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AUDIO-VIDEO JANUARY 17 Revelation Chapter 2: 1-8   Ephesus

 

North American Churches in Our Post-Modern Culture are Facing Their Last Stand!

  • Both Congregations and Leadership are Compromised Spiritually by Thinking it is OK to Take Short cuts to following Gods Word Completely…
  • Soft Gospel-Feel Good-Teaching has Replaced Teaching of God’s Word in Truth that Convicts Men and Woman of their Need to Repent. Mission Fires are Dying Out.
  • We Need God the Holy Spirit to Fall on Our Churches…Driving Us to Have a Passion for Christ…Replacing Complacency with a Holy Spirit Filled Church!

 

The Beginning Chapters of Revelation Introduce Us to What Jesus Expects of the Church and What Must Change:   Last Week We Saw that Chapter 1 Defines Christ Relationship to the Church and His Sovereignty.

  • Chapters 2 and 3: Conveys Christ’s Heart that the Church Would Hear & Obey!
  • Chapter 4-Forward: Deals with what shall be after the Rapture of the Church!   The end of the Age of Grace and the beginning of the days of Tribulation!
  • These 7 Messages are Critical For the Church To Stand Firm in the Last Days!

 

The Messages of Chapters 2 and 3 are referred to as “The Things Which Are”.

  • These messages contain Divine Revelation and Exhortation Pertaining to the Present Age in which we live.  The Age of Grace…The Age of the Church!

 

  • These Exhortations constitute one of the “Most Incisive” {Analytical & Clear thinking} & “Penetrating” Exhortations in the entire New Testament as it relates to Church Doctrine and Christian Living!

 

Over the centuries Very Little Attention has been paid to these 2 chapters and the last 7 Messages of Christ to the Church!   And…It Begs the Question, “WHY?!”

  • I Believe that the changing character in the Post Modern Christian World and departure from Biblical Morality & Theology have Kept these Messages Out of the Pulpit!

 

Chapters 2 and 3 are Hard Truth…They WAR Against Human Desire In The Church! 

  • These 7 Churches Illustrated Conditions COMMON in Local Churches of ALL Times. 
  • These Messages are Exhortations which Constitute Instruction and Warning to the Church and to the Individual Christian!
  • Each Message to the Church Ends with a Personal Exhortation which begins with the Phrase, “He that hath an Ear to Hear, Let Him Hear!”

 

Some Expositors believe, that in “Addition”, to the obvious implication of these messages at any period of time in the church…That the 7 churches Represent the “Chronological Progression” leading to Apostasy!   

 

APOSTASY IS ALWAYS A PROGRESSION! Whether we are speaking of a LIFE…a FAMILY…a CHURCH or a TIME-PERIOD!   

  • Hebrews Teaches that the Path to Apostasy starts with Drifting…Leads to Doubting…Then the Word Becomes Dull (Spiritual Deformity) Which leads to Despising and finally Denying Gods Word as Truth to be Followed!
  • Phil 4:7 reminds us that “We Must Guard Our Hearts and Minds in Christ Jesus!”

 

Each of these messages to the 7 churches in Asia and Asia Minor follow a Pattern:

  • After a Brief Description of Christ (The One Giving the Message) Each Message to a Church begins with “I KNOW THY WORKS”
  • Each Message Offers a Promise, “TO HIM WHO OVERCOMES”
  • Each Message has the same Concluding Exhortation, “TO HIM WHO HAS AN EAR TO HEAR, LET HIM HEAR!

 

The Purpose of these letters, given over 1900 years ago, Remain the same to Each of Us Today…They are Messages of Reproof…Rebuke…and Reassurance!

 

This Letter to Ephesus speaks to Their “Deserting Devotion”.  Ephesus had a great reputation…However, a great reputation does not guarantee an Affirmation from the Lord.

Situation at that Time:  Ephesus was a large Metropolitan city and Undoubtedly the Messenger was an Important Person and Leader in Christian Testimony!

 

When the book of Revelation was written Ephesus was the most Prominent city in the Roman province of Asia and had already had a long history of Christian Witness.

  • Paul had ministered in Ephesus for 3 Years (Acts 19:10)
  • Acts 19: 23-41 tell us The Preaching of the Gospel had Adversely Affected the Worship of Dianna which resulted in people rioting because of a loss of income.
  • After Paul…Timothy led the work as Superintendent of the Churches in the area.
  • The message to the Church of Ephesus comes at the close of the first century 30 years after Paul.

 

Revelation 2: 1-7  “Letter to the Church of Ephesus” “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name and have not grown weary.  4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.   7 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

 

The Other Churches were probably shocked that Jesus would have Such Criticism against the Church of Ephesus because it was so rich in heritage and commitment to truth.

  • However, Jesus Always looks at the Heart…Not the Head or Actions!  
  • The Ephesian Church Had LOST Their FIRST LOVE!!!  In Fact, the Ephesian Church did more than Misplace their First Love…They had ABANDONED IT!!!

 

VS One: The letter is addressed to the “Angel/Messenger” of the Church of Ephesus.

  • Greek Word: “aggelos” is translated in English as Angel.   
  • Often used in Greek Literature as a whole and in several instances in Matthew, Mark and Luke this Greek word referred to human messengers in the Bible. 

 

There are differing opinions…However, I believe that these Messages are definitely directed to the Pastors of these Churches!

  • Pastor’s have a Tremendous Responsibility before the Lord as “Under-Shepherds” to Keep Our Flocks Safe from Harm and Waywardness!

 

Last week, We discussed the meaning of the 7 Lampstands and the 7 Stars:  The Stars were those Overseeing the church and the 7 Lampstands were the 7 churches.

  • Christ Holds the “Messengers” of these Churches in His Right Hand.
  • Greek word used here for Hold “Kraton” means to “Hold Authoritatively” with Sovereign Protection and Divine Authority!  

 

THOT: God Hold’s Pastors in His Hand…As we Stand on the Divine Authority of His Word He Will Protect Us And His Spirit Will Move Supernaturally through Our Churches!

 

And here, Christ is Walking in the midst of the 7 Lampstands {CHURCHES}…This Symbolizes His Presence and His Observation of each Churches Testimony.

  • His Message is Based on His “Perfect” Knowledge of Each Churches Commendable Works as He Mentions their Notable Character in Verses 2-3

 

VS 2-3: “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name and have not grown weary”.  Here the Church of Ephesus is Commended!

 

I Wonder What Characteristics would Christ mention as He looked at Our Church?

Would He Say, We serve the Lord Patiently without Compromise Morally & Theologically? 

  • If We Stop at Vs 3 the Church at Ephesus is Looking Pretty Good…However…

 

Verses 4-5 say they “Left First Love!” “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”

 

This is an “indictment” based on Lack of putting Devotion to God in First Place!

  • The Greek order of words is especially emphatic:  The Object of the Verb is before the Verb… “The First Love…YOU Have Left!”

The word for Love is “Agape” which is the deepest and most meaningful word for love found in the Greek Language. 

  • The Church of Ephesus had not departed completely from their “Love for God” BUT, There Love “No” Longer had the Fervency, Depth or Meaning it Once had!

 

This Begs the Question…What does “FIRST LOVE” Mean?!  IT MEANS…

  • God Is First Place In All Things…ALWAYS! {HEART!} No Duplicity!
  • God is First Place in Our ACTIONS: Total Obedience! {Jesus said, If you love me you will keep my commandments}
  • Really What God is Asking of LifePoint Church and each of Us is Our DNA.
  • Matthew 22: 37-39 Love God with Everything…Love Your Neighbor the Same!

 

This Point is seen in the Perspective of the…3-fold Nature of Man’s Spiritual Poverty!

  • Some Spiritual Needs Stem from a “Lack of Faith” in God!
  • A person either “Falls Short of Salvation” or if Saved “lacks an Abiding Dependence on God and the Promises in His Word!” 
  • [Intellect/Mind (Comprehension) vs Heart Application].

 

The Second Problem Lies in the Exercise of “Human Will”!  

  • Many who Believe in God Have “Never Yielded” themselves Completely to God. The Result?  They Do Not Live Filled with the Holy Spirit Completely Surrendered to Christ! 

 

KEY:  FIRST LOVE: Heart Fully Surrendered & Life Totally Filled with the Holy Spirit!

 

It is “Always” a Matter of the Heart!   And here, in the Second Generation of the Church…The Heart had Cooled!   Which leads to the 3rd point: Compromise!

 

WARNING: The Cooling of the Heart is Always the “Forerunner of Spiritual Apathy!”

  • This Always Leads to the “Elimination” of Christian Testimony!  

 

REVIEW: First, There is a Cooling…Second, Love of God is Replaced by a Love for the Things of the World…Third, this Results in Compromise or Spiritual Corruption!

 

To Correct This Weakened Spiritual Position Were Given 3 Urgent Exhortations!

  1. Remember…Therefore from whence You Have Fallen! 
  • First, Go back to the place of departure of your faith!
  • Re-Examine Your Heart in light of God’s Word.
  1. Repent!   Change Direction and Return to a Love of God!  
  • Obedience to everything God says.!
  1. Do the First Works!  True Love Manifests Godly Works! 
  • Christ said, “You Will Know a Person in Christ, By their Fruits! 

 

Surrender vs Sacrifice: David PS 51: David said God, It is Not Sacrifices of things that please You…Rather what pleases God is a Broken and Contrite heart!

 

Vs 6-7 “But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.   Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

 

Verse 6:  Jesus Commends them for Hating the Practices of the Nicolaitans.

  • They hate what God hates that being Deeds of Abomination & Sexual Impurity.
  • Nicolaitans, like the Gnostics and other false teachers, Abused the Doctrine of Grace. Doing what they Think in their Own Hearts Paying NO Attention to what God Says!
  • Throughout the ages the Church has been plagued by those of the Nicolaitan spirit. 
  • The only way to recognize false teaching is to be Intimately Familiar with Truth through the Diligent Study of the Word of God.

 

Verse 7:  Our text ends with, “Whoever has Ears to Hear…Let them Hear”.

  • With the Obedience of Hearing and Following comes a Promise: The Right to Eat from the Tree of Life will be given in the midst of paradise. {ETERNITY!}

 

Then Jesus says, “To the One who is Victorious” OR “To Him who Overcomes”

  • 1 John 5:5: “Who is it that Overcomes the World? Only the one who Believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”

 

Gills Commentary Amplifies the Phrase “Who is it that Overcomes the World”  

  • He Says, For Whatsoever is Born of God…Either persons Born of God, or of the New Creature Living Under the Principle of God’s Grace and the Empowering of God the Holy Spirit…Will Overcome this WORLD!    

 

WHAT IS THE WORLD? It is the god of the World…Satan; the Lusts in and of the World; the False Prophets in the World; and the Wicked men of the World who Seek to Tempt, Snare and Turn You to Evil Doctrines, that would Avert Regenerate Ones from Observing and Obeying the Commands of God!  

  • The World Seeks to Create Compromise, Apathy and Self-Seeking Attitudes!
  • The World Seeks to Replace Our First Love For Christ with DUPLICITY IN OUR HEARTS

 

POINT: “FOR CHRIST TO BE MY FIRST LOVE…HE MUST HAVE ALL MY HEART!

 

How do YOU Respond to Christ’s Message to the Church of Ephesus? 

  • The Question We All Need to Ask Ourselves, “Is Christ First in My Life?”   
  • Amidst the Busyness of Life…We Must “Intentionally” Choose to Focus on Christ!
  • SOLUTION>>> Surrender Our Schedules and Our Natural Tendencies…and Let Christ Define Our Priorities!  
  • KEY: The Christian Life is Not About Perfection…It is About Progress! 
  • It is about Our Heart Seeking to Love Christ, and to Love Each Other MORE!

 

However, The Law of Diminishing Returns Fights Against Our Passion of Devotion:

  • Repetition of Same Activities Can Dull Us!  Becomes a Duty Without Devotion!
  • Matthew 15:8 Jesus said, This people honors Me with their Lips, But their Heart is Far from Me!
  • The Ephesians let their Love for Jesus grow Routine and it Slowly Cooled.
  • So How Do We Guard Ourselves From Becoming Dull in Our Passion for Christ?

 

Path Back…STEP ONE: We Must Recall the Love, Enthusiasm, Passion and Heart-Felt Devotion They/WE Had for HIM and for Each Other!

  • Jesus said, “Therefore Remember from where You have fallen and Repent and do the Deeds You Did at First!

 

KEY: Doctrine Without Devotion Fails to Satisfy Jesus who Longs to Relate to Us From the Passion of Our Hearts!

STEP TWO:  REPENTANCE.  Corporately and Personally. [SURRENDER ALL]

STEP THREE:  Be Intentional!  Return to a Pattern of Attitudes and Behaviors that Express that Christ is Our First Love.

  • Just as losing Passion in a Marriage is a bad thing…it is a Major Problem in Our Relationship with Jesus.
  • Jesus Expects Our Passion to Remain Unchanged from when We First Received Him!
  • Trusting and Obeying in All Things…Being Filled with God the Holy Spirit…To Love God with Everything and then to Love our Neighbor the same.

 

John Stott said, One of the Great Dangers of the Modern Church is that the Holy Spirit Could Leave Us while the Machinery of Ministry Keeps On Operating as If Nothing Happened!

  • This is a Church Without the Filling of God the Holy Spirit!  
  • 2 Tim 3:5 puts it this way, “Having a form of godliness but Denying its Power. Have nothing to do with such people.

 

Just like the Church of Ephesus, Jesus is calling for Us to Respond…To have more than a Form of Godliness. To Courageously Step Up and Make Him Our First Love. 

  • Together…We are to be Fishers of Men…NOT Just Keepers of Aquariums!

 

POINT: “FOR CHRIST TO BE MY FIRST LOVE…HE MUST HAVE ALL MY HEART!