Select Page
Read Introduction to Revelation

 

“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… “

 

Jesus is in the business of appraising His church and always commends His church first if He can. He commends first and censures second. He always ends with a challenge to repent.

I know your works, your labor, your patience,

It is interesting to note what Jesus thinks is important. What we deem important may not be the same as what He thinks is consequential. Jesus commends the Ephesian church for hard work. Today, many people do not value a healthy work ethic but denounce it as unworthy of a “balanced” Christian. However, the Bible never advocates a “balanced” life in the sense of being lazy or compromising our devotion to God. It declares the importance of a “sober” life, a dedicated life, and a life yielded to God. Relying on His grace and strength, we serve Him wholeheartedly.

Jesus takes note of the Ephesian church’s “works” and “labor.” The Greek word for “labor” is work to the point of exhaustion. Although there is a time for rest, there is also a time for hard work. Forty years after its foundation, the Ephesian church was a hard-working one. These Christians were not couch potatoes. Their faith was genuine.

Jesus expects more than work and labor. He expects us to develop a certain attitude toward hard work and to be tenacious of soul.

“You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:3-4).

Jesus commends Ephesian Christians for the tenacity of their character. He notes how much we work for Him. “Patience” is the ability to hang in there in the face of trouble by exercising faith in God. Patience is the fortitude of faith, the ability to endure things we would not bear without faith.

and that you cannot bear those who are evil.

The Ephesian church would not put up with false doctrine. The “evil” here is doctrinal corruption.

And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars

The Ephesians knew enough of the Word of God to put false teachers to the test. They had enough sense to know what was true and what was not authentic in the Word.

Some people today claim apostolic succession, but it is not a biblical doctrine. Apostleship in John’s day was valid. Some people saw the apostle’s power, so these fakers tried to pass themselves off as apostles. Jesus commends the Ephesian church for its ability to identify these phony apostles. The assembly unmasked them as liars. This was a church free from doctrinal corruption. The first four churches in this list of seven dealt with false teachers (Re 2:2,6,9,14-15,20).

Jesus values doctrinal orthodoxy. These Christians could define and defend their faith. They knew enough of the Word not to be drawn into theological fads.

On his last visit to Ephesus, about forty years before the writing of Revelation, Paul addressed the problem of false teachers. He called the elders throughout Ephesus to a meeting in Miletus. In the apostle’s farewell message, he challenged them with some important issues.

“For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves (false teachers) will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves (people from the church) men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears” (Acts 20:29-31).

Paul knew that they were going to confront false teaching. They would not let just anyone speak in their pulpits, for they held doctrinal standards with integrity.

Principle:

We should value doctrinal orthodoxy just as Jesus valued it.

Application:

Jesus knows everything every believer is doing in detail. The church cannot get away with anything. Jesus inspects the state of the church at all times. He removes churches from existence and brings them into existence. Sometimes, He removes the “messenger,” and sometimes, He removes the entire “lampstand” (the church itself).

The church in the 21st century is doctrinally gullible. This is because we are becoming increasingly experiential as the basis for evaluating things. Many do not use the Bible; they use their experience to determine whether something is true. This is exceedingly dangerous.

The pastorals (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus) challenge pastors to “teach” their congregations. Sometimes, the word “teach” means “doctrine.” These are the keywords of all three of these books written to pastors. Yet, this is precisely where the church leaves true Christianity today.

Jesus is constantly removing churches today that do not teach the truth.

Share