These Things Saith He Unto the Angel of the Church of Ephesus

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;

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:

And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

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.

But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.

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 (Revelation 2:1-7).

These things saith He

that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;

This is a statement that reveals some important attributes of Christ. We see that Jesus has authority and control over the servants of God, and Jesus who is one with God walks among them.  

Jesus Holds all Servants of God in His Hand.

Jesus said, “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. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” [i]

Jesus holds the servants of God in His right hand—the hand that is symbolic of strength and control. The idea of God holding all things in His hand—particularly His servants—is a theme that repeats throughout the scripture. Below are a few examples. These are beautiful scriptures that attest to the nature of God towards His servants, and we can gain more insight by considering these in context. Explore further for your personal edification:

  • Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away. Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness (Isaiah 41:9-10).
  • Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me (Psalm 139:7-10).
  • Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me (Isaiah 49:16).

The above scriptures are encouraging for those who serve Jesus and need some reassurance of the fact that He holds them up and He will not forsake them. However, there is another side to the control that Jesus has over His servants.

Not all that Jesus has chosen to serve Him are ordained by God to become the sons of God. Some servants that Jesus holds are created to betray Christ and those who follow Him.  Judas Iscariot is an example of this. Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.[ii]

We might wonder why God would choose some servants to serve Him faithfully and choose others to betray Him. Paul the Apostle acknowledges this in his epistle to the Romans. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?[iii]

Here are some additional scriptures that demonstrate this attribute of God—He who ordains some as servants of honor and some of dishonor. Explore these scriptures in context yourself for a more well-rounded and informed understanding:

  • The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil (Proverbs 16:4).
  • The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished (2 Peter 9).
  • For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth (Romans 9:17-18).
  • Forever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven. Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth. They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all are thy servants (Psalm 119:89-91).

“For all are thy servants.” This is an important statement that summarizes all the points made so far. Whether a minister of God (a star) is created for honor or dishonor, for faithful service or for betrayal, they are created by Him and for His purposes—and His purposes are always good because He is good, and all things are coming together for the good of the servants who truly love Him. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.[iv]

Whether a servant is created for honor or for dishonor, God is glorified and in full control. This idea can be reassuring on one hand. We know that if we are chosen by God to become the sons of God, then nothing can stand in the way. We can also have peace that is not shattered by corruption within the faith, because we know that all things serve a good purpose. For example, there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.[v]

On the other hand, the idea of God’s sovereignty over His servants can cause fear. We might fear that we are created to be vessels of wrath. If the love of Jesus is true and sincere in us—if we hear the words of Jesus and want to grow in our understanding and ability to live as He would have us to live—then that is a good indicator that He is for us. If the Spirit of Truth is in us, then we are the children of God in the making, and He will cause the Christ-like nature to grow in us throughout the course of our lives. Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.[vi]

Fear God and thank Him knowing that there are some created for destruction, and it is by grace alone that any would have a different fate. It is appropriate for us to fear Him, but we trust in Him also. We are His work. He upholds us, and no one can take us away from God—a God who not only has full control over His servants, but also walks among them.

Jesus Walks Among His People.

Jesus walked among us as an obedient Son to the Father. He walks with us as the Spirit of God lives within us. He is always fully present. He sees all things and He knows all things because the Son, the Father, and the Holy Ghost are God.

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.[vii]

Jesus is the word of God who became flesh and dwelled among us.[viii] This is important for a few reasons. Firstly, this important because of the gospel. Jesus, the Son of God, lived as one of us, died for us, and now lives. Through faith in Him, we are saved from death.

It is remarkable that God—the Creator of all things and He who upholds all things—would humble Himself to such a degree as to become human like us. Being made human like us, He has compassion for us, and He understands the weakness that we all have due to our sinful nature—though He was without sin because He is not merely flesh but God, and God cannot sin. [ix]

Not only did God humble Himself in becoming human, but He further humbled Himself to allow mere men to crucify Him—and He did this on behalf of those who would believe in Him. This is a God that loves His people, even to the point of sacrificing Himself for us. However, having sacrificed Himself for us, He is even more justified in having full authority over His servants. [x]

The knowledge that Jesus walks among the candlesticks is also important because this demonstrates that Jesus is God, specifically as we refer to Old Testament scriptures about God walking among His people. Consider the fuller context for a picture of the judgment, justice, and mercy of God:

  • Thou shalt have a place also without the camp, whither thou shalt go forth abroad: And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee: For the Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee (Deuteronomy 23:12-14).
  • And I set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people. I am the Lord your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright. But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments; And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant: I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it (Leviticus 26:11-16).

We might refer to Old Testament scripture concerning God walking among us, like Leviticus 26, and see that those who despise the commandments of God and break His covenant are sorely punished. In Christ, we have a new and better covenant.

This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them (Hebrews 10:16).

For the Christian who follows the new covenant, the commandments that we follow are summarized as loving God with all your might and loving your neighbor as yourself.[xi]

The new covenant was paid for by the blood of Jesus and we continue with Him in faith, knowing that our sins are forgiven and that He will fulfill all promises that He made to us—promises that result in our adoption as sons of God and life from the dead.

This adoption hinges on God with us, specifically Jesus who is the Son of God who died for our sins, and now lives in heaven, and whose teachings we strive to be faithful to. Jesus taught that if we strive to keep His commandments, then He would send the Holy Spirit to us—and by the Holy Spirit, God is both with us and now, most importantly, He is within us. [xii] The same Spirit that conceived Jesus in Mary’s womb indwells us, and we too can become the sons of God.

With the Spirit of God within us, we have the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.[xiii] The Spirit of God reveals the things of Jesus to us, searches our hearts for sin, encourages repentance, and provides us with strength to do as our Father would have us to do—which is to keep the commandments of God and remain faithful to the teachings of His Son, Jesus.

The commandments of God and faith towards Jesus matter greatly. Although we are not under the old covenant, we are dealing with the same God—a God of mercy but also a God of judgement and justice who should be feared.

Jesus lived with us. He died for us. He lives and He has full control over all things, and He will reign forever in righteous judgement and justice.

Jesus is our God, and He has a lot to say by the words He spoke and by the Spirit that dwells with and within us. He is worthy to be heard, so let us explore what Jesus has to say to Ephesus.

“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:  And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.”

Jesus is in control of all, and He is aware of what His servants are up to. As for the Church of Ephesus, Jesus seems to praise them for their hard work and endurance as they stand against false apostles and general evil within in the church. However, they have “lost their first love.” What is their first love, and how did they lose it?

As followers of Jesus, we should take a stand for what is true. For example, Apostle Paul instructs the Corinthians to beware of “false apostles” and “deceitful workers.”[xiv] In His epistles to Timothy, he instructs that sound doctrine should be enforced, gives details about what it means to be a faithful minister of the gospel, and He calls some people out by name Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme. [xv] Paul’s epistle to Titus provides additional instruction pertaining to the conduct and requirements of Christian ministers.

Paul also instructs the Romans to take notice of and stay away from those who cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.[xvi] When writing to the Romans, Paul also addresses “doubtful disputations” that cause unnecessary division, including things like eating meat verses herbs and observing the sabbath.[xvii]

With these ideas in mind, along with the attributes of Christ mentioned previously (His authority over His servants as He who walks among them all), we might be able to understand what the Ephesians’ “first love” is and how they lost it.

There is a time for standing up for what is true and good. Doing so requires a lot of work and patience, especially when done in the face of great opposition. However, when being factually right and tearing down those who disagree with us becomes most important, we can lose sight of what matters most: Jesus Himself and His commandments—commandments to love God and one another.

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (Matthew 22:37-40).

It is loving to lead people away from sin and away from false teachings. It is loving to point out false teachers that cause the faith of others to faulter. Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.” [xviii] However, this should be done out of love of Christ and the brethren. If that love is replaced with a love of tearing people down and a love of raising yourself or others up as better than another, then the person delivering the rebuke needs a rebuke themselves.

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.”

As Christians, we should strive to continue in the love of Jesus Christ. When we fall away from that, all that we do is corrupted. Therefore, to Ephesus, the church above all others (in their estimation), full of pride and not love, “I will remove your candlestick out of his place.” This might not be surprising when we consider another attribute of God: He resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.[xix]

Therefore, we should humble ourselves before God—He who we all see “as through a glass darkly.” None of us have all understanding, so we should retain patience with our brethren so long as the faith is not hindered, trusting in Jesus to return and set all things right.

When Jesus returns, errors in Christian doctrine will be resolved and we have reason to believe that grace is extended to those who humbly misunderstood secondary issues while showing love towards God and others. Grace is also extended to those who patiently wait on the judgment of the Lord instead of becoming quick to take judgment into their own hands wrongly.

Jesus said, “If that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” [xx]

Those who are found “drunken” and “smithing their fellow servants” are counted as unbelievers. Such as these along with all unfit things pass away when Jesus comes because He Himself will reign. One thing will not pass away, and that is His word—a word that commands us to love Him and one another.

See 1 Corinthians 13:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

“But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.”

Although the Church of Ephesus is rebuked, Jesus acknowledges one thing that they have right, and this is that they hate the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which God also hates. As explained further in The Symbolism, it is the opinion of the author that the Nicolaitanes refers to the worldly church.

There is a time for hate. We should love righteousness and hate iniquity, just as God does. Ephesus has not confused good and evil, and they take a stand against evil and support that which is good. In a world that calls evil good and good evil, this is a righteous and necessary endeavor that requires a lot of labor and patience, and the ability to stand firm and not faint in the face of opposition.

“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.”

From the beginning, man has killed man with their knowledge of good and evil that came from a forbidden tree. Because of this, man must die. In Jesus we have forgiveness and the promise of eternal life within a truly righteous kingdom.

We cannot build paradise using our own knowledge and strength. We cannot build paradise by joining with this world and the ways of this world that destroy all who stand in its way. We wait on our first love, Jesus Christ. He will come and He will make all things right.

However, the Wicked One comes first—and He “was and was not and yet is.” He tempts us using our pride, self-righteous indignation, resentment, fear, and impatience. When He comes in a full way, the spirit of Ephesus unrepented of leaves this church vulnerable to great deception. If we follow the spirit of Ephesus, we are already fallen away from the grace of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ in some measure.

It is good to know that Jesus overcame the world already, and we will overcome also if we continue to put our faith in Him. However, because we trust in Him, we know that God is not someone to trifle with, so we fear Him also—and this is good—because God gives mercy to those that fear Him grace to the humble.

We have to humble ourselves to know that we depend on He who holds us all in His hand, and He will complete His work in us and in our brothers and sisters in Christ. He will also judge us, and this is His right, because He alone lived a human life as one of us and died for the forgiveness of our sins. He showed us mercy, so we should instruct others with love, gentleness, and self-control with a desire to show mercy as much as possible. Then, when a sharp rebuke is needed, Christ Himself is in it by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us—and the words spoken are just.

Before we can rebuke others, we must remember what Jesus said about removing the beam out of our own eye. We should honestly evaluate ourselves first and others last as one who loves the word of God, respects His righteous judgment, and as one whose first love is Jesus Christ Himself and by extension, our brethren in Christ.

That’s a lot of words, but what does this look like practically?

Concern for Present-Day Ministers of Jesus

Remaining humble before God knowing that we all see in part and know in part is key. It is also critical to know which doctrines are truly matters of salvation, and not something that is merely a pillar in the temple of our favored denomination—denominations of which will all come to nothing once Jesus returns, because these are not His true church. Are we loyal to them or to Him?

The true church is not a building or a set of certain doctrines that makes one loyal to a particular Christian sect—sects that often view themselves as being more Christian than another. The true church is in spirit, made of those who worship the Lord in spirit and in truth. Meaning, the heart sincerely desires the Lord and seeks Him in faith. If we sincerely desire Him and seek Him, then He will reveal the issues that matter most to us, and He will rebuke our petty divisions and our love of our denominations and apologetic ministries that so often exalt themselves higher than He.

In relation to this, we will learn that Jesus expect His ministers to stand up for the truth, but the truth includes ideas like:

  • Rebuke in the spirit of meekness.
  • With what judgement you judge, you will be judged.
  • What do you have that you did not receive from God?
  • We all see God in part.
  • We do not want to be old wine skins.
  • God resists the proud and gives grace and mercy to the humble.
  • None is higher than He, and all things are created by Him for His honor and glory.
Concern For Christian Brethren Generally

It seems that we overcome by putting Jesus first so that we avoid being led by ministers who would cause the candlesticks that they are responsible for to be removed. Although stronger judgment is reserved for leaders, every Christian bears individual responsibility for their relationship with Jesus.

To that end, it is a good idea to remain humble before Jesus, knowing that all the brethren are doing what they can to seek Him, and they look for Him by looking to various leaders in the faith with who we might disagree at times.

As for ourselves, we can trust that God is in control, and He will lead us to faithful ministers if we put Him first. He must come before our loyalty to ministers and Christian denominations and sects of all varieties. We must also strive to get to a place in our Christian development in which Jesus is our teacher and master in all things.

Although we need to surround ourselves with believers because we need continual support in the things of God, we do not need to be continually led about by others. We need to mature, and to mature, we need to learn to rely on Jesus more and on man less.

As for rebuking our brethren, this is needful at times. It is also needful to stand up for things that are good and true in general. However, all things should be done in love and as gently as possible. If harsh words are needed, then these words should come from the Holy Spirit and not from ourselves, or else we might experience some chastening from the Lord who does not tolerate those who are spiritually drunken with self-righteous indignation.

What if a person has trouble with over-reacting to the sins of others or otherwise jumping to harsh rebuke? There could be many reasons why this happens. Sometimes this is learned behavior and sometimes this is a trauma response that is hard to break. In all struggles with sin that we have, honesty and a sincere desire to do right is important. If we are honest about our sin and seek Jesus and the person we harm for forgiveness and attempt to make things right, then grace covers us. We all have room to grow in Christ, and the troubles that are addressed in the letter to the church of Ephesus are common to many.

In Conclusion

It is by grace that we all stand, and if the grace of God is for us, who can be against us? Why do we judge one another who stand by grace through faith in Jesus Christ?

Many judgments within the household of the faith concern secondary or tertiary issues of which many within the faith disagree. With these judgments, we begin to excuse and condemn one another. We begin to consider ourselves to be more righteous than another—forgetting that the righteousness we hold is not of our own works, but of the works of Jesus and the perfect life He sacrificed for us.

There is a time for taking a stand against corruption within the Christian faith and within this world in general. However, this must be done with diligence and great care to ensure that the judgments we make are just and needful lest we find ourselves falling under the weight of our own judgments.

If we want gracious judgment, we must give gracious judgment as much as this is possible.

This begins by learning to weigh what matters most for us as Christians.

What teachings are indeed necessary for salvation? It is not difficult to connect any teaching we like to the issue of salvation, but if we seek the Spirit to help, He will show us how to remove our biases so that we can judge rightly—not according to the corruptions of our spirit—but according to the faithfulness of the Holy Spirit.

When all else fails, we can fall back on Jesus Christ and Him crucified for the forgiveness of sins. Of course, much is built upon this, and as Paul the apostle instructs, we must “take heed what you build,” and what are we building if not Christ-like Christians? We might have some debate about what it means to be Christ-like, but to a large degree we should be of one mind and one spirit by the unity of the Holy Spirit.

However, when dealing with our brethren—and we must remember that they are brethren of whom Jesus upholds and walks among—taking the most humble and gracious position will not be frowned upon by our Lord. He would rather that we stand up for what we believe is true, with a willingness to agree to disagree on secondary and tertiary issues, than for us to fuel accusation, slander, division, and strife among His house.

We must have faith, knowing that if the grace of God is for us, then He will work all knowledge in us and our brethren according to His perfect timing and methods by the Spirit of God in us. We do not have to force the matter.

In humility, we can accept that none of us knows all truth as we should know it, and one day we will. We can accept that every Christian will give an account of themselves to Jesus, and He will set all things right. In so doing, it is likely that we will be amazed at His judgments, fall on our faces before Him, and thank Him for how incredibly patient, gracious, and merciful He is with us all.

This idea applies to more than the household of the faith. However, judgement begins from within and thereby we can have the right heart as we go out into the world, doing the work of our Lord and not the works of this world.

To that end, we have things to overcome as well.

When dealing with contentious issues, we need to remember Who we serve first. From large-scale conflicts on the national and global sphere to daily disagreements with people in our lives, Jesus comes before our worldly disputes—and He would have us to deal with one another in a fashion that mirrors His dealings with us.

It is not wrong to test ideas, sift the good from the bad, and take a stand for what is right. However, if we are not doing so with the leading of God and His Spirit according to the teachings of Jesus and the apostles, then we have “left our first love” in pursuit of another. It does not matter how good this other might be, it is not Jesus Christ our Lord.

How should we deal with people during disagreements? We should be quick to listen and slow to speak, quick to mercy and slow to wrath, humble in our own righteousness and wisdom and gracious towards the goodness and intelligence of those with who we disagree.

Stand up for what is right. Rebuke evil. However, do so in love, self-control, and the goal of persuasion instead of the goal of condemning others as you exalt yourself because of how right you are. Repay no one evil for evil but do good to all and trust in God who is the Avenger. Hope in mercy.

This is a high calling, but with persistence we can learn to stand up for what is right and in the right way. We can seek the Lord to forgive us of our pride, anger, resentments, fear, envy, and all other evils of the heart and spirit that cause us to leave of first love in favor of another. Jesus knows our frame and He forgives. He can see when we value what is right according to His Spirit as we wrestle with the sins of our flesh.

However, let us not deceive ourselves. Seek the Spirit to test our hearts, reveal things to us, and lead us to repentance by the patience of God that we all need. Seek strength to perform that which is not natural to man. What is natural to man is to kill, steal, and destroy for the sake of what man deems to be right, good, and true. This is not the Christian way, and this is not the way of the gospel: a gospel of peace and grace through faith in our Lord and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

Thanks to God for His mercy and love that covers our sins. If we are honest about our shortcomings that have a nature that has similarities to the Church of Ephesus, then we can trust in the forgiveness paid for by the Son and the power of the Spirit to help us overcome.

Additional Scriptures when Considering the Letter to the Church of Ephesus

Below are additional scriptures that helped to inform the author’s understanding of the letter to the Church of Ephesus. The key scriptures are noted for simplicities sake, but the reader will gain more when reading these in their full context, looking at the whole chapter at the least.

  • As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you (John 1:9-12).
  • Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes (1 John 8-11).
  • Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace (James 3:13-18).
  • I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith (Romans 12:1-3).
  • For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord (1 Corinthians: 26-31).

[i] John 10:27-30

[ii] John 6:70-71

[iii] Romans 9:19-21

[iv] Romans 8:28

[v] 1 Corinthians 11:19

[vi] Philippians 1:6

[vii] Matthew 1:23, Isaiah 7:14

[viii] John 1

[ix] Hebrews 4

[x] Philippians 2

[xi] Mark 12:30-31

[xii] John 14

[xiii] Ephesians 1:14

[xiv] 2 Corinthians 11

[xv] Timothy 1:18-19

[xvi] Romans 16:17-18

[xvii] Romans 14

[xviii] Leviticus 19:17

[xix] Proverbs 3, James 4, 1 Peter 5

[xx] Matthew 24:48-51

An Unnamed Lamentation of a Servant of Jesus Christ

I can almost hear it. The sound of many singing pop Christian songs to the Lord, muffled through the blood that gurgles in their throats—the blood of many who reject Jesus in sincerity. They drown in it, all the while praising God in vain, thinking themselves alive and accepted.

Lord have mercy. Our world is steeped in sin. We are a spoiled people. Adulterous, self-serving, and lovers of lies and oh so willing to tear people down while we think ourselves righteous.

Many of our sins we inherited by those who came before us, creating systems of decadence, flattery, pride, self-obsession, perversion, robbery, murder, and glorying in all ungodliness. They allowed it to happen, and we reap the reward. You will reap it. Do we not do the same? How much evil are we allowing into our world, even now? How much more will our children inherit? Will there be any faith left in the earth?

The scriptures say that your mercy endures forever. Thank God for that. How far can your mercy be stretched? Can we stretch it so thin that it’s transparent? Will not a blast of hot wind spoken by many lips who honor you without sincerity blow right through, tearing it apart, letting your wrath flow out as a consuming fire?

If we acknowledge our sin and turn to you, though it burns us sore, You will restore. For the sake of your blood that was spilled and your body that was broken, you will have mercy on those who fear you and humble themselves in your sight. How amazing is your grace—the true grace that comes from your perfect, pleasing, and preordained will, that changes the hearts of man who have long rejected you.

Lord strengthen the faithful few, who love you more than this world. Thank you for patiently continuing with the whorish servants like me, who cannot seem to decide which way they want to go. We are completely unworthy, yet for reasons beyond knowing you do not let us fail. As the Psalm of David so aptly put, “I have gone astray like I lost sheep. Seek thy servant, for I do not forget thy commandments.”

Truly, our salvation is by You and for You. All good things come from You only. Be gracious to us who fear you and trust in you, so that we will not be a shame to You anymore.

These Things Saith He – Scripture for the Laodiceans

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. – Revelation 3:20

Jesus knocks, but we don’t always open. We don’t open because we don’t want to hear what He has to say. We might say that we love Jesus, and on some level this can be true. However, our love of this world is in the way and makes us lukewarm towards Him – and we know it.

We know that if we open the door and hear what Jesus has to say, He will ask us to let go of things that we want to hold on to—things that we serve instead of Him. We cannot serve this world and Him also. Though we live in this world, we cannot be of this world because He is not of this world.

If He is knocking and we do not open—and if we are sons of God in the making—then the Father will chasten us to make us more receptive of the good things that we can gain from Jesus. The riches that He has to offer are far better than the things of this world, but without faith, we cannot receive them.

The good things that Jesus gives us are of the Spirit, and though we might prosper in some measure if we live uprightly, many of the things of Spirit have nothing to do with gain in this world. The understanding and wisdom that He gives are often hinged on faith of future gain, not in this world, but in the Kingdom of Heaven to come.

We can experience the things of the Kingdom of Heaven in some measure even now as the Spirit works in us and causes the things of Jesus to manifest in our lives. The more this happens, the more Jesus is our Lord in sincerity, and the more authority He gives us also because we are of the same purpose as He is. “I am come to set fire on the earth, and what will I if it be already kindled?”

It is difficult to overcome the world. We might be ashamed to admit our love of this world, but if we are faithful to admit our faults to God, then He is faithful to forgive, to guide us, and to strengthen us in the way He would have us to go.

This is something that no one can do for us. We can encourage one another in the things of righteousness on a basic level, but each person needs to open to Jesus and hear what He would have them to do personally—and there will be things required of us depending on what we are given. “To whom much is given, much is required.”

Be careful what you ask for. Sometimes we ask for things without taking measure of what it means for us, but we can trust that God is in control of all things and nothing or no one can remove His hand. Yet, let us not be foolish and bury our talent in the earth. The earth is for the dead and the dead rule it until Jesus returns, and in Him alone we have life. Even life from the dead when we refuse the dead and the dead rise against us.

Below are some scriptures that we can consider and compare to what is written by the Spirit to the Laodiceans. This is list is a work in progress. I will take some time away to complete the final These Things Saith He work, Lord willing—and I think—Lord insisting.

  • Matthew 6 and Luke 14
  • Matthew 19 and Mark 10
  • Luke 12
  • Hebrews 12
  • Proverbs 3

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NEXT: These Things Saith He Edited and Finalized

All Current “These Things Saith He” Drafts

The above is the draft version of a chapter to a book I plan to write and publish in a manner that is free of charge to the public.

I wrote in These Things Saith He: Contents that I will publish the drafts here first and offer opportunity for others to share their thoughts before the final work is completed.

I’m open to and greatly value the insight, experiences, and thoughts of my Christian brethren because we are a body knit together in Christ that is meant to work together without over reliance on our leaders. I am not your leader, but I do try to be faithful to what I have received to the best of my ability, and I look to Jesus for gracious judgment of my service and the service of all who truly love Him.

Seed that Fell into Good Ground

But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold (Matthew 13:8).

23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty (Matthew 13:23).

We are considering the section of the Parable of the Sower that deals with seed that fell into good ground. We are comparing the statement that Jesus made within that parable (verse 8) to the explanation also given later within Matthew 13 (verse 23).

In previous articles within this series, we considered seed that fell by the wayside, seed that fell on rocky soil, and seed that fell among thorns. The seed that fell by the wayside was eaten up by unbelievers. The seed that fell on the rocky soil was burned up by hardness of heart and persecution, and the seed that fell among thorns was choked out by cares of this life and the deceitfulness of riches.

Here, we have seed—which is compared to the word of the kingdom—that falls into good ground. There are no unbelievers to take it away. There are no hard hearts and overwhelming societal pressures. There are no smothering life cares and covetousness of worldly riches.

This soil—which is compared to the place in which the word was sown—is able to receive the good things of the kingdom of God, continue in them, and bring forth fruit.

What is the soil?

Let’s recap what we considered so far.

We considered the soil to be the individual heart of the person who received the good news of the of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. All believers on a individual level might go through times in which certain aspects of the things of God as given through Jesus and His ways are challenged and destroyed.

Sometimes unbelievers convince us that some matter of righteousness is not necessary, for example. On a larger scale, unbelievers might overthrow the faith of a believer all together.

Sometimes tradition within the Christian faith or the well-regarded and accepted knowledge of man challenges some good thing of God, and the knowledge is burned up. On a larger scale, persecution for the gospel’s sake might overthrow the faith of a believer all together.

Sometimes the demands of living in this world and the allure of financial or social gain cause some good thing of Jesus to become choked out, and the believer is not fruitful in that matter, though they hold onto the faith generally. On a larger scale, becoming too consumed with living a regular life and accruing gain can overthrown the faith of a believer all together.

As individual Christians, we can experience fruitlessness in a variety of ways and on a spectrum of severity. This is common to many of us, but we should be aware of this teaching of Jesus so that we can seek Him to make us value His wisdom above man’s, to soften and strengthen our hearts, and to remove our love for the world and give us a greater love for Him. We can all become more fruitful in these regards.

There are some who fulfill the most severe end of possibilities within this parable, but that is not something for sincere believers to be overly concerned with. God is in control of all things, and all things that He does are good. Rather than focus on others, we are better off focusing on our own Christina walk in faith, trusting in the mercy of Christ for us—along with a healthy fear of the Lord that motivates us to take the faith seriously.

If we continue in faith and we have proper respect for the things of God as given through Jesus, then we will be fruitful. We might not be perfectly fruitful in all knowledge of the Lord—because His ways are vast when we consider all that He and the apostles taught—but we will find areas of growth. We will find and challenge areas of weakness also in faith, and we will overcome according to the opportunity and grace extended to us.

Now that we have considered the soil in terms of the heart of the individual, I want to consider this in another way that just came to me today.

I want to consider the soil in terms of the environment of the Christian.

As Christians, we carry the word of God. The Spirit of God is with us and within us, and His word comes out of us through our actions and the declarations of faith that we make as we live out our lives, praise God, declare His good teachings, and attempt to share the things that the Spirit has given us with the world around us.

If a Christian is planted in a bad environment, then the seed that they have to share will not be received and little to no fruit will be shown. Meaning, that Christian will not have a meaningful effect on the world around them. Instead, they will feel eaten up, beaten up, taken advantage of, or cast off as some useless thing. The glory that they could give to God is hindered, except for the glory of enduring such troublesome circumstances in faith. This is a life of Hell for a Christian, but all things are good because God is good. We must hold on to His love and goodness no matter the calling in which we are called.

However, if a Christian is planted in an environment that is welcoming of the spiritual gifts they were given, and is eager to hear and receive the good word of Jesus, then that environment will blossom into a place that is fruitful in the things of the Kingdom of God. This is a heavenly life for a Christian. We get to taste what it will be like to live in the Kingdom that is to come as we live it and encourage this in others, and they in turn encourage us and all are made fruitful and bring glory to God.

This is why Christians should not be alone. We are a body of believers and we should surround ourselves with the faithful as much as possible. This is why a Christian should not be “unequally yoked to unbelievers.”

Sometimes we stand among the ungodly, and though we cannot have a real effect on those around us because of the environment, our individual heart can be preserved if the Lord is gracious towards us. Sometimes we endure it in faith. Sometimes we get out of there so that the good things of God can be useful for our sakes, for the sake of others, and for the glory of God.

There is a time for all things and the Lord leads us even when we feel as if we are alone in the darkness. He is there. He will bring us through all things for His Name’s sake.

There is a time to lay down your life in faith and there is a time to flee. There is a time to put down the sword and there is a time to buy one—and if we have proven ourselves willing to lay our lives down for His sake, and if we have proven ourselves faithful over His word—then we might find that He allows us to escape for a time.

We might find that we are instructed to take up a sword, and not the sword of man, but the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God: a word sown on good ground, with deep and abiding roots, able to withstand unbelievers, hardships, and temptations without bending an inch.

When that word springs up out of us, the children of God stand strong even to death if required of us, and this world will have a reconning for all their Godless deeds—and all the more when that same word causes all who belong to Jesus to rise at His coming, which is the greatest of all fruits of our faith. Every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord!

This article is part of a series that considers the parables of Jesus. Right now, we are looking at the lessons that we might learn from The Parable of the Sower. <–Visit this for quick access to all articles written about this parable. If you would like to continue with this conversation, you can subscribe by email. Scroll down to the very bottom of your screen, and you will find a subscribe button. You can also follow in WordPress. 

These Things Saith He – Overcoming the Laodiceans

14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

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.

22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

How does one simply decide to be zealous about the things of God that pertain to Jesus and His gospel? Truly, the grace of God works all things in us—including chastening when it is necessary.

When we belong to Jesus but our heart is going after this world, He might allow this world to hurt us so that we will realize how much better He is. The things that Jesus has to offer are far more precious and meaningful than all the riches of this world.

However, it would be better if we could avoid chastening and instead turn to Jesus who is already there standing at the door. If we come to Him and repent of our love of this world, then there is no need for us to be chastened.

The real trouble is when a worldly Christianity is the norm—a Christianity that claims that a person can love the world and love Jesus too.

Jesus teaches us that “you cannot serve God and mammon (worldly riches).”

When serving God and mammon are not only commonplace, but praised, how can one come out of the mindset of the Laodiceans? As Jesus stated, they do not see their true state. They think that they have all that they need. Something would have to open their eyes to how “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” they are.

Maybe some would find this out without chastening. However, it seems to be unlikely depending on how deep their love of this world goes.

It is good to know that God chastens every son that He loves. I believe that the real challenge for the Laodiceans is learning how to bear that chastening in faith. They have to trust in God and not this world. They have to turn to Jesus more fully, become zealous about Him, and form a real relationship with Him. If they continue in the faith despite the challenges that come as the things that they have loved and trusted in are removed from them, then they will overcome.

As they overcome, they are given something more precious than all the vain things of this world: a close relationship with Jesus. Sitting with Him in His throne is not just about power or authority, though He can give both as He deems. What really matters is the closeness to Christ Himself. He is the real inheritance of the children of God—and we too become sons of God through Him.

We must overcome this world and a love of it, and this is hard when we have many things in this world to distract us and seduce us away from Jesus. However, it does not matter how well off we are financially, if we do not have Jesus truly, then we truly do not have anything—and there is always more of Him that we need.

We might have a relationship with Jesus, but we should never become lukewarm about Him. We always need more. There is more of Him to learn, more of Him to be formed in us, and more that He would have us to do as His servants in this world. We cannot consider ourselves rich in Him overmuch either, or we might find ourselves growing stagnant.

Being poor in spirit is what matters most. As Jesus teaches, “blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” We never have enough of Jesus—though He is more than enough. We can be thankful for all that He has done for us and recognize His work in our lives while continuing to appreciate an on-going need for Him. If we become “lukewarm,” then He might put us into circumstances that bring our spirits down a notch so that we can refocus and return to Him more fully.

If we have riches in this life—and if we live in the West, then we most likely do—we should take care that a love of this world does not make us half-hearted towards Jesus. He is what really matters.

If we have riches in the Spirit as we learn of Jesus and are gifted by Him, then we should remain humble before Him, always knowing that anything we have came from Him, and we always need more.

We all fall short of His perfection. Only His blood perfects us, but having received His sacrifice, we should be serious about Him and find out what He would have us to do with all that He died to provide for us.

The gospel of the kingdom is not just some far off idea—it is a present idea when Jesus lives in us though the Holy Spirit. The more we walk in the Spirit, the more we walk in His kingdom that comes “not with observation” and is “within you.”

However, Jesus will return also, and we want to be His when this happens. We cannot belong to Him and belong to this world also. Jesus said of His disciples, “they are not of the world even as I am not of the world.” He also prayed that that the Father would not take them out of this world, but that He would deliver them from evil.

We cannot escape this world and the troubles of this world, but we can find an escape from temptations that would devour our faithfulness to Jesus–and this world is full of such temptations.

We can live in this world and we might even be able to prosper. The Holy Spirit will convict us. Jesus stands at the door. If a love of this world is keeping us from opening up to Him, then He will let us know.

This can take many forms. This isn’t just a love of wealth. This can also be a love of people. Jesus wants us to love people. However, sometimes in our desire to be at peace or to please people around us, we deny the hard things that Jesus has called us to. Sometimes we fear emotionally hurting people that we love, and we know that we will if we follow Jesus as we should. Sometimes we fear being rejected or outcast by people that we love, respect, and value.

Jesus must come first in all things, and it seems that the more He comes first—especially in a Laodicean world—the less we might have in this world financially and socially. However, nothing that we lose here compares to what we have to gain in Him!

We cannot be like Lot’s wife. Do not look back at this dying world. Look to Jesus. Even when this world seems to be closing in; if we call out to Jesus in humility, honesty, and faith, He will give us strength and guidance to overcome the deceitfulness of riches, the seduction of sin, and the false securities of this world.

PREVIOUS: These Things Saith He – The Laodiceans Overview

NEXT: These Things Saith He — Scripture for the Laodiceans

All Current “These Things Saith He” Drafts

The above is the draft version of a chapter to a book I plan to write and publish in a manner that is free of charge to the public.

I wrote in These Things Saith He: Contents that I will publish the drafts here first and offer opportunity for others to share their thoughts before the final work is completed.

I’m open to and greatly value the insight, experiences, and thoughts of my Christian brethren because we are a body knit together in Christ that is meant to work together without over reliance on our leaders. I am not your leader, but I do try to be faithful to what I have received to the best of my ability, and I look to Jesus for gracious judgment of my service and the service of all who truly love Him.

Seed the Fell Among the Thorns

And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them (Matthew 13:7).

22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful (Matthew 13:22).

This is the third statement that Jesus made during His Parable of the Sower. We are looking at the statement that Jesus made during the parable and the corresponding explanation that He gave, then considering how we might apply this to our lives as Christians for the purpose of strengthening our faith.

Jesus has a lot to teach us. One of the lessons that He taught is that we cannot serve God and mammon. Mammon  is a term in the bible that refers to material wealth. One of the greatest cares that a person has in this life pertains to material wealth, especially in prosperous nations that measure a person’s success and respectability in property square-footage, vehicle mileage, and retirement account balances—to name a few.

On one hand, we have some responsibility to care for people. Especially if we have a family, but how much of our cares are necessary and how many are merely mammon-like luxuries of societal pressure or personal ease and comfort?

Certainly, many Christians prosper because God has blessed them, and their wealth is not a distraction from the things of God. However, the things of God include lessons that Jesus taught about serving God and material gain.

To each his/her own conscience. I think we should refrain from judging anyone in these things overmuch, especially if we live in prosperous nations like in the West. We are all wealthy for the most part, even those of us who are technically impoverished by modern standards.

In any case, it’s not hard to see how a love of money or the responsibilities of this life in general can become a distraction from the things of God as given by Jesus and His apostles.

We only have so much time. How do we choose to spend that time? Once our needs are met, do we pursue more wealth, or do we pursue Jesus?

Sometimes we might have to forego some of our needs in order to pursue Jesus. Especially when we find that the cares of this life are taking us away from Him.  

Jesus Himself said that His “meat is to do the will of my Father.” Sometimes our meat should be to do the will of our Lord. Sometimes our drink should be the Holy Spirit that springs up in us the knowledge of the Lord in truth unto everlasting life. Sometimes our rest should be to labor in the Lord. Sometimes our clothing should be His righteousness and the armor of God that fights against the powers of darkness in this world.

If we have these things, it does not really matter how much we lack in mammon. Jesus will provide for us, especially if we face a time when God decides to burn down our briars and thorns so that we can turn to Him more fully.

We really need very little to survive in the flesh, but we need the greatest things of all to survive in spirit and bodily in the resurrection, and only Jesus can provide those things. No amount of work in this world can gain them, and no troubles that we face in this life compare to the trouble of the “blackness of darkness forever.”

There is a time for all things. There is a time to prosper and there is a time to do without. Paul the Apostle spoke to this. He said that He knew how to have a lot and how to have nothing and to find contentment in all things through Jesus Christ. We can learn too by the grace of God as He wills it.

My Experience with Seed Among Thorns

Fighting against the thorns has been an on-going struggle for me for as long as I can remember in some form. Presently, this might be my greatest trouble. There is fruitfulness in Christ, by the grace and mercy of God. However, I feel the smothering of the cares of this life and the deceitfulness of riches all too well.

I’ve never owned my own home, so not having a home has been my greatest point of covetousness of riches. I’ve either lived in houses owned by other family members, lived with other family members, or rented—and it’s not because I do not work. I work constantly in some form these days, unless I’m asleep or managing to spend time with family.

I’m learning to be content with a roof over my head and the head of my family, even if it is not my own. I am learning to care less about what other people think about me also. There is an assumption that if you are impoverished, then you are incompetent or lazy. There are many reasons why people land on hard times, and sometimes it’s a matter of priority.

For example, I prioritize raising my kids over advancing my business. My kids are the reasons why I started my at-home work in the first place. I don’t regret choosing to homeschool my two older sons and keep my toddler at home. I don’t regret that my kids never saw the inside of a daycare. I don’t judge other parents. I only do what I think is best.

Yet, in doing these things, I find that the cares of this life are multiplied. In order to keep a reliable client, I have to work a set number of hours every week. I could probably make do with less money, but I have to keep the reliable client, or that’s my reasoning. In order to retain them and get the work done—while taking proper care of my kids—I have to spread those hours out over 7 days. It’s been that way since last summer. Other than 2 weeks off for last Christmas, I’ve had 3 days off (I think) in nearly a year. On one hand, I thank the Lord for giving strength to do more than I ever thought possible. On the other hand, those thorns are pressing in.

Jesus should be my first priority, but I feel more and more the fear that even He will get choked by the thorns. Yet, I have faith that He will not allow it. Finding time to write for Him is hard. I write for money every day. I should be able to give Him some time at least a few days a week.

Maybe one day I will not be able to continue with all of this. I don’t know how long I can. Yet, some things will remain fruitful. I can live a Christian life. I can raise my kids uprightly and keep working in that direction, for example. I can have the fruit of knowing and loving the teachings of Jesus. I can have the fruit of enduring hard things patiently. Not that I’m perfect in any of these things, nor do I want to seem to be.

The point is, there are many kinds of fruit, and I trust that Jesus will help us to preserve the fruit that He wants, and He might allow the thorns to choke the fruit that He doesn’t want. I don’t know.

Even as I write this, I’m tired, but I also know that the Sprit is strong when we are weak. I kind of like doing all my writing for Him at the end of long days for this reason. Lord willing, the Spirit will lead it and Lord willing, I will have strength to continue a while longer. I trust that I will finish all that He truly gave me to do. If I take up more than I should, I trust He will remove me from those things, or He will remove the thorns so that I can do what I should.

This article is part of a series that considers the parables of Jesus. Right now, we are looking at the lessons that we might learn from The Parable of the Sower. <–Visit this for quick access to all articles written about this parable. If you would like to continue with this conversation, you can subscribe by email. Scroll down to the very bottom of your screen, and you will find a subscribe button. You can also follow in WordPress. 

Considering Proverbs 11:31

Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner. – Proverbs 11:31

What does recompense mean? I understand this to mean, “repay” in the sense of giving someone what they are owed.

We could also say that the righteous get what they have coming in this life, and this is even more true for the wicked and the sinner.

At first when I read this, I wondered at it because it seems like the wicked do not get what is coming to them. On the contrary, they seem to get away with a lot. As for the righteous, I think of a saying that I heard once: “no good deed goes unpunished.” It seems that the righteous do not always receive good things, but trouble. Jesus Himself said that we should expect trouble if we follow Him because the world hates Him and His followers.

I have experienced this. I have done well. Why haven’t I received well? Why do I have so much trouble and why do the wicked have it easy?

Reality check.

I have been the sinner, and I have received what I had coming.

Sometimes I feel discouraged because I think that all my attempts at doing what is right are not rewarded in proportion to the effort that I put in. Most things are done in faith, hoping for some good in the future—both in this life and in the kingdom of heaven to come.  

As for my wickedness, I have received much more in comparison. I think this is a good thing. After-all, we know from the scriptures that God chastens every son that He loves.

It’s interesting to consider.

Most of the suffering that I have endured in this life has come from foolishness and sins done in youth that led me into things that I have not been able to escape. I could say that this in unfair because I was just a young and stupid person with emotional and mental problems, so I could not have done any differently. I could also say that this is unfair because the Christianity that I grew up in was easily overthrown by the sins of this word and the damage done to my heart and mind.

It was no wonder that I was a modern-day idolater, for example. Even though I grew up in this way, I was still held responsible for my sins because I was a Christian and God was not going to let me get away with it, and I have suffered quite a lot. I don’t think I’ve had a time in my life that was not full of suffering in some measure.

Yet, God is good and I do not blame Him one bit. It has been good for me. Without going through all that I have, I would not have real understanding of how wise and good the things of God are. I would not have real care and longing for righteousness and for His kingdom.

Though I still suffer many things, and though I try to be more faithful with all that He has given me, I do not see the recompense readily. I see changes in me as I have died to self and seen Christ form in me, but there is more to be formed for certain and I have to wait for this to happen. I have to wait to see what will be in faith, knowing that when Jesus returns, we will be as He is. I have to wait to see what my efforts will mean for my children in faith, hoping that they will grow into strong men of God despite many obstacles that come against us.

When I consider it all, I can’t say anything but how good God is. How gracious and merciful. If it were not for Him and His intervention, I very well might not be here at all to endure these hard things, to grow, to seek Him, and to find more of His work in me. If I managed to survive bodily, I would surely be dead in spirit because I was headed to my destruction full force.

So, the suffering that I go through pales in comparison to that fate. God is good.

It did not matter that I did not know any better. It did not matter that my life made me foolish and unwell mentally. I did not matter that the Christianity I knew was lukewarm at best. I was chastened, and it was hard—and it was good.

It was worth it. It is still worth it. Every day that I get to live through hardship and seek Jesus is a good day, even when it does not feel like it because I’m still alive and I can learn. I can get stronger. I can die to self more fully and be raised in Christ in Spirit and one day bodily too.

The same goes for all of us.

If we belong to Jesus, we might suffer for our sins. His blood paid the price and we are forgiven. However, if that forgiveness does not cause us to surrender to Him, but instead we turn to idols of self or idols of people, idols of wealth, idols of comfort, idols of false spirituality, and so forth—which are real problems for many in the faith—then we can expect to suffer when He takes these things from us.

However, it will be good because everything that He does is good.  He will bring us through it all for His Name’s sake if we continue to put our trust in Him, even when it is hard and it seems as though we are going through more than we can handle. In the end, there is a reward of righteousness—the righteousness of Jesus that covers our sins and the righteousness that He works in us by the Spirit who makes us more like Him in spirit and in sincerity. We will love what is really good and really true when all else proves to be meaningless.

The more we let go of that which is meaningless, the more peace and joy we have also. Even when things are hard. There’s always something good that God is working. Sometimes we just need to look and see, and sometimes we look to the future in faith because we serve a wise, patience, merciful, generous, and good God whose promises we can trust in.

I would that the suffering was over. I know that it is far from over. Yet, there is a lot of good things to look at also and to be thankful for—especially Jesus. He has overcome all things. He will make a way for us to overcome in Him also because He said it and His word is true.

Seed That Fell Upon Stony Places

Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:

And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away (Matthew 13:5-6).

20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;

21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended (Matthew 13:20-21).

This is the second statement that Jesus made within the Parable of the Sower. As we did in the last article within this series, we are looking at a section of the parable and the corresponding explanation that Jesus gave.

The goal is for us to consider how we receive the gospel of the kingdom of Jesus Christ so that we might be strengthened in the faith.

The seed was earlier identified as the “word of the kingdom.” What is the word of the kingdom? In most basic terms, this is the gospel of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Through faith in Him, we are promised everlasting life in His kingdom and freedom from sin and death. Within this faith, there is much for us to learn because Jesus had a lot to say, and He still has a lot to say to us through all scripture and through the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes we receive His word happily and we begin to see some semblance of a Christian life. However, when it becomes difficult to keep His word, that growth withers away and it’s as if there was nothing received at all.

This can happen in a variety of ways. The most extreme way is when a person embraces the gospel then later denies the faith because of religious persecution. This also happens in small ways. We might hear a teaching of Jesus and His apostles, embrace that teaching as good, then later deny or fail to perform that teaching when it becomes difficult or contrary to our nature.

The latter is common to all of us in the Christian faith, and the good news is that if we continue in the faith anyway, we will get stronger. We will grow deep roots.

First, we need to get acquainted with the word of God through faith and continued relationship with Jesus who is the word of God. As we learn about Him and love His ways and teachings, we will try to keep His word and live it. We will fail when it gets too hard for us.

When this happens, we can turn to Jesus in faith. We can acknowledge that we love His word, but we lack the strength to uphold it. We can acknowledge that His sacrifice is sufficient for our sins, yet we want to keep His word because we love Him, and we want to be faithful to His teachings.

We can also acknowledge that Jesus made a promise. He said that He would send the Holy Spirit to those who keep His commandments. Jesus also stated that He will send the Holy Spirit to those who persistently ask. So, we keep asking and seeking in faith, and when the Holy Spirit comes to us, we will find greater strength in keeping His word.

We might receive the Spirit in a demonstrative manner as the apostles did or we might simply find it easier to perform the righteousness that we seek. The evidence of receiving the Spirit is fruitful faith—and fruit is only made possible when we have roots.

We all need deeper roots. We might not deny the faith outright, but we can keep the sayings of Jesus more perfectly. The more we can endure small temptations while remaining faithful to His word, the greater confidence we can have in our ability to remain faithful to Jesus during times of great trouble.

We will experience the love of God first-hand as He works in us. We will see His perfect timing and methods as a good Father who knows how to raise each child personally. We will experience mercy and know that He is for us. We will experience strength of Spirit and know that we are being made into sons that can stand strong in righteousness no matter the cost, because He that is in us is strongest when we are weak.

We will see that all things are given to us by the grace of God, and we put our trust in Him to work all good things in us. He makes us to have deep roots. He waters those roots. He feeds us. He prunes us. He makes us strong so that we can be of use to Him and our brethren.

Jesus said that He is the vine and we are the branches. If we abide in Him, then we will be fruitful. Without Him, it is impossible to keep His word. It is all made possible by Him, so have faith. He will cause you to overcome. Bit by bit. If we fail to keep His word and we are honest and remorseful, there is mercy. He knows our frame. He died for us for a reason.

However, we should not be foolish to think that we can deny Jesus in small ways carelessly and remain faithful when serious trials come. Even so, it is the grace of God that makes all the difference. He can do a lot with us in short order if He so chooses.

In any case, for us who love Jesus and do not want to receive Him as a seed on stony ground, let us keep seeking Him to make our hearts rich in knowledge of Him so that we can have deep and strong roots that are tapped into the never-ending supply of water that the Holy Spirit provides. When the heat comes bearing down, we will remain strong—and Lord willing—as a shelter and shade for some in the faith whose roots are not as well formed.

The scripture mentioned here is found in John 14-16. Psalm 1 and Jeremiah 12 also speaks to this idea.

My Experience with Seed that Fell on Stony Ground

One of the most frustrating things as a Christian is to love the teachings of Jesus but find myself unable to keep them. Once I received good teachings that were not fit to be eaten by birds on the wayside, the next challenge was keeping these teachings.

The more that I learned about Jesus and His ways, the more I became convinced of His goodness and the wisdom of His teachings. I loved His ways, but I also saw my sin very clearly and I became discouraged because I was not able to do the things that Jesus taught. This led me to a desperate place.

I was convinced that many things had gone wrong within the Christian world, and I felt like I should do something about that in some small way. So, I started my first Christian blog. However, my own sin weighed heavily on me, and I had not received the Holy Spirit in a demonstrative manner.

One of the teachings that I had come to believe was that receiving the Spirit in demonstration and power was to be expected and sought after persistently, so I did. I asked to receive the Holy Spirit often, and I did so for about two years before anything noticeable happened.

In late January 2016, that changed. I was alone in my room, praying to Jesus. I was very upset about my inability to live righteously, and I wanted to understand His word better. I was sure that things were wrong in mainstream Christianity, but I needed to have that knowledge confirmed in the Spirit. One of the things that I believed was that the gospel was not just forgiveness, but power to live righteously as the Spirit of God wrote the words of God in our hearts and changed our natures (I still believe this).

I needed the Holy Spirit so that I could do as I should do, and I needed the Spirit to strengthen my understanding in the things that I believed to be true about the Christian world as I saw it.

I prayed to receive the Holy Spirit because I wanted to overcome sin, and I told Jesus that I would make His truth and will for His people known if He would teach me. I didn’t really understand what I was asking for or what that would mean, but I really wanted to know Him, to live uprightly, and to help His people who I considered to be in danger of trouble because of corruption within the faith.

He answered in a demonstrative manner. I wrote about this on a few other occasions. I felt a sensation come over me that at first just felt like emotional peace, but then it was more than emotion. I felt a physical sensation come over my hands and lips then I began to speak softly in a language that I did not understand. I sat up (I was lying on my bed at the time crying to Jesus). Then, the words turned into a song that was gentle at first, then strong and almost angry, then one of rejoicing. I did not know what the words were. I still don’t, but I did know that it was a song for the churches.

This is why I take the letters to the 7 churches in Revelation so seriously. Though, I would that I could do better. Time and life responsibilities make it difficult—like a seed among thorns. I get what that is like too.

I would that I could say that I am never like one who received the seed of God on stony ground now that I have the Holy Spirit. Some sins were taken away as well as some social anxiety problems that I had. However, I still have weak areas.

Overtime, I have learned that it is good for us to wrestle against sin and to learn to trust in the strength of God and not ourselves. This struggle draws us near to Jesus, especially when we have the Holy Spirit because we cannot sin without being affected by it. We need to know better, and we need to do better. I also know that receiving the Spirit is not just a one and done thing. We need continual refreshing, which is why the Spirit is compared to a stream of water.

I am not really like stony ground in the sense that nothing can make me deny the truth and goodness of the ways of Jesus. I have experienced mild troubles socially because of the hard things I say and write about mainstream Christianity in the West, and so far, by the grace of God, I have not denied what He gave me.

As far as living a Christian life–which is most important of all– I still need to see Him work in me so that I have the strength of Spirit to do all that He would have me to do. I still struggle with some sin, but I do know that what I wrote about above is true.

When we fail, admit our fault, and sincerely want to do what is pleasing to God, there is mercy through Jesus. I also know that the more we fail and keep seeking, the stronger we will get. I also know that the more we grow, the more challenges we might face depending on the will of God for us and what He is creating us to endure.

Below are some things that I wrote that might help if you feel weak in the things of God. I have also and I still do, but I am thankful to know that Jesus works mightily in us when we continue to put our trust in Him.

God Gives Strength, but We Don’t Always Notice.

Praying for the Right Kind of Strength

It’s not that you aren’t improving. Things keep getting harder.

That’s the basics of how it went for me. If you would like to know more, or if you would like to share your own troubles with unbelief, feel free to email me at It’s difficult sometimes to remain faithful to Jesus, especially when the world hates us for it or because of our own weakness. If you find yourself on the verge of unbelief, pray. If you would like someone to pray with you or for you, reach out anytime.

This article is part of a series that considers the parables of Jesus. Right now, we are looking at the lessons that we might learn from The Parable of the Sower. <–Visit this for quick access to all articles written about this parable. If you would like to continue with this conversation, you can subscribe by email. Scroll down to the very bottom of your screen, and you will find a subscribe button. You can also follow in WordPress. This is not copyrighted material. Use and share freely.

These Things Saith He – The Laodiceans Overview

14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

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.

22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Jesus is not someone to be half-hearted towards. He is the truth. He is the faithful and true witness of the Father to man, and He is the beginning of all creation. His word formed all things, and it is by His sacrifice and resurrection that we are formed into sons of God who will live forever.

Yet, despite who He is, many do not pursue Him as they should. They consider themselves to have everything that they need already. There are two ways that I consider the richness of the Laodiceans.

First, there is literal richness. They are financially prosperous and therefore satisfied with their lives. They do not think that they need anything because they only view need in terms of this world. If they have money, houses, cars, and other possessions, then there is nothing else to be concerned about.

Next, there is spiritual richness. Jesus teaches, “blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs in the kingdom of heaven.” A person who is rich in spirit is a person who is full of themselves. They are satisfied with who they are. They like who they are, and they see no reason to change a thing.

Whether a person is rich in possessions or rich in self, there is hazard that Jesus is addressing.

They do not see how much they lack.

Jesus once said that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Yet, with God, all things all possible.

With God, chastening is also possible—and necessary—if our hearts have become Laodicean-like in nature.

As Christians, we do not want to be overly satisfied with this world or with ourselves—especially not to the extent that we stop feeling our desperate need for Jesus.

Riches in this world are temporary and they do not make us rich towards God. We need to keep seeking Jesus because He is worthy to be sought after. He is worthy of our loyalty, devotion, and service. If we seek Him and want to live as He would have us, then He will bless us in the things of the Kingdom which are far greater than all the wealth in the world.

Similarity, being content with ourselves does not make us a good person. We need to keep seeking Jesus and looking to Him as the example that we are to follow. In so doing, we will see how much we lack. There is always room to grow in understanding of the things of God, in righteousness that performs the good things of God, and in growing our fellow servants in Christ.

We are never good enough to stop improving, not so long as we are in this flesh. If we keep seeking, we will keep growing—and it’s amazing to know that there is always more. There is no reason to become stale or stagnant in our faith or in our pursuit of being transformed into the likeness of Christ.

18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

The gold that we want is not gold in this world, but the gold of real faith that is made pure by a life of trials and difficulties. A life of ease and prosperity rarely leads to strong faith. If necessary, the Father will remove our prosperity and love of self. He will put us through the fire to purify our faith and make it stronger.

Or we can buy this gold from Him—gold that Christ Himself forged through the fires of His own affliction. He will give us faith in Him as He had in the Father. We just need to seek Him and keep asking for it. We can also buy from Him the white robes of salvation that makes us truly clean in the eyes of God. Only He can provide this for us.

We are never going to be good enough so we should never be satisfied with ourselves apart from the work of Jesus on the cross and His power in us to renew our minds and hearts. We need to see what really matters and covet Him and His kingdom instead of the things of this world.

Jesus compared His kingdom to a pearl of great price, that once found, a person would sell all that he had just to get that pearl. We need to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.”

We should be zealous for the things of God as given by the gospel of the kingdom of Jesus Christ and less zealous for this world and for our desire to be satisfied with ourselves. If we find ourselves too consumed by this world and ourselves—and if we are the children of God—then we will be chastised because the Father chastens every son that He loves.

20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

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.

Jesus is always there, and His word is always going out. The scriptures are always speaking, and the Spirit is always at work. Jesus is near, and if we look for Him and pursue Him then He will come into us in spirit. He will feed us with His good and everlasting word—the word that satisfies more than all the wealth of the worlds and the only word that can make sinful man right before God and created again new as sons of God.

The things that Jesus has to offer are far better than anything we can imagine. We are inheriting eternal life as sons of God and Jesus grants authority to those who overcome in Him. Jesus said, “in the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” We can overcome because He overcame first, and “He that is in you is stronger than he that is in the world.”

What does it mean to sit with Jesus in His throne?

For one, this is a close relationship with Jesus. That is the real treasure. He is not far off. He is right with us, and we are right with Him. We are working together with Him as servants and sons. We are of the same mind and same purpose, and therefore we are granted authority to bring His kingdom about in this world an in the age to come. In the age to come, we also have authority as “kings and priests to God and to the Lamb.”

What might that kingdom be like? Based on this letter alone, we might question what Jesus values in His kingdom. Does He want a kingdom of worldly pleasure and gain? Will we simply sit around and enjoy a rich life and revel in the glory of our resurrected bodies?

Or will we keep seeking Jesus? Will we keep serving Him? Will He have things for us to do that build His kingdom, serve His people, and further grow us into better sons? There is more for us after the resurrection, and it does not involve a life of worldly pleasure and self-gratification. However, what it does involve is far better—even better than we can imagine.

“The eye has not seen, nor the ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.”

PREVIOUS: These Things Saith He – Scripture for Philadelphia

NEXT: These Things Saith He — Overcoming Laodicea

All Current “These Things Saith He” Drafts

The above is the draft version of a chapter to a book I plan to write and publish in a manner that is free of charge to the public.

I wrote in These Things Saith He: Contents that I will publish the drafts here first and offer opportunity for others to share their thoughts before the final work is completed.

I’m open to and greatly value the insight, experiences, and thoughts of my Christian brethren because we are a body knit together in Christ that is meant to work together without over reliance on our leaders. I am not your leader, but I do try to be faithful to what I have received to the best of my ability, and I look to Jesus for gracious judgment of my service and the service of all who truly love Him.

Considering Proverbs 11:30

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise. – Proverbs 11:30

James stated that when we convert a sinner from the error of his ways, we are saving his soul from death (James 5). This seems to be the same idea.

As Christians, it’s easy to feel discouraged, saddened, and angered by a culture that normalizes and praises sin, but we need to be careful in how we deal with the sins of our time.

First, what is our goal?

Is our goal to convert a sinner so that they might be saved from deadly ideas and actions?

Or is our goal to humiliate them? Is our goal to show off how right we are or how much we know? Is our goal to gain approval and praise from those who already believe like we do? Is our goal to make ourselves feel morally superior?

If our goal is not to stand up for what is right out of a love of the truth and a love for God and our fellow man, then we are far less likely to convert anyone.

In-fact, we are far more likely to harden the person(s) further and make them stronger in their sin rather than free them from it. We might even encourage them to feel so passionate about their stance that they feel the need to convert others to their way of thinking and behaving.

Before we allow our emotions to cloud our better judgment, we need to remember that we have received forgiveness of our sins through faith in Jesus. Since we have the promise of the resurrection, there is no real harm that can come to us. However, those who are blinded to the truth are on a path of sure destruction, and they lead others in the same things.

Jesus once said, “leave them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind.”

There is a time to let people be. Especially when are at risk of handling the situation in a foolish manner. Sometimes people get so caught up in saving others from their sin that they don’t recognize their own.

However, if we are properly equipped and if communication is opened so that we can turn someone away from their sin, then we should try—but in a Christian way that treats others the same way we would want to be treated.

These are trying times for us who love Jesus and His ways.

People do not believe in sin anymore. Not really. They do not think that there are consequences for the wrongs that they do, because they have become so hardened that they think the wrongs are good. They think that they are standing up for the rights of others as they destroy many.

It seems that the self has become a god. It’s all about what the individual thinks is best for them and to hell with anyone who gets in the way of their “right” to be completely self-obsessed. Self-sacrifice for the good of anyone—even their own children—is oppressive in their minds. How dare anyone suggest that they care about anyone but themselves? This is their rationale:

Sin? Give me a break. There is no sin. If I say it’s good for me, then it’s good. If I say that it’s wrong for me, then it’s wrong. Same goes for you too. I’m so tolerant. What you say is good for you is good for you. What you say is wrong for you is wrong for you. Who am I to judge? And don’t you dare judge me either. How dare you say that what is right for me is wrong for you? Your rights are wrong for me. You must be destroyed because I am my own god, and I do not care about your rights if they contradict my own.

What utter hypocrisy. How can such a society exist? It will tear itself apart.

This is serious and we need to be wise in how we handle all of this. If we really want to convert people and not add more hatred and destruction to the mix, then we need to behave as Christians. If it means being hated, targeted, and snuffed out, then that is better for our souls than to go the path of the wicked whose god is themselves.

PREVIOUS STUDY: Considering Proverbs 11:29 – “He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart.

The purpose of this bible study in The Proverbs is to consider present-day events in terms of the teachings and wisdom of Jesus ChristFollow in WordPress or subscribe by email (red button at the bottom of each page below the comments) if you would like to join this discussion and receive updates of future postsVisit the link above for easy access to all posts within this series

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