True New Testament Revival: Getting Back to Our First Love, Part 9 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #287)
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.”
In our series of homilies from the book of Ephesians, we focused on reviving Christian families. Now, I am sharing a verse-by-verse series of short messages from the book of Revelation, specifically targeted at reviving the church. If our country is to be awakened, the family and the church 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.
William Penn said, “[The church is] inclined to call things by the wrong names. We call prosperity ‘happiness’ and adversity ‘misery’ even though adversity is the school of wisdom and often the way to happiness.”
Leonard Ravenhill said, “Holiness is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. If you’re not holy, you’ll never make it to heaven.”
In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “Most preachers would long to have such influence in their preaching, but in the midst of an effective ministry, Robert Haldane left the place of his influence. Just as Philip left the thriving revival in Samaria to preach the gospel to one Ethiopian eunuch (see Acts 8:4-8, 25-40), so Robert Haldane left his revivalistic ministry in Scotland to investigate the possibilities of ministry on the European continent. In doing so, he became the instrument God used to achieve “Geneva’s Second Reformation.””
Jesus has told the Ephesian church that if they do not remember, repent, and repeat the first works, He ‘will come unto them quickly, and remove their candlestick out of its place.’ We have learned that this removal of the candlestick is a judgment of God. As the Bible says, ‘Judgment must begin at the house of God.’ If the church is not doing what it is supposed to do, Jesus is going to judge and discipline His people before He judges the world. The judgment for churches that do not return to their first love is that their ‘light’ will be put out and they will no longer be considered a church of Jesus Christ.
How many churches are losing their light, losing their testimony, and losing their effectiveness because they have lost their first love for Jesus and for the things of God? Unfortunately, statistics show that there are many. Numerous Christian denominations in America today are lamenting the decline of their churches. The cause of this decline is not, as some might think, bad outreach strategy or bad organization but simply the fact that those in the church have lost their first love for Jesus Christ, are no longer doing the first works that they used to do, and are no longer preaching the Gospel and the plain teaching of Scripture as it was once delivered to the saints. You might be surprised, but statistics actually bear this out.
According to data that has being published in the Review of Religious Research, churches that hold to traditional Christian beliefs and that are more diligent in practices such as prayer, Bible reading, and the application of the word of God to everyday life are GROWING. So-called “mainline” churches that do not hold to these practices as much are DECLINING.
Further, among declining churches, only 19% of PASTORS read their Bibles every day, only 50% believe it is “very important to encourage non-Christians to become Christians,” and only 56% agree that “Jesus rose from the dead with a real, flesh-and-blood body leaving behind an empty tomb.” Whereas among growing churches, 71% of pastors read their Bibles every day, 93% of pastors agree that “Jesus rose from the dead with a real, flesh-and-blood body leaving behind an empty tomb,” and 100% believe it is “very important to encourage non-Christians to become Christians.”
Similar numbers are carried out across the board in England, in Europe, and in Canada. Such numbers clearly show that churches that have abandoned their first love and that no longer do the first works are slowly losing their light. Their candlesticks are being snuffed out as they no longer have a valid witness for Jesus Christ in their communities. Each of us as individual believers ought to personally remember, repent, and repeat the first works so that we can save our local churches from a similar fate.