About Jesus   Steve Sweetman

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Where 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 case.        

 

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. 

 

 

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