Summary: The church in Ephesus
The Careless Church
Muynak was once a thriving port on the Aral Sea, but today it sits on the edge of a bitter, salty desert. Sand dunes are strewn with the rusted, hollow hulls of a fishing fleet that once sailed high above on the surface of Central Asia’s fountain of life.
Things began changing 30 years ago when Stalinist planners began diverting the Aral water source to irrigate the world’s largest cotton belt. No one, however, envisioned the environmental disaster that would result. Weather has become more extreme, the growing season has been shortened by two month, and 80% of the region’s farmland has been ruined by salt storms that sweep in off the day seabed.
What happened at Muynak parallels the history of the church at Ephesus. Once a thriving spiritual community, the Ephesian believers diverted their attention from Christ to works done in His name. They lost sight of what was most important in their relationship with Christ--their love for Him.
Could we end up the same way? Today, I want us to look at the church in Ephesus and see what we can learn from what God wrote to them.
I. Don?t Forget Who?s In Control
A. Ephesian leadership
1. Ephesus had an all star leadership during Bible times.
2. Paul worked with the church, Timothy, Aquilla and Percilla, Apollos, and probably John.
3. These men, as good as they were, weren?t who controlled the Ephesian church; God did
B. God holds the stars
1. In an era of mega churches and Charismatic preachers, it can get easy to think an eldership or preacher are the keys to being a great church.
2. Many new converts or revitalized churches unintentionally put a preacher in a position of being God rather than God?s gift.
II. What They Did Right
A. Hard work and perseverance
1. This was a hard working church.
2. They were the church that had all kinds of programs,
a) Maybe they had monthly potlucks at the Theater
b) Possibly they picketed the various temples
c) They might have even spearheaded the keep Ephesus beautiful campaign.
3. make no mistake, this was an involved congregation
B. Doctrinally pure
1. God also commends them for being doctrinally pure.
2. I have heard some of our church leaders in the brotherhood say that doctrinal purity isn?t really important.
a) yet, if it wasn?t that important, why would God bother to commend the Ephesians for not allowing wickedness and false teachers to take root in their congregation?
b) The doctrines of God ARE important and we need to rigorously defend them.
c) Where we have to be careful is making sure we don?t equate the doctrines of man with the doctrines of God.
3. They were determined to hold strong to the teachings of the apostles, and no one was going to sneak past them.
C. Suffered for Christ
1. It couldn?t have been easy being a Christian church in Ephesus.
2. It had every imaginable religion in the city with the biggest being the worship of Diana or Artemus. This worship was enacted through sexual acts with the temple priestesses.
3. Much of the city?s money was made by making special charms blessed by various gods or one for worshipping various gods made from precious metals.
4. Whether is was craftsmen who lost income or jobs by becoming Christians, or people who were punished somehow for opposing these religions and standing up for Christianity, they suffered for their decisions.
5. It used to be hard for American Christians to comprehend religious persecution until the last 10-20 years. Now we see persecution in subtle ways and could someday see it in very overt ways if current trends continue.
1. They did not weary.
2. So many churches and individual Christians start out great guns in one ministry or another and then burn out after a while.
a) Some of the burnout is for valid reasons
b) Some is simply because the people were not committed to the project for the long haul.
c) We see that in our own country. After Sept 11, we were all gung-ho as a nation to root out terrorism. Whatever it takes we will do. Now, 7 months later, our nation is slipping back into lethargy. We aren?t as committed as we claimed we were.
d) How many good church ministries have come and gone because church members weren?t as committed to it as they had claimed?
III. What God Had Against The Ephesians
A. You have forsaken your first love.
1. As busy as the Ephesian church was, as spiritually pure as the Ephesian church was. They were missing the most important ingredient.
2. They were missing their first love, Christ.
3. Look at how the church in Thessonalica was addressed versus this church