On Withdrawing Candlesticks

In chapter 2 of Revelation, Jesus had words for seven churches; Smyrna and Philadelphia were doing very well; Laodicea was failing and the others were doing well in some areas and not so well in others. The church at Ephesus was in the final group.

At the time John had his vision, the church at Ephesus was still in fellowship with the Lord, but was in danger of losing that close relationship, for Jesus warned:

Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. - Revelation 2:4-5

So, who cares if God takes away a lamp stand, or candlestick? Is that such a big deal?

Actually, it is a big deal, for the candlesticks represent the churches:

The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches. - Revelation 1:20

Is Jesus warning the folks in Ephesus that God is going to come down there and take away their church building if they donít get their act together?

Of course not, but He is warning them of something that would be more devastating than the mere loss of their church building. The purpose of a candlestick: is to hold up a light source so that the light emanating from it might illuminate the area around it. For Jesus to take away the candlestick would be for Him to remove the source of light from the church.

We know that those who walk in the light are in fellowship with God, and we know that those in darkness have no fellowship with God.

3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.
5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
Ė 1 John 1:3-8

The Scriptures refer to many things as light: the Gospel, the saints, etc. In Revelation 2, however, it is clear that the light referred to is none other than God Himself. When John writes that the church at Ephesus is in danger of having its candlestick withdrawn, he is quoting Jesus; warning that God is giving them a chance to repent of having drifted away from their first love. Unless they change their ways, God would withdraw from the church, severing His affiliation with it. No longer will He treat it as His own. No longer would He work through its members. And those in the church would walk in darkness. They would not lose their salvation, but they would lose fellowship with their Lord.

In the 7th verse of His letter, Jesus admonishes:

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. - Revelation 2:7

Elsewhere in the Scriptures, Jesus tells those who have an ear to hear what is being told them. That may seem rather silly, for we all have ears, two of them. Jesus is not talking of the fleshy ear that can hear the sounds of the world. He is talking about the spiritual ear that only those born of the Holy Spirit possess. It is only with the spiritual ear that one can hear and understand when the Holy Spirit speaks.

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. - 1 Corinthians 2:14

Does God guarantee to protect a church from error? A Catholic writer says that He does.

Infallibility is the protection given by the Holy Spirit to the pope so that he will never teach error in matters of faith and morals. The First Vatican Council, which defined papal infallibility in 1870, was acting in response to a challenge to the doctrine which has always been true and was accepted and practiced from the earliest times. The evidence for papal infallibility comes from three sources: Scripture, history and logic.-- Jeffrey Mirus, ...AND PROTECTS HIS CHURCH FROM TEACHING ERROR IN FAITH AND MORALS; "The Catholic Truth," Volume 1 Number 1; June, 1995, Published by The Legion of Mary © 1998 Transporter Info Services, All Rights Reserved.

The Catholic Church says that the Magisterium protects her from teaching error.

890 The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium's task to preserve God's people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates. To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church's shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. The exercise of this charism takes several forms:--Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed., © 1994/1997 United States Catholic Conference, Inc.

I'd say that theyíre both wrong. Iíd say that the Catholic Church would do well to heed Christís warning to the church at Ephesus to mend its ways or He would withdraw from it. In truth, it looks to me as though the Candlestick was withdrawn from the Catholic Church a very long time ago.

How about you, dear reader? How are things in the church where you fellowship? Is the Light of God still shining down from its candlestick, or is the congregation walking in darkness? Has your church leadership become so involved in building programs and other worldly things that they havenít even noticed that God no longer is present among them? When the Lord withdraws the candlestick, the church indeed becomes your church.

Do you hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to you?

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