The Lord Jesus Christ loves His church on earth so much that He has sent seven special messages to His world church in seven eras of its history since the time of Jesus and His apostles. They are recorded for us in Revelation chapters 2 and 3:
"Ephesus"(2:1-7) is the first church, that of the apostles. The Lord Jesus is happy with that "church," for He commends them for enduring persecution and for thinking clearly and exercising inspired discernment ("you cannot endure them which are evil"). The Christians there have "labored" patiently. But He has one thing against that "church": "You have left your first love [agape]."
Careful scholars have detailed how the leaders of the early church step by step abandoned the truths of agape and substituted the pagan Hellenistic concepts of love. The people blindly followed them! The Dark Ages had begun with that false doctrine imported.
Even the great Protestant Reformation of the 16th century did not succeed in completely overcoming the Hellenistic ideas that had watered down agape. What happened was that there developed a superficial view of the extent of the sacrifice of Christ on His cross. The idea was lost that Jesus had not only gone to sleep for a weekend before His resurrection, but that on His cross He had actually died the "second death" for the whole world (see Rev. 2:11, and 20:6, 14). He was serious when He screamed while on His cross, "My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Christ endured going to hell!
In consequence of losing this great truth of what happened on the cross, the early church soon fell prey to Hellenistic ideas imported into the church, one of which was the pagan doctrine of natural immortality. Today almost all Christian churches handicap themselves by holding to that idea. Those who mistakenly received that false idea were still seventh-day Sabbath observers; but having accepted that pagan doctrine, they soon abandoned the true Sabbath and embraced the observance of the great "day of the sun" (Sunday) in place of the Lord's true holy Sabbath. Now the Dark Ages became even darker.
But there is Good News: the Books of Daniel and Revelation pinpoint the end of the Dark Ages as coming at the close of the 1260 years of papal supremacy, which began in 538 A.D. and extended to 1798 when, for the first time, the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation began to become widely understood.
Fast forwarding to the end of those Dark Ages, we find that the Holy Spirit raises up a worldwide people who distinguish themselves as those "who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Rev. 12:17).
That is what is happening today, the world around. Come, take your place with them! The Lord Jesus has prepared a "place" for you there.
--Robert J. Wieland
November 9, 2008.