Summary: Jesus first of seven letters to the churches of John’s time.
Ephesus: Loss of First Love
Tonight we are beginning a new sermon series entitled: “Seven Letters to Seven Churches.” The churches that John writes about in this section of Revelation were actual churches that existed during his time. Now these churches have not been precisely duplicated in the world today, but they do represent the types of churches that are generally present throughout the entire church age. Five of the seven churches were rebuked for tolerating sin in their midst, not an uncommon occurrence in churches today. The problem in those five churches ranged in severity from waning love to total apostasy. Any church in any age could have a mixture of the sins that plagued these five churches.
Though Christ may have addressed the Ephesians’ church first because it was first on the postal route, t was also the most prominent church of the seven.
Ephesus was a very wealthy and cultured city. It was on a great highway. Travelers going to and from Rome to the east would go through Ephesus. It was a very corrupt city. The cult of Diana was very prominent. They had mingled religion with magic. The great temple of Diana was the center of pagan worship.
Ephesus was also a strong center for the worship of the Roman emperor. There is not much difference in liberal theology in churches today and the pagan worship in Ephesus.
In this wealthy, cultured, corrupt city, there was a church that was a good church. The word Ephesus means “desirable.” This was a desirable church. If it had been written up by the Baptist press of that day, it would have been a five star church. It was a busy, achieving, aggressive church.
Jesus wrote a letter to each of the seven churches and in each He introduces himself as the one who is writing with a different description. The description that God used in each church gave light to what he was going to address. So what can we glean from this letter to the church at Ephesus?
I. Regular Activity of the Church (vv. 1-3)
a. In verse 2, Jesus recognizes the regular church
i. When he uses the three words “deeds” “toil” and “perseverance,” He is describing a church that is standing up to the task, and doing it’s job.
ii. These words indicate that real service is being rendered.
iii. They ministered to the people in the community.
b. The word “deeds” or “works” speaks of actual service rendered.
i. People’s lives were really being touched.
c. The word “toil” or “labor” indicates that “painful effort was required to produce the works.
i. There were sacrificing, ministering people.
ii. This description is more impressive when we realize it was Jesus who gave it.
iii. This was not the pastor’s evaluation.
d. They were also standing for the truth.
i. This was a church with convictions; they stood for the fundamentals of the faith.
ii. They stood for the truth of God’s Word.
e. They were standing up to the test (v. 3)
i. This means that they stood firm in the face of opposition and hostility.
ii. Every church that is a true church will rub the community wrong.
iii. The world is never going to accept a church that dares to be like Jesus.
II. Ruinous Attitude of the Church (vv. 4-5)
a. Next though, Jesus talks about the ruinous attitude of the church.
i. In one simple sentence, the picture changes.
ii. Here is a church that was doing everything right but for the wrong reasons.
iii. This church had given itself to the outward expressions of serving God, but had left its first love.
iv. They had lost their passion.
b. The word “left” is a wrong word.
i. It really means abandoned or forsaken.
ii. They had completely forsaken that first love they had for the Savior.
iii. They put emphasis on sound doctrine and practice but forgot the Lord.
c. Sometimes it is possible for us to be so busy being Christians that we forget about the Lord.
i. We forgoet why we are doing what we are doing.
ii. Sometimes we think we have problems, but our problems come back to one simple thing.
iii. We have left our first love.
d. Do you realize the implications of what Jesus is saying?
i. It is possible for us to do all the things we ought to do and still abandon him.
ii. We can be faithful to the church, active in outward activites, and still not love Jesus.
iii. All of our service that is not motivated by our love for Christ is worthless.
e. Jesus described them as fallen in verse 5.
i. Here was a church that seemed like anything but a fallen church.