The message to the church at Ephesus Rev 2:1-7
WBC 22 June 2002 am
It’s hard to believe there are no churches there, now.
- the church is there… but there are no ’churches’ there
It was a huge city in those days.
- on the East coast of what is now Turkey. Was then called Asia (Minor)
o maps 1, 2, 3
- 250-300,000 people. claiming as its proud title: “The first and greatest metropolis of Asia” and “The Light of Asia
- When the Roman Proconsul came to take up his office as Governor of Asia, the statute declared that he had to disembark at Ephesus and enter the province there.
o This is where he would have walked
Paul would have walked here, too
- he spent 3 years there.
- Planted a tremendous church… in fact revival broke out. ‘Extraordinary miracles’ Acts 19 tells us
- We reckon Timothy then went on to pastor it
It’s a warning to us all!
- “God would never allow this in Great Britain!”
o says who?
- “God would never allow this in my life”
o says who?
Would never WANT it- yes. Would never allow it?
• See what this book says
There’s the picture of Jesus walking among the 7 lamp stands and holding the 7 stars in His hand- intimately concerned, present and holding His church, His people
- but whether the buildings… evidence… is around in years to come… is their choice, not His
“Thank goodness this is just a word to Ephesus… the 7 churches”
- it’s SO much more
o it IS a letter to that church… to those churches (groups)
one letter circulating.
o But, it’s a letter to ‘he who has an ear’
Don’t even have to have two! To be able to hear!
Got ONE ear? Then hear what the Spirit SAYS to the churches’
The bit to Ephesus is RICH with commendation. The highest commendation, actually
- along with Thyatira- who He also scolds
- Smyrna & Philadelphia are not praised so much
o Because they’re not rebuked so much, as well
- > says something about God’s ‘people management’
- deeds… ‘hard work’ (implying ‘to the point of exhaustion’)…
- perseverance. In the face of
cf Paul and Demetrius Acts 19:24, Diana/Artemis
Paul dragged, here
Spiritual attack Diana/Artemis/ Ephesian letters/ Eph 6. Huge temple of Diana- one of 7 wonders of the world. 425x220ft. 120 pillars, 60 ft high
Attack from Jews & false teacher ‘savage wolves Acts 20:29
- Discernment: able to test and discover who’s false
o They knew their stuff, all right
- Not growing weary (v3) in spite of working to exhaustion
o Still doing the work.. burning on… doing the stuff
o It is RIGHT to stick at it… work hard at the right things… ‘break sweat’
But here’s the crunch: you’re not doing it in/for love, anymore. I
- it’s blind duty… you’re not listening to ME
- you have forsaken your first love
o probably: for the Lord
o possibly: for others
And ‘forsaken’ is a strong word. Stronger than ‘lost’
And that’s made all you DO useless
- in fact: it’s not about what you do. It’s about you and God
- they’re working, labouring- but it’s no longer (as in 1 Thess 1:3) ‘a labour prompted by love’
- you can have faith, sacrifice, sound doctrine… but if you don’t
o LOVE the Lord- you’ve missed the 1st commandment
o LOVE others- you’ve missed the point
o > and the work is useless
You can have ‘truth’, sound doctrine… not tolerate ‘heretics’…
- but if WE don’t worship in SPIRIT and truth
o it’s useless. As that is the worship the Lord requires
o (Spirit or spirit- ‘S’? Could be either. God wants worship by His spirit from our SPIRIT… heart)
In other words: He doesn’t just want you head and your ‘coolness’
- but your heart also
As a group of people they had lost their first flush of enthusiastic love
- funny how these things can happen as a group, as well as individuals!
o Because we encourage each other- one way or another
You’d think God wouldn’t be to bothered- wouldn’t you?
- the work went on
- ‘we’re good, reliable, stable people. Faithful.
o Doesn’t that count for much!?
Not if you don’t love Him.
“I’ll take away your lampstand”
- that’s a bit strong, Lord!
- “but your hearts not in it”
o * Ephesus is the only church threatened with this
o hinted at with Laodicea- as lukewarm
- but it seems that to the people whose heart has grown cold and it’s all duty and no love God says
o it’s serious. It’s cancer. I won’t have it
Friends- is this a message to US? As a church?
- is your heart in it for the Lord (not just your commitment)
- do some of us look down on those in the ‘flush of love’ with Jesus
- do we find it hard when enthusiasm/love is expressed in a service
o or the enthusiasm gets too loud/boisterous
- > maybe the ‘heart disease’ is more advanced than you think!
o The rot has set in so far you can’t remember
What it WAS like… your chains… ‘oh, oh, oh how god is the Lord’
- is it all duty… intellect… safe distance… rather than love (point around) & heart
Then here’s the Lord’s command to us- lest He take the candlestick from our lives/church
- the height from which you have fallen
Jer 2:2 " `I remember the devotion of your youth,
how as a bride you loved me
and followed me through the desert,
through a land not sown.
- literally- we must keep remembering
o those early days- what we were saved from… for
o what we have LOST
- … and cultivate a desire to regain that close communion, again
o involves us coming to our senses… like the prodigal son
o us “waking up and smelling the coffee”
like Sardis Rev 3:2 2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die
it’s far worse than they imagine
• “the height from which you have fallen”
o tragic sense of completeness
it started small (but it’s SO different, now, from when Paul was around!)
- remember the HEIGHT
o don’t blame God. Take responsibility.
o His desire is that when you hit rock bottom you will find it is the rock of ages, not straw
And that He’s there. Holding you, helping you
And that- there’s nowhere else to go.. but to Him again
• Sometimes we have to come to that place
Remember the close walk with God? The intimacy shared? The faith?
- He does
Step 2 is
Don’t fluff around. Don’t deny it. DEAL with it.
- repent. Seriously
- = again, like Prodigals son “I will go to my Father and name it”
= turning around (metanoia)
- but here is in a tense/sense that suggests a SHARP break with evil, negativeness, the pigs, the clod heart
THIS deals with the spiritual realm
- but it may be the mind/body needs a change, too
o new routine, exercise, sleep, food
advice about physical/mental depression
But God hears our WORDS. Tell Him – I repent of this… that
Get back to what you did first when your heart was in it
- the fellowship with others. The love of the Bible… the uninhibited praise
- … the ‘short leash’ with God… the obedience and eagerness to act… the gratitude (“remember your chains”)… the positiveness… the contentment
o (I was just happy with 1662! But expectations/selfishness grows)
- the willingness to do anything for God
He who has an ear… let him hear what the Spirit is saying