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Summary: Satan has no problem with a church that has smoke going up the chimney, as long as there’s no fire in the furnace. If the church isn’t careful, its ministry can become mere methods and mechanics, performed legalistically, without love for Christ.

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FIRED UP, OR FIZZLED OUT?

Text: Rev.2: 4

Intro: In the first seven verses of Revelation chapter two, the resurrected Christ, via the Apostle John, writes a letter to the church of Ephesus. At the time this letter was penned, the church of Ephesus was a thriving body of believers. Times were tough, yet this group of Christians were faithful and firm in their stand for the truth, and their service for the Lord. As a matter of fact, to read the first three verses of this letter, one would think that everything in this church was just as it should be. However, the Lord makes a charge against this church that seems to negate all the good things said about it at the outset.

You see this church had no problem performing their Christian duty, or preaching the correct doctrine. They were straight as an arrow on those matters. The heart of their problem was the problem in their heart. Though they could not be faulted on Christian duty and doctrine, they had developed a definite problem in their devotion to Christ.

Unfortunately, this problem is still prominent in many churches of our day. It is possible for a church to be technically correct in their ministry, and yet possess no spiritual fervor and fire. The church’s ministry becomes mere performance without power, and sentiment without substance.

But what is a church’s source of spiritual fervor, fire, and power in ministry? It is a passionate love for Jesus Christ. Ministry motivated by any other source than a passionate love for Christ becomes mechanical and hypocritical. This had become the case in the church of Ephesus. While technically still serving Christ, their love for Him had grown cold—their hearts were no longer aflame for Jesus.

The Church of the 21st Century must be on guard against anything that would rob it of its spiritual fervor and fire for Christ. Let’s examine Christ’s letter to the church of Ephesus, and take heed to its warnings.

Theme: Examining Christ’s letter to the church of Ephesus, we notice:

I. CHRIST’S COMMENDING OF THEM

A. He Commends Them For Their Endeavors.

Rev.2: 1 “Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;

2a I know thy works, and thy labors…”

NOTE: [1] The words “angel” and “stars” refer to the pastors of the seven churches of Asia. The word “angel,” means, “a messenger” (W.E. Vine, M.A., An Expository Dictionary Of New Testament Words, Vol. I, published by Fleming H. Revell Company, Old Tappan, New Jersey; pg. 55). The word “stars” is obviously used in a figurative sense. It is used by the glorified Christ to refer to pastors as those who give light and guidance. This would have been understood by the readers of John’s day, since light and guidance were viewed as the basic qualities of the heavenly bodies.

[2] It is significant that the Lord is said to hold the “…seven stars in his right hand” (v. 1b). In Bible times, the right hand was a symbol of power and authority. As one commentator notes, this refers to,

…the supremacy of him who thus holds his servants in his right hand, and that of their function, as performing their ministry for him by his power, and with supreme accountability to him.

Alvah Hovey, D.D., LL.D., Editor, An American Commentary On The New Testament, published by The American Baptist Publication Society, Philadelphia, PA.; Commentary On The Revelation, by Justin A. Smith, D.D., pg. 40.

[3] Notice also that the Lord is said to walk “…in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks” (v. 1c). The candlesticks, or “‘…lampstands’ were the seven churches (1: 20)” of Asia Minor (John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, Editors, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, published by Victor Books, Wheaton, Illinois; pg. 933). The fact that the Lord is said to walk in the midst of His churches, indicates that His presence is among them in the sense that He is intimately aware of all that is going on with them.

3a. This is brought out by the statement, “I know thy works.” The word “works” refers to the fact that the Lord knew about “all the deeds of life, good and bad…” (Alvah Hovey, D.D., LL.D., Editor, An American Commentary On The New Testament, published by The American Baptist Publication Society, Philadelphia, PA.; Commentary On The Revelation, by Justin A. Smith, D.D., pg. 41).

3b. This is likewise brought out by the fact that the Lord was aware of their “labour.” This refers to their “…labor in the sense of service, especially that which harasses and wearies…” (Ibid, pg. 41).

[4] Sometimes we think that God doesn’t notice what we do for Him, or that He doesn’t notice how weary we become. But He walks in the midst of His church, and is therefore perfectly aware of what’s going on in it. The Ephesian church was a serving body of believers, for which the Lord commended them. However, with many Christians and churches of today, it is not a matter of whether they are serving, but why are they serving.

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