Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 16 No. 3 March 2014
Page 15

Undying Zeal

Andy Robison

Andy RobisonJohn penned these words of Jesus to the church in Ephesus in Revelation 2:4-5: “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.”

The language seems to indicate a lack of fervor, fire or zeal on the part of the Ephesian Christians. They had good works (vs. 1-3), but they were lacking something. Bible students might desire more specificity. Surely, though, whether this verse refers to it or not, observant disciples can notice that there is sometimes a lack of enthusiasm among the Lord’s people. Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, this is the case. Homer Hailey in his commentary on Revelation had an idea worthy of note:

Perhaps this loss of an early fiery devotion can be accounted for by the fact that the congregation was now in the second or third generation of its existence. This is always a dangerous period in the life of a church. At such a point the youthful fire of discovery and the enthusiasm of a glorious anticipation of future hopes too often begin to diminish.

Isn’t this a sad but true observation? It seems to be a common problem in many ventures. A business is opened by one generation of a family. They work feverishly to make ends meet at first and eventually make a profit. Their prosperity is sometimes not appreciated by a second or third generation of family heirs who take over the business. Those heirs might just succumb to laziness and snowball toward bankruptcy. A charitable organization begins with excitement and generates more over its first few years of existence. As the years pile up, though, enthusiasm may tend to dwindle. It is more difficult to get volunteers. It becomes tiring trying to stir interest.

Too often, this is the problem with congregations of the Lord’s church. One generation labored to establish the church in its community. Excitement ran high and evangelism was rampant. Members worked hard to get where they were, and they were going to keep working to keep it going. Such is the nature of those who have a lot of time and effort invested in a project. However, when a second, third, fourth or even fifth generation of that congregation comes along, fewer may seem interested in evangelism; fewer seem to care.

To be sure, some congregations avoid this trap, as do some family businesses. Zeal is a choice. It must be accompanied with knowledge of right and wrong (Romans 10:1-2). Zeal, though, must be ever renewed. “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion,” said the prophet to Israel of old (Amos 6:1). Guard against ease and complacency. Souls are at stake.


More about Change?

Gantt Carter

Gnatt CarterNote with me some biblical teachings concerning the concept of change. In a former article, we noticed that we live in a society that is characterized by change. We also considered some necessary changes, and we defined these as repentance and Christian growth. Please join me as we continue to explore a proper perspective of change. What Must Change?

Generally speaking, we do not like to change spiritually. We are often stubborn and hard-hearted against the words of God (Acts 8:18-23; 24:25-26; 26:28; John 12:37-41). We love to do whatever we want to do. Gambling, drinking, smoking, pornography, profanity, harshness and bitterness are just some of the things people often struggle to overcome. Obviously, the problem is not when the Word tells us to do something we like to do or are already doing, but whenever God requires something we dislike. Many want to obey God on their own terms, and they are not truly seeking the truth. Yet, we are instructed to, “Lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save our souls” (James 1:21). This includes actually doing what the Word commands us to do (James 1:22-ff). In many ways, the hardest part of true Bible study is fully applying and fruitfully practicing the Book. If we truly seek the truth of God, we will make the needed changes to be right with Him. Remember, the truth of God possesses the power to free us from the slavery of sin (John 8:31-34; cf. Romans 1:16-17).

The apostle Peter, in writing to early Christians, discussed some of the required changes we must make. He described the changes as a progression of adding certain qualities to our lives. After talking of all the many blessing we possess in Christ, Peter said, “But for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love” (2 Peter 1:5-7). As we consider these words, we would do well to compare the fruits of the spirit and the fruits of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-23). Faithful Christians are busy developing godly character (Ephesians 5:1-2; Colossians 3:1-4, 12-17) and actively removing ungodliness from their lives (Galatians 5:24; Ephesians 5:8-14; Colossians 3:5-11). “For if these things are yours and abound, you will neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:8).

Our knowledge of the truth is the foundation that undergirds our sanctifying walk with Christ (John 8:31-32; 17:17; 1 John 1:5-10). Peter goes on to say that, “he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins” (2 Peter 1:9). He strongly presses the point that growing as a child of God is absolutely essential (2 Peter 3:18). Christian growth should be as important to us as milk to a newborn baby (1 Peter 2:1-3). Peter continued this discussion of Christian growth by giving us the ultimate motivation to grow: heaven. “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:10-11).


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