Summary: What is our response to the incredible love of God? To Love Him.
God’s Love and Our Response:
Bethel Assembly of God
Last week – “The Incredible Love of God” from 1 John 4:8
The next two weeks – “Our response – Love God… Love People”
This is a church with historical promise. Paul started the church and stayed there three years training leaders for it.
It was the central point of evangelism.
Paul complemented them in his letter to them.
This was church at its best.
It was a church in the heart of religious activity. The people of Ephesus worshiped the Goddess Diana. The impact of Christianity was so powerful that idol makers got mad because they were loosing revenue. Wouldn’t that be powerful for us today? The church could be making such an impact that the bars, nightclubs, adult entertainment business would begin to shut down for lack of business.
A LOOK AT THEIR WORKS - COMMENDATION
Rev 2:2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
They were complimented by God. Jesus noticed. "I know your works" appears in all 7 letters to the churches.
Christ is in an intimate manner present and conversant with his churches: he knows and observes their state. He has perfect knowledge of the Church and knows the hearts and motives of each member.
He takes pleasure in them, as a man does to examine his job after a hard day. He observes what is good and observes what is amiss.
He notices that: firm discipline maintained, false apostles detected and confronted, patient, intolerant of evil men, perseverance, resisted the Nicolations fleshly indulgences.
If this were a church today we would see: a church of evangelism, good doctrine, a teaching church, great S.S. people saved and discipled, youth group, worship inspiring, etc. And Jesus never diminished any of these. These are needed in the church today.
WHERE THEY WENT WRONG - CORRECTION
Rev 2:4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.
"Yet" - Stop there! Don’t go any further. There is something else. I’m not finished yet.
"I hold this against you" - You are on trial and you are guilty. I love you but I have got to tell you this.
"You have forsaken your first love." A cooling process had begun. They were doing everything right but the fervor of their first love was gone. Their fault was a decay of spiritual affection. A matter of the heart.
They were so busy with church business that they didn’t even miss the one they were working for.
It wasn’t that they forgot who He was, they did not loose the object of their first love but the fervent degree of their love. They put Him on the shelf. They began to take Him for granted. Their love was put on automatic.
John Walvoord, "The church at Ephesus was now in its second generation of Christians, those who had come into the church in the thirty years since Paul had ministered in their midst. Though they continued to labor faithfully as those who had preceded them, the love of God which characterized the first generation was missing. This cooling of heart which had overtaken them in relationship to God was a dangerous forerunner of spiritual apathy which later was to erase all Christian testimony in this important center of Christian influence. Thus it has ever been in the history of the church: first a cooling of spiritual love, then the love of God replaced by a love for the things of the world, with resulting compromise and spiritual corruption. This is followed by departure from the faith and loss of effective spiritual testimony" (The Revelation of Jesus Christ, 56).
This is very grievous to God. He is displeased with His people when they grow cold to Him.
Jesus issues a strong warning. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.
Judgment begins in the house of God. Christ is very jealous of our love. If the warnings are not heeded to the church will disappear or loose the privilege of representing Christ in this world.
A. To Our Church
Whenever our programs take more of a priority than our emphasis to pray and desire to seek Him then we are loosing our first love.
The priority for each of our programs should be the knowledge of God and our worship to Him.
Even being politically involved, or feeding the hungry, or starting witnessing programs can take the place of God.