Throughout history, God has moved among His people. No clearer is this seen than in the early years of Israel and her miraculous accomplishments of defeating her enemies, the establishment of a glorious temple, and the pulse of God within her very being. As the church was later established and the call to evangelize the world went forth, there arose a distinction between those of the Jewish side and those of the Gentile side. To the Jew, a Gentile was seen as someone who was not called to be one of God’s chosen people. To the Gentile, they sought to know the very God of which the Jews proclaimed to be supreme. An obvious question arose then, of to whom Salvation was granted. How could a Gentile, who followed no Jewish law nor fulfilled the circumcision of the flesh, be granted access to the Father of the Jew? No doubt this created quite a dilemma for the early church.
It is in Ephesians that the answer is given to the early church as to the nature of the Gentile: “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: but now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made night by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:11-13, KJV)1. The Gentile, in his lost state, was quite a mess! This verse can be easily applicable today for any person who is without Christ! In the state of depravity, the lost man is: (1) Separated from Christ; (2) Excluded from the inheritance of God’s Kingdom; (3) A Stranger to any promise of God; (4) Without any hope for the future; and (5) Totally without God in the world. What a blessing that it did not stop there! The Scripture ends with the glorious fact that through Christ is one brought into the fold. It is through the shed blood of Christ that both are the same, for Christ “having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby…for through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father” (Ephesians 2:15-16,18, KJV).
Jew and Gentile are now become “Christian”. Two races of people brought into one common bond through the blood of Christ. The Church now is found to be made up of a group of believers that are comprised of Jews and Gentiles together. What then, is found concerning the exhortation of Christ to His church of believers? God’s Word is rich with meaning and direction for the believer and his personal walk. No clearer picture of Christ’s admonition to His church is found than the words presented within the first few chapters of Revelation. In Revelation, Chapter one, seven churches are mentioned that are in Asia: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea (Revelation 1:11, KJV). While these churches were literal churches that existed during the time of writing; they also represent the types of churches that can be found even today. With that knowledge, there is an abundance of knowledge to be gained through the exhortation given by Christ to each.
The church of Ephesus was steadfast in their labor for the Lord. They no doubt were quick to judge the intent of anyone speaking doctrine within the church to make sure that it was true and not evil. Even so, the Lord says that they had left their first love and He admonishes them to “repent, and do the first works” (Revelation 2:5, KJV). While this phrase could be open to speculation, no doubt the first love of any Christian should be the Lord and bringing others to know Him. The exhortation to Ephesus, as well to all seven of the churches, was to “overcome”. Even in today’s world, Christ continues to harold the call for believers to “overcome”! Evil continues to reign on earth, false doctrine abounds, and God is continually put in the background for an increasing humanistic society; yet God calls for – and expects- His people to overcome!
While the exhortation to overcome resounds throughout all seven of the churches, Christ does contribute separate warnings and rewards to each. In short, Christ exhorts his people today to go forth and sound the Gospel cry, making disciples and training them to go out and do likewise. This is to continue until Christ’s return- which could happen at any day!
1All Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Bible version, Royal, 1971.