True New Testament Revival: Getting Back to Our First Love, Part 10 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #288)
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.
George Fox said, “Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations wherever you come; that your carriage and life may preach to all sorts of people; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone; whereby in them you may be a blessing, and make the witness of God in them to bless you.”
Leonard Ravenhill said, “If the Son of God needed the anointing, how in the world do you expect you and I will get by without it? We need that anointing every day; we need that quickening; we need that motivating power of the Spirit.”
In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “While the two brothers, James and Robert Haldane, had earned their reputation as evangelists, the content of their preaching extended far beyond giving the basic plan of salvation as evangelists typically do today. Robert Haldane, especially, was more of a theologian and often discussed in his sermons aspects of salvation more commonly reserved today for theological lectures. In fact, his sermons on the Book of Romans were later published as a textbook commentary that was widely used to train pastors in both French and English.”
After threatening to remove the candlestick of the Church of Ephesus if they did not get back to their first love, Jesus offers another commendation for something that they are doing well. He says, “But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.”
Who are the Nicolaitanes? The Bible does not tell us who they are or what they thought. But the early church fathers shed some light on this issue. Irenaeus wrote in the second century, “The Nicolaitanes are the followers of that Nicolas who was one of the seven first ordained to the diaconate by the apostles. They lead lives of unrestrained indulgence. The character of these men is plainly pointed out as teaching that it is a matter of indifference to practice adultery, and to eat things sacrificed to idols.” Hippolytus, a student of Irenaeus who wrote in the early third century, said Nicolas “departed from correct doctrine, and was in the habit of inculcating indifference of both life and food.”
As usual, it takes a Dr. John MacArthur to have the courage to dig down deep on this subject regarding the Nicolaitans and probably better than anyone else in Christian history, he deals with it more thoroughly. Here is what he said and I’m going to read it to you in three parts over the next three sermons:
“Go now to verse 6 where we pick up the final note about the commendation. He says, “Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans which I also hate.” After having indicted them a bit in verses 4 and 5 seriously, he now comes back to commend them again as if to in some way acknowledge to them that what he has just said is not an indication that they are wholesale in a disastrous condition…so he circles back here and picks up another thing for which they are to be commended. They hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans which I also hate. Now this poses to us a problem and I’m not going to try to forever and always solve the problem, but help you to understand it. There is no way that we can dogmatically identify the Nicolaitans. We can make some assumptions and I’ll try to make some that might help you. What are the deeds of the Nicolaitans? What were they doing? What was their doctrine? What was their error? What were they all about?
“There are a number of possibilities. But we find this heresy in another location. The letter to the church at Pergamus down in chapter 2 verse 12, we find it again…verse 15, please notice verse 15, “Thus you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.” What do you mean the same way? Go back to verse 14, “I have a few things against you because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality.” Balaam we understand…right? Back to Numbers 22 and following, Balaam came along and seduced God’s people into idolatry, seduced God’s people into immorality. He posed as a prophet which he was and he came along and instead of leading people to godliness, he led them to sin, to idolatry and to immorality…that’s what Balaam did.”
It appears as though the Nicolaitanes believed that Christians could live any kind of way and get away with it. They believed it was okay to indulge in whatever pleasures one desired at the moment — including adultery and eating foods sacrificed to idols. The Nicolaitanes wanted people to believe that they were truly saved. They wanted to remain a part of the church, but their lifestyle, in which they trampled on the grace of God, spoke otherwise.
The Ephesians were complimented for hating the deeds of these false teachers and false believers. Notice, they did not hate the people who believed this doctrine, but they hated their works and were likely trying to save them from it.
Christians today ought to have a hatred for the things that God hates. We ought to hate sin in our lives, in the lives of our fellow believers, and in the world. Any actions that disrespect the blood of Christ, especially if they are committed by people claiming to be Christians, ought to be condemned by true believers. We in the church ought to judge ourselves — including those among us — so that we do not have to be judged by God for tolerating sin in the local assembly.
Now, if you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, please keep in mind that the Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” First, understand, that you are a sinner and that the wages of sin is death and Hell. But God sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for your sins. He was buried, and He rose from the dead by the power of God so that you can be saved from death and Hell. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. You have done the most important thing in life. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.