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Summary: THIS SERMON UNPACKS THE LETTER TO THE CHURCH @ EPHESUS AND APPLIES IT TO THE CHURCH IN THE 21ST CENTURY. YOUR CHURCH...........

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TOO THE CHURCH IN EPHESUS REV. 2: 1-8.

DOES GOD CARE FOR HIS CHURCH?

SOMETIMES WE MAY FEEL THAT GOD IS DISTANT – IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH, THAT GOD IS SOME HOW NO LONGER INTERESTED IN OUR CIRCUMSTANCES (IT WAS A WONDERFUL HONEYMOON BUT IN THE MARRIAGE GOD SEEMS TO BE ABSENT). DO WE LONG FOR MUCH MORE IN OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD AND HIS CHURCH? DOES THE LORD JESUS CONTINUE TO CARE?

I WANT TO SAY THE LORD JESUS CARES IMMENSELY! (EPH 5:25 -27). CHRIST LOVED THE CHURCH AND GAVE HIMSELF UP FOR HER.......... WE COULD LEAVE IT THERE AND THINK YES I KNOW CHRIST LOVED THE CHURCH (PAST TENSE) HIS SACRIFICE DEMONSTRATES IT. BUT IS HE CONCERNED TODAY WITH THE CHURCH AT PRESENT . WELL THE ANSWER IS YES AGAIN ....... TO MAKE HER HOLY CLEANSING BY THE WASHING WITH WATER THROUGH THE WORD AND TO PRESENT TO HIMSELF AS A RADIANT CHURCH , WITHOUT STAIN OR WRINKLE OR ANY OTHER BLEMISH , BUT HOLY AND BLAMELESS. (PRESEMT TENSE)

AND THESE SEVEN LETTERS TO THESE SEVEN CHURCHES ARE A CONTINUATION OF JUST THAT THE LORD JESUS DEMONSTRATING HIS LOVING CARE TOWARDS THE CHURCH - HE IS CLEANSING- WASHING WITH WATER THROUGH THE WORD HIS CHURCH FOR WHAT PURPOSE TO PRESENT TO HIMSELF A RADIANT CHURCH.

SO WE NOT ONLY SEE THE LOVING CARE OF JESUS THROUGH HIS DEATH UPON THE CROSS FOR HIS CHURCH BUT THESE SEVEN LETTERS CONFIRM TO US THAT JESUS CONTINUES TO LOVE AND CARE FOR HIS BRIDE THE CHURCH.

THESE LETTERS ARE NOT JUST APPLICABLE FOR THE 1ST CENTURY CHURCH - BUT FOR THE 21ST CENTURY CHURCH ALSO. AS HE COMMENDS , COUNSELS , ADMONISHES, ENCOURAGES, TEACHES , GUIDES, COMFORTS – THROUGH HIS WORD – ITS A REAL SIGN THAT CHRIST LOVINGLY STILL CARES FOR HIS CHURCH WHICH IS BEING PREPARED TO BE PRESENTED TO HIMSELF AS A RADIANT CHURCH.

JOHN HAS BEEN TOLD THE EXALTED LORD TO WRITE DOWN (REV 1:19) WHAT HE HAS SEEN, WHAT IS NOW AND WHAT WILL TAKE PLACE. JESUS UNPACKS THE MYSTERY OF THE 7 STARS IN HIS RIGHT HAND ARE CALLED ANGELS (MESSENGERS- CHURCH ELDERS OR ANGELS WHOM GUARD THE CHURCH) AND THE 7 LAMP STANDS ARE THE 7 CHURCHES IN THE PROVINCE OF ASIA (REV1:4).

JESUS THEN BEGINS HIS SEVEN MESSAGES TO SEVEN PARTICULAR CHURCHES - HE DICTATES TO JOHN EXACTLY WHAT HE DESIRES TO SAY TO THE SEVEN CHURCHES (REV2:1). JOHN LIKE A PRIVATE SECRETARY WRITES DOWN EXACTLY WHAT THE LORD SAYS VERBATIM.......

BACKGROUND

EPHESUS -THE CAPITAL ASIA MINOR - TRADE ROUTE THROUGH SEA AND LAND - TEMPLE OF THE GODDESS ARTEMIS (ANCIENT WONDER OF THE WORLD) (FERTILITY GODDESS) WITH TEMPLE PROSTITUTION. AS A RESULT OF THIS TEMPLE - THE MANUFACTURE OF IMAGES OF HER WAS BIG BUSINESS - IDOLATRY AND OCCULTS PRACTICES RIFE. IT WAS DECADENT AND IMMORAL SOCIETY BUT HERE A CHURCH WAS ESTABLISHED - (ACTS 19 -20) THE APOSTLE PAUL MINISTERED HERE FOR THREE YEARS AND CONFRONTED THIS CITY HEAD ON WITH CLAIMS OF THE GOSPEL A MAJOR TRANSFORMATION TOOK PLACE. HE WARNED THE CHURCH ON HIS DEPARTURE THAT FALSE TEACHERS WOULD COME IN (ACTS 20:29) - THIS CAME TO FRUITION BUT JOHN REVEALS TO US HERE THAT THE CHURCH DEALT WITH IT . (REV2:2).

1. THE COMMENDATION OF JESUS TOWARDS THE CHURCH 2 – 3, 6 .

DO YOU EVER GET THE FEELING THAT YOUR WORK HERE @ YOUR CHURCH GOES UNNOTICED OR IS INSIGNIFICANT?

I GET THAT FEELING OF THAT AT C.B.C ITS HARD WORK, IN THE MINISTRY AND THE LIFE OF A CHRISTIAN -ITS HARD WORK IN THE CORPORATE LIFE OF THE CHURCH – BECAUSE SO MUCH IS GOING ON AND THERE’S NO EASY ROUTE (TAKE UP YOUR CROSS).

CONSIDER ALL THE HARD WORK YOU’VE PUT INTO THIS COMMUNITY - THE TEACHING OF THE SCRIPTURES - THE OUTREACH PROGRAMMES - THE DISCIPLING - THE PRACTICAL DUTIES OF THE CHURCH - THE PASTORAL CARE - ACTS OF KINDNESS – THE REFUTING OF ERROR - CONFRONTING SIN - CHURCH DISCIPLINE ALL THESE ACTIONS SO OFTEN GO UNNOTICED, LITTLE IMPACT , SEEM INSIGNIFICANT AND ALSO WHEN WE REFUTE ERROR AND CONFRONT SIN IT CAN CAUSE US TO FEEL MORE ISOLATED AND UNNOTICED.

BUT HERE WE SEE THAT OUR HARD WORK IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH DOES NOT GO UNNOTICED.... THE LORD JESUS COMMENDS HIS CHURCH - HE KNOWS EXACTLY WHERE THIS CHURCH IS AT..... AND WHERE PRAISE IS DUE - JESUS GIVES IT TO HIS CHURCH V2 I KNOW YOUR DEEDS, YOUR HARD WORK AND YOUR PERSEVERANCE.

THESE ARE THE SIGNS OF A REAL GOSPEL CHURCH V2 WORKING HARD V2 PERSEVERING V2 CONFRONTING ERROR, TESTING THE TRUTH V3 ENDURING HARDSHIPS FOR THE NAME OF JESUS AND HAVE NOT GROWN WEARY V3.

• V2 CANNOT TOLERATE THE WICKED - THIS MEANT FOR THE CHURCH IN EPHESUS WITH THE CITIES IMMORAL IDOLATRY AND OCCULT BACKGROUND INFILTRATING THE – THE CHURCH IT DIDN’T LOWER ITS STANDARD WHEN IT CAME TO IMMORAL SIN , IT NEVER COMPROMISED – ITS PURITY - THIS IS WHAT JESUS IS COMMENDING IT FOR AND YET INTO THIS CULTURE IT CONTINUED TO BE A TRANSFORMING INFLUENCE RATHER THAN A CONFORMING INFLUENCE.

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