True New Testament Revival, Part 1 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #279)
A homily is “a short talk on a religious or moral topic; a usually short sermon; a lecture or discourse on or of a biblical theme.”
I am sharing a verse-by-verse series of short messages specifically targeted at reviving families and encouraging and exhorting husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and children to do what God has commanded them to do, for if the church is to be revived and the country is to be awakened, the family must be revived first.
TEXT: Revelation 2:1-7:
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;
2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.
7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
D.M. Panton said, “A revival is the inrush of the Holy Spirit into a body of believers that threatens to become a corpse.”
Leonard Ravenhill said, “Do you know why many people want revival? To fill up the vacant pews. But many revivals empty the church before it fills it. God wounds before He heals.”
In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “As with college revivals throughout history, news of the movement at Yale sparked similar revivals on other campuses. Dartmouth, Williams, and Amherst colleges all experienced a similar outpouring of the Holy Spirit, resulting in the conversion of hundreds of students. The ‘Infidel Movement’ that some years earlier had gripped American colleges came to a quick end as students experienced God in a way that shattered their unbelief. As Christians came to realize that higher education was not inconsistent with faith in God, numerous new colleges were established to prepare teachers and preachers to serve various communities in the emerging nation.”
Today, we begin looking at the letters that Jesus Christ gave John for the seven churches of Asia in the book of Revelation. We are not told why these seven churches are chosen, but most scholars agree that they were chosen to represent the church as a whole throughout history. Donald Poole said, “Our Lord, by these seven churches, signifies all the churches of Christ to the end of the world; and by what he saith to them, designs to show what shall be the state of churches in all ages, and what their duty is.” In other words, all of the major problems that are found in churches today are addressed in the letters to these seven churches.
These letters are relevant especially as we continue praying for the revival of families, the revival of the church, and the awakening of this nation. Dr. John Walvoord said, “These messages contain divine revelation and exhortation pertaining to the present age, which is the church age, and so they are some of the most incisive and penetrating passages in the entire New Testament relating to church doctrine and Christian living.” Speaking of the continued relevance of Scripture, A.W. Tozer said, “The prophets habitually said, ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ They meant their hearers to understand that God’s speaking is in the continuous present.” These letters, once written to seven churches, are still relevant to us today.
By way of further introduction, allow me to share with you how The Bible Knowledge Commentary sets this portion of Scripture up, “At the time this letter was written, Ephesus was a major city of Asia Minor, a seaport, and the location of the great temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Paul had visited Ephesus about A.D. 53, about 43 years before this letter in Revelation was sent to them. Paul remained in Ephesus for several years and preached the gospel so effectively “that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord”. This large city was thoroughly stirred by Paul’s message, with the result that the silversmiths created a riot because their business of making shrines of Artemis was threatened. The church accordingly had a long history and was the most prominent one in the area. The pastor or messenger of the church was addressed as the angel. The word’s principal use in the Bible is in reference to heavenly angels. But it is also used to refer to human messengers.”
Notice also with me what Dr. Warren Wiersbe says about this passage, “Only the Head of the church, Jesus Christ, can accurately inspect each church and know its true condition, because He sees the internals, not only the externals. In these special messages to the seven churches in Asia Minor, the Lord gave each assembly an “X ray” of its condition. But He intended for all the churches to read these messages and benefit from them. But the Lord was also speaking to individuals, and this is where you and I come in. “He that hath an ear, let him hear.” Churches are made up of individuals, and it is individuals who determine the spiritual life of the assembly. So, while reading these messages, we must apply them personally as we examine our own hearts. Finally, we must keep in mind that John was a pastor at heart, seeking to encourage these churches during a difficult time of persecution. Before Christ judges the world, He must judge His own people. A purified church need never fear the attacks of Satan or men. “It is a very remarkable thing,” wrote G. Campbell Morgan, “that the church of Christ persecuted has been the church of Christ pure. The church of Christ patronized has always been the church of Christ impure.”
The first church that Jesus writes to is the church at Ephesus. He begins with some words of commendation: “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil…” This church had a few positive traits that churches today should adopt.
The first positive trait of the church at Ephesus was that it was a hard working church. The Ephesian believers were diligent about their faith. They labored and worked consistently for the Gospel.
Unfortunately, many Christians today treat the church as their place of relaxation, where we go to sit and be ministered to. We see the church as a place for us to go to “watch” others sing, preach, and pray. Most believers take no part in the work of the ministry. We work six days a week in the secular world, but come to church and want to sit down.
The church, more than anything, ought to be a military outpost — a bustling hub for the distribution of the Gospel and the discipleship of new believers. No matter what your gifts or talents are, you can find a way to serve in the church. No matter what degrees you have, what type of training you have, or what your secular job entails, you ought to also be a hard worker for God.
Jane Borthwick wrote:
Come, labor on.
Who dares stand idle on the harvest plain
while all around us waves the golden grain?
And to each servant does the Master say,
“Go work today.”
Come, labor on.
Claim the high calling angels cannot share;
to young and old the gospel gladness bear.
Redeem the time; its hours too swiftly fly.
The night draws nigh.
Come, labor on.
No time for rest, till glows the western sky,
till the long shadows over our pathway lie,
and a glad sound comes with the setting sun,
“Well done, well done!”