to this day, Jesus will not come as a thief in the night, for God has not appointed the righteous to wrath (I Thessalonians 5:4 - 8).
Although the Day of the Lord will come upon the wicked as a thief in the night, the righteous will not be caught by surprise.
Some would argue, did not Jesus say in
Matthew 24:36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but My Father only.”
But let us not forget the next verse.
Matthew 24:37 “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.”
Two thousand years ago, neither Jesus nor the angel of heaven knew when that day or hour would be, but at some time before the Day of the Lord, God has to tell Jesus and the angels when this day and hour will be. Otherwise Jesus and the angels will miss the big day. Not only will God tell the angels and Jesus when the big day will be God will also tell His servants, the prophets.
For it is written;
Amos 3:7 Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless he reveals his secret to his servants the prophets.
As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Lord. Before the rains came, Noah was told that the rains would come in seven days (Genesis 7:4). Both Noah and his family were safely on the ark before the rains came. So when the rains came, they were not caught by surprise, but unrighteous carried on eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, and did not know until the rains came and took them away.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Revelation 3:4 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. 5 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 angles.”
To the church in Sardis, which represents the church age of the reformation, Jesus Christ said you have a few names who have not defiled their garments.
In Biblical language, ‘a few’ is always the minority or lesser part of, while ‘many’ is always the majority or greater part of. Therefore this verse is telling us that during the age of the reformation church, the majority of the people attending church had defiled their garments. Therefore they were not walking with Jesus Christ, and Jesus did not consider them worthy.
Unless we remember to retain the joy and the love we had when we first received and heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, and hold fast to the Word of God, that joy, love and the Word will quickly be taken from us and our garments will become defiled. We will cease walking with Jesus, we will no longer be counted as worthy, and our names will be blotted out of the book of life.
Oh yes! You may still be attending church every Sunday, singing in the choir, playing in the band, and teaching Bible lessons to the saints, but you yourself will be eternally damned, because you did not remember the joy of your first salvation and hold fast. Therefore you defiled your garments, and closed your ears to the truth, so that you can no longer hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
The majority of the church of the reformation, and dare I say the majority of the church today, did not, and do not, have an ear to hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Let us all repent now, return to our first love and the joy of our first salvation and hang on tightly to the truths written in God’s Word.
Before we leave the church at Sardis, I would remind you that although their ways were not perfect, Christ dwelt in their midst and they had the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Why has the Holy Spirit come upon us? In John 16:13 we are told that when the Spirit of Truth comes He will guide us into all truth.
So when the Holy Spirit comes, neither the presence of the Holy Spirit upon us, nor the gifts of the Holy Spirit, are a sign that we have it all together. Paul in writing to the church in Corinth (I Corinthians chapter 13) makes it clear, no matter what gifts we have, if we have not love, it profits us nothing. Therefore we should “pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts” (I Corinthians chapter 14:1).
Jesus Christ said,
John 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Most people come to Jesus Christ and invite Him into their lives, because they have a need in their lives that only Jesus can fill. Then after being born again, part of the growing and maturing process is to develop into a disciple who loves and cares for others, so that Jesus Christ through us can meet the needs of others. The sign of a healthy mature Christian church is that the brethren love one another. Which brings us to the church in Philadelphia.
25. THE CHURCH AGE OF PHILADELPHIA.
“The city of Philadelphia was founded by Eumenes, king of Pergamum, in the 2nd century BC, and named after his brother Attalus, whose loyalty had earned him the name Philadelphus.” (Reference: The New Bible Dictionary.) It is partly in recognition of the love and loyalty of these two brothers, and Jesus Christ’s command that we should love one another, that this church is often called The Church of Brotherly Love.
Revelation 3:7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is Holy and true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts and shuts and no one opens”: 8 I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. 9 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 know that I have loved you. 10 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. 11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. 12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. 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. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’
Philadelphia, the sixth church age begins with the founding of the London Missionary Society in 1795, with the Church of Jesus Christ once again committing itself to “Go into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15) “and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19)
For Jesus to hold the key of David is to say that Jesus Christ holds that position of all power and authority given by God to the Son of David, so that whatever door Jesus opens, no one can shut, and whatever door Jesus closes, no one can open.
Isaiah 22:22 They key of the house of David I will lay on his shoulder; so he shall open, and no one shall shut; and he shall shut, and no one shall open.
Keys speak to us of power and authority. If you hold the keys to the city gates, you hold power and authority over that city and nothing can enter or leave that city unless you allow it.
Likewise, gates speak of power and authority. The city gates allow the king to control who enters and leaves his city, but if we held the keys to the city, we could come and unlock the city gates, enter into the city, unlock the prison doors and set the captives free.
Matthew 16:18b - - - - - - “I (Jesus Christ) will build My church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and what ever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
If you hold the keys to a mad dog’s cage, you hold the power and authority to bind or loose that dog. We hold the power authority to bind Satan (the strongman), to enter his house, and set the captives free (Matthew 12:22 – 30).
Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.”
Jesus has set before the Church an open door to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all nations, a door that no one can shut. 2,000 years ago, the church of Philadelphia sat upon the main highway east to India and China, and to these far off nations the church of Philadelphia sent many missionaries to preach the gospel and make disciples of all nations.
Likewise, the church age of Philadelphia begins in 1795 with a commitment to send many missionaries to the far off nations of India and China. The Lord Jesus Christ has opened a door to the nations of the world that would never be closed.
Man, like the Chinese Communist Government, may try to close the gates of Hell to the gospel of Jesus Christ, but the church in China continues to grow. Even when Communist oppression of the Church was at it’s greatest, God was still delivering Chinese from the power of darkness and conveying them into the kingdom of Jesus Christ the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13 – 14).
We cannot win people to Jesus Christ by our own strength and power; we need God’s power and authority. Therefore in order to be witnesses to Jesus Christ, we first need to receive God’s power and authority, which is only available to those whom the Holy Spirit has come upon.
After His resurrection Jesus Christ gathered His disciples together and
commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now”- - - -“You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:4 – 5 & 8).
Jesus says to the church in Philadelphia:
“For you have little strength, have kept my word and have not denied My name.”
God’s word tells us
James4:7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
II Corinthians 12:9 And He (Jesus Christ) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
II Corinthians 13:4 For though He (Jesus Christ) was crucified in weakness (in that He humbly submit Himself to God), yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him (in that we through Christ have humbly submit ourselves to God will), but we shall live with Him by (the resurrection) power of God towards you. (Words in italics added)
Revelation3:8b - - - - - - - for you have little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. 9 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 know that I have loved you.
If we want to be used mightily of God, we first need to remember that without the spirit of Christ dwelling in us and empowering us, we ourselves have no strength, power or authority over our enemy the devil. Secondly we need to keep the word of God. Thirdly we must not deny the name of Jesus Christ. Finally, but the most important, we need to be filled to overflowing with the love of God. Only then will God make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jew, but are not, they lie, to come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.
‘The synagogue of Satan, those who say they are Jew, but are not, they lie;’ not only includes those false prophets and teachers who sow tares of false doctrine into the church, it also includes those who accept these lying doctrines into their heart, and therefore become children of the devil who dwell in the church alongside the children of God.
How does God deliver those of the synagogue of Satan from the power of darkness and conveying them into the kingdom of Jesus Christ the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13 -14)? Not by might nor by power nor, but by My Spirit says the Lord of hosts (Zechariah 4:6), and by the love of God working through us and reaching out to them in love.
What the children of Satan dwelling among us need more than anything else, is love and acceptance, to know that they are loved and accepted.
26. THE HOUR OF TRAIL.
Revelation3:10 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.
What is the hour of trial which is coming upon the whole world to test those who dwell on the earth?
The apostle Peter prophesied concerning the hour of trail.
II Peter3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
There is a day coming when the Lord Jesus Christ, accompanied by His powerful angels, shall be revealed from heaven in flaming fire. On that day He will try the whole world by fire, taking vengeance on the wicked with everlasting destruction, and give rest to the righteous. When will this day be? In that Day He comes to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe. (II Thessalonians 1:3-10)
God’s word says of that Day.
Malachi4:1 “for behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble and the day which is coming shall burn them up,” says the Lord of host. “That will leave them neither root nor branch.
2 But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves. 3 You shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day I do this,” says the Lord of hosts.
Back in Revelation 2:10 Jesus promises that He will give the crown of life to those who are faithful until death, while in Revelation 3:11 Jesus warns us not only is He coming quickly, but also to hold fast to what we have, that no one may take away your crown.
Revelation2:10 "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."
Revelation3:11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.
If we persevere in keeping the commands of Jesus Christ and hold fast to what we have in Christ, we gain God's promise of the crown of life, but if we do not hold fast to the faith we have in Christ, we allow Satan to take away our crown of life.
27. A PILLAR IN THE TEMPLE OF GOD.
We, the Church, are the temple of God, built on the foundation of the teachings of the apostle and prophets (Ephesians 2:20) which includes all the teachings of God's written word. In I Peter 2:4 - 8, we are told when we come to Christ (who is the chief corner stone), we come “as living stones to be built up” into a “spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Then in Revelation we read that Jesus will make him who overcomes, a pillar in the temple of God.
Revelation3:12 "He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. 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. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’
As with the other letters to the seven churches, this letter also carries a promise to the over comers. When we are first born again into the kingdom of God, we become as living stones fitted into the Church. Then, as we humble ourselves before God and grow in the strength of the Lord, we become pillars in the Church, which is the temple of God.
In Bible times, pillars were erected for two purposes. 1: To hold up the roof, as a shelter and protection to others. 2: As a memorial in honour of a great person whose name would be written on the pillar. Overcomers as pillars in the temple of God perform both purposes. 1: Overcomers, as pillars in the temple of God, standing in the strength of the Lord provide shelter and protection for those who honour and recognize them as God's appointed servants. 2: Overcomers, as pillars in the temple of God, stand firm as a manorial in honour of God. Therefore it pleases God to write on the pillar His new name, the name of Jesus Christ which is above all names.
Like most of the promises to the overcomers (given in these seven letters), they are two-fold promises; both a promise to be fulfilled in this life and a promise to be fulfilled in the resurrection to eternal life. Overcomers in this life are pillars in the temple of God, and they shall remain pillars in the temple of God after the resurrection.
To the Jews there was only one spiritual house in which the holy priest offered up sacrifices acceptable to God, and that was the temple of God. For the born again believers in Jesus Christ, we become the temple of God, “as living stones to be built up” into a “spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
The day we die to self and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour we become a living stone in the temple of our God. This is our eternal destiny, but we must be careful how we build, for how we build in this present life, determines our eternal place in God’s temple, and each one’s work will be tested by fire at the coming of the Lord.
I Corinthians3:9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 Each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy which temple you are.
Yes there is a day coming; a day in which the hour of trial shall come upon the whole world to test those who dwell on the earth. During that hour all the wicked shall be destroyed, while the children of God shall be protected in their dwelling by the blood of the Lamb; just like the children of Israel were protected by the blood of their lamb, when the plague of death passed through Egypt. After the hour of trial, Jesus Christ the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves. You shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet (Malachi 4:2 &3).
Do not be deceived, for if you do not remain faithful and hold fast to what you have, you could lose your crown of life (Rev. 3:11). The Spirit of God dwells in you. You are the temple of God, and if anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. (I Corinthians 3:16 – 17).
Revelation3:13 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
28. THE CHURCH AGE OF LAODICEA.
Revelation 3:14 “And to the angel of the church of Laodicea write,
'These things say the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 "I know your works, that you are neither hot nor cold. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor not, I will vomit you out of my mouth.
The church age of Philadelphia begins in the late 1700’s with the renewal of missionary fervour. We still see this missionary fervour at work in much of the church and we will continue to see this until the Lord returns. Running alongside the church age of Philadelphia, starting in the mid 1800’s we have the church age of Laodicea, also known as the age of the lukewarm church. This age to will also continue until the Lord returns.
This doesn’t mean that all churches today take totally after either the church of Philadelphia or the church of Laodicea, for we still have many churches today bearing the characteristics of the other five churches. Nevertheless, most churches today either bear the missionary fervour of the Philadelphian church or the lukewarmness of the Laodicean church.
It should be noted, the mid 1800’s does not only mark the start of the church age of Laodicea, it also marks both the beginning of the industrial age, and publishing of Darwin’s writings on the theory of evolution. So it should come as no surprise to us, that when Jesus introduces Himself to the church of Laodicea, He not only introduces Himself as “the Faithful and True Witness,” He also introduces Himself has “the Beginning of the creation.” In all the other church ages this was never an issue, for, before this time, almost everyone regardless of their religion, believed in a supreme god, the creator of all things. Only since the mid 1800's, the beginning of the church age of Laodicea, has this become an issue.
Who should we believe? Should we believe the written Word of God? Or should we believe the miss guided and deceived scientist who know not the truth? Although many scientists do know the truth; most, because they love the praises of man more than the praises of God, and because they fear the loss of income and honour, will not speak the truth. (a)
Paul wrote to the Colossians.
Colossians 1:15 He (Jesus Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.
With the coming of the industrial age in the west, much wealth from the pagan nations of the east flowed west into the predominantly Christian nations. But along with this inflow of the world’s wealth into the hands of the Christians, there also came apathy towards the things of God. Because of this apathy, it could also be said of this church age, that they are neither passionately hot, nor passionately cold towards the kingdom of heaven, or to the things of God.
When we have a drink, be it tea, coffee, water, wine or beer, we like it to be either hot or cold. If it is neither hot nor cold, something within us makes us want to vomit it out of our month. Jesus is saying here, if you are neither hot nor cold for the things of the kingdom, I will vomit you out of the kingdom.
The question is; are you passionately hot for the things of the kingdom, or are you passionately cold against the things of kingdom? If you are passionately hot for the kingdom, then there are good works that Jesus Christ has prepared before hand for you to do. If you are passionately cold against the kingdom, then repent and turn to Jesus and you shall be saved. But if you have tasted the good things of the kingdom of heaven, yet you have no passion for the things of the kingdom, then the kingdom is better off without you, and Jesus will vomit you out of His kingdom.
As Jesus continues, (He could well be talking to the majority of Christians living in the west today.)
Revelation 3:17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, I have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’- and do not know that you are wretched, miserable and poor, blind, and naked – 18 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 sham of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.
In the west today, many second, third, fourth and fifth generation Christians, like the Laodiceans “have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” Also like the second generation Christians of Ephesus, many of us in the Church today have lost our first love, and we have lost the fire and passion our fathers once had for Jesus and the kingdom of God. Oh yes we still regularly attended church, but many of us are neither hot nor cold for the things of God.
Do you love the lost? Do you have a passion for the souls of the lost? If you do not have a love and a passion for the lost, how can you love God or have a passion for God, who created all mankind in His image?
“You say, ‘I am rich, I have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’- and do not know that you are wretched, miserable and poor, blind, and naked.” When it comes to this world’s treasures we, like the early Christians of Laodicea, are rich but in the riches of the kingdom of heaven, the riches that really matter, we are poor; we are wretched and miserable. What is worse, we have become so spiritually blind we cannot even see that we are poor, wretched and miserable. What are the riches of the kingdom? They are love, kindness, forgiveness, mercy and grace towards all mankind, especially towards the poor and needy.
Happy, loving families are also a God-given treasure; families with a husband who loves God, loves his wife, loves his children and brings them up in the knowledge and fear of God. God hates divorce and those who deal treacherously with the wife of their youth (Malachi 2:13 - 16).
It is God’s will that we submit to one another in fear of God, that husbands love their wives, just as Christ also loves the Church, and the wife should respect their own husband, and be subject to him in everything, just as the Church is subject to Christ (Ephesians 5:21 - 33). It is also God's will that the hearts of fathers be to their children, and the hearts of children be to their fathers (Malachi 4:6).
Ephesians 6:1 Children should honour and obey their parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 "Honour your father and mother," which is the first commandment with a promise: 3 "that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth."
4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
The story of man’s creation paraphrased.
In the beginning God created the Garden of Eden. Then God formed Adam, the first man, from the dust of the earth and then gave Adam the responsibility of guarding, keeping and tending to the garden. But Adam could not handle the task alone, and it is not good for man to be alone. Therefore God made Eve from Adam's side, to be his wife and helper.
Husbands, I want you to note that God did not give Adam a wife to be his slave. He gave her to be his helper. Think for a moment. If you are working in your garden, or building a shed, and your best friend comes around to visit you, then offers to help you work your garden, do you then demand he works twice as hard as you ever would, while you pull out your deck chair and sit back and relax? Do you then abuse your friend if he much as slows down, or does not do things quite to your liking? Then you wonder why your friend walks off and leaves you all alone.
No! No! You would never treat your best friend like that when he comes to help you. You would make sure you did the hardest work, always giving the easier tasks to your friend. You would see to it that he was well feed and watered, had the right clothes and equipment for the job. You would allow him to rest (even more than you) and instead of being critical towards your friend, you would be forever thankful and praising towards him. Husband, your wife is your best friend; she has come alongside to help you, and it is your responsibility to treat her as your best friend and helper, not as your slave.
God’s word says that even if we have everything God has to offer us, but we have not love, we have nothing (I Corinthians chapter 13). We are wretched, miserable and poor, therefore Jesus counsels us to buy gold from Him. Not the world’s gold that you cannot take with you, but gold you can lay up in heaven as an eternal reward. What are heaven’s gold, silver and precious stones? Love, mercy, kindness, forgiveness and acceptance, along with wisdom, knowledge, patience and truth, these are the treasures of heaven. Yet many in the church today are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.
The city of Laodicea produced some of the finest garments, but Jesus tells them to buy from Him white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed. In the ancient world to be clothed in fine clothes was to be clothed in honour, while to be stripped naked was to reveal one’s shame. (Noble men and women usually wore long flowing robes to cover their nakedness, while the lowly slaves went about their daily task all but naked.
Thus it was that Jesus Christ was stripped naked and bore our shame on the cross, so that we may be clothed in the honour and righteousness of Jesus Christ. Today most Christians that have been around church for a few years can readily understand and accept the concept that when Jesus Christ was stripped naked and nailed to the cross, He bore our shame, so that we can be clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, but is there also something else that Jesus is telling us here?
There are seven churches, that represent the seven church ages, but it is only to one of these churches the church of Laodicea, which represents the church of this age, that Jesus talks about the shame of our nakedness. Could this be because Christians of every age from 33 A.D until the 1940's, never exposed their nakedness in public, but today we (many within the Church) see nothing wrong with exposing our nakedness for all to see.
Just recently a news item on T.V. reported that many women today would not play sport because of the close fitting and skimpy garments they were expected to wear. Clearly, deep within ourselves we know it is wrong to uncover our nakedness in public, but most of us have chosen to be blind to the sin that is all around us.
The city of Laodicea also produced eye salve for the anointing of eyes, but Jesus counsels them to anoint your eyes with eye salve so that they may see. The Laodiceans, like many Christians today, were blind to their wretched and miserable spiritual condition. Jesus knew that it was only the anointing of the Holy Spirit that would release these early Christians from their spiritual blindness. Likewise it is only the anointing of the Holy Spirit that will bring release form spiritual blindness in this age.
Revelation3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 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. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
As earthly fathers rebuke and chasten their children when they rebel, so also God our Father rebukes and chasten us when we rebel. Why? Because He loves us and like any other loving father, God does not want to see us destroy our life or our body. So He rebukes us and chastens us in the hope that we will repent and thus save ourselves from destruction. Yet today, even in many Christian homes, there is no father, and in many other Christian homes, children are not brought up to honour and obey their parents in the Lord. We are so blind to our wretched and miserable spiritual condition that we wonder why things often do not go well with our children and many do not live long in the land. Worst all, not only are many of our children dieing young; they are going straight to the pit of Hell because of their rebellion against God.
To borrow a saying by Pastor Frank Webber of South Africa;
If the man is not in place,
The wife is out of place,
The children are misplaced,
And God is replaced.
Nevertheless here is hope, for Jesus Christ is standing and knocking at the door of every man, woman and child saying, “Will you not repent and let me into your life today. 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 grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.’
In Ephesians we are told that ‘God raised Jesus Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is name, not only in this age but also in that which is to come’ (1:20 – 21). And that when we were saved, we also were ‘raised up together, and made to sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness towards us in Christ Jesus’ (2:6 – 7).
As we enter into these last days of the church age, overcomers, for the first time since the first apostles, are not only being raised up and seated with Christ in heavenly places, we are beginning to exercise that power and authority that most of the Church wrongly believed was lost when the first apostles passed from this world to the next.
Jesus Christ said.
Mark 16:15 “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And theses signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover.”
The early church moved with great power and authority, not just because they sat with Christ on His throne above all powers and authorities, but because 1: They knew they sat on the throne with Christ above all powers and authority. 2: They knew that they had been given all power and authority above all powers and authority. 3: And they were not afraid to confront the enemy and use this power and authority.
James 4:7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
We have power and authority over the devil, therefore when we submit to God and resist the devil he will flee from us.
I have heard many pastors say, “we do not have power and authority over Satan; we only have power and authority over the little demons.” But God’s word says if we resist the devil he will flee from us. Why would Satan flee from us if his power and authority were greater than ours?
In Ephesians 1:20 –21 we are told that Christ was raised up and seated at the right hand of God, far above all principality and powers and might and dominion and every that is named. Then we are told in Ephesians 2:6 that we have been made to sit with Christ in heavenly places. In other words, in Christ we have been given the same power and authority over the powers of darkness that Jesus has; this is why Satan would flee from us.
In Luke chapter 10 we have the account of Jesus Christ sending the seventy out two by two. This makes interesting reading, for these were not from Jesus Christ’s close inner circle of disciples, nor were they counted among the twelve, yet Jesus also gave to them all power and authority over the enemy; the very same power and authority over the enemy that Jesus Christ had Himself. Jesus gave them authority to trample on Satan the serpent, and on his demons, who are call scorpions. Symbolically, when you defeat an enemy, subdue and bring them under the power of your authority, it is said your enemies are trampled under your feet.
Satan rules in the heavens, high above the unredeemed sinners of the world; but when they hear the gospel, believe and repent, Satan falls like lightening from heaven and is trampled under the feet of the new believer in Christ. Before we were saved, Satan ruled over our lives, but when we are born again and we are translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of heaven (Colossians 1:13), and raised up and seated with Christ in heavenly places from where we now rule over Satan and his demons.
Luke 10:17 Then the seventy returned with Joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name."
18 And He said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightening from heaven. 19 Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 20 Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven."
(a) There is much scientific evidence for creation explained in books and DVD’s, available from Answers in Genesis. Their address is given in the Bibliography of this book.
(b) Love, forgiveness, kindness, grace, and mercy are the currency of the kingdom of heaven. Before we even knew God, God poured out His love, mercy and forgiveness upon us; but unless we accept God’s love, mercy and forgiveness we can not receive it. Then in order to hang on to it and receive more, we need to give it away; also if we show love and kindness towards the poor, we lay up treasure in heaven.
Matthew 6:14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your father forgive you.
Matthew19:21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow Me.”
29. THE PARABLE OF THE DRAGNET.
Matthew 13:47 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, 48 which, when it was full, they drew it close to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, 50 and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth."
51 Jesus said to them, "Have you understood all these things?"
52 Then He said to them, "Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old."
In the parable of the dragnet we are looking at the second coming of Jesus Christ. A dragnet, unlike a fishing line, gathers all fish of all kinds. Likewise, the harvesters at the end of the age will gather all mankind, both good and bad into the harvest.
In Matthew 24:31 Jesus tells us that when He comes, He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds of Heaven. In the parable of the tares, the angels of our Lord are likened to the reapers, who will first gather the tares (who are the children of the devil) and bind them into bundles to burn them, but the wheat (the children of God) will be gathered into God's barn (for the wedding feast of Jesus Christ, the bridegroom to the Church, the bride of Christ).
In the parable of the goats and the sheep, all people from all nations are gathered before Jesus, the Son of Man who separates them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. Then to the righteous Jesus says, "Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." While to the wicked He says, "Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels." At the end of the age, the wicked will be taken away to everlasting punishment, but the righteous will enter into eternal life. (Matthew 25:31 - 46)
In the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Understand this! All mankind, every man, woman and child has sinned and fallen short of God’s standard of righteousness, and everlasting punishment in the lake of fire is the just penalty for your sin, but God, your loving Father does not want this for you. This is why God the Father, sent Jesus, God the Son, to die on the cross for your sins.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
18 "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."
Luke24:46 Then Jesus Christ said to them, "Thus it is written and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins (the forgiveness of sins) should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
Mark16:15 And Jesus Christ said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 he who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these sign will follow those who believe: In my name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."
On the day of Pentecost those who heard the preaching of Peter and wanting to be saved, asked Peter and the apostles,
Acts2:37 - - - - - - - "Men and brethren , what shall we do?" 38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins (the forgiveness of sins); and you shall received the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and your children, and to all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call."
These promises given to us by God in His written word were not just for 2,000 years ago. They are also for all of us who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call. If you have read this book, God, today is calling you to repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, the forgiveness of sins, and you shall be saved, set free from sin, born again into the kingdom of God, and filled with the Holy Spirit who will guide you into all truth, and your life will never be the same again.
Find a Bible believing church that believes, teaches and preaches;
(a) God created the heavens and the earth in seven days.
(b) There is only One God, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, God in three persons, all equally the One and all the One and Only True God.
(c) Jesus Christ is God come to earth in the flesh, born of the Virgin Mary.
(d) Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of all mankind, was buried, went to Hell, and then rose from the dead on the third day.
(e) The second coming of Jesus Christ, the coming resurrection from the dead of all mankind, the righteous to eternal life, joy and happiness, the wicked to eternal damnation in the lake of fire.
(f) All mankind have sinned and there is salvation in no other name but the name of Jesus Christ.
(g) A Church that believes in baptizing (fully under the water) all repentant sinners who hear and believe the gospel of Jesus, as a sign of their willingness to die to sin, and to be raised to new life in Christ Jesus, as their Lord and Master.
May God bless you and keep you safe from all evil, in Jesus name.
The Word of God "THE HOLY BIBLE."
Hill Stephen "GOD'S COVENANT OF HEALING"
Sound Teaching Ministries, Warsaw, Indiana.
Taylor Charles V. "BIBLE WITH HOLES?"
1988 Underwood, Queensland Australia.
Payne F.C. "SEAL OF GOD."
1987 Evangelistic Literature Enterprise, Strathpine, Queensland Australia.
"AFTER JESUS the TRIUMPH of CHRISTIANITY"
1992 The Reader's Digest Association, Inc. Pleasantvill, New York Montreal
Smith G Milton "GOD ACTING IN HISTORY"
1981 Faith Bible Course Howick, Auckland, New Zealand.
"THE HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY."
1977 Lion Publishing Ply. Icknield Way, Tring, Herts, England.
For those looking for scientific, archeological and historical evidence for the biblical account of creation, I suggest you contact the company “Answers in Genesis.” of Australia. They have produced a number of books and D.V.Ds looking at the evidence for creation of the heavens, and the many flaws in the theory of evolution.
AUSTRALIA & OTHER COUNTRIES. UK/EUROPE
Answers in Genesis, Answers in Genesis (UK), P.O. Box 6302, Acacia Ridge DC, P.O.Box 5262,
QLD, 4110, Leicester, LE2 3XU,
Australia. United Kingdom.
Phone (+617) 3273 7650 Phone (0116) 2708400
NEW ZEALAND USA
Answers in Genesis (NZ), Answers in Genesis,
P.O. Box 39005, P.O. Box 510,
Howick 1730, Auckland, Hebron, KY 41048-0510,
New Zealand. USA.
Phone (09) 537 4818 Phone toll-free 1-800-778-3390
THE SEVEN CHURCH AGES
By Kenneth Allan Clark. © Copyright 2008
“The Seven Church Ages.” was written by Kenneth Allan Clark and first printed and published in 2008 by
VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means without the prior permission of the author Kenneth Allan Clark.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Hard copies of the “The Seven Church Ages,” are available from;
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Written by Kenneth Allan Clark and printed and published by
VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL. P.O. BOX 144 WYNNUM QLD 4178 AUSTRALIA.
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Copyright © 2000 & 2011, all rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means without the prior permission of the author Kenneth Allan Clark.
Scripture taken from the “Clarks English Translation” © Copyright 2011 by Victorious Christian Ministries International. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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