The Curse of Compromise

From about 313 A.D. to about A.D. 600*

To: Pergamos (Marriage)
Satan tried persecution as a way to stop the advance of the church. This, for the most part, backfired on him. What he meant for evil, God used to test His people. Their faith (trust in Him) prepared them to endure and face prison and death. Genuine faith does that. Lack of that kind of faith will bring failure under testing. Since that strategy only strengthened and purified the Church, Satan switched tactics. His primary approach in this local church and in the period of Church history it typified was to slowly and stealthily introduce compromise. Just a little giving in here and a little more later, slowly, gradually giving in still more, until the power and blessing of God was mostly withdrawn. The Church had married the world. Religion dealt a strong blow to that Church and that period. Satan had a heyday. ” And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith He which hath the sharp sword with two edges; I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast My Name, and hast not denied My faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth. 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 hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it” (Revelation 2:12-17). Jesus commends them for their faithfulness but confronts the situation that needs to be corrected, or else. Doctrinal compromise, occult activity, immorality, religion (as opposed to Christianity) and false teaching all needed to be stopped. Jesus called for repentance and spoke of blessings for overcomers. Selah! The message for that church and for that period of time is one that needs to be heeded today as much or more than it needed to be then!       Ron

*I’ve used the time periods from Lehman Strauss’ commentary on Revelation. (Published 1964).

When the Heat is Felt

From about 160 A.D. to about 312 A.D*

To: Smyrna (Bitter)
We know comparatively little of suffering in America. The church at Smyrna knew plenty about it! So did the period of church history that Smyrna prophetically foreviewed. “And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Revelation 2:8-10). Jesus always has His eyes on His church. He knew their works. He acknowledged that they were suffering tribulation. He saw both their material poverty and their Spiritual riches. He was aware of the blasphemy, the hypocrisy and Satan’s working in their midst. He told them that prison and death awaited some of them. It wasn’t a pretty picture. Why suffering? Jesus explained that it was to try them. Would they trust while in the throes of intense persecution? He promises a great reward to all who do keep on trusting, no matter what. It was (and most always is) inevitable that in any period of time during which His church grows cold and weak, having let their first love fade away, that He purifies by persecution. Selah! “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death” (Revelation 2:11). He gave that message to those in Smyrna. It was also for those living during that awful period of church history and it is very likely for us today. We may be having a little foretaste at this present hour in our history!         Ron
*I’ve used the time periods from Lehman Strauss’ commentary on Revelation. (Published 1964).

An Exciting Church, But…

From Pentecost to about approximately A.D. 160*

To: Ephesus (Desirable)
Jesus identifies Himself as the sender and author of this letter. He begins by letting them know that He has His eye on them. He observes the outwardly obvious and the condition of hearts. “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; 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: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for My Name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted” (Revelation 2:1-3). They were a dynamic, hard working, suffering and loyal church. They dealt with false teaching and teachers. This period of time was characterized by these things. This could be said of some churches today. However, these were the outstanding features of that period of time. It was an exciting church but Jesus added this sad indictment: “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love” (Verse 4). In the midst of all the blessing was a fatal condition of heart. What could be done for Ephesus? What could done in that period of time? What can we do if this has developed in us? Jesus tells us, “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” (Verse 5). Three key words are the way to recapture lost love: Remember how it was. Repent, turn around from where you are now. Return to the intense love for Him that you experienced when you came to Him. Selah! This admonition is needed today, probably more than at any time in the past.     Ron
*I’ve used the time periods from Lehman Strauss’ commentary on Revelation. (Published 1964).

Seeing the Church Through His Eyes

In today’s article, I’m thinking of the church as those who gather in a local place of assembly (both saved and unsaved). The church began in an assembly on the Day of Pentecost. It’s been around now for about 2,000 years and will come to an end at the Rapture. What does Jesus see when He looks at the picture as a whole? He doesn’t leave us guessing. In Revelation, chapters two and three, John shares with us letters that Jesus addressed to seven different local churches. These churches actually existed. However, each one of them highlights a particular period of the Church’s history. We see through the Savior’s eyes the good and bad things of each of those ancient churches. Interestingly, the situation in each church (in the order in which He addressed them) characterizes a period of church history in that same order. Studying the seven churches gives us an overall understanding of the whole church age. It furnishes us with a grasp of what is worthy of commendation and alerts us to what we need to deal with to enjoy His approval. It also gives us insight into the present age of the church and it gives some insights into world conditions today. It is my hope, God willing, to deal with each period and relate it to the church that our Lord addressed. We’ll try to do one each day over the next week. Selah!I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.” These letters have been passed along for us to read and understand.       Ron

Sights to Behold

Certainly, the supreme attraction of Heaven is our Lord Jesus Christ. In Him, we have many more blessings to enjoy in our new eternal home. First, consider that we will have the full use of our minds. Here, we’re told that we only get to use an insignificant portion of our total brain capacity. I Corinthians 13:12 speaks of our new capacity. It reads, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” Next, angels are usually not seen here and, on rare occasions when they are, it seems that it is not in their Heavenly form that we see them. We will see them in all their Heavenly beauty, power and intellect. Hebrews 12:22 refers to that event. It tells us that we will “….come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels.” After that, we’ll see many loved ones and friends. As I type this, I can’t think of a direct statement about that joyous reunion. However, the recognition of Moses and Elijah on the mount, by Peter, James and John, coupled with the promise about happenings at the Rapture should eliminate any doubts. I Thessalonians 4:14 says, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.” David also, lamenting his dead child, stated that he would go to him. Finally, we’ll get to meet, fellowship and converse with the saints of all the ages. All of the above, in the amazing context of ineffable beauty, perfect health, boundless energy and mental completeness, is part of the inheritance of the saints in light. Selah! The future that God has planned for His own is guaranteed to us who have received Jesus as Lord and Savior. If any reader hasn’t received Him, don’t risk another day! Receive Him, while you can! Ron

Those First Few Moments

I used the word “moments” in today’s title. Of course, it won’t be time anymore, when we enter Heaven. It will be an eternal now. Nevertheless, we’ll speak of it that way to help us get an idea of the exciting experience of our glorification. Suddenly, at the Rapture or through the gateway of death, we who have received Him as Lord and Savior will see Jesus face to face. Can you meditate and focus on what it will be like to actually gaze on Him in all His magnificence and splendor? Instantaneously, we take on His moral excellence and have a mind that is free of earthly limitations. We will think as He thinks! Will it quickly dawn on us that we have no more interest in or temptation to sin. In fact, there is no sin anywhere and never will be! As we are internalizing all of these amazing realities, will it occur to us, all at once, that we are not the least bit tired? There are no boundaries to our energy. We most likely won’t need sleep. Oh, and did I mention that there is no more pain, sadness, discouragement, fear and worry to experience? There will be no prisons, jails, police, etc. because there is no crime, rebellion, violence, hatred, cruelty or any other bad thing. Death will be conspicuous by its absence, as will be doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, funeral parlors, cemeteries, wars, fighting and more. And the wonders our eyes will behold! Beauty on earth will pale in comparison to Heavenly beauty, the beauty of holiness and, most of all, with the sight of the King in His glory! All this is but openers, more to come, God willing. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And He said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful” (Revelation 21:4-5). Selah! Compare all the joys of Heaven with the fate of those who have rejected God’s loving offer of redemption in Christ!! How can anyone refuse His gift of salvation? Ron

What Will the Change Be Like?

No one has a destiny or a destination that remotely compares with a true child of God. In fact, both the destiny and the destination of unsaved people are polar opposites. Those of us who are born again have a future that is so glorious that it is impossible to describe it adequately. Consider John 3:2 and Philippians 3:20-21: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” “For our conversation is in Heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself.” Let me extract two marvelous Truths to consider from these verses. First, “we shall be like Him.” We can’t begin to know all that that involves. However, it certainly includes our having sinless character, thoughts, values, emotions and desires. Never again will we sin or want to sin. Wow!! Second, our bodies can and will, “….be fashioned like unto His glorious body.” Whatever that may include, it will be a body untouched by sin. It will reflect the beauty of holiness. It will be filled with God’s Person and will be a perfect instrument of worship. Again, wow!! (Do you suppose that it might include the nail prints as a reminder of the love that He has lavished upon us – who knows)? Selah! Think on the awful fate awaiting those who have rejected Him. Then think on what they have missed by their rejection. Tomorrow, Lord willing, I’d like for you to think with me on our first realizations as we begin enjoying Heaven. Won’t you make it a point to drop by?      Ron   

What If It Were Today?

 What if it were today? Have you really thought about this? I don’t mean just thinking in a general way. I mean thinking about details. Just imagine – first, gravity is suspended for all who are His. In the middle of whatever is going on in our lives at the moment, we start to rise! All our activities on earth have just come to an abrupt halt. Before we have time to think, we meet Him in the air. Then, we enter Heaven. While the Tribulation is unfolding on earth, we have two things to experience. There is the judgment of our works to determine rewards or loss of rewards. I Corinthians 3:11-15 explains, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” The second thing to experience is the most outstanding banquet that anyone has ever experienced. “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And He saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.” (From Revelation 19:7-9). All of this is merely a prelude to all that is involved. For example: We are told that when we see Him, we shall be like Him (See I John 3:2). Be like Him? What kind of an experience will that be? We hope to look at that tomorrow, Lord willing. Selah! What if we don’t have a tomorrow? What if “itwere today?          Ron

Three Ways to Look at the World-The Third Way

This third way is not a popular subject with many professing Christians. It involves sacrifice, suffering and persecution of one kind or another. There is a price to be paid. It will cost anyone who is serious about Christianity. For some, the cost will be comparatively minimal. For others, it may cost physical suffering and death. For all serious disciples (truly saved people), certain pursuits, pleasures and practises will have to be discontinued. Principles (sometimes strongly believed ones) will have to be scrapped, if they are at odds with Scriptural principles. We, who are born again, are caught in the crossfire of two opposing powers. The world (not the physical planet) but the world system with its beliefs, behavior and interests, is entrenched in its position and resists zealously any threat to its determination to do, think and say what it wants to do, think and say. The Church is on a mission to infiltrate this world and deliver its victims from bondage to sin in all its forms. So the world fights to keep its slaves, while the Church of Jesus Christ shines the glorious light of the saving gospel into the world’s darkness and rescues many prisoners, one at a time and sometimes a number at a time. Now a child of God who has been set free still feels the pull to return to that with which he or she was familiar, usually for a long time. They also feel the pull of their new nature to higher, holier living and they long for Heaven where all “worldliness” exerts no more influence on them. Now, here’s “the kicker:” Any people who claim the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord can only validate that claim when their appetite for the things of this world is fading while their appetite for the things of God is increasingly intensifying. We can’t serve two masters! It’s the world’s way or God’s way. Which has the most sway in our lives? Selah! Think carefully on I John 2:15-17 which says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world and the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” Ron

Three Ways to Look at the World-The Second Way

Yesterday, we considered the responsibility that genuine Christians have to this world in which we live. Today, we want to alert disciples to the dangers of living here. We are in enemy territory and the sooner that we face up to it, the better it will be for our spiritual (and sometimes, physical) safety. When we come to Jesus and receive Him as Lord and Savior, our citizenship is no longer in this world. Colossians 1:13 confirms that it is God, “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son.” “For our conversation (Lit. citizenship) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). However, we still live in the kingdom of darkness. The sin-blinded citizens of this world have no clue that we are no longer citizens, and so we are treated as if we still are citizens here. This gives us opportunities to be salt and light. Nevertheless, our Biblical worldview and their secular, humanistic worldview are bound to collide at times. For some it will be a life changing experience. They will come to understand and will taste and see that the Lord is good. For others, it will bring conviction. For some of them, it will provoke a hostile reaction to us. From their vantage point, we are condemning them for the lifestyle in which they are engaged. They want to run their own lives and continue in sin. They resist, rebel and respond in various ways. They continue in spiritual darkness. Some will come around later and be saved. In the meantime, we may have to pay a price for our witness. Selah! We should be ready to defend Truth, stay faithful under attack and be “….an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” (From I Timothy 4:12). Ron