Summary: This is the first of a seven part series: "Seven Letters to Seven Chruches" based on the letters to the seven churches in Revelation.
Intro to the “Seven Letters to Seven Churches” series. Seven churches enduring difficult times: persecution. As we go through this the next 7 weeks, let’s ask ourselves, “Is this our church? What is similar? What can we learn?”
I remember the “Where’s the beef?” Wendy’s commercials. It had the bun, a pickle, and cheese, but there was no hamburger.
In this the letter we read today, Jesus asks the church, “Where’s the love?”
Read Revelation 2:1-7.
What does this passage tell us? It tells us three things.
I. The INADEQUACY of WORKS. (vv. 2-3)
Jesus starts off with great praise of the works of this church. They were hard workers. The calendar was full.
A. GOOD work.
This church was a model church. They did many good things. They were busy.
They had it all: youth group, women’s ministry, men’s prayer breakfast, small groups, Sunday school, etc.
B. HARD work.
Not only did they work, the worked hard. They wore many hats. The word here translated “toil” or “hard work” means work that causes one to sweat. They were breaking their backs for the work of the church. Not only did they have a lot going on, they did it hard. When they needed something done, it was done the best. It was all first-rate.
They gave 110%. My daughter’s softball coach said, “I expect you to give 110%.” They went all out.
C. ENDURING work.
Persecution was rampant in this day. The Roman Emperor was bearing down on Christians. Christians were dying on a daily basis for their faith.
They didn’t give up. When the going got tough, they kept on going. Nothing got them down.
It wasn’t drudgery either. They weren’t miserable in their endurance. Their endurance was one of joy. They knew reward was headed their way.
D. PURE work.
They were also doctrinally pure. In an era of hucksters who sold a false gospel, these people exposed them and kicked them out. They hated the works of the Nicolaitans, an unidentified sect of heretics.
They knew their theology and doctrine inside and out. They could repeat it in their sleep. When someone came in contradicted the truth, they got rid of them. They had high standards. Not just anyone could get in.
While this praise is great, and every church should strive for this level of commitment and doctrinal purity, there is a noticeable absence of three things mentioned that Paul mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13: faith, hope and love.
II. The NECESSITY of LOVE. (v. 4)
The church was commended highly for their works. Paul told the Corinthians, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” The church was not commended for faith, hope or love.
Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.
They had walked away from their first love. All their work was nothing, because they didn’t have love. Loveless Christianity becomes “rigid orthodoxy or gushy sentimentalism” (Donald Metz, Revelation).
Jay Leno had this article on his “Headlines” segment the other day: “Officers were called to a physical altercation between a man and a woman. On scene, they discovered that the male had suffered injuries and arrested Shirley Barela, 46 of Pacoima for felony spousal abuse with bail at $25,000. Her husband, the injured half, posted bail so that the couple could resume the celebration of their wedding night.”
Honeymoon love is great. That’s what the church lost. It lost its honeymoon love. They began to take Christ for granted. Marriages begin to fall apart when one spouse takes the other for granted.
If we don’t have love for Christ or other people, we have nothing. It doesn’t matter what we do. Loveless Christianity is useless, and counterproductive.
III. The NATURE of REPENTANCE. (v. 5)
The solution is repentance. There are three aspects:
A. REMEMBER where you were.
We need to look back to where we were. Think back to that “honeymoon love.” The slipping and sliding is gradual (like a frog in a pot), and we don’t always see the slide while it happens. When we stop and look back, we can see where we were and where we are.
In Ephesians 1, Paul commends the Ephesians for the faith in Christ and love of others.
B. REPENT and change.
Confession and repentance are two different things. Confession means agreement. Repentance means turning around, or changing your mind or life. It’s not enough to just remember, we must repent.
C. REPEAT the works of before.
Remember when you first got married, and the love that existed. You held open doors. You let your spouse have the last cookie.
Get back to love of Christ you had at first. If we don’t do that, our light will burn out. We will become weaker and weaker, until we die.