Summary: A continuation of the teachings of the 7 churches of Revelation this is a look into the church of Ephesus, with a particular focus on the importance of re capturing the passion for Christ.
Losing that Loving Feeling? The Church of Ephesus
Introduction: Have you ever lost that loving feeling? If you've been married for some time you may know what its like for marriage to be more work than romance. All relationships go through this from time to time. We get in a routine and go through the motions and before long it brings you down pretty quickly. And something needs to be done to recapture that loving feeling. Well the church has a relationship with Christ, and therefor it is no different. Jesus lets the Church of Ephesus know that they've lost that loving feeling, and they need to get it back.
In the first verse we read “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words for him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lamp stands:” -Rev. 2:1
Angel here means 'messenger' and refers to the minister of the church. Jesus says He holds the seven stars or ministers in his right hand and he walks among the seven golden lamp stands or the seven churches. Christ dwells among those who gather in his name. When there is one person who believes in Jesus you have a Christian. But when there is two that gather in his name you have a church.
Let's begin with an acknowledgment that God is in Control. He owns the church and its ministers. If any minister isn't owned by Christ he doesn't belong in his church. If there is a move of God in the church then lets give credit to Him and not to ourselves. Pastors shouldn't receive glory for what the Holy Ghost does.
Transition: Jesus gives 4 important things to the Ephesian church: A courtesy of Reassurance, A call for Remembrance, and A command to Repentance.
I. A Courtesy of Reassurance (v. 2 & 3)
“I know your deeds, your hard work and perseverance. I know that you can not tolerate wicked men that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found false.”
The Lord Jesus is kind and courteous. He knows where we are at and what we need. The word says that he disciplines those he loves. Even when we feel the sting of his discipline, we should be comforted that it isn't the fire of his wrath. When we please him he commends us. When someone does well He reassures them. He commended the Ephesian church for their integrity and perseverance. The Ephesian church was a hard working church. They did what they were suppose to do. They did as the Lord commanded. They followed his rules, they kept his laws, they obeyed his commands. The church of Ephesus stood strong against sin and wickedness. Today they might be considered “intolerant” “homophobes” “bigots”. Do you dare call Christ the Lord a bigot? He commended the Ephesian church for drawing a hard line and not wavering from it, and their church didn't have to deal with the wickedness, and confusion or division as a result of their integrity.
When you draw a hard line, the Devil is blocked from entering, but when you draw soft lines, he enters in like a flood. Those who draw soft lines are susceptible to delusion. The Lord reassured the Church that they were doing the right thing by not tolerating wicked men. And they were doing the right thing by not tolerating a few people within their church who claimed to be apostles but were false.
In the past, I've studied and prayed for hours and felt the anointing of God in the pulpit and lo and behold in the middle of the the message someone would stand up and try to disrupt the service in tongues, or they would try to say that “God told me this, or God told me that, or God told me to tell you this or God told me to tell the church that.” I don't know what they heard, but it wasn't from God. How many churches are divided because of jealousy? How many churches split every Sunday because of an Absalom spirit that stole the hearts of the people of Israel? Some wolf in sheep's clothing rises up and insinuates authority, that hasn't been given to them by God. And they deliberately try to sabotage a pastor's influence and undermine the church elders authority. That is what the Ephesian church dealt with and they were commended because they tested those who claimed to be apostles BUT WERE NOT! In his book 'Leadership from behind the scenes' Bishop Ron Webb said “God will never put you over what's under you, until you can first come under what's over you.” To put it another way: To be a good leader you must first be a good follower. The Church of Ephesus had some that claimed to be something they weren’t.