Sermon #6 Series: The Mysteries of God
Title: The Mystery of the Stars and the Candlesticks
Text: Revelation 1:20
Subject: Local Churches and Their Pastors in the Hands of God
Date: Tuesday Evening - February 8, 1994
Read Revelation 1:9-19.
These things were astonishing and mysterious to John. Therefore our Lord explained the mystery in verse 20--Read it with me.
My subject tonight is The Mystery of the Stars and the Candlesticks. These seven churches and their pastors are symbolic and representative of all true gospel churches and all true gospel preachers. Historically, the seven churches of Asia Minor mentioned in this chapter did exist during the days of the Apostle John. But they represent us. The stars, the pastors of the churches represent me and all my brethren in the gospel ministry. The churches represent us and all other local churches where Christ is worshipped. But before I explain to you the mystery of the stars and the candlesticks, I want to make several very important comments, by way of introduction.
1. The greatest blessing God can ever bestow upon any community is to establish in her midst a local church where men and women gather in the name of Christ to worship Him.
A local church, in the New Testament sense of that term, is a congregation of saved sinners, united in the name of Christ to worship Him and to serve the interests of His glory in this world.
--Seeking His Glory!
--Obedient to His Word!
--Proclaiming His Gospel!
--Seeking His Sheep!
2. The greatest blessing the Lord God can or will bestow upon any local church is to give them a pastor after his own heart, a faithful gospel preacher, who will feed His people with knowledge and understanding (Jer. 3:15).
--Pastors are the ascension gifts of Christ to His church, for the teaching, edification, and steadfastness of His saints (Eph. 4:8-16).
--Pastors are to be known, loved, and highly esteemed for their works’ sake (I Thess. 5:12-13).
Illus: “Go back down to Watson’s.”
--Pastors are to be obeyed, as those who watch for your souls (Heb. 13:7,17).
3. The single most important aspect o every believer’s life is the assembly of God’s saints for public worship (Heb. 13:24-27).
--For the hearing of the Word!
--For the Worship of Christ!
--For Communion with and Revelations of Christ (Matt. 18-20).
--For the Fellowship of God’s Saints!
Illus: The Coal taken out of the fire.
4. Those who despise God’s servants despise God (I Sam. 8:7); and those who seek to divide God’s church bring upon themselves the judgment of God (I Cor. 3:16-17).
The Son of God places such high value upon his servants that he considers anything done to him, either bad or good, as being done to Himself; and He places such high value upon his people that he considers anything done to them, either bad or good, as being done to Him. That means that...
--Pastors must be very careful in their treatment of God’s people.
--Churches must be very careful in their treatment of God’s pastors.
Both God’s servants, gospel preachers, and his churches are constantly protected and provided for by the Lord Jesus Christ.
With those things in mind, I want to show you seven things about this mystery of the stars and the candlesticks. As these seven things were true of all the seven churches of Asia Minor in John’s day, they are true of all true gospel churches in our day.
I. EACH OF THE SEVEN CHURCHES HAS ITS OWN ANGEL, ITS OWN MESSENGER FROM GOD.
I am told that seven is the number of grace, the number of holiness, completion, and perfection. If that is so, we must assume that the churches of Christ are represented as seven to show us that there are always as many local churches in this world as are needed to fulfill our Lord’s purpose, just as many and no more.
“The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches. . .” That is, the seven stars which John saw in Christ’s right hand, represent the angels, or pastors and ministers of the churches in all periods of time until Christ’s second coming” (John Gill).
A. All True Gospel Preachers are in Christ’s Right Hand (v. 16).
--Placed by Him!
--Protected by Him!
--Provided for by Him!
Note: Gospel preachers are under the authority and direction of the Lord Jesus Christ himself--Instruments in His hands!
B. Faithful Pastors are Here Compared to Stars.
1. Stars, like preachers, are made by God.
2. Stars, like preachers, give out light in the midst of darkness (II Cor. 4:4-6).
3. True gospel preachers, like stars, are men on fire, burning with zeal for the glory of God and burning with a word from God that must be delivered (Jer. 20:9).
C. Every Faithful Gospel Preacher, Every True Pastor is an Angel of God to the Church to Which He is Sent.
1. They are ministers, servants of Christ.
2. They are sent forth to minister to those who shall be the heirs of salvation.
3. They are messengers, men sent with a message that they must declare--The Gospel!
4. They rejoice at the conversion of sinners.
There are no more angels than churches and no more churches than angels! “God never made a possum that he didn’t make a persimmon tree; and he never made a preacher that he didn’t make a pulpit.”
II. EVERY TRUE LOCAL CHURCH IS A CANDLESTICK, A HOLDER OF LIGHT, A CENTER FROM WHICH LIGHT IS DISPELLED.
“Ye are the light of the world!” The only reason for the existence of local churches is to hold forth the light of life in this world of darkness and death.
A. We are not the inventors of light, but the holders of light. We get the light from Christ, who is the Light. A candlestick has no more light than is put into it. Even so, we have no light but Christ.
1. We hold forth the Light of Truth,, that we may guard it, teach it, and extend it--TULIP!
2. We hold forth the Light of Purity, that we may keep ourselves unspotted from the world.
3. We hold forth the Light of Love, that we may comfort and gladden the hearts of men.
B. Each Local Church is called a “Golden Candlestick,” to Express the Great Value of it.
--In God’s Eyes!
--In the Eyes of Saved Sinners!
III. ALL TRUE GOSPEL CHURCHES ARE UNITED IN CHRIST, WHO IS IN THE MIDST OF THEM.
Alford wrote “Their mutual independence is complete. Their only union is in him who stands in the midst of them.” We are independent Baptists. That means we have no denominational affiliation or obligation. However, we are not isolated from other gospel churches.
A. The Head of every True Church is Christ.
B. Absolute Loyalty to the Son of God is the Responsibility of Every Church and Every Believer.
C. All True Believers are One in Christ.
--One Church, One Family, One Kingdom, One Body, One Holy Nation!
--One Work--The Preaching of the Gospel!
--One Authority--The Word of God!
--One Goal--The Glory of God!
--One Rule--The Will of God!
IV. NO LOCAL CHURCH IN THIS WORLD IS PERFECT, BUT EACH HAS ITS OWN EXCELLENCE AND ITS OWN DEFECT, ITS OWN DANGER AND ITS OWN DUTY.
Illus: The Churches at Corinth, Galatia, and Calasse, with all their faults, were true churches with many excellencies.
As we read our Lord’s letters to the churches, we see that one is loyal to the Lord, another wavering. One is on fire, another losing its first love. One has a great reputation, though it is dead. Another is in great poverty, though it is very rich in grace. One church abounds in every good work, while another is fast asleep.
--In the churches most full of life, some are dead.
--In the churches most dead, some are full of life!
Note: Loyal and faithful men do not forsake and abandon a ship when it is in trouble. They rally to save it! The only justifiable grounds for separating from a true gospel church is when it ceases to be a true gospel church. When it no longer holds to and proclaims the gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace.
Illus: “Don’t leave for the wrong reason!”
There is no right reason!
V. THE LORD JESUS REVEALS AND MANIFESTS HIMSELF TO HIS CHURCHES TO MEET THEIR NEEDS.
He walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, not to make us feel good, and shout, and have a good time, but to graciously meet the needs of his people.
Note: That is why a pastor’s ministry may, over a period of years, shift drastically in its emphasis at different times.
A. To Ephesus Christ reveals Himself as “he that walketh in the midst,” to observe and correct.
B. To Smyrna he is “the Living One,” who gives the crown of life.
C. To Pergamos he comes the “the sharp sword,” to sever and slay, to divide and destroy from her all that would destroy her.
D. To Thyatira his “eyes are like a flame of fire,” to see all, see through all, and to consume all that is dross.
E. To Saralis the Savior comes as he who “hath the seven spirits of God,” to quicken, revive, and give life, raising his church from her spiritual death.
F. To Philadelphia Christ appears as “he that hath the key of David,” to open the faithful all the bountiful treasures of the house of God.
G. To Laodicia he is “the Faithful and True Witness,” to expose her pride and sin, to call her to repentance, to chasten and to correct his fallen, languishing people.
VI. THE LORD JESUS, WHO WALKS IN THE MIDST OF HIS CHURCH, PRESERVES AND KEEPS THEM; YET, HE EXPECTS AND REQUIRES OF EVERY LOCAL CHURCH AND EVERY PERSON IN IT, FAITHFULNESS, LOYALTY, AND PERSEVERANCE, NO MATTER WHAT THEIR DIFFICULTIES ARE.
Not one of the letters to the seven churches gives us the slightest reason to imagine that the adversities and trials of the people would justify laxity, indifference, or surrender. On the contrary. He constantly assures us that:
--His Grace is sufficient!
--His Love is Immutable!
--His Faithfulness is Sure!
--His Intercession Prevails!
--His Hand is Strong!
Whatever your trial or temptation is, Christ is greater. He will sustain you, as you cling to him (I Cor. 10:13).
VII. THE LORD GOD WILL PRESERVE OR REMOVE THIS CANDLESTICK OR ANY OTHER, ACCORDING TO OUR FIDELITY OR INFIDELITY TO CHRIST AND HIS GOSPEL (REV. 2:5).
“Judgment must begin at the house of God” (I Pet. 4:17); and it shall. When our Lord spots unfaithfulness in us, he will do one of two things:
--Either he will chasten us and drive way our sin.
--Or he will judge us and sweep us away in his wrath.
A. No True Church has anything to fear, Except Indifference to Christ.
B. If this local church is to be Preserved and Persevere in the Service of Christ, Every Member must Himself Overcome those things that hinder obedience and impede Faithfulness to Christ.
This is the Mystery of the Stars and the Candlesticks.
1. The Stars--the Pastors!
2. The Candlesticks--the local Churches!
3. The Churches--You and me!
4. The success or failure, life or death of the church in your responsibility and mine (Rev 3:19-22).