Removing the Lampstand

FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS

volume 18, number 27, July 4, 2019

“. . . and I will remove the lamp stand out of its place unless you repent.” -Revelation 2:5

Removing the Lampstand

In the first of His seven letters to the church of Asia Minor, Jesus addresses the church in Ephesus, a church Paul the apostle had earlier commended for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and their love for all the saints (Ephesians 1:15). This is the same church where Luke reports a mighty movement of God in which the conversions to Christ were so powerful and pervasive that the silversmiths of the city were losing business in their manufacture of trinkets of the goddess Diana, provoking the people to a two hour long riot (Acts 19:17-35). 

However, Jesus now finds it necessary to take them to task for leaving their first love. To be sure they were incapable of enduring evil men, they put to the test those who called themselves apostles, proving that they were imposters, they persevered in the name of Jesus, and had not grown weary in following the Lord Jesus Christ. But Jesus was opposed to them. Why? They had left their first love. Note that Jesus does not say they lost their first love. Losing something is akin to an accident. I have periodically lost my keys. However leaving something behind connotes one’s volition in doing so, as in, “I left my computer at home for this trip. I figured I would not need it.” So, the believers at Ephesus had left their first love. What does this term “first love” mean? 

When Jesus healed the leper (Mark 1:40-45) He told him to tell no one about what Jesus had just done, and what did the man do? He told everyone he could. When the Samaritan woman understood who Jesus was she went to the men of the city and told all of them that she had met the Christ (John 4:39). And when Peter and John were told by the Sanhedrin not to speak any longer in the name of Jesus, they replied, “We cannot stop speaking of the things we have seen and heard,” (Acts 4:20). And when Jesus gave His last and greatest command to His disciples (Matthew 28:18-20) they willingly and joyfully risked their own lives to obey it. 

So, for a believer to leave his first love is a big deal. It is to walk away from the clear command given by our resurrected Lord to disciple the nations by going, evangelizing, and teaching the new believers.[1]

Are you engaged in some fashion in this most glorious enterprise? Are you deliberately going to people, as the apostles of Jesus did, and seeking to evangelize them? As they are baptized and made members of the local church, are you teaching them the word of God and calling them to obey it? This is the first love about which Jesus is speaking in Revelation 2. 
So, what happens if we leave our first love? Jesus leaves nothing to the imagination. He says that failure to repent and do the deeds which we did at first will result in Jesus removing the lampstand from its place. Clearly the lampstand is the church (Revelation 1:20). 

Jesus is not joking. He is not making empty threats. He brings judgment when we do not do as He commands. How so? Three thousand churches are closing every year in the United States. The new national religion of the United States is paganism,[2] and the result of paganism is always homosexuality and all the various perversions which flow from it. According to a Wall Street Journal editorial in December, 2012, just after Barack Obama’s second election as President, there may be as few as twenty-six million evangelical believers in the United States at this present time. Regardless of the poll numbers one consults, the numbers for evangelicals are clearly trending downward. The Christian faith is in trouble in the United States.   

For the first seven hundred years after Pentecost the leading faith in the Middle East was Christianity. Now the leading faith is Islam. The religious demographic began to change around 700 A.D. with the invasion of Muslim armies into Syria and Palestine. However the actual transformation from Christianity to Islam took much longer. It was not until around 1200 A.D. that Islam had swallowed up Christianity.[3] How, then, did this finally occur? The believers failed to evangelize and disciple Muslims. Granted, many were martyred for their faith because of their refusal to convert to Islam, but there appears to be very little effort at actually working to fulfill the Great Commission amongst the Muslims.  

The first seven hundred years after Pentecost the major religion in North Africa was the Christian faith. Some of our greatest early theologians were Africans (Tertullian, Clement and Origen of Alexandria, Cyprian, Athanasius, and Augustine of Hippo) but Islam eventually overwhelmed Christianity there as well. With Mohammed’s death in 632 A.D., Arab army commander Amr ibn al As crossed into Egypt a few years later and conquered the land. He laid siege to Alexandria and the people were unwilling to resist. The city fell in 641 A.D. From there the Muslim traders traveled throughout North Africa and down into what is now Sudan plying their trade and eventually converted the masses to Islam.[4] In other words, the church did not fulfill its responsibility to evangelize the lost and consequently, they were evangelized themselves into the Islamic faith. 
Five hundred years ago Martin Luther nailed the Ninety-five Theses on the Castle Church door in Wittenburg, Germany which launched the Reformation. Within one hundred years Christianity was by far the predominant faith throughout central and northern Europe. This has all been changing since around 1859 with the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species which challenged the veracity of the Old and New Testament Scriptures concerning the matters of life in the now and the hereafter. Why has this happened? Christians in Europe have failed to fulfill the Great Commission. They have left their first love, just as we Americans have, just as the Middle Eastern and North African believers of the first millennia did. 

According to 2016 Pew Research data, Muslims now make up 4.9% of Europe’s population, 25.8 million people across thirty countries, up from 19.5 million in 2010 (an increase of 32% in six years). Since German Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the floodgates to Syrian refugees in August, 2014, 500,000 per year have been entering Europe. Between 2016 and 2050 with medium migration (the flow of refugees stops but people continue to migrate for other reasons) the following will occur:
Sweden, 20.5% Muslim, up from 8.1%

United Kingdom, 16.7% Muslim, up from 6.3%

Finland, 11.4 % Muslim, up from 2.7% 

France, 12.7% Muslim, up from 8.8%.[5]

And when we consider that the average Muslim family has eight to ten children while the typical European family has two children and it takes 2.5 children per household to merely maintain one’s culture (birth control and the death culture of abortion have ravaged the European demographic), then it is not difficult to see that Europe is in big trouble with the inundation of the Islamization of their culture. The United States, which has historically followed Europe by fifty years or so, is surely headed toward the same dreadful demographic. 

Am I being an alarmist? Some say “Yes,” stating that Muslims after a generation or two are acclimated to the new culture. We are not presently seeing that in Europe. From what I see, Muslims generally are not transitioning into the predominant European culture and apparently have no intention of doing so. Know this, the Muslim faith has never had any intention of co-existing with other faiths and cultures. The Qu’ran is clear on that.[6] Their’s is a religion of conquering and submission by the sword. I am not saying that all Muslims are wanting to conquer and destroy but this, in fact, is the very tenet of their faith. 

And why has this happened in the Middle East and North Africa? Why is it happening in Europe and the U.K.? And why will it happen in the U.S.? Because Jesus is taking the lampstand out of its place. And why is He doing so? Because we have left our first love? And what must our response be? We must disciple those in our midst. We must do what Jesus commands us to do. We must go to them. We must evangelize them. And we must teach them the word of God, showing them the necessity of obeying it. Anything short of this will surely and eventually bring our demise.    _______________________

1. For a much fuller explanation of what Matthew 28:18-20 means I suggest you read “What Are Our Marching Orders?”, Forget None of His Benefits, volume 17, number 15, April 12, 2018 <Fnohb.home.blog>
2. A must read are Peter Jones’ many articles on the topic. For his latest please see The Aquila Report “Androgyny: The Pagan Sexual Ideal,” June 14, 2019, <www.theaquilareport.com>.
3. “How Did the Christian Middle East Become Predominantly Muslim?” September 17, 2018 <www.oxfordarts.blog>
4. “Arab Expansion in Africa” <www.factsanddetails.com/world/
5. “Muslim Population in Some EU Countries Could Triple,” The Guardian, November 29, 2017.
6. “And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out,” Sura 2:191. At least 109 verses of the Qu’ran call Muslims to war against unbelievers. See “Verses of Conquest in the Qu’ran,” <wordpress.com>

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