(From radio broadcast of Bro. Julius Adewumi)
Revelation chapter 2
As said before, God is the author of the book of Genesis and the book of revelation. God wanted us to know how it will all end, so he came back and wrote it for us through apostle John. He is the beginning and the ending. The first book and the last book compiled for us in the bible were written by God. You will do well to believe and to take heed to the things therein. How it all began -- the book of genesis; how it will all end -- the book of revelation. The rest of the books in the bible tells us the implementation, how God brings the end to be from the beginning.
The bible is the genealogy of Jesus Christ. The plan of the ages is that through Christ, God will bring forth his children to whom he will give the planet earth to live in it forever. This will climax in the sons of God to be manifested at the endtime.
Christ started this church, calling out people out of the world to become children of God. This letter he wrote in the first three chapters of the book of revelation is directed to the called out church all through the ages, represented by the seven churches in Asia. From the time of the apostles to the end of the world there were to be seven dispensations of the church as symbolized by the Lord's letter to the seven churches in Asia.
Every generation of the church of God had a challenge and a problem. The world is always having its influence upon the believer. The Lord's letter was written to specifically address these influences and to challenge every believer to overcome these influences.
We are in the seventh church age, Laodecia. You will see our own challenge when we get to chapter three. What is our major obstacle, major influence that the world has influenced upon the church? The church feels they have everything, and have need of nothing. Look at the technology in the world, radio, television. It seems that we are doing something, yet we are not doing as much as he expected us to do.
Not that we are not covering the world. But where is the power, the supernatural power? People are relying on many other things rather than the supernatural power of God. There are challenges, but only those that overcome shall receive the blessings.
Rev.2:1 "Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write. These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;"
Now that is how the Lord introduced himself to this church. He said he holds the stars in his right hand, which indicates that he is the one in charge. He is the one that sends the stars out, and he is in control. Sometime people assume they are in control. Sometime even ministers because of their success or the enlargement of their ministries, they may seem as if they are the one in control instead of the Lord Jesus Christ that is in the spirit. Who is controlling your ministry? Who is controlling your life? No matter how successful you are, until you acknowledge that the Lord Jesus Christ is in control of your ministry, that you will go only to where he wants you to go, and only stay where he wants you to stay. When you acknowledge that, is when your success will be lasting, and you will be pleasing to the master that send you out. If you don't acknowledge this and it seems you are 100% in control of what you say you are doing for him, you are missing it somewhere. He said here, he holds the seven stars in his right hand. This shows that he is the one in control, or should be allowed to be in control. Remember this! You should allow him to be in control. It's like marriage, where some wives do not allow the husband to lead. They wrestle the authority from their husband, like two captains in a boat. Christ is making us to see that in this church race, there is only one bridegroom, and that bridegroom should be allowed to be in charge. When the bride begins to take charge and does not listen to the bridegroom anymore, there is problem. In fact the church has been doing that. The church has been going ahead doing their own program, no more listening, no more acknowledging, no more worshipping the bridegroom. You will see this in a moment. He is the one that holds the stars, he is the one that should be in control. When you refuse to let him be in control, you are losing your first love. Let's read it further.
v.2 "I know thy works, and thy labor and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil; and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast labored and hast not fainted."
Now the Lord gave the characteristics of this church of Ephesus, that they were working hard and doing all laboring well. Laboring for God, like a business-minded wife, very busy, hard-working. One will say, "what more can you ask for?" She is doing everything almost to perfection. But the bridegroom is seeing something here:
v.4 " Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love."
Now, let's analyze that. I said earlier that he said he holds the stars in his right hand. He was saying, "I am the bridegroom here. I am to be in charge here". You have to acknowledge that he is the Lord. He is in charge. Let him lead. Let him be the one directing. Just like the wife, as the bible said, "as the church is to Christ so is the wife to her husband". If they are no more listening to Christ, they are now arguing with Christ, they are not letting him lead and direct, they are now running their own program and not his program, there is going to be trouble, there is going to be conflict. That is exactly what Christ is saying here. He says, "I am the one in authority and in control", but you are taking the authority and running ahead with your own project and program? You are busy, I can see you are busy! You are working hard, I can see you are working hard. But where is the first love?
What is this first love then? If all the laboring for Christ is not the first love, what is this first love the church hast left?
Think of husband and wife when they first married, the honeymoon phase, when the wife always anxiously waiting for the husband to come back from work. They are always in love. But after a while it become stale. No more rushing to the door when husband comes from work to hug or kiss. Similarly when believers first accepted the Lord. After a while they become stale. We may be too busy with church programs than to wait upon him, to hear from his mouth and to minister to him. The first love of the church is to minister to the Lord Jesus Christ. To wait upon him; to let him lead us. Individually! Maybe you have gotten away from that. You need to come back to Jesus and wait upon the Lord. Maybe you have gone into that situation just going to church as a routine. Very soon, the devil will sneak in ideas of the world that are so subtle and you won't realize it is in error. You may think it's just okay. That is what the Lord is concerned about. He wants you to be led by his Spirit. It is written "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord."
We can use our strength to do all these programs, going from city to city, screaming at the top of our voices, yet we will not win as much for Christ as we would if we let the Lord lead us. It could be fatal if He is not leading, if he is not directing. I remember a testimony of a minister who went on an evangelistic campaign which was planned 3 months in advance through several cities of South Africa. When they were to go to a particular city the Spirit of the Lord told him not to go to that city but to change plan for another city. But the board of directors could not be convinced. He could not convince the board of directors! Why? Because men have made up their plan and not even God can change it. The minister told them God told him to change plan, but they refused. They said God spoke to us too, to make this plan 3 months ago. That is how human being can organize till God cannot even move. This is what I am saying. You are to wait upon God to let him lead step by step. This message is both to individual and to corporate body of Christ: "They that are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." To be led by the Spirit of God is not that He led you to make a one-year program planned that He cannot change anymore. No!
Take for example when the Philistines came against king David, He asked from the Lord, "shall I go against the Philistines?" The Lord said, "go against them", and David did and drove them away. Many months later, the Philistines camped against Israel again. David was wise enough to ask the Lord again. "Shall I go against them?" The Lord said "No. But form a compass around them and come against them from behind the mulberry trees". See? God changed the strategy, because the enemy has changed the strategy. God wants to lead us step by step like that for our own good. If the devil changes his strategy we also will be a step ahead of him by the Lord. Even in ministering to the world, even in working for the Lord, God himself is the field-marshal, He is the General in the army. He could see what we can not see. He wants you to wait upon him and get instructions from him directly, individually or collectively as a body of believers.
That is what the Lord is referring to here. They forgot their first love and are busy with much programs. In this generation also, individual ministers, or congregations are doing their own things and can hardly say that God is leading them. Because they are not waiting upon the Lord to hear from the master. The Lord is giving out this warning. At this endtime God wants the saints to come to the fulness of the stature of Christ. The fullness of the stature of Christ means the fullness of yieldedness, total and complete surrender of our will to Christ, being broken, like a horse is broken, to be obedient. Ready to obey him, going to wherever he goes. First fruits in Rev.14 was said that they follow the lamb wherever he goes. That is the fullness of the stature of Christ, the fullness of yieldedness. This message to the first church is the same message we must take heed to at this endtime.
v.5: Remember therefore from whence that art fallen.
Think about that, he said, by forgetting the first love they are fallen. Even though they were doing all those works, all those laboring for Christ, exposing the false apostles, yet they were fallen from the faith. They are fallen from the state of being in love with Christ.
v.5: Remember therefore from whence that art fallen and repent and do the first works, or else I will some unto thee quickly and remove thy candlestick from its place.
Look at the punishment if they don't repent. That is a severe punishment. What does it mean to remove the candlestick from its place. The church will stop burning. If the church stops burning for the Lord, they are no more with Christ, like a divorce. They will be full of mere programs. Look around you and you will see whole denominations having no candlesticks. They are just man-made organizational religious systems without Christ. They are full of programs that do not reach heaven, that do not bring anyone to Christ. The world is full of such churches nowadays, because Christ has removed the element of candlestick from them. Remember what he is saying here and take heed, lest your candle also be removed.
v.6: But this thou hast that thou hatest the deed of the Nicolaitans which thing I also hate.
God will give you credit wherever credit is deserved. But that does not mean he won't give correction where you need to be corrected. This is seen in all the letters to the churches.
v.7: He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Now here comes the promise. Every believer has to overcome individually. You have this challenge against you, not just against your congregation. I say this because sometime when we preach something, some members of the congregation will say, "yes, I know the pastor is not doing something right". The pastor is not the problem! You are the problem. The pastor has his own problem. Each member of the congregation has his or her own problem. The world is influencing your church means it is influencing each member of the congregation. Some members may have victory over some of the influences, but every member is expected to overcome the worldly influences, because as the scripture said "a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump".
"To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God."
Continue with the next church.
"Unto the angel of the church of Smyna write; these things saith the first and the last which was dead and his alive"
Consider how the Lord introduced himself to this church that 'he was dead and is alive". This is to remind them that he has the power over death, and so they don't have to fear death. This is in line with the challenge in this dispensation, as you will read in a moment. The bulk of their challenge is persecution, being killed for Christ. He was reminding them that "Hey, I resurrected! You will live again also." Let's see what he said.
"I know thy work and tribulation and poverty (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan."
First it was the non-believing Jews that persecuted the Christians, then after was the Romans. But Christ was encouraging the church :
"Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."
"He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death."
The ten days can be prophetic symbol of ten years. This dispensation of the church went through serious persecution. God knows what their challenges would be and gave them early encouragement because he loves us. Those believers sacrificed their body for Christ and they are listed among the heroes of the bible as Hebrews chapter 11 listed. He promised them the crown of life.
They will be resurrected, and live forever. The second death has no power over them.
v.12: And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
See how He introduced himself to this church, "he has the sharp sword with two edges". It means there will be challenges to this church for which Christ is saying he has the sword with two edges, a sword that can cut both ways, cuts outward and cuts inward. The sword in his mouth is the word of God that he said he will use to judge those who are causing trouble in the church. You will see what is going on in this church that made him say he will come with his sword. This is because the devil has infiltrated the church around this time through false doctrine, and some people have joined and have come to dominate the church from within.
v.13: I know thy works and where thou dwelleth and where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth, But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
The devil used some men and from within the church they were polluting the doctrine.
What was the doctrine of Balaam? It refers back to the book of Numbers, when the Israelites came out of Egypt and the king of Moab sent for a prophet Balaam to come and help him curse the Hebrews. God told Balaam not to go because the people are blessed, but because of the promise of wealth by the king of Moab, Balaam wanted the wealth. It means using your religious position to get favor and fame with the rulers of the world.
When preachers or believers are trying to please the highly placed men of the world, for praise, for dignity, for money, or for recognition, that is the doctrine of Balaam. The Lord does not want you to do his work with the arm of flesh. Some preachers want recognition with the Politicians. If the Lord Jesus had danced to the tune of the high Priest or the Governor in his day, there would not have been any crucifixion.
Preach the word! Let it fall where it may. You will not be loved by the world. If you are of the world the world will love his own, saith the Lord. If you are not of this world, they will hate you. Christ said, "If they hated me they will hate you also." The world wants you to fine-tune your preaching. They want you to preach the type of gospel, which the Governor will like to come and attend: don't mention political corruption, bribery, or any such sin in your sermons.
If they had hated me they will hate you also, saith the Lord. Whom will ye serve? Are you serving yourself, or the Politician, or are you serving the Lord Jesus Christ? Check yourself whether you have the doctrine of Balaam.
Again he mentioned the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. That is another doctrine that infiltrated the church where some people began to suppress the liberty of the Spirit in the congregation -- conquer the Laity. They began to enforce that you cannot prophesy in the congregation without first passing the prophecy through the elders. Later it turned to "the papacy has the final say or the only say". Whereas the scripture said, "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty". Once the devil takes hold of the elders, the Spirit of God could not move in the congregation by their dictatorship. Do you have a dream or a vision, you must first tell it to the council of their elders and if they don't agree, it is killed, so the Holy Spirit cannot rise up in their congregation and prophesy -- Nicolaitan doctrine. Imagine, if that doctrine was adhered to in Israel, there would have been no Jeremiah the prophet who was thrown into a dungeon.
"Repent, or else I will come unto thee suddenly and fight against them with the sword of my mouth."
You can see why the Lord introduced himself that he has the sharp two-edged sword. The Lord was ready to judge the individual with the sword of his mouth.
The challenge before you is to overcome the doctrine of Balaam -- the desire to be popular with the kings and the rulers, or the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, -- lording it over the people of God. If they are already in your congregation, and you want to go against them, you are not going to be popular, but you will be standing for Jesus. They that will live godly in this world will suffer persecution.
Make up your mind who you will serve. Are you going to serve the congregation, or are you going to serve the Lord Jesus Christ?
I pray that the Lord will help you to be zealous for his kingdom. Amen!
(to be continued…)
Bro. Julius Adewumi
Gospel Distribution Ministry
Box 30387, Phoenix, AZ 85046, USA.
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Sorry we have to withdraw the Radio East Africa and Radio South Africa broadcasts for now, due to budget issues.
I want to thank those that have been sending offering to this ministry. Your investment and mine send the literature to believers and send the word on radio. That is one sure way we can send our money ahead of us to heaven. The Lord said: "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Mat. 6: 19-21). "For we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing out." (1Tim. 6: 7).