The Church at Ephesus
Perhaps, there are those Christians in the church today who have never heard about the Seven Churches of Asia Minor, (Revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ to St. John; chapter 2 – 3), there are some so-called Christians that do not read and study the Bible on a regular basis, and some preachers seldom preach from the book of Revelation.
Nonetheless, the book is a wonderful book of study for the Christian, and the seven churches may be used very effectively for a measuring gage in three aspects of your spiritual wellness, as an individual, as a church, and as the church universal. The conditions, which Jesus addresses, cycle through the Christian church experience, as well as the individual relationship of Christians to Christ.
The church at Ephesus, its history of spiritual good works for the kingdom, and its fault
2 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.
7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. (Revelation Chapter 2:1-7. KJV).
2 “To the angel[a] 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. (Revelation chapter 2:1—7 NIV)
Ephesus, a thriving metropolis, and the gem of Asia Minor, then known as “the metropolis of Asia”. The temple of Artemis, (Diana, KJV), with such splendor it was counted as one of the wonders of the world. Of course, the Romans had their gods and goddesses. The church in Ephesus had been a strong church, a growing church, a church that persevered through tough persecution. However, Jesus, He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, and walks among the seven lampstands, notices something amiss in His church. Jesus alone, which has the authority as the head of all Christian churches, signified by the seven stars he holds in his left hand and his omniscient presence among the seven lampstands.
Jesus tells John to address the letter to the angel of the church. It would be the pastor, elder, or bishop, the one who leads the church, the under-shepherd – the one who prophesied (forth-tells), the word of God. To this servant write, I know what your strong points are, and you are to be commended on your outstanding work; but I have this against you. Jesus, is the head of the church, He legislates the law, and he executes the law, his law. What we must never try to do is shut Jesus up in heaven. He is not an absentee leader, he holds the seven stars in His right hand still, and He walks among the seven candlesticks. Seven is the perfect number and represents the fullness of the Christian church.
Jesus says you are doing what I wanted you to do, but the thing I have against you is you have left your first love. The church at Ephesus had begun to move into a comfort zone, the things they first had done through the love for Jesus, the work for the kingdom with love and enthusiasm. They taught the word, they reached out to the unsaved, they fed the poor, the outcasts in poverty, the sick, and reached out to those in prison, the widows and orphans, they tested those who gave claim to the Apostolic Authority and found them to be liars, and they hated sin, and would not tolerate those who practiced sin. This is the meaning of the first love, and it only starts with that deep personal love for Jesus. Jesus is the one who said, “As the Father has loved me, I also have loved you, abide (live), in my love…” “If you keep my commandments my commandments you will abide (live), in my love. (Read in context, Jn. 12 through 15).
To the angel of the church, the star, the leader, or Pastor, (Jesus is the head), the Holy Spirit is the life, the “under shepherd” is who the letter is addressed, it is he who is held accountable to God for the condition of the church, and each individual in that body. This is the Chairman of the board, writing a letter to the CEO. It is great to have a boss like Jesus.
Jesus starts by telling them what wonderful work they have done, I know your work, which is not easy, but you have done a good job at it, you have been a committed church working hard, and standing firm in the faith. You cannot tolerate sin, or wicked people. You have tested those who say they are Apostles and found them to be liars; you have not allowed your pulpit to be used by charlatans, or those who teach another Gospel than Jesus Christ.
You have persevered, when others came against you, you have endured some hard times, for my name, and still have not given ground to their idiocies and slanders; these are good things. I commend you for your courage and commitment, which is well deserved.
Then the “nevertheless,” the dreaded but, the nevertheless in a running commendation for their extraordinary service. This is where the rubber meets the highway moment. I have a bit against you, (the word here is ‘somewhat’, not bit, bit is my insertion of a small thing which left alone could sink their ship.
Jesus says, you have left your first love. Remember, as an individual who having matured enough to experience the love in doing the work of the church? Being involve in church. It is an experience not easily forgotten; but actually comes about by neglect, or wrong motivation. Today, we leave our first love because of our lack of spiritual strength, through allowing the world to rob the church of its commitment to Jesus.
How do we allow the world to rob the church? By paying more attention to what the world is doing than what God wants us to do. Political correctness is one of the greatest enemies we face in the church today. Bullied by liberal politics, anti-Christian movements that rob the nation and the church of our principals in favor of a false prophet, to rob of our moral values, in favor of sexual depravity, moral accountability in favor of charlatans, preaching liber and liberation theologies, and not the gospel, which the Apostles preached.
We allow the world to rob God’s church when we leave our first love and follow after the world in the name of tolerance. Our human nature simply cowers before the name calling and belittling by the politicians and liberal movements not having any morals, and liberal anti-Christian persecution.
In all due respect to some of the “mainstream” denominations, who have fallen prey to the liberal movements and political agenda of this administration. When they have allowed sexual depravity, and progressivism, defile the pulpits and biblical doctrines, which Jesus entrusted to the church, it is shameful.
Moreover, it truly makes me wonder about the salvation of their leaders, but the Bible tells us that we are the ones that are accountable to Christ for the wellbeing of the church. Therefore, it is not mine to judge but perhaps expose and warn against the leaving of the first love.
As previously mentioned, the teaching of these seven churches may be applied to the church age, the universal and local church as it cycles through these seven conditions, and not to be forgotten, the individual Christian, as they grow in the faith, and find themselves frustrated by personal interaction with the church and their relationship to God.
In the United States, as well as the free world, we find the devil has brought a great confrontation against the Christian and the Christian church. Our liberal and progressive movements have brought somewhat of a persecution to the church. I do not believe that what we see as persecution actually reflects what Jesus meant by persecution. The persecution that we find in the nation today is nothing like the persecution of the early church, and the persecution of which we witness in the Middle East, and other countries; that is serious persecution.
What we experience here today is more of a buffing, if you will, but it is enough to cause the falling away from the church, we call the couple of generations that may not return, millennials and they are the ones who being educated by liberals for the purpose of the liberal and progressive movement.
If you find yourself or your church becoming more worldly, more liberal, then you might want to examine your heart and see if you might have fallen from your first love. The instruction is clear, first admit it, then confess it, and repent—change directions and return to doing the first works of your Christian walk.
If it is the church that you notice the change in accommodating the world; do not start a battle, just simply find a good Bible believing church that teaches and preaches the word of God in the truth and the Spirit, there God will bless you and you will be the Christian you ought to be. If you are too worried that the world is calling you some sort of a phobia, or nutcase, intolerant, Bible thumper, believing fantasies and being part of antiquity. Just remember Christ is standing beside you, and the world hated him first.