Revelation 2:1-7, 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 Nicolaitans, 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.
Last time we looked at seven negative responses to the Holy Spirit. I am convinced that the lack of understanding the work of the Holy Spirit in people’s lives has caused much of the failure in the Christian home and the powerlessness of the church. Without an intimate, personal, and passionate relationship with the Holy Spirit you are out of fellowship with God and you will utterly fail. In the New Testament there are three commanded responses to the Holy Spirit.
I want to qualify the statement that I just made. I do not want to confuse you. But if you count in the New Testament you will find 16 positive responses to the Holy Spirit. However, only three are in an imperative or a command mode. In other words, in three of the sixteen God says do this, do this, and do this.
The other thirteen seem to be almost automatic if you have done the first three. They naturally follow. For instance, praying in the Holy Spirit, having joy in the Holy Spirit, loving through the Holy Spirit, or worshipping God through the Holy Spirit follows if you have obeyed the three commands concerning the Holy Spirit. So, we want to put our emphasis on these three commands. I want to give you the three commands and look at the last command first. We will look at the other two in future articles.
1. Ephesians says be filled with Him. 2. Galatians says walk in Him. 3. Revelation says hear Him.
Those are the three commanded responses to the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. The book of Revelation says hear Him seven times. Why does it say to hear Him seven times?
I want to show you a very unique pattern which shows up in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. These chapters contain seven letters to seven different churches. These churches are sometimes thought of as representative of seven church ages. We say the early centuries of the church was the Ephesian church, and the next centuries of the church was the Smyrna church and so on. This thinking may have some validity, but there is no getting around the fact that there were seven literal churches and they received these letters.
Each letter is written in exactly the same pattern. You may want to use this as a study guide for your devotional life. Create a chart and list at the top of the chart these churches: Ephesians, Smyrna and so on and put all the churches across the top of the chart.
Each of these letters has three major movements to them. Every one of the letters begins with a description of Christ. Next there is a charge to the church and this charge is always in three parts. First, Christ always commends the church. He gives it a word of commendation. You are doing pretty well in this area. The second part of the charge, He condemns the church by saying, “You are doing pretty well here, but you are really letting down in this area.” The third part he commands. This command is directly related to the condemnation. He is saying to them, “This is what you need to do to get this straightened out.” So every letter begins with a description of Christ, the middle part of the letter is a charge to the church which is in three parts:
1. Commendation 2. Condemnation 3. Command
The last movement in every letter ends with a challenge to individual Christians.
We are going to look at the first letter.
Revelation 2:1, 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;
Notice the word “angel” in the verse. It means the Pastor of the church. What part of the letter is this? It is a description of the glorified Christ. Folks, I want to remind you here that the Lord Jesus is no longer the gentle Jesus walking through the sands of Galilee with sandled feet, meek and mild. Jesus is now glorified! His eyes are like a flame of fire. His feet are like fine brass! His voice is like the sound of many waters! That is the Lord Jesus, He is magnificent!
Every one of the seven letters gives you a picture of Him. If you want a beautiful description of Christ glorified, read the seven letters. It is a picture of perfection. In the middle part of the letter you have the church. Let’s see if we can pick out the three parts to the church.
Revelation 2:2-6, 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 Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
In verse 4 the phrase “first love,” is the word for priority love. In verses 2-6 there are three verses that follow the 3 part pattern of the charge. Verse 2 and 3 is commendation, verse 4 is condemnation and verse 5 is a command. Remember and repent.
I do want to point out to you that anyone who will not repent, there are always consequences. Notice He makes mention of this repentance twice in verse 5. The last thing in verse 7 is the charge to the individual Christian. Revelation 2:7, 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.
How many people have ears? Everyone does! Are these letters for every Christian? Absolutely! Any Christian that has ears! Notice the phrase here “to him that overcometh.” Every one of the letters end with this type of challenge. To him that overcometh! To him that overcometh! To the Christian that overcomes (promise one) will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
Every one of the seven letters will end with a tremendous promise to the overcoming Christian. Each letter ends, he that hath and ear to hear let him hear.
So, let’s try to understand what the Holy Spirit is doing here. What is the essence of the Holy Spirit’s work here? First, instruction. Listen carefully, this command has to do with the Holy Spirit’s instruction. The verse said hear! What are you to hear? Instruction! Why do you come to church every week? Instruction, so you can be taught! Listen carefully, the believer must be instructed to understand three things, what God commends, condemns, and commands. I hope you see that. By the way, hearing what the Spirit says doesn’t just involve hearing what the Spirit says to the seven churches but all that God says. What has the Spirit said to the church other than what He has said here? The whole Word of God is inspired by the Holy Spirit. Hearing what the Spirit says means taking heed to the Bible! When you take heed to the Bible it makes you strong as a believer.
Years ago I played high school basketball. In my neighborhood, there was a young man named Danny. It was Danny’s greatest goal to play high school basketball. He was pretty uncoordinated and could barely dribble a basketball! He went out for the 8th grade team and was cut from the squad. He decided to do something about that. For the next two years every night and a good part of Saturday he was on a blacktop court at the elementary school. He was there when it rained, he was there when it snowed, and when the sun was hot. Many times he shoveled the snow off the court to practice. He learned how to dribble, he learned how to shoot, and he played everybody he could in pickup games. He went out for the high school team as sophomore. About a hundred boys went out. Everybody laughed when Danny showed up. First cut was made and Danny was still there. Second cut was made and he was still there. They had 17 boys left and they had to cut to 12 boys. The final cut was made and Danny made the team. The other boys said, “What a stroke of luck!” Was it luck? Luck nothing! The boys who said that, never saw Danny down there on the court every day for two years shoveling snow and shooting until his fingertips bled. Two years and he would not leave the court until he had made 50 shots from each of the 12 positions he had marked off.
Folks, the Christian that you see walking about God’s earth who is healthy without disease in his spiritual body, who is strong and is vigorous as a Christian, that’s not luck. That’s not a stroke of good fortune. That man has been pouring over his Bible. He has been peering into the test tube of human experience interpreted by that Bible. It is no wonder that man is strong and healthy spiritually.
Every day I want the God of the universe to show me His message for me that day. I listen to the Holy Spirit when He says stop right there in my reading. That is for you! Every believer has to deal with his sin daily and submit to the Spirit to be taught. “Lord is there any sin that stands between me and you? Show it to me now.” Then you repent from it. Then you listen to the Spirit. You cannot read the Bible as a regular book because it is a supernatural book. Let the author, the Holy Spirit teach you! “Lord, I submit myself to you and please teach me today!
James 4:6-8, But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble (submitted) (7) Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (8) Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
Pride, means I believe that I can live independently of God. Submission means I am willing and wanting to listen to what the Holy Spirit has for me.
As a believer you will keep yourself healthy spiritually if you will hear what the Spirit says to you from God’s Word. When I say hear, I mean let it sink in your life and apply it to your life. That folks is a commanded activity! Let me ask you friend, are you really hearing what the Spirit says? Are you willing to listen?
Three things God the Holy Spirit wants you to know: what God commends, what God condemns, and what God commands. I trust as you have read this article that you will understand how important it is to hear the Holy Spirit. Folks, if you are really willing to submit yourself and listen to the Spirit of God you will hear things you do not like. You will also hear things that will be a great help in your spiritual life! What you do with what you hear will be your destiny!
For more information click www.hopebiblicalcounselingcenter.com, How to Have a Real Relationship With God.