|Volume 24 Number 6 June 2022
Just as it takes a certain number of inches to make one foot, so it takes certain things to make a Christian. The Bible is God’s measuring standard to tell mankind what is and what is not the measure of becoming a Christian and to exhibit Christian behavior (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The divine measuring stick – the Bible – says it takes faith (Hebrews 11:6), repentance (Acts 2:38), confession (Romans 10:9-10) and baptism (Acts 2:38) to make a Christian. This same measuring standard tells man it takes living soberly, righteously and godly (Titus 2:12) to practice Christian conduct or living.
All carpenters in the world simply claiming that 6 inches equals one foot (instead of 12 inches) would not make their claim true. All the preachers and professed religionists in the world merely claiming that one becomes a Christian before faith, repentance, confession and baptism won’t make it so either. How do your beliefs and practices measure up in light of the Bible?
Kicking Jesus to the Curb
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:19-20 NKJV). When we read Revelation 3:19-20, we are faced with a question, “Why do we have this picture of Jesus knocking on the door to get back into the church?”
Were these people Christians? Yes, they had been added to the church, which means they had heard (Romans 10:17), believed (Hebrews 11:6), repented (Luke 13:3; Acts 3:19), confessed Christ (Romans 10:9-10) and been baptized (Acts 2:38-27). Therefore, they had obeyed the plan of salvation.
What was wrong? Let us examine all seven churches of Asia in Revelation 2-3 and note what was wrong with each one. The church at Ephesus was a hard-working congregation. It was good at spotting false doctrine, and it was good at teaching, but Jesus told them, “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” (Revelation 2:4-5). They had stopped loving. Every command our Lord has given us is based on love. “Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:34-40). We find in 1 Corinthians 13:13, “Here now abide faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.” Love is the most important motivating factor in obedience to God and in serving Christ. Without love, we cannot think as a Christian should think. Then, as love goes away, so does the motivation to obey God, and slowly we lose momentum and finally we become complacent. Not loving is one way to kick Jesus to the curb.
[Editor's Note: Kicking someone or something to the curb is a figurative expression that means ridding oneself of someone or of something. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]
In stark contrast, the church at Smyrna was suffering persecution. It was not rebuked for anything. This congregation was told it would be persecuted and that the church needed to be faithful unto death and they would receive the crown of life (Revelation 2:10). Not staying faithful even in the face of persecution would mean kicking Jesus to the curb.
The church at Pergamos was tolerating false doctrine, thus compromising truth with error. It would appear it was trying to compromise truth with error and still please God. That congregation also tolerated fornication among members of the church (Revelation 2:12-17). When we try to mix truth with error, we make worship vain (Matthew 15:9). Vain worship is useless worship because it only pleases the people who engage in it without pleasing God in any way, shape or form. So, vain worship kicks Jesus to the curb.
The church at Thyatira was allowing a false prophet whom the LORD called Jezebel to teach false doctrine and to allow fornication in the church (Revelation 2:18-29). When we allow sin of any kind to be approved in the church, we have set ourselves up for failure and fall short of what God wants us to be. Thus, we kick Jesus to the curb.
The church at Sardis had a reputation that it was alive, but in practice, it was dead. It would seem that all it was doing was worshipping at the appointed time but not doing anything the rest of the time (Revelation 3:1-6). In other words, the church at Sardis was comprised of Christians in name only. They were no longer practicing Christianity. Essentially, they were kicking Jesus to the curb.
The church at Philadelphia was not condemned for anything. It was being falsely accused of many things, but it was told to keep on being faithful (Revelation 3:7-13). Had the church given in to its critics, it would have kicked Jesus to the curb.
The church at Laodicea is the only congregation about whom nothing good whatsoever is said. It was described as lukewarm, neither cold nor hot. The Lord described them as making Him sick. They were self-satisfied and had stopped growing spiritually. They had stopped putting their faith and trust in Christ. Therefore, they were putting their faith in riches, a medical school and their banking center in Laodicea rather than in the Lord (Revelation 3:14-22).
The bottom line to all of this is five of the seven congregations addressed in Revelation 2-3 were kicking the Lord to the curb in one way or another. To put things in perspective, Jesus said in Matthew 16:18 that “on this Rock I will build my church…” (referring to the fact that He is the Son of God). Being the Son of God gave Him the authority to build the church, to be Head over all things to the church, to be the Savior of the church and to be our Advocate. Thus, Jesus is to be front and center in what we believe, teach and practice as Christians. If we kick Him to curb, we have no Head, no Lord, no Advocate, no High Priest, no King, and therefore, we will lose our souls.
The question is, “Do we want Jesus in the church or not?” Do we obey Him or not? Do we allow Him in the church, or do we kick Him to the curb? Think on these things.