Thesis: A healthy church is one that never leaves its first love.
1. What one first century church do we know more about than any other in NT?
a. Acts 19-20--establishment of church by Paul.
b. Ephesians--letter written to correct some developing problems.
c. 1 Timothy--letter to Timothy as he struggled in Ephesus.
d. Rev. 2:1-7--words of Jesus late in the first century.
3. Studying the church at Ephesus is both positive & negative; we want to learn from their successes and be warned about their failure.
I. THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH AT EPHESUS.
A. A church in excellent health (Acts 19-20). < 55 A.D. >
1. Young & vibrant as evidenced by spirit of love & unity at Miletus.
2. ... but there's danger on the horizon (20:29-31).
B. A church in declining health (Ephesians). < 60 A.D. >
1. Not trusting in God's grace (2:8-10).
2. Not remembering where we came from (2:11-13).
3. Disunity in the church (4:1-3).
4. Casual attitude toward sin (4:17-24).
5. Failure to strengthen ourselves spiritually (6:10-11).
C. A church in critical condition (1 Timothy). < 65 A.D. >
1. 1 Tim. 1:3-4.
2. 1 Tim. 6:20-21.
D. A church body near death (Rev. 2:1-7). < 95 A.D. >
1. How could this church be near death?
a. Worked hard and been patient.
b. Not tolerated wicked men; tested pseudo-apostles.
c. Endured hardships and not grown weary.
2. But they had forsaken their first love! (verse 4)
3. What Jesus told them to do (verse 5):
a. REMEMBER where you were.
b. REPENT of where you're at now.
c. DO now what you did before.
II. A CHURCH ON FIRE WITH ITS FIRST LOVE. (Acts 19).
A. A healthy church is open to new teaching (1-7).
B. A healthy church is looking for open people (8-10).
1. Spoke the word boldly (8).
2. Changed their methods to reach more people (9).
3. Result: "All Jews & Greeks in Asia heard WOL" (10).
C. A healthy church is open with their lives (18-20).
1. Commanded to "confess our sins one to another" (James 5:16).
2. Commanded to "bear one another's burdens" (Gal. 6:2).
1. Can the words, "You have forsaken your first love" apply to this church?
2. Not as long as we are OPEN TO NEW TEACHING ... LOOKING FOR OPEN PEOPLE ... and OPEN WITH OUR LIVES!