Summary: Number 1 in series: Ephesus "The Letters to the Seven Churches"
# 1 in series: The Letters of Christ to the Seven Churches
From the pulpit of Bayview Baptist Church, April 22, 2001
“Is Bayview Baptist Similar to Ephesus Baptist?”
Very seldom does a person take a giant step backward in life from being a good person to being a totally bad person.
Usually a person begins his or her journey into evil and wickedness by taking little steps at first, until one day, hardly aware of the journey, the person finds his or herself entangled in a life of evil.
In the Old Testament, Samson was a person like that.
In the book of Judges we find Samson as a dedicated man of God.
Then gradually, Samson flirted with evil.
Little by little, evil came into his life, until in Judges 16:20 we read: “…he did not know that the Lord had left him.”
Isn’t that one of the saddest verses in the Bible?
The same thing was true of King Saul, the first king of the mighty nation, Israel.
At first, Saul was a man who God loved.
The Bible says in I Samuel 10:10, “…the Spirit of God came upon him in power…”
Then gradually Saul turned his back upon God and God’s Spirit left King Saul.
We read in I Samuel 15:35, “…the Lord was grieved that He had made Saul King over Israel.
And we read in I Samuel 16:14, “Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him.”
That must have been similar to the way it happened in the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2:1-7.
Jesus looked at Ephesus Baptist Church, and He saw some very positive things.
Listen to the first 3 verses which begin the letters to the seven churches in the book of Revelation.
Remember that the number 7 is a complete number, so since Jesus writes to the seven churches, we can assume that He is addressing all the Christian churches of the world today.
Read Revelation 2:1-3
Isn’t that a great description of a church?
We’d be proud to have Jesus say something like that about Bayview Baptist Church.
Jesus said He knew all about the hard work and the perseverance Ephesus Baptist Church had.
He even knew that they didn’t tolerate the wicked or anyone who pretended to be an Apostle, but was not.
The Ephesus Baptist Church had endured many hardships for Christ, and while they were enduring all these hardships, they didn’t even grow tired.
What wonderful things Jesus said in His personal letter to the Ephesus Baptist Church.
At one time, they were full of purpose, were dynamic and intimate in their relationship with the Lord.
But then Jesus tells the rest of the story in verse 4:
Read Revelation 2:4
“I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.”
I don’t imagine this happened in one giant step, but instead it was a gradual thing.
It was similar to the kind of thing that happened in the lives of Samson and King Saul.
For a while Ephesus Baptist Church loved God and the people in the community were drawn into their fellowship.
Great Bible based sermons were preached from the pulpit, and when those sermons were preached, wonderful things happened in the lives of those listening in the pews.
Ephesus Baptist Church was known far and wide for their compassion and faithfulness.
But then something happened!
The people in Ephesus Baptist Church who prayed to God a lot gradually stopped praying.
The people in Ephesus Baptist Church who gave their money to the Lord gradually stopped giving.
The people in Ephesus Baptist Church who witnessed to the lost in their community gradually stopped their witnessing programs.
Until finally, Jesus wrote them a letter and it said, “I have this against you: You have forsaken your first love.”
In other words, Christ was saying that the people had lost their intense and enthusiastic devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, what is this first love?
A first love is when a couple holds hands and they dream of a wonderful future together.
A first love is when a couple places each other as the object of their affection without any reservation.
So, a first love in God’s eyes is the love that first brought you to God.
It was when you realized that the blood Jesus shed for you on Calvary’s cross was for your sin, and because of His shed blood as the perfect sacrifice that God demanded, you were overwhelmed with His amazing grace.
It’s when you first became a child of God.
That’s this first love!
First love looks at the mountains to climb and the rivers to swim, and says, “Give us those mountains to climb together, and give us those rivers to swim together, because we can do this since we’re in love.”