Free At Last

Revelation 12:7-12

And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought,  but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer.  So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.  Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.  And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.  Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”

  • Free at last – One day we can say, “The accuser can no longer accuse.  The deceiver can no longer deceive.  Revelation speaks of a future time, but even now, the resurrected Christ has put us in a right relation to Himself through the cross.

Romans 8:33 – Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect [when it is] God Who justifies [that is, Who puts us in right relation to Himself? Who shall come forward and accuse or impeach those whom God has chosen? Will God, Who acquits us?]

  • We sing, “This is the day that the Lord has made.”  But we also can sing, “This is the week of the devil’s defeat.”  Not some far off, distant time, but NOW.

2 Corinthians 15:7 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new

  • You are a new creation – if you have been to the cross and Christ is even NOW pleading your cause. 

Romans 8:34 – Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

  • The devil is defeated already and he knows it.  But, do you know it?  He is counting that you do not really realize he is defeated.  That you think he has more power than you do.  He does have more power than you do by yourself, but with Christ, you can defeat him.  The same power Jesus gave to the disciples, He gives to us.

Matthew 28:18 – And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth

Luke 9:1 – Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases.

1 John 4:4 – You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

  • How we overcome
  • By the blood of the Lamb
  • By the word of our testimony

Revelation 12:11 – And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.

  • Importance of our praising the Lord and sharing our testimony of what God has done for us.  Satan does not want us to praise the Lord.  He does not want us to be an overcomer. 
  • When Satan comes at you like a cockroach, just turn “on the light” on him and he will run for cover just like an old cockroach.  If he does not run and take cover when you turn the light on him, just stomp him into the ground with “your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel.” 
  • When Satan tries to remind you of your past – remind him of his future.
  • Satan is like an old mop – all wet and dirty.  But you are made clean through the Word and the Holy Spirit
  • Satan is like an old junky car on the way to the dump.  It makes all kinds of noise as you travel along.  You wonder where you will end up and when you get there, you will not like it.

Zechariah 3:1-17 – Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him.  And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?”  Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel.  Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, “Take away the filthy garments from him.” And to him He said, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.”  And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.”  So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the clothes on him. And the Angel of the Lord stood by.  Then the Angel of the Lord admonished Joshua, saying,  “Thus says the Lord of hosts:  ‘If you will walk in My ways, and if you will keep My command, then you shall also judge My house,  And likewise have charge of My courts; I will give you places to walk among these who stand here.

  • Through Jesus Christ, we are triumphant.  We can be like John Geddie who died as a missionary on a South Seas island.  On his tombstone was written:  “When he got here, there were no Christians.  When he died, there were no sinners.

What are you doing for Christ? 

Believe in the Gospel

Mark 1:15

Mark 1:15 – and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

  • Repent – The word “repent” in the Bible means more than being sorry.  It means “a turning around.”  It involves both turning from our old way of living and turning to God.  Jesus began His ministry with this call to repent.  The reason for this need of repentance (change of living) is that Jesus has come to usher in the Kingdom of God.  A total change of purpose and living would be required to be a part of this kingdom of God. 
  • In order to really repent and be a part of God’s kingdom required belief.  A total and complete confidence in the message of Jesus Christ.  The story of Charles Blondin illustrates what true belief in Jesus Christ is all about.  The story is told that Blondin walked 160 feet above the falls between Canada and the United States.  After crossing to the United States he then returned to Canada pushing a wheelbarrow while blindfolded.  It is said that he asked his audience “Do you beliee I can carry a person across in this wheelbarrow?”  The crowd enthusiacally shouted “Yes!”  Blondin then asked “Who will get in the wheelbarrow?”  Nobody was willing to do that.  Their faith was not total and complete.  Jesus is asking us to “get in the wheelbarrow” and trust Him to take us safely across.
  • Jesus declared that the time was fulfilled.  The perfect time for the Son of God to come..

Galatians 4:4-7 – But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,  to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.  And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”  Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

  • There are several reasons we might see that Jesus came at this particular time in history.  At that time there was an international language that all the citizens of the empire spoke – Greek.  The Roman Empire had created a great road system and there was peace making travel easy.  Although these are reasons that we might think made this the “fullness of time” ultimately we cannot know for certain why God felt this was the time.
  • God sent Jesus for one purpose – to make us his sons and daughters and to thereby have a relationship with Him.

BUT

  • We must accept that redemption
  • We must believe in the Gospel – the Good News
  • We must believe and receive

Galatians 3:26 – For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

  • Repent and believe in the Gospel
    • Repent – to change one’s way of living; to confess wrong; to change one’s mind or purpose – Turning from sin – turning to God
    • Believe – commit; entrust; agree; obey; persuade; trust; yield

2 Timothy 1:12 – For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.

Who Are These?

Revelation 7:13-17

Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?”  And I said to him, “Sir, you know.”  So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them.  They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

  • These are the saints who made it through the great tribulation.  They were a countless multitude from all over the world – all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues.

Revelation 7:9 – After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands

  • While the blessings here are said to be for the tribulation saints, it gives us a picture of what heaven will be like.  Look what God has prepared for His children.
  • We will serve Him day and night and He will dwell among us.  ‘Emmanuel” – God with us – in person – where we can behold Him forever and forever.  What an amazing thought! 
  • No more hunger or thirst.  The book of Revelation tells us we will be able to eat of the Tree of Life and drink from the River of Life.
  • The sun will not need to shine for He will be the light.  We saw this in the creation.  The first day of creation God made light, but He did not create the sun, moon and stars until the fourth day.  God is the light.
  • No heat – we will not need a weather man.  The weather will be perfect. 
  • He will shepherd us – lead us, watch over us, protect us.
  • He will wipe away every tear.  There will be nothing to cause sorrow again.  Not separation, no death, no pain.

Psalm 23:1 – The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.

  • These saints had washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb.  This tells us that the only way to receive these great blessings of God and spend eternity with Him in heaven is to repent and have our sins cleansed by acceptance of the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross. 

Acts 2:21 – And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

  • It is not only the saints who come through the tribulation that need to be on guard.  Satan continues to try to destroy God’s people who surrender their lives to Him. 

Revelation 12:17 – And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

  • God sends an invitation to all of us.  We can be a part of that throne around God’s throne, but we must accept the invitation.

Revelation 3:20 – Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

An Invitation From God

Revelation 4:1-2

After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.”  Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.

  • We were all born in sin.  Because we are the offspring of Adam and Eve, we have sinned.

Romans 3:23 – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

  • We are all, unless we have received Christ, potential residents of hell.  There are those who say there is no hell.  There are those who say the only hell is here on earth.  There are those who say that hell is the grave.  When you are dead, you cease to exist.  When you are dead, you are dead.  There are those who say there is no proof of a hell.  They say it is just the religious fanatics that have concocted the idea of hell to somehow control people with their own brand of right and wrong.

But wait!  There is proof of hell.  There is one who died, went to hell and preached, and then returned to earth and testified about it.  I am willing to take His word for it.  How about you?

1 Peter 3:18-19 – For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,  by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison.

  • Hell and heaven are not entrees, like in a cafeteria.  You cannot just go, take a look and decide whether you want to stay or go to the other place.  Hell is a place – a real place.

It is logical, even you and I can figure it out for ourselves.  God is a God of fairness.  It just makes sense.  Would he not prepare a place for those who do not wish to be with Him in heaven.  Hell is there for those who willfully and knowingly wish not to live with God.  God, has prepared this alternative for all those who reject Him.

Most of us live in homes with many different rooms.  Two to three bedrooms, a kitchen, maybe even a family room or den.  If you need all the conveniences of your nice home, you will not like it in hell.  There will be no comforts and room like that.

Consider the heat.  The Bible says it is a place of heat and torment.  That torment will never let up, never diminish.  If you do not tolerate heat too well, do not plan on going to hell.

Even if you could deal with the heat and torment, think of being in a place where God has removed His love?  God’s love is the explanation for our existence.  God’s love is the explanation for our welfare.  It is the love and grace of God that sustains us.  To be shut off for one hour, one day from the love and grace of God – the very thought is intolerable.

  • There are souls in hell. 

Luke 16:19-31 – There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day.  But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.  So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried.  And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.  “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’  But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.  And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’  “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house,  for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’  Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’  And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’  But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’”

The rich man could remember when he was here on earth.  He could feel the flames.  He was so alive that he was praying in hell.  Prayers prayed in hell are prayers prayed too late.  Prayers prayed in hell are just like the prayers that are prayed here on earth when we know we have sin in our life, but do not care to change.

You may be in comfort and convenience here on earth.  Your job or your retirement may be secure.  Your financial situation may be good.  But if death should strike you down, would you lift your eyes in hell?

You may say, “I’m ok.  I’m a pretty good person.”  Your own goodness is not what keeps you out of hell.  There is only one thing that keeps you out of hell and that is accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and lord.

Mark 16:16 – He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

When you pray, it is not ceremony, not just repeating pious words.  It is praying heartfelt, sincere words to a loving God who is standing with open arms and ready to forgive.  It is meaning what you say, not just today, but tomorrow, next week, next month, next year.  It is remaining faithful to the words of your prayer.

John 3:16-18 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  He who believe in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

If you go to hell, you are in the home of the fallen angels.  Your neighbors will be demons.  Sinners will be your companions.  Think of Hitler, Stalin and all the evil men in the past.  No such thing as comfort there.  Nothing but malice, envy, strife, violence, weeping and grinding of teeth.  We sing songs bout heaven, but there will be no singing in hell.  There will be nothing to rejoice about.  No getting right with God in hell.  It will be too late. 

  • Jesus will judge the nations.

Matthew 25:31-46 – When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’  “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’  “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’  “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

  • Jesus invites you

John 6:37 – All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.

  • Have you made your reservation?
  • Have you sent your RSVP note in?
  • Have you told Him, “Yes, I want to be with You – in heaven?

Sleeping With the Devil

Revelation 2:18-23

And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write, ‘These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass:  “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first.  Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.  And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent.  Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.  I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.

  • Jezebel – a symbol of someone who tries to control and seduce Christians.  The name refers back to Jezebel in the Old Testament.  She controlled her husband, King Ahab, and led Israel into worship of Baal, into sexual immorality and was responsible for killing many prophets of Jehovah.  Israel over and over was involved in idolatry until they were carried away into captivity as a result. 

The church today is being seduced by this same spirit of idolatry and immorality.  Even Christians seem to fall prey to this spirit of seduction, believing those things that the Word of God says is untrue.  Christians are prostituting ourselves to recklessly do what we want to do rather than following the Word of God.  The church is allowing things that compromise our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

1 Kings 16:31 – And it came to pass, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took as wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians; and he went and served Baal and worshiped him.

When we sell out our God as our divine moral authority, we are unholy.  We are “sleeping with the devil.”

  • Results of falling prey to the spirit of Jezebel
  • Great tribulation
  • Death

Revelation 2:22-23 – Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.  I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.

Courtship With God

Revelation 2:1-5

To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands:  “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.  Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.  Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.

  • Courtship with spouse
  • Starts out with ‘There’s nothing, there’s nobody else but you darling.  Then, there’s Monday night football, fishing and hunting with the guys, shopping trips with the girls, etc. etc.
  • Over a long period of time, the church in Ephesus had steadfastly refused to tolerate sin among its members.  This was not easy in a city noted for the immoral sexual practices associated with the worship of the goddess Diana.  We also are living in times of widespread sin and sexual immortality.  It is popular to be open-minded toward many types of sin, calling them personal choices or alternative life-styles.  But when the body of believers begins to tolerate sin in the church, they are lowering the standards and compromising the church’s witness.  Remember, God’s approval is infinitely more important than the world’s.
  • Working at our relationship
  • Budgets, growing families, time pressures.  At times we lose it; we have no more patience, no more love, the war is on.
  • Christ commends the church at Ephesus for working hard, being patient, resisting sin, critically examining the claims of false apostle and suffering patiently without quitting.  Every church should have these characteristics.  But these good efforts should spring from our love for Jesus Christ  Both Jesus and John stressed brotherly love as an authentic proof of the gospel.   In the battle for maintaining sound teaching and moral and doctrinal purity, it is possible to lose a charitable spirit.  Prolonged conflict can weaken or destroy our patience and affection.  In defending the faith, guard against any structure or rigidity that weakens love.

John 13:34-35 – A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

1 John 3:18-19 – My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.  And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him.

  • Honeymoon is over
  • First love is gone.
  • Paul had once commended the church at Ephesus for its love for God and others, but many of the church founders had died, and the second-generation believers had lost their zeal for God.  They were a busy church, the members did much to benefit themselves and the community, but they were acting for the wrong reasons.  Work for God must be motivated by love for God or it will not last.
  • Settling in
  • We lose sight of our initial excitement.  There is no more enthusiasm.  (Meat loaf again.)
  • Just as when a man and woman fall in love, so also new believers rejoice at their new-found forgiveness.  But when we lose sight of the seriousness of sin, we begin to lose the thrill of our forgiveness.  In the first steps of your Christian life, you may have had enthusiasm without knowledge.  Do you now have knowledge without enthusiasm?  Both are necessary if we are to keep love for God intense and untarnished.  Do you love God with the same fervor as when you were a new Christian?

2 Peter 1:5-9 – But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.  For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.

Hebrews 10:32-35 – But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings:  partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven.  Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.

  • Don’t give up
  • He/She still loves you.  After an argument, make up. 
  • For Jesus to “remove your lampstand from its place” would mean the church would cease to be an effective church.  Just as the seven-branched candlestick in the temple gave light for the priests to see, the churches were to give light to their surrounding communities.  But Jesus warned them that their lights could go out.  In fact, Jesus Himself would extinguish any light that did not fulfill His purpose.  The church had to repent of its sins.

He Who Has An Ear – HEAR

Revelation 2:1-7

To the angel of the church of Ephesus write,   ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands:  “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.  Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.  Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.  But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.  “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”’

  • The Loveless Church – Ephesus
  • Challenge:  repent and regain your first love
  • Reward:  eat from the tree of life = eternal life

Revelation 2:8-11

And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, ‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life:  “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.  Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”’

  • The Persecuted Church – Smyma
  • Challenge:  persecution
  • Reward:  crown of life = eternal life

Revelation 2:12-17

And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, ‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword:  “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.  But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.  Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.  Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.  “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.”’

  • The Compromising Church – Pergamos
  • Challenge:  repent and remove the false teachers, the immorality
  • Reward:  hidden manna to eat, white stone with a new name = eternal life

Revelation 2:18-29

And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass:  “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first.  Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.  And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent.  Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.  I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.  “Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden.  But hold fast what you have till I come.  And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’—as I also have received from My Father;  and I will give him the morning star.  “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’

  • The Corrupt Church – Thyatira
  • Challenge:  repent and remove the corruption, the sexual immorality, worship of idols
  • Reward:  power over nations and the morning star = eternal life

Revelation 3:1-6

And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘these things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.  Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.  Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.  You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.  He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.  “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’

  • The Dead Church – Sardis
  • Challenge:  repent, return to God, strengthening the life that is about to die
  • Reward:  clothes in white garments, Jesus will confess their name before His Father and His angels = eternal life

Revelation 3:7-13

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,  ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”:  “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.  Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.  Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.  Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.  He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. 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 I will write on him My new name.  “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’

  • The Faithful Church – Philadelphia
  • Challenge – no commendation
  • Reward:  make a pillar in the temple of God and have Jesus write on them His new name = eternal life

Revelation 3:14-22

And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘these things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:  “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.  So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.  Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.  To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.  “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’”

  • The Lukewarm Church – Laodicean
  • Challenge:  repent and be zealous for God once again
  • Reward:  sit with Jesus on His throne = eternal life

These messages was to the seven churches, more specifically to the pastors of the seven churches.  They represent all of God’s churches.  Seven = fullness/complete.  They represent churches of all ages from John’s time until the return of Christ.

Revelation 1:20 – The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.

  • Spiritual math:

Born twice     =     Die once

Born once      =     Die twice

Are You Listening?

Revelation 2: 7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

  • In Revelation chapters 2 and 3, the phrase “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’  The Word of God is very clear…we must hear and act on the Word.

A.W. Tozer “Of God and Men” –  “We must insist on New Testament sainthood for our converts, nothing less, and we must lead them into a state of heart purity, firey love, separation from the world, and poured-out devotion to the person of Christ.  Only in this way can the low level of spirituality be raised again to where it should be in the light of the Scriptures and of eternal values.”

  • Parable of the Sower

Matthew 13:19-23 – -When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.  This is he who received seed by the wayside.  But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; -yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for awhile.  For when tribulation, or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.  Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.  But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

James 1:22 – Be doers of the word and not hearers only.

James 4:17 – Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

John 13:17 – If you know these things, blessed are you it you do them.

Luke 6:46 – But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?

In The Beginning (in art form)

Studying the Creation story in Genesis I wanted to somehow capture the first verse where the earth is dark and void and the Spirit of God is hovering over the face of the waters. How to do that?

Here is my interpretation in art form. I pictured the Holy Spirit as a flame of fire. Often in the Bible fire has represented the presence of God. Remember Moses and the burning bush. Also on the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit appeared as tongues of fire on the people gathered in the Upper Room.

I was privileged to show my entire collection of the Creation Story last year at a local art gallery.

Since then I have painted this picture of the beginning of Creation for two others who have requested a copy.

I love painting seascapes and lighthouses but this series of Creation is probably my favorite.

You can check out more of my paintings at https://www.facebook.com/PaulWLaneArtGallery/

Walk in the Spirit

Revelation 1:9-11

I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.  I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”

  • John was imprisoned on the island of Patmos (Roman Empire’s equivalent to Alcatraz). He was imprisoned for teaching/preaching Christ.
  • John was “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day.”
  • The Lord’s Day was the Sabbath.  For the Jewish believer that would be from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday.  For the Gentile believer that would be Sunday.  Which day does not matter. What matters was observing a day set aside for rest and worship of God. 
  • What does it mean to “be in the Spirit”
  • Some think it is experiencing great emotions, crying, speaking in tongues, laughing
    • Some think it is being so mesmerized with God that you are oblivious to those about you
    • Some think it is working, witnessing, worshipping in the divine flow of the anointing of the power of the Holy Spirit with power and victory over sin while at the same time doing what we need to do in this life – working, going to school, exercising, mowing the lawn.

John was obviously involved in worship on the Sabbath.  Obviously, he was in the Spirit to a point of probably being unaware of his surroundings because of the great prophecy he wrote, the great revelation that was given to him.

  • Walk in the Spirit

We can only walk in the Spirit when we are free from indwelling sin, when we are totally yielded to God’s will.  We must be consecrated to God in our mind, our purpose, our entire life.  To be carnally minded is death; to be spiritually minded is life.  You cannot be committed to the ways of the world and be spiritually minded at the same time.      

Romans 8:1-19 – There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.  For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.  For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.  So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.  And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.  But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.  Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.  For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.  For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”  The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.

James 3:10-12 – Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.  Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening?  Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.

Isaiah 6:1-7 – In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.  Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.  And one cried to another and said:  “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!”  And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.  So I said:  “Woe is me, for I am undone!  Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King,

The Lord of hosts.”  Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar.  And he touched my mouth with it, and said:  “Behold, this has touched your lips;

Your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.”

Only when our sins have been purged, only when our iniquity is taken away by the power of the Holy Spirit, only then can we “walk in the Spirit” and be called to serve the Lord.  To walk in the Spirit, we need to make David’s prayer ours also.

Psalm 51:10 – Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.