THE CHURCH AT EPHESIS
Being a pastor, I would have loved to pastor a church for which Jesus had so many good things to say: “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:” But Jesus did not stop there in His message to the Ephesian Church.
He has identified Himself to the Ephesians as “he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks,” and warns them, “I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent” He wants them to understand that He has the authority to do that which He says will happen if they do not repent. On the surface, the church at Ephesis seems to have been an exceptionally sound church, even having those that hated the doctrines of the Nicolaitanes, which Jesus also hates. However, His warning was not to any of the individuals to repent of certain doctrines, but to the ENTIRE of the church for leaving their first love. Jesus warned the entire church to repent from having left their first love. So, What would have been their first love?
The first mention of Ephesus in the scripture is in Acts 18:19 when the Apostle Paul came there with Priscilla and Aquila. After entering the synagogue there and reasoning there with the Jews, Paul then left shortly afterward to attend a feast in Jerusalem, but left Priscilla and Aquila behind in Ephesus. Next mention of Ephesus is that Apollos, who was mighty in the scriptures, came there convincing the Jews that Jesus was The Christ. The next time that Ephesus is mentioned is when Paul returns and re-baptizes the believers, about twelve in number, in the Name of the Lord Jesus, and lays hands upon them and the Holy Ghost comes upon them. Paul continues the ministry to Jews in the Synagogue of Ephesus for about three months, but when they became hardened to the Gospel, he departed from the synagogue taking the twelve disciples with him.
These twelve became the first assembly of the Saints at Ephesus and so the first love of the Ephesians would have been known to them. Paul continued in Ephesus for about two years, disputing in the school of Tyrannous. (Acts 19:10-20:1.) Therefore, we must examine the teachings of Paul to determine what the first love of the Ephesians would have been. The next time Ephesus is mentioned in the Scripture is Acts 20:16 - 21 when Paul sends for the elders of the church at Ephesus to come to him at Miletus.
Acts 20:17-21 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. (18) And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, (19) Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: (20) And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, (21) Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
So for two years Paul taught repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. No other doctrine is mentioned. Apollos had taught them that Jesus was the Christ, and Paul taught them of repentance of their old ways and turning to God through Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. No other doctrine will suffice for salvation. No mixtures of any other doctrines will keep the faith pure and holy before Jesus. Eph. 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (9) Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Therefore, salvation by grace through faith had to have been the first love of the Ephesians, and leaving that first love was of such grave consequences that unless they repented, Jesus would remove that church from His Presence!!! This was the only church of the seven churches that the condemnation included the whole congregation without even a single exception! Therefore, The doctrine of the church had to have been decided by a single person, and the congregation had to have been taught from childhood that he was infallible in all matters of faith and doctrine. In spite of my reluctance to say so, this had to have become the Catholic Church which now insists that salvation comes through both works and faith..
My reluctance to say so is because I know, and have known some fine, gentle people who were of the Catholic Faith. The Roman Catholic Church continues to this day teaching that salvation is through both faith and works ,and that the church is the sole arbiter of both. To the ALL OF THE CONGREGATIONS OF THIS CHURCH Jesus says, “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.” Rev 2:5
Jesus tells them that they are fallen. The only place from which they could have fallen is Grace. The Apostle Paul told the Galatians, “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” Gal. 5:4
But then after he tells the Ephesians that they have fallen and must return to their first love, Jesus says, “But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” Rev 2:6 Therefore, it seems that the only reason that this church is still in existence today is that it still hates the Nicolaitans. Which means that the Nicolaitans are still among us today. But who are they”
There have been some who have tried to convince the church that the person responsible for the doctrines of the Nicolaitanes was Nicolas, one of the Seven Deacons. That this was rejected by most of the early Church Elders because of the excellent moral character of Nicolas can only mean one of two things. Either Nicolas was not the father of the Nicolaitans movement within the church, or he was able to deceive others to such a degree that they disbelieved any notion of him being a Nicolaitan. Nicolas was a gentile from Antioch who became a Jewish Proselyte, and then a Christian in Jerusalem.
It seems to me to be doubtful that he was the father of this organization that Jesus hated because of the qualifications the twelve placed upon their selection of these deacons.
Acts 6:3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
These seven men were well known within the fellowship at Jerusalem and had to have distinguished themselves in fervor for Jesus. It is possible to fool someone today of being “full of the Holy Ghost.” But at that time, the fellowship lived closely to one another in all things. I do not believe that Nicolas could have originated a society of heretics that Jesus hated.
Jesus said a lot more of good about the church at Ephesis than he did of the churches at Pergamos, Thyatira, and Sardis, and yet he allowed that there were yet those within those congregations who were not guilty of the sins of the majority. So their hatred for the Nicolaitanes is most likely the only reason the candlestick of the Ephesians remains standing today. Which means that the Nicolaitanes are still among us today.
Early exposition of the Nicolaitanes revealed that their name in Greek was the same as the name translated into Greek from the Hebrew language for the name Ba’laam. This led many to believe that they were one and the same sect. But Jesus identified them separately in his letter to the church at Pergamos.
Rev 2:14-16 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. (15) So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. (16) Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
Jesus condemned the teachings and adherence of the both those that followed Ba’laam and the Nicolaitanes. But the Nicolaitans were the only sect he said he hated.
As early in the church age as Tertullian, the origin, doctrine, source, and organization of the Nicolaitanes was unknown. From the time the Revelation was given to John through today, there have been no documents found that reveal the doctrines of the Nicolaitans. There has been much speculation, and many have said, as noted above, that it was a sect formed by Deacon Nicolas of the Seven. Tertullian did not believe so as did many others. So why would Jesus tell His church that there is a doctrine He hates and not tell us what those doctrines are? It is obvious today that the only thing we know about this sect is that it still exists with the Church. Its origins and doctrines have never been known or understood beyond the fact that it is still among us.
The only clue that has been left to us concerning the Nicolaitans is their name, and that could mean anything from “victory of the people,” or “victory over the people,” to “the order of Santa Claus.” So we are left with only a few facts to follow: (1)The Nicolaitans were hated by the Church that had left its first love, and (2) they were tolerated by the church in that city where Satan's seat is. Which should be enough information to understand the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. Satan is determined to defeat God and establish his own kingdom on earth. He really believes that this war will be won by a majority vote at the end. That is why a pure democracy in any fashion of control within any organized entity from a Family to a Nation is Satan's own form of Government. There has to be some check against the emotional whims, fancies, lusts, and stupidities of the majority at all times, or chaos is the end result. Just look at the culture in America today if you do not believe it to be so.
A Nicolaitan is one who believes the doctrine of Nicolaus .Since it still exists today, it means that Nicolaus was not a person at all, but a doctrine. The word Nicolaus comes from a compound word in the Greek meaning “victor people”. Strong’s dictionary defined as victorious over the people. But, It could just as well mean victory of the people. Either way it does not mean it in any good sense because Jesus hates it. Therefore, it must be that the Nicolaitans doctrine was such that replaced Spiritual Doctrines with Materialism in all things Christian. It seems to be that the doctrine of the Nicolaitans is that the people should have the deciding vote over the doctrines of the church instead of the Word of God. There are many Nicolaitans within every denomination of the church today, except Roman Catholicism where the people do not have a vote. But still, a single man does.
The Protestant reformation turned on the objections of one man who believed the Word of God should be the sole arbiter of doctrine, and Faith alone the only road to salvation. But different interpretations of scripture soon split the Protestant Reformation into a chaotic competition over who was right and who was wrong on nearly every verse of scripture. What was laking in all of this competition was that which was present in the early churches when the Apostles taught. The subjugation of the self to the Holy Spirit.
The pride of intellect in man is the greatest impediment to the denying of self, taking up the cross, and following Jesus. Using that intellect, as guided by the Holy Spirit, to search for the truth in scripture regardless of how the resulst of that search might conflict with the self, and then subjecting one's self to scripture, is the only sublime truth available to people who must exist in dead Adamic bodies even after conversion of the Mind and Spirit. Not even the emotional rushes of supposedly Spiritual encounters can be held when they are in dispute with Scripture. If Scripture is not the only source of doctrine, then we are hopelessly adrift in a world of Satanic Inspiration.
The word Ephesus comes from a Greek word meaning, “Permitted.” Even though the Ephesians had left their first love of Salvation solely through Faith in Jesus, they were permitted to continue because they hate the doctrines that men should decide what scripture means. What is lacking in the church today is teaching the importance of listening to the still small voice of God while seriously meditating in the Holy Word. If any doctrine of man contradicts with even a single verse of Scripture, it is false doctrine. As seen from the Doctrines of Roman Catholicism, even the doctrines decided upon by a single man will go horribly astray over time.
The Nicolaitans have existed within all churches with the exceptions of the churches of Smyrna and Philadelphia. The picture of the churches of the Revelation, is not that of a series of assemblies that came into existence and then died out. It is a group of seven congregations that Jesus places together from within every assembly that meets on the First Day of the Week to celebrate the Resurrection, or for some other human reason decided upon by Nicolaitans and Laodiceans. Allowing the Holy Spirit to teach and guide us through the Scripture is the only safe way to learn. A great many times in that journey fhe onl answer that we will receive is to just to believe and continue to meditate while listening to the Holy Spirit. Complete understanding will only be achieved when we see Jesus. Until then, we must continue to study to show ourselves approved.
1 John 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
The spirit of the Nicolaitanes is in the world, but not in anything from the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This sect is spread and grows in the world through the inspiration of The Prince of the Power of the Air. Satan inspires all doctrines that come into conflict with even one verse of the God's Word. All Christians still live within a dead, Adamic body (see the page on LIFE) that can be controlled by Satan. The Nicolaitanes serve him in the flesh teaching that the MAJORITY is the only arbiter of TRUTH in the world.
DEMOCRACY is another Greek word that literally means, “power to the people.” Therefore, the only difference between Democrats and Nicolaitans is the arena in which the war against Jesus is being waged. Democrats wage the war in the Political arena, while Nicolaitans wage the war within the Spiritual arena. Anyone who believes that “the majority rules,” whatever their political or spiritual affiliations might otherwise be, belongs to one or the other or both categories of Democrat or Nicolaitan.
If Satan can inspire individual Christians to determine their doctrine based upon their feelings and fleshly intellects, instead of Scripture under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the result will always be to his advantage. In any contest between the Guidance of the Holy Spirit and Democracy in any organization that believes the majority should determine all things, the outcome will all ways be to Satan's advantage because so few have been taught to meditate under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
I believe all Christians must be taught to discipline our spiritually dead bodies to “spend much time in secret with Jesus alone” while studying the Word. I am fully confident that the Holy Spirit will guide us out of the doctrines of Democracy and that of the Nicolaitans and Laodiceans. We must learn to listen to that still, small voice as we study, and accept that sometimes the answer will be, “Just Believe it for now and contiune studying.” The only sound mind set for study in the word is, “Lord, I am determined to BELIEVE regardless of my understanding.”
The Power to Love
1 Pet. 4:8-9 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall
cover the multitude of sins. (9) Use hospitality one to another without grudging.
Rom. 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath
fulfilled the law.
John 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. (23) I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. Isa. 45:22-23
1 Cor. 12:31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
1 Cor. 13:8 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.