I. NOTE THE LORD HAD A LOT OF GOOD THINGS TO SAY ABOUT THE CHURCH OF EPHESUS.
A. "I know thy works, labor, patience."
1. These are all great and important things in the Christian life.
2. Paul had written to the church in Thessolonica of how he thanked God when he...
Remembered their work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
3. These are great characteristics in any church.
B. They could not bear them which are evil.
1. One of the great weaknesses of the church today is the toleration of evil. The lack of purity
2. Look at the attitude of so many churches toward homosexuality.
3. There is a lax attitude toward the things of the world.
4. Worldliness has invaded the church.
C. They had discernment. When men came who claimed to be Apostles, they put them to the test and found that they were liars.
1. How sad it is today that so many people are being deceived by false prophets.
2. I am amazed at how totally lacking some people are in their discernment.
3. They get letters and mailers soliciting funds from the various organizations, and evangelists, and without thorough examination send their funds to support their programs.
4. There are people in front of Target, or in the Airport who collect funds, I never give to them, for I do not know where the funds are going, and there is no accountability.
5. If I give, I want to be able to see the fruit of my investment.
D. The church of Ephesus had borne, had patience and in the name of Lord had labored without fainting.
E. If you would see that church, you would be prone to say that it was a very successful church with dedicated workers.
1. It was well organized and everyone was doing their job.
II. IT WAS IN DANGER OF LOSING THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD.
A. Back in chapter one in the vision of Jesus that John had, he saw Jesus walking in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks.
1. The Lord had told John that these candlesticks represented the seven churches.
2. Jesus was walking in the midst of His churches.
B. In the opening greeting to this church, Jesus describes Himself as the one who was holding the seven stars in His right hand and walking in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks.
C. Though they had so many things going for them, they were missing the most important thing.
D. What they were missing was so important that if they did not regain it, in spite of all their works and patience, and discernment their candlestick would be moved out of its place.
E. The churches have become so organized that many of them function without the presence of the Lord.
III. HIS COMPLAINT AGAINST THE CHURCH. "YOU HAVE LEFT YOUR FIRST LOVE."
A. The bloom of the first love is such a beautiful thing.
1. It seems to give a special fragrance to your whole life.
2. You do not want to eat or sleep, but desire to savor every thought of the one you love.
B. Paul wrote to the church in Corinth of the supremacy of love.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become [as] sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have [the gift of] prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed [the poor], and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
1. The church of Ephesus had many of these things, gifts of the Spirit, labor, patience, works, yet they were lacking in the most important thing of all. Love.
2. Do you realize how important love is to the Lord?
3. Only the works that flow from a loving heart are acceptable to Him.
4. He is not interested in your works that are done from a sense of responsibility or duty.
5. I have heard people complain of all the things they were doing for the Lord or the church.
6. I have heard them speak of the heavy burdens they were trying to carry for the Lord.
7. Jesus said, "His yoke is easy and His burden is light."
a. When the burden is greater than you can bear, just know that it is not His burden you are trying to carry.
b. You have taken the burden on yourself, or have allowed someone else to put the burden on you.
c. People often try to dump their burdens on me.
IV. THE LORD'S EXHORTATION TO THE CHURCH.
1. Remember that first love that you had for the Lord when He first came to you and lifted the heavy load of sin from your life.
a. No sacrifice for Him was too great, if in fact you did not even consider it a sacrifice, anything you could do for Him was sheer joy.
b. Remember that reckless abandonment of your life to Him.
c. I was talking to the members of the Love Song the other day and we were talking of the early days when all they needed was a box of raisins and some oats, and they were ready to take their guitars and travel to share the new found love they had for Jesus.
2. God remembered the first love that Israel had for Him. He told Jeremiah to:
Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; I remember the kindness of thy youth, the love of engagement when you went after me in the wilderness, in a land [that was] not sown.
1. This was the first word of John the Baptist when he began to herald the coming of the Messiah. "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
2. This was the first word of Jesus as He began to proclaim the gospel.
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
3. Notice in the messages of Jesus to the churches, how He calls for repentance in 5 of the 7 churches.
4. What does it mean to repent.
a. It means to be sorry. 2CO 7:10
: For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation.
b. It also means to change. It is not a true repentance if you continue to repeat. The sorrow of the world brings death.
c. It means that you are so sorry that you change.
5. Are you sorry that you have left that first love? That great devotion that you once had for the word of God and the fellowship of the saints?
6. Was there a time in your life, where your commitment to Jesus Christ was greater than it is today?
7. Were you more regular in your attendance than you are now?
8. Could it be that you have left your first love?
9. God said to the nation of Israel, "What did I do? What evil did you find in Me?"
C. Repeat (go and do your first works over).
1. There is an interesting observation of human nature. They have discovered that if you act out a motion, you will get the corresponding emotion.
a. If you act out the motions of hatred, you will soon begin to hate.
b. If you act out the motions of violence, you will become violent.
c. If you act out the motions of love, you will soon be loving.
2. Jesus said to do your first works over.
a. Start reading the word again on a regular basis.
b. Start singing songs of love to the Lord.
c. Start regular fellowship with God's people.
d. You will find that first love rekindled, and your heart will once again burn in passion for the Lord and the things of the Lord.
V. IF NOT?
A. The Lord said that He would come quickly and remove the candlestick from its place.
B. Jesus was walking in the midst of the candlesticks, the warning is that the Lord will take His presence from the church.
1. He was more interested in their love, than there works.
2. Works are not a satisfactory substitute for love.
C. What about you?