Christ's letter to Ephesus

Letters from Christ  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  39:45
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Often churches think they are a good church because they have lots of programs, or they hold orthodox views. Today we see that what was important to Jesus Christ was that the curch have LOVE.

Intro: Last week I preached on Christ in His glory! He is God and in control of all. He knows everything that is going on, and we see that reiterated in each letter to the churches. We see both of these reiterated at the beginning of chapter 2 with the stars in His right hand and walking amount the lampstands. We also notice the “I know” statements throughout this passage.
Know that Jesus Christ is more than the unremarkable looking man in Israel some 2000 years ago!
Theme: The Lord knows what is going on and where we need to be as a church.

Background - Ephesus’s history

The name Ephesus means “desired.”
It was a major port city with lots of commercial trade.
Ephesus was a free city, meaning equal citizenship with Rome.
This city had the title “Supreme Metropolis of Asia”, and the largest city of the area.
It’s main religion focused on the Greek goddess Artemis or Roman’s called her Diana. Her massive temple was one or the 7 wonders of the ancient world. The temple was a sanctuary for any criminal that could make it to the steps and was the sight of open prostitution with the hundreds of “priestesses”. Ephesus also had temples to worship Roman Emperors, Claudius and Nero,
This church started in Acts 19 & 20. The Apostle Paul found people who had been changed by the teaching of John the Baptist, but had not heard of Jesus.
The church had such leaders and attenders as Paul, Timothy, Tychicus, Aquila, Priscilla and Apollos. Before his exile to Patmos the Apostle John pastored there.

Church Positives

Ephesus was a church of high spiritual standards
Revelation 2:2–3 NKJV
“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; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.
They had:
toil\work\labour to the point of both mind and muscle weariness.
steadfast endurance - mentioned 3 times in 2 verses - ὑπομονή Hupomona - the endurance that turns hardship into glory
a hatred for evil - They live aware that evil is intolerable!
They had their share of beggars come through who were only looking for a handout and not a change to know God. They were able to identify these people and call them out as thieves.
purity of doctrine - they exercised the gift of discernment by examining the truth.
They knew evil, sin and lies when they saw and heard them. Even the ones claiming to be “spiritual gifts.” last phrase of verse 2
Paul had warned them that these false teachers were coming in Acts 20:28-30 & in his letter to Timothy.
an ability to stand, bear up under pressure, in favour of an accurate view of God’s very character.
They hated the Nicolaitians, who we will see again in v 15.
Revelation 2:6 (NKJV)
... you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
followers of Nicolas - a deacon chosen in Acts 6.5
Acts 6:5 (NKJV)
... They chose Stephen, ... and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch,
The name Nicolaus means “to conquer the people”
Believed that grace means Christians can do anything. They flaunted sexual promiscuity and boasted about eating meat that had been dedicated to other gods.
Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
Nicolaitanes; tried to introduce into the Church a false freedom, that is, licentiousness; this was a reaction in the opposite direction from Judaism. Nicolaitanes, or followers of Balaam, abused Paul’s doctrine of the grace of God into a plea for lasciviousness (2 Pe 2:15, 16, 19; 2 Pe 2:15, 16, 19, Jude 1:4, 11
Numbers 25.1-5 is where we find Balaam
Ephesus was well known for bing a good church! When Ignatius of Antioch wrote to Ephesus, on his way to being martyred in Rome, he could write: “You were ever of one mind with the apostles in the power of Jesus Christ.”

Church Negatives

Yes, Christ has mentioned some good things about the church, but there are also some things that really need to be addressed if they are to survive.

They lost their zeal for love

Revelation 2:4 NKJV
Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
Nevertheless\But = Alla
Jesus Christ has something AGAINST them!
love = agape
No church I know believes they have lost this, they think it is weak, but not lost.
Love was set as a Christian identification mark.
John 13:35 NKJV
By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
1 John 4:7 NKJV
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
They began to love the work, love the gatherings, love staying orthodox, and they had lost a love for God and His people.
Luke 10:27 NKJV
So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ ”

Remember verse 5a

Revelation 2:5 NKJV
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.
If they did remember He would not have to tell them, so it is a problem!
Because they did not remember, they had fallen. They probably did not feel like they had fallen. The word was widely used in NT times of falling overboard.
Memory is often the first step back to where God wants us to be. It was the memories that brought the prodigal son on a journey home. Lk 15.17

& Repent

The Complete Word Study Dictionary - μετανοέω metanoéō
Theologically, it involves regret or sorrow, accompanied by a true change of heart and action toward God.
They need to understand that it is their fault and change thinking, direction, and actions!
Repentance in this case means we understand that God’s ways are best for us, but have not been chosen.

& Repeat the works of love

The church is being asked to repeat the very things that made them respond to God’s love and follow that with works of love.
We all know that we can’t love children once and say the job is done.
Remember both the knowledge\doctrine AND the enthusiasm & devotion to get to know God and His people. Love was referred to as the hight that they fell from!

Promise to the churches

We can go back! We can love again the way Christ told us to love. Who wouldn’t want to return to true and perfect love?
Access to the Tree of life in the Paradise of God !
Revelation 2:7 NKJV
“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.” ’
Again, notice that it is where God is! The best we can ever have is with God. The best we can ever enjoy is with God!
Seen back in Gen 2.9, but Adam and Eve chose knowledge instead.
Paradise - The place Jesus was going with the thief on the cross. Lk 23.43

To eat of the tree of life means to have all the joys that the faithful conquerors will have when Christ reigns supreme.

Conclusion: The Lord knows what is going on and where we need to be as a church.

The first danger sign for any church or for believer is to grow cold toward Christ.
Proverbs 14:14 NIV84
The faithless will be fully repaid for their ways, and the good man rewarded for his.
A church may have a good reputation in the community, great zeal and excitement, solid doctrine and practice; yet have its first love for Christ and the ones people God loves on the decline.
Q1 Have you ever been tempted to think that God does not care about our church? Choose now to dismiss any such thoughts!
Q2 A lack of love is deadly for a church, Do we understand our personal role in that?
Q3 Are we listening to what God is saying to His church?
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