Summary: Seven Letters to Seven Churches (1st in series).
EPHESUS: LOSS OF FIRST LOVE
INTRO: 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 in Asia. In these letters, he introduces himself as the one who is writing with a different description.
I. REGULAR ACTIVITY OF THE CHURCH (vv. 1-3).
Jesus recognizes the regular church (v. 2). When he uses the three words “works” “labor,” and “patience,” he is describing a church that is standing up to the task, and doing it’s job. These words indicate that real service is being rendered. They ministered to the people in the community.
The word “works” speaks of actual service rendered. People’s lives were really being touched. “Labor” indicates that “painful effort was required to produce the works.” These were sacrificing, ministering people. This description is more impressive when we realize that it was Jesus who gave it. This was not the pastor’s evaluation.
They were also standing for the truth (v. 2). This was a church with convictions; they stood for moral purity. They could not bear those who were evil.
More than that, it was a church that would not tolerate theological heresy (v. 2). They stood for the fundamentals of the faith. They stood for the truth of God’s Word.
They were standing up to the test (v. 3). This means that they stood firm in the face of opposition and hostility. Every church that is a true church will rub the community wrong. The world is never going to accept a church that dares to be like Jesus.
II. RUINOUS ATTITUDE OF THE CHURCH (vv. 4-5).
Next, Jesus talks about the ruinous attitude of the church. In one simple sentence, the picture changes. Here is a church that was doing everything right but for the wrong reasons. This church had given itself to the outward expressions of serving God, but had left its first love. They had lost their passion.
The word “left” is a strong word. It really means abandoned or forsaken. They had completely forsaken that first love they had for the Savior. They put emphasis on sound doctrine and practice but forgot the Lord.
Sometimes it is possible for us to be so busy being Christians that we forget about the Lord. We forget why we are doing what we are doing. Sometimes we think we have problems, but our problems come back to one simple thing. We have left our first love.