Summary: Adapted in part from Warren Wiersbe (and others)...a look at the letters Jesus dictated to specific churches...with the ensuing question, "what would He write to us?"
The Careless Church
> The last book in the Bible is the Revelation. The word revelation literally means “the unveiling” and true to its meaning, this book unveils many things. Most of the attention and focus is given to the New Heaven and New Earth, the tribulations with their trumpets and vials, or ever the picture of Jesus Himself. However, one of the missed unveiling is the picture given of the church.
> After a startling beginning to this book in Chapter 1, Chapter 2 and 3 give us 7 pictures of the church. In fact, these 2 chapters have been the subject of much theological debate for years. The argument centers on what is called a dispensationalist view. Oversimplified, the argument goes something like this; each church in these two chapters represents a historical age. Candidly, it is easy to make the argument, but I believe, this view breaks down along the way (but that is another discussion for another time).
> Furthermore, it seems to me that in looking around the world at Christendom we can see representatives of each of these churches in this period of history. Last week we began this journey this journey by asking “what kind of church are we?”
> Beginning tonight and for the next 7 weeks we are going to look at these 7 churches and name them by their dominant characteristic. Along the way, we are going to make some fairly pointed applications as it relates to us so that, at the end of our time, we can answer the question, “What kind of church are we?”
> Turn with me to Revelation 2 and let’s read about the church at Ephesus. (PRAY) Several years ago I heard Ron Phillip preach a message from this text entitled, “First Love.” That message spoke to me so deeply that I took his bare bone outline and developed my own message which I am always excited to preach. However, for our study and evaluation we are going to borrow from many people (I.E. Ron, Wiersbe, Clark, etc) and try to be consistent with our study. With each church we’ll describe them, give an approval, an accusation, an admonition, and hopefully end with an application.
> Warren Wiersbe calls the church at Ephesus the “careless” church. Victor Hugo is quoted as saying, “As short a life is, we make it shorter by the careless waste of time.” Truth be told, all a person, organization, church, or leader has to do to become careless is lose focus.
1) Their Approval – This is what I, the Lord Christ, says;
a) A Serving Church – The scripture says, “I know your works.” It is obvious that the church at Ephesus was an extremely busy church. Does this sound familiar? “Mary has a little lamb and thought it was a sheep, It joined a Southern Baptist Church & died from lack of sleep.” Truth is this, we can be busy and still miss the mark of the high call of God, they did.
b) A Sacrificing Church – Not only do “I know your works, but I also know your LABOR.” When I read this I am reminded of 1 Thessalonians 1 where Paul writes about your “work of faith and labor of love…” The word labor means work till the point of exhaustion. The implication is that this congregation was giving and sacrificing all they had for the gospel.
c) A Steadfast Church – The scripture says, “I know your endurance” that is, your ability to stick to it or stay with it. It speaks of consistency in the face of struggle. God does not bless and is not pleased with the popcorn brand of believerism which is prevalent.
d) A Separated Church – They test the spirits. John writes to us in 1 John to do just this. Paul writes that we should test ourselves. The church at Ephesus did not tolerate those who “claimed to be” and didn’t demonstrate their beliefs with their lives.
e) A Suffering Church – This is the church which faced many hardships and trials in their town because of their faith in Jesus.
> It will serve us well to sit up and take note. When you recap all the good things this church was doing, what could be the problem? In our Americanize church mindset, we would argue that this church is the model church. For goodness sake, look at all the good things they are doing. Yet, Jesus says, something’s wrong.
2) Their Accusation – I have this against you. The word against is carries the idea of “down on.” Even though this church is doing many good things, the Lord says, “It’s not enough.” This is the exhibit A that God cares more about WHY we do than WHAT we do. Man looks on the outside but God looks on the heart.