Summary: Most of you are pretty happy with what is going on around here, or you wouldn’t be here. But we need to stop at this point and ask a very important question. Does that really matter?
I would invite you to turn in your Bibles to the book of Revelation chapter 2, if you haven’t done so already. Keep them open during the sermon to this chapter as we wrestle this morning with the first seven verses of that chapter.
In verse five, the author has used the word “WORKS”. I believe this too to mean their first “LOVE”, as mentioned in verse 4.
Any time that you and I look at a passage of Scripture, be it in the Old or the New Testament, one of the questions we ought to be asking ourselves all the time is, "What is this text telling me about Jesus Christ?" If you look at verses 1 and 2 of the text that we have just read, you see that we learn three things about Christ.
We are told first of all that he holds the seven stars in his right hand. If you jump up to chapter 1, verse 20 of Revelation, you see that symbol explained. The seven stars symbolize the seven angels of the seven churches. Angels are messengers possibly church Pastors. That is a reminder to you and me that Jesus Christ is totally Lord and sovereign over His Church. He holds His Church in His Hand and He will not let her go.
Secondly, we are told that Jesus walks among the seven golden lampstands. Again in chapter 1, verse 20 of Revelation, those lampstands are explained as symbols of the Church. More closely described as, the church membership. So what we learn here, is that Jesus is not way out there somewhere. He is not aloof. He is in the midst of his Church. He walks among us. In other words, he is accessible. In fact, he wants to have an intimate personal relationship with each one of us.
Thirdly, we learn that Christ knows His Church. He knows it inside out. There is nothing that gets by him. There is no way that you and I can ever fool him. He is well acquainted with all the big things that are going on in your life and mine. He also is completely familiar with all of the little things that are going on. Now imagine for just a moment, if before I continued to speak, a special delivery messenger came running down the aisle of the church thrusting in my hand an envelope. On the envelope it has a return address - "Jesus, Heaven". And in big bold red letters in front of the envelope:
EVALUATION OF THE _______ SDA CHURCH ENCLOSED.
OPEN IMMEDIATELY AND READ ALOUD DURING WORSHIP.
How would you be feeling if this was an actual evaluation from Christ concerning this church and I was going to read that evaluation? This is a great church. There are all kinds of wonderful things going on here. We’ve kept up on the repairs of this building. Our budget is being met. We have cooking schools, evangelistic meetings. Several children came to VBS. Things are happening around here.
Most of you are pretty happy with what is going on around here, or you wouldn’t be here. But we need to stop at this point and ask a very important question. Does that really matter? Isn’t what really matters, is what Christ thinks of this church? Isn’t that the only opinion that really matters?
Imagine that you were a member of The SDA Church of Ephesus nearly two thousand years ago. The text we have before us is Jesus’ actual evaluation of that congregation. If you look at verses 1-3, it is a great evaluation. They are holding their own in the midst of a culture and an area that is totally pagan. There in Ephesus, Christians are being persecuted. They are a small minority. Ephesus was the site of the temple of the fertility goddess Diana. In fact, her temple was one of the seven great wonders of the ancient world. It is tough to be a Christian in Ephesus. But Jesus compliments them. He says they don’t tolerate wicked people. They are theologically sound. In fact, they sniff out false teachers and preachers and apostles that try to force themselves on that church.
They’ve got ministries going. They’re having people come to Christ. Things are happening at The SDA Church of Ephesus. Christ’s evaluation of them in verses 1-3 is simply superb. What a great church to be a part of! They were doing everything decently and in order. Do you see what kind of church Christ is describing here? He is describing a model Christian church.
Look at verse 4. Suddenly the bottom drops out. Christ, not gentle Jesus, meek and mild, but Jesus Christ who calls a dog a dog, who calls sin, sin, whose judgment can never be separated from his love, whose justice can never be separated from his grace, nails them. He says, ’You have forsaken your first love.’ And with that leveling phrase, he delivers a crushing blow to all of their illusions, that as a church, they had arrived and had it all together.