Monday, August 10, 2015, 5:34 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “The Doxology.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Revelation 2:1-7 (NASB).
“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:
The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this:
‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. Yet this you do 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 grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’
In the church I grew up in, which was a solid evangelical denomination of the time, we used to sing The Doxology at the end of each church service, usually just on Sunday mornings, I think. I had never really ever given any thought to what “doxology” meant, though, until today. It means: “a hymn or form of words containing an ascription of praise to God” (Dictionary.com); “a usually liturgical expression of praise to God” (M-W Dictionary). Liturgy – “a form of public worship; ritual” (Dictionary.com). Ritual – a system or collection of religious or other rites; observance of set forms in public worship” (Dictionary.com); habitual or routine. Forms – methods, procedures, customs, formality or appearance.
What the Lord Jesus is showing me here today, in relation to this passage of scripture, as applied to the church today, is that a large portion of the church of today, which has left her first love, has run off with “another lover,” i.e. she has run off with a false church, a false gospel, and a false Christ, which has the feeling and look of being the “real deal,” and which gives off the image of being sincere and genuine, and of demonstrating true Christ-like love, but which is really just going through the motions (routine, customs, formality or appearance) of worship of God, and which is just mouthing the words “I love you.”
Yet, it is not just what we consider to be the formal or liturgical church institutions which are guilty of formality and appearance only of true worship of God, though. Many of these modern church organizations and corporations prominently present the image that they are “real,” “sincere,” “genuine,” and “authentic,” as opposed to what they consider more traditional forms of worship, but much of what they do is also following formulas established by human beings for how to conduct “worship” services and our relationships with Almighty God. They promise the “real deal,” but what they offer is a fake copy of the real thing. So much of what is falsely called “worship” of God is performance oriented, and is based in a lie, and is shallow and lacks any real substance of what God calls true worship of him.
So, why has the church run off with “another lover”? Why has she run off with a fake copy of the real deal? Largely, I believe, it is because the church of today has become so worldly, so she doesn’t like Christ’s commandments for the church, or the teachings of his apostles on holy living – death to sin and living to righteousness. She doesn’t want to be confronted with her sin. So, she has gone after what is fake, because what is fake promises to love and accept her just as she is, in all her sin, worldliness, hypocrisy, idolatry and spiritual adultery, without condemnation, correction, or instructions on how she ought to live holy lives, pleasing to God. Those who have run after this “other lover,” like the feel-good, non-judgmental, no-conviction messages they hear, which teaches them that they can be saved and still walk in darkness, and yet still have the hope of heaven when they die.
They teach them that God is pleased with them no matter what they do, and that when they are in the depths of sin, they should just claim who they are in Christ, some of which is based in truth and much of which is based in lies. They tell them that God can’t see their sin, and that when he looks at them all he sees is Jesus and his righteousness, and so he just smiles on them all the time. And, they tell them that God requires nothing of them whatsoever in the way of surrender, submission, obedience, humility, repentance (turning from sin) or holiness and godliness, because, they say, “Jesus does it all.”
Truly Jesus is the one who paid the price for our sins, and it is only by God’s grace and through faith in Jesus Christ that we are saved. We can do nothing in ourselves to earn or to deserve our own salvation. It is a gift from God, as is the faith to believe, and yet it is faith which we must appropriate to our lives through dying with Christ to sin and living with Christ in his righteousness. We must put off our old sinful lives, and put on our new lives in Christ Jesus, much as we would discard filthy clothing, take a bath (be cleansed of sin), and would then dress ourselves in clean garments, which are given to us to wear. Jesus did not die so we could escape hell, live how we want, and then go to heaven when we die. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might live for him who gave himself up for us, and no longer for ourselves; and that we might conduct our lives according to his Spirit living within us, and no longer according to our sinful flesh.
Those who are in the business of marketing this modern church and different “other” gospel, present an image different from the reality of what is truly going on. They try to convince us that what this offers is real love, in that it is not in your face about your sin, it works at making you feel good about you, even if you are steeped in sin, it tells you God does not require that you die to sin and live to righteousness, and it says that you can be saved and have the hope of heaven guaranteed and still live a sinful lifestyle. Since they say that God requires nothing of you other than to “believe,” which is based more in intellect, mouthed words or emotion, rather than in truth, then the adherents of this “other lover” gospel believe that all they have to do is mouth words which say “I love you,” but they can live however they want. Since they believe God is pleased with them no matter what they do, they believe they can worship God, and he is pleased with their worship of him.
And, so, if anyone does teach repentance, obedience, faithfulness, and fidelity in our relationship with God Almighty, then they are targeted as “extremists” who must be silenced or removed entirely. They are presented as unloving, unkind, judgmental, bigoted, hatemongers, crazy, and the radicalized, who must be gotten rid of and encouraged to leave the institution of church. And, yet these who present these false images of both the fake gospel and the true gospel, in that they have the whole thing backwards, i.e. crisscrossed, are the ones who truly are just mouthing the words “I love you.” True love does not give out false hope. It does not lie to us. It does not encourage us to remain in sin, but it delivers us out of slavery to sin. True love tells the truth. It doesn’t try to make us feel good about ourselves in our sin, but it confronts sin lovingly, desiring to see us set free.
Yet, these presenters of this fake gospel, fake church and false Christ, take it several steps further. Now they are trying to convince the church that the gospel, according to Jesus Christ and his apostles, though they don’t name it as such, is what divides us as the people of the earth, so it must be silenced. The old way of doing church, i.e. of worshiping God and sharing his gospel so people can be saved, must die, so that out of the ashes of the old order of the church – the old order which is God’s design for his church – should rise this new order (New World “Beast” Order), which bears some resemblance to the old order, but which is a fake copy of the original. This new order turns the church more into a social club or a civic organization for doing “good deeds,” and for bringing the people of the world and their religions under one umbrella, and they call this “love.”
The purpose of this “new way” is to find “common ground” we can all agree upon, and for us all to come together in “unity” under this new order. There would be no more divisions, i.e. there would be unity of religion, and acceptance and tolerance of all walks of life, with no one pointing out our sin or calling for repentance. And, to help facilitate this, has come within the church the false teaching of mysticism and myths as something which unites us together and gives purpose and meaning to our lives. And, they are busily trying to get us to buy into this new way of doing church and government, too, which they call cooperating with the “international community.”
If we buy into this, and we come under their authority, and we join in with them in this removing of the true gospel, in the name of “love,” and in uniting all religions together as one, in tolerance and acceptance of other beliefs, then we enter into a state of spiritual apathy, and we are of no use (worthless) to God, much like the church of Laodicea, whom the Lord was about to spit out of his mouth, for we have united ourselves with a prostitute, when we were promised to one husband, Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches us that we need to come out from the world and be separate and not to unite ourselves in close fellowship with those who do not believe in the true gospel of our salvation, for light has no fellowship with darkness.
Jesus is saying to his adulterous church today, “Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent.” The lampstands were the churches themselves, so to remove a lampstand would be to remove the church from its place (position, standing), which could be taken literally as terminating its claim to the kingdom, cutting off its union with Christ (See: Ro. 11:17-22; 1 Co. 15:2; I John 2:24-25).
Most certainly this is not a false threat, nor is it something to be taken lightly or casually. There are many scriptures which teach that we must continue with Christ to the end if we want to have the hope of eternal life. As well, in John 3:16 it says that whoever believes (present tense) in Jesus Christ is guaranteed eternal life. So, if a believer switches loyalties and consummates the relationship with the “other lover,” i.e. if he comes into spiritual union with this “other lover,” and denies and rejects his relationship with Jesus Christ, then he no longer believes, and thus eternal life is not guaranteed. Yet, to him who overcomes, eternal life will be granted him in the kingdom of heaven.
So, if you claim to know Jesus Christ, but you are having an adulterous relationship with this “other lover,” and you think it is “true love,” then you need to repent of (turn from) your sin, and turn to follow Jesus Christ in obedience and in surrender to his will for your life. You can’t claim the promise of eternal life with God if you are walking (conducting your life) according to the flesh and not according to the Spirit. Don’t play with fire. Return to your first love and do the things you did at first, or that you should have done at first.
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Thomas O. Chisholm / W. J. Kirkpatrick
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.