The Letters to the Seven Churches Series - Ephesus
Text: Revelation 2:1-7 (HCSB)
1 To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: “The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand and who walks among the seven gold lampstands says: 2 I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate evil. You have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and you have found them to be liars. 3 You also possess endurance and have tolerated [many things] because of My name, and have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you: you have abandoned the love [you had] at first. 5 Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. 6 Yet you do have this: you hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 “Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. I will give the victor the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
Revelation 1:3 (KJV) “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”
Intro: “I know your works!” could you really imagine that? Someone or thing or deity who really knows your works? Well you better sit down, someone does! That someone is God – He does know our works or lack of works. There are too many in the church today and too many churches who have lost their love for the church what it stands for and what Christ should really mean to them. So where do you stand. Maybe the thought should be, it is time you take a stand and get back to the feelings you had when you first believed in the Lord… Today we are going to take a look at the first of the seven churches that are mentioned in Revelation: and we might need to ask the question is this our church? I hope not!
Application: The overcomer receives eternal life!
1. The Counselor: vs. 2:1
“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: “The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand and who walks among the seven gold lampstands says:"
Jesus Christ is the One who walks in the midst of the churches or the golden lampstands. Christ is present in the very midst of the church. He sees and knows all about the church. He is present to teach and grow the church. The messages to the seven churches were given for personal application. Jesus Christ expects us—all churches and all believers—to apply the messages to our own situation. Jesus Christ expects us to search our hearts and to heed the messages given to these churches. The first message is to Ephesus, an orthodox church, a church that was faithful to Christ and to the Word of God, but it was a church without love.
There are the recipients of this letter. The letter is addressed to the minister of the church as well as to the church. This is striking, for it means that the Lord holds the minister responsible for the church and its welfare. Christ expects the minister to study and heed the message himself and to lead the believers to heed the message.
2. The Commendation: vs. 2:2-3, 6
2 I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate evil. You have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and you have found them to be liars. 3 You also possess endurance and have tolerated [many things] because of My name, and have not grown weary. 6 Yet you do have this: you hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
The church worked and labored for Christ. There is no room for laziness or lethargy in the church of Christ. Christ expects every believer to labor for Him, to labor to the point of exhaustion. Christ keeps an account of our work and labor. He knows every ounce of energy that we expend. He knows when we become tired and exhausted and can go no more. He also knows when we should be working and don’t.
Matthew 5:16 (HCSB) “In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
The church patiently endured. The church was steadfast in studying and proclaiming the gospel and in ministering to the needs of the needy.
1 Corinthians 15:58 (HCSB) “Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
The church could not bear those who were evil.
The church tested all the preachers and teachers of the church and rejected the false.
The church bore up under all for the sake of Christ's name.
This is a meaningful picture of a true church, a church that has surrendered itself to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the picture of a church that is loyal and devoted to Christ, that is orthodox through and through. It is the picture of just what a church should be. But there is one thing lacking, one devastating and destructive thing that looms ever so large in the life of the church.
3. The Chastening: vs. 2:4
“But I have this against you: you have abandoned the love [you had] at first.”
There is the complaint. The church had lost its first love. The church and its believers had lost their feelings for Christ. The Greek says, "your love the first [love]." Believers had left their first love. Christ was no longer first in their lives. They were putting themselves and their own affairs first, and they were putting the church first—the programs, services, ministries, and fellowship of the church. They had become more attached to the church than they were to Christ.
Simply stated, they were not having personal fellowship with Christ, walking and sharing with Him like they once did. They were not as attached to Christ as they had been. They were more attached to other things and other involvements of life. They loved their church and they had the right beliefs, and they were even ready to fight for the truth of Christ. But they did not love Christ, not in a personal and intimate way, not to the degree that they walked and shared with Him, fellowshipped and communed with Him all throughout the day, not in the sense that they took blocks of time and got alone with Him and prayed and shared with Him.
"And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold" Matthew 24:12 (KJV)
The church had lost its love for people The church saw a rupture take place in its fellowship and in its love for one another. When the church was first founded, a deep love existed among the members. The church had a loving heart and a helping hand—a readiness to labor together even through persecution. But something happened. What? There is no explanation. So all the negative things that rupture a fellowship or erase love are applicable: criticism, grumbling, jealousy, a selfish mind.
“Love must be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good.” Romans 12:9 (HCSB)
4. The Counsel: vs. 2:5
“Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.”
The Lord counsels the church to return to him. When a church or a believer goes astray, the Lord issues the very same call that He issues here: return. Remember from where you have fallen. Think back over your former love for the Lord. Remember His presence: the feelings of warmth and tenderness, the fervor, spark, and unction, the fellowship and communion with Him, the prayer and sharing, the consciousness and awareness of His presence, the joy and rejoicing of His presence that filled your heart.
Repent: turn away from whatever has pulled you away from Christ and turn back to Christ. Something has drawn you away from Christ. You are attached to something more than you are to Christ. Something is consuming your thoughts and energies and keeping your mind from focusing upon Christ and fellowshipping and communing with Him. You are not flickering your mind to Him in prayer as you walk throughout the day. You are not sharing and communing with Him like you did. Something has replaced Him in your thoughts and attention. And you are more attached to that thing than you are to Christ. Repent—turn away from that attachment and turn back to Christ.
“If My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 (HCSB)
Do the first works that you did. Walk the worthy walk! Or your lampstand will be removed!
5. The Challenge: vs. 2:7
“Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. I will give the victor the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”
Jesus promises all overcomers would receive fruit from the tree of life in paradise.
There is the warning that Christ will remove the church (the candlestick) from its place. What does this mean? It means that Christ will remove the church... from being a true church. From being a true representative of Christ upon earth. From being a church of God's true kingdom. From being in touch and in union with God. From being a true light and witness to the world. From being a church of the gospel of God. From His presence, from the light of His presence. This is a terrible judgment. A removed church is lifeless, dull, nothing more than form, lacks the presence of Christ in the service and lack the light and witness of Christ and His power?
The Ephesian church had preached and taught against the error of the Nicolaitans. They had refused to allow the error to enter the church. They were doctrinally sound; they stood staunchly for the truth of Christ and the Word of God. But they lacked the main thing: love for Christ. They had lost their love for Christ. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" Romans 12:1-2 (KJV)
There is the promise to the overcomers. The word overcomer has the idea of conflict and struggle. The overcomer is a person who overcomes and conquers and gains the victory. He is the victor and conqueror. What is it that he is to overcome? Everything that pulls his heart and love away from Christ and attaches it to the world. Whatever possessions, whatever pleasures, whatever it is that has dampened the believer's first love for Christ—it is that thing that the believer must overcome.
"He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God" Revelation 2:7 (KJV)
The promises to the overcomer throughout this passage are meaningful. They are a dynamic challenge, a challenge to conquer whatever it is that keeps us from living for Christ.
The great city of Ephesus had a disease, the disease of sensual unrighteousness, and the disease did its work: it corrupted the people. The people, sensual and self-centered, lost their will and willingness to ply a commendable trade.
Conclusion: "Have You Lost It?"
“I know your works!”
1. The Counselor: Jesus Christ is the One who walks in the midst of the churches or the golden lampstands.
2. The Commendation: But there is one thing lacking, one devastating and destructive thing that looms ever so large in the life of the church.
3. The Chastening: There is the complaint. The church had lost its first love. So all the negative things that rupture a fellowship or erase love are applicable: criticism, grumbling, jealousy, a selfish mind.
4. The Counsel: Repent: turn away from whatever has pulled you away from Christ and turn back to Christ.
5. The Challenge: vs. 2:7
The overcomer is a person who overcomes and conquers and gains the victory. He is the victor and conqueror. Are you an overcomer? And if you are YOU WILL RECEIVE ETERNAL LIFE!
In : Sermon
Tags: "seven churches"
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