Life-Study of Revelationby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
The book of Revelation is very well composed. Following chapter one, chapters two and three give us a clear view of seven practical churches. These seven churches are excellent illustrations, revealing the local churches, not in doctrine, but in actual practice. By considering these seven churches we can see clearly what a local church is and should be.
The seven epistles in chapters two and three are the record of the actual situation existing in the seven churches at the time these epistles were written. However, since this book is a book of signs with a prophetic nature, the situations of the seven churches are also signs, signifying prophetically the progress of the church in seven stages. The first epistle, to the church in Ephesus, affords a picture of the church at the end of the first stage, during the last part of the first century. The second epistle, to the church in Smyrna, prefigures the suffering church under the persecution of the Roman Empire, from the last part of the first century to the early part of the fourth century, when Constantine the Great, the Caesar of the Roman Empire, brought the church into imperial favor. The third epistle, to the church in Pergamos, pre-symbolizes the worldly church, the church married to the world, from the day Constantine accepted Christianity to the time the papal system was established in the latter part of the sixth century. The epistle to the church in Thyatira depicts prophetically the apostate church, from the ordination of the papal system in the latter part of the sixth century to the end of this age, when Christ comes back. The fifth epistle, to the church in Sardis, prefigures the Protestant church, from the Reformation in the early part of the sixteenth century to Christ’s coming back. The sixth epistle, to the church in Philadelphia, predicts the church of brotherly love, the recovery of the proper church life, from the early part of the nineteenth century, when the brothers were raised up in England to practice the church life outside all denominational and divisive systems, to the second appearing of the Lord. The seventh epistle, to the church in Laodicea, foreshadows the degraded church life of the brothers in the nineteenth century, from the latter part of the nineteenth century until the Lord’s return. In this message and the following six messages we shall treat each of these churches respectively.
In this message we come to the church in Ephesus (2:1-7). The crucial words in this message are love, life, and light. The basic requirement for having the church life is our love toward the Lord. There is no problem, of course, with the Lord’s love toward us. He has loved us and He continues to love us. The problem is with our love toward Him. Although we have loved Him in the past and may love Him now, there is the danger that our love for the Lord Jesus might fade. The epistle to the church at Ephesus warns us of this. This letter also gives us a clear revelation of the source of the degradation of the church life—the fading of the first love. As we shall see, love gives us the position, the ground, the right, and the privilege to eat of the tree of life. Love gives us the supply of life. If we love the Lord, we shall have the full right to enjoy Him as the tree of life, as our life supply. Light always follows life, issuing out of the abundant supply of life. Life gives us light. In the tabernacle the lampstand comes after the showbread table, indicating that when we enjoy Christ as our life supply, we shall have the light of life. It is vitally important that we love the Lord. If we have love, then we shall have the life symbolized by the tree of life and the light signified by the lampstand.
In brief, the problem with the church at Ephesus was the fading of the first love toward the Lord. Because of this, the Lord came in to deal thoroughly with this church, warning her that if she did not repent, she was in danger of having her lampstand removed. Anyone among them who would repent and return to his first love would be considered by the Lord to be an overcomer. The Lord promised the overcomer the right to enjoy Him as the tree of life. Of course, the lampstand will always remain among those who have overcome. However, if we would not repent of our fading love toward the Lord, we will miss the right to eat of the tree of life and the lampstand will be removed from us. If this were the case, we would be without love, and light. What a pitiful condition this would be!
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