Summary: The 1st in a series on the 7 churches in Rev., we’re challenged to keep Christ our first love.
“You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”
Do you remember the famous scene in the movie “Top Gun” where Tom Cruise sings to Kelly McGillis?
Do you remember the song he butchered? “You’ve lost that loving feeling”.
We chuckle at that scene, but the sad truth is that this is a serious problem in many churches today. They, too, seem to have lost that loving feeling.
They’re doing all the right things, but for all the wrong reasons.
This was the problem in the Church at Ephesus near the end of the 1st Century.
Jesus sent a message to them, recorded in Rev. 2:1-7 (TURN THERE).
We’re beginning a 7 part series on the letters to the 7 Churches in Rev.
It’s an evil world out there and it’s not getting any better.
Believers/churches are under attack and it’s imperative we find a way to overcome evil.
We’re going to discover how to do that in this series.
In fact, in each letter, Jesus encourages them and us to be “victorious overcomers”.
As we take a closer look at this 1st letter, the question we need to ask is, “Have we lost, or have I lost that loving feeling, too?”
There are 3 main parts to this first letter.
I. The Commendation
A. The Recipient: The Ephesian Church
1“TO THE ANGEL (messenger/pastor) OF THE CHURCH IN EPHESUS WRITE:
Ephesus was the capital of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey), one of the most influential cities in the Roman Empire, politically, militarily, and spiritually.
The temple of Artemis/Diana was there, complete with its temple prostitutes.
The apostle John (who wrote Rev.) spent much of his ministry there.
In spite of the idolatry, the Church there had become very influential to the world.
•It was the “mother church” of the region (esp. after destruction of Jerusalem AD 70).
B. The Sender: Jesus Christ, the Great High Priest
THESE ARE THE WORDS OF HIM WHO HOLDS THE SEVEN STARS IN HIS RIGHT HAND AND WALKS AMONG THE SEVEN GOLDEN LAMPSTANDS:
Rev. 1:12-16 I TURNED AROUND TO SEE THE VOICE THAT WAS SPEAKING TO ME. AND WHEN I TURNED I SAW SEVEN GOLDEN LAMPSTANDS, AND AMONG THE LAMPSTANDS WAS SOMEONE “LIKE A SON OF MAN,” DRESSED IN A ROBE REACHING DOWN TO HIS FEET AND WITH A GOLDEN SASH AROUND HIS CHEST (Dressed like a High Priest!). HIS HEAD AND HAIR WERE WHITE LIKE WOOL, AS WHITE AS SNOW, AND HIS EYES WERE LIKE BLAZING FIRE. HIS FEET WERE LIKE BRONZE GLOWING IN A FURNACE, AND HIS VOICE WAS LIKE THE SOUND OF RUSHING WATERS. 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.
Jesus is our Great High Priest.
He tells us (Rev. 1:20) that the stars are the angels and the lampstands are the churches.
The Church at Ephesus may be great, but Christ still has ultimate power.
C. Accolades and Achievements (5 Commendations)
1. They’re commended for their hard work ethic.
2I KNOW YOUR DEEDS, YOUR HARD WORK (your toil, labor, weariness)
Their work has not gone unnoticed. God sees all they and we do for Him.
2. They’re commended for their cheerful endurance.
AND YOUR PERSEVERANCE (cheerful endurance, patience, fortitude).
3. They’re commended for their intolerance of evil.
I KNOW THAT YOU CANNOT TOLERATE (opposite of perseverance) WICKED MEN,
That should be true for us as well, no matter what society says.
•And yet, how often do we tolerate sin in the Church today?
We allow unbiblical doctrines and practices so we don’t offend anyone.
We’ve abandoned church discipline in order to be politically correct.
It’s not sin anymore, it’s just an error in judgment, a lapse in integrity.
After all, we’re not sinners, we’re just spiritually challenged.
Fortunately, the Ephesian Church did not tolerate evil, period.
4. They’re commended for their scrutinizing examination.
2THAT YOU HAVE TESTED THOSE WHO CLAIM TO BE APOSTLES BUT ARE NOT, AND HAVE FOUND THEM FALSE.
False apostles were becoming prominent (cf. 2 Peter, 2 Jn.). They still are.
They were out for the money and prestige (cf. Phil. 1:17 – selfish ambition).
The Church had to work hard to resist them.
How often do we test the authority and message of preachers/pastors?
Acts 17:11 NOW THE BEREANS WERE OF MORE NOBLE CHARACTER THAN THE THESSALONIANS, FOR THEY RECEIVED THE MESSAGE WITH GREAT EAGERNESS AND EXAMINED THE SCRIPTURES EVERY DAY TO SEE IF WHAT PAUL SAID WAS TRUE.
Do we search the Scriptures or simply accept everything we hear as Gospel?
•I don’t want you to simply believe everything I say.
•I want you to search for yourself to see what God is saying.
We need to trust those who teach us the Word of God, but not blindly.