Summary: Learning from the good and the bad from the church at Ephesus in Scripture.
Warnings, Exaltations & Instructions:
The Church at Ephesus
As many of you know, summer is typically the busiest time of the year for one thing – weddings. In the spring, a newspaper ran an article giving advice to couples who were thinking about getting married in the upcoming season. This is a typical thing – unless you let children write the advice. Here are some on the responses that they received.
Kirsten, age 10, was asked, “How do you know who you are supposed to marry?” Her reply was this: “No person really decides before they grow up whom they’re going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you are stuck with.
Alan, age 10, was asked about what you should look for in a wife. He replied, “You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming.”
Anita, age 9, was asked the age old question about whether it would be better to be single or married. Her reply stated, “It’s better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them.” In response to the same question, 6-year-old Freddy responded, “Are you kidding? You got to be a fool to get married!”
And finally, when asked about how to make your marriage work, 10-year-old Ricky replied, “You have to tell your wife that she looks pretty even if she looks like a truck!”
As I was searching for a new series to start this week, I began thinking about how we as the church are to be the bride of Christ, so we have to know how to act properly in a marriage relationship because it is the closest comparison for how the church should relate to Jesus Christ. So, this morning, I want to search for “marriage advice”. This is not the kind you get from these kids or from a therapist. This is not even the kind you get for your own individual marriage. We are going to start a series on warnings and exaltations to the church that Jesus Christ gives. This will show us how and how not to act as a church in order to deepen the bond of intimacy between our church and the Lord. This morning, we are going to start by taking a look at the church in Ephesus. If you have your Bibles, turn with me to Revelation 2:1-7 or follow along in your sermon notes.
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: 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. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet, I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 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. But you have this in your favor: you hate the practices of the Nicolatians, which I also hate. 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 morning, I wish to examine this church at Ephesus to see what we can learn. Then, we will look at their good qualities to see what we can emulate, and we will look at their negative qualities to see what we must steer clear of. We do this in order to have the most God-pleasing church that we can possibly have. Before we dig any deeper however, let’s look to the Lord in prayer.
Ephesus was the most important Greek City in Ionian Asia Minor in the modern day land of Western Turkey. At the time, Ephesus was located with a harbor that flowed into the Cayster River which eventually led to the Aegean Sea. Ephesus commanded the west end of one great trade route into Asia, and because of the river, it had access to the other two main trade routes as well. Not only was this a bustling port, but it also was a fertile place to grow crops due to the silt that has built up from the river.
Ephesus in this time also became famous for its architecture. There were many buildings, both ornamental and useful, that showed of intelligence and Greek influence. The most impressive and most well-known building was the Temple of Artemis, or Diana, which, on its own, drew visitors into the city. You may now know it as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. They were also known for their triumphal arch and aqueduct system.