Summary: No matter how hard or diligently we work for the Lord, ultimately if our heart strays from that first love, we are in danger. Yet He is faithful and is our rescuer.
THE CHURCH WITH HEART PROBLEMS - EPHESUS
Revelation 2:1-7 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lamp stands: 2 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. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5 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 lamp stand from its place. 6 But you have this in your favour: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 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.”
1. INTRODUCTION - THE SEVEN CHURCHES OF ASIA
When we look at the book of Revelation we find obvious patterns that help us to understand the book more clearly.
The same patterns occur when you look at the writings to the seven churches addressed in Revelation 2-3. We can see seven comparisons (note the number 7 appears often):
* The Commission – “To the angel of the church at … write …”
* The Character – “These are the words of him that …” Then, follow the words that paint an introductory portrait of that church.
* The Commendation – “I know your deeds ...” Then, there are favourable compliments that are listed to the church being addressed.
* The Condemnation – “Yet I hold this against you ...” Then, there is a list of criticism that is given in sequence.
* The Correction – These are varied commands that are not couched in diplomacy. God is really saying to the pastor and to that church “fix the problem!”
* The Call – “He who has an ear ...” This is spoken to all seven churches. (This part is uniform in all seven letters, except that in the last four it takes the seventh place in order rather than the sixth.)
* The Challenge – “To him who overcomes ...” Each of the letters has a promise for the overcomer who rises above the temptations and perils of each of the churches.
The real Jesus, the One who walks through the church, is described in Revelation 1:12-18
Rev 1:12-18 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lamp stands, 13 and among the lamp stands was someone "like a son of man," dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.
It is a descriptive picture of One who has the ability and authority both to redeem and also to judge.
2. THE CHURCH OF EPHESUS
Ephesus is the first church addressed in the seven letters. The city was located in the largest city of the Roman province of Asia. By the end of the first century, it had become one of the most thriving seaports in the world.
Now the silt from the Cayster River, brought down from the mountains, had begun to fill in the harbour. Careful engineering had kept some of the channels open but the port was only accessible to sailing vessels through great difficulty and it was losing its importance in the grand scope of history.
A. THE HISTORY OF THE EPHESIAN CHURCH – ACTS 19
To gain an idea of the surrounding atmosphere that prevailed in the region of Ephesus, one would have to look back to Acts 19 where Paul found himself set at odds with the craftsman of the city.