Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Seven Churches Part 2 – Ephesus

The Seven Churches
Part 2  – Ephesus
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | www.PS127.org | www.TruthDigest.org

INTRODUCTION
Last week we read the beginning to Revelation, and discussed the who, what, where and why of it.

It IS the revelation of Jesus Christ, to His servant John, whom at this time was a prisoner on the island of Patmos. This letter was written by John, at the instruction of Jesus, and was to be sent to the pastors (or stars in the Lord's hand) to instruct the churches.

Remember from John's vision last week, Jesus is described in His glory, standing among seven candle-sticks, representing the seven churches in the letters. In the Lord's hand was the seven stars of the church, representing the pastors of each of the churches, and the ones to whom the letters would be sent.

The imagery has many clues to the operation of the churches on earth, and how the Lord not only sees all, but holds the very leadership of each church in His hand, since He is the "head" of the church.

We also see the Lord give us the key to Revelation in 1;19, instructing John to write what he has seen (the vision of Jesus among the lampstands), what is now (the letters to the seven churches) and what will take place later (everything from Revelation 4-22)

To those who have salvation, only the first four chapters are relevant. Chapters 4-22 deal with events which take place after the rapture of believers.

Today, we are looking at the first letter written to the pastor of the church in Ephesus.

Something to remember, Jesus tells us in Revelation, these records are for US, so that the Word will be recorded. These letters represent dispensations in church history, and future, as well as a guide and plumb for us to examine where we are succeeding, and where we may be falling short as followers of Jesus.

For the next seven weeks, we will be measuring ourselves personally, as well as a church. Let us take an honest look, so that we may spiritually grow closer to the Lord.


SCRIPTURE REFERENCE
Revelation 2:1-7
“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. 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. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 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.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.



I.       TO THE MINISTERS OF CHRIST...WRITE
a.      The image of Christ walking among the golden lampstands as He holds the stars of the churches, and instructing John to write to each of them is very meaningful.
i.       Matthew Henry's Commentary on Revelation 2:1, "From whom this epistle was sent. He holds the stars in His right hand. The ministers of Christ are under His special care and protection. The ministers of the gospel are in His hand. He supports them, or else they would become falling stars; and all the good they do is done by His hand with them. He walks among the golden lampstands.  This intimates His relation to His churches. Though Christ is in heaven, He walks among His churches.

b.     Dispensational point of view
i.       The church in Ephesus represents the Apostolic time period of church history, which ended around 100 A.D.


c.      This letter is sound instruction, from the living God Himself, for all to hear!
i.       Jesus makes it clear, "I know your works..."
a.      Walking among the lampstands, the Lord sees all.

b.     This is repeated to all seven churches, and it implies Divine knowledge.
II.   THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY
a.      What the church in Ephesus was doing right (the good)
i.       I know your "deeds" and your "hard work"
a.      "what" you do, and "how" you do it
b.     Diligence and duty!

ii.    and your "perseverance"
a.      which is important to the Lord, to never give up!

iii. I know you "cannot tolerate wicked people"
a.      Specifically, those who have DEPARTED from true Doctrine

b.     Those who have turned, and will not repent, must NOT be allowed (or tolerated) among those who do believe.

c.      This is not referring to sinners coming to church, rather, believer's who turn from truth, and refuse to repent.

iv.   and you have "tested those who claim to be apostles, but are not"
a.      This shows us that the Ephesians were Doctrinally sound.

v.      You have "persevered" and "endured hardships" for my name sake
a.      They set a course, and did not deviate from it.

b.     Patience in suffering. There must be bearing patience, and there must be waiting patience, that they may receive the promise.

vi.   and "have not grown weary."
a.      The Ephesians continued to believe when things were not going well. A testament of true faith!

b.     They were diligent in their efforts, and would not quit.


b.     What the Church in Ephesus was doing wrong (the bad)
i.       Yet, I hold this against you...
a.      Something is wrong, despite their zeal

ii.    "You have forsaken (left) your first love"
a.      Not "lost" your first love, rather "left" your first love
b.     They departed from it.

iii. What is the first love of a believer?
a.      The Cross
b.     They fell from Grace, which means they stopped depending on Christ and the Cross
1.      Galatians 5:4 "You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace."

iv.   Consider "how far you have fallen"

v.      REPENT (go back to the Cross!)


c.      What would happen if they did not repent? (and the ugly)
i.       Repent, and do the things you did at first

ii.    If you do not repent...
a.      I (the Lord), will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.
b.     Christ is the source of light, but the Cross is the means.

iii. HOWEVER, you have this in your favor
a.      You hate the practices of the Nicolatians, which I also hate.
1.      The word Nicolatians, means laity-conquerors.

2.      Remember, these letter are to the stars (ministers) of the churches.

3.      Laity-conquerors are Preachers who exploit the people instead of spiritually developing them, which all false doctrine does. The Lord hates this, and so should we!

b.     The Lord implies a "stay of discipline" for the church, and extends Grace because of their "efforts".

c.      If not for the Grace of God, we would all be struck down!


d.     Final Words to Ephesus
i.       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.

ii.    To the one who is victorious (REPENTS)

iii. I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.


III.      WHERE ARE YOU, AND OUR CHURCH?
a.      The church in Ephesus had forsaken, or LEFT their first love

b.     We can overcome by returning to our first love, and placing our faith in Christ and the Cross exclusively, which gives the Holy Spirit latitude to work in our lives, and in our church.


c.Have YOU left your first love?
i.       Remember when you were first forgiven, and received Salvation!
ii.    Return to that mind-set.


d.     Has our church forsaken it?
i.       We MUST stay focused on the ONLY thing that matters to the Lord...
a.      FORGIVENESS and SALVATION

ii.    We must remember to share this gospel of Christ, and call the world to repentance, for the Day of Judgment is approaching!


CONCLUSION

1.      What is said to one church, concerns all churches, in every place and time.
2.      We hear a promise of great mercy to those who overcome.

Matthew Henry Commentary says, "We must never yield to our spiritual enemies, but fight the good fight, until we gain the victory, and the warfare and victory shall have a glorious triumph and reward. They shall eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God."




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