True New Testament Revival: Getting Back to Our First Love, Part 13 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #291)
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.
Gilbert Tennent said, “I am verily persuaded that the generality of preachers talk of an unknown and unfelt Christ; and the reason why congregations have been so dead is because they have had dead men preaching to them.”
Leonard Ravenhill said, “The Romans weren’t the only ones who put Jesus to death. I put Him to death; you put Him to death; and professing Christians put Him to death over and over and over again these days with careless living.”
In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “When Robert Haldane arrived in Geneva, he learned that one of the two pastors was no longer in town. The other was preaching the gospel faithfully and didn’t need the Scottish preacher’s assistance. They had warm fellowship together, but the door to ministry was apparently closed. Meanwhile, a small prayer meeting in the nearby village of Montauban had been asking God for spiritual leadership since their founder, Madame Krudener, had left. The group members considered Haldane the answer to their prayer. Convinced he wouldn’t have a ministry in Geneva, he decided to leave the city to minister among the prayer group.”
In the conclusion of His letter to the church at Ephesus, Jesus makes an appeal directly to individual believers. As much as we think of our churches as a single unit — and we should — each church is made up of individuals. It is the individual believers who have lost their first love or otherwise gone astray. To such believers, Jesus appeals: “He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
Dr. Warren Wiersbe said, “Revelation 2:7 makes it clear that individual believers within the church may be true to the Lord, no matter what others may do. In these seven messages, the ‘overcomers’ are not a ‘spiritual elite,’ but rather the true believers whose faith has given them the victory.”
Every believer will be held accountable for his or her own heart and actions. You, as a Christian, can hear the words of Jesus’ letter to the Ephesian church and choose to obey them. You can get back to your first love and begin doing the first works. In order for a church to be changed and revived, individual believers in that church must change and be revived. No longer can we wait on a pastor or on a revival speaker to get everyone back to their first love. No longer can we wait on a conference or a special evangelistic campaign. If the pastor is anointed and revived, we cannot assume that his anointing and revived spirit will trickle down to the people.
The changes that Jesus is calling for the church to make in this letter and in all seven letters of Revelation can only be made by individual Christians. Of course, it is ideal for all members of a church body to make these changes together. That is what we pray for and that is what we ought to desire. But, “he that has an ear to hear” must respond. Today is the day of repentance. Now is the time for us to get back to our first love. If we do not hear and obey, we will not be overcomers in this life.
One songwriter put it this way:
Listen, obey, and be blessed
When you hear God’s will expressed.
Listen, obey, and be blessed,
If you would be happy and enter his rest.