THE PURPOSE OF THE REVELATION
(Eccl. 1:9) "The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun."
At this time, 8-10-15, there are only 2 kingdoms in the world, God's kingdom and Satan's kingdom and each one has a spiritual manifestation and a physical manifestation. Satan has always desired a physical world kingdom through a world dominating nation led by a physical, demon (spiritual) possessed dictator, (Dan. 10:13) Persia is an example, OR (Rev. 13:1-9) a one world government led by a physical, satanic possessed (spiritual) dictator who will attempt to completely and forever physically eradicate God's physical kingdom, Israel (every Jew), from the world.
Satan once destroyed the nation of Israel through their sins but did not eradicate the Jews (Rev. 12:6) because God hid them in the wilderness of nations. (Rev. 12:13-16 esp. V.15-16 think WW2) And the earth helped the Jews. God's spiritual kingdom is in the physical church. Satan has attempted to deceive and destroy the church (physical) spiritually by leading them into sin (spiritual) or by physical destruction through his persecutors since the church came into being. Neither tactic has worked.
(1Thess. 4:13-18 & Rev. 7:9-17) God will remove the church by His catching away (harpazo), commonly called the rapture of the church, (Rev. 20:7-9) and the way will be made for the Almighty God Jehovah and Satan, the god of this world, the pretender god, to physically fight for dominance between Israel and the rest of the world.
THE 7 CITIES OF THE 7 CHURCHES
You must understand at the time of Jesus' vision to John these 7 cities where these 7 churches were located were not some country backwash, primitive, mud walled, thatched roof huts. They were bustling, busy, grand, modern (for that time), rich cities that had reached their zenith of modernity under highly civilized waves of various classic cultures such as the Persians, Greeks and Romans. The classes were rich, middle class, poor, soldiers and slaves.
The dwellings, especially of the rich, ruling class, had magnificent arches, skylights, elaborate frescoed, tiled latrines and baths, expensive tapestries of thick textile cloth decorated with pictures and designs woven into the fabric. They contained embellished mosaics throughout and many homes were built around elaborate gardens.
The middle class homes were also decorated in the same fashion as much as the owners could afford. The poor lived in hovels, shacks, or poor quarters provided by their employers. The soldiers generally lived in barracks. The slaves, a valued commodity, lived in well-kept slave quarters and were well fed on the plainest, cheapest food.
The businesses were also elaborately decorated in the same motif to prove whatever degree of financial success the proprietors enjoyed. The arenas where the citizens watched gladiators, slaves and exotic animals fight to the death were elaborately decorated and were entered through entryways with magnificent arches. The grand amphitheaters were elaborately decorated with tiled floors depicting stylized scenes from their wars, hunts, conquests and mythology. There the populace enjoyed plays, drinking, singing, dancing, debauchery and etc.
The public bath houses were built with marble lined interconnected chambers each containing huge marble tubs, carved stone benches, tiled floors, friezes of their winged gods, sea gods, Roman soldiers in combat and bacchanalian scenes of pagan gods sexual activity. They contained piping that supplied running water and a furnace and piping system that supplied heated water. (Luke 4:6) Satan was running wild in the rich kingdoms that ruled the 7 cities of Asia but trouble was coming his way!
SARDIS CITY'S BEGINNING
There were a seemingly endless number of tribes, city states, nations, continual wars, dominate nations, alliances and etc. that fought over the same land in western Asia and southern Europe throughout the centuries. Only a very few of those pertinent to Sardis will be used here because I would die of boredom in writing them all and you would soon log out of this website because of sheer frustration. Every major archaeological find seems to change parts of what we know and the dates of those parts of what we know about this ancient world, its cities and its inhabitants. The following is taken from the ever changing tapestry of published history.
About 612 BC Nineveh was the greatest city in Asia. It was the capital of the Assyrian Empire. The Persians, Medes, Babylonians and also the Chaldeans who were in rebellion against the Assyrian tyranny united, besieged, overran and sacked Nineveh. Those united armies went on and conquered the Assyrian Empire. Of course that changed the political and national boundaries from what they had been. One of the Indio-European cultures, the Anatolians, carved out what was known as Lydia, Biblical Asia, (modern day western Turkey) for their own. The Anatolian king of Lydia built the city of Sardis for his capital.
SARDIS: THE WEALTHY, PAGAN, JUDICIAL CITY
Sardis was a rich prize. It was built on a low plateau jutting up in the middle of a plain in the Hermes Valley system. The plateau was protected by smooth, almost perpendicular rock cliffs on 3 sides and the access on the southern side was by a small very steep road. The plain was well watered by the Pactolus River. Gold was discovered in the hills surrounding the valley and some of the earliest produced gold coins, about 600 BC, were found there. Silver mines were also opened. The modern term, "Richer than Croesus" was coined after Croesus, one of the kings of Sardis.
The main pagan, occult, mythological goddess of Sardis was Cybele (feminine of Baal? Pronounced Bale, Satan would love it.) whose mythological son was named Midas and people believed everything mythological Midas touched turned to gold. This mythology was carried into modern times and became known as "the Midas touch". Lots of people still pray their investments will fall under the "Midas touch". Idolatry!
People were attracted to the wealth of Sardis and as time went on a world famous (western Asia and southern Europe) carpet industry was built up and their carpets became a huge export. Sardis had been originally founded for its defensive qualities as an acropolis (fortress), on the top of the low plateau. Due to the lack of space on top of the plateau more and more of the city was built on the slopes below the cliffs that protected the fortress.
Semi-precious stones were discovered and then mined in the surrounding hills. In the ancient world Sardis also became famous for producing jewelry made from semi-precious jewels set in gold and silver. Sardis was filled with intelligent, inquisitive, industrious, inventive, hardworking, idol worshipping people among whom were many artisans. And, of course, there was also the poor in that society.
Sardis was located on the Roman road between Philadelphia and Smyrna. It was the same old story. Culture after culture conquered Lydia with the 3 most famous being the Persians, the Greeks and then the Romans. In all times, war or peace, good or bad, there was a mixing of various cultures, religions and races in these 7 cities that were home to the 7 churches of John's vision.
Sardis was a rich prize, too rich to destroy and the waves of conquering cultures took great care to keep it intact. They added to the wealth of Sardis by building better roads, building their own temples, bringing more artisans, increasing trade, offering more entertainment and offering a wider variety of occult gods and goddesses to worship. There were schools for every main scholastic discipline in the ancient world. Sardis was a great cultural and commercial center. The Romans made it a judicial center that was the hub of more than 30 Roman Judicial districts.
Sardis was a crossroads for trade, education, a worship center for many idolatrous religions, a center for commercial manufacturing and a center for Roman justice. Of course, that made it an ideal meeting point for the exchange of technology, inventions, ideas, beliefs, customs, culture, knowledge, new insights and various pagan religions.
Archaeologists have discovered the ruins of many pagan temples, Roman roads, many other buildings, a huge gymnasium/bathhouse and the largest Jewish synagogue ever found in Asia, the archaeologists were astonished to find the synagogue to be more than 300 feet long, larger than a modern football field.
(Acts 2:1-4) After the Holy Spirit entered the disciples (learners) they became apostles (sent ones). Filled with Holy Spirit fire and the Word of God it was to this synagogue and the large community of Jews in Sardis that some of the apostles first came. But the apostles eyes were on the materialistic, rich, middle class, poor, military, slave, greedy, selfish, self-worshiping, idolatrous, educated and uneducated pagan population of Sardis. As soon as they could form a nucleus of Jewish converts (believers) from the synagogue they built a church and started preaching to the pagans. Satan's trouble had arrived!
THE REVEALING VISION OF THE CHURCH AT SARDIS
(Rev. 3:1-6) contains the vision Jesus gave the Apostle John concerning the letter John was directed to send to the church at Sardis. (Rev. 3:1) "And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath (possesses) the seven Spirits of God, and (possesses) the seven stars;"
NOTE: We must clear up who is who in these 7 letters to the churches in Asia. The scripture never says God wrote a letter to angels therefore the vision from Jesus to the Apostle John resulted in the 7 letters that were written to the pastors (messengers) of the churches. (2Pet. 2:11) Angels are more powerful than men (Dan. 10:5-14) and there is an angel warfare going on between good and bad angels we know little about (Rev. 1:20) so the 7 stars are the guardian angels of the 7 churches.
(Dan. 9:19-23) Some of the good angels bring messages to individuals who serve God. (Ezek. 28:1-10 a man & 11-16 an angel) Some of the evil angels communicate with evil men. BUT:
(Acts 4:8-12 & 6:10, 1Cor. 2:4-5 & 13, Thess. 1:5 and 1Pet. 1:12) Other than this special message to the seven Revelation churches by Jesus, the Holy Spirit inspires legitimate preachers to preach their messages (2Tim. 3:16 keywords: all scripture) based on God's word. (2Cor. 2:13-15) Satan, the deceiver, divider and murderer, inspires both illegitimate preachers to preach their messages (1Cor. 3:1-6) and at times carnal, ignorant, babes in Christ preachers, (2Tim. 3:16) who do not understand the full scope of God's word (scripture), to preach their messages.
(Rev 3:1 continued) "I know thy works, that thou hast a name, that thou livest, and art dead."; is actually three complete statements.
#1) (Rev. 3:1) "I know thy works," (Prov. 15:3) Jesus sees everything we do, (Matt. 9:4) Jesus knows our thoughts (John 13:18-19) and Jesus knew Judas' secret plan to betray Him. Somehow these Christians in Sardis had lost sight of the fact Jesus sees us steal, He hears us lie, when we fornicate He looks upon our nakedness and hears our sounds when we commit the act.
He watches and listens to us when we drool over catalogue items, endlessly finger over items in stores, shout for our team, hero, or heartthrob movie or singing idol and all the other things we do in our idolatry, He knows our thoughts when we contemplate cheating in our game, cheating on a contract, cheating on our spouse; Jesus knows all about us. And Jesus knows when we are trying our best to serve Him and worship Him in Spirit and truth. Jesus knows!
#2) (Rev. 3:1) "that thou hast a name, that thou livest," They attended church! Jesus revealed he knows when we are phony Christians by what He said about the scribes and Pharisees. (Matt. 23:1-7 esp. V.5) (V.5)"But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, (religious symbols worn to show their great knowledge of God's Word but they didn't discern the true meaning of the words they knew so well) and enlarge the borders of their garments (they liked to show an enlargement of self but Jesus knew their small, selfishness of soul)."
Jesus knows when we pretend to serve Him but are really performing it to look like a super-Christian to our fellow citizens or church members just like the Pharisees did. It sounds like the majority of that congregation was little more than a social club. (Matt. 11:29) They made a show but did they really effect the permanent changes in people's lives Jesus desires?
#3) (Rev. 3:1) "and art dead." The people described in #2) put on a good show, dressed in their Sunday best, sang loud, bragged how blessed they were, demanded no Biblical change in themselves (John 14:20-26, 15:1-6 & 14-15) and didn't understand nor care about the personal relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Obviously there were all kinds of Pharisee and Scribe Christians in the church at Sardis. They looked good, acted good, smelled good but were a stench of decay (death- dead) in Jesus' nostrils.
(Rev. 1:4) We discussed in (Part 28) the 7 types of works the Holy Spirit will do in any congregation or in any individual if they will heed God's word. (Rev. 3:4) There were a few Christians in Sardis who had not defiled themselves and were spiritually alive BUT: The church as a whole was dead and dying, they had glaring spiritual needs and they needed everything Jesus had to give them through the Holy Spirit to bring them back to repentance. They sound like a lot of modern Christians and churches now, in 2015.
THE DYING CHURCH AT SARDIS NEEDED
#1) (Rom. 12:2 & Titus 3:5) a renewing Spirit,
#2) (2Cor. 6:2 & Heb. 2:18) a succoring (aid, relieve, help) Spirit,
#3) (1Cor. 6:18 & 10:14, 1 Tim. 6:3-11 and 2Tim. 2:22 keyword in all:
flee) a warning Spirit,
#4) (2Cor 12:9 & 1Pet 5:10) a strengthening Spirit,
#5) (John 16:33 & Rom. 3:4) an overcoming Spirit,
#6) (John 17:15, 1Cor. 15:2 & Eph. 4:3) a keeping Spirit
#7) (John 14:26, Acts 20:27 & Heb. 6:17) a counseling Spirit.
WHAT WAS KILLING THE CHURCH AT SARDIS
Jesus leaves it up to us to identify the cause of the church's dying in Sardis. (Rev. 3:4 keywords: have not defiled) Surprisingly enough, the scripture that reveals the cause of dying is pinpointed by the few Christians who had not defiled their garments. The cause of the dying in the church at Sardis was COMPROMISE; "that thou livest," they all looked alive because they attended church but only a few were successful Christians in Jesus' eyes.
According to scripture: (Rev. 2:20) Sardis didn't have a Jezebel to lead them into fornication and idolatry. (Rev. 2:14) They didn't have a Balaamite to lead them into the various temples of idolatry. (Rev. 2:15) There is no mention of a Nicolaitane to lead them into "serve God when you have the time away from worldly pursuits". (Rev. 2:10 & 13) No mention is made that they suffered any great amount of tribulation or persecution. (Rev. 2:13) They didn't have a Satan's seat to torment them. (Rev. 2:4) They had obviously left their first love. But what happened? There are only 6 verses. Where do we look? What is the hidden key?
Ancient church history tells us the apostle John had visited and preached at all 7 of the Asian Christian churches just after they had been planted AND before, during and after his tenure as Pastor of Ephesus. SO: they would have heard the Gospel of John preached and taught to them.
Through the Jews all 7 churches had the complete Old Testament writings. At the time of Jesus' revelation to John we have seen how the writings of the apostles had been in circulation at least 40 years because they had been immediately distributed to the churches all around the Mediterranean Sea. So, except for the Book of Revelation, any pastor would have had access to the same Holy Writings as we do today. After John's vision from Jesus all the ancient churches also had the Book of Revelation.
All of God's written word was at Sardis. (Rev. 3:6) The Holy Spirit was there. (Rev. 2:1, 8, 12, 18, then 3:1, 7 & 14 keyword in all: angel- defined: messenger- implying a pastor) So, lets look at a pastor (Matt. 10:19-20 & John 14:26 and the 5 before mentioned scriptures) who was supposed to bring the message given him by Jesus through the Holy Spirit according to the word of God. Obviously, we need to look at the unnamed pastor and see if he is the reason for their spiritual decline and decay ("art dead") in the church at Sardis.
If a pastor has character flaws he does not correct such as desire for the things of the world, greed or simple laziness Satan attacks those flaws to deceive and seduce a pastor and use him to cripple or destroy that church as an effective body for Christ.
Every Christian's war is against self's wants, what the world offers and Satan the devil; which are the flesh (human nature with its passions and frailties), the world (people and things with their sinful enticements) and the Devil with (1Cor. 4:4) his ability to spiritually blind people, (John 8:44 keywords: murderer & liar & 2Cor. 11:13-15) his ability to make lies sound like the truth and (1Pet. 5:8) "your adversary (enemy) the devil, as a roaring (on the hunt) lion (an active predator), walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (consume):"
When a lion physically consumes the prey it becomes part of the lion's strength. The same is true spiritually when the devil consumes Christians and/or church leadership they become part of the devil's strength. Think: Modern denominational diversity of belief is an example, Christless religions is another and atheism is a third!
THE FIRST CHRISTIAN PASTORS:
(Eph. 4:11-12) "and he gave (bestow, grant, make) some, apostles; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. Pastors - is the Anglicized Greek word poimen, pronounced poy-mane and is defined a shepherd. (Rom. 8:28) It is a calling according to God's purpose (1Cor. 12:18) because God sets the members in the church as it pleases Him. A pastor is called, made and set in the church by God.
According to church history (Gal. 1:19) James, the brother of Jesus, (James 1:1) the author of the Book of James, (Acts 12:17 & 21:17-18) the pastor of the church at Jerusalem, was martyred at Jerusalem. The modern secular (non-Christian) world and the sectarian (Christian) world were turned on their ears when, in Nov. 2002, an ossuary, a stone box in which are stored the bones of the dead, was excavated in an archaeological dig in Jerusalem that had the words "James, the son of Joseph, brother of Jesus" engraved on it.
Of course there is an argument between the 2 sides concerning its authenticity. Satan always makes sure there is an argument if it concerns Jesus (2Cor. 4:3-4) because he hates Jesus for saving people out of his clutches.
Please do not confuse James the pastor (Mark 10:35) with James the brother of John (the writer of Jesus' Revelation vision), (Matt. 4:21) the son of Zebedee, who was (Acts 12:2) martyred by Herod the king. By its location in scripture this "thunder voice" James, John's brother, was probably the first apostle to be silenced by execution. (Mark 3:18) There is a third apostle named James, the son of Alphaeus, but little is known of him scripturally. Foxes Book of Martyrs lists him, according to church tradition, as being stoned then beaten to death with a club in Ostrakine, in Lower Egypt for preaching the gospel. All 3 men named James were martyred.
The point is: (James 1:1 keywords: a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ) It is striking that James the pastor of the church at Jerusalem would only refer to himself as a servant when he wrote the Book of James. (Matt. 23:11) But that fits in with what Jesus said; "But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant." Any literal, physical shepherd of any physical flock of sheep under his care, in reality, serves them even as he supervises, cares for and protects them. SO: A pastor is a servant to Jesus' flock. The flock does not serve the Pastor. (Luke 17:21) They serve Jesus by building God's kingdom on earth as directed by their pastor.
Another point is: (Luke 19:41-44) Jesus knew Jerusalem would be destroyed, many of the Jews and Christians would be slaughtered and the rest carried off into captivity by the Romans. Jesus knew the center of the Christian Church would be at Rome, (John 21:15-19) they would need a pastor and that pastor would be martyred there.
SO: (John 21:15-16) Jesus had obscurely appointed Simon Peter to be the pastor when the central church would come into existence in Rome, Italy to replace the destroyed central church at Jerusalem. (John 21:18-19) Jesus also obscurely told pastor Simon Peter he would be martyred by the Roman Emperor Nero AND (John 21:20-24) Jesus obscurely told Simon Peter it was none of his business that Jesus would come back in His glorified form and give John a great vision and command him to write the Book of Jesus' Revelation. Both Simon Peter and John would understand when the time came.
The point made is: (John 21:15) #1) Jesus made sure Simon Peter realized how much he loved Jesus and then appointed Simon Peter to; "Feed my lambs." (John 21:16) #2) Jesus made sure Simon Peter realized how much he loved Jesus and then appointed Simon Peter to; Feed my sheep." (John 21:17) #3) Jesus made sure Simon Peter realized how much he loved Jesus and once again appointed Simon Peter to; "Feed my sheep." It was (John 18:17, 25 & 27) the exact same number of times Simon Peter had denied knowing Jesus. A pastor's job is to feed Jesus' lambs (newly saved, baby Christians) and to feed His adult (mature Christians) sheep.
(Luke 22:61) Simon Peter remembered the look in Jesus' eyes and His expression after he had denied Him the 3rd time while Jesus was on His way to a horrible, tortured death. (Luke 22:61-62) Simon Peter remembered his cowardice (John 21:17) and it grieved him (to experience deep emotional pain).
(John 21:14-17) Resurrected Jesus was talking to him now and that had to be the exact time Simon Peter decided he would die before he would ever deny Jesus again! And he didn't; not even when the Romans crucified Pastor Simon Peter up-side down on a cross on the hill dedicated to Vatica, the Roman goddess of the dead where the Roman Catholic Vatican would be built. A pastor is expected to give his life for Jesus' flock either one day at a time in servitude to the flock OR his life all at one time by being martyred.
Church history tells us Simon Peter was the 1st pastor of the church in Rome. The Roman Catholic Church acknowledges Simon Peter was the 1st pastor of the church at Rome and they assume their unbroken succession of Popes were and are in a direct spiritual lineage from Simon Peter to now and the Pastor position of the church at Rome belongs to them and they are the one true church. See Part 27 to review the results of that assumption. OR: Read the three-part Introduction to the commentary Sin in Church for a shocking historical account of what the church at Rome became!
(1Pet. 5:4) THE CHIEF SHEPHERD
(John 10:11) Jesus said; "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." (John 19:30-42) And Jesus did give His life for His sheep. Each individual Christian is worth Jesus' life. The sheep are Jesus' life. (Phil. 2:3-8 esp. V.5 keywords: Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus & V.7 keywords: and took upon him the form of a servant) Remember pastor: ***You change places with Jesus and each and every sheep (Christian) is your life.***
(Jer. 23:1-2, James 3:1 keyword: masters- defined- Strong's 1320- instructor, teacher & 2Pet. 2:1-6) If you were Jesus when you called your shepherds to account (judgment) for your sheep for which they were responsible what would you do if one of your shepherds (pastors) SPIRITUALLY AND/OR SCRIPTURALLY caused one of your sheep to die, OR neglected one of your sheep and let it slowly starve to death, OR saw one of your sheep sick and hurting and didn't try to help it, OR was cruel to one of your sheep, OR ignored your sheep in its pain or sickness,
OR (2Pet. 2:1) brought in a damnable heresy (Heb. 6:4-6, Rev. 2:5, 3:5 & 15-16) OR let one or some of your sheep stray and be destroyed by a roaring lion (Satan) OR the lion (Satan) came right into the sheepfold to attack your whole flock and the pastor didn't fight to the bitter end to preserve them? Sure, there are times Christians leave your flock and you can't get them back BUT did you (pastor) try your best to return them? Jesus knows and you know!
(Heb. 10:30-31) "Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." If you were in Jesus' place and each sheep was worth your life your fury would be a terrible thing to face when those ignorant of scripture, selfish, materialistic, greedy, loveless, uncaring, fearful, proud, lazy, cruel, cowardly, unloving, traitor shepherds fell, afraid and screaming, into your hands. Are you listening Pastors?
INSTRUCTIONS FOR ALL PASTORS
Jesus told Pastor Simon Peter; "Feed my lambs." Lambs are baby sheep. With those 3 words Jesus spoke volumes that would encompass millennia of time. Example: As an ancient Israelite shepherd wandered the hills with his sheep a lamb could be born at any time, in any place in their realm of travel and that compares very well with the way the early apostles went from place to place offering salvation to whoever would listen, wherever they were and Jesus' "human lambs" were "born" wherever they were saved (born again).
Modern lambing takes place in special, clean, dry, temperature-controlled rooms with everything needed at hand and that compares very well with church houses in which Jesus' "human lambs" are spiritually "born again" with everything needed at hand such as pulpit, singing, music, altar, baptistery and etc. AND: Every modern church pastor has a vast advantage over the ancient pastors because he has at his fingertips a vast arsenal of computer information.
Any modern shepherd should use the KJV Bible because the other Bibles available eliminate verses and in many cases their wording changes the meaning of what the scripture intended. Always seek definitions if you are unsure of the scripture's intention. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance is a good one. Greek and Hebrew definitions are also available with the flick of a finger on the internet. Base everything you teach (feed) Jesus' lambs on the scripture. (John 14:14-26 & 2Tim. 3:16) God's word is the only thing with which the Holy Spirit works within a person's soul. "Feed my lambs."
Physical lambs must nurse and eat the mother's first milk which is known as colostrum because it contains antibodies against disease. For effect, when a person is "born again" the church has spiritually given birth through the blood of Jesus, in accordance with God's Holy Word and the Holy Spirit's power. Newly saved Christians are baby Christians, Christ's lambs. (1Pet. 2:1-3 esp. V.2) Baby Christians are told to desire the sincere milk of the word so they will grow. A pastor must encourage and feed that hunger. "Feed my lambs."
(1Cor. 3:1-3) (V.1) These brethren are baby Christians (V.2) and still being fed milk (V.3) because they are still carnal (unregenerate human nature with its frailties and passions). It is one thing for a Christian to be "born again" out of the world and into the kingdom of God BUT it is quite another thing to get the world out of a new Christian. Are you listening pastor? "Feed my lambs."
The first milk contains antibodies against disease. (2Cor. 5:17) It must be thoroughly explained to a new Christian how the spiritual born again experience made him "a new creature (creation) in Christ: old things have passed away and all things are become new." He has a brand-new start. He has been judged in this life and his death because of sin sentence was paid by Jesus on the bloody cross at Calvary. That is an antibody against the disease of taking his salvation too lightly
(John 15:13) Jesus' love for a new Christian must be thoroughly explained in the light that it is not possible to love anyone more than to give your life for them. This information taught to a baby Christian with all of Jesus' love within you prevents the disease of coldness toward church and what Jesus expects of them. "Feed my lambs."
The first milk contains vitamins E and A which strengthen the immune and digestive systems and repairs cell damage. A new lamb's digestive system cannot process complicated food yet and neither can a new Christian's spiritual digestive system digest complicated food. (2Cor. 11:3) Keep it simple, do not let the serpent corrupt their mind from the simplicity that is in Christ! Teach baby Christians God's exact identity. Thoroughly explain to baby Christians the exact nature of the Holy Spirit within them.
Make sure they understand the relationship between Jesus and a Christian is intensely personal to Jesus and Jesus desires the same thing from them; "eyes on Jesus, heart on His Bible, daily Bible study, teach the way to pray and don't give up because of failure." Its up to the pastor to gently, lovingly and faithfully incite a riot of thirst for God's word then guide that desire for knowledge toward the foundation of his salvation experience.
Example: What good does it do a new Christian (Jesus' lamb) to study the significance of the Jewish prayer shawl when the new Christian don't know the identity of the Holy Spirit who lives within him? These things strengthen the lamb's (baby Christian's) immune system from the disease of a "ho-hum", lackadaisical, lukewarm relationship with a church instead of an on fire personal relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit.
Teach (feed) a baby Christian that during salvation, when they personally met Jesus through the Holy Spirit, they spiritually went to Calvary. It was a last stand because one of them had to die because of sin. Jesus had more than 72,000 (12 legions) angels He could call to rescue Him. The baby Christian didn't have anybody that had the power to rescue him. It was judgment! Spiritually Jesus had turned to them, looked them squarely in the eye and quietly said; "I'll take it for you." and He died in their place.
The first milk repairs cell damage in a new lamb. The first milk given by a pastor should be an introduction into the fact Christians are not perfect and the new Christian (Jesus' lamb) should not expect perfection from the whole congregation all the time. Baby Christians should be taught (Matt. 24:13) "But he that shall endure unto the end shall be saved." with all patience and kindness. And surely the new Christian should be given a background about the disease of temptation, deception and blinding with which Satan endeavors to infect him.
Colostrum, the first milk, is a concentrated high energy milk designed by God that helps strengthen lambs from birth shock trauma and to get off to a strong start in their new environment. About 75% of lambs that don't receive colostrum die in the first 6 weeks.
AND that percentage fits exactly with what Jesus first said in (Matt. 13:3-8) and then explained in (Matt. 13:18-23) (V.23) that only 1 group out of the 4 groups, 25%, of these believers became fruitful in their endeavors for Jesus and the building up of God's kingdom, 75% didn't measure up to (Matt. 24:13) "But he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved." AND (Matt. 7:14) "strait (narrow) is the gate (door) (John 10:7-9 sins washed away by Jesus' blood, born again, through the Holy Spirit, according to the word of God) and narrow is the way, (Matt. 13:18-23 again) which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."
First group: If you go witnessing consistently and through the power of the Holy Spirit you really get into in-depth conversations with people on the street who say they are Christians a large group of them will eventually say; "Well, I used to be a Christian." OR; "Well, I don't have a home church right now." OR; "Well, I don't go to church much anymore." AND etc. You will see they don't have a clue they are supposed to be in a personal relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit, they have drifted away and most of them don't really care anymore. They are Backslid!
There is a 2nd group in churches who show up on Sunday mornings, sit quietly, go home and do nothing to develop their relationship with Jesus AND do nothing to build up the kingdom of God all week. Then there is a 3rd group who show up in church 1 or 2 Sundays out of every 4-6 weekends and are satisfied. (Rev. 3:14-22) All three groups are lukewarm! (Matt. 13:18-23) I haven't the capability to know if the 3 groups make up 75% of the people who experience the salvation event, but Jesus does know and Jesus knows how much effort the pastor (the shepherd) took to feed the first milk to these sheep who had lost their way when they were brand new Christians (Jesus' lambs).
(Heb. 10:29-31) The Chief Shepherd's Judgment of His Shepherds
(1Pet. 5:1-4) Simon Peter, the first pastor, wrote; (V.1) "The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness to the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: (V.2) Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight (supervision, overseership) thereof, not by constraint (to compel, distress) but willingly (free will, voluntarily); not for filthy (defiled, dirty) lucre (greedy, base gain), but of a ready (eager, willing, prompt) mind;" (V.3 & 4) are given in the 6th paragraph below.
The 2 words "but willingly" in (V.2) speaks volumes because it speaks of the attitude a true pastor must possess to be a true servant of Jesus and of his lambs. A pastor must be glad Jesus would trust him with His lambs and love Jesus with all his heart because of it. A pastor must love Jesus' flock with all his heart in order to serve them in spite of how they sometimes act.
Real life lambs are curious and get into trouble, they play games, run back and forth senselessly, butt things, cavort and prance. Jesus' spiritual lambs sometimes do the same things and it sometimes makes a true pastor want to tear out his own teeth in frustration. (Isa. 59:1) "Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, neither is his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:"
(Rom. 5:3-5) "but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." Pastor, since God loves those things in your flock, surely He loves a thing like you, so appreciate it. Pastor, just like Jesus' lambs you are also a work in progress.
(Luke 12:48) "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required:" That levels the playing field! (Matt: 13:8) Those lambs will be individually judged by #1) how hard they tried, #2) what they know, #3) how much they love and #4) what they have done. You, pastor, will also be judged; how hard did you try in your servitude to Jesus' lambs? Did you study enough to pass the what you know test in teaching them? How much did you love Jesus and His lambs? (John 15:5 keywords: without me ye can do nothing) What have you done that Jesus did not accomplish through you Pastor?
(Luke 17:10) "when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do." What have you done Pastor? (Matt. 5:41-42) Did you go the "extra mile"? Did you give what was needed?
(V.3) Neither as being lords (subjugate, a master as the owner) over God's heritage (portion, acquisition), but being ensamples (model, pattern) to the flock. (V.4) And when the chief (best, first, leader) Shepherd (head Shepherd) shall appear (let self be seen, manifest self), ye shall receive a crown of glory (honor) that fadeth not away. All the pastors love (V.1 & 4) but (V. 2 & 3) are kinda iffy aren't they Pastor?
(Rev. 10:6-7) And time shall be no longer will declare the voice of the 7th angel when he will begin to sound and the mystery of God will be finished. (Re. 20:12) "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God and the books were opened:" What books?
There are 39 OT and 27 NT books for a total of 66 books in the Bible. In both Testaments are directions, responsibilities and warnings to pastors. (Rev. 20:12) These 66 are the books by which humanity will be judged because (John 12:48 & 2Tim. 3:16) Jesus said His words would judge us. There are other books too. (Mal. 3:16) There is a book of remembrance (memorial, record) that "was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name." AND: (Rev. 20:12 & 15) There is a book of life that contains the names of those who will be honored to be in eternity with Jesus.
Pastor, you will be judged! The book of remembrance (memorial, record) is opened. Time is no more, there is no sense of waiting, it is now, always now and God has an endlessness to present every pastor's life from salvation to death like a recorded, yet living movie. God will have an endlessness to replay the lives of His lambs, His baby Christians, while they were in your flock. Pastor, every word you said, every emotion you engendered, every thought you caused, every emotion you had toward your lambs, every reason for your actions; all of it, your whole life as a pastor will be examined!