Summary: Message No 1: This sermon shows that without a passionate love for Christ, all the best efforts of Christians and churches count for nothing, and stirs people to rediscover their first love.
Ephesus: The Desirable Church That was Fallen.
Text: Revelation 2:1-7.
Introduction: This morning I want you to come with me to the first century and the beautiful Mediterranean city of Ephesus. Here we find an important and prosperous commercial centre in the ancient world, its streets crowded with travellers and merchants each displaying his wares. There is a variety of tongues to be heard as the busy port brings in many foreign visitors. Caravans carrying commodities from all over the world trundle along the streets making their way to market.
Down by the docks we find huge warehouses, filled with goods ready for export or just arrived as import. Well heeled, well dressed business men, are making their way to the world’s very first bank, the Bank of Asia, which is conveniently situated in the city’s most prominent building, the temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the world, used in the worship of the goddess Diana. Within that building was housed a great image of Diana, a grotesque statue, said to have fallen from Jupiter, depicting the goddess bearing many breasts, symbolising fertility and female purity. Only females or male eunuchs were permitted in her presence.
Street traders can be heard calling out to worshippers as they make their way to the temple, for Ephesus is famed for its talismans and ornamental charms. And not only do they sell trinkets and charms, but books dealing with the black arts, incantations and magic. Silversmiths were doing a roaring trade
It was into this city, in 56 AD. the apostle Paul arrived. He came preaching a new god - Jesus, and he performed miracles which confirmed his message. There was a mighty outpouring of the Holy Ghost “and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified, and many that believed came, and confessed and shewed their deeds.” Indeed some brought with them their black magic books and publicly burned them at great cost to themselves, turning away from the idols and icons that had been the trademark of Ephesus for centuries. Naturally the silversmiths were alarmed, such a move was bad for business, and so their trade union representative Demetrius, called everyone together and pressed to have Paul banished from the city, but it was not to be, and for three years the great apostle worked in Ephesus planting and establishing a New Testament church. And it is to this church in that city, we find the address of the Lord Jesus in Revelation 2. And it is this church which is to be the centre of our attention this morning.
I. The Assembly. (Rev 2:1a)
A. The church at Ephesus was the flagship of New Testament churches.
1. The word Ephesus = “desirable.” And there can be no doubt that this was a desirable church.
2. It was the kind of church that almost all spir. Christians would find attractive.
a. It was busy, zealous, it was doctrinally sound, it was successful.
3. It was the only church which secured an address from two different apostles, and had at its outset a Pastor whose name is well known to us all, Timothy, who was himself the recipient of two epistles from Paul.
B. Here was a church founded by Paul, pastored by Paul’s trainee, situated at the hub of revival, confronting head on the paganism and superstition of centuries old idolatry.
1. It was, no doubt a very exciting church, living in a very challenging time.
2. Yet it was to this church that the Lord Jesus sent, what was effectively, a letter of complaint.
a. His complaint: They had left their first love.
II. The Author (Rev 2:1b)
A. The whole Bible is the Word of God.
1. Yet the letters to the seven churches of Asia are unique, in that the message is verbatim the Words of Christ.
a. There is no personal insight or input from the apostle John, he acts only as a secretary taking down dictation and delivering the message to each church.
b. The message is addressed to the angel of each church.
(i) Angel = angelos = messenger = pastor.
(ii) Can you imagine what Jesus might say if He were to send us a letter?
B. To each of the churches, the Lord describes Himself differently.
1. Here He is “He that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks”
2. The seven stars are the pastors of the churches concerned - Rev 1:20.
a. Always said I’d be a star someday!
b. Seriously, it is encouraging to see that God’s Pastors and ministers are upheld by His power & His strength.
(i) The right hand for most people is the stronger hand & that is what it pictures here - the strength & power of the Lord, and the security of His ministers as they are held in His right hand.