David Pawson - Letters of Jesus to His Churches
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Thoughtful Thoughts 30.4.21 - by John Dunning
Jesus’ Letters To His Churches, Part 2. Ephesus: Loyal but loveless.
We may recognise the church at Ephesus as being similar to a church we know.
Jesus commended something first, if He could find something worth commending, before moving on to correct what needed correcting.
Jesus commended their hard work, patience, hatred of evildoers, testing of teachers who called themselves apostles, perseverance, and for their faithfulness in not growing tired of doing good, (v.2).
Jesus moves on from recognising their good deeds to warning them that unless they return back to loving God again, He will remove their lamp stand. When the candle goes out, then the lampstand no longer serves any purpose. The whole point and purpose of a candle was to give light, so if it can’t do that, what use is the candlestick? Why? Because we see from v.4 that they had lost their first love. (In 1 Cor. 13:2 Paul says that even if you could remove mountains, but have not love, you are nothing.)
After telling them what they need to do, Jesus finishes by praising them again with this;- “But you do have this;- you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate”.
So, who were the Nicolaitans that Jesus hated? No preacher I’ve heard ever answered that, but I thought it was important as Jesus was making a point about them. I found the answer in Strong’s Bible Concordance, which takes the Greek word ‘Nicolaitans’ apart. That shows us that the word Nicolaitans was made up of three Greek words which had been combined to create one word. Place names in Wales do the same thing with the Welsh language. The meaning of those three words in Greek is this:-
Nicos = dominating
Laos = laity
Tons = ‘the ones’
So the translation of ‘Nicolaitans’ into English comes out as being; “The ones dominating the lay people”. (‘Lay’ people is the name we give to those not part of the leadership or church structure.)
So if the Greek word “Nicolaitans” had been put into English in the Bible, then Rev. 2:6 comes out as meaning; “… you hate the practices of the ones dominating the lay people, which I also hate.”
So this church at Ephesus was commended by Jesus for hating the practice of leadership dominating Christian believers. It is bad people who see their role as the control of the community of believers. Jesus had said the Holy Spirit would replace Him on earth - not any man. Yet religious controlling people have done that ever since man created a structure for what they called a church, which was the opposite of what Jesus meant by ‘church’. History is full of problems created in the world by “The ones dominating the lay people.”
This was what Jesus had commanded… Matt. 20:25-28 “Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave, just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Derek Prince became famous for starting a church called the “Shepherding Movement”, with 5 other men. It had many rules and regulations. Derek later resigned and repented of starting it, and one by one, the others did too. He had tried to come up with a structure for charismatic evangelicals that other denominations were using. He realised his mistake too late.
A few hundred years after Jesus had spoken these words to the church at Ephesus, other religious leaders changed their titles to ‘father’, which was expressly forbidden by Jesus. (Matthew 23:9-11) Then religious leaders changed the role of ‘bishop’, from a church community having several bishops - like deacons to a new model of many churches under a big cheese, also being called bishop. As in George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ novel, one breed of animals told the other animals they would all have to come under the control of this one group of pigs. Animal Farm was written to describe communism, but it also fits perfectly what was done to the church.
Jesus had originally created a community of believers who ate, worshiped and prayed together like a family. Before long that all changed to what George Orwell would have recognised the rules changed from “All Animals are equal”; to read, “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”. That is what Jesus had expressly forbidden.
We know that the church at Ephesus listened to the voice of Jesus, and returned to being a loving community, because St Ignatius of Loyola wrote a letter to Ephesus in which he said that he noticed that they had a reputation for their love.
In the ‘Old’ Testament, the Israelites were judged for being “a stiff necked people”, (refusing to obey). Could that judgement be applied to us too?
i). Click this link to the new devotional... https://blog.inspirationalmedia.org.nz/
ii). Click this link to watch a challenging testimony … https://found.rest/restored/
iii). Click this link to remember those murdered by the church for getting immersed as believers. This is a spiritual battle and ‘we will remember them’ for passing on the ‘baton’ faithfully to us. https://www.homecomers.org/mirror/index-anabaptists.htm
Meantime, this is John Dunning signing off from “Thoughtful Thoughts” for another week.
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