1. Joined
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    21 Jul '12 12:49
    This Thread will be about Revelation chapters 2 and 3. Dealing with some of the symbolism of those chapters.

    In very symbolic speech Jesus Christ sends letters to seven churches in Asia - Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philedelphia, and Laodicea. . For my part I start at the school of opinion that the seven letters are some kind of prophetic utterance about the history of the Christian church.

    This thread is mostly dedicated to the Christian brothers and sisters of the Forum. Those perhaps open to the Gospel may receive something useful also.

    General Purpose on my part is to show how perhaps all of the problems facing the Christian church throughout the ages, down through the centries, are spoken to symbolically in these seven letters.

    When dealing with symbolism there is always the question one can ask "Well, how do you know that that is what that symbol really means ?"

    As a upfront warning - I could be wrong. If you can accept it, accept it. If you cannot, then just don't. Symbolism in the Bible is usually verified by straight and plan teaching elsewhere. The Bible interprets itself. So only this I affirm - what I suggest is symbolic can usually be seen elsewhere in fairly direct teaching.
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    21 Jul '12 12:57
    Anyone who desires to understand the book of Revelation well, and especially chapters 2 and 3, has to recognize the fact of Christian degradation.

    The history of the Christian church, as the history of Israel, contains periods of spiritual degradation, apostasy, and even near ruin. God never forsakes His people though.

    The seven letters, I believe, prophetically trace the downward slide of the Christian church from the first century, with important bright instances of exemplary spiritual victory. Also covered in chapters 2 and 3 is the upward recovery of the church back to the place of Christ's desire.

    The church in Revelation 2 and 3 goes DOWN, hits rock bottom, and then goes upward, and arrives back at normality, yet leaving a warning that further backslidding is possible.

    In these seven letters are many remedies to all the problems the churching Christians may face in the past and even for years to come.
  3. Joined
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    21 Jul '12 13:14
    What are the elements which link all the seven churches together ?
    What are some of the aspects of the chapters 2 and 3 which remain repetitive, as a kind of repeated pattern ?

    I'll begin to suggest some common elements.

    1.) They are all seen as golden lampstands.

    "And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me; and being turned, I saw seven golden lampstands."

    Each church had its problems. Often rebuke and scolding was called for from the Lord Jesus. In spite of this God's sees each of the seven churches as golden lampstands. They are of the divine nature of God signified by the gold. He doesn't see as man sees.

    We may look at the churches there as nothing but communities with bad problems. Christ is as a high priest walking amid golden lampstands, caring for them, ministering to them, loving them.

    "And in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment reaching to the feet, and girded about at the breasts with a golden girdle." (v.13)

    Christ is not giving up on any of the troubled churches. He has a golden girdle around his heart signifying his heart of love and labor. And he tends to the lampstands, cleaning, replacing the wicks, adding oil, and doing all the necessary things to keep the lampstands shining and testifying on His behalf in the world.

    Balaam the prophet tried his best to curse God's people. In essence God said, "I see not fault in Israel. She looks beautiful." Of course God Himself had PLENTY to rebuke Israel about in the Old Testament. But His rebuke is in love and with a care to improve. His criticism is not like that criticism of the enemies of God. When the enemies critique God's people, God may say "I don't see anything wrong." But when God Himself tends to their need He is penetrating in His exposure. But it is done with love.

    So God turned all of Balaam's cursing into a blessing. The backround of the story of Balaam the Gentile prophet is useful in understanding Revelation 2 and 3.

    In God's eyes the churches are golden lampstands. The are built with the divine nature of God. Because of His redemption, in His eyes, the are perfect.
    Yet Christ does not shy at all from telling each church about the problems and to warn them to repent. But it is in love and not with the worldly view to eliminate and destroy the Christian church.

    In every church there is a call for some to OVERCOME the surrounding degradation. It is not simply about being a Christian and no more. It is about OVERCOMING and being a victorious Christian through living Christ.
  4. Joined
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    21 Jul '12 13:52
    "I was in spirit on the Lord's Day and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, Saying, What you see write in a scroll and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamos and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.

    And I turned to see the voice that spoke to me; and when I turned, I saw seven golden lampstands ..." (Rev. 1:11,12)


    Jesus Christ then and now sees all the Christians in a locality as constituting one city wide entity called a church. The names of the seven churches are exactly the names of seven localities. This is continuation of what we see in the epistles - churches according to cities.

    To God a denomination does not exist. To Christians denominations SHOULD not exist. What Christ sees is -

    His disciples in Ephesus,
    His people in Smyrna,
    His lovers in Pergamos,
    His followers in Thyatira,
    His disciples in Sardis,
    His children in Philadelphia,
    His believers in Laodicea

    He sees His believers in localities. The only separation He admits is geographical. What distinvuishes one assembly from another assembly is geography. This is the local oneness that was meant to preserve the unity of Christians.

    So there is no doctrinal churches - ie. Baptist, Methodist, or Episcapalian church. There is only the city wide church names accoding to the locality.

    There is no worker's church - ie. Lutheran, Weslyan church. There are only churches according to cities.

    There are no racial churches - ie. black church, white church, yellow church, red church, brown church. There are only churches according to localities which human beings period, have accumulated to dwell.

    There are no national churches - ie. Asian church, American church, German church, Dutch church, African church. There are only the CITIES in nations which desginate a church -

    Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, etc. etc. .

    Divisions and factions are enumertated by the Apostle Paul as one of the works of the flesh in Galations chapter 5. We just had a long argument about sorcery and whether Harry Potter movies should be condemned by Christians.

    In the same passage where sorcery is mentioned as a work of the flesh, also are mentioned "factions, strifes, divisions" . They also must be repented of, discarded. And that would include establishing different kinds of "churches" which are not wide enough to include all real Christians in a locality.

    Sure, right here - "And the works of the flesh are manifest, which are such things as

    fornication, - [bad]
    uncleaness, - [very bad]
    lasciviousness, - [bad too]
    idolatry, - [no idols, bad, bad]
    sorcey, - [no occult, bad]

    enmitities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, - [all divisive, without love, bad]

    FACTIONS, - [read divisions, denominations, bad too]

    DIVISIONS, - [bad]

    SECTS, - [unChristian and bad]

    etc.

    ... and things like these, of which I tell you beforehand, even as I have said before, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."
    .

    While we are overcome and held in bondage to any of these works of the flesh we are in danger of not being ABLE to participate in the practical kingdom of God and may not receive the reward of the coming kingdom. This is not about not being eternally redeemed. It is about beinf held back from participating in the inheritance of the kingdom of God.

    With SORCERY which many of us Christians easily recognize and condemns there is also in the same breath mentioned - FACTIONS, DIVISIONS, SECTS. So we need to be warned.

    Establishing a racial church, establishing a national church, establishing a certain person's church, establishing a certain practice kind of church or certain kind of doctrinal church may be a work of the flesh - a faction, a sect, a division.

    How did God see the Christians ? He saw them not in factions, divisions, or sects. He sees them as the churches according to cities - the locality wide church encompassing all the fellow believers in Christ in the locality.

    "... send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smryrna and to Pergamos and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea"

    The only recognized separation Christ ordains is one of geographic location.
    Denominations are factions and the work of the fallen flesh.

    Moving on.
  5. Joined
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    21 Jul '12 14:30
    So how did the degradation begin in the history of the church ? In Revelation 2 and 3 the sequence of churches starts with Ephesus.

    And to the church in Ephesus, Jesus says that they left their first love -

    "To the messaenger of the church in Ephesus write: These things saus He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, He who walks in the midst of the seven lampstands:

    I know your works and your labor and your endurance and that you cannot bear evil men; and you have tried those who call the,sevles apostles and are not, and have found them to be false; And you have endurnance and have borne all things because f My name and have not grown weary." (3:1-3)


    All this sounds very commendable and promising. Then Christ levels with them as to what He sees lacking -

    "But I have one thing against you, that you have lft your first love." (v.4)

    This is the DESIRED church. For the meaning of the word Ephesus denotes desired. This was the initial new testament church in the early days.

    She had endurance, did not like evil men, had discernment to detect true apostles from false apostles, and did not grow weary under trials. But Jesus said they had left their first love. - "But I have one thing against you, that you have LEFT YOUR FIRST LOVE."

    What is meant by "your first love" ? .

    What do you think ? You are a Christian, let's say. You are very busy doing things. You are able to detect false teachers from true teachers, and you have endurance. But Christ is concerned that you have left your first love.

    My first love is that above all I love the Lord Jesus. I just love Him.
    He is a living Person.

    Some may think that when they first got saved they loved the Lord with the first love. Maybe they did. But many Christians didn't really love the Lord that much when they first got saved.

    The first love may be the early love. But I think it is better to say it is the love of Christ which is above every other kind of love. You love the Lord more than anything else. You love the Lord for Himself.

    The first love is the love which puts Jesus FIRST in everything. The Christian loves above all the Lord Jesus Himself. And this is the best way to follow the Lord Jesus. So we can never be weary of telling Christ just how much we love Him and that we want to love Him more.

    The beginning of degradation for Christians is when they drift away from loving the Lord Jesus for Himself above all else.
  6. Account suspended
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    21 Jul '12 14:34
    Originally posted by jaywill
    So how did the degradation begin in the history of the church ? In Revelation 2 and 3 the sequence of churches starts with Ephesus.

    And to the church in Ephesus, Jesus says that they left their first love -

    [b]"To the messaenger of the church in Ephesus write: These things saus He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, He who walks in the midst ...[text shortened]... istians is when they drift away from loving the Lord Jesus for Himself above all else.
    you should include some background information on the cities themselves jaywill, it
    provides some interesting information on what the brothers were facing back then.
  7. Joined
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    21 Jul '12 17:17
    Originally posted by robbie carrobie
    you should include some background information on the cities themselves jaywill, it
    provides some interesting information on what the brothers were facing back then.
    I would like to say now that the loss of the love of Christ is the beginning of the downward slide of the Christian church. How might I know this ? It is not a doctrinal matter solely. We know by experience. We can trace back many problems to simply becomming less in love with Christ the Lord.

    Okay. For instance, this is the second letter from the Holy Spirit to the Ephesians. The first letter is the epistle of Paul to the church in Ephesus. And it closes with this line:

    "Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in incorruptibility" (Eph. 6:24)

    To love the Lord Jesus Christ saves us from corruption. Grace is with all those who love the Lord Jesus in incorruptibility. When the believers become distracted from loving Christ, corruptibility can creep into the church life.

    So the brothers and sisters in Christ should often tell Christ that they simply love Him. And all we do unto Him and for Him and through Him is out of our love for Him.

    How can the Christian best be kept from sinning ? By loving the Lord Jesus Christ. When they are tempted they may simply urtter that they love Jesus and turn their hearts toward Jesus. Christ supplies them with purity. Christ Himself becomes their incorruption.

    The first stage of the downward decline of the Christian church was in the saints being distracted from loving Christ with the highest and best love. They were very busy. They were very enduring. And they were very discerning. But they may have been running off in thier own strength and left off loving Christ moment by moment.
  8. Joined
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    22 Jul '12 10:48
    Christ tells the church in Ephesus to come back to the first love and do the first works.

    "But I have one thing against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore where you have fallen from and repent and do the first works; but if not , I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place, unless you repent." (Rev. 2:4,5)

    Since the "first works" are not explicitly mentioned here, we have to figure out what Christ could mean. The exhortation is to remember from where the Christians have fallen, repent, and go back to doing the first works.

    What are the first works ?
  9. Standard memberRJHinds
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    22 Jul '12 10:58
    Originally posted by jaywill
    I would like to say now that the loss of the love of Christ is the beginning of the downward slide of the Christian church. How might I know this ? It is not a doctrinal matter solely. We know by experience. We can trace back many problems to simply becomming less in love with Christ the Lord.

    Okay. For instance, this is the second letter from the Holy S ...[text shortened]... y may have been running off in thier own strength and left off loving Christ moment by moment.
    Should Christians love the Lord Jesus Christ above Jehovah God of the Old Testament? Who should Christians put first. Who is their first love between Jehovah God and the Lord Jesus Christ? I am sure robbie and other Jehovah's Witnesses would like to know what you think about that.
  10. Joined
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    22 Jul '12 11:101 edit
    Judging from what the Lord Jesus told Peter, thge "first works" of thosee who love the Lord Jesus with the "first love" should be to feed the Lord's sheep. That is to take care of the other disciples to bring Christ to them and build them up. It should definitely include preaching the gospel to produce the Lord's sheep too.

    After the resurrection Jesus restores Peter from his denial by asking him three times if he loved Him.

    "Then when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these ? He said to Him, Yes, Lord, You know that I love You. He said to him, Feed my lambs.

    He said to him again a second time, Simon, son of John, do you love Me? He said to Him, Yes, Lord, You know that I love You. He said to him, Shepherd My sheep.

    He said to him the third time, simon, son of John, do you love Me? Peter was grieved that He said to him the third time, Do you love Me? And he said to Him, Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You. Jesus said to him, Feed My sheep." (John 1:15-18)


    To restore Peter from his bad failure of leadership in denying Christ three times, Jesus asks Peter to confess that he really does love Him. He repeats the question. And each time he tells Peter to feed His lambs, shepherd His sheep, and feed His sheep.

    Peter is to express his love for His Master by taking care of the Master's sheep. Peter is to show his love for Jesus by feeding the lambs, shepherding the sheep, and feeding the sheep. The only thing that feeds the sheep is God's divine life. Peter is to not just teach the sheep but convey in all his labor the spiritual life of Christ to the sheep. Jesus wants to continue His ministry to His sheep through the apostle Peter.

    The first love of Christ involves conveying the Christ a man lives to the other believers. It conveys divine life and truth to produce the Lord's lambs. Then he must continue to shepherd the lambs until they grow into sheep. Then he must continue to feed the sheep.

    This is for the building up of the flock. This is for the building up of the church of Christ for His eternal purpose.
  11. Joined
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    22 Jul '12 11:16
    The early degradation of the Christian church issued from the loss of the first love toward Christ. Christ is above all a living Person in resurrection. And to follow Christ is to love Christ.

    He has to be loved with a love which puts Him first in all things. The first love may be the early love one had when he first got saved. But it may not be, since many believers did not love the Lord Jesus that much when they first got saved. But the first love is a love of Jesus first and above everything else.

    And Christ wants the Ephesians to remember what it was to be in the first love. He also wants them to repent and do the first works. I think the first works have to do with shepherding the Lord's lambs, eeding them, and feeding His sheep as Christ told Peter.

    Thier nourishment, their sustenance, their guidance is with Christ Himself and into Christ. We who love the Lord Jesus must minister Jesus to man and minister Jesus to the fellow sheep of Jesus.
  12. Standard memberRJHinds
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    22 Jul '12 11:232 edits
    Originally posted by jaywill
    The early degradation of the Christian church issued from the loss of the first love toward Christ. Christ is above all a living Person in resurrection. And to follow Christ is to love Christ.

    He has to be loved with a love which puts Him first in all things. The first love may be the early love one had when he first got saved. But it may not be, since m love the Lord Jesus must minister Jesus to man and minister Jesus to the fellow sheep of Jesus.
    I believe robbie and other Jehovah's Witnesses would argue that Jehovah God comes first and then the Lord Jesus Christ. What do you say to them?

    "Hear, O Israel, Jehovah is our God; Jehovah is one. And you shall love Jehovah your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." (Deuteronomy 6:4,5)

    Is the Lord Jesus Christ only to be be the first love of the gentiles? Where does Israel and the Jews that deny Christ fit in to this?
  13. Joined
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    22 Jul '12 11:362 edits
    Originally posted by RJHinds
    Should Christians love the Lord Jesus Christ above Jehovah God of the Old Testament? Who should Christians put first. Who is their first love between Jehovah God and the Lord Jesus Christ? I am sure robbie and other Jehovah's Witnesses would like to know what you think about that.
    Should Christians love the Lord Jesus Christ above Jehovah God of the Old Testament? Who should Christians put first. Who is their first love between Jehovah God and the Lord Jesus Christ? I am sure robbie and other Jehovah's Witnesses would like to know what you think about that.


    RJ, I hope you enjoyed your Selah from this place. Welcome back.

    Should Christian loe the Lord Jesus Christ above Hehovah God of the Old Testament ?

    Yes. However, Jesus IS Jehovah God of the Old Testament become a man.

    My comments on your question will be purposely steered to THIS topic of Revelation chapters 2,3. Otherwise we will drift away.

    Christ in the New Testament, is the Old Testament God having passed through a PROCESS by which He can enter into man.

    There are two steps in this process by which Jehovah God prepared Himself to enter into man to be man's divine life. These two steps are represented by to BECAMES.

    1. The Word Who was God BECAME flesh - "In the beginnning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God ... And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us (and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only Begotten from the Father), full of grace and reality." (John 1:1,14)

    The Word Who was with God and was God BECAME flesh and tabernacled among us. This was the BECAME of God's incarnation.

    2. The Last Adam BECAME a life giving Spirit - " ... the last Adam became a life giving Spirit" (1 Cor. 15:45)

    The incarnated God/man Jesus of Nazareth, the onlybegotten Son of God, in resurrection, transformed also into a life giving Spirit. The last Adam, the second man, Christ, BECAME a life imparting, life dispensing, life conveying, life communicating, life flowing, life infusing, life transfusing, life injecting, life supplying SPIRIT.

    Christ, the incarnated God-man, in resurrection became the pneumatic Christ, the available Christ, the Christ who can ENTER into the being of man to be a life giving Spirit.

    Verbose enough ?

    Let's tie it back quickly to REVELATION chapters 2 and 3. Every letter of the seven letters starts with a discription of Christ as the One speaking to each church. But every letter concludes with a exhortation to HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT SAYS to the churches.

    Example:

    "To the messenger of the church in Ephesus write: These things suas He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, He who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands." (2:1 refer 1:13-18)

    This is how the letter to Ephesus opens.

    "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." (v.7a)

    And this is how the letter to Ephesus concludes.

    The scheme is the same for all seven letters. Christ is seen as the speaker in the beginning of the letter. And the letter closes with a call to hear what the Holy Spirit says to the churches. This shows that Christ is the life giving Holy Spirit because " ... the last Adam became a life giving Spirit".

    And Who is the Last Adam ? He is God Almight become a man. This is the Triune God and this is the result of the process of the Triune God in His plan to dispense Himself into His redeemed people to produce churches to testify to the darkened world as golden lampstands.
  14. Joined
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    22 Jul '12 11:46
    My edit function for some reason is not working right. This makes it hard to make corrections in spelling and syntacs.

    Hehovah is of course Jehovah.
  15. Standard memberRJHinds
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    22 Jul '12 11:534 edits
    Originally posted by jaywill
    Should Christians love the Lord Jesus Christ above Jehovah God of the Old Testament? Who should Christians put first. Who is their first love between Jehovah God and the Lord Jesus Christ? I am sure robbie and other Jehovah's Witnesses would like to know what you think about that.


    RJ, I hope you enjoyed your Selah from this place. Welc people to produce churches to testify to the darkened world as golden lampstands.
    We have pointed out that the Lord Jesus Christ is Jehovah God of the Old Testament in human flesh before and that the New Testament says that He is the expressed image of the invisible God in bodily form and that the fullness of the Godhead is in Him bodily. They keep saying that being the only begotten of the Father means Jehovah God created the Word (or the Son) so the Word could create everything else. They can not seem to make sense of this explanation, because they argue Jehovah God can not beget Himself.

    P.S. One more point. The Jehovah's Witnesses believe Jehovah is the Father, who Jesus is referring to and if that is so, then the Father can't be both the Father and the Son. Therefore, how do we convince them that Jehovah is not the Father, but is the Son appearing as an angel of the Lord before coming in the flesh? No man has seen God the Father at any time.
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