I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.
Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.
‘He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” Revelation 3:15-22
For years now I have been looking for the Perfect Church.
In my studies I think Jesus has clarified the problem.
It’s me ... I am the problem! but the good news is: I can be the solution as well.
Where is the Perfect Church?
Many would answer: "there is no such thing as a perfect church.” But in reality this is often just a reply that allows us to remain with the status quo. A better reply might be that only in heaven will we find the perfect church.
But when you think about it, the closest we will get to a perfect church is potentially looking at ourselves in the mirror: one Christian rightly related to Christ through the Holy Spirit allowing the love of Christ to control and guide him as he fulfills the mission Christ has given him. When a number of believers come together rightly related to Christ … His power is magnified for all to see. Then you will hear people say; “I just love this church.”
Those who have experienced this understand. Those who have not … cannot truly understand. I have had such an experience in a small church, not perfect but there were a large proportion of Christians that were modeling the love of Christ and as a result … Jesus Christ was magnified for all.
Unfortunately, when we lost our pastor, our elder board made a critical error in choosing a new pastor. The new pastor was following principles taught by church growth people rather than from God’s Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit. The result was ... well you get the picture.
I served on that board and realized the error early on, but the pastor was very well received, and the church grew rapidly. I chose not to be divisive and moved to another church. This is one of the great regrets of my life. More than twenty years later, this same church is now searching for a pastor. This post is written directly to the board of that church. Hopefully the words of Jesus will guide them in their most important decision, and this might somehow help me atone for my past mistakes.
When we learned we were losing Pastor Clyde, we were discouraged. But we believed God would guide us in our pastor search. I am convinced that although we carefully searched the God's Word for the qualities God required in a pastor, elder, and teacher; we should have been more focused on the qualities of the perfect church from the perspective of Jesus Christ. This would have resulted in a better decision.
That’s right, Jesus has given us a list of qualities that he loves to see in the church. At the time, I would never have thought to look in the book of Revelation. But the Truth is that our Lord has spoken to us only once since He ascended into Heaven and that is in the book of Revelation. For a variety of reasons Christians often avoid this prophetic vision.
In the letters to the churches Jesus says; “I wish.” Any time Jesus gives us His wish list, it makes sense to me that we should listen and follow His instructions very carefully. There are actually about eighty specific wishes that Jesus has listed in the seven letters. Many of them are repeated multiple times or are similar, and so I have reduced the total to eleven.
If we could only create the church at Philadelphia, we would accomplish the greatest church in the world. But Christ’s Perfect Church would be far beyond that. Can you imagine a perfect church that models all of the qualities Jesus wished for and commended in these letters and banished those things he abhors? I am confident that you won't find this teaching from the church growth movement.
The Perfect Church
1. Jesus wishes for us to do the work that He has called you to do. Jesus mentions this in one way or another eight different times. The first thing that comes to mind here is the great commission and all that this entails. The work assignment for us here is pretty clear to me: Spiritual gifts; missions; making disciples; baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; and teaching them all that He commanded. Matthew 28:19-20. Another scripture that I believe would apply here is: 2 Corinthians 5:14-21. Where we have been given a mission as Ambassadors for Christ with a ministry of reconciliation … “as though God were entreating through us, we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” It is critical that the elders and the pastor have a burden for the great commission and lead passionately here ... if not, you will end up with a lukewarm church.
I am convinced that one of the key elements of that little church of one hundred that I mentioned, that grew to 800 in only a few years was the new members class. I know this might sound minor to some, but that is only because many of these classes lack spiritual leadership. Our class was led by the pastor and it lasted five weeks.
The message was simple: In order to join the church, you needed to trust your life to Jesus Christ and receive His free gift of forgiveness and eternal salvation. And you needed to explain what that meant Biblically. The Pastor then taught each of us to witness with our Bible in hand, the verses that led to salvation were memorized and linked so that each of us could walk an unbeliever through God’s Word.
This put every member on a path to accomplishing the great commission within their personal circle of influence; wherever God had placed them, from their first day of membership. It also increased each Christian's confidence in what they believed, and established God's inerrant Truth as the foundation of their beliefs.
Additionally, there was a strong commitment to missions, and of course continual teaching that led us all to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. An emphasis on friendship within the church family was also an area where the pastor and the entire church family modeled phileo brotherly love. Jesus loves those who do good works. Jesus loves those who are on fire for the Gospel of Christ. I am convinced the gospel teaches salvation by grace through faith alone ... not a result of works.Have you ever wondered how a church of one hundred believers can have a presence of the Holy Spirit that may appear absent in a congregation of five thousand? Well read the next point.
2. Jesus wishes we would repent. He is not just talking to the church at Laodicea here. Jesus calls for the churches to repent seven different times. Now that is interesting, don’t you think. How much repentance is going on in your church? Jesus wants each of us to remember how we first heard and received His forgiveness and reconciliation.
Although we are justified through Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross, we still need to confess our sins daily, and repent of our sins, not unto salvation but rather to restore a healthy relationship with the Holy Spirit. In Christ ... our salvation is always secure by His finished work on the cross (we are justified in Christ), but a sinful walk can result in separation and emptiness.
This starts with each individual and must be modeled by the pastors and the elders. Once again, if my previous board had been looking for a humble spirit of repentance in the church body and themselves when we were looking for our pastor twenty years ago … a serious leadership mistake would surely have been avoided. Jesus says He wants us to go back to the beginning and start over; return to our first love; and do the things we did at first. We must humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord. Then He will lift us up. 2 Chronicles 34:27-28
Jesus loves it when those who have drifted and lost their fire for the Lord, and are lukewarm; come to grips with their spiritual emptiness and repent. My previous posts have made it clear that surveys have clearly shown that over 90% of professing Christians when asked ... describe themselves as carnal Christians. Can you imagine the positive impact there would be on any church when these aimless wanderers repent and instead walk under the guidance of the Holy Spirit?
Jesus commands we repent. Why are the churches missing this clear admonition from the Lord? The collective presence of the Holy Spirit will immediately positively change the atmosphere of any local church. Communion that is led by the Holy Spirit will lead many to repentance and reconciliation with Christ and a church body that is on fire for Christ and His Word.
3. Jesus wishes that we would not put up with those who are evil. This is not a passing thought. Jesus has mentioned this thirteen times in the letters in various ways. Warning, this view is not politically correct, or tolerant. He wants us to test and expose false teachers as liars. The problem we have in America is that our freedoms have led many to believe that their spiritual views are relevant or important, regardless of the message. Christian churches that are not teaching Christianity should be exposed to protect those seeking the truth.
Jesus commends those who refuse to submit to the doctrine of Balaam which had to do with one’s willingness to compromise the principles of God and proclaim things contrary to the revealed Word of God while seeking monetary gain. Jesus wants us to stand against the stumbling blocks of Balak which had to do with trickery that led to mixing pagan religions with worshiping God and committing sexual immorality.
And He also mentions the Nicolaitans twice and their deeds and doctrines which Jesus says He hates. Jesus … hate? I need to know this one, don’t you? Well the evidence is less clear here but some conclude this is in reference to a mixture of different belief systems. The problem is that it has an outward appearance of true spirituality while practicing or tolerating those things He considers an abomination.
With Balaam, Balak, and the Nicolaitians the message is basically the same. This teaching offers a Christianity which doesn't demand obedience and loyalty to Jesus Christ alone. I am convinced that the teaching of evolution; and the modernist and social gospel views that God’s Word is not to be taken literally fit here, and also any churches calling themselves Christian that do not adhere to the teaching of salvation through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross alone. These are doctrines of demons. This is heresy and God hates it- plain and simple!
Jesus loves it when we reject false teaching and false idols in any form. Any false teaching you've heard in church lately? Well since our churches are in the middle of the world; then it stands to reason that if the leaders do not make it clear to the church body the reality of false teaching and false idols … how likely are you to see these problems of the world infecting your church body? Without question … very likely. Abortion, Homosexuality, gay marriage, gay clergy ... an amoral belief system by professing Christians is not uncommon. How low can we go?
Once again read The Clergy Letter Project from my previous post where thirteen thousand pastors have signed and are clearly infected with these Nicolaitan doctrines of demons. They have the right to believe and teach whatever they wish; but to call it Christianity is heresy ... and Jesus is calling on us to confront their heresy. But the church is mostly silent. In fact, they say they are in the majority with these views , and who knows maybe their foolish babble does sadly stand in the majority. But is that relevant spiritually? I think NOT! Jesus Christ has spoken to us ... I stand with Jesus.
Rev 2:24 "Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden.
Confront Doctrines of Demons in your church and in your community. "But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons" 1 Timothy 4:1
TO BE CONTINUED ... I have eight more points to cover and will post part two of this message in the next few days.
often contradict the wisdom of the world. Since we have been programmed by the world ... we have come to accept these worldly ideas as truth ... but when we consider God’s perspective ... we come to understand ... "the Lord's ways are not our ways"
Don't just read these writings ... meditate and pray over God's Word ... Listen to the Holy Spirit ... and be transformed by renewing your mind. He who died on our behalf wants you to ... allow the love of Christ to control you ... so that you might become ... the righteousness of God in Him.
Be an Ambassador of Christ ... with a ministry of reconciliation. Share God's eternal Truth and Love ... with everyone He brings into your path.