What is the Meaning of Revelation 2.1-7 Part 1

“Christ’s Message to Ephesus Part 1: Love or Else”

Revelation 2:1-7

INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Revelation 2.1-7 Part 1

Rev. 2. My wife Ruth is a great cook! I love her pulled pork sandwich or her homemade ice cream. Rarely, but sometimes, after a meal, there is opportunity for me to help with the clean up. Most time, I will do another job around the house. That’s because our kids are excellent at helping out after a meal. Each of them has their own job, and it changes from time to time. Right now … Haddie is doing the dishes, Hudson is clearing some of the table and wipes the countertops. Rosie is drying the dishes and puts them away. And Pazli is in charge of sweeping. And Paxton is putting stuff back in the fridge or wherever he can find a spot.

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Now, I view all of this as a help to their mother. Whether it is me or the kids helping their mother, it would be easy to do our jobs without thinking about either our love for the Lord or our love for mom.

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Now, I view that as a picture, a kind of a snapshot of the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2. They were doing a lot of good things but not out of love for Jesus. They had perseverance and a love for the truth, but they had left the love for Christ that they had when the church first began.

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True Mark of the Church

And the consequence of that was that Jesus could come and remove their lampstand; they would be disfellowshipped and would no longer be a church. And so a mark of a true church in the eyes of Christ is that they have love for the Lord, which naturally results in a love for others. Without this, Christ has every right to remove their candlestick.

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We’ll get into that, but not today.

Today, we’ll discuss the commendation to the church of Ephesus, Jesus praise for this church.

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POINT: Every effective ministry is going to be like the Ephesian church in their labor, perseverance, and their commitment to truth.

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First, let’s read it…

READ Rev. 2:1-7

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Revelation 2:1–7 1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; 2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. 4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. 6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

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POINT: Every effective ministry is going to be like the Ephesian church in their labor, perseverance, and their commitment to truth.

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Description of Christ

Now let’s remember who it is who is giving this letter…

It is the one whom John saw in ch.1 in the middle of the lampstands, who was clothed in a robe down to his feet and draped across his chest was a golden sash…the one giving this letter is he who has head and hair white as snow and his eyes like a flame of fire, feet burnished bronze, and His voice as the sound of many waters…who has the seven stars in his hand and out of his mouth comes a sharp two edged sword, with a face like the sun shining in its strength.

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And verse 1, it is He who writes to the angel, that is the primary messenger at Ephesus, the pastor…

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Revelation 2:1 1 … These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;

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The 7 stars 1:20 says are those 7 messengers, the 7 pastors…He holds those ministers in His right hand…and those 7 golden candlesticks 1:20 also says are the 7 churches.

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Christ holds the pastor in His right hand and He is walking among the churches.

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To be in His right hand is both a great honor and one that can and should cause fear. It’s an honor because He directs His pastors …. Of course, any good that is done through a pastor is done by the hand of Christ. But it is a fearful thing also, not only for the pastor but also for those to whom he ministers. The great responsibility is not one he can handle on his own, but needs his congregation’s support and godly influence.

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Revelation 2:1 1 … These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;

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Jesus Christ is walking among the candlesticks, the churches. He is here.

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“He has been here today, and no doubt he will come again.”

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This is the one who gives a letter to the church at Ephesus…and He it is with whom we have to do as well. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

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Historical Background to the Ephesian Church

Now, a little about the church at Ephesus … the church at Ephesus was a very influential church. Paul ministered there in Acts chapter 18 at the end of his second missionary journey. Apollos ministered there as well and he also came under the influence of Aquila and Priscilla. Paul arrived again during his third missionary journey and was speaking out boldly about the Kingdom of God in the synagogue. Timothy and the apostle John have also pastored there during this time.

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When the church began, Paul spent three years there.

And God did extraordinary miracles through Paul at the beginning…

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Acts 19:12 12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.

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And as well those who practiced magic brought their books and burned them amounting to 50,000 pieces of silver, or 50,000 days wages.

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Acts 19:20 20 So the word of God mightily grew and prevailed.

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So you can tell that the church at Ephesus was born under wonderful spiritual prosperity and had great favor from God. And as well it was born under great difficulty. The worship of Diana or Artemis was there and that temple was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Much of the economy of Ephesus was based on the worship of Diana.

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So the church began to thrive in the midst of great opposition.

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Paul had stayed three years in Ephesus… and in Acts 20 he called the elders of Ephesus to himself and told them that eventually there would be a downfall.

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Even though the Ephesian church at one time had great spiritual prosperity even in the midst of great difficulty, eventually there would be a downfall…Paul tells the elders in Ephesus this…

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Acts 20:29–30 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

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Paul predicted a major turning away in Ephesus.

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Nevertheless, Paul writes a letter to the Ephesians and in that letter there is encouragement and praise for what the Lord was doing in that church.

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So, the church was founded around 52 AD and this letter in Revelation was written in the 90s after they’d left their first love…from the heights of spiritual prosperity to the very real possibility of losing its existence inside 50 years.

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Why? They left their first love…

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Nevertheless, the Lord still commends them and it’s that that we’ll focus on this morning. It’s vv.2-3,6. … The Lord commends their Work, Perseverance, and Truth… and any effective ministry will have those three: work, perseverance, and truth.

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  1. Hard Working Toil

First, notice that in a church, the Lord commends hard working toil.

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Revelation 2:2 2 I know thy works, and thy labour…

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EXP: The word “labor” emphasizes the exhaustion associated with the hard work. Christians are to work hard at ministry for the Lord, even to the point of exhaustion.

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  • That kind of “labor” was true of Thessalonian church…

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1 Thessalonians 1:3 3 [Paul says “I remember you in my prayers] without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, …

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It takes labor, sometimes exhausting toil in order to love people…which makes you wonder if the Ephesian church lost that kind of labor.

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TRANS: But Paul also endured in his witnessing and evangelism…

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  • What goes into enduring for the salvation of others…

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1 Thessalonians 3:5 5 For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.” What labor? Paul’s labor to see them saved and come to Christ!

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Paul was concerned that his hard work in prayer and evangelism for the sake of others would be empty. It takes hard work to serve.

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But Paul doesn’t leave it with himself…he exhorts all of us to labor like this…

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  • Exhorted to…

1 Corinthians 15:58 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

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We’re to labor for Christ and God doesn’t forget our labors for him … Hebrews 6:10 10 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

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But…

  • One day we’ll rest from those labors…

Revelation 14:13 13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

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But we’re not to rest in our labors for Christ until we get to heaven!

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This was the Ephesian church, they were working themselves to exhaustion and it was commended, it was good. Sometimes when we read this passage we immediately skip to the fact that they left their first love, but they are indeed working hard for the Lord.

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All churches should be like this. An effective ministry will have people in it who are laboring until they feel “beat.”

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ILL: It’s like if you come home after work or after a big day and you say, “I’m beat.” That should be true of Christian ministry.

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[1]We all need to be like this, to some extent…I saw a little picture, and a man comes home from a long day at work and as he lounges in his lazy boy chair, he says, “Boy, I’m dog-tired!” And the dog, in the lazy boy across from him, says, “Join the club!”

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We should all be like this! Let’s join the club!

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APP: Now, what about our church? Are you laboring for the Lord until exhaustion? You say, “I’m exhausted already…coming to church is enough to exhaust me!” Ok, that’s a different story, isn’t it!?

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But yet it’s true, that any effective ministry will have people in it who labor sometimes to exhaustion.

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I understand that many of us have physical incapabilities … but what about those of us who are young, who still have the vigor of youth?

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Btw, we’re going to have a neighborhood cookout June 12, will you help? We’re going to invite our neighbors. Be there, and get to know some of our neighbors.

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We’ll need help giving out door hangers to the neighborhood, with getting the hot dogs, grills, condiments, let me know if you can help. Then at the cookout, we’ll invite any kids to a Bible club on Saturdays that my family will head up. I’d love it if you can help with that, also. That little Bible club will last until school starts on Saturdays. LET ME KNOW soon if you can help!

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We have a Wednesday night service; after a long day, it can be difficult.

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And each month we’ll have a little something special in our church calendar, whether a lady’s event or a time of extra fellowship, things like that.

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We’ll make it simple, but we need to make progress… progress in our labor… to do so requires that we be like the Ephesians church and work hard. It is going to take working hard to be an effective church.

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It takes working together and working individually in our prayers and witnessing and laboring for the Lord.

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And if you have ideas, let’s here it. We need to labor for the Lord. How can we best do that?

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TRANS: So the Ephesian church was to be commended first, for their hard working toil. Second, they were to be commended for their perseverance.

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  1. Perseverance (vv.2-3)

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Revelation 2:2–3 2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience3 And hast borne [endured], and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

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EXP: KJV word patience is “perseverance.” That is, they don’t give up.

The toil and work hard until exhaustion and they don’t give up, they keep going!

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They don’t bail when there are troubles, when relationship are difficult. They recognized that life is a training ground, even when others would grow cold and quit.

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ILL: Speaking of cold, Ruth and I bought our first flip phone when we lived in SC. So it’s at least 13 years old. And we brought it up to northern Canada and forgot about it. We kept it in console in our car. We didn’t have a heated garage, or a garage at all and during the winter it would get to -40F regularly, -30 often,

-20 all the time.

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One day, I open the console and there it is! I think wow, so I open it up and…. It still has charge! After all that harsh treatment, after all those cold and lonely nights it kept going, didn’t quit, still ready to serve!

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Christ is building his church with people like this, who persevere. Our feelings might get hurt, our bodies might become sore from ministry, but it doesn’t matter, we keep on going.

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APP: Get involved, labor for Christ and persevere. Any ministry, if it is going to survive, must have people who keep going, who don’t quit.

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One thing about you folks is that many of you have had every opportunity to quit, to throw in the towel, but you haven’t! Many troubles, but you’ve kept going. Through thick and thin, heartache and turmoil, you’ve stuck with it. Now, let’s persevere on a whole nother level!

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Some need to pray and not quit. Have you served in the past but you’re not now? Let’s get back at it! You say, “I don’t know how to serve.” “Let’s talk!”

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“I’m soooooo tired already….” What? Are you saying the Lord is done with you? That you’re all washed up? No! As they say, “It’s not over until the ….certain gendered person of a particular size starts that melodious activity of vocal enunciations … ok, catch my drift?”

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It’s not over folks, right?

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Let’s wrestle, toil, fight and pray

And labor until the new day!

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Keep witnessing, counseling, giving help, seeking Christ, providing for needs and doing so until we’re tired from ministry and let’s give every evidence that we’re persevering.

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Must I be carried to the skies

On flowery beds of ease,

While others fought to win the prize

And sailed through bloody seas?

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TRANS: Let’s toil for Christ and keep on going, persevering. Finally, let us also be intolerant of sin and false teachers.

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  1. Intolerant of Sin and False Teachers (vv.2, 6)

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Revelation 2:2 2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, [here it is…] and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

Revelation 2:6 6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

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EXP: they could not bear evil men. They were intolerant of sin and of those who desired to sin. They were unwilling to put up with evil or those who were willing to put up with it.

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Tolerant is kind of a watchword today…, oh, we are so tolerant and people can signal their own righteousness by claiming to be accepting of so many different viewpoints and lifestyles. But this is not the way of God! God is intolerant of certain sins and even people … we cannot tolerate what God hates.

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So how would this come out in a church setting? Folks in the church would be helping each other to follow Christ. They would be in each others’s lives in order to understand what difficulty they are going through what sin they may be falling into and seeking to help them and encourage them. We need to be doing that; it’s not enough just to attend church. How are you serving Christ during the week?

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Being intolerant of evil would also come out in church discipline situations. When certain so called Christians are unwilling to repent of evil and after much help and encouragement, there needs to be a final and decisive dealing with that individual, according to Matthew 18 an 1 Corinthians 5-6, and other similar passages.

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Now of particular note in verse 6 are the Nicolatians. And it is difficult to know much about them because they only occur in verse 6 and in verse 15.

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See if you can notice the similarities between the doctrine of Balaam and the Nicolaitans.

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Notice the letter to Pergamum…

Revelation 2:14–15 14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. 15 So hast thou also [the ideas is … “so you also have some who in the same way…” ] them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.

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So, the Nicolaitans are very similar in their practice to those who hold to the doctrine of Balaam. How? End of verse 14, Idolatry and fornication, sexual immorality.

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Also in the letter to Thyatira…

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Revelation 2:20–23 20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

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Jezebel…same two sins: fornication and idolatry.

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Some churches tolerate fornication and idolatry!

That of course, is going on today. Pastors who are divorced and remarried while pastoring, health and wealth gospel peddlers who teach that you should indulge materialism, which is sanctifying idolatry and then calling it all spiritual and pleasing to God.

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APP: Toleration of fornication…church members and attenders are often allowed to continue in sexual sin without any consequences…Do you know of people and you call them Christians and they are living in immorality?

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Or the same with idolatry, they are covetous, which amounts to idolatry (Col. 3:5) … they are obviously living a covetous lifestyle where money-making is so much more important than church life. If your life says that you’re more about serving wealth than serving Jesus, you could bring down a church doing that.

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For an Baptist church like ours, it would be difficult to sneak in false doctrine. Our movement is known for rejecting false teaching.

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But with that strength can come a weakness: Truth can become something to be stood for only, not something to be cherished from the heart, and not to cherish the one who gave it, but is simply something for which to fight!

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And thus could come the problem: leaving the love that you had at first.

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CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Revelation 2.1-7 Part 1

We’ve dealt with the praise that should describe every church …

  • Hard Working Toil
  • Perseverance
  • Intolerant of Sin and False Teachers

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but as we’ll see next time there’s a problem. But praise the Lord, the problem won’t come without a plan to fix it.

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Go to BibleTrove.com Home Page

Go to New Testament Books Page

Go to Revelation Main Page

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  1. https://www.gocomics.com/fredbasset/2005/09/13

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