Sermons

Summary: Seeking revival in our spiritual lives by learning from the mistakes made by the Church at Ephesus

IT HAS BEEN SAID THAT EVERY VIRTUE CARRIES WITHIN ITSELF THE SEEDS OF ITS OWN DESTRUCTION! THERE IS ALSO A STATEMENT THAT SAYS, "YOU CAN BE SO HEAVENLY MINDED THAT YOU BECOME NO EARTHLY GOOD."

GOOD WORKS AND PURE DOCTRINE ARE NOT ADEQUATE SUBSTITUTES FOR THAT RICH RELATIONSHIP OF MUTUAL LOVE SHARED BY THOSE WHO HAVE EXPERIENCED THE REDEMPTIVE LOVE OF GOD.

LOVING DEVOTION TO JESUS CHRIST CAN BE LOST IN THE MIDST OF ACTIVE SERVICE. THIS IS WHY WE MUST REALIZE THAT NO AMOUNT OF ORTHODOXY CAN MAKE UP FOR A FAILURE TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS CHRIST LOVES US.

ORTHODOXY IS TWO GREEK WORDS, "ORTHOS" MEANING "RIGHT" AND "DOXA" MEANING "BELIEF." THIS MEANS THAT, NO MATTER HOW MANY "RIGHT BELIEFS" WE HAVE, SUCH AS WHAT IS CONTAINED IN THE APOSTLES’ CREED, THEY CANNOT MAKE UP FOR A FAILURE OR REFUSAL TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS CHRIST LOVES US.

IT ALSO MEANS THAT WE MUST BE ON GUARD THAT WE DON’T GET SO CAUGHT UP IN DOING CHRISTIAN THINGS THAT WE FORGET WE ARE DOING IT FOR CHRIST.

IT IS MAKING SURE THAT WE DON’T GET SO ABSORBED IN CHRISTIAN SERVICE THAT WE FORGET ALL ABOUT THE ONE WHOM WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE SERVING.

THE CHRISTIANS AT EPHESUS WERE HAVING THESE VERY SAME TYPE OF PROBLEMS WITH ORTHODOXY. IT’S NOT THAT THEY STOPPED LOVING EACH OTHER, IT’S JUST THAT THE INTENSITY OF THE LOVE BEGAN TO DIMINISH.

THE CHURCH OF EPHESUS, LOCATED ON THE CONTINENT OF ASIA (MODERN DAY TURKEY), WAS ONE OF THE MOST OUTSTANDING CHURCHES OF HER TIME. EPHESUS, WHOSE NAME MEANS DESIRABLE, WAS TRULY AN APOSTOLIC CHURCH.

PAUL, TIMOTHY, AND JOHN HAD ALL SERVED THIS CHURCH IN THE FIRST CENTURY OF THE CHRISTIAN ERA. IT THRIVED IN A COMMUNITY THAT WAS SELF-GOVERNED AND HAD NO LAW.

ROME DID NOT CONTROL THE CITY BUT LET EPHESUS "HAVE AT IT" WITH "WHATEVER."

THE CHURCH OF EPHESUS WAS ABLE TO MAINTAIN ITSELF WITHIN HER MATERIALISTIC SATURATED CITY. EPHESUS BOASTED A POPULATION OF OVER 250,000 PEOPLE, A 25,000 SEAT THEATER, AND STREETS PAVED WITH MARBLE.

SHE HOUSED THE 100,000 SQUARE FOOT TEMPLE OF DIANA WHICH, TODAY, IS ONE OF THE SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD. THEY HAD IT ALL…OR SO THEY THOUGHT!

DEEP WITHIN SOIL OF COMFORT AND LEISURE IN THEIR ABUNDANT SOCIETY SPRANG FORTH THE FRUIT OF HER CONTENTMENT AND SPIRITUAL SECURITY. OVER THE COURSE OF TIME THEY BEGAN TO "REST ON THEIR LAURELS."

ALTHOUGH THERE WERE WELL OVER 100 CHURCHES IN THE WORLD AT THE TIME REVELATION WAS WRITTEN, CHRIST CHOSE SEVEN REPRESENTATIVE CHURCHES TO SEND HIS MESSAGES AND EPHESUS WAS THE FIRST TO RECEIVE.

THESE LETTERS WRITTEN TO THEM CONTAINED AN EVALUATION OF THEIR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES AS A CHURCH BODY. HE IS REMINDING THEM THAT JUDGMENT BEGINS AT THE HOUSE OF GOD. SO BEFORE HE BEGINS TO JUDGE THE WORLD, HE CALLS UPON HIS CHURCH TO REPENT.

CHRIST COMMENDED EPHESUS FOR BEING A VERY EVANGELISTIC CHURCH. THEY LABORED WITH PATIENCE, FIDELITY AND ENDURANCE.

THEY STOOD TRUE TO THE FAITH DESPITE THEIR PAGAN SURROUNDINGS. ALTHOUGH THE THRIVING METROPOLIS WAS A CONSTANT LURE OF TEMPTATION THEY REMAINED TRUE TO JESUS CHRIST THEIR SAVIOR.

BUT AMONGST ALL THE HARD WORK SOMETHING WRONG STILL MANAGED TO HAPPEN. JESUS ADDRESSED THEM IN 2:4, "BUT I HAVE THIS COMPLAINT AGAINST YOU. YOU DON’T LOVE ME OR EACH OTHER AS YOU DID AT FIRST."

IT IS TRAGICALLY POSSIBLE TO BE SO BUSY WORKING FOR CHRIST THAT ONE NEGLECTS CHRIST AND BEGINS TO SERVE THEMSELVES. WE CAN FAIL TO LOVE GOD IN WORSHIP TO THE POINT THAT WORSHIP BECOMES AN OPIATE FOR OURSELVES.

IN THE BEGINNING GOD DID NOT CREATE ADAM TO EVANGELIZE THE WHOLE WORLD WITH THE GOSPEL. GOD DID NOT CREATE ADAM TO BUILD THE LARGEST CHURCH IN EDEN. GOD CREATED ADAM TO HAVE INTIMATE FELLOWSHIP!

EPHESUS HAD LOST THEIR INTIMATE FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD AND WITH EACH OTHER. THEY HAD LOST THEIR "FIRST LOVE." THIS LOVE WAS MORE THAN JUST THE EMOTION.

LOSING THEIR FIRST LOVE REFERRED TO THEIR LOVE FOR CHRIST, THEIR ENTHUSIASM AND EXCITEMENT FOR NEW BELIEVERS, AND THEIR BASIC PRIORITIES OF THE CHURCH.

OVER TIME WHAT THE CITY OF EPHESUS COULD OFFER TO THEM WAS MORE APPEALING THAN WHAT THE CHURCH OF EPHESUS COULD OFFER FOR THEM.

AS TIME HAD PASSED, THEIR LOVE HAD DIMINISHED. THEIR CHURCH LIFE WAS ABANDONED FOR OTHER PRIORITIES AND COMMITMENTS. THE BASICS OF CHRISTIAN LIVING WERE BEING NEGLECTED.

THE LORD JESUS CHRIST COMES TO THEM TO CALL THEM BACK TO THEIR ORIGINAL COMMITMENT TO THOSE BASIC PRIORITIES OF CHRISTIAN LIVING. JESUS TELLS THEM THAT THERE ARE THREE THINGS THAT THEY MUST DO: REMEMBER, REPENT, AND REPEAT!

REMEMBER: YOUR MINDS MUST BE GIVEN OVER TO CHRIST. WITH OUR MINDS WE REMEMBER OUR ORIGINAL POSITION IN CHRIST - SEATED IN THE HEAVENLY PLACES.

EPHESIANS 1:3, "HOW WE PRAISE GOD, THE FATHER OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, WHO HAS BLESSED US WITH EVERY SPIRITUAL BLESSING IN THE HEAVENLY REALMS BECAUSE WE BELONG TO CHRIST."

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