Now, I want to go back to the book of Revelation this morning—we’re going to be working through the book of Revelation—and I want to come to chapters 2 and 3. So just in that broad sense, I’ll try to give you an overview of these two chapters. In years past, I have gone through Revelation 2 and 3 in detail. I think there are probably twenty or more sermons on just these two chapters. If you want the worm’s eye view, if you want the detail, it’s available. And we have a commentary on Revelation and a book called Because the Time Is Near to give you more detail. But for our encouragement and our help today, I want us to look at these two chapters in an overall sense because I think they are so very instructive when considered that way.
Now, Revelation 2 and 3 are letters to seven churches, actual churches. Back in chapter 1, verse 11, John is told to “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.” Those are all cities in Asia Minor, which is modern Turkey. And the Lord intended that when He gave to John the book of Revelation, John would make seven copies in total. He would write down the original revelation, copy it six times, and there would be those who took it back to each of these seven churches kind of along the postal route in Asia Minor.
Now, the book of Revelation is divided into three parts. If you go down to verse 19, John is told to “Write the things which you have seen.” That would be the vision he just saw that I read to you earlier, the vision of Christ; that’s “[what] you have seen. And then he is told to write “the things which are,” and that would be chapters 2 and 3, because chapters 2 and 3 describe the present age—the present age, the present form of the kingdom, or as we call it, the church age—and that is chapters 2 and 3. And then verse 19 says, “[And write what] will take place after these things.” That’s the future, and that starts in chapter 4 and goes all the way to the end of Revelation.
But we’re looking at chapters 2 and 3, the things which are. This is our Lord’s description in these seven letters of the church during this church age, all the way till the church’s consummation and gathering into the presence of the Lord. So to understand the age in which we live and to understand the church of which we are a part, these chapters provide tremendously helpful insight. They do so in great detail, of course, but they also do so with an overview we’ll try to bring to you this morning.
But before we get to chapters 2 and 3, I want to remind you of another chapter in the Bible; it’s Matthew 13. You don’t have to turn to it, I’ll just make some comments on it. In Matthew 13, the Lord described to His disciples the nature of this period of time, the nature of the kingdom or the church age between His first and second coming. What the Lord said was pretty simple, really.
As a general statement I would sum it up with this sentence: The church is going to be a mixture of true and false, good and bad. That’s the church. So it’s no surprise to the Lord that that is the reality that we understand. And we’re talking about the church in the broadest terms.
When you go to Matthew 13, you find that He describes the church in a parable about soils. The kingdom, or the church age, is going to be defined by soils. There’s good soil, and there’s bad soil. Good soil produces fruit, bad soil produces nothing. So the church will have the unproductive false believers alongside the productive genuine believers.
He then went from soil to seed, and He described another illustration that says, essentially, the same thing. There will be two seeds. There will be wheat, which will be the genuine believers planted by the Lord; and there will be tares, which are the false believers planted by Satan. So it’s a mixture of good and bad soil. It’s a mixture of—that means good and bad hearts, and good and bad seed as well: true, planted by God; and false, planted by Satan.
And then He also had another parable that expresses this very same reality. He talked about flour, which is used to bake bread, and flour that is influenced by leaven, and He was saying by that that the truth will have embedded in it the influence of error, that there will be within the framework and the experience of the visible church good and bad hearts, true and false believers, and genuine truth and evil influence. And then there’s another parable of a dragnet thrown out into the sea and pulled in, and in that dragnet were found good and bad fish mingled.
So in those parables, our Lord basically laid it out for us. We should not be shocked to understand that the church is a mixture of true and false, good and bad. That’s what our Lord said.
Now, it’s difficult for us to be precise in evaluating everyone. We know some people who are fake believers because it becomes obvious. But it’s beyond our ability to detect all of them. So in Matthew 13, the Lord basically said, “Don’t try to do the separation yourself, but wait until the harvest.” Matthew 13, verse 30, “Allow both to grow together until the harvest.” In other words, you don’t have the discernment, you don’t have the knowledge to begin to act as if you know the true condition of every heart; the harvest will reveal that. “In the time of the harvest, I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.’” The wheat and the tares will be distinguished at the end at the harvest. And the harvest is over and again repeated in that chapter as “the end of the age,” “the end of the age,” “the end of the age.” Our Lord said it three times. “Wait till the end of the age. God, using His holy angels, will bring about the accurate distinction between the fake and the real. And those that are the false will be burned up, and those that are the true will be barned up in the kingdom.”
Now this prophetic description of the church age is verified most dramatically by the letters that our Lord wrote to the seven churches of Asia Minor. They point us in the direction of just exactly this, these seven churches from the first century, churches essentially founded by the apostle Paul in Ephesus to start with. And out of Ephesus came the other six churches, pastored by Paul for three years, and even by the apostle John. They had such great opportunity at Ephesus—pastored by Timothy; ministered to by Tychicus; by Apollos, the great preacher; by Aquila and Pricilla. And out of that Ephesian church came the other churches, kind of on the postal route going through Asia Minor.
The interesting thing is that of the seven churches, two of them are only commended. Two of them are clearly genuine churches with true believers—true-hearted, genuinely converted, truly transformed believers. The other five are a mixture, and it’s a descending mixture, you might say, as we’ll see in a moment. So five of these seven churches are basically given a warning by the Lord. And to reduce it down to one command, He says to them, “Repent. Repent.”
To call a church to repentance is an unusual thing if you consider it in a kind of contemporary setting, because I’ve never heard of anyone calling a church to repentance, or of any church actually repenting. But there are lots of churches that need to repent. Now these were seven genuine churches, historical churches in the first century; but they are also, at the same time, illustrations of how churches are in the rest of the church age. You will see all of the churches in the visible kingdom illustrated here in different forms of mixture.
So to begin with, we start where Revelation 2 starts. We start with a church at Ephesus. The church at Ephesus, important to understand this: They are all believers. They’re all believers. That comes across in the letter in the first seven verses.
But that introduces us to something we have to watch, because in the second church, Pergamos, there are some unbelievers, some unbelievers. In the third church, Thyatira, there are more unbelievers than believers, because believers are called “the rest” or “the remnant.” Starts out with all believers, and then some believers, and then the majority are unbelievers and believers are the remnant. And then when you get to the church at Sardis, there are only a few believers. And when you get to Laodicea, there are no believers, and Christ is on the outside of that church knocking on the door. So this is a progression from a church that is all believers; to one that is some unbelievers; to one that is a few, a remnant of believers; and then even less believers; and then no believers. That’s the progression.
How does all this get started? Well, it got started in Ephesus. And that’s what I want you to consider as we think about this incredibly important portion of Scripture.
The church at Ephesus had an amazing, amazing beginning, just an amazing beginning. As I mentioned, all those names that I gave you would be the bright lights of the first century church; and they all influenced the church at Ephesus, and the church at Ephesus planted those other six churches. But again, five of them, we find out, are in serious trouble. Five of them are told to repent.
If you look at chapter 2, verse 5, you see that Ephesus is told to repent. If you look at chapter 2, verse 16, Pergamum is told to repent. If you look at verse 21, Thyatira is told to repent. If you look at chapter 3, verse 3, Sardis is told to repent. And Laodicea, in 3:19, is told to repent. Five of the seven churches are in danger, and the danger is ominous.
Now again, there are true believers in these churches, and maybe, maybe a very, very small number of them at Laodicea. But we can identify them by one word, and that’s the word “overcomers.” That’s used in each of these letters. Chapter 2, verse 7, “To [the one] who overcomes.” Chapter 2, verse 11, “[The one] who overcomes.” Again, that was the church of Smyrna, the good church. And then to Pergamum, verse 17, “[The one] who overcomes.” And the same with Thyatira, the same with Sardis, and the same with Laodicea.
So in these churches, there are overcomers. And what do we mean by that? What is that telling us? Well, John answered that question back in 1 John 5:5. This is what John wrote in his epistle, John who also is the one who received the revelation: “Who is the one who overcomes the world”—who is that?—“but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” John loves to use that word because it speaks not only of the sense that they believe, but of the power of that faith to give them victory over all that is satanic and all that is evil.
So believers in these churches are called overcomers. And even though there are judgments pronounced on these churches, the Lord does mention that the overcomers will be rewarded. In chapter 2, verse 7, they will be given “the Paradise of God.” That’s heaven. In chapter 2, verse 11, they “will not be hurt by the second death.” That’s spiritual death and eternal death. In other words, they will live forever. In chapter 2, verse 17, they will receive “the hidden manna”—that’s divine sustenance, divine provision—and “a white stone.” A white stone would be given to someone who was given a great honor, and the white stone might have a name written on it identifying them as a person of honor. That’s signifying the reward and the honor that the Lord will give to His own in glory.
In chapter 2 and verse 26, the overcomer will be in the kingdom and rule with Christ; and he will receive Christ, in verse 28—“the morning star” is Christ. He will receive Christ. Christ will belong to him, and he to Christ. In chapter 3 and verse 5, the overcomer will “be clothed in white garments.” That’s righteousness, purity. His name would never be erased from the book of life. People had their names erased out of city rolls if they committed certain crimes or atrocities. No one’s name will ever be erased out of God’s book; but rather, that name of the believer, the overcomer, will be confessed by Christ before His Father and before the holy angels.
And in chapter 3, verse 12, the overcomer will be made “a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.” The Lord is going to do divine graffiti all over those who are His, identifying them as such. And then, finally, in verse 21 of chapter 3, the overcomer will sit on the throne with the Lord, as He overcame and sat down with His Father on His throne. So what we have, then, is a mixture in the church. Sometimes mostly all, if not nearly all believers, like in Ephesus; or sometimes very, very, very few, even hard to recognize, like in the church of Laodicea; and in between, all the other levels of mixture.
Now collectively, these churches had been corrupted by the assaults of Satan internally, internally. Persecution had come to some of these church as well, but it seems as though the persecution had a positive effect. For example, the church of Smyrna, in chapter 2, verse 8, they are identified as ones who are about to suffer, verse 10, be thrown “into prison,” to “be tested,” and “have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I’ll give you the crown of life.” There’s no condemnation of anything or anyone in that church. Persecution had a purifying effect.
And the other church that has no condemnation is the church at Philadelphia in chapter 3, and they also experienced persecution, verse 10, “You have kept the word of My perseverance, [and I’ll] keep you from the hour of testing.” They had been tested, and they had proven faithful. And the Lord would keep them from any further testing, even though they were in the very synagogue of Satan, you might say, as it says in verse 9.
So persecution from the outside has a purifying effect on two of these churches. The other five, Satan corrupts it from the inside, from the inside. And the corruption includes sexual immorality, idolatry, compromise with the world, tolerance of sin, false teaching, hypocrisy, error, preaching for money. It could be summed as sinking into the depths of Satan. That’s language that is used here: sinking into the depths of Satan.
So it’s instructive for us to see this in a big-picture sense. But let’s start with the church at Ephesus and watch how the progression goes, OK. And each of these letters begins with, “To the angel”—or “the messenger.” And the messenger would be a representative of each church. It’s angelos, but it can be translated “messenger.” This was probably an elder or leader from each of the seven churches who came and received the letter from John, and it was taken back. “To the angel of the church [at] Ephesus write”—and then the Lord identifies Himself by the imagery found in the vision in chapter 1, so we know who is speaking.
What do we know about this church at Ephesus? Well, look at verse 2: “I know your deeds, your toil, your perseverance . . . you cannot tolerate evil men, you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary.” That’s all commendation.
Now you have to remember that Ephesus was a frighteningly pagan place. It was the center of the worship of Diana of the Ephesians, or Artemis. Scores of eunuchs and thousands of priestesses and prostitutes, unnumbered herald singers, people playing musical instruments and dancers. It was kind of an orgiastic worship there, a hysteria where people work themselves into frenzies and shameless sexual mutilations. And huddled in this pagan environment was a church, a group of men and women proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ; and in spite of all of the things around them, they were being faithful.
Just look at verse 2 again: “I know your deeds”—your service, your labor—“your toil, your perseverance”—your endurance—“you don’t tolerate evil. You put to test those who falsely call themselves apostles.” Verse 3, “You have perseverance, and you have endured for My name’s sake.” In other words, “You do what you do for My glory, and you have not grown weary.” They’re strong doctrinally. They’re strong in terms of their zeal for ministry. They’re a busy group of people pursuing things that are ordained in Scripture.
Everything sounds great until you get to verse 4, and then this hits with a jolt: “But I have this against you, you have left your first love.” Nothing has shown up on the outside yet. But the Lord looks at the inside, and He says, “There is a very serious flaw. You have left your first love.” What is that? Well, your first love was that initial love for Christ that you felt when you were taken out of the kingdom of darkness and brought into His kingdom—that initial exhilaration and joy and passion for knowing Christ, and understanding His word, and communicating with Him in prayer, and worshiping Him with the saints, those early impulses that drove you in the direction of Christ. You didn’t know enough theology to be smugly confident and satisfied with your doctrine. It was all Christ and only Christ, and you were lost in wonder, love, and praise.
None of us should ever leave that point. That could be described as the spiritual honeymoon. It came into your life when the Lord rescued you, when the Lord saved you. But over time, good things replaced the best thing, and love for Christ is replaced by love for ministry, love for theology, love for other people; and the fire that once burned in your heart has cooled significantly.
In verse 5, the Lord says to those in this situation, “You have fallen.” “You have fallen.” You’re going down; you’re going the wrong direction. And He says, “Repent.” But He says, first of all, “Remember where you have fallen from.” Remember those first impulses of love for Christ. Remember. And then He says, “Repent.” And then He says repeat: Go back and “do the deeds you did at first.” And this is so important, so critical, that “If you don’t do this, I’m going to come to you and remove your lampstand out of its place. I’m going to literally shut the church down. I’m going to come against you, not because your theology is wrong, not because you’re not busy serving, but because you have replaced your love for Me with something else.”
Look, this is not an attack on their theology. He says in verse 6, “You hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” As an illustration, “I understand your doctrinal fidelity.” Nicolas was some man who came up with a notion that you were under grace and you could live any way you wanted to live, kind of antinomianism, and he led people to think they could sin with impunity because they were under grace. And the Lord hated that, and so did the Ephesians.
But in spite of all their theology and all their orthodoxy, they needed to repent of the coldness of their hearts toward Christ. They needed to go back and remember what that love was like when they first knew Him, and repeat things like prayer, study of the Lord in His Word, fellowship, gathering for worship. That should be the priority. “Christ must be everything, or I’m going to come against you.” And by the way, He did; and the light went out.
The second church is the church at Pergamos, and He says to them, verse 12, “The One who has the sharp two-edged sword.” That’s a giveaway because a sharp, two-edged sword is wielded against error. So now when we get to Pergamos, we have a church “where Satan’s throne is.” This is a city which was basically a capital for idolatry, a world center, you might say, for idolatry. It could refer to emperor worship, since Pergamos was considered the capital for the worship of Caesar. It could be because there was a massive throne built there as an idol of Zeus, a most famous altar in the world. Or it could be because of the worship of the god Asclepius, who was believed to be a healing god, and he’s identified with a snake and called the Pergamese god. The way you were healed was there was a floor in the temple to Asclepius. It was crawling with snakes; and to be healed, you went in and put yourself prostrate on that floor and let the snakes crawl over you, and if touched by a snake, it was the healing touch of Asclepius. If it was anything, it was demonic, from Satan himself, who is disguised as a serpent.
But in the midst of this, now we know we have more unbelievers. In the midst of this, He says, verse 13, “You hold fast My name, and didn’t deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.” “You’re still faithful, some of you.” “But”—against the larger group, we could assume, I think—“I have a few things against you,” verse 14. “There are some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and commit acts of immorality.” Balaam was a prophet who was trying to, under the leadership of Balak, king of Moab, seduce women, Moabite women, to seduce Jewish men to have intermarriage and bring about idolatry. And that’s exactly what happened—idolatry and immorality.
In verse 15, He says, “You . . . have some who . . . hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.” So now there are some still mingling with idolatry and immorality, which was not only a part of Balaam’s identification—back in Numbers 22—but also a part of the paganism from which these churches had emerged. “You have some that have bought into the church false-teaching freedoms of the Nicolaitans.” “Therefore repent; or else I’m coming to you quickly, I’ll make war [with] them with the sword of My mouth.” So this is really a mixed church.
Ephesus had no unbelievers identified. Smyrna had no unbelievers identified. But once first love cools, things can begin to change. And the church at Pergamos was experiencing the world coming to them. They were feeling the power of their pagan idolatry and the acts of immorality that went with that. Compromisers. Compromisers. That’s what He’s talking about. You have there, verse 14, “some who hold the teaching of Balaam.” “Some.” So we could assume that the believers were still in the majority, but there were compromising people there, and that was going to take a horrendous toll. So in verse 16, “Therefore repent; or else I’m coming to you, and [making war with] you [from] the sword of My mouth,” which, of course, is the symbol of His authoritative word of judgment.
Then you come to Thyatira. In the progression, looking at the five churches that were called to repent, this church is not just being seduced by the world, this church is now tolerating sin. Again, He identifies Himself in verse 18 by imagery from chapter 1, and says, “I know your deeds, your love, your faith, your service, your perseverance, and your deeds of late are greater than at first. There are good things about you. There are good things about you.”
Back in the church at Pergamos, in verse 14, He said, “I [just] have a few things against you,” which means it was, perhaps, just a few at that point who were involved in these idolatrous things. Here, He says, “You have good deeds—love, faith, service, perseverance—and you’re even improving the deeds that you are engaged in.” “But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who called herself a prophetess, and teaches and leads My servants astray.” So now they have a woman preacher who’s a prophetess, who is identified as a Jezebel because she seduced people into immorality and adultery.
So now the church at Thyatira is full-scale into idolatry and immorality in that they’re allowing it to be taught. It’s being promoted. And He says in verse 21, “I gave her time to repent, she doesn’t want to repent of her immorality. [So I’m going to] throw her in a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of [their] deeds.” And it is very severe: “I will kill her children with pestilence”—“I’m going to kill them”—“and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I’ll give to each one of you according to your deeds. But I say to you, the rest”—so now we know that the true believers are down to “the rest,” the remnant. The majority are now caught up in this tolerance of sin, immortality, and idolatry.
“But [to] the rest . . . who do not hold this teaching,” that small remnant of believers “who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them—I place no other burden on you.” I only ask that you “hold [on to what you have] until I come.” And then He makes the promise of eternal blessing and His kingdom to them.
Tolerance of sin. So He goes from leaving your first love; to compromising with the world; to, literally, opening the doors, inviting sin in, and tolerating that sin.
Now we come to the fourth church in chapter 3, the church at Sardis, again, identified by imagery from chapter 1. Verse 2, “Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die.” So now we’ve got a church that’s got very little left, and it’s on its deathbed. So you can see gradually from all believers, to some unbelievers, to a few believers, to a remnant so small they can’t even keep the church alive. There were a few.
“Remember.” Again, “Wake up, strengthen things that remain,” verse 3, “remember what you have received and heard; and keep, and repent.” It’s, again, “Remember. Repent.” “Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.” “I’ll come and bring judgment on your church.” “But you have a few . . . in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.” By the way, Sardis today is a pile of ruins. The church, even in the time this was written, was on its deathbed.
This is the church that really is no church. Oh, there may be a straggling few believers there. But this is the church that we would say is involved in politics, social work, welfare, psychology. This is “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” You remember Coleridge: “Corpses man the ship; dead men pull the oars; dead men steer the vessel.” This was Sardis, the dead church, right at the very end of its very existence, barely alive. Verse 1, “You have a name that you’re alive, but you’re dead.” The only reason I say not completely is because of verse 5: There are overcomers who will “be clothed in white garments,” whose names will never be removed from the book of life, and whom “I will confess . . . before My Father and before [the] angels.” This church had a lot of activity, a lot of activity—“deeds.” It acted as if it was alive; but it was dead. The Lord commands them to remember and to repent and to wake up and to strengthen.
And then you come to the fifth church, Laodicea—skipping Philadelphia. And this is the final end of this decline: “To the . . . church ]at] Laodicea”—again, identifying Himself in verse 14—“I know your deeds.” And He has nothing good to say. “You’re neither cold nor hot; I wish you were cold or hot.” Interesting little background to that.
Hierapolis was very close to Laodicea. It had famous hot springs; and hot springs were very therapeutic and beneficial to people. And also, not far away was Colossae, which was known for its cold mountain brook bringing down fresh water. But Laodicea received its water from filthy aqueducts—tepid, kind of dirty water. And that becomes an image for the Lord in this letter: “I wish you were cold or hot”—“I wish you had some redeeming virtue”—“]but because you’re lukewarm, and neither hot or cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.” This is the fully apostate church. It’s not even cold, you could say. It’s not even hypocritical. It doesn’t pretend to be hypocritical. It’s like the Methodist church I heard about the other day that held a special blessing service in the front of the church up on the platform for all of those drag queens who wanted to receive God’s blessing. They’re not even pretending to follow the Word of God. “You’re not hypocritical, nor are you passionate about the things you should be. You’re not cold, you’re not cold, you’re just disgusting. You’re without God.”
Look at verse 17, “You say, ‘I’m rich,’ you have become wealthy. You have need of nothing.” You don’t know that here’s your true spiritual condition: wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. That’s an unconverted description if ever I read one. “And I advise you to buy from Me gold . . . that you may become rich, and white garments that you may clothe yourself, and the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.” He’s playing off three of the most important industries in Laodicea: mining for gold, the wool industry, and some kind of eye salve. And He’s saying, “You need a different kind of gold, you need a different garment, and you need a different salve—one that will produce righteousness and spiritual sight.”
Verse 19, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.” The Lord expresses even love for this church; calls on them to repent.
And then verse 20 is such an important verse because it’s quoted so often. It’s not about a personal experience where Jesus is knocking on the door of your heart. This is Jesus knocking on the door of the church at Laodicea because He’s not in there. He’s not even there. This is a church without Christ. “Who’s going to let Me in?” He says. “Is there anybody who will let Me in?”
This is what you see in the church even today. You’ve got churches, believers only, and you’ve got every degradated form of that—or degraded form of that, sequentially down to the church that has no believers. And that’s what our Lord said. It would be a mixture, and it would be hard to discern and separate all of this. But that will come in the harvest at the end of the age. Two faithful churches: Smyrna, persecution kept them faithful; Philadelphia, persecution and a passion for evangelism kept them faithful.
This is how it is in the church age, and it’s such a severe warning that the Lord seven times repeats this line in every letter: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” “Are you listening? Do you understand? If you go down this path, I will judge you. I will come against you, I will fight you, I will put you out of business, and you will be nothing but a shell, nothing but a fraud, nothing but a fake. You will be Satan’s church, not My church.”
So important to see these letters in this view, because we have to understand that what we’re seeing in the church age is exactly what the Lord said we would see in Matthew 13, and exactly what He did see as the letters in Revelation 2 and 3 indicate. Nothing has changed other than what God had purposed and planned. And this is what He said Satan would do. But He also said in the end, the overcomers will all triumph eternally. And in the end, as 2 Corinthians 2 says, we will all triumph in Christ.
The true church will always be the true church. We will be the ones who receive the blessings promised to the overcomers. You may be a part of a church that’s like Ephesus, or you may be one of two or three in a church like Laodicea. The Lord knows those that are His. It says that the Old Testament comes to an end. The Lord knows those who are His. He remembers them. He identifies them. They’re like jewels to Him, and He protects them.
But faithfulness for the church is the command. And that faithfulness means repent, remember, and repeat, if you’re sliding. And the front end of this picture, if you’re losing your first love and there’s anything you love more than Christ, that’s a slippery slope you don’t want to be on. And we certainly don’t want that for our beloved church. Let’s pray.
Father, clarity of truth coming from the pages of Holy Scripture leaves us without excuse, calls us to absolute faithfulness to You. And we desire that. It’s not a burdensome thing to love You with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. It’s not a difficult duty to love You above all other objects and all other persons. It’s not hard for us, Lord, to give You first place in our lives, in our affections, in our minds, in our hearts, in our speech, and in our actions, because You deserve it. And You have given us what we don’t deserve: eternal salvation. How could we do less than to give You back what You do deserve as a God of such magnanimous grace. Be with us now, Lord, as we come to the Table and remember the cross at which You purchased our glorious salvation.
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