About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Do We Go From Here?
The church in the western
world is being pressured into conforming to a secular doctrine of
tolerance. The Bible does
teach a form of tolerance; however, Biblical tolerance does not come at
the expense of Biblical truth. For
this reason conflict historically arises between culture and church,
Caesar and Christ. The
demand to conform is intensifying. Church
will eventually be forced to conform or cease to exist in its present
format. So we must ask;
"where do we go from here"?
To begin to answer this
question I refer you to Revelation 3:14 – 22 where in a letter Jesus
blasted the Laodicean church that exhibited all the outward appearances
of being a successful church. This
passage shows us that Jesus defines a successful church differently than
most of us.
Jesus addressed His
criticism to this church's messenger who I believe represented the
church as a whole. He ended
His criticism by addressing individuals within the church.
As we will see, this is important.
Jesus' anger towards this
luke-warm church was seen when He said, "I am about to spit you out
of my mouth". (Revelation 3:16) The
words "I am about to spit" are translated from the present
active indicative Greek verb "mello".
Present means that the saliva was already swirling around in
Jesus' mouth as He criticized this church.
Active means that He alone would spit.
Indicative means that Jesus' mind was made up.
He would spit this church out of his mouth.
The problem with this
spiritually spineless church was that it was consumed by its wealth
instead of Jesus as seen in verse 17. It
thought very highly of its self-sufficiency, but Jesus thought
differently. Despite the
church's wealth that could have funded all kinds of humanitarian
efforts, Jesus said it was wretched, poor, pitiful, blind, and naked. It's
funny how Jesus views church differently than us, but that's usually the
In verse 18 Jesus advised
this church to find its wealth in Him.
The word "advised" is translated from the Greek present
active indicative verb "symbouleuo".
This means that Jesus' advice was a command that demanded an
immediate positive response.
As I noted earlier, Jesus
began His criticism by addressing the church as a whole.
He concluded it by addressing individuals within this church as
seen in verse 19. "Those
(individuals) whom I love I rebuke and discipline".
Jesus is then pictured
standing outside the church knocking on its door.
It's not that He wanted to come in and save the church because He
didn't. Remember, He was
about to spit it out of His mouth. His
intention is seen in verse 20. "If
anyone (any individual) hears my voice and opens the door I will come in
and eat with him". Jesus
wasn't intending on having a meal with the whole church in its
fellowship hall. He wanted
to eat with individuals within the church.
In Jewish terms, eating a meal with others was a matter of
personal relationships. Jesus
was inviting individuals into His life.
He wanted a workable personal relationship with them, which I
might add, was what Christian Evangelicalism was founded upon. This
brings me to the point of this article.
The first step in where
church goes from here is a step that the individual must take.
Church can't take this step for us.
The Apostle Paul told us
to examine ourselves to see if we're really in the faith. (2 Corinthians
13:5) If our devotion to
Jesus has died; if our love for Him has become lackadaisical; if our
commitment to Him has become casual; we must repent and return to the
heart felt love we had when we first met Him.
Jesus told the Ephesian Christians this very thing in Revelation
2:4. They worked hard for
Jesus but their work had become routine. Repenting
from this casual, hoe hum, routine faith, and returning to our first
love for Jesus is the next step we must take.
This will keep us from forsaking our faith and caving into our
anti-Christ culture as Jesus said would happen to some in Matthew 24:10.
Watchman Nee was a
Christian who didn't fall from faith despite his imprisonment in Chinese
prisons and labour camps for the last 20 years of his life.
He was executed and cremated in 1972 without his family knowing. When
his family was informed of his death they discovered a note he had
written with large letters and shaky hand writing.
"Christ is the Son of God who died for the redemption of
sinners and resurrected after three days.
This is the greatest truth in the universe.
I die because of my belief in Christ". (from "A Seer Of
The Divine Revelation Of The Present Age", by Witness Lee, 1991,
Living Stream Ministry) Watchman
Nee loved Jesus through all of his suffering, right up to his dying day.
If not for His heart felt love and devotion for Jesus and Jesus'
heart felt love and devotion for him, he would have caved into the
Chinese anti-Christ regime.
There are countless
Christians imprisoned, beaten, raped, and executed, in places like Irantoday. They don't cave into
an anti-Christ's culture either. They
join those seen in Revelation 12:11 who "loved not their lives so
much as to shrink from death".
They love Jesus more than life itself.
It's this devotion that will keep us in Jesus in the days to
come. It's this devotion
that will keep us from joining a soon to be culturally correct church.
I'd prefer to be among those whom Jesus called out of the
Laodicean culturally correct church to be with Him. We
definitely need our brothers and sisters in Jesus for support but in the
final analysis such devotion and commitment is a matter of the heart of
the individual Christian. Others
can't be devoted on our behalf.
Beyond returning to our
first love, there are steps that church leaders must take on behalf of
the church. I'll address
that next week.