The Church in Ephesus
"To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this: 'I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name's sake, and have not grown weary.” (Rev 2:1-3)
'But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 'Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place--unless you repent. 'Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.' (Rev 2:4-7)
The Church in Thyatira
"And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this: 'I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first.” (Rev 2:18-19)
'But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 'I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality. 'Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. 'And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds. 'But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them--I place no other burden on you. 'Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come. 'He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS; AND HE SHALL RULE THEM WITH A ROD OF IRON, AS THE VESSELS OF THE POTTER ARE BROKEN TO PIECES, as I also have received authority from My Father; and I will give him the morning star. 'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.' (Rev 2:20-29)
The Church in Sardis
"To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: 'I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 'Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. 'So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.” (Rev 3:1-3)
'But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 'He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. 'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.' (Rev 3:4-6)
The Church in Philadelphia
"And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this: 'I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.” (Rev 3:7-8)
'Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie--I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and make them know that I have loved you. 'Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 'I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 'He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name. 'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.' (Rev 3:9-13)
The Church in Laodicea
"To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: 'I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 'So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. 'Because you say, "I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing," and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. 'Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.” (Rev 3:14-19)
'Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. 'He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'" (Rev 3:20-22)
I Know Your Deeds
Now let’s look more closely at this phrase, “I know your deeds.”
The word “know” is the Greek word oida, which means, “to know.” The word “deeds” is the Greek word “ergo,” meaning “toil (as an effort or occupation); by implication an act: - deed, doing, labour, work.”
Whether we are doing good deeds or bad, the Lord knows our deeds. In the case of the church of Ephesus, the Lord saw their toil and perseverance, and that they could not tolerate evil men, and they put to the test those who falsely called themselves apostles, and they found them to be false; and He saw their perseverance and that they had endured for His name's sake, and had not grown weary. But what He had against them was that they had lost their first love.
In the case of the church in Thyatira He saw their love and faith and service and perseverance, and that their more recent deeds were greater than at first. Concerning the church in Philadelphia He saw that they had kept His word, and had not denied His name. But what He had against them was that they tolerated Jezebel, a prophetess, who taught and led the Lord's servants astray so that they committed acts of immorality and ate things sacrificed to idols.
In the case of the church in Laodicea the Lord knew that they were neither cold nor hot; He wished that they were cold or hot. And because they were lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, the Lord said He would spit them out of His mouth. This is the general condition of the Church of this current generation we live in. This is the Laodicean age and just as that church was told to repent, so must we. We must buy from God gold refined in the fire, white raiment to cover our shameful nakedness, and salve for our eyes so that we may see.
In the case of the church in Sardis, He knew that they had a name that they were alive, but they were dead. They, too were told to repent. He had not found their deeds complete in the sight of His God. The word “complete” comes from the Greek word “pleroo,” meaning “to make replete, that is, (literally) to cram (a net), level up (a hollow), or (figuratively) to furnish (or imbue, diffuse, influence), satisfy, execute (an office), finish (a period or task), verify (or coincide with a prediction), etc.: (be) complete, fill (up), fulfil, (be, make) full, perfect.” (Strongs). That was not a good thing that their deeds were complete. Therefore, He commanded them to remember what they had received and heard; and keep it, and repent. The NIV says they must “obey it, and repent.” He warned them that if they did not wake up, He would come like a thief, and they would not know at what hour he would come to them.
Among these five out of seven churches in Asia, to whom the Lord said He knew their deeds, it was only Philadelphia that He had nothing against and for which He had only commendations. That church was not told to repent, but to hold fast what they had, so that no one will take their crown. For they had kept His word, and had not denied His name.
The Churches in Pergamum and Smyrna
As for the two other churches not mentioned here, to which He did not say He knew their deeds, He still said that He knew something, for the Lord knows all things. Concerning the church in Pergamum, the Lord said He knew where they lived (Rev 2:13). He had commendations for them, but He also had something against them, and they were told to repent (Rev 2:16). Lastly, to the church in Smyrna, the Lord said He knew their tribulation. He told them that they would have to undergo suffering, but that they should be faithful until death, and He would give them the crown of life (Rev 2:8-11). The church in Smyrna and the church in Philadelphia were the only two churches that were not told to repent.
"I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds." (Jer 17:10)
"'Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You, who shows lovingkindness to thousands, but repays the iniquity of fathers into the bosom of their children after them, O great and mighty God. The LORD of hosts is His name; great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, giving to everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds;" (Jer 32:17-19)
"Yet you say, 'The way of the Lord is not right.' O house of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his ways." (Eze 33:20)
"Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things." (1Jn 3:18-20)
Putting it All Together
From these examples, we can be sure that the Lord knows our deeds. The question to ask Him is, “Lord, have you found my deeds complete in the sight of Your God?” Then let the Lord answer you and show you whether your deeds are complete in God’s sight.
Are your deeds complete in God's sight? Are they hot or cold? Are they good? Are they righteous and holy? Are they loving? These are some hard questions that we all must ask.
As the proverb says, “Every man's way is right in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the hearts.” (Pro 21:2).
“All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the LORD weighs the motives.” (Pro 16:2)
"And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do." (Heb 4:13)
As the Holy Spirit said through the prophet Isaiah, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa 55:8-9)
Your deeds must be complete or else you will not reach heaven. Therefore, you must remember what you have received and heard, obey it, and repent. Otherwise you will be caught unprepared when the Lord returns to rapture His Bride. And remember, you can do nothing without Jesus.
Attribution notice: Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. The Good Samaritan by Dan Burr of Dan Burr Illustration copyright 2013 used by permission.
Author's note: If you enjoyed this article, I also recommend Righteous Deeds and White Robes, Doing What is Right, Your Rewards Are Based on Your Practice, Is Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth?, Faith Works!, The Judgment Seat of Christ, The Obedience of Faith, Striving to Enter the Kingdom of God, and The Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer. Other related articles are available on the Home page. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."
Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus. Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?
“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15). He preached that we must repent and believe.
Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International. He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.