We recently looked at what Jesus wanted for Christmas. As New Years’ Day approaches, let’s look at what He wants for the New Year.
It’s the same thing He wanted for Christmas!
“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.” John 14:21
“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” John 15:9-10
“… make disciples of all the nations …” Matthew 28:19
“… repent and do the first works …” Revelation 2:5
If you have a red-letter Bible, you’ll notice a period of almost 60 years between what He said to His disciples just before His Ascension and what He said to the Apostle John when he was on the island of Patmos.
“ And He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”Acts 1:7-8
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,’ says the Lord, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8
Prior to His death and resurrection Jesus told the disciples that He would build His Church. In His Revelation Jesus addressed the Church He was building. He told the pastors and elders and deacons and members of His Church what He wanted for the New Year in the 1st Century. We need to hear our Lord’s Words for the New Year in the 21st Century.
Jesus chose to address seven individual churches that were not too far from Patmos. John knew the people in those churches and they knew him. They would know that John was writing the truth.
Jesus said the same thing to each of the seven churches – “I know your works.”
Think about that for a minute. What did Jesus say He was going to do? “I will build My church.” (Matthew 16:18) What did Jesus say to each church that He was building? “I know your works.” Do you see the connection? The Lord’s “Work” is building His Church. A vital part of Christ’s building His Church is knowing the “work” of every church. That makes sense. Jesus is the Chief Architect, Cornerstone and Builder of His Church, so He’s going to be involved in every aspect of its design and construction.
That’s something we in today’s “church” often forget. We are not building “our” church. Jesus is building “His” Church. Our job is to obey Him and do the “work” He has given us to do.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10
Jesus commended only two of the seven churches (Smyrna and Philadelphia). The other five received less than a passing grade from the Lord of the Church.
Ephesus – “Nevertheless I have this against you”
Pergamos – “But I have a few things against you”
Thyatira – “Nevertheless I have a few things against you”
Sardis – “… you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead”
Laodocia – “I will vomit you out of My mouth”
While this may seem harsh on first appearance, it’s important to remember there are two parts to what Jesus is doing: 1) “I will build My church,” and, 2) “the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Jesus Christ is not playing games. He is serious and focused on His Father’s eternal purpose and plan –
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:4-7
“… and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.” Ephesians 3:9-12
What Jesus said to the seven churches in Revelation was based on the high standard He set by His own teaching and preaching and through the message of the apostles. These churches were not ignorant about what the Lord expected from them … and neither are we.
What do you think Jesus would say to most churches in the United States and many other countries in the world today? “I know your works.” What we’ve done as churches and church leaders has not gone unnoticed by the Lord of the Church. He knows our works. He knows everything we do.
What else would Jesus say to His Church today? Even more pointed, what would Jesus say to your church and my church today? Would He say “Nevertheless I have this against you”? or “… you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead”? or “I will vomit you out of My mouth”? I’m afraid that Jesus would say one of those to almost every local church and denomination in the United States and many other nations.
What I don’t think Jesus would say to most of our churches is this:
Smyrna – “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich).” Revelation 2:9
Philadelphia – “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.” Revelation 3:8
What does Jesus Christ want for the New Year?
“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 2:5
“Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.” Revelation 2:16
“… all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.” Revelation 2:23
“I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.” Revelation 3:2-3
“I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.” Revelation 3:18-19
Jesus Christ is building “His Church” and what He says to pastors, elders, deacons and all true members of His Church is “repent and do the first works.”
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” Revelation 2:7
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”