Learning to overcome is part of the process of becoming a mature son or daughter in Christ. This process involves being able to overcome in this world. Overcoming is a testimony of God’s grace at work in our lives. Mercy is enough to show us that God loves us, but God’s grace empowers us to demonstrate our love for Him. This is a testimony of overcoming!
Little children know God’s love, growing sons and daughters embrace becoming a testimony of God’s character, and fathers give their lives to see children embrace the process of overcoming to become sons and daughters in the character and inheritance of Christ. Learning to overcome is part of the process of becoming a mature son or daughter in Christ. Leaders must aspire to become fathers and mothers who can inspire children to want to be like Christ when they grow up. That growth is a process of increasing maturity. This means those children will emulate what they know to be the character of Christ in their family environment. This can only reveal Christ if the family tree is the Tree of Life and not the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – right and wrong.
1 John 2:12-14 I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake. I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, because you have known the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one.
Fathers empower their children to overcome by the grace of God at work in their hearts. Fathers have been there and the demonstrate a testimony that can be embraced and walked out in the lives of growing children. Maturing family members must overcome to constantly live in a place of loving God first in all things. Intimacy with God is more important than being right. For this to be the character of our lives requires an overcoming so little children can become maturing sons and daughters in Christ.
Revelation 2:1 “To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: 2 “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. 6 But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” ’
The overcoming promise of this letter to the church of Ephesus is to eat of the tree of life in the midst of the Paradise of God. This is not a verse for some faraway place in heaven. This is a testimony of grace at work in our lives. Father’s empower young men and women to embrace the power of God’s grace and become a testimony of God’s grace at work in their lives. The grace of the Spirit of the Lord empowers us to become a testimony of one who knows the love of God. This is revealed in this first of seven letters in the book of Revelation.
This first letter was to the Church of Ephesus. The word Ephesus means, pleasure or delight. This letter depicts the language of God in the beginning of Adam and God in the Garden of Eden. The word Eden means desirable, in synonymous terms to the meaning of Ephesus. In this letter Jesus is seen as “the one who holds the seven stars in His right hand”. He is seen as Lord, because He is the one who loves us. His love holds us in all things!
I believe the angel of the Church of Ephesus refers to the Spirit of the Lord, one of seven aspects of the Holy Spirit (Isa. 11:2; Zech. 4:10). Like all seven churches, the angel is an aspect of the Holy Spirit, but the message of the angel is to each aspect of the Church that is, that was, and that will be, thus it applies to the growing maturity of each and every believer in Christ. This first angel carries the message that is the antidote to dry places, spiritual warfare, and a loss of paradise (the desirable place). The Spirit of the Lord is the antidote to the dry places of our hearts that had us bound to the spiritual warfare of the temptation to seek other life sources. Humanity was bound to the curse of looking for love in all the wrong places! That quest for love was constantly disrupted by what seemed like lifeless dead-end alleys bound to the knowledge of good and evil. Offenses and judgments were obstacles in the dimly lit passages of our search.
The language of this letter to the Church of Ephesus is that of the Garden of Eden with terms like “works”, “labor”, “patience”, and the knowledge of hating “evil”. These are garden tending terms (Gen. 2:15; Jam. 5:7; Gal. 6:8, 9). In this letter Jesus comes as the one “who walks in the midst”, as He walked in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:8). Those in Ephesus had done well at knowing who were true apostles and who were false. They had the knowledge of good and evil, but they had left their first love. They were missing the purpose of the garden as a place of knowing an intimate walk of love with God. This was the sin of the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve left their first love in exchange for the knowledge of good and evil. The knowledge of Ephesus had given them a hatred for evil, but left them with a loss of intimacy with God in Christ. Their hatred of the Nicolaitans was a value held by God as well, but God wanted their trust in Him to outweigh their demand for being right. The Nicolaitans were a people of compromise and were willing to confess more than one lord in the name of God. Jesus simply wants our hearts so that we will not be motivated to seek other lords in our lives. The overcoming promise of this letter to Ephesus was a restoration of the Paradise of God through the eating of the tree of life. The antidote to the dry places in which the false lords of the world live is found in knowing one Lord through intimacy with God in Christ. When God grants us repentance unto life the dry areas of our hearts become watered gardens of His love and presence. What a wonderful letter revealing an exegetical truth for the first century, a syntactical witness of the past, and a living principle by which we can all live in Christ in the generations to come. All New Covenant believers have been born again! They have been born again to the Paradise of God in Christ! They have been granted repentance from dead works in Christ and have been restored in a personal relationship with Him in their hearts (Heb. 6:1; Rom. 5:1-4; Eph. 2:11-22).
Young men and women must learn to embrace the grace of the Spirit of the Lord that empowers them to live in the place of knowing a personal relationship with God that reveals a walk in life that testifies of a relationship with God. This will involve a test and testimony of grace. Like all measures of grace, it involves standing strong in the midst of resistance. It includes a cheerful endurance in the midst of testing. The cheerful endurance of those who stand releases a testimony of the character of Christ within them. This is the overcoming power of grace that reveals the hope of change, the glory of Christ within. Returning to your first love and living in and from that place in life is a testimony of God’s grace working in the life of one who overcomes.
Romans 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Food For Thought,
Ted J. Hanson