I KNOW THY WORKS
STUDY TEXT: Rev. 2:1-7
- A letter was written by the Lord to each of seven churches about their conduct and to either commend their actions or condemn them with a call for repentance.
- In the introductory part is the comment “I know thy works”. Every one’s works are open to God and known by Him. It is foolishness for anyone to think that he will do something under the sun without God knowing about it. Both our actions and our motives behind those actions are known and weighed by God.
- Our works are critically evaluated and accurately documented, so that reference could be made to them at any time. These are what will form the books of records that will be used in judgment on the last day, and that will determine whose name will be found in the book of life.
- Commendations are given where the works are found acceptable unto God as an encouragement and motivation for consistency. Any good thing we are approved for, we should seek to grow and improve on them and not be weary in well doing.
- Condemnations are issued as a call to genuine repentance and godly amendment. God would prefer a turning away from sin and a turning unto His will at any time. If your actions are condemned, it is to give you the opportunity to repent and turn to God. Cain was told that he would be approved if he changes from his wickedness, but rather than repenting, he grew worse. Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
- Let us consider this study under three sub-headings:
1. Critical examination of general conduct.
2. Commendation of faithful conduct.
3. Condemnation of unacceptable conduct.
1. CRITICAL EXAMINATION OF GENERAL CONDUCT
- Our works are critically examined and documented at all times.
- The examination is majorly congregational but specifically individualistic. Revelation 2:20-23: Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
- Individual members within the congregation are examined for their:
1. Faithfulness in living in obedience and holiness unto the Lord. How faithful they are in walking in obedience to the instructions giving in the word of God, and how they are living according to God’s standard of holiness
2. The motives behind all their actions. The motives behind their actions are examined whether they are genuine, of pure intentions or of selfish interest that will not glorify God.
3. Ability to show love and live peaceably with others. Believers are required to follow peace with all men in addition to their holy living unto God. They are also to love their neighbors as themselves. We shall give account of our relationship with men in terms of the love we showed onto them and how effective we can be in living peaceably with others.
4. Commitment to the service of God. They were examined for their faithfulness in the service of God, the sacrifice they could make in making themselves and their money materials available.
- Congregation are examined for their:
1. Faithfulness in teaching the truth of the word of God. How faithful they are in teaching the sound doctrine and guiding against error and falsehood.
2. Vigilance in recognizing satanic agents within the church and resisting them. There are satanic agents creeping into the church unawares and are transforming themselves to angels of light in order to deceive innocent souls. The congregation must be sensitive to identify and resist this hidden works of darkness.
3. Commitment to the preaching of Christ and his gospel to the lost world. Any congregation that is not faithful and committed to the preaching of Christ and Him crucified to the lost world has a name that she is living while she is actually dead.
4. Their ability to maintain intra and inter congregational peace and unity that Jesus prayed for. There must be love flowing among the brethren to show that they actually belong to God, and this must manifest as a peaceful relationship without strife, envy, bitterness, backbiting or hatred.
2. COMMENDATION OF FAITHFUL CONDUCT
- Commendations are given at all times in order to encourage and motivate faithful people to be steadfast in well doing. Many people get carried away when being commended and as a result, they get wearied in well doing or felt they have actually done their best. But when we are being commended by Christ now, it is for the purpose of motivation and to put in much effort in pleasing God the more. This is because the final commendation is still at the Day of Judgment, when all that have done well will enter into the joy of the Lord and all the wicked [people shall suffer under the torment of hell fire.
- Faithful individuals in a failing church were still recognized and commended. Revelation 3:4: Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
- We should not be discouraged by the wickedness of others nor follow the multitude to do evil, but we should rather labor to improve on our good works and not to be weary in well doing, and be waiting for the day that the godly shall be selectively separated from the ungodly.
3. CONDEMMATION OF UNACCEPTABLE CONDUCT
- As there is commendation for the faithful, there is also condemnation to the unfaithful and ungodly people and their conduct. Although this is with a mind of calling them to repentance, but where they failed to repent, the wrath of God will surely come upon them both in this world, and more dangerously in the one to come. We are expected to receive any chastisement or condemnation to day with a humble heart and godly sorrow that will produce a genuine and a lasting repentance in our lives.
- The congregation were condemned for the following unacceptable conduct:
1. Diminishing in intimate personal devotion to Christ.
When a congregation is full of many individual that are not having a healthy personal relationship with God, that congregation will be cold and lack the fire of godly conduct and faithful service unto God. Experiencing individual revival is a great necessity for a notable and long lasting congregational revival.
2. For departing from Biblical faith.
When the congregation start to compromise the truth of the word of God and sound doctrine, people will start to drift away from the Biblical faith. The Bible calls every one to self examination to discover whether one is still in the faith or not. 2 Corinthians 13:5:
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
3. For tolerating immorality among church leader and persons of influence.
It is a terrible thing for a congregation where the leaders that are to uphold godly standards are now the ones that are laying the foundations for immorality and all forms of wickedness. Every child of God who is preparing to go to heaven at the end of life here on earth must look into the lives of the leaders in the congregation he or she finds himself or herself to ensure they are actually following God and obeying His words. If not, those congregations should be left for where they can see godly examples.
4. For becoming spiritually dead or lukewarm.
Whenever there is sin and self indulgence; the congregation will be lukewarm and lack the fire for a faithful service and witnessing unto the Lord. A lot of time will be wasted in settling quarrels among the members while hatred, bitterness, strife and other works of the flesh will be manifesting.
5. For substituting outward success and affluence for real spirituality.
Today people measure success in ministry only by outward qualities such as the size of the congregation, the number of wealthy people and the wealth of the congregation, while real spirituality such as living in holiness, sharing love and being in unity are either relegated or given the second place.
- The essence of condemnation is to call for repentance because God would prefer to receive a repentant soul than to destroy him. Revelation 3:19-22: As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
- The final condemnation will be on the judgment day for any one who refuses to repent and turn unto God before death.
- We need to examine ourselves as individuals and as a congregation by God’s standard. Any area where we are measuring up, we should receive the encouragement and motivation to improve and to continue in doing well, while we take effort to repent and depart from those conduct that are against God’s words and His will. Every individual needs to sincerely examine his or her life and conduct. 2Cor. 13:5.