Summary: If you don’t love Jesus as much as when you first met him that is a big problem. It is no small matter when a church loses it’s first love for Christ.
As Pastor of a prominent Church in Boston, A. J. Gordon stood to address a packed crowd. Before he began to preach one of the deacon’s escorted a stranger in and seated him. There was something about the man that bothered Gordon. His penetrating eyes made it difficult to preach the sermon. When the benediction was pronounced Pastor Gordon went to find the stranger.
He said to the deacon, where is the man, the stranger you brought in here? I want to see him. He is gone but he will be back the deacon said. Who was the man Gordon asked. He was Jesus Christ, the deacon replied.
A. J. Gordon awoke from the dream. He had fallen asleep on Saturday night preparing for his Sunday sermon. That dream changed his ministry and it inspired his book, When Christ Came to Church.
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He realized every time he preached Christ was there.
1 "To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: 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. 4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5 Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
This is the letter to Ephesus the first of seven churches. This is a great church. It is a place where Paul invested himself.
To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:
When it says angel here it really means Pastor. (I think some pastor originally came up with that one). Angel can be a heavenly creature, but it can also be a messenger of a heavenly message. Someone who preaches the Word of God to the people.
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand. There are seven different descriptions of Jesus in each message to the seven churches.
All of these are taken from the description of Jesus in Revelation Chapter 1.
The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
Jesus walks among the churches and holds the pastors in his right hand. He walks among the churches and evaluates. Some churches he commends. Some of the churches He condemns and others there is a mixture of commending and condemning. He is present in the church and evaluating.
Ephesus was a city at the center of economic prosperity. In Acts 19 we read it was a place where Paul invested himself. There was a Pagan Temple there known as the Temple of Diana. It was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It was the center of Pagan worship.
The Christians at Ephesus had to worship and keep their faith alive in this kind of atmosphere. That was the kind of great church Jesus was speaking too. This church had some great strengths and Jesus commends them.
Hard work for the Lord
This was an active church. Jesus said, I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. Here was a church that worked to the point of exhaustion and persevered when things got difficult.
Jesus walks around this church and notices who is here and who is working hard. I believe he is saying to us, I know your deeds. I know your hard work. Do I have to remind you how hard your church has worked?
Jesus put a high premium on hard work. Jesus had good things to say about hard work for the Lord. He might commend your church like he did the church at Ephesus.
Jesus commends them for their Sound doctrine
Ephesus had such great preachers as Paul, John, Timothy, Apollos and Tychicus. You don’t just follow these guys and preach philosophy. This church checked out all the doctrine and tested it to make sure it was true.