References: Revelation 1:20
So that was a good time. Ladies and all of you who prepared in that appreciate it. And by the way, doesn’t the lawn and the outside look nice? Ron and his crew have been working and keeping the lawns mowed, the bushes trimmed and all of that and we appreciate that now that everything is growing and green, it looks beautiful and we appreciate your work and your help in that. And we had that big hole out there beside the building but you notice some new stakes up there and so I think we’ll see a lot of things happening there. We may just be within a few weeks of having that done now. So you’ll see a lot of things happening on that spot here real quickly. Oh, Wednesday night, by the way, Wednesday night, I’m gonna take the first part of the service Wednesday night and show some pictures and slides from our UK trip in England, churches, pastors, historic things there. If you’d like to see some of that and kind of how we do that and how we travel when we’re over there, this Wednesday night I’m gonna show some of those slides.
You might wanna be a part of that. All right, Revelation chapter one, the last verse, 20th message from this chapter and yet a beautiful verse two and it begins with the mysterious word, the mystery. Now the mystery will be of stars and candlesticks as we will see in this passage. You remember back in verse 12, I read a few minutes ago when John turned, he saw seven golden candlesticks and then Jesus in the midst of the seven candlesticks and in verse 16, he had in his right hand seven stars.
And so we’ll look at that. When the Bible speaks of a mystery, the word mystery means something that is hidden, something that might be unknown, not unknowable, but something that you don’t know the answer to yet. There are mysteries in the scriptures that we read about. There’s a mystery of godliness as God continues to reveal himself to us and how we can attain that godliness through the Lord Jesus Christ. There’s the mystery of iniquity. The mystery of iniquity is how sin came into this world and how it permeates everything that we know. There’s the mystery of the church. And you remember that throughout the Old Testament, when those great men and the old, the prophets just did not see what you and I see today.
They could not envision the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. And rather than Jesus on David’s throne, Jesus is in us and dwelling in us and we are in him. And so the church was a mystery in the Old Testament. But the book that we have open in our laps today, folks, this last book of the Bible is not the mystery of Jesus Christ, is it?
It’s the revelation of Jesus Christ. The Bible does not leave us in darkness in these things. The Bible is not a book of mysteries. The Bible is a book of revelation of revealing the truth of God and the things of God. And all of the mysteries that are in scripture, eventually within scripture, are made known to us, are revealed to us. So we call this book that we’re reading the revelation, not the mystery. Now, I’m afraid that the world likes mysteries.
I’m talking about those who don’t know Christ. Now, all of us kind of like to read a mystery, right? We like those stories. And why do we like mysteries?
Basically because it intrigues us. We don’t quite know what’s going to happen. So, you know, you have to wait a while to find out. I used to like those books or those old shows who didn’t tell you who did it until the end. You know, if they tell you right up front, well, you know, it might be good, it might not be. But if you don’t know, to the end, then it’s kind of good. But I’ve noticed that people who don’t know the Lord and who aren’t interested in spiritual things of God would really rather the Bible remain a mystery.
Do you ever notice that? They would really not like to know specifically what it means and what the mystery of iniquity is and what the mystery of godliness is. Because then it’s open to anyone’s interpretation.
They can just say, well, we really don’t know about those things. Well, we really don’t know who’s gonna get to heaven and who’s not. Well, we don’t know what’s gonna happen in the future. We really don’t know how the earth was created. We don’t know all of these mysteries and allegories. And they like to speak in those terms, but the Bible doesn’t leave it there.
The Bible makes these things plain. You know, there’s a commercial going on about, I think it’s Netflix. I got that right about, I think, videos that you rent online or something like that. And they have these commercials and they say things like, you know, if a train leaves Boston at three in the morning, what color is the president’s car? And somebody answers turquoise and they go, correct! Right? Because actually it makes no sense at all, does it? it. And yet they’re kind of pretending that somebody who knows the deep mysteries might really know the answer to these things and you want to be like them, right? So go out and rent this product. You know, if a flower grows in New York, what time is it in LA?
2 p.m. Correct! You know, has nothing to do with one another. And I think that’s the way people like to think these days. Will Jesus come back to this earth and anybody can say never will he come back.
Correct! Interpret it like you want. Give the answer that you want to give. We feel better about it that way. We like it that way. But the problem is the Bible doesn’t do that for us. The Bible answers these things for us and reveals these mysteries. People may love darkness rather than light.
Why? Because their deeds are evil. And what has Satan done? Paul wrote to the Corinthians, the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
And Satan doesn’t want that light shining and most people don’t either. Hold your place here and go back to the familiar verses in the Gospel of John, just for a second. John chapter 1 and then in chapter 3. You know some of these verses very well. But John 1 and verse 18. Notice this familiar verse. John 1, 18. No man had seen God at any time. What is God like?
How would you answer that question? Then it says, the only begotten Son, of course Jesus Christ, which is in the bosom of the Father, eternally with the Father and one with the Father, he hath declared him. The Greek word is our word exegesis.
The word he has exegeted him, interpreted him. You want to know what God is like? Look at Jesus Christ. Thomas doubted, wondering if he could see God. Jesus said, Thomas, if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.
These mysteries are revealed. Look in chapter 3 and after that familiar verse, verse 16. And in chapter 3, 19, it says, this is the condemnation that light has come into the world. Men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil. Don’t turn on the light.
We’ll have to run, you know. For everyone that doeth evil, hatheth the light. Neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. Even in chapter 4, in this discussion with the woman at the well, we can go to verse 23 of chapter 4, when Jesus said, the hour cometh and now is, when true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeketh such to worship him, not left in mysteries, not in allegories, not in things unknown, God is a spirit. And they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
And how do we do that through the Word of God? Now the Bible says that this is the day of salvation. Remember in Corinthians, this is the day of salvation. We are not of the night, we are of the day. What that means is, in this day of grace, between the first coming of Christ and the second coming of Christ, you and I have the clear revelation of the things of God. We have to wonder where godliness comes from. We don’t even have to wonder about whether we’re good or bad enough to make it to heaven.
We’re not good enough. And yet we know how to solve that by accepting Christ as our savior. These things have been revealed to us.
Now the mystery then, here in this passage, is that there are seven stars in verse 20, which are in the right hand of God, and seven candlesticks, golden candlesticks. Do you know what these two kinds of things do? They’re luminaries. They lighten things up.
They turn on light. Now these things, if you go back to verse 19, are the things which are. Remember last week’s message was John wrote about things that he had seen, that is the descriptions of the Lord Jesus Christ himself, the things which are, which will be the church and the church age, and chapters two and three of this book.
And then he writes about the things which shall be here after. And so the seven stars and the seven candlesticks have to do with the church, have to do with the church age. And so in this age in which we live, though the world may be dark in its sin, God has given luminaries to bring light to the darkness and lead people out of the darkness to the light. There will always be in this age of grace, light and darkness. There will always be Christ and anti-Christ.
There will always be good and evil. There will be churches and cults. There will be prophets and false prophets. And that will be so until the Lord comes back again. But God has given to this age preachers and churches, those who will preach the gospel, those who will speak the gospel. And not just me, but all of us who speak the gospel in a dark world. We are lights in this world.
And he has given churches like this one who come together and do what we’re doing here this morning, opening this book that gives us truth and grace and light to a dark world and refreshing our souls and enlightening our minds with the Word of God, bringing light to dark First John chapter 1 verse 5, John writes in this first epistle, this then is the message which we have heard of him and declare unto you, God is light and in him is no darkness at all. The truth is folks, God is not sinful. There is no sin in God. If we enjoy the darkness of our own fallen nature and the darkness of this world then we are not enjoying the things of God but the things that God hates. God is light and we are on a constant path to come closer to him until one day Jesus Christ brings us into the very presence of God himself.
Now let’s go to our text chapter 1 verse 20 and look at these things. First of all the mystery of the seven stars. Now when we first came across this idea of the stars that are in the right hand of Christ, remember I mentioned to you that there were symbols of this in the old pagan world that Domitian the emperor at this time had a coin minted with his son sitting on the edge of the earth with seven stars surrounding him.
The island of Crete invented the God Zeus and they had a coin in Crete of Zeus with seven stars around him. It kind of meant who controls everything? Who is it that controls the world and the universe and the stars? John is saying it’s the Lord Jesus Christ that’s who it is. But more than that these are symbols of people we’re going to find out and these people are the, he will say later, the angels of the churches or as we know pastors of the churches and so these symbols have a reality to them. Now stars is a good symbol because as I’ve said stars come out at night, not necessarily in the daytime and the way God has made the stars in our world you can guide things by them.
Ships guide their way across the ocean and you can, you shouldn’t rely on the sign of the zodiac I’m saying, but you can rely on the nature by which God made things to be permanent, to be secure and you can trust in the way God has made this world and you can rely on it. And so he describes those who preach the gospel and those who lead these churches as stars that you can rely on, stars that come out in a dark night and illuminate things. Remember that our sun is a star, right? And there are many of those far away that appear as stars to us, but they are huge lights that bring light to darkness.
Now these seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, back to verse 16, he had in his right hand seven stars or in chapter two verse one, he that hold at the seven stars in his right hand. You know where the safest place to be in the darkness of this world is folks in the right hand of God Almighty. And that is in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Remember John 10, my sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me and I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish. Neither shall any man pluck them out of my father’s hand. My father which gave them me is greater than all. No man is able to pluck them out of my father’s hand.
That’s a safe place to be. Nothing can take you out of God’s hand. Psalm 37, the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. He delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.
The very next verse by the way says, I have been young and now am old yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread. Because the place to be and you know a little child should not go running off across even our parking lot much less a street or somewhere else alone. It’s not a safe place to be a child alone but a child reaches up and puts his hand in daddy’s hand, mama’s hand and holding on to that hand then guess what the child goes into those dangerous places. A child can traverse across that dangerous territory but safest can be.
Why? Because someone bigger, wiser, stronger than he is guiding him through that darkness, guiding him through that dangerous place. And so you and I if we find ourselves in the father’s hand then can walk in this dark world and we can make it folks. Because he in verse 18 is the first and the last he was alive and dead and is alive ever more he has the keys of hell and of death. We are safe in his hand. He is the creator of all things. Do this for me.
Hold your place here and turn back one more time. This time to Acts chapter 4 the book of Acts. In Acts chapter 4 toward the end of this chapter the apostles Peter and John and the rest had been in prison and they had been in prison for preaching and they almost were beaten. Now in chapter 5 later they will be beaten for the first time but now they are imprisoned and then released and so as soon as they are let go verse 23 it says being let go they went to their own company. That means folks they went to church.
They went to the candlestick. They went where the best place to be was and reported all that the chief priests and elders had done under them. And when they heard that notice, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord and said, Now notice what they say, Lord thou art God, which has made heaven and earth and the sea and all that in them is.
Do you know that that’s the most common expression of God’s care in the scriptures? Lord, you are the creator of all things. You made it. You started it.
You will finish it. You made the heavens above. You made the earth. You made the sea below.
You have made all things. And why do Christians who have been in dangerous places express this truth? Because God can take care of it, folks. Because there is nothing in the height above or in the depth below that can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord. So we’re in His right hand. Now, back to our text.
The mystery of the seven stars then which thou sawest in my right hand. And let me put a footnote here and say, preachers and pastors know that they need this. We face dangers every day. And maybe I don’t face life-threatening situations every day.
There’s been just a few times in my life where I physically just did not feel at all secure. But mostly it is, I am going to speak in Christ’s name. I need to give comfort to someone who is hurting. I need to encourage not discourage. And how can we do that on our own with our own wisdom? We must have our hand in the hand of the Lord Jesus Christ and so must you. Now, the seven stars we’re going to find out now from that symbol to a closer symbol are the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches.
You know, I kind of like this term. I remind my wife of this all the time, you know, that I’m an angel according to the Scripture. And she starts to talk about some doctrine of fallen angels that I don’t know anything.
I don’t know where she comes up with that, but I like these descriptions. And there are real angels, aren’t they? I mean, there are created beings called angels. And that’s part of the reason for this symbol because the likeness from them we need to borrow here. But an angel is specifically a messenger. He is an ambassador.
He’s a guardian even. Now, let me, I like this word and I know I’ve defined it often. Let me define it again. Take the word angel and put an E-V in front of it. And what’s the word that you have? Evangel.
An evangelist is one doing the same thing that an angel does, and that is proclaiming something for God’s sake. And by the way, E-V, as we use it in English, we have gotten it from other languages like German, for example, where to us or to them it is E-U. And so E-U, when we use it on a word, means good. Eulogy means good words. And E-U plus angel means good angel. Or literally good message. When you and I speak of the gospel, we might say the gospel is God’s what?
Good news. We are literally saying E-Vangirl, the good angel. And so an angel is one who brings a message, a gospel. And those who preach the good news of Jesus Christ are like angels, folks. They are bringing good news to people and the gospel into the darkness. Now, we call the leaders of our churches, according to New Testament instruction.
Other words also. There’s the description bishop, which has to do more with overseeing things. We call them elders, which has to do more with wisdom and as opposed to immaturity. And we call them pastors that have to do with shepherding or we call them preachers having to do with proclamation of the gospel. And it is good when pastors follow that.
It is bad when they do not. George Whitfield, one of the great American evangelists said, As God can send a nation or people no greater blessing than to give them faithful, sincere and upright ministers. So the greatest curse that God could possibly send upon a people in this world is to give them over to blind, unregenerate, carnal, lukewarm and unskillful guides.
The shame it is when those who ought to lead cannot lead because of those things. And a lighter tone, one of my favorite writers, Vance Havener said one time, Sure, some of you younger people are a little uncomfortable with some of the old timers. He said, yeah, some old timers, it’s true, in their day acted like monks. But he said the answer is not for us to act like monkeys.
You know, just because they acted like that. We need to be these men of God. Now, the angels in the scripture, if you look it up in your concord, you’ll find dozens and dozens of things that angels do. I’m talking about the real angels now, the angels of God. And so God uses a characteristic of the angels to describe the leaders of the churches. Luke 15.10 says, likewise I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one center that repents.
Do you know that then there ought to be joy and rejoicing in my heart as a leader of a church over anyone who comes to Christ as Savior as there ought to be in your heart, right? We’re like the angels when we’re like that. Matthew 13, 39, the enemy that sowed them is the devil speaking the wheat and the tares. The harvest is the end of the world, but the reapers are the angels.
And it ought to do our heart good when God sends us into a harvest and has us reap the harvest like he’s going to have the angels reap in the end of the world. 1 Peter 1-12, unto whom it was revealed that not unto themselves, speaking of the Old Testament prophets, but unto us they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel, the good news unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, which things the angels that is in heaven desire to look into. Do you know that the heavenly angels have a sincere desire for the knowledge of God? They don’t know everything. They’re not God’s themselves, but they only know what God has shown them.
And yet they have a desire to look into the things of God. You and I ought to have that desire as angels from God, as messengers of God, a desire to know more, a desire to look into the things of God. Hebrews 1-14, they are all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation. A ministering spirit among the people of God is a characteristic of an angel. And it ought to be the characteristic of those messengers of God. And I like Hebrews 13, verse 2, Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unaware. Now my own opinion of that verse is that we have those written about in the Old Testament. Abraham entertained angels, cooked for them, made a meal for them, and spoke to them.
And many other saints in the Old Testament entertained angels that came to them as human beings. But what he’s speaking about here is hospitality. We ought to be willing to be hospitable to people, because that’s what the saints of old did to the very angels of God. And Psalm 78, men did eat angels’ food. So there’s one kind of cake that’s biblical to eat.
And you ought to go home and eat it today. Men did eat angels’ food. And he sent them meat to the full.
And I’m thinking, you know, Jesus even once said, I have meat to eat that you know not of. And we ought to be satisfied with the things of God when they come our way. And so, folks, these stars who are described to us also as angels and messengers ought to be heavenly-minded people who are leading people to the light, who are bringing a message of good news to people, and who are acting as God would have us act before this world.
We are never too heavenly-minded to be earthly good, but the more heavenly-minded we are, the more earthly good we are. Now, they are seven angels of the seven churches. And we’ll describe them more in just a moment, but the seven churches have seven angels. Let me speak a minute about pastors and churches. Chapters two and three of this book will describe one church and one pastor. That is, there is always that man whom God has put there to lead that church in the biblical way, the way that he’s described to lead. So look at chapter two, verse one. Under the angel of the church, it Ephesus write, that is the leader, the pastor of that church. These things sayeth he that hold the seven stars his right hand so forth.
And you’ll find it again in verse eight, and you’ll find it every in the beginning of all seven of these letters. One church, one pastor. Now, we have many men who are called into various forms of ministry, and so pastor Terry and pastor Aaron are here on staff. But it’s God’s arrangement of things to have a pastor, a senior pastor of a church. And that is the pattern that we find in the New Testament. Now, it’s not a bishopric, though the word bishop is a biblical description of a pastor, but it doesn’t mean that you have one bishop who controls a number of congregations.
You have that in the bishop arrangement, but we never find it in the New Testament. You never have a presbytery. You never have a group of elders ruling a group of churches, or even a group of elders ruling one church. You don’t find that in the New Testament, or a consistory, or any of those kinds of arrangements. You have one pastor being led by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God in one church. And that’s the pattern we find in the New Testament, especially here in chapters two and three. By the way, the last description of the church is in the Bible, the most complete and mature description.
At the end of the New Testament, and at the end of the first century, you find this pattern. Now, let me also say that pastors are not apostles. We don’t get our inspiration from God.
I’m not an inspired writer. I can’t say to you that as a prophet that when I speak, I’m speaking exactly the words that God wants. I’m infallible and you have to take everything without question, because I’m not an apostle.
I’m not a prophet, and there are no apostles and prophets today, and those who say that they are false apostles and false prophets. We have the Word of God, and as I can enlighten us about it, and as I can properly interpret this book, then I am speaking the words of God. And if I do not properly interpret this book, then I am not speaking the words of God. words of God. Count those worthy of double honor who labor in word and doctrine, the scripture says. I like what Paul Jackson who is a great teacher of pastors, he said men generally feel that the preacher is a priest in a certain sense and has liberties and powers with God that are beyond those of the common man.
This is not true. He may use that privilege more faithfully than many but the way is open for every believer. You may be led by the Spirit of God. You have the Word of God in your hand.
You can follow what God wants you to do and it would be my desire by the way as your pastor that you do it. That you do it on your own. That you walk by the Spirit of God and the Word of God without my help. What a joy that is if it happens that way.
I’ll put this footnote in here too. We have come, we’re at the end of the 20th century and we are still in the time of mega churches aren’t we? When one man may pastor a church that is said to be 10,000 people or maybe more sometimes and it’s my opinion folks that that is an impossibility.
Now you can be a CEO perhaps and you can be that kind but you can’t be a pastor over that many. I don’t believe and I wonder we will never know because because we can’t rerun history. We can only look back on it and evaluate it. So time and eternity will tell whether one church of 10,000 accomplished more for God than 10 churches of 1,000. If you had 10 churches of 1,000 you have 10 men preaching at the same time in 10 different locations. And instead of one set of Sunday school teachers on a Sunday school hour you have 10 sets of Sunday school teachers in those same hours.
You have instead of one set of workers you have 10 set of workers. But somehow we want the bigness and we want the shininess and we want all of that. As a matter of fact I’m not spurred and as a counselor and as a teacher to a thousand people. I wonder if we look back on history that we find that maybe rather than one man pastoring 1,000 it would have even been better to have 10 men pastoring 100. And then how many more preachers do we have? How many more teachers do we have? How many more deacons do we have?
How many more soul winners do we have? And workers in the church. And when we look at the New Testament folks we find those small churches. The largest church was the church in Jerusalem and if we had 12 apostles helping us out in this church we might have 5,000 too.
But 5,000 by today’s standards is small potatoes. The mega churches wouldn’t even sneeze at a church of only 5,000. But that’s the largest church in the New Testament. That was a church in Jerusalem. Rather we have like these seven churches in chapters two and three.
Smaller, many of them probably smaller than who are sitting in this auditorium here today. But wouldn’t you like to have Titus as your pastor? Wouldn’t you like to have Timothy in Ephesus as your pastor? Wouldn’t you like to have been in Philippi when Luke for a short time, Luke pastored the church in Philippi or over in Colossae when Apathras pastored that and these men who knew the apostles and heard Paul speak were led to the Lord. But wouldn’t you like to have those men?
Sure. And yet they were pastors of these small churches but spread these churches all over the country and all over the world. Maybe we will look back and say it’s what we should have done in our generation rather than build kingdoms and large mega churches and things like that. There’s a time for a church to divide.
That is in the right way. There’s time when you need to spread out. Time when there needs to be two pastors instead of one or four pastors instead of one. And a time when God’s people need to be about the work in the field rather than just sitting and taking in.
And so that’s what we find here in these churches. Now I must move on quickly if I can because there are candlesticks mentioned here. There are seven stars and the seven golden candlesticks.
Remember these are light holders too. By the way we have it in our translation of course candlestick and we have already spoken that these are actually pots with oil in them and that wicks we call them lamps perhaps. And they no doubt had a bowl on the end of it with oil in that bowl and a wick lying in the oil and the wick was burning. So it’s not so much like a piece of wax with a wick inside that burns away in the wax melt. It’s kind of like our old kerosene lanterns or our old oil lamps and some of you are nodding your head because you’re old enough to remember using those in your house. And yet you kept refilling the oil and the wick lasted a long time. And those are good expressions of the oil like the Holy Spirit that has to be constantly renewed in our lives and the wick like the Lord Jesus Christ who burns. And we trim these lamps to keep this power going in our lives. These are golden candlesticks. You read the tabernacle and you find the utensils often are silver and often are gold.
And these were of God. You say, well, they’re traveling across the desert. They had a lot of need. They needed to buy food as they went. They needed to save up and God’s taking all their gold and all their silver and he’s making, you know, lampstands out of them and altars out of them and bowls and cups out of this precious metal.
But that’s what God wants when we come to serve Him golden candlesticks. Of course, you know that people often ask me why I don’t have anything on the top of my head. And I often answer because you don’t put marble tops on cheap furniture.
That’s why. And, you know, God doesn’t put gold around what He considers to be cheap furniture. God puts gold on things that are important to Him. And so these candlesticks, gold speaks of function of service. These candlesticks had a service they need to burn.
It wouldn’t do them any good just to be gold if they couldn’t have fire on the top. They need to be, need to function. A church needs to function. Not just be beautiful.
Not just have those things, but we need to be doing the work of the ministry. But it’s for beauty. God instructed Moses to make the tabernacle itself for glory and beauty. For the glory of God, but make it beautiful. So I commented this morning how beautiful our grounds look outside, how beautiful our building looks, and the things inside is the cleaning crew. I call them the busy bees.
Went through this building yesterday and cleaned. How it ought to be like that. And so should our lives, folks, right? These are the vessels. These are the candlesticks. They ought to be of gold. An old saying by Savanna Rolla, an old church father who said, in the primitive church, the chalices were of wood and the ministers were of gold.
Today he says the ministers are of wood and the chalices are of gold. And we know the difference between those, don’t we? We know that we’re the golden vessels.
We’re the things that God intends to use. Function, beauty, and purity. Pure gold.
Gold that pleases God. Don’t ever shy away and don’t let this world tell you that, you know, you have to be kind of 50% worldly and 50% godly to really be of any effect in this world. That is a lie of the devil.
If you’re 50% worldly and 50% godly, then you’re 50% of any use to God and maybe not that much. God desires golden candlesticks. And the seven, the golden candlesticks are what? The seven churches.
The churches are God’s plan for this age. These are the things which are, as John saw them. Chapters two and three describe to you seven churches. They existed in the days of John. John would write these letters and literally physically take them to these seven churches and speak to them and say, this is what God wants, as if he walked in this door this morning and walked up on this platform. He has a piece of paper in his hand and he’s first at Ephesus. And he says, now let me tell you this. This is what the Lord Jesus Christ says to you. And he begins to read that letter to us.
That real. We’re still, excuse me, sitting here this morning, reading this letter from God to us. This is God’s plan.
This is what God wants. He didn’t come to the Roman government. He didn’t come to the Jewish temple. He didn’t come to the philosophers on Mars Hill. He came to seven small churches, scattered around in Asia, and said, you are doing my work in this age.
Let us never forget that. Whether we are 100 or 1000 or even 10,000, this is the church of Jesus Christ to do the work in this age. And what does he do? He walks among them.
Chapter two, verse one again. I’m going to walk among the churches. I’m going to go down your hallways.
I’m going to look into your classrooms. I’m going to see what you’re doing. I’m going to go with you as you leave this place. I’m going to look in your life. I’m going to look in your heart and in your mind.
He walks among the seven golden candlesticks. And we folks are in a dark world. We need to be lit. If our candle is not burning, then what good are we doing in this dark world?
And this truly is a dark world. Let me read a couple passages to you. Philippians chapter two, verse 14 to 16. Do all things without murmurings and disputings that you may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life, that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run neither labored in vain, Paul said. Ephesians five, verse eight, you sometimes were darkness, but now are light in the Lord. Before you were saved, you were darkness. You were in darkness. Now you’re light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth, proving what is acceptable under the Lord. Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. For whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. And that’s what we’re to be and to be doing in this world. It is not a cakewalk, folks, from here to the pearly gates. It’s not a bed of roses. Rather, it is a struggle.
It is a battle, and we are in that battle from now until then. famous. Those who confront the culture, those who confront the sin of this world may find themselves in places like that, but they make those, and we go to see where John Bunyan lived and look at the bridge over the river because it was on that bridge where he was in prison for 18 years where he wrote Pilgrim’s Progress. He made a prison famous because he would not preach by the common book of prayer from the Church of England.
He’d preach from the Bible or nothing. That’s what we need to do. Now, I thought of darkness and came to my mind again that I’ve been down, I’ve been to Silver Dollar City in years now, but there’s a cave there called Marvel Cave, you know, and so I’m assuming things are somewhat the same as it used to be, but I remember being down in that cave once and they turned all the lights off, right? Do they still do that when you go in that cave? Now, if you’re in a cave like that and you’re under the ground, they turn the lights off, what can you see?
I mean, you go like this. You do not see anything. It is absolutely dark. And God says the world is in darkness and that He is the only light. And He says, pray as the Lord, there was a guide that had a flashlight and he knew where the light switch was so that there were little light bulbs that could lead you through this darkness so that you could get to the door and even then, if you didn’t get on this train to lift you back up to the top, you weren’t going to get to the top either. Maybe they have an elevator by now.
I don’t know. And you know, churches and preachers of the gospel and those who will witness for Christ are like lights in absolute darkness. They can’t save you, but they can lead you to the thing that will. They can lead you to Christ who can take you out and take you up when you die. And we must be doing that in this dark world. You know, I thought, well, we speak of darkness and we speak of blackness and those who don’t know Christ might hear us speaking and someone might say, no, wait a minute, this is awfully negative here.
I mean, I’m a pretty good guy and I have a good job. I don’t feel like I’m in darkness. My family’s around me. I live in a nice home. I like where I live. I like what I do. I kind of like my life and you keep speaking about it as if it’s darkness.
I don’t think it’s darkness. I think I have a lot going for me and they do not understand that we’re speaking about your relationship with a holy God. We have no relationship. We are dead in our trespasses and sin. We may have the things of this world, but we have nothing if we don’t have the Lord Jesus Christ. We are as vile as the vilest person in this world without Jesus Christ dead and dark without God and without hope in this world.
Someone else might say as we hear, as we speak of darkness and of light might say, oh yes, that’s what I need. I lost my job. I need to get saved.
My marriage is falling apart. I need to trust Christ as my savior and that’s the wrong way to look at it, folks. Though Christ may do things like that once you learn how to walk with Him, you don’t come to Him just for escape from your problems in this world. You come to Him as a savior from your sin. If you come just to have a few things put back together in your life, a few troubles and then you’ll be gone once that happens, you’ll never find the answer to those.
But if you come to the Lord Jesus Christ because it becomes apparent to you that you are a sinner before God, no matter what you have or don’t have, no matter how good things are going or how bad things are going for you in this life, you are without hope if you don’t have the Lord Jesus Christ and so you come and you throw yourself at His feet and at His mercy and say, I must have Christ as my savior. Then the light comes in. Then the bulb comes on and then you begin to receive information and receive things that you’d always refused before and God teaches you things. First you must come to Him and ask Him for forgiveness and then you will be lifted up.
Then you will find eternal life. We are stars and angels in the darkness. We are lampstands in this world, folks. Pray God that He would let this church and every church and every believer in this age be a light in the darkness. Stand, if you will, with me. And before we open our song books, we’re going to bow our heads and pray. Let’s go to the Lord in prayer for just a month, a minute. Now, Father, as we have finished this chapter and again thought about the Lord Jesus Christ and how we are safe and secure in Him, we thank you and we praise you for your grace.
And Father, as in these messages, we have thought often about our own salvation and our mind has gone back to that time when we were saved, when we called on the Lord and He saved us. We thank you for that day. Thank you, Father, for being the Creator. Thank you for being the God of all this world.
Thank you for the Lord Jesus Christ that loved us, that gave Himself for us. And then, Father, we thank you for the Holy Spirit who in these moments will work in our hearts and draw us to you. So, Father, if there are hearts here today that need to be drawn, I pray that He could do His work among us today. I pray, Lord, there might be children of God, people who know that they’re saved, but need to bow the knee here at this altar and confess sin and put things away from their lives that are hindering their walk with Christ. And, Father, I pray that if there’s one here that doesn’t know Christ as Savior, that they would come and receive Him today. Now, Father, bless in this time that we sing in Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen. Page 345. Pass me not. We know this song. Let’s sing it together. I also will invite you ahead of time if you’re interested.