Summary: A look at one of the seven churches addressed in Revelation.
“A Backslidden Church”
Several years ago a couple was on vacation in Florida and they were floating in the ocean on inflatable rafts. The husband decided to head into the shore but his wife wanted to stay out on the raft and continue to catch some rays. After a short time the woman lost herself in floating along on the raft.
What the woman failed to realize was that she was slowly drifting out to sea. As she simply relaxed and let the gentle current take her with it, her situation was becoming more and more dangerous. By the time that she noticed what was happening to her, it was almost too late. She saw that the shore was much farther away than she expected and she began to panic.
Fortunately the lifeguards were able to rescue her but the whole situation was created just by being careless. How many people in this church today are just coasting along in their spiritual walk?
There are many like that in the church today, they are just slowly drifting out and they do not realize the dangers at hand.
In Revelation 2 and 3 we find that Jesus addresses seven churches and most of them he strongly rebukes for some problem that they are dealing with. As we read into those letters we find that the story of those first century churches may be very similar to the story of some churches today, or perhaps even could be true on an individual level with some Christians. That is why I want to ask, what type of church is this? By that I do not mean simply what we believe, and what group of believers we identify with. I mean if you were to describe Falls Mills Christian Church what adjectives would you use? Are we a strong church or weak church? A growing church or dying church? Are we faithful or lukewarm? Furthermore, what type of Christian are you?
The first church that is addressed is the church at Ephesus. The church at Ephesus may be the church out of all the other churches mentioned in Revelation that we have the most Biblical information on. It was the church at Ephesus that was founded by the Apostle Paul. It was in Ephesus where Paul started a riot with the metalworkers and the worshippers of Artemis. Paul spent three years working with the church in Ephesus. One may be able to say that the church of Ephesus held a special place in his heart. It was the church at Ephesus where the young evangelist Timothy was when Paul wrote to him. With that in mind, Jesus addresses this once strong church and pictures them as a backslidden church.
The city of Ephesus was a much commercialized city because of its advanced roads, its rivers, and seaports. Ephesus was a city very much like modern day America. There existed there a lot of paganism during the first century. You may remember on Paul’s trip to Ephesus in the book of Acts that the goddess Diana had a lot of followers. Paul was converting these pagan worshippers and the silversmiths and metal workers were getting mad because they were loosing money because they used to make a lot of money selling false idols. There was so much anger about Paul’s preaching that a riot started there in the city of Ephesus. The pagan people surrounded Paul to kill him shouting, “great is Diana of the Ephesians”, but Paul told them that the great temple to Diana was not god’s temple, that they were the Temple of God.
The Christians who emerged from this city were on fire for Jesus Christ. We learn in the book of Revelation that they hated false teaching, but they did not realize that hating false teaching is not equal to loving Jesus.
The Christians in Ephesus always had strong preachers like Paul, Apollos, Tychicus, and Timothy, but they did not realize that great preachers do not guarantee great churches.
We can read in the scripture what Jesus said to the church in Ephesus, but the question that we must deal with today is what would Jesus say to us today?
Perhaps he would compliment our not accepting false teachers like Ephesus. Maybe he would say he knows we live in an environment that is a humanistic society, a sports crazy society, a money hungry society, a pleasure seeking society, a sin crazy society, and tolerant society. Perhaps he would rebuke our lack of evangelistic effort, our lack of giving, our unfaithfulness to the local church, our broken down homes, and our tolerance on doctrine.
What would Jesus say to you? What would Jesus say about Falls Mills Christian Church today?
Text: Revelation 2:1-7
I. They Had Done Good Works