“Christ’s Message to Ephesus Part 3: Overcomers”
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Revelation 2.1-7 Part 3
Please turn to the 2nd letter to the Ephesians. …wait, what? You know, it’s found in Rev. 2, Christ’s first letter to the 7 churches.
Now, we’re going to review a little today. I know, review is such a boring word. But reviewing is important. You probably think I need you to review because I think you’re getting old … I know you’re not getting old, it’s just that your brain is full and you can’t put much more in there.
So I’m glad that you write stuff down to help you remember, but we all know there’s a good chance you’ll forget where you wrote it. And that’s no fault of yours; in fact, it’s actually because you’re so skillful that you can forget what you’re doing while you’re doing it.
So you can see the need for review; that’s because, let’s face it, you’re having a hard time with short term memory loss … and on top of that, you have to deal with your short term memory loss. Perhaps you should think about planning your own surprise party!
Da-da, ching…alright, those aren’t my usual introductions, so don’t get too used to that.
We’ll spend a brief time recovering vv.1-6 and then finish with verse 7 of chapter 2. Let’s read this …
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.
In this letter, the Lord commends them, corrects them, and gives a promise to overcomers.
The Lord commends them in vv.2-3,6. … The Lord commends their Work, Perseverance, and Truth… and any effective ministry will have those three: work, perseverance, and truth.
Hard Working Toil
First, remember that in a church, the Lord commends hard working toil.
Revelation 2:2 2 I know thy works, and thy labour…their exhaustion in ministry. Christians are to work hard at ministry for the Lord, even to the point of exhaustion.
That kind of labor… “is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Co. 15:58) and that’s because He doesn’t “forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints…” (Heb. 6:10).
And don’t rest from Christian labor until you get to glory Revelation 14:13 13 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.
But we’re not to rest in our labors for Christ until we get to heaven!
This was the Ephesian church, they were working themselves to exhaustion and it was commended, it was good.
ILL: I commend you for laboring in passing out door hangers for those who could and for your work yesterday at the cookout. We also need laborers for our community at our Summer Bible Camp. And we’ll need labor in Christian discipleship and our service to one another.
TRANS: So the Ephesian church was to be commended first, for their hard working toil. Second, they were to be commended for their perseverance.
Revelation 2:2–3 2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience/perseverance … 3 And hast borne [endured], and hast patience/perseverance, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
EXP: They don’t give up. They toil and work hard until exhaustion and they don’t give up, they keep going!
They don’t bail when there are troubles, when relationships are difficult. They recognize that life is a training ground, even when others would grow cold and quit.
ILL: Like the snail. It isn’t known for perseverance, but for how slow it is. One study clocked a snail at 0.00758 miles per hour—or 40 feet in one hour. Although a snail does move at a slow pace, it does is persevere. Charles Spurgeon once observed, “By perseverance the snail reached the ark.”
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.
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 withdraw, who don’t quit.
TRANS: Let’s toil for Christ and keep on going, persevering. Let us also be intolerant of sin and false teachers.
Intolerant of Sin and False Teachers (vv.2, 6)
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…
and verse 6…
Revelation 2:6 6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
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.
So how would this come out in a church setting? Folks in the church would be helping each other to follow Christ. Being intolerant of evil would also come out in church discipline situations.
And they were intolerant of the Nicolaitans, who taught others to commit idolatry and fornication as Rev. 2:14-15, 20-23 make clear.
For a Baptist church like ours, it would be difficult to sneak in false doctrine. Our church and churches like ours are known for rejecting false teaching.
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 it’s very easy for trut to simply be something for which to fight!
And thus could come the problem: leaving the love that you had at first.
TRANS: And that’s what we dealt with last time…losing your first love.
Losing their First Love
Revelation 2:4 4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
You can get so caught up in defending the truth that you fail to really allow it to alter your thinking, to change your mind and to affect your heart.
They had left the love that they had at the first, when the church began. Naturally, the Lord is dealing with them individually and collectively.
Have you lost the love you had at first? Think of the joy you had in Christ when you were first saved! The enthusiasm, the passion, the witness for Christ. And to prevent a church closure, the church needs to increase in their love for Christ.
Revelation 2:4–5 4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5 … and there is this threat … v.5 … Christ says He could come and remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
How do we remedy this? Jesus gives it to us…Remember the Past, Repent of Sin, Restore the First Things
Revelation 2:5 5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else …
ARG: For revitalization to occur at Bethany, we must learn from the past in order to live in the present so that the Lord guides our future. “Remember from whence thou art fallen!”
Here’s the thing then, an application: We need to talk about the blessings of the past and recall how the Lord has blessed and what we were like. Not that we do things exactly how they were done back then or just live in a nostalgic sense, but we need to remember from were we’ve fallen.
We need to contemplate the lessons and principles that the Lord blessed in the past.
We need to celebrate them and continue to implement them in ways that fit the gifts and resources that we currently have in our church and use the celebrations to set up new initiatives in the ministry vision that the Lord is laying out in order to take the church to the next level in serving Christ and expanding the kingdom.
TRANS: Remember and now repent…
If a church has left their first love, there are things that have come into the life of the church that have replaced the first works and need to be repented of; there needs to be a change of course, getting on the biblical track.
It’s very easy to keep going in the direction that you’re headed, thinking everything is fine, when it’s not fine!
Each of us needs to be willing to change their life and their lifestyle in order to better accommodate the Lord’s plan for our church! And so we can’t hide our sin like Achan, we must repent.
TRANS: Remember, Repent and now restore the first things.
Revelation 2:5 5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, [here it is…] and do the first works;
And the first works that we focused on was the gospel…
We need to have a focus on the gospel applied to the life, both in salvation and sanctification.
Titus 2:11–13 11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 [what is that grace of God doing in those who are Christians? Answer this saving grace continues its ministry of ] Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
And then upon that foundation of the gospel comes good works, not done for salvation, but done for Christ out of service to Him.
If we don’t remember, repent, and restore the first works, Jesus could come to remove our lampstand out of its place; he has every right to remove us as a church. We must remember and do the first works.
TRANS: So there … there are your 2 sermons in less than 1! Your review.
Now, that leaves us with verse 7. This is new…
Promise to the Overcomers
Revelation 2:7 7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; [we’ve already touched on that… here is our focus …] To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
This is a promise from God. Who is the promise to and what is the promise?
The word for “overcome” translates the Greek word (nikao) from which an athletic shoe company took its name: Nike. It can mean “overcome” or “to be victorious” or to be “conquerors.”
In Revelation 2-3, it occurs in several verses in Revelation 2-3.
What we’re going to do is read each of those verses and we’ll gather facts about who the overcomer is.
Who is the overcomer? We’re gathering facts…
It’s like a puzzle, it’s like asking “what is black and white and red all over?”
It’s a puzzle, riddle… “As I was going to St. Ives,
I met a man with seven wives,
Each wife had seven sacks,
Each sack had seven cats,
Each cat had seven kits:
Kits, cats, sacks, and wives,
How many were there going to St. Ives?”
At the end of this little exercise, we’ll solve the puzzle…
How many were going? One.[explain?] We’re gathering facts to solve this riddle “who is the overcomer?”
Revelation 2:7 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.
What is the overcomer given? To eat the tree of life in God’s paradise.
Revelation 2:11 11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death; (lake of fire)
What is true for the overcomer here? He shall not be hurt of the second death.
Keep in mind, the question… who is the overcomer?
What’s true of him? He shall not be hurt by the second death/lake of fire.
Revelation 2:17 17 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 hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
What for him? Hidden manna, white stone with a new name which no one knows except he who receives it.
Revelation 2:26 26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
Here we have more info about the overcomer, he keeps Jesus works until the end. The overcomer perseveres to the end; he keeps on believing in Jesus until the end.
What else is true? To him Jesus will give power over the nations!!
TRANS: 3 more…
Revelation 3:5 5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
For the victorious one, the overcomer: he gets a white garment, his name is not blotted out of the book of life, and Jesus will confess his name before the Father and the angels.
Revelation 3:12 12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
Whatever this is, for the overcomer, he will be a pillar in the heavenly temple, He gets 3 names: (1 God’s name on him and (2 the name of the New Jerusalem on him, and (3 Jesus’ new name, whatever that is.
TRANS: last one, Rev. 3:21
Revelation 3:21 21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
Christ gives overcomers to sit with Jesus on His throne, just like Jesus overcame and set down at God’s right hand.
These are all promises….
For who? … Who is called upon to…
Eat the tree of life in God’s paradise, and shall not be hurt of the second death, receive hidden manna, get a white stone with a new name, have power over the nations, name kept in the book of life, have your name confessed before the Father and angels, be a pillar in the temple, and have 3 names: ((1 God’s name on him and (2 the name of the New Jerusalem on him, and (3 Jesus’ new name, whatever that is, and sit with Jesus on His throne
These are all promises for who?… believers in Christ! For the one who trusts in Jesus Christ, he will persevere to the end, he’ll eat of the tree of life, he won’t experience the lake of fire, he’ll sit with Jesus on His throne!
These are all promises to overcomers, to believers!
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Revelation 2.1-7 Part 3
But why is it that the believer conquers and is victorious? It is because Jesus has conquered!
John 16:33 33 … In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
Again … Rev. 3:21 Revelation 3:21 21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
Keep that in mind when you go through trials, Jesus is victorious and in Him you have eternal victory!
And John writes 1 John 2:13, that you have overcome the wicked one…
How by your own strength? NO…
1 John 4:4 4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them [false teachers]: why? … because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
It’s by the power of Christ that we conquer, His strength working in us.
1 John 5:4–5 4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?
Whoever is born of God, is an overcomer! We overcome by faith in Christ; trusting in Him, being committed to Him. Why? Because Jesus has prevailed, He has conquered! Our victory is simply a participation in His victory!
Revelation 5:5 5 And one of the elders saith unto John [in his vision…], Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed [conquered/overcome] to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
So how do we conquer?
Revelation 12:11 11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
Through the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ! Christ overcome and was victorious over sin and the world at the cross and He was victorious over death in the resurrection! And we are victorious in the blood of Jesus!
And so we who overcome, we shall inherit all things..
Revelation 21:6–7 6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
APP: Does your life declare the victory that Christ has on the cross? Do you have a persevering kind of faith, are you growing in your victory over sin and the world each day? The victorious one has an “active trust in God that leads to faithfulness in the difficult situations of life lived for Christ.”
As missionary CT Studd wrote, “Only one life ’twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
Is that you? Or are you running to drink, drugs, food, TV when things get challenging?
Are you persevering or giving up every day?
Revelation 2:7 7 … To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
The Christian will serve Christ until the end, he may falter and sin, but he’ll keep persevering, keep trusting Christ even in the face of extreme circumstances. And to him, Christ will give to eat of the tree of life in God’s paradise.
There was a tree of life already on this earth … in the garden of Eden; and Adam and Eve never availed themselves of it.
In Gen. 2:9 the tree of life was placed in the garden; but in ch. 3 Adam and Eve were not allowed to partake of this tree because of their sin, and an angel with a flaming sword guarded the tree, so they could not eat from it and gain immortality in their lost and fallen condition.
But in Revelation, God’s people one day will partake of the tree of life that Adam and Eve never could. We will inherit God’s reward for our faithfulness to Him …The first Eden will not be like the final Eden. The curse of the first Eden will one day be reversed and the last Eden will be the place of everlasting life and we’ll partake of the tree of life!
Revelation 22:2 2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
Revelation 22:14 14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
Revelation 22:7 7 Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.
Be found faithful! Live today and every day in the strength of Christ; be consumed by the knowledge of His power in you, believer. Know yourself to be the overcomer that you are in Him. And let that power carry you through times of trial, struggle, and temptations.
No! I’m a child of God, born of Him and because of that I overcome the world by Jesus’ strength! Because of Christ, I have eternal life and will be victorious just like Jesus was victorious and sat down with His Father on His throne.
Be the warrior and the champion in Christ that you’re called to be TODAY!
Reeder, Harry L.; Swavely, David. From Embers to a Flame: How God Can Revitalize Your Church . P&R Publishing. Kindle Edition. ↑
Reeder, Harry L.; Swavely, David. From Embers to a Flame: How God Can Revitalize Your Church . P&R Publishing. Kindle Edition. ↑