Near the end of the first century, the Lord's church in Ephesus had many things in its favor. They could not tolerate evil men and had the courage to put preachers to the test. They even "tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars" (Rev. 2:2).
Not only was the truth preached -- the brethren "persevered" and "labored" for the Lord and had not grown weary (Rev. 2:3). Like the Lord, they hated "the deeds of the Nicolaitans" (Rev. 2:6).
Christians today might have felt at home in Ephesus. Those traveling could have visited with the brethren and gone away speaking in glowing terms about their soundness in the faith. The tragedy is these brethren were no longer serving the Lord out of sincere devotion -- they had left their first love (Rev. 2:4).
The Lord warned these brethren that unless they repented and did "the first works" He would remove their "lampstand from its place" (Rev. 2:5). The "lampstand" was symbolic of the Lord's presence and His recognition of that congregation as belonging to Him.
"That first love could yet be revived and experienced as at the first, if they would recognize what had happened. It is the same with congregations today. Repentance is a change of mind, or will when the human will submits to the will of God. There comes a time in the life of every church when it should take a fresh inventory of its whole life and disposition, reminding itself again of the day when it mounted up with wings as eagles, ran without weariness, walked without fainting, and renewed its strength in the Lord (Isa. 40:31)." (Homer Hailey, Commentary on Revelation, p. 122).
Could the Lord "remove the lampstand" from the group of brethren you worship with? Most assuredly He could.
I am not sure when it happened, but apparently the power to "remove the lampstand" has been transferred into the hands of editors of religious journals. Recently, I have read of editors of "brotherhood" magazines making pronouncements concerning the soundness of God's people in various cities. Sometimes they determine the "lampstand" has been removed because the editor didn't like the local preacher. I know of one editor who determined there was not one faithful Christian in a city he had never even visited!
If the Lord determines to remove the lampstand from a group of His people, ten thousand editors couldn't sway His judgment. If the Lord is pleased with His people in any given city, it doesn't really matter what some self-appointed guardian of the brotherhood says! "Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: The Lord knows those who are His" (2 Tim. 2:19).
When I first started preaching I subscribed to nearly every magazine published by our brethren. Now, more than twenty years later, my subscription list gets smaller every year. Politics in the secular world I grudgingly tolerate -- politics in the Lord's church I abhor. If the apostle Paul were to meet with some of the great editors of our day, he might say again: "But from those who seemed to be something -- whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man -- for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me" (Galatians 2:6).