Summary: Part 1 of 7 in our summer series exploring the letters to the 7 churches in Revelation 2-3. This message takes a deeper look at the testimony of the church at Ephesus.
OPENING: Remember When? examples
INTRODUCTION: There is not a PAUSE BUTTON in relationships. Our spiritual heath either strengthens or weakens DAILY.
I. The PATTERN of the letters is planned. (Rev 2-3)
• 1:20 7 lampstands are 7 churches, actual churches... but they are no more than lampstands... the light is Christ and the church is to display Him to the world.
• Each letter has relevance to the city to which it is written but they are not complete letters... probably intended to be read by others...
• Pattern... 1) Greeting (angel of the church); 2) title of risen Lord from ch 1; 3) I know section (good except Laodicea); 4) criticism; 5) warning; 6) Encouragement (has ear); 7) Promise
• church 1/7 grave danger; 2/6 excellent shape; 3/4/5 middling (not bad not good)
II. The place of Ephesus was PIVOTAL. (v 2:1a)
• most imp of 7 cities... seat of proconsul... near mouth of river, commercial ctr
• SEE map... religious culture... cult of Artemis great temple 1 of the 7 wonders
• Religion & magic were mixed... Paul 2 yrs (letter); 1Tim 1:3; trad. john lived as old
III. The PERCEPTION of Christ is powerful. (v 2:1b)
• Risen Christ. holding = strong word = firm grip... walking among lampstands... Dan 3:25 walking in midst... Christ is present and He is aware!
• grasp this picture... Christ is present in the very midst of the churches... He is intimately concerned with them and cares deeply for them... Lev 26:12 Holiness Code... I will walk among you and be your God and you will be my people.
IV. The PERSEVERANCE of the church is praised. (vv 2-3, 6)
• Praise in 3 areas all introduced by the verb I know...
• Your works/deeds (plural so prob a catch-all term). Qualified by toil/hard work = every form of labor that dir involves ministry=service to others; patient endurance = they have not faltered or faded...
• Works?? 1) cannot bear evil/tolerate wicked ppl - specific context... those claiming to be apostles but are not. Truth of gospel is at stake. 2) have tested... (most likely referring to those who were denying the physical incarnation of Christ. 3) VERSE 3. sounds like John writing to a church under seige... yet the Ephesian church was founded in prob 50s so at this point their membership would be 2nd maybe 3rd generation... so likely ppl in 70s who had stuck with the stuff & not grown weary
v. The problem with the church is PASSION. (vv 4-8) a most mem phrase
• not clear whether this is love for Christ or love for one another... forsaken/abandoned is strong term... I don’t think this is about doctrine based on praise... they had yielded to the temptation for Christians to put all their emphasis on sound teaching and in the process lose love... w/o which all else is nothing! Involved in a good thing but forsaken most imp
(READ 1 COR 13 - example of wedding and over time what happens)
• That’s all of the accusation. Then Christ calls on them to come back. How?
1) Remember! Fallen = perfect (w.a.r.) it’s possible to slip away gradually w/o realizing what is happening. pres imp. keep on remembering... dwell on rel w Lord
2) Repent! aorist = points to a sharp break with evil... Christ followers never linger with wrong...
3) Do! Do the works that had overflowed in your life from your first love...
DANGER: If they didn’t heed Christ’s warning he will remove their lampstand... here total destruction of the church... A church can only continue so long on a loveless course... Without love a church ceases to be a church!