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From Worship To Work

Revelation 1:10-11
On the Lord's Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: 'Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.' (NIVUK)

Although all the first Christians were from a Jewish background, they met together for worship on the first day of the week, instead of the seventh which was the Jewish Sabbath. Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week (John 20:19), the following week Jesus appeared to the apostles again (John 20:26), and six weeks later the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles (Acts 2:1-4). The new day affirmed that Jesus was alive and that grace had replaced law. So, all the churches met on the Sunday to fellowship, worship and break bread together in remembrance of Jesus (Acts 20:7). That was the day they brought their gifts for the Lord's work (1 Corinthians 16:2). It became known as 'Lordy Day' or 'The Lord's Day'.

John's exile on the Island of Patmos did not stop his worship. Emperor Domitian, under whose persecution John was deported, may have proclaimed himself as 'Lord and God' but John knew that title was reserved for the Lord Jesus Christ (John 20:28). As John worshipped the Lord, the Holy Spirit came upon him as prophesied by Joel (Joel 2:28-32) and at the start of the church (Acts 2:1-4; 10:44; 19:6). John was caught up with the thoughts of the glory of God in Jesus Christ, given to him by the Spirit. He physically heard a loud trumpet sound behind him with clearly intelligible words. Paul also had such an experience but was not allowed to share it (2 Corinthians 12:2-4).

Jesus was giving John an order. He was to get a scroll of papyrus, or sheets of papyrus to make into a scroll, and write down what the Lord showed him. John would see a series of visions and hear prophetic words. He was to be a messenger from Jesus to the seven struggling churches in what is now western Turkey. The church in Ephesus had been the centre of teaching and disciple-making: many had served the Lord there including Paul, Priscilla and Aquila, Apollos, Timothy, Titus, Tychicus and John. It was the place from where the other six churches had probably been planted (2 Timothy 2:2) - but it had stopped loving the Lord. Almost all those churches had fallen short.

Like many churches today, the seven churches needed encouragement to press on with Jesus when fear of persecution might hold them back or heresy might lead them astray. Some needed strong warnings from Jesus about wrong beliefs and actions, and the challenge to repent. Even Philadelphia needed to be told to hold fast to true doctrine and trust the Lord, as though their grip was starting to slip. So it is today. We also need to hear and heed these warnings where we are failing to be true to Jesus. And where we are faithful, we need to keep holding onto the truth despite every effort of the world, flesh and devil to drag the church away from its anchor in Christ (Hebrews 6:19). Jesus does not tolerate worldliness or evil in the church (Revelation 2:5): nor should we. It is time to wake up and repent (Romans 13:11).

Holy God. Thank You for revealing the future, preparing us for Christ's return. Forgive me when I have accepted what offends You, and despised what pleases You. Please help me to wake up to my responsibility to be faithful to the apostolic gospel, and to urge the church to accept the authority of Your Word. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams