Summary: Ephesus was a wealthy, cultured city.
Ephesus was a wealthy, cultured city. But it was also a mor-ally corruptcity. In many ways, you could compare it to Wash-ington D.C., Dallas, Texas, Chicago, Boston, Amsterdam, or Ber-lin. If we could transport Ephesus into modern times, it would have its skyscrapers and snarled expressways. It was a place of commerce and culture, but it was infested
with corruption pros-titution, immorality, greed, and all kinds of evil. Many of its people were ensnared by black magic and most gave
cult-like devotion to the goddess Diana and the pagan worship associated with her.
When Paul preached there, the Scriptures tell us that might-ily grew the Word of God and prevailed. It also states that many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. These were genuine believers.
They had come to Christ, but had allowed ungodliness and compromise to remain in their lives. Brought under conviction by the preaching of the Word, they had publicly declared their devotion to Christ and renounced the ungodly deeds
they had clung to. The Bible further records that many of them also which used curious
arts brought their books together, and burned them before all: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of
silver. As these believers fell in love with Jesus, sin became intolerable. They burned their occult books purging from their lives that which was against God and had given Satan a foothold in their lives. In the estimate of the world, those books were of great value, but in the eyes of God, and in the eyes of those who loved Him, they were worthless. As the believers continued to separate themselves from the wickedness of their city, their impact was felt throughout Ephesus. Attendance at the Temple of Diana declined. The sale of idols fell off. No organized boycott was necessary because the believers were so in love with Jesus that they wouldn't tolerate or par-ticipate in the evil of their generation. Authentic, genuine love for Jesus produces a fundamental, separated, serving church membership. When Jesus directed these remarks to the congregation in Ephesus some thirty years later, they still had a fundamental, separated, serving church membership. But it was a different kind of fundamentalism thanwhat they began with.
It was sound in its doctrine, but defective in its love. It was right in its separation, but wrong its devotion. It still served with zeal, but its love had grown cold. Thirty years later, the church at Ephesus was in need of re-vival. Thirty years later, it needed to repent. We had better have ears to hear what the Spirit says to the churches, because from Ephesus we learn the danger of fundamentalism.
I. Its Works Verses 2-3
A. A serving church
1. The word works tells that this was a busy church.
a. They went soulwinning
b. They had ministries for children, teenagers, and adults
c. This church had every kind of program and ac-tivity that a church can have.
2. The word labors tells that this was a hardworking church
a. Labors speaks of working to the point of fatigue.
b. These believers were not lazy.
B. A separated church
1. On the basis of decency would not bear them which are evil.
a. This church had standards and convictions
b. They stood for morally pure membership
2. On the basis of doctrine tried them which say they are apostles, and are not.
a. This church went by the Book, defended the Book, and exposed t't be supported by the Book.
b. They held the line on sound doctrine.
C. A steadfast church (Verse 3)
1. This church did not grow weary in well doing.
2. They persevered in spite of opposition, pressure, and persecution.
The church at Ephesus had the right stuff. If you had asked them, they would have, with a humble pride, pointed to their serving, their separation, and their steadfastness. And Jesus agreed with them.
As a fundamental church, they were right down the line. Yet, Jesus said they needed repentance, or they faced removal! These steadfast, stalwart, fundamental Christians had lost sight of the most important thing: love
for Christ. It wasn't that these believers had no affection for Jesus. Every one of them would have stood and fervently declared their love for Christ. It wasn't that they didn't love Him at all. It was that He was no longer first in their affections. And they never noticed. Jesus had to point it out to them.
II. Its Weakness Verse 4
A. A right performance had become more important than a relationship with Christ.
1. There had been a subtle change in emphasis from falling in love with Jesus to following the rules.
2. The emphasis was on conforming to a standard rather than commitment to the Savior.