"The Candlestick Removed"
“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.” Revelation 2:5.
This is a wonderful admonition from the Chief Shepherd and Bishop of the Church of GOD. Nothing demonstrates so loving a gesture as to specifically warn and reprove a friend, a companion, or a loved one as Christ does so to His bride. “Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Proverbs 27:5-6.
History proves that this warning was well heeded; for until the seventh century A.D. there was a church of Ephesus which held the apostolic truth of the gospel of Christ. And many walked in the light and love of Christ’s righteousness. “As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.” Proverbs 25:12.
Such is the nature of Christ's own sheep. Though prone to err, yet when called by the great Shepherd, “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 hand.” John 10:27-28.
Such is not only the promise retained to every true believer but the whole of the Church of Christ which was redeemed by His blood. “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18.
But note the cause of this warning! “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” Revelation 2:4. The warning is to a true church of Christ which has it’s doctrine of Christ correct. It has sound soteriology. It understands and knows the gospel of God’s Sovereign Grace in Christ alone. But has been led away by the error of the wicked into fighting with men of corrupt minds over issues, though important, are secondary to the true commission to which they have been called, which is to PREACH THE GOSPEL of CHRIST.
The church at Ephesus is becoming well known for it’s apologetics rather than for the constant and clear unambiguous preaching of the gospel of Grace.
There is a season in every assembly of God when heresy must be exposed and condemned.
"Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake.” Titus 1:9-11. But nothing will remove the light of Grace from an assembly faster than the constant nonstop fighting and debating over secondary issues. Eschatology, pnuematology, ecclesiology, etc does nothing to fill the needy souls of men with that eternal life which was given to the Church in the gospel.
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Mark 16;15-16.
To leave one's first love in the church sense is to depart from the gospel, to let it go in one's affection and love of it, to walk in it as that sweet fragrance of true brotherly love in Christ. To stop preaching the message of salvation by Christ alone. It is to slowly but consistently leave off with the GOD honoring truth of the Word.
And that truth is in Jesus “If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:” Ephesians 4:21.
But as Christ is the creator of the church, Colossians 1:18, so He is the author and finisher of her Faith, Hebrews 12:2. Furthermore Christ, who is the Alpha and the Omega, is the object of her worship, the content of the church's theology, and the actual LIFE of the church of God, through the Spirit of Christ which He has sent to abide with her and seal her in faith and verity until He returns. See Ephesians 1:13-14.
While men may go apostate, in departing from the living God, and while they may amass to themselves multitudes of blind souls, who are left in their natural state and thus cannot know the truth, nothing will remove the candlestick ministry of the true church of GOD. Elect sinners are called and regenerated only by her ministers and servants called also and empowered to preach the gospel of Grace with power. This is accomplished only by the church. See Ephesians 4:11-13.
To extinguish THIS church is to extinguish GOD Almighty Himself. What entity in all of creation will overturn the Sovereign decree of Christ and thus cause His church to cease to exist? Such an entity would itself be GOD. How absurd! And God will NOT do so monstrous a thing to that for which He gave His Son in death, which is said to be the commendation of His love towards the apple of His eye. “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.” Song of Solomon 8:7.
Oh to be sure there will be, as there has been for many years, tares and goats, and wolves in sheep’s clothing running through the LORD'S Church. They allure through the lust of the flesh the simple. They draw away from the sound message of the apostles the gullible and undiscerning. They bring in the leaven of the Pharisees. They pour the death of human opinion and the teachings of men into the pot of divine truth. They turn away the ears from hearing Christ to fantastic things, signs and wonders, miracles, and special revelations.
“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2Thessalonians 2:11-12. They darken counsel by words without knowledge.
ANYTHING that is done or taught which turn men from the gospel of Christ to something else is leaving the first love.
“And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” 2Thessalonians 2:10.
What is the attitude of such as are deceived by this spirit of antichrist? Pride! Pride! Pride! They are puffed up. No one can correct them. They are brute beasts and have no knowledge. "We know the truth. We ALONE have the truth. Without us the truth cannot be known. Except you become apart of us you are outside of the truth!" Whether blatantly declared, or covertly implied the results are the same, blind callus soul damning pride. You’ve heard that before, I’m sure!
“They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them.” Galatians 4:17.
They are constantly calling men out of the church into the wilderness of their fellowship where they promise you will find Christ.
“Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.” Matthew 24:23-26.
It doesn’t matter in the least what name they brandish, Reformed, Baptist, Presbyterian, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Episcopalian, or Catholic. It can even be a paraministry, a television or radio ministry. There be many, any and all of them while these things are the bulk of their teachings are Mystery Babylon’s bastion of confusion.
“So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: 5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.” Revelation 17:3-6.
This is the false church by which God's saints have historically been persecuted, and by which many are deceived today.
How might you know that you have been so deceived?
You have no real personal knowledge of the truth. You have no will to defend the truth if you should know it. Like the Pharisees you know the scriptures, but you don’t know Christ. You have no love for Christ Jesus. There is no conviction of the truth. You are led about by every wind of doctrine. You can’t seem to get a grip on scripture except some man interpret it for you. You are lost in the opinions of men. The Holy Spirit's witness in your soul is an alien concept. You have sold Christ out again and again for the comfort of your flesh. You know you are a secret hypocrite to the truth. You fight against anything that removes your religious security blanket. You are scared to death to have your doctrine tried by fire, you’d rather perish in hell believing a lie, than to come clean and ask GOD to show you and give you the TRUTH.
My friend we are talking about your eternal soul!!!
Why are you in so wretched a case? (1) Because you were too slothful to study for yourself the WORD of GOD! “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32.
(2) Because you are not Christ's sheep! “And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.” John 10:4-5.
You see, the true Church of Christ is not left to herself. Her Shepherd is present in this world, calling her by His glorious and everlasting gospel, and going before her to lead her in the paths of righteousness for His namesake. See Psalm 23.
He does this by His Spirit. That same Spirit which put order into this universe at creation and gives and maintains life in this world, also does so in the true Church of Christ, His new creation. See 1Peter 1:4.
He is an infallible, immutable, omnipotent, omniscient being called
GOD the Holy Spirit. This is her seal. This is why she is still the source
and vehicle of the truth today. This is why she is invincible. The true
church of Christ is a world without end AMEN!
Pastor Jesse Gistand
Grace Bible Church
San Leandro, CA 94572
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