What does it take to get Christians to listen? Or, perhaps more to the point, what does it take to get them to obey the words of the Lord Jesus Christ?
The apostle John, in the book of Revelation, quoted Jesus several times saying: ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the Churches.’ [Rev 2:11].
Well then, what exactly was Jesus complaining about in Revelation when He tells the Churches to listen?
He was criticising the Churches for their lack of love for Him in their motivation to do good deeds. He was not only against those Churches where false doctrine was taught, but He hated the fact that some were even tolerating false teaching and false prophecy without opposing them! [Rev 2:14-16].
Not only that, He also opposed the deadness of the Church at Sardis, and the luke-warmness of the one at Laodicea.
Let us open our ears to hear what is happening in our Churches today. False teaching and lop-sided emphases are lulling Churches to sleep. Sin and repentance are often ignored and good works are emphasised at the expense of the gospel which should produce such good works.
Are You Being Fed Good Food?
Just in case you are not certain whether you are being fed good spiritual food from the Word of God by your pastor or leaders, consider these questions:
1. Do you have to listen to sermons which over-emphasise one doctrine or outlook, at the expense of Jesus’ messages to the Churches of Revelation, His final words to His Church? Those Churches Jesus told to work diligently, lovingly and discerningly for Him? Or those Churches which were not actively overcoming sin in their midst?
2. Is there a Church member who is not careful about their speech or behaviour, who brings disgrace to the name of Jesus? What are the elders doing about it?
3. Do you hear any sermons about holy living in this age of corruption, where the clear implications of Christian living are spelt out, not only for young people, but for all of us? When was the last time you heard anyone preach about sexual morality, divorce or abortion?
4. Or are you hearing so-called teaching about God’s desire for you to have a rewarding life, or community involvement [falsely called ‘outreach’] and feel-good stories and anecdotes, with only occasional reference to the Scriptures?
If any of the above is true of your Church, you need to DO something about it. ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying’ to the Churches of today.
What is the Good Food?
OK, so what do the Lord Jesus and the apostles say about good spiritual food?
In His message to the Laodicean Church of Revelation, Jesus tells them to ‘overcome’, and in so doing they will get to ‘sit with me on my throne’. The apostle John explains in 1 John 5:5 that an overcomer is one who ‘believes that Jesus is the Son of God.’
Now you might say, ‘I believe that – it’s easy’.
But it’s not so easy as you might think – the Bible explains that when Jesus said we must believe, it involved a continuing belief in His ability to save us from destruction, and that belief should last in us all through life. It’s not a ‘one-off’ decision.
Secondly, such a belief logically leads to a holy way of life in keeping with our salvation. As James and Paul both point out, any so-called faith without appropriate actions is not true faith in Christ at all.
So, good food involves the encouragement of all believers to put their faith into action. Good works based on bad doctrine are not acceptable to God because, for example, if we have a faulty understanding of who Jesus is and why He came to earth, it means our motives will be completely wrong.
Remember, God looks not on the outside but on the heart.
Toleration in the Church
Why did Jesus vehemently oppose those in Thyatira who tolerated a false teacher?
This raises the question of toleration in the Church today. Is toleration a Christian virtue? Didn’t Jesus say ‘Judge not…?’
I believe Jesus is, today, thoroughly disgusted with Churches, leaders and ignorant Christians who allow dodgy teaching, wrongly emphasised doctrines, and practices opposed to Biblical precepts (eg, women teaching men).
Such situations have been found in many types of Churches since Pentecost.
The fact is that the issue of false and even half-right teaching as defined above is clearly condemned many, many times in the New Testament, not only by Jesus, but by the apostles in just about all of their writings.
Today, by and large, the Church has gone soft on discernment so as to avoid disturbing the unity of God’s family. The result is confusion, mass apostasy and lukewarmness.
Jesus doesn’t tolerate it and why should we? If you don’t know what to do about it, please read the important principle expressed in Rev 18:4:
‘Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins.’
A Prayer of Repentance for the Church
Heavenly Father, we ask your forgiveness and seek your direction and guidance for our lives.
We know your Word says, ‘Woe to those who call evil good,’ but that’s exactly what we’ve done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted your values.
We confess that we have ignored the absolute truth of your Word and called the result ‘cultural influence’ or ‘new interpretation.’
We have worshipped other gods and called it modern living. We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle. We have killed our unborn and called it freedom of choice.
‘Search us O God and know our hearts today; try us and see if there be some wicked way in us’; cleanse us from every sin and set us free.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.