True New Testament Revival: Getting Back to Our First Love, Part 11 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #289)
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, “True godliness doesn’t turn men out of the world but enables them to live better in it and excites their endeavors to mend it.”
Leonard Ravenhill said, “Unction is the mysterious something that God is pleased to put upon those who will travail and wait for it. Without it, preaching has no power and no authority.”
In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “Robert Haldane began his continental visit in France in 1816. He’d been to that nation three times before as a tourist, but now returned with a growing burden for ministry. Previously, the European political scene would have hindered such ministry efforts, but with the end of the great Napoleonic Wars in Europe, he recognized a window of opportunity that might not open again. Haldane’s journey was not without problems. He knew no one in France and began his trip without making specific arrangements for ministry. He wasn’t even sure how long he would be away from Scotland. When someone asked, he hesitantly replied, ‘Possibly only six weeks.’ His ‘six-week’ mission ultimately lasted three years.”
Jesus tells the church at Ephesus that it is good that “thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.” We began looking at the identity and the actions of the Nicolaitanes in the early church. They, obviously, were a heretical group began by a man named Nicolas who is said to have been one of the first seven deacons appointed in the church.
The appointing of these deacons is recounted in Acts 6 when the apostles commanded the brethren to “look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business [of caring for the widows and serving food to the hungry].” Five of the deacons are named but not described. Stephen is named first and described as “a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost.” Nicolas is named last and described as “a proselyte of Antioch.” The word “proselyte” means that he was a Gentile who converted to Judaism and later decided to follow Christ. Apparently, Nicolas was a believer of good report starting out — of such good report that the church saw him as fit for the office of deacon. But, from the descriptions of the Nicolaitans that we have explored so far, it appears that Nicolas had not fully gotten rid of some of his pagan ways — or he had backslidden into those old ways and had begun dragging other believers down with him.
John MacArthur continues his description of the Nicolaitanes as follows. As you might recall, he likens them to the false Old Testament “prophet” Balaam.
“It seems to me that whatever Balaam did, the same thing was being done by the Nicolaitans. Let me take it a step further. The word ‘Nicolas’ comes from two Greek words: ‘nike’ from which you get the word today ‘Nike’, which means to conquer; and the word ‘laos’ which means ‘of the people’. The name means one who conquers the people. The Hebrew word ‘Balaam’ means ‘destroyer of the people.’ What you have here with Nicolas in the New Testament appears to be the same as you had with Balaam in the Old Testament. This is someone who by false teaching leads people into destructive sin. How in the world this could ever be allowed in the church as it was in Pergamos is shocking but here in Ephesus it was not allowed. They could spot a Nicolaitan because they could test the false, their criteria was still intact.
“Some early church writers, namely Irenaeus, say that it is this Nicolas who appeared early in the church, was made a deacon, but who was a false believer. He went bad, became an apostate, but because of his credentials as a one-time deacon, was allowed to come in and lead the church astray. And he was no different than Balaam. He was a destroyer of the people just like Balaam was, and he led them into immorality and wickedness.”
We must consider that there are preachers, deacons, and other church leaders running around today who are just like Nicolas and Balaam. They are false believers. Their first church ousted them when they found out that either their doctrine or their lifestyle was wrong. But because they have credentials, or because they have a seminary degree, or because they once held a position in a church, they can run to another church and get a position there. And when they get in at a new church, they start leading people astray. These are those whom Jesus called wolves in sheep’s clothing. They look the part of a faithful leader, but they are just Satan’s secret agents, the tares among the wheat, seeking those whom they can devour and deceive.
We need more churches and more discerning believers, like the ones at Ephesus, who are able to detect and expose the Nicolaitanes among us today.
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.