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Plan For His Church


Welcome to class #4 of our 20 classes summarizing & applying Revelation’s truths.
Jesus writes a list of commendations, one serious warning, and a promise, and sends it by messenger to the port of Ephesus. And the moment this messenger walked into the city, holding this letter from Jesus, the first thing he would have seen would not have been the bustling harbor teeming with boats, or the roads lined with exotic goods from all the trade routes to the east, but the largest building (not object like pyramids or Romans Roads) in the ancient world.
Standing ten stories high and taking up an entire city block, the temple of Diana (or Artemis, in Greek) was completely covered and overlaid with pure gold. It stood gleaming in the sun directly in the center of the city, and it became #3 of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
In and around Diana’s temple, prostitutes, both men, and women lured people in for unbridled immorality in the worship of Diana, a goddess of sex and fertility. Hundreds of temple prostitutes were always on the grounds to promote this unrestrained indulgence of the flesh. Ephesus was a magnet for not just the sexually enslaved, but it was also the center of the black arts, witchcraft, superstition, and all the powers of Satan.
This third wonder of the ancient world was the center of everything that went on in the city, and standing for all to see was the huge, pornographic statue of Diana carved out of black stone. All of this fostered a culture of evil that promoted materialism, pride, occultism, and sensuality. With the demon worship going on in Ephesus, the “spiritual hosts of wickedness” were out in full force, shamelessly advertising everything that God hates.
And this is where God had chosen to plant His most successful church.
The Ephesian Church Jesus writes to was His greatest church,
perhaps the greatest and most powerful church of church history
Probably all the other six churches of the seven in Rev 2-3 were planted from Ephesus This is a 20 lesson course on the final book of the Bible.
Revelation’s 404 verses contain over 800 quotations, allusions, and connections to the rest of the Bible.
There is no new doctrine contained in these 22 chapters, only clarification on how they will come to pass.
This is the ONLY book of the Bible Jesus came down to supervise as the conclusion of God’s Revelation. Moses went up to God to get the Pentateuch; Jesus came down to Earth on Patmos to show John what to write.
This course is called HOW IT ALL ENDS–an Expositional Bible Study course I just finished teaching to 300 college students, leading them through a personal study of each verse of the Book of Revelation.
Every chapter, every verse, every doctrine, every prophetic theme–all here in this one 20-hour class.
Want to get a personal grasp of what God explains about “How it All Ends”?
This 20 lesson course is just what you need!
Thanks for praying for us through these months of travel, and supporting us financially while we were teaching groups of both FrontLine missionaries and NextGeneration students this course three times in 10 weeks!
Plan For His Church


How it all ends. That’s what the book of Revelation is about. We’re in our fourth part, expositionally studying it. Our question today is do you know God’s plan for His Church? Remember we already talked last hour, that if you’re in the Church, you’re a saint. If you’re a saint you’re in the Church, if you’ve been saved, you’re a saint. If you’ve been saved, you’re in the Church. Being saved means you’re born again into a new family, which is the Church. You enter into this amazing family.

The book of Revelation was written to the amazing family that lived in that circle. Geographically, that’s the postal route. Mail would come into Ephesus on boats. They’d go up and then come down the river valley. Then they would slip back over. That was a postal route, the Roman Empire’s communication system. What it was most likely were churches planted by the Ephesian believers during Paul’s ministry. See, Paul started that church. It says that he taught for Ephesus, he started the church of Ephesus, and he taught for three years in the school of Tyrannus, it says in Acts 19, until everybody in Asia heard the Gospel. That’s interesting. What it meant was that people came and then they left. They went all over this province and took it with them. These are probably churches that were started there.

Here’s what I found in my little half hour of every day that I spend reading every section. Let’s go to chapter 2. In your Bible, Revelation chapter 2. Wow. It’s the fourth hour and we’ve got through one chapter. That’s foreboding, isn’t it? I see that smile on your face, right there. We have a very smart student over here and she’s calculating that at the speed I’m going, you guys are going to miss lunch some days or supper or something. Okay. Here we go. Chapter 2. “To the angel.” Let’s settle that right now. Do angels lead churches? Yes or no? No. How do we know that? Because the Bible says in every church Paul appointed elders, Acts 14:23. Elders are people and they’re appointed to be the teaching, shepherding representatives of Christ.

Why is it called an angel here? Because that’s an English word. It’s not a translation, it’s a transliteration. There are many Greek words that if you say them out loud sound exactly like the English word. Let me say the Greek word for angel, angelos. What does angelos sound like? Angel, but what does angelos, the Greek word, mean? Messenger. It can be a messenger on the pony express riding across the country with the Native Americans chasing him. It doesn’t matter. A messenger is a messenger. It could be the person that’s walking out to give the announcements at the banquet. They’re the messenger.

Who are the messengers of the Church that Jesus is holding? Revelation doesn’t introduce any new stuff. There is nothing in Revelation that’s not somewhere else in the Bible. Isn’t that neat? That means the more you study Revelation, you better understand the rest of the Bible because God pulls all these little things out of all the most obscure, dark corners in the Bible and explains them and fits them together. The messenger is the pastor-teacher-elder of the church in Ephesus. There were probably multiple churches in Ephesus because it was so big. Local gatherings, but all of them together were the church at Ephesus.

Look what I wrote. Jesus designed our DNA. DNA is one of the greatest proofs of creation. Do you know what they discovered this week? A new team found out something new about the DNA first responders. Did you know your DNA, every coil of it your body, has been designed to have a self-repair part that clicks into action as soon as there’s some damage to that DNA? This repair part comes in. I just read the Scientific American, the most amazing article. It comes in and clamps off both ends of the strand where the problem is, in the middle, and it clamps it off. It works on it, in the middle, and then it comes off and unclamps it. How did that evolve? How long did it take for DNA to mutate and go crazy for it to decide it’s got to help itself? How would it even think about that? Do you understand what I mean? This whole mapping of the human genome is one of the bonanzas for creationism because it proves the divine origin of us right down to the plans of our bodies.

Guess who designed your plans? Jesus knows who you are. He knows where we live and even knows which church of His body we’re a part of or not a part of. Boy, didn’t COVID ruin church attendance. Who wants to wear a mask while you’re singing? Oh, it’s just hard. Jesus said you’re in the Church, whether you attend or not, but it doesn’t benefit you if you’re not with the other believers. Do you know what all of us are supposed to be doing? We’re supposed to be stimulating. The Greek word is the word that we would call cataclysm. We’re supposed to be doing a cataclysmic thing. Having this effect on each other where we cause each other to change. That’s what we’re all supposed to be doing. Encouraging one another, exhorting is the Greek word. He knows which church we’re a part of.

The second thing I learned is in verse B, it’s chapter 2, verse 1, letter B. It says, “He who holds the seven stars in His right hand.” The stars are the messengers, the angelos, the pastor-teachers. Look what I wrote. Jesus holds a pastor-teacher in His hands, so He knows what you have been taught in your church or not taught. Plus, He knows how we’re functioning as a part of His body as a lampstand. Jesus is with us, and He walks around the churches.

I want to show you something. Every one of these letters has the same grid, all seven letters to Ephesus, Smyrna, and Pergamum, right down the line. All of them start the first part, with the name of the city. By the way, the name of the city is written into the message. These things are integrated messages.

Second thing, Jesus reveals something about Himself to them, His chosen name. Look at what He says in Ephesus. “These things,” this is chapter 2 verse 1, “these things says He.” Jesus said, this is who I am. I hold the seven stars in My right hand, and I walk around the seven golden lampstands. Jesus, that’s how He wants us to know Him. I’m the one that’s holding the message and the messenger for all My churches. Boy, does that help me.

I’ve pastored in a lot of churches. I started in Georgia. In Demorest, Georgia. That was the first church. I was a youth pastor. Then I went from there to Grace Community Church and was associate pastor for John MacArthur. Then went from there to Quidnessett Church in Rhode Island. Then I went from there to Tulsa Bible Church in Tulsa. Then I went from there to Calvary Bible Church of Kalamazoo. Do you know what was a blessing in all those churches when you had any problems at all? If you’re ever going to church there are problems, because there are saved sinners in the church. One of the worst things that happen to pastors is called sheep bites. You’re supposed to be protecting them from the wolves and all of a sudden, a sheep bites you, one of the people in the church. It’s a terrible thing, but the danger is letting the sheep bite get infected. That means you get bitter and angry and get upset at the Church and harm it and something like that. Do you know what blessed me? I would hear these raucous business meetings and I would say, I’m so glad that when you take the offering in this church, that what you’re putting the money into is not into my hands, but into the hands of Jesus Christ.

First of all, that money you give doesn’t go to me. You gave it to Christ, but guess what Jesus said He’s doing? Revelation 2 verse 1. I am the one who holds the messengers in My hand. I said Ephesians 4 says that pastor-teachers are gifts to Christ’s Church. Actually, I don’t work for you. I work for Christ. Actually, you didn’t really pick me and vote, even though you went through that process. Jesus decided He wanted me at this church. Do you understand what I mean? It just changes your whole perspective of the ministry. It doesn’t matter how many times sheep bite you because look what they did to Christ. No one’s crucified me yet for being a pastor and He understands. His chosen name is that.

In His commendation, He says something nice. His concern. Then He says I have something against you. It’s number four. Then He tells them an exhortation, how to change. Then He makes this promise to the overcomers. What’s an overcomer? See nothing’s new in Revelation. Have I said that before? That means if you want to understand a word you don’t understand, you look where else it is in the Bible. What is 1 John 5 all about? All of 1 John, all five chapters, are about overcomers. This is a faith that overcomes the world. Who are the overcomers? Those that believe that Jesus is the Christ. All the overcomer stuff is already explained. An overcomer is God’s name for us Christians. It isn’t a superclass, it’s not the Olympic Christians. The Olympic athlete Christians are overcomers and the rest of us are not. Nope. If you are in the Church, you’re an overcomer, you’re a saint. Then His challenge. This ends every one of these seven little letters that Jesus wrote. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” We’re going to follow that grid and all of them.

Here’s the church. This is some artist. I always love it when archeologists get artists to make a representation of what they’ve excavated. This was one of the seven wonders of the world. This thing is amazing. If you would have been coming into the harbor of Ephesus teeming with boats and all the roads lined up with exotic goods, all the way across the empire, the largest building you would have seen as you sailed into the harbor of Ephesus was this thing. By the way, this is the largest building in the ancient world. That’s why it became a wonder. You say, oh, I have Google. I know the pyramids are bigger. Are the pyramids buildings? Yeah, they got a tomb inside. They got some passageways.

Did you see it last month? They finally figured out there is a hidden chamber after all these years. The biggest pyramid has a large hidden chamber. Oh, I can’t wait to see what they find. It’ll prove even more of the Bible. That was the largest building the ancients said. I’ll tell you about it. It was 10 stories high. It took up an entire city block. It was the temple of Diana or Artemis in Greek. It was completely covered and overlaid with pure gold. It stood gleaming in the sun directly in the center of the city and it became number three of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

You say, so what? Listen to what it was like. In and around Diana’s temple were prostitutes, both men, and women, who lured people in for unbridled immorality to worship Diana, the goddess of sex and fertility. Hundreds of the temple prostitutes were always on the grounds to promote an unrestrained indulgence of the flesh. Ephesus became a magnet not just for the sexually enslaved, but it was the center of black arts, witchcraft, superstition, and all the powers of Satan. Think about it. Jesus planted His greatest church in the shadow of Satan’s temple. I know they said it was Diana, Artemis. Paul said to the Corinthians, who is behind every idol? Demons, and Satan.

What’s the new Disney thing? The Immortals or whatever now, all the Marvel things. We’re starting to cross over from science fiction into mythology. Thor, the Nordic god, and all that stuff. Behind all of the mythology and false gods of all the religions of the world is Satan. Remember he’s the god of this world. This was Satan’s biggest temple, the largest building of the ancient world, of the classic world when they made the seven wonders. God planted His biggest church in the shadow of that place. If you even care about the Bible that you’re here studying, that should start sending alarm bells off. How did God plant a church in the shadow of the biggest temple of Satan? That means that wherever Ephesus is talked about is fascinating.

Acts 19 is about the birth of this Church. Paul wrote six chapters to these people. What’s it called, the book of what? Ephesians, yeah. The book of Ephesians was to that church. What did he write about? He wrote about how to overcome sexual temptation, how to defeat spiritual warfare, and how to resist Satan. That’s what the book of Ephesians is all about, based on the first three chapters, in which you’ve probably already studied our position in Christ. To have any church in Ephesus was really a miracle.

The church at Ephesus was Paul’s longest ministry. It had the greatest revival of the New Testament era. It’s the largest church in Church History that we have a record of. It’s the church Jesus is going to talk about where He is their first love. That’s where we are in Revelation 2 and 3. It has the most detailed words on spiritual warfare and commands.

You know in the Bible, you have Logos, you can search for the imperatives. That’s a quick one. Did you know Jesus in the Great Commission said, go into all the world and preach the Gospel, teaching them to observe all things that I have, what? Commanded you. That’s the Great Commission. Matthew 28:18-20. What did Jesus command? A new commandment I give unto you that you love one another. That’s an easy one, but do you know what all the rest of His 250 commands are? The imperatives that are in the Gospels. Jesus commanded many things. You say, why does that matter? Because John wrote five books. His first one was the Gospel by John. Do you know what it says in John 14:21? “He who has My commandments and,” what? “Keeps them, it is he who loves Me.” Very interesting. There are a lot of commands and Ephesians 6:10-20 is all I was trying to say.

Ephesus teaches us the three choices of a surrendered life. Look at this. “I know your works.” I’m in Revelation 2:2 now. “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and found them liars.” Verse 3. “You’ve persevered and have patience, and have labored from My name’s sake and not become weary.” Verse 4. “Nevertheless I have this against you.” Jesus is saying to a local church, the biggest one, the miracle church, the one that’s in the shadow of Satan’s temple. “I have this against you.”

I don’t know who the person is you most look up to as the biggest top dog of your life, but think of whoever it is. Whether it’s your parents or your boss, or your best friend, or your girlfriend or your boyfriend, or I don’t know who. Someone that you think is the most important person in your life, the worst thing that whoever it is could say is I have this against you. Wouldn’t you sit up after you collapsed with sorrow and cried a little bit and said, I didn’t know you had anything against me? I don’t want anything to be against me. I love you, or I admire you, or I want to do whatever to please you. If that person said outright, I have this against you, wouldn’t it be shocking? Yet Jesus says that to this church. Why?

Let’s do a little study of where they’d come from. Look at Acts 19. Remember, if we’re going to do the expositional study we have to see the background. This is not the first time Ephesus shows up in the Bible. The first time it shows up in the Bible is way back here in Acts chapter 19. See how long it takes to turn the pages, but it sure is fun. When I turn the pages I see all the markings that I have in my Bible and it reminds me of the way that God wired our memories, our brains. We have 600 octillion synaptic connections. This is an amazing hard drive. It’s better than flash. The four terabytes of hard drives that you can carry in your pocket are the size of a credit card. This thing’s really dense. There are more synaptic connections inside your brain than there are known stars in the universe. 600 octillion synaptic connections. If you’ve gone through, I think Don Lough teaches about this, I don’t know, there’s a spiritual gift that is called the gift of knowledge. It scares people because they’re thinking of a prophet that’s telling the future.

Do you know what the literal, systematic theology, the theological definition of the word of knowledge is? A spontaneous bringing to mind of a previously learned scripture. How many of you have been talking to someone and all of a sudden, a verse? You can’t believe it. You learned it in Awana 22 years ago, it just comes to your mind. Is it because you’re really smart? No, it’s because of the way God wired our minds. Everything you’ve ever seen or heard or done or said or anything else, there’s room up here. It’s all there. It’s all recorded in Technicolor. Your brain is taking a video. It’s 8K, it’s not 4k. It’s 8K of everything. Every thought, every word, every sound, every lyric, every smell. It’s on all the time. It’s all there. This hard drive has everything in it. Do you know what the Holy Spirit offers to us if we surrender? He’ll spontaneously bring to your mind a previously learned scripture. Do you know what the goal is? To previously learn it. He won’t bring to mind something you haven’t learned. That would be Revelation. We don’t believe in continuing Revelation, but we sure do believe that He will bring to our minds what we previously learned. Every time I turn the pages, it brings everything to my mind that I previously learned.

Look at verse 11 and I’ll stop talking about everything that comes to my mind or we’ll never finish this lesson. “Now God worked unusual.” I’m in Acts 19:11-17. “God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul.” Listen to the founding of this church. Verse 12. “So that even handkerchiefs or aprons that were brought from his body to the sick.” Do you understand what that means? Paul’s working, trying to earn a living. He’s working as a leatherworker. Bonnie and I have gone around all these shops in the archeological remains. It’s amazing how unventilated they were. You can actually see Paul’s leather shop because it’s a part of all the leather shops that are in Corinth. You can see what they look like. Very unventilated. They didn’t have central air. Here he is working away on his leatherwork, and he grabs his handkerchief. He grabs a cloth and wipes it across his forehead and says, oh boy. He sets it down and works some more. He goes to grab it again and it is gone. Where did it go? Look at verse 12. “So that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body.”

People were hanging around the doors like this, waiting for Paul to go to lunch and take his leatherworker apron off. They’d grab the apron and they’d run over to someone that was sick and they would touch them with the apron. Look what would happen in verse 12. “Diseases left them and evil spirits went out of them.” This was the most unbelievable time of Paul’s ministry. A handkerchief, his napkin. He was at Chipotle; he got a little guac on his face and he used the napkin. Poof, there it went, and they would go heal someone with it. That’s what was going on.

Look what happens. I don’t have time to read it all, but after the seven sons of Sceva it says, “this became known,” verse 17, “both to all the Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them,” here it is “and the name of the Lord Jesus was,” what does your Bible say? “Magnified.” The name of Paul wasn’t magnified. Isn’t that interesting? Nowadays, if you’re a big shot in the Christian world, you’re a big shot. Have you ever been to the NRB, the National Religious Broadcasters thing? Christian Bible teachers and evangelists have details around them. They look like the president. They all have those things in their ears, and they have a little bulge in their suit. You know what that means, that they have a gun. These superstars come into the NRB with a phalanx of all these protective details. That’s why most of our modern Christian superheroes never go to jail, and are not scourged, stoned, or imprisoned because they are superstars.

Did you know that the Bible says the greatest revival in history was a man whose napkins could heal people and drive out demons? He wasn’t magnified. Who is magnified? Who does verse 17 say was magnified? Christ. The goal of our lives is for people to not even remember who told them that. It’s kind of like Phillip with the Ethiopian eunuch. Philip disappeared, the Lord harpazoed him, raptured him away. The eunuch went on his way rejoicing. He wasn’t even worried that he didn’t know where Phillip was because Phillip had connected him to Christ. Paul had connected these people to Christ. The goal of Word of Life Bible Institute is not to connect you to someone that becomes your uber mega superhero. It is to connect you to Christ. God’s Son was magnified.

That was the first of the choices that the church at Ephesus made. Remember, here, I’ll back up. The three choices. This church, the whole church, embodied the surrendered life. The first church choice they made is they were going to magnify God’s Son. They didn’t magnify Paul. They thought he was a great tool the Lord used, but it was Christ they were connected to. I hope that’s what happens during your experience here at Word of Life.

Part of the charter, I’m on the board of the Word of Life Bible Institute, just one of many. There’s this huge room of us. They always remind us, every board meeting, twice a year when we gather in March and in August. We actually have one more, so we have three, we have one in December too. They remind us of the charter and the founding documents of the Word of Life Bible Institute. Do you know what it is? To prepare you for a lifetime. One of those lines in there says to give you the skills and prepare you for the lifetime ministry. Do you know what lifetime ministry is? It’s not staying in this room. It’s getting connected very deeply to Christ in this room and in your dorms and all of your outreach then leaving here connected to Him. He’s magnified, so that’s the first thing.

By the way, this is unlike any time in Paul’s ministry. God didn’t do miracles like this all the time, but here in Ephesus, because Paul’s only goal was to magnify Christ. He didn’t care about magnifying himself, his name, or his status. God especially blessed Paul’s ministry, like at no other time in his life. It’s amazing to think about.

Look what happens. When Christ gets magnified in your life something happens to you. This is what happened to the church. Look at verse 18. “And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds.” Verse 19. “Many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled 50,000 pieces of silver.” That’s a lifetime, many lifetimes. That’s 200 years of work at average rate wages. We’re talking about multiple lifetimes of multiple people. That’s so much, it would be very much. Then verse 20. I don’t want to get to 20 yet. What’s the second thing, the second choice? Number one, we want Christ magnified.

Number two. God’s people are consecrated. I keep getting the questions, they come up and several of you have told me that you ask all of the speakers the same set of questions. I think about how that’s exactly what I used to do. Only I didn’t ask them, I took them out for a meal. That’s how I met John MacArthur. I walked up to him and said I would like to take you out to lunch. He looked around, he just got done speaking at a place, a chapel. There were hundreds of students there and he looked around and everyone was going that way to lunch. He was left at the front. He said, I guess nobody else wants me, you can have me. I thought, oh! I went to lunch for three hours. I asked him questions, I don’t remember eating anything I just asked him questions. I just said, how do you find that in the Bible? How do you study? How do you memorize? How do you read? When it got all done, he said, you know what, why don’t you just come on staff? He said I’ll just show you all that stuff. That’s how I started on staff. So, ask John MacArthur out to lunch, you might be on staff. No.

What happens that God wants to happen when we start magnifying Christ in our life? We start getting consecrated. We start shedding, tearing off the old garments of sin. The things that so easily beset us. Let me just talk about this. When God’s Son is magnified, choice number two, God’s people get consecrated. When Paul originally began spreading the Gospel in Ephesus, he was not talking to commendable God honoring saints. It says in Ephesians, that they “walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air.” Then Paul goes on in Ephesians to say, this church “conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature the children of wrath.” These were Diana worshipers, sex addicts, materialism controlled, occult practicing sinners that we’re talking about here. When God saves them, He doesn’t just leave them there. They made the choice to cooperate. What I’m saying here is they cooperated with sanctification.

How did they do that? Oh, we don’t have to guess. Remember, nothing’s new in Revelation. This church in Satan’s shadow is chronicled. Let’s look at what Paul taught them. It’s in Ephesians 4 right here. Starting in verse 17, so look at Ephesians 4. Do you want to know how they did it? How did they magnify Christ? That’s Ephesians 1, 2, and 3. That was just that they listened and said we got it, Paul. How did they get consecrated? That’s Ephesians 4 and 5 and 6. Look what happens in Ephesians 4, starting in verse 17. “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind.” He said, you guys aren’t supposed to live under the shadow of that temple, Satan and all the wickedness they do there. Why? Because those people, verse 18, “having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness in their heart; who, being past feeling have given themselves over to lewdness.”

Isn’t it fun to read the Bible and see what it’s talking about? He’s describing what the Ephesian people who lived around that temple, the wonder of the world, lived like. They lived just like this. Ignorance and blindness of their hearts. Verse 19, “who, being past feeling, have given themselves over” to all this. Verse 20, but that’s not what you learned from Christ. He didn’t say that’s not what you learned from me. Paul stood and said, I want you to follow me like I’m following who? Christ. That’s right. That’s 1 Corinthians 11:1. I think you’ve memorized that and it’s great.

Hey, we’re supposed to go out in the world and say, I want you to follow me because I’m following Christ. It’s okay to say follow me if you’re following Christ. Paul is teaching them right here; you’re learning this from Christ. I’m the one that’s speaking to you, but what I’m telling you is from Christ. Verse 21 of chapter 4 of Ephesians. “If indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus.” Now, verse 22; How do you get consecrated? Have you ever heard most pastors have three points in a story or something because in homiletics people can only remember so much so you have three points? This is one of those three point sermons Paul gives. Look at it. It’s in verse 22. “That you put off.” If you could see my Bible, I have a big red box around that. Then look at verse 23. “And be renewed.” You put off, then secondly you are renewed. Then look at verse 24. “That you put on.”

I’ll tell you about one of my bad habits. As a man, I would wear the same thing every day. Women are not like that. It’s comfortable. I like it. I have a wonderful wife. Do you know what she does? She gets rid of some of my clothes because I would keep wearing them until they fell apart. I am a creature of habit. The fact that I’m wearing what I call my pink shirt is because Bonnie bought it for me. I had another shirt that I wore too much. It looked really ratty, so she bought me a new one. I went in to get my regular shirt and I looked, and it wasn’t there. I went, honey, what happened? She said honey, I got you something new. I had to choose to put it on.

Do you understand what the Bible is written for? The New Testament was primarily made up of slaves that were in the church. That’s why they met at night. The slaves worked all day. That’s why Eutychus fell out the window and died and Paul had to raise him from the dead. He was from the area around Ephesus. It’s because they were mostly slaves. These people were trying to get this in, but they were tired, and they worked all day. Paul said, okay, I’ll make the Christian life really simple. It’s like getting dressed. You put off, you are renewed, you put on. It’s like getting undressed, taking a shower, and getting dressed again in clean clothes. Okay. Isn’t that simple?

Let me ask you, is it like Iron Man where you put your hands out to the side and the machine comes around you and takes it off and puts it on? No, it’s a choice you make. You have to take off, then you have to go to be renewed, the shower, and then you have to choose to put on. That’s the Christian life. They chose to not give Satan a foothold in their life. They were constantly shedding. Every time they remembered something from the old life, every time they walked by that temple, and they were tempted again because they remembered that prostitute or whatever used to tempt them, they decided they were going to find a new way across town and not walk by that because it reminded them. See, they put off the old, but they didn’t just put off. They were renewed. How do you get renewed? “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice,” you all know this verse. “And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Do you know what that means? That means if you’re memorizing verses for any class or course, you’re not memorizing them just for the course. You should be memorizing them for the rest of your life.

On my phone, I have pictures of my verse cards from the 1970s when I was just like you sitting in college. I had to memorize all these verses and all those AWANA verses and all the BMA verses and all the verses from whatever program I was in. Camp verses. Why? I didn’t do them just for camp or to get five points on the quiz and then forget it. I can learn those fast and get it over with. No. That’s the only way I can take a shower. That’s the only way I can be renewed, by the renewing of your mind. It’s the Holy Spirit who takes the word of God that totally transforms our minds. I’m only on slide 13 of 30 and we have 10 minutes. Okay. My question: are you making a choice every day?

Here’s the last thing. Look at Acts 19:9. Oh, now I have to turn all the way back to Acts 19 verse 9. Paul took them to the school of Tyrannus and reasoned daily in the school. Then look at verse 10. “And this continued for two years.” They went to this kind of afternoon Q and A. The reasoning means Q and A, but now look at verse 20. “So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.” If God’s Son is magnified, if you choose for Christ to be magnified, and if you choose to be consecrated by taking off, being renewed, and putting on every day, then God’s word will start prevailing in your life. When God’s Son is magnified, when God’s people are consecrated, God’s word prevails.

The power of the Early Church was simply genuine holiness. You know, everybody’s looking for the secret. What did they have? How did they do all that? They are energized by God’s grace. They magnified Christ. God’s word prevailed in their lives. They lived a consecrated life. The Spirit of God moved unhindered. He flowed through them unquenched. God got all the glory.

This morning I put something on YouTube. Every day I put a little devotional thought on YouTube and this morning, I don’t know, I got up at five. I put up how not to quench the Holy Spirit. Yeah, I just shared my thoughts. It was a video clip. I wrote a little piece. Just before I came here, I looked. I think when I left for class 5,468 people had already watched that clip. Why? They don’t want to quench the Holy Spirit. Did you know, that’s the biggest problem in our church today? People are saved and the One who’s transforming them they’re quenching by disobeying Him. The Spirit flowed unclenched. God got all the glory. No one competed for the credit. No one sought to be in control. God reigned in the church. The Spirit moved and Christ was magnified.

What I always ask the students, and I would ask you if we had time, is what would be burned in your life today if God’s conviction swept your life? What would you pull out and say I don’t want this anymore because this is hindering the Holy Spirit in my life? That’s what’s supposed to be going on. When you sit through these classes, you should be ticking off learning truth, ignited by the Holy Spirit and saying, I think I’m going to lessen because every time I do that, I get tempted and fail and feel far from God. I’m going to start shedding that and I’m going to be renewed and I’m going to go this way.

Those were only the first two lessons we found. Secondly, Jesus records our life. Jesus keeps a spiritual resume. Look what He says in verse 2. Oh, I have to turn all the way back to Revelation, chapter 2, and verse 2. Jesus said, “I know your works, your labor.” Jesus is recording our lives. He has a resume of our life. Jesus’s monitoring our health. Look at verse 4. “I have this against you.” You don’t love Me like you used to. They had a heart condition.

I can speak from experience on that. The day before my birthday in 2020, I was driving one of my sons to the airport and I felt worse than I ever felt in my life. This is two years and two months ago. I felt like an elephant had gotten in the car and was sitting on me. I didn’t talk. That’s how bad I was, sick. Bonnie knew because I wasn’t talking. I have a phonographic mind; whatever I’m thinking about I talk about. I felt like an elephant was on me. We dropped my son off at the airport and we turned around from the airport and Bonnie said, where are we headed? I said the hospital. She said what? I said, oh. I started sweating and I was having a heart attack. Do you know what they do? There’s an artery right here at your wrist and they cut a little slit and they put a tube up your arm, that on the end of it has all these gizmos. They can do all kinds of stuff. They went in there and opened up my artery and popped it open with a screen and put a screen in. All kinds of wonderful stuff, because I had a heart condition.

Ephesus had a heart condition. They appeared to be thriving. It was the largest church in the world. Paul pastored there for three years; he explained the scriptures every day. Just before being exiled John lived there and ministered in Ephesus. They had Mary, Jesus’ mother, there. Timothy had been there. More scripture books were written directly to Ephesus than any other city in the world. Ephesians, 1 Timothy, 1 John. In Revelation 2, this letter Jesus dictates, and they were amazing.

Here’s the problem. They were coasting and nobody could see it, except Jesus. The church was big. The programs were humming. The outreach was going, the church was packed. The speaking was out of this world, but inside the hearts, Jesus was no longer first. In their schedules, in their concentration, and what they thought about. That signaled He was no longer the supreme ruler.

They weren’t seeking Him above all else, they were just seeking Him. Jesus admonished them. Remember I told you there are only two choices, pleasing God or pleasing self. Either we’re pleasing Jesus or we’re not. The only way we please Him is when we love Him more than everything or anything else. The bottom line is right in the scriptures. Look what Jesus says, verse 5. “Remember therefore from where you have fallen.” Remember how much you used to long for My word and love Me and seek Me first in everything you did. Remember that and repent.

What is repentance by the way? The Greek word is metanoia. I know the morphology of the word. What does it mean? It means you have a change of mind. Okay. I’m walking this way. I have a change of mind and I say I want to go the other way, then I go the other way. It’s a change of mind that leads to a change of behavior. That’s why I said you’ll never be in the future, which you’re not becoming today. You have to have that change of mind today and start in a new direction.

Jesus didn’t take first place. Their hearts didn’t belong to Him. Repent. Jesus asks us to remember, repent, and start over again. Matthew 6:33, seek first the kingdom of God. Matthew 4:4, seek to live by every word of God. That’s why I spend a half an hour every day writing in my little journal. Set your affection above in Colossians 3:1. Oh, by the way, I taught this for one whole year to our church and it’s in a book. Those of you that are on Amazon and do Kindles I think it’s on sale for $2.99 or $3.99 right now. This is all seven churches. Christ’s Last Words to His Church.

Jesus said in verse 5, reset your compass. Any marriage or relationship is about time, focus, and trust. If you have a relationship, you spend time, you focus on them and you trust each other. Do you spend prime time with Jesus? Do we focus on Him? If I get around Bonnie, I’m looking right at her. I want to see her face, her eyes. I want to see how she’s talking. I want to know how she feels. She’s the one person in the whole world I want to spend all my time with. Okay. I spend time with you, but grudgingly, I’d rather be with her. That’s how it is with the Lord. We want to be praying, reading the word, and doing our memory work because we’re consumed by love.

Jesus knows, by the way, look at verse 6. He says I know that you hate the people that I hate. He knows what we love and hate. Jesus said in verse 7 that if you have ears to hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying. What He’s saying is genuine salvation means we hear the voice of the Lord. I told you about that lady on the tube. Jesus speaks to all believers. Hear what the Spirit says to all the churches. Jesus says you’re overcomers. What that means is God’s going to finish what He started. That’s what Philippians 1:6 says, we’re kept by the power of God. The secret is to love God most.


Check Out All The Sermons In The Series

You can find all the sermons and short clips from this series,  Revelation Taught In 2022 here.

Looking To Study The Bible Like Dr. Barnett?

Dr. Barnett has curated an Amazon page with a large collection of resources he uses in his study of God’s Word. You can check it out here.