28330 Bermont Road Punta Gorda Fl    941-639-1700

Pastor's Message

Survey of the
New Testament Church


February 2009

Dear Friends,

There was a survey taken of the New Testament church. Some of the statistics were a great find, others showed that some work was needed. The survey was taken by one person. It was conducted in seven churches which covered all churches that were, and will ever be. The one person that conducted the survey was the Lord Jesus Christ. His findings and recommendations are published in the Revelation Letter. These findings are consistent with every church era.

The first statistic of interest, found in the church of Ephesus, was a passion for Jesus. No matter what our position, calling or function in the Body of Christ, we cannot allow those things to become an idol in our life. Even these deeds of righteousness can become works of the flesh. One reason this happens, is because we may find our worth in what we do, and who we do it for. But our life is hid in Christ. Our worth is found in Him. He is the One we are to be, and stay, passionate about. It's all about spending time with Him, and maintaining an intimate walk with the Lord. We can be involved with the toil, without losing the twinkle in our eye!

His recommendation: Remember!! Remember the place where you used to actively love Me not just work for Me. Repent- turn back, as a result of remembering. Confirm your repentance with immediate action or you will lose your decision. Jesus rebuked them for taking control while letting go of Him. He did give praise for not giving themselves to the liberals of the day, who loosely handled the Word of God in order to conquer the laity with false teaching. (Revelation 2:1-7).

The second statistic of interest was sound teaching. Love can cover a multitude of sins, but we are not to tolerate false teaching. The church of Pergamum tolerated those that held to the teachings of Balaam and the Nicolaitans. This false doctrine held to the idea of our spirits being perfect in Christ(which they are), therefore it does not matter what we do in the flesh. This was an extreme perversion of grace, which was very destructive to the hearer. Many in the 21st century church are still falling into this deceptive teaching.

The surveyors recommendation: Repent. Have a change of mind that effects a change in action. Jesus rebuked them for living in sin, fearing the sword of man, when He has the sharpest of swords. (Revelation 2:12-17).

Number three on this important list is the proper operations of the gifts. Thyatira had a false prophetess named Jezebel. Through her teachings she encouraged sin. Many people are afraid to judge anything because they think they may quench the Spirit. The Apostle Paul tells us through the agency of the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 "I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler-not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves"

God is the One who judges those outside the church. We are to judge those that are in the church. This is a judgement of action, not the eternal judgement and condition of their spirit. These actions are not to be tolerated in the 'name of love'. God is not interested in feelings as much as He is interested in the condition of our heart, and results of our actions. We must realize our actions can be an obstacle to the blessing of the Lord in our life. The gifts of God are to operate to encourage us, rebuke us, edify us, to continue on the path of salvation. We are to desire earnestly the gifts of the Spirit, but are to follow after the nature of God

His recommendation to this church was to not hold to this false teaching. There were some that did not follow the immoral life that was being preached, and to those the Lord placed no other burden on them. We are the living temple of the Living God. We are to keep His temple clean. This one that overcomes and keeps the deeds of God, will have authority over the nations in the age to come.

Another finding was published from the church of Sardis. They had a fame of having lively services. Their excitement was second to none. But Jesus told them they were dead. Revelation 3:1b 'I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead..' Sardis thought they were invincible, and secure. They had slight persecution and problems. Therefore they became lackadaisical about the things of God, thinking they had 'arrived', but Jesus said it was all about to die. Having stopped developing in the things of God, they were of a shallow character.

It is not only about how our services are conducted in church, but how we conduct our lives everyday. It is living in a real faith, as real people, everyday. "For the righteous man shall live by faith" (Romans 1:17).

As Jesus looked at the church of Philadelphia, He reported that they had a little power. They were small in numbers, but they kept the Word of God. There was no rebuke for this church, only praise. Jesus found they were a church of unity, and had evangelism that could go through a door, to affect the whole world.

Laodicea was found to be neither refreshing, or therapeutic to others' lives. They were lukewarm, bland, trepid, neutral, indifferent, they tasted terrible, close to spoil, and as something to be spit out when put in the mouth. This church was very wealthy, just like the city, but had forgotten who gave them the power to make wealth and forgot they had a spiritual need. Living like "mere men", Jesus says they never pressed on to walk in His Divine Nature. They thought the natural, physical blessings were all that was needed. They were totally carnal!! Jesus said they were wretched bums, pitiful, spiritually bankrupt, ignorant, unable to see clearly, and shameful. There was no commendations found in surveying this church.

The Lord's recommendation was to repent and become rich before God. Perceive things the way God sees them. Stop living according to the things you see in the natural, like a 'mere man'. Walk in the riches and glory of eternity, here in this life, serving the Lord with our life.

I have left the church of Smyrna for last. There were no rebukes for this church. They were commended for not allowing tribulation and pressure to cause them to turn away from being faithful to the Lord. Everything outward had been stolen from these believers, but what they had in them was their life. Their pressure were so great, that it was as a man lying down and a giant boulder was rolled on him. The more it rolled, the more pressure was applied. This was a tremendous mental ordeal, paralyzed by the affairs of life.

As Christians they were considered the scum of the earth. They were abused and slandered. These believers were called the off-scouring of the earth and needed to be rubbed out. The surveyor found their faithfulness to be beyond comparison, with no need for rebuke or recommendation. He only afforded praise to these mighty, faithful, believers.

The Lord is still surveying today. He is giving commendations, rebukes, and recommendations. He says to us as He said to all He surveyed before; "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

The Lord desires that each of us overcome as He overcame. He desires that we live in victory, as we have partaken of His victory through the new birth. His commendations, rebukes, and recommendations are published to be a helpful guide for us, as to what to avoid, and what to build upon. Let's remove the obstacles and keep a clear path as we head for all victories.

Blessings of the Lord to each of you. Grow in good health, grow in a life of increase, grow in a prosperous soul. (3John2).

Pastor Bob