â€œHe who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churchesâ€- Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22
â€œâ€¦We make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to Godâ€¦â€- 2 Corinthians 5:9b-11a
What can we learn as a congregation of Christ at KCPC from the letters to the churches in the Book of Revelation? The churches addressed in the Book of Revelation are seven historical churches of Christ that symbolize the entire church age of Christâ€™s church. From the first to the second coming of Jesus Christ, these churches represent both strengths and weaknesses, virtues and vices, that characterize Jesusâ€™ church until we reach our goal of glory and perfection (Phil. 3:12-16). We can be confident that Jesus who began a good work in us will perfect and complete it by His grace! (Phil. 1:6).
For the next couple of weeks, I will be writing short messages on the seven churches for our Word of Encouragement so that we might better assess where we are spiritually as a congregation, show us areas that need to be realigned with Godâ€™s Word, and how we might more effectively and sincerely make it our aim to please the Lord Jesus Christ!
What are our strengths and weaknesses as a congregation? How can we ask God to better search and know us corporately? How are we doing at KCPC as a visible manifestation of Christâ€™s Kingdom on earth?
Jesus is Lord of His Church. He knows us by name at KCPC. He knows our strengths and weaknesses, our virtues and vices, and the seven letters to the churches in Revelation teach us three important truths that I want to consider with you for the next few weeks: Assessment, Alignment, and Aim. Jesus makes assessment of His churches; Jesus teaches us through His Word by His Spirit so that we would be aligned with His revealed truth; and Jesus has died for us and loved us so that we will make it our aim to please Him.
(1) Assessment– Jesus makes an assessment of His churches. The Risen-Ascended Jesus assesses His churches during the present age; Jesus is already making a determination on how we are doing at KCPC. We see this truth revealed in how Jesus begins each letter to the seven churches.Â Jesus begins his letters with: â€œI know your worksâ€¦â€ (2:2, 19; 3:1b, 8, 15); â€œI know your tribulation and povertyâ€¦â€ (2:9); â€œI know where you are..â€ (2:13) which clearly tells us that Christ knows all about us, both good and bad, both strengths and weaknesses.
We can find out more specifically how Jesus assesses us at KCPC by studying these letters to the seven churches. What does Jesus think about our works? The Book of Revelation tells us that our works â€œwill follow believersâ€ (Rev. 14:13) and that we will be assessed by our works, so this is important. These works for Jesus are not in order to merit salvation, but they are the good works we do eagerly in light of the salvation we have already received. We are saved by grace and created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared beforehand for us to walk in (Ephesians 2:10).
We should be reminded that we will all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ to receive from Jesus Christ what is due for what we have done in the body, whether good or evil (2 Corinthians 5:10). As the Apostle Paul says â€œwhat we are is known to Godâ€¦â€ (2 Cor. 5:11). As believers, we should fear God because of His love for us. We ought to make it our chief aim to please Him so that we can be confident on this day to come.
â€œBy this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.â€ – ESV 1 John 4:17
But sometimes we are a bit frightened by the thought of appearing before Christ. It is true that there will be rewards and losses depending on how faithful we were to the gospel and to the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:10ff). But we donâ€™t have to be frightened by this day, although we should always fear God. We donâ€™t have to be frightened of judgment because Jesus has taken our judgment and condemnation upon Himself (Romans 8:1; 1 John 1:9-2:2). We will not be condemned as believers; although we will be assessed; particularly our works for Jesus will be assessed. Many folks are frightened in an unhealthy manner by the Judgment Seat of Christ because they are putting off for another future day what they know they need to repent of today.
But how can we be better prepared and ready for the return of Jesus Christ? How as a congregation of Christ can we be hopeful about the Judgment Seat of Christ? Let us live our lives daily before the face of Christ, seeking to please Him by His grace, so that the future judgment day to come might be a blessed reality in our present. If we seek the Lord Jesus Christ now and seek to better know Him, then we will have much more confidence in the day to come. We will have already been assessed many times because we sought this assessment on a daily basis!
The reason and goal for our existence is Godâ€™s glory in our getting to better know and enjoy Jesus! What or who could keep you from such a glorious Savior? What or who could keep you from honesty before Him daily and letting Him search your heart and to teach you? You are His disciple-follower, and so must learn from Him.
What is our assessment right now before the face of Jesus Christ? We should seek to regularly ask this question.
(2) Alignment– Jesus teaches us through His Word by His Spirit so that we would be aligned with His revealed truth. â€œHe who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churchesâ€ is repeated with each letter to each congregation. Jesus speaks to KCPC so that we might listen. Listening is not only hearing, but doing what we hear.Â It is important to ask God for ears and perhaps more importantly, for ears to hear what the Spirit is saying through the Word of God (Revelation 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22). To listen to the Spirit is to learn so that we can grow in our knowledge of Jesus and His Gospel. We want to hear so that we can align ourselves with Godâ€™s direction in Scripture, and let our lives line up with the grace and mercy that He has revealed to us.
When we get out of line with the truths of the Gospel we want to be realigned. The Bible teaches that we can get out of step with the truth of the gospel, shift from the hope of the gospel, and drift from the message of the Gospel we have heard (see Gal. 2:14; Col. 1:23; Heb. 2:1).
As we study the seven congregations of the Book of Revelation and what Jesus says to them, let us ask: How does Jesus commend them? What are their strengths? How does Jesus rebuke them? What are their weaknesses? At KCPC, how might we learn from these examinations of the Sovereign Lord Jesus? In light of what we study, let us align ourselves up with Jesusâ€™ truth. Let us hear what the Spirit says to the churches! Sometimes God grants us good examples to follow that teach us how we ought to be living; sometimes Jesus grants us poor, unbelieving examples so that we will learn what we do not want to be. We have both in the letters to the seven churches of Revelation.
At KCPC, we are a congregation of sinners saved by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. The Book of Hebrews says that Christ still speaks to His congregations by His Word and Spirit, and we must ask God for ears to hear what the Spirit says the churches. Jesus still walks among the seven golden lampstands which are his congregations, and we must not refuse Him who is speaking (Revelation 2:1; Hebrews 12:25).Â As a congregation, we should continue to repent both individually and corporately so that as a congregation our joy might be full, we might know the peace of God that transcends all of understanding to guard our hearts and minds (Phil. 4:7), that we might grow up and mature into Christ (Eph. 4:11ff), and that we might be of one mind, unified in our mission to make the Gospel known to a perverse and crooked generation (Eph. 4:1ff).
Are we out of alignment? We should constantly be asking this question.
(3) Aim– Jesus has died for us and loved us so by Godâ€™s grace we seek to be faithful to Christ and His Gospel and â€œmake it our aim to please himâ€ (2 Cor. 5:9). Godâ€™s people have been saved for service. Christ saved us from death, hell and slavery to the devil so that we might be His loving servants. His grace to us ought to cause us to no longer live for self, but for Christ alone. This **aim** is summarized in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15:
â€œFor the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.â€ Is this our overarching aim? Is this aim to live to love and serve Jesus our most important goal. We should ask this question daily.
As a congregation, let us remember that Christ will return like a thief in the night. Let our walk before God as a congregation be characterized as watchful, prayerful, and careful. Let us not grow wearing in doing good, for we know that we will reap if we do not give up (Gal. 6:9).
Let us prayerfully we can seek the Throne of Grace daily and find mercy and grace to help us in our time of need (Heb. 4:14-16). We can pray and seek Christ and get to know Him better as our Risen Lord and King!Â By Godâ€™s grace we can ask God to search and to know us, to try us and know our thoughts (Psalm 139:23-24). In seeking God in this way, we can be self-aware, and self-examining, so that we will not deceive ourselves, and ask the Omniscient and Omnipresent God to take a close look at our hearts as we live for Him.Â There is great peace in knowing that God loves and knows us, but this can also be quite disconcerting. But when we fail to please Him he is gracious and merciful to forgive us! (1 John 1:9ff).
Let us not live for self. Because Jesus died for us, let us live for others. In fact, let us pray to count others more significant than yourselves. Let us look not only to our own interests, but also the interests of others (Phil. 2:3-4). Let our aim be to please Him- -we will be joyful and satisfied in our work for Him!
What is our aim? What is the overarching aim of our mission at KCPC? Are we living to please God in light of the glorious work of Christ on our behalf? Are we living with an eye to the Judgment Seat of Christ? This should be our regular concern.
May these short devotional studies of assessment from Jesus using the letters to the seven churches of the Revelation cause us to better align ourselves with His truth, and encourage us all to make it our aim to please Jesus who died for us while we were yet sinners (Rom. 5:6-8).
May we live daily as a congregation before the face of Christ and so before the Judgment Seat of Christ. When we all arrive at our destination and we stand as the congregation KCPC before Christâ€™s Judgment, may these short devotions have better prepared us, so that we can stand confident and encouraged in the Lord Jesusâ€™ presence.
â€œHe who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churchesâ€- Jesus Christ
In Jesusâ€™ love,