This blog is intended to be a means of putting into writing some of my musings about New Testament Christianity in post-Christian America. We are instructed in scripture to, "Gird up the loins of our minds."
Throughout the scriptures repetition is often a form of emphasis. This is Hebrew idiom. You will recall the many times our Lord stated, “verily verily I say unto you.” Here verily is repeated for the sake of emphasis. In Genesis we have the King James rendering ‘thou shalt surely die,’ which is literally ‘dying thou shalt die’. This is ultimate death. We have King of Kings and Lord of Lords. This is the ultimate King and the ultimate Lord. We have Holy of Holies and the Song of songs. All of these ‘doubling repetitions’ are done for the sake of demonstrating the ultimate in that category. So what are we to make of the 7X commandment of our Lord in Revelation 2 and 3, “He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches”? If two is for emphasis- what is seven? Seven is the number of completion. It is the number of perfection. It is impossible that God could have emphasized the importance of, “hearing what the Spirit saith unto the churches” any greater than He did. He said it seven times- not six and not eight. It is the common factor to all of the churches. This ought to give us great pause and prompt tremendous reflection as to how serious Christ is about speaking direction to His churches.
The Local Assembly
If we look at this logically then it seems evident that perhaps the most important thing for any local assembly to do is to ‘hear’ what the Spirit is saying unto them- right here and right now on the earth and where we are at this moment. This is God-speak in real time. What is the Spirit ‘saying’ to the church? What is the Spirit saying to us as individuals? Nothing could possibly be more important than how a local gathering responds to this 7X command. “He that hath an ear let Him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches,” is God in active participation in the local church. This is Christ watching and moving among the candlesticks. He is keenly interested in that for which He shed His own blood. He knows what is going on and He is speaking to those that have an ‘ear to hear’. Notice there is no direction given on how to hear we are just told ‘to hear.’ This tells me we have no trouble hearing if we are listening.
Messages from the Head
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 KJV)
Christ is the head of any ‘real’ church. The government of the churches is upon His shoulders. (1) This means He is in charge and calling the shots. Many gather in His name- drawing nigh with their mouth and lips- but their heart is far from Him. That is to say, that they are not interested in being sensitive to the Spirit that they might do what is on HIS heart. Many go on in whats on their own heart. This, perhaps, is one of the greatest characteristics that define a local assembly- whether they ‘do’ or ‘do not’; whether they ‘will’ or they ‘will not’ HEAR and hearken to what the Spirit is saying unto their church. Not the imaginations of men- but absolutely given to gaining direction from Christ their head. He knows what we need. He sees and He speaks. This is the message we find in Revelation 2, 3.
The Vain Counsel of Men
“I think we need to do this” or “I think the problem is this”, etc. ad infinitum is what we hear today. Amateur diagnostics seem to rule the day. This is the vain counsel of men. It has no authority or efficacy to make real changes. Christ said, “Upon this rock I will build my Church…”The key is the ‘I’. It is His Church and He’ll do the speaking. The question is, who is doing the listening? Who has ears to hear what the Spirit is saying? Our Great High Priest is moving in the churches, observing them and knows what they need. The trouble is, it is an exceedingly rare thing to find any assembly– denomination, non-denomination, house church, etc., that is really bent on hearing what God is saying to them. I say this stuff and people look at me like I am crazy. As if God don’t speak to the churches or they have no idea how they might go about ascertaining what Christ is saying to their assembly. Obviously if Jesus commanded it to each of the churches it is not beyond out ability.
A First Step
We hear all kinds of things today. Denominations are the problem, their is the problem, that is the problem, etc. People, however well intentioned, end up attacking the churches for various reasons because they don’t conform to some pattern they have set up. What are we to do? Shall we self-diagnose? Shall we sit around and criticize and articulate the obvious problems in churches of our times? I suggest our first step is not to speak- but to listen; to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches so we can know where we need to make corrections in our own gatherings. Not the denomination down the street or some ‘church of America’ but what is God saying to the people attending the meeting where I gather.
Worried About Everyone Else?
A fools mind is in the ends of the earth.(Proverbs 17:24) God has not called me to be concerned with what is going on across the country, but to mind my own business (John 21:22). This is why Jesus gave careful instructions to each of the 7 churches. He did not get up and make blanket statements to them. He didn’t ‘spank them all to get the right one.’ He spoke to each one individually what THEY needed to hear. Men move in their pet-peeves and finite wisdom and have no clue what God is doing unless He tells them. Talk about messing something up, men can do it. Men can speak to the problems of our times and make the situation worse than before.
Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. (Eccl. 5:2)
We need to hear from God and it begins in our personal lives and assemblies where we gather.