PODCAST – An informal home Bible Study on the Church at Sardis – PART ONE. (Revelation 3:1-6)
Seven Spirits of God
October 21, 2018
First Half – 34 Minutes
Second Half – 28 Minutes
“How art thou fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!
how art thou cut down to the ground,
which didst weaken* the nations!”
Nations always fall from within before falling from without. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is never about politics; its message is one of righteousness, integrity, honesty and above all love. These qualities are to be the foundation of a nation and are the unshakable virtues of a strong unified country. When the Church of Jesus Christ ceases to be the light of a nation its fall is inevitable. God’s people are not called to be political and the Church is not to involve herself in the carnal warfare of worldly politics. She is to be the inspiration to lead the nations to the Light of Christ. It is in Him alone that people find saving grace and the virtues which make a nation strong and true. Righteousness cannot be legislated; that is the error of religion and politics. The only way for people to be free and live with respect and love for one another is for His law to be written on their hearts; not by a law given from without.
We are exhorted to pray for those who are governing, not to criticize or condemn. Those who are Christ’s are not of this world. Paul and the other Apostles of that day, in exhorting the people of God to pray for those in authority, was speaking of Nero the Roman Emperor. The reason we see the decline in morality and an increasing anger, hatred and vehement attitudes is because the Light of God has grown dim within the lives of His people. The same selfishness, the same carnal agendas, the same politics which are in the world are found within His Church .(**see below)
In the void created by the absence of Light God allows Satan the destroyer of nations to arise. With all the vices and malice of his own being he is allowed to infiltrate a nation bringing lawlessness and darkness in the stead of light and love. Wherever the Gospel is dimmed, darkness will rule in the hearts of the people. God never ceases to be God but He hides Himself and allows men to destroy themselves. The condemnation upon the world is not because men are evil in their natural state; it is because they choose darkness over light, they love wickedness rather than goodness. They become more evil by the choices they make. The people of God in Jesus’ Day chose Barabbas over Jesus! So it is even today.
“And this is the condemnation,
that light is come into the world,
and men loved darkness rather than light,
because their deeds were evil.”
The judgement of God is upon our land. It has already begun and the ramification will be one of great suffering for His people. The insidious weaving of Satan himself into the very fabric of the religious world is a precursor to the weakening and fall of a nation. His stratagem has not changed over the course of history. One simply needs to read in the Book of Romans as Paul sets forth with great clarity the process of God’s judgment; it was already at work in the Roman empire of his day and is now at work in ours (Romans 1:18 – 2:29). Read this with fresh and anointed eyes to see the parallel in our day. Paul begins by speaking of the people who willingly reject God. God in great wisdom gives them over to the inevitable growth of wickedness in their hearts culminating in sexual perversion and reprobate minds. He then turns his attention to the Church at Rome who stand in judgment of others while they themselves are guilty of the same thing .
“Then the one teaching another, do you not teach yourself?
The one preaching not to steal, do you steal?
The one saying not to commit adultery, do you commit adultery?
…For the name of God is blasphemed
among the Gentiles through you…”
Romans 2:21-22, 24
We may speak against the evil without while we ourselves are guilty of the same things within. **We need look no further than the rampant evil of pornography and the infiltration of it into the very soul of many believers. We need look no further than the horror of the political culture of the organized church which sets one church in competition with another. We need to look no further than the gossip, evil speaking and the lack of willingness to invest ourselves in the development of Christ in the lives of those around us. We need to look no further than the rampant rise in divorce and unfaithfulness within the Body of Christ to know how far we have fallen. We need look no further than the indifference within His own concerning the condition of God’s house. It is in the face of all this we hear little from His watchmen, pastors and prophets. We clearly see the condition of the backslidden lives of God’s people addressed by the prophet Isaiah in former days (there is nothing new under the sun):
“His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant,
they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark;
sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.
Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough,
and they are shepherds that cannot understand:
they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter.”
The shepherds in these days, to a large extent, are hired to fill the pews, to grow the “church” in numbers while neglecting the spiritual condition of the people. They who should be watchman in God’s house have become “blind”. They are as dogs who do not bark (to warn His people) at the coming judgment which is about to fall! We have become more interested in numbers rather than God’s Glory. Compromise with the world is the very darkness of the church. Words without fire and faith without works are the hallmarks of a compromised people. We cannot be of this world and be the light of God to it at the same time. It is the greatest contradiction of all.
“If my people, which are called by my name,
shall humble themselves,
and pray, and seek my face,
and turn from their wicked ways;
then will I hear from heaven,
and will forgive their sin,
and will heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 7:14
We hear this verse quoted much in our day with the emphasis on prayer. It is rarely mentioned in the context of seeking His face and even more rarely in “turning from our wicked ways”. It is as we seek God’s face in truth that we will see the wickedness of our own ways. Our collusion with the world, our infatuation with things other than God, our treatment of our brothers and sisters, are all part of the “wicked ways” from which we need to turn. God’s word to us is always IF. When the IF is fulfilled, God is sure to be our THEN.
First and foremost, it is HIS people who need to turn, who need to repent and who need to humble ourselves. The Light of God must, by His design, shine into the lives of His own before it will shine into the world around us.
“Ye are the light of the world.
A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid”
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples,
if ye have love one to another.”
Discipleship is not a teaching
it is a life.
* NOTE: “weaken” Hebrew Word meaning to prostrate, by implication to overthrow, decay…
Strongs Hebrew Dictionary
“Now make us a king (a leader) to judge us
like all the nations”
1 Samuel 8:4
Samuel, the holy man of God, was very displeased with this request. He knew instinctively how power corrupts the weak and wayward hearts of men. In praying and seeking God over this grave matter God spoke with clarity:
“Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you;
for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me,
that I should not reign over them”
1 Samuel 8:7
The desire for human authority within the Body of Christ is a rejection of God’s authority. His purpose and design is for each member to be led by His Spirit; to come to the place of hearing and knowing God within the sanctuary of their own hearts. The whole purpose of ministry is to bring His people to this one place. This vital task has been committed to His five-fold ministry for the purpose of ushering in the “unity of the faith” (Ephesians 4:11-13)! When the ministry becomes the end of the thing, instead of the means to God’s end, confusion, strife and competition replace the beauty of the unity of His Spirit. Men invariably hold on to the functions of His ministrations rather than the purpose of the ministrations.
“…for you are still carnal.
For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you,
are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?
For when one says, “I am of Paul,”
and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?”
1 Corinthians 3:3-4
The operation and organization of the general “church” today resembles the carnal business model of the corporate structures of this world. Financially and administratively there is very little distinction. Is this not enough to testify of our condition and the reason for the conflicts and agendas which have corrupted and separated the true Body of Christ? We must reconsider our ways! Is not our innate desire to have someone over us to take away the responsibility of hearing God for ourselves? Is this not a rejection of His Lordship over us?
“And ye said, Behold, the LORD our God hath showed us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth. Now therefore why should we die? for this great fire will consume us: if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, then we shall die. For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived? Go thou near and hear all that the Lord our God shall say: and speak thou unto us all that the Lord our God shall speak unto thee; and we will hear it and do it.”
Deuteronomy 5:24 – 27
The reason for this sad dilemma is that His people generally do not really want to hear His voice for themselves; that would bring accountability and responsibility. We prefer to hear His word from the pulpit, a minister or a book for the impact is decreased. We can reject words from another person but who can run from the voice of the Almighty? In functioning like the world we drown out the voice of God in our lives. The invitation of God is always to the person; the individual. His work of salvation is to bring us to the hearing of His voice and the doing of His will. The purpose of all true and valid ministrations in the Body of Christ is to that one end. A personal knowing of Him, hearing of Him and a walking with Him.
The Body of Christ is unlike anything in or of this world. It is not an organization it is an organism which lives and breathes by the very Life of Christ within. It cannot be contained within the confines of a corporate entity; it seeks no affiliation with this present world, for it is a heavenly truth.
“But ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect…”
David speaking prophetically of the true Jerusalem, the heavenly Zion (Psalm 48 and 87); a united people fused in the holiness and the purity of His Love. A Body which is bone of His bone and the very expression of His heart and His will; freed from the agendas of men to serve the living God. It is to this end we have been redeemed, forgiven and washed in His blood. While the unbelieving say this is a dream and an unrealistic goal, let us be reminded that Jesus prayed to this end and it is unconscionable to allow the damnable unbelief of the age to even consider the prayer of Jesus to go unanswered.
“Glorious things are spoken of thee,
O city of God.
“Be ye not conformed to this world,
But be ye transformed…”
“And it shall come to pass at that time
That I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and punish the men
who are settled* in complacency, who say in their heart,
‘The Lord will not do good, Nor will He do evil.”
In this time of silence preceding the conclusion of all that God began in Christ, there is a searching and a measuring of men’s hearts where eternal destinies are being determined. It is a subtle hour and a most critical time as the lamps of some begin to grow dim as the Bridegroom tarries. The Hebrew word used here for settled* (see below) means to become thick, slow and curdled. It speaks of people who start out well but who, as time passes, become set in their ways and are no longer flexible. They are no longer able to flow in the purposes of their God. Their waiting has turned into stagnation; the brightness of their hope has become dim. The vision has turned from a quest and a pursuit into a doctrinal concept that no longer energizes their hearts and minds. This is a slow and certain death; it is the enemy of us all! Slowly the obscurity falls like a veil over the heart and the whispers of the enemy speak with great cunning and craftiness, “what difference does it make, nothing seems to make a difference, I will just “settle” here and live comfortably…” In other words, “The Lord will not do good, nor evil” I will just pass the time here as other men. If calamity comes I will “then” be ok..
It is in this time throughout the history of God’s dealings with men that there is a marking and a sealing; a determining and a measuring of the hearts of His people. In the silence there are great things at work as God prepares for the unveiling of all that He has purposed. May we consider a couple of examples….
“And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city,
through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads
of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be
done in the midst thereof. And to the others he said in mine hearing,
Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare,
neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids,
and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon
whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary…”
EZEKIEL 9:4 – 6
“And I saw another angel ascending from the east,
having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice
to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,
Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees,
till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads”
REVELATION 7:2 – 3
It is a Day for seeking out those who “cry and sigh” over the state of His House; to dig deep and hide ourselves within the secret place of the Most High. It is a Day to speak, encourage and admonish the people of God to fight off the slumber of this hour, to pray and build up our lives on “our most Holy Faith”. It is a Day to seek out that fellowship that will challenge and provoke us unto the ardent pursuit of Christ Jesus our Lord. It is a Day to know in the reality of our hearts the setting aside of all that this world can offer to purchase that Pearl of great price. This is a costly thing, more than just a casual walk, more than just a religious concept; it is the Battle for Life…HIS LIFE.
“TO HIM THAT OVERCOMES…”
Can we not hear the Word to us, “TODAY”? May the Lord press upon our hearts that we are brothers and sisters of one great family, and BECAUSE of that we speak, we cry out and we plead with one another that we may assemble ourselves together in fear of the Lord and in the awareness of the hour in which we live!
*Note: קָפָא qāpāʼ: A verb meaning to curdle, to congeal; to become settled, stagnant. It refers to something standing still or slowing down its movement, becoming thick (Ex. 15:8). It is used figuratively of a person in great suffering being curdled, tossed about like hardening cream (Job 10:10). It depicts a dead or stagnant spirit in a person (Zeph. 1:12). It means, used with reference to the heavenly bodies, to shrink, to lose brightness (Zech. 14:6). (S. Zodhiates)
“For they are an uncontrolled people, false-hearted,
who will not give ear to the teaching of the Lord:
Who say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets,
Do not give us word of what is true,
but say false things to give us pleasure”
Isaiah 30:10 (BBE)
Most people would not blatantly say such things but God sees the heart. Many religious people do not want to hear truth. They do not want to concern themselves with the condition of their hearts, God’s house, nor the gravity of the day in which we are living. There is only the desire for positive words and good things to bolster our carnal ways. We have not come to this state of apathy by embracing His truth and walking in His Spirit. We are here because of our choices. We have a “church” where the people elect who would minister to them rather than whom God may send. We have our own agendas for how we want “our” church to look. It is not about God; it is about an atmosphere where we can feel comfortable, accepted and in control.
Truth has become something that fortifies our “doctrine”, our way of doing things and conducting our church/fellowship business. The ministration of the Word is no longer a fearful thing. It is not something which holds up the light, wonder and holiness of God; it has become tepid and impotent. Rather than bringing conviction it soothes our failures to live righteously. It makes light of sin and our carnal and worldly ways. Pastors and preachers who want to hold on to their “jobs” need to stay within the comfort zone or their replacement will easily be found. Those who love truth will speak it. These ones do not seek the approval of men for there is a knowledge deep within their hearts of a holy accountability unto Him who will judge all things. This is nothing new as noted by Francis Bacon in his day.
“In periods of unsettled faith, skepticism, and mere curious speculation in matters of religion, teachers of all kinds swarm like the flies in Egypt. The demand creates the supply. The hearers invite and shape their own preachers. If the people desire a calf to worship, a ministerial calf-maker is readily found. “The master of superstition is the people, and in all superstition wise men follow fools” (Bacon, Ess. 17).
There is always a “priesthood” quick to provide whatever the people want:
“…the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron,
and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us…”
Aaron quickly responded:
“…and fashioned it with a graving tool,
after he had made it a molten calf:
and they said, “These be thy gods, O Israel,
which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt”.
And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it;
and Aaron made proclamation, and said,
Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord”
Notice how quickly they took the “new” and made it appear as if it was unto the Lord! Religion has not changed. There is nothing new under the sun. Surely this is a generation who loves to hear smooth and nice words. Whenever and wherever God’s people choose their own ministers the results will be the same.
It is during these times that God raises up true men and women who seek to live truth, speak truth and to confront the horror of such things. In God’s House the ministrations of His Spirit are not chosen by the people they are called…
“Paul, an apostle, not of men, neither by man,
but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father…”