True New Testament Revival: Getting Back to Our First Love, Part 14 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #292)

early-church


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.

—-

John Wesley said, “Value all things only by the price they shall gain in eternity.”

Leonard Ravenhill said, “The cross is going to judge everything in your life — your eating, your drinking, your sleeping, your spending, your talking. Everything in your life will be cross examined.”

In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “Before Robert Haldane left Geneva, however, a pastor agreed to take him to visit a local tourist attraction. The evening before the tour, the pastor came down with a severe headache but arranged for a young divinity student at the local college to accompany Haldane. During the tour, the Scottish preacher and the student began discussing theology. Haldane wrote in his journal: I found him profoundly ignorant, although in a state of mind that showed he was willing to receive information. He returned with me to the inn, and remained till late at night. Next morning he came with another student, equally in darkness with himself. I questioned them respecting their personal hope of salvation, and the foundation of that hope…. After some conversation, they became convinced of their ignorance of the Scriptures, and of the way of salvation, and exceedingly desirous of information. I therefore postponed my intended departure from Geneva. After listening to Haldane for a day, the student told a friend, ‘Here is a man who knows the Bible like Calvin!'”

—-

In life, there are many things that the Christian will need to overcome. For the Ephesian church, they had to overcome the deceit of the Nicolaitanes, the legalism that was cropping up in their church family, and the complacency that caused them to turn away from their first love. Could they overcome all these things? Yes, they could. They could overcome all things if they relied on Christ for strength.

When we think of the word “overcoming”, we typically envision an external enemy — physical or spiritual — that becomes a threat to the progress of our walk with Christ. But, for the most part, the enemies that we must overcome in the Christian life are internal. We must overcome our own pride, hatred, envy, unbelief, unforgiveness, bitterness, and leaving our first love. These are all things that can tear us down from the inside. And we need the power of Christ to overcome these things just as we need the power of Christ to overcome the devil and human beings used by the devil.

Christ tells the church at Ephesus that there is a reward waiting for those who overcome. He says, “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” Dr. John Walvoord said, “This tree, first mentioned in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3:22, is later found in the midst of the street of the new Jerusalem, where it bears fruit for the abundant health and life of the nations. It is especially appropriate that those who hate the world’s evil deeds and idolatrous worship are given the reward of abiding in the abundant life that is in Christ in the eternity to come. The gracious nature of the promise is designed to restore and rekindle that love of Christ known in the early days of the church.”

God wants all of His churches and all of His children to be overcomers. There is no elite group of Christians who are overcomers. The word “overcomers” can also be translated conquerors. This word implies that there will be a struggle. We will face false brethren like the Nicolaitanes. We will also face the temptation to let other things take the place of our first love. But the Bible says “we are more than conquerors” through Christ. Nothing can permanently defeat us or undermine us. We always possess the power to overcome anything that we face because “greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.” And greater is He that is in us than our selfish, fleshly will that is susceptible to turning away from our first love.

We must trust in the power of Christ the Overcomer in order to navigate the pitfalls of the Christian life and emerge victorious on the other side where we can partake of the fruit of the Tree of Life in the Paradise of God.

Charles W. Naylor wrote:

Be an overcomer, He who stands with you
Is a mighty One, who is always true;
In the sorest conflict you shall win the day,
Face the legions dark till they flee away.

Be an overcomer, you are heaven’s heir,
And a crown of life you may ever wear;
So with courage press the battle to the gates,
Till you gain the prize which in heaven waits.

Be an overcomer, forward boldly go,
You are strong enough if you count it so–
Strong enough to conquer through sustaining grace,
And to overcome every foe you face.

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.

True New Testament Revival: Getting Back to Our First Love, Part 12 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #290)

early-church


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.

—-

Doug Perry said, “Your growth in Christ is directly proportional to your willingness to rush headlong into the refining fire and embrace it.”

Leonard Ravenhill said, “The world is not waiting for a new definition of Christianity; it’s waiting for a new demonstration of Christianity as it already is.”

In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “Arriving in Paris, Robert Haldane encountered a significant disappointment. He made contact with an employee of the American embassy, an evangelical Christian, who had lived in Europe for some time and was familiar with the ministry of the Haldane brothers in Scotland. The American informed Haldane that ‘there were only two pastors in Europe who shared his views of revival,’ but neither lived in France. The two pastors who might work with him both served churches in Geneva. The Scottish preacher thus concluded that Geneva would be the next stop on his journey.”

—-

It is becoming increasingly evident that we need more Christians and more churches that can receive the commendation of Jesus Christ to the Ephesians: “But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.” This is the case because we live in a day when people do not want to hear clear preaching against sin. They feel offended if you tell them that God says they are wrong. In an attempt to keep crowds and please people, many churches have decided it is better to brush what the Bible says about sin under the rug. They, instead, focus on things that people want to hear — things that are ‘affirming’ and ‘uplifting’ — and they let people go on in their sin.

But Jesus says He hates sin, especially sin in the church. Like the Nicolaitanes, false teachers take advantage of the present climate, encouraging people in sin or remaining complacent about their sin. In so doing, they lead people into a false understanding of what God thinks about their sin. And that is how we end up with churches full of Nicolaitanes — people who call themselves Christians but feel it is okay to continue in a sinful lifestyle — because the pastor and Christian teachers do not preach that God hates sin.

As we continue looking at the Nicolaitanes, we return to John MacArthur’s explanation of this sect. He says, “For sure we know that those who followed Nicolas were involved in immorality and uncleanness and they plied the church with sensual temptations. Clement of Alexander says, ‘They abandoned themselves to pleasure like goats, leading a life of self- indulgence.’ They were involved in immorality and loose living. Liberty was replaced with license. They were involved in teaching perverted grace. They were probably a pre-gnostic group, thinking that through their sexual activity and their superior knowledge they had ascended to the deities. They may even have perpetrated on the church a classical hierarchical structure which found its final form in Catholicism. But verse 6 says Christ hates their deeds. ‘I hate what they do and so do you.’

“Now the sum of all this commendation is, this is a noble bunch. This is a great church.” We lament those who have gone astray, but there are many churches like this today. They are “hard working, toiling for the Kingdom, persevering through difficulty, unable to endure evil men, acting in behalf of holiness and virtue, putting church discipline into action, able to recognize false apostles, not being victimized by those who come along no matter who they are.”

The danger, as we saw in the previous verse, is that a church can be doing all of this. They can have the right stuff, the right doctrine, the right teaching, the right outreaches, but have lost their love for the Lord. And if that love is not there in the center of everything they do, they will eventually fall.

Let’s pray.

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.

True New Testament Revival: Getting Back to Our First Love, Part 11 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #289)

early-church


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.

Let’s pray.

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.

True New Testament Revival: Getting Back to Our First Love, Part 9 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #287)

early-church


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.

True New Testament Revival: Getting Back to Our First Love, Part 7 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #285)

spiritual-warfare

fhttp://www.buzzsprout.com/3192/448569-true-new-testament-revival-getting-back-to-our-first-love-part-7-revive-the-family-revive-the-church-awaken-the-nation-o-lord-285.mp3


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.

—-

A.W. Tozer said, “If Christianity is to receive a rejuvenation, it must be by other means than any now being used. If the Church is to recover from the injuries she has suffered, there must appear a new type of leader. The proper, ruler-of-the-synagogue type will never do. Neither will the priestly type of man who carries out his duties, takes his pay, and asks no questions. Nor the smooth-talking pastoral type who knows how to make the Christian religion acceptable to everyone. All these have been tried and found wanting. Another kind of religious leader must arise among us. He must be of the old prophet type, a man who has seen visions of God and has heard a voice from the Throne.”

Leonard Ravenhill said, “I had a man chase me one day because I said that to become a Christian you must renounce your sin, repent, and take up your cross. ‘Oh no,’ he said, ‘you mustn’t tell young people to take up their cross; you’ll frighten them.’ I said, ‘Why don’t you argue with the Lord about that, not me?’ That’s what the Word of God says: ‘Take up your cross and follow me.'”

In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “When evangelist Asahel Nettleton returned to the Bridgewater pulpit, the church experienced revival blessing. Excitement soon spread to other towns. Many recognized their need to reform and began attending services. Nettleton’s faithful preaching, addressing specific spiritual needs, was effectively used by God to bring revival to Bridgewater, Connecticut, and surrounding towns. But it was a silent pulpit and an absent preacher that God used to begin his work of grace in that church and community.”

—-

So far, we have looked at the first and second steps to getting back to our first love. Remembering what we have lost and Repenting of present sins. Remembering looks at the past; repenting looks at the present. Today, we see the third step — Repeating or Redoing. Jesus says, “Remember… repent… and Do the first works.”

Remembrance and repentance are no good if those actions do not bring forth results. The result of remembrance and repentance should be returning to those things which we used to do when the Lord was still our first love. The first works are those things which, when you first got saved, you did with alacrity and joy — the very same things that you do now with drudgery and a lack of enthusiasm. These are simple things like praying, reading your Bible, attending church, and telling others about Jesus. If you are unsatisfied with your Christian life, if you have left your first love, it is not because the rules have changed. It is because you are no longer playing by the rules. You must start doing the first works.

Charles J. Ellicott points out, “Christ does not say, ‘Feel thy first feelings,’ but, ‘Do the first works.'” Jesus’ admonition is not for you to sit around waiting for the feeling of love for Him to return to your soul after you have repented. It does not work that way. Feelings come after action. You must choose to love God and start doing those things which you used to do whether you feel like it or not. In fact, most of the time, you will not feel like praying, reading your Bible, meditating on the word of God, attending church, or witnessing to others. But Jesus says, ‘Do these things anyway.’

When you start doing the right things, you will eventually begin to feel the right feelings. Jesus is concerned more with what you do than He is with how you feel about doing it. Jesus did not feel like going to the cross for us, but He went anyway. He is not under any obligation to love us, but He loves us anyway. We should follow His example.

It is also important to note that the word used to describe the church’s “first love” is “agape.” This is not love based on feeling or emotion, but love based on choice. So, even though you may not feel like doing the first works, or you may not feel like you have gotten back to your first love, you can choose to love God, to love Jesus, and to obey God’s Word. If you do so, you will live a life that is pleasing to God.

Our desire ought to be for our hearts to honestly agree with this song:

Jesus Lord, You’re our first love;
You’re the One we love the best.
When our heart is loving You,
How we’re filled with Your sweet rest!

Lord, we love You for Yourself,
Not for what You give or do.
Nothing else could ever compare
With the joy of loving You.

Never more could we desire
Anything that’s less than You,
And to this we would aspire—
Simply to be filled with You.

Let’s pray.

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.

True New Testament Revival: Getting Back to Our First Love, Part 6 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #284)

spiritual-warfare

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.

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William Booth said, “While women weep, as they do now, I’ll fight; while children go hungry, as they do now, I’ll fight; while men go to prison, in and out, as they do now, I’ll fight; while there is a drunkard left, while there is a poor lost girl on the streets, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I’ll fight. I’ll fight to the very end!”

Leonard Ravenhill said, “If you’re a Christian, you’ve got victory over sin. The Lord Jesus Christ came to purify us unto holiness and nothing but purity will satisfy Him.”

In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “While the Bridgewater church didn’t know where their pastor had gone, he was only about ten miles away, visiting with a friend in the ministry. Evangelist Asahel Nettleton persuaded his friend, Bennet Tyler, to preach in his place the following Sunday in Bridgewater. Afterward, Tyler reported that there had been a dramatic change in the character of the church, with the result that many sought salvation.”

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In our last message, we looked at the first step to getting back to our first love. It was the simple, but important step of remembering what we have lost, remembering how we used to love the Lord. The second step that Jesus says is necessary for getting back to our first love is to “repent.”

Remembering looks at the past; repenting looks at the present. We can’t do anything about how things were “back then.” What we can do is look at what is wrong in our lives right now. Is there sin? Is there disobedience? Is there a lack of faith? Is there bitterness toward a brother or sister? Is there unforgiveness? Are we resisting the clear call of God? We need to look at what is wrong in our lives right now and change that. We need to repent.

If we have lost our first love, the likely culprit is sin in our lives. Jesus said, ‘If ye love me, keep my commandments.’ If we are not keeping His commandments, then we must not love Him like we used to. Thus, we need to repent. Keith Krell said, “The English word ‘repent’ conveys the idea of sorrow or contrition. The Greek word does not carry that idea; it is more a total change of thought and behavior. It conveys both ideas of attitude and behavior depending on the context. ‘Repent’ means to change one’s thinking. It is clearly connected with changed behavior, as seen in the following phrase ‘and do the deeds you did at first.'”

Do you ‘think’ it is okay to continue in sin? Do you think it is okay to tell ‘little white lies’? Do you ‘think’ it is okay to engage in adultery? Do you ‘think’ you are justified in holding on to a grudge? Do you ‘think’ you are right in not forgiving somebody for what they have done to you? Do you ‘think’ it is okay to engage in homosexual activity? Do you ‘think’ it is okay to mistreat others, to slander, to gossip, to cheat, to steal? If so, then you are thinking wrong!

The Bible says, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” If you want to change your life, you must first change your thinking.

If you want to get back to your first love, you must change your thinking and change your behavior. If you don’t, a wall will always remain between you and the Lord and the fire you once had for the things of God will never be rekindled. So, remember and repent.

Our prayer ought to be the same as expressed in this hymn by Richard Redhead:

God, be merciful to me,
On Thy grace I rest my plea;
Plenteous in compassion Thou,
Blot out my transgressions now;
Wash me, make me pure within,
Cleanse, O cleanse me from my sin.

My transgressions I confess,
Grief and guilt my soul oppress;
I have sinned against Thy grace
And provoked Thee to Thy face;
I confess Thy judgment just,
Speechless, I Thy mercy trust.

Gracious God, my heart renew,
Make my spirit right and true;
Cast me not away from Thee,
Let Thy Spirit dwell in me;
Thy salvation’s joy impart,
Steadfast make my willing heart.

How to Face Constant Conflict as a Christian (Part 13)

mission

Part 1:

Part 2:

Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message #178

TEXT: Matthew 10:37-42

Today, as we close out this series based on Matthew chapter 10, we can look at the state of the world around us and see that Jesus’ words to His disciples which were passed down to us are more relevant than ever before. It is almost as if they were spoken and written yesterday. We are reminded of verse 23 where Jesus said, “When they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another.” That happened quite literally this past week when the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Iraq told the Christians in the city of Mosul either you will convert to Islam, pay a tax, or be killed. They were persecuted in that city where they have been for nearly 2,000 years, and in order to not deny Jesus Christ and to save their lives and their families, they fled to other cities in Iraq, and according to reports, there is not one Christian left in the city of Mosul today.

That is the kind of world we live in. And the relevance of the Word of God should re-establish in our hearts and minds that it is divinely inspired and is good for yesterday, today, and forever. Therefore, we ought to take heed to it as we read it and hear it preached.

In these final verses of Matthew chapter 10, Jesus addresses three important areas of our Christian life:

1. Let’s look at our supreme love. Jesus says, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.” As you might recall, we looked at this same issue from the Gospel of Luke a few months ago, right before we jumped into Matthew 10. This is a very important issue for us as Christians.

2. Let’s look at the threat of loss. Jesus tells His disciples, “He that findeth his life shall lose it.” What does it mean to find your life and then lose it? Jesus is saying, if all you pursue is success and profits in this material and temporal life, you will eventually lose your life and everything you have worked for altogether. Remember His question, “For what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”

3. Let’s look at the rewards of eternal life. Jesus tells us, “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” This verse ought to serve as a comfort and encouragement for those who are facing conflict right now as well as for those who have chosen to give up material and temporal success in order to store up treasures in Heaven.

Jesus wants us to have the best of both worlds, but we have to do things His way in order to receive all of the blessings and benefits that He has in store for us. First Corinthians 2:9 says, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” The question for each of us today is not, Do we desire the rewards of Heaven? But, do we love God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ above all else. If we do, we will gladly suffer loss, we will gladly face conflict, we will gladly endure persecution, because we are no longer living for ourselves, but we are living for Him.

MUSICAL SELECTION: “Enter Your Gates” by Stephen B. Steward and “Take Me to the King” by Tamela Mann