Is it Christ-like to put pastors and teachers to the test? How does Jesus feel about discernment? A look at a letter to the Church of Ephesus…

Jesus commends Christians who are discerning.  Here is what He says:

Letter to the Church of Ephesus (Revelation 2) 

1Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things says he that holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands;

2I know your works, and your labor, and your patience, and how you can not bear them who are evil: and you have tried them who say they are apostles, and are not, and have found them liars:

3And have endured, and have patience, and for my name’s sake have labored, and have not fainted.

4Nevertheless I have somewhat against you, because you have left your first love.

5Remember therefore from where you are fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto you quickly, and will remove your lampstand out of its place, except you repent.

6But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

7He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

These are pretty strong words coming from Jesus.  He applauds those who “hate” the deeds of the Nicolatians, which He “also hate(s)”.  Hate is a strong word.  Many today (even in the Christian world) will not tolerate hatred for evil.  Many simply claim we must accept and tolerate evil in order to have unity.  Did the Jesus of the Bible do this?  Of course, God is full of compassion and mercy to the repentant (John 8:11).  However, Jesus never applauds evil.

There are also so many sincere people today who say that any Christian who puts modern teachers to the test are suffering from a “religious spirit” (this is a term Bill Johnson has taught his followers).  If Jesus commends those Christians who “test the spirits” (1 John 4:1) and find them out to be “liars”, shouldn’t Christians do the same thing and follow the example of Christ (1 Cor. 11:1)?  Rather, today the opposite is occurring.  Psalm 119:104 says, “Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way”.  Certainly, Christians are called to love God and love man.  Those are the two greatest commandments!  However, how has hating a false way become so detested in today’s evangelical culture?  If we truly love God with “all our hearts” as the first command states, won’t we love what He loves and hate what He hates?  Just some thoughts.  Feel free to share yours! 
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2 Comments on “Is it Christ-like to put pastors and teachers to the test? How does Jesus feel about discernment? A look at a letter to the Church of Ephesus…

  1. Good Thoughts! You keenly hit the mark. Thank you. .

    Aside from Christians loving what God loves and being godly in hating what He hates, your reference to the Nicolaitans reminds me of two paragraphs I recently read from Lance Ford’s book Unleader:

    ‘The root of the word “nicolaitan” comes from the Greek words, nikos, which means “victory” or “conquest,” and laos, which means “people.” We get the word “laity” from laos. The compound of these Greek words means “conquest over the people” and points to the earliest forms of a priestly or clergy class in the church. Church history shows us that a full-blown clerical system developed relatively quickly in the early life of the church. By the mid-sixteenth century the Council of Trent announced, “If anyone shall say that there is not in the Catholic Church a hierarchy established by the divine ordination, consisting of bishops, presbyters and ministers, let him be anathema.”

    ‘How amazing is that? This declaration directly contradicts several clear statements Jesus and the apostles made in reference to hierarchy. The issue of ministry gifting and guidance by gifted individuals is not in question. The problem is the hierarchy and the dominating, conquering ways and means behind the structures it creates, coupled with the behavior of those who maintain them. The insidious nature of Nicolaitanism lies in the separation between normal saints and elevated leaders. Take note, Jesus doesn’t merely dislike this stuff. He doesn’t prefer things were not this way. He categorically hates it!’

    . .

    There is no clergy / laity distinction in the bible. Therefore there shouldn’t be this distinction in the church.

    David from Pittsburgh

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