The Church in Ephesus (Part 1)

Remember the enormous high level of deep doctrine Paul wrote to the Church at Ephesus … and in particular chapters 1 and 2. Then, by the time we reach Revelation 2:1-7 we ask the question … “what went wrong with this Church?” Please keep this thought in your mind as we work our way through this letter. Immediately after Jesus’ instruction to John to write to the pastor of the Church

Rev 2:1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write …”

Jesus describes His majestic, sovereign omnipotence to each of the Seven Churches in different ways. To the Ephesian pastor (angel – star) He says …

Rev 2:1 “… ‘These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands.'”

(1) The words to the Church are the Words of the Sovereign One … The Lord Jesus. His Word is God’s Word because He is God. We have this recorded in the Bible for our continual use and guidance.

(2) The Sovereign One holds all true pastors in His hands. The reason I say “true pastors” is because false teachers, preachers, apostles and pastors are not called and therefore not held to the bosom of the Saviour King. Consider a true pastors. He is to be careful about his doctrine because he is made a spiritual leader by God the Holy Spirit.

Ac 20:28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.

If the Spirit “makes” an elder (pastor, shepherd), the God the Son will hold, use, protect and keep the pastor. This is enormously comforting for every pastor called into pastoral ministry. He knows that as long as he is faithful and serves Jesus in every season, Jesus will keep him steadfast in ministry. At the same time the true believers in the congregation ought to be encouraged by knowing God will care for and bless their pastor for their benefit and His glory! Just by the way, the “right hand” always refers to the Lord’s power.

(3) The Sovereign One is present in His Church. This concept informs us of the Lord’s Omnipresence. He … walks among the seven golden lampstands … reminding us that the Lord Jesus never leaves His Church.

Heb 13:5 “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

He is always present, but especially when His people gather for a Worship Service where there is praise, prayer and preaching. This is so comforting because whether a Church is large or small, the Lord is present. He is the invisible guest … and though this is encouraging it is also challenging because He sees everything happening in the Church and everything happening in the life of every believer and the non-believers present. This means He knows about all the good and bad in the Church. He knows those who are true and those who are fake.

(4) The Sovereign One who holds the seven stars in His right hand and walks amongst the seven golden lampstands show that this message including the other six are for all the churches including all Christian Churches of all time, including our era … until He comes in Glory.

1) The theme of this letter comes in verse 4 … You have forsaken your first love. I don’t want to deal with the theme just yet other than to say this is the theme to be kept in mind as we open up the letter. Some commentators divide the letter into three parts … Commendation, Condemnation and Counsel. Although these are legitimate points that flow easily from the text, I want to look at it differently.

2) Jesus’ scary omniscience. One two occasion in verse 2 we read “I know”.

He 13:2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, 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. Don’t forget that although the message is also to the Church it is firstly to the pastor!

Get this … Jesus knows both the pastor’s and congregation’s deeds, hard work, perseverance, intolerance of wicked people, have tested apostles to see where they were genuine or fake, hardships for Jesus and hold steadfast without giving up. He knows all this … but there is more

Rev 2:4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5 Remember the height from which you have fallen!

Jesus knows that the congregation who were so doctrinal, so in love with Him and have now lost their first love and fallen from the mature, holy position they had enjoyed. Jesus knows everything. This in itself ought to be a wakeup call to all Christians.

3) Our Lord knows every deed. I hang my head in shame because I know my good points and strengths are less than my bad points and weaknesses. What would you say about yourself? Their deeds, hard work and perseverance are spiritual activities. It addresses their service, witness, holiness, learning, standing against opposition, false teachers and holding firm to solid doctrine. How do you perform in your Church? Are you a gospel man or woman? Do you serve the Lord in the Church Community, in your home and in society? Do you stand firm against wicked people. Do you demonstrate true Christianity when you are with colleague, family and friends who reject Jesus and behave sinfully? Where it comes to dubious religious leaders, do you test their doctrine against the Bible? Do you sift through what they teach and compare it with the gospel message and gospel lifestyle? Even in the hardest environments, are you able stand for Jesus even if it might mean being overlooked for promotion, rejected and ignored by family and blocked out by neighbors. Are you able to persevere, remaining true to the gospel without growing weary, without losing hope, without being convinced to ditch Jesus for the world?

4) Have you lost your first love? The word forsaken is a strong one. It implies “on purpose … with knowledge … willingly”. Here we are confronted with the person who has made a commitment, knows sound doctrine and theology and sits under good teaching … and all this becomes legalistic and the love emotion cools down so much that the person trusts what they know but passion for the Lord Jesus lessens. There is no longer fire in the heart for holiness and evangelism. The Bible and prayer become optional for when I want to or when I have time. Although you can rip my illustration apart, think of the rugby player who willfully broke the rules and was yellow carded and needed to watch the game from the sidelines. He fell out of the game! Willfully forsaking love for Jesus becomes a red or yellow card where you watch and don’t participate. If you were asked to evaluate your love for Jesus, how would you answer?

O Lord, as you know everything about me, help me prove love and service genuine. Amen.

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