Every week, on Monday, we will have a blog for you with resources for diving deeper into the sermon.
This week, Pastor Andrew kicked off our new Revelation sermon series, In the End. Revelation is an important book in the Bible because understanding the end produces the hope to persevere right now. And perseverance matters; simply just saying a prayer isn’t a get out of jail free card. In terms of fighting to persevere, Revelation 2:1-7’s main idea is that loving God and others is primary in the Christian life. Primary doesn’t mean it’s the only thing in the Christian life, it means most important.
But first, in reflecting on verses 1:17-18, we must understand that Revelation is a scary book for a lot of people, but Jesus tells John, the author, “fear not.” Secular people can fear the end because there is no memory of anything left at the end. The religious can fear because they are worried that they didn’t do enough to get into heaven. The gospel answers both by saying, “Jesus went to the cross to pay the penalty for our sin and secure us an eternal future in his kingdom.” We can “fear not” because of what Jesus has done.
Verses 1:19-20 get into the nature of the book. Revelation is scripture, prophecy, and apocalypse. “Prophecy” means thus says God; “apocalypse” means thus shows God. Prophecy tends toward the side of clear and apocalypse the side of shock and awe. Understanding Revelation should involve intellectual connection and awe. Some of it leads to clear understanding, and some of it to worship over God’s triumph. Verse 20 shows that God wrote the book exactly the way he intended to.
Chapter 2:1-7 shows that the church at Ephesus got a lot of things right. They worked hard, they endured through persecution, and they did it for the sake of Jesus’ name. But they had lost the love which animated them in the first place. They did well holding pure theology and doctrine, but their hearts had grown cold to God and each other. This shows that, in the eyes of God, doing work isn’t the same as love. Systems and strategies don’t make up for a cold and combative heart.
As we turn the light upon our own work and hearts individually and as a church, do we still have the same love and fervor that we had at first? We must remember our first love and repent of having replaced it. It is possible that all of the Christian life comes down to one phrase: remember your first love. Let’s look back to what made us love Christ in the first place. He walks among the lampstands because he laid on the cross. Let’s, each day, be overwhelmed by this love.
We have put together a 30-day prayer guide that acts as a devotional to guide your prayer times each day. The Scriptures were selected to follow the themes of the In the End series.
Look out for tomorrow’s blog that will be a resource explaining fasting, how to do it, and why to do it.
-Alex Nolette (Equip Coordinator/Community Groups)