A blog post on after thoughts on messages, events, or other random thoughts pertaining to following Jesus

PostScript: Seven - Week One

Reflections From Sunday, February 21, 2021: Seven - Ephesus: A Crisis Of Pride
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This past Sunday, we started a new series called Seven at CrossRoads. This is the first time in 15 years of pastoring that I have preached systematically through the book of Revelation. Although we will only be tackling 3 chapters of the book in this series, it can feel intimidating to tackle such a provocative book of the Bible. However, it is exciting to see how the truths of Scripture manifest themselves in our lives, culture, and church today. Every sermon, there are things that I am not able to touch on because of time restrictions. Today, I wanted to focus on the last verse that we looked at in Revelation 2:1-7, because I didn’t have time to fully unpack the rich promise that we are granted in this Scripture.

7 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. Revelation 2:7

The crisis of the church in Ephesus was that of Pride.  In John’s vision they are rebuked for doing the work of God in their own strength and energy. They are acknowledged for the hard work they have done, but the work they did was of themselves, in their own strength. He tells them “ Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first (Rev. 2:4).  In verse 7, Jesus gives them an incredible promise to hold onto. He is inviting them back to the garden, where there is fullness of relationship and peace. He is inviting them as they repent to come back to the relationship that they were created by and for.

When Jesus says He will grant this to the one who conquers to eat of this tree, we may be tempted to look at this as works righteousness, as our part to play in our salvation. This was the issue that led to the rebuke of the church in Ephesus in the first place. They strived to find a righteousness in themselves, rather than receiving the righteousness that Christ has bestowed. Jesus, the One who has conquered, the-already-Conqueror, is our victory. This is what John speaks of when writes his first epistle, “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:4–5).

This demonstrates for us clearly that our victory, our conquering anything that grants us a bite from the fruit of the tree of life, is not by our works, but is God’s work through the Holy Spirit to bring us penitent faith and trust in Jesus Christ. He is our Victory. Jesus is the victory.  As a result we can also say, with Paul, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57). We don’t fight for victory, we fight from victory.  Here are a few songs that represent this victory we have in Christ: Every Victory, Battle Belongs and the truth we can believe.
With this mindset, perhaps, we can begin to understand in proper light what Paul means when he wrote: “In all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37). He is the Conqueror and the Victory. In Christ, the victory is won. Everything is already done. Everything has been prepared. It’s handed to you freely and without cost, though it cost Him everything.

If you’re wondering whether or not you’ll ever get to sink your teeth into the fruit of the tree of life, the right question to be asking yourself is not, “Am I a conqueror?” The right question is, “Am I forgiven for all my failing to conquer?” The answer is always yes in Christ! There, hanging on that tree of death on Calvary, hung all your sin and shame, and became for you the fruit of the tree of life. Drink deep of that sweet nectar of the fruit of the tree of life, your victory in Christ!

Pastor Kevin

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