Posted by: cghearn | 10/05/2014 | 5:56 pm
What did Christ think of the church of Ephesus?
We’re going to see in this passage, that Christ has many good things to say about the church in Ephesus, yet one really bad thing; Ephesus has stopped loving like it used to.
When I was young, my parents introduced me to a method called “the sandwich method” which is when you take 2 positive things about a situation and use them as pieces of bread to surround one negative thing. This method helps the person to accept the criticism without feeling like you’re only being negative…Christ is going to do this with Ephesus.
When we look at Ephesus in particular, we are looking at, what most historians consider, to be the most influential church in the world during this period. Ephesus was important to Jesus, just as every church is. But Ephesus was the most important city within what is now modern day Turkey which was then a Roman province. It had a seaport, it was a key city on the trade route, and it was also the central city of worship for the goddess Artemis.
How do we measure if we’re loving people the way we should? Helmut Thielicke who was a prominent German preacher and theologian said once, “Tell me how much you know of the sufferings of your fellow man and I will tell you how much you have loved them.”
Doctrine of sermon:
The church must remain steadfast if we’re going to enter into eternal life
The church must remain steadfast if we’re going to differentiate between who is true and who is false.
There were obviously (just as there are today) false teachers that were spreading their teaching throughout the region of Ephesus. Going so far as to even call themselves apostles in order to gain a greater standing in the church. Now who does that remind you of? Don’t we struggle in the good ole’ United States with this? We sure do!
We have Jehovah’s witnesses that claim that Jesus was a god and not the God. In our world, many would say that Jehovah’s witnesses are Christians. I pulled this straight from their website.
“Is the firstborn Son equal to God, as some believe? That is not what the Bible teaches. As we noted in the preceding paragraph, the Son was created. Obviously, then, he had a beginning.” – What Does the Bible Really Teach? Ch. 4, “Who is Jesus Christ?”
Once again, Mormons teach the same heresy; I pulled this from their website.
“He is our Father–the Father of our spirits, and was once a man in mortal flesh as we are, and is now an exalted Being.” – Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 7, pg 331, 10/8/1859
Turn to 1 John 2:22
What happens when you don’t have a good, solid, biblical grounding and constantly have the entirety of God’s counsel taught to you on a regular basis? You are vulnerable to these false teachers. Understand that I’m not perfect either, but I do my best to ensure that when I speak that my words are carefully weighed by Scripture first. Some people don’t even try that. We need to be careful in how we define things because how we define them can either save us or damn us.
Why are the seemingly little things so important?
Imagine this on a magazine cover:
- Famous cook finds inspiration in cooking, his family, his friends, and his dog.
(Now I’m going to remove one comma)
Famous cook finds inspiration in cooking his family, his friends, and his dog.
Imagine this on a sign at a Goodwill:
- Thank you, your donation helped someone get a job.
(Now I’m going to add a Period)
Thank you, your donation helped someone. Get a job.
Just as Christ is saying, be patient and endure through this life, church! Continue in weeding out false teaching and be careful with the leaders that you’re willing to follow. Stand as a beacon of truth in the community because this is pleasing to Christ. Continue meeting with one another, continue hearing the truth of God’s word being proclaimed, and warn others concerning those who twist God’s word to mean something that it doesn’t.
Redemption: We must remain true according to Christ because it’s loving to our fellow man who is lost…
The church must remain steadfast in love if we’re going to have Christ’s blessing.
The church in Ephesus had forgotten the love that they had when they first began. There was a passion that the church at Ephesus had at its conception that truly reflected the attitude of Christ; but now, something had happened to change that.
Those of you who have been married for more than a year in this congregation today can remember when you first met your spouse. They were probably very attractive to you and you would probably, during that period, remember times where you’d fantasize about being married to them and sharing your life with that person in every way. Then what happened? You got married and found out they were a real person with real problems that were now your problems! You also have probably by now discovered that marriage can take hard work at times and that to keep the fire of love burning you need to make time for romance. Having kids, a career, volunteering at church, or life issues can make you start to forget the passion that you once had.
Why did Ephesus forget to love those around them? It wasn’t because they had grown weary, because the text says, “you have not grown weary” and Christ credits the Ephesian church with their patience when under trail. So it was something else that had changed the way the church at Ephesus did ministry. I believe that other things had begun to drive them and that they began looking to other things besides Christ to satisfy them. I believe they had begun to worship something other than Christ.
I was in class just at the beginning of this semester and my professor, Jeff Iorg who also just happens to be the president of my seminary stopped teaching for a moment. He pulled off his glasses and rubbed his eyes as if he had become stressed out or anxious about something. He then put his glasses on and said very plainly, “You will all be driven by something; I encourage you to let that thing be love.” I repeat that to you today. You will be driven by something whether it’s money, power, material things, or even by other people. Let that which drives you be love.
As a church, if we allow a building to drive us, it will. If we allow our budget to drive us, it will. If we allow numbers of people in the seats to drive us, it will. But what if we did something revolutionary and let the Messiah drive us? What if we took the command to love God and love others seriously? What if the great commission became the priority of this church?
Redemption: We can be assured that if we’re driven by love that we will have the supernatural backing of Jesus Christ.…
Each individual congregation has supernatural power because we are designated as Christ’s light in the world.
Often the church tends to forget that when things get busy, during football season, when we go through trials, or sometimes when we simply get caught up in things that we shouldn’t that we are the light of Christ, we are the lampstand, and that we are his visible body in this life.
We see all over in the West that the church is dying out. According to many research projects over 4,000 churches close their doors every year never to open them again. Is it more or less important in an increasingly dark landscape to shine less or to shine brighter than before? If these churches were actually at one point biblically, Christ centered churches, then that means that 4,000 churches across America every year have forgotten the love that they first had for Christ. This is true even of people during the apostolic age.
Turn to Acts 6:5
It was during the 1st century, only a short time after Christ had walked this earth and according to our understanding, these were the first Deacons that the church ever instituted. One of them was Nicolaus who was a proselyte of Antioch. Sometime during his service, according to St. John of Damascus, Nicolaus started teaching those under him to practice immorality with those around them because he was very jealous of his wife. This gave birth to what Christ called the “Nicolaitans” whose works he apparently hated and if they were encouraging each other to sleep around, it’s no wonder Christ hated their works.
We tend to glorify the early church thinking that they didn’t have issues like we do, but only 50 years after Christ ascended, we have the true church committing idolatry by forgetting Christ and also false teachers are springing up. The only salvation they had was to return to loving God and loving people. Let me ask you a question church, “Do you remember how much you loved Christ when you first came to know him?” When you were told the story of the cross and how all of the shame and guilt you had ever had because of your sinful past could be washed away, don’t you remember how that felt? Why are we now so easily led astray to worship stuff? Open your eyes to the suffering of those around you and remember the love you once had for Christ.
Redemption: To find our way back, we must return to the love for Christ that we once had and remember who he is to us and who he desires for us to be in the world.
Doctrine of sermon:
The church must remain steadfast if we’re going to enter into eternal life
Illustration: Let me read for you a few of the different comments people have posted on our Facebook page:
- I’ve just gotta say I LOVE this church, I love the people, the music, the speaking, I just love everything about it here. Thank you guys for giving me hope, and a place to call home.
- Worship is so good here and I appreciate the straight forward Word of God. Loving folks n good sound teaching. 🙂
Numerous people have rated Breathe at 5 stars and many of them still show up for church on most Sundays. Why? I know it’s because of our love for Christ and our love for our fellow man.
Application: This may sound harsh to some, but I pray that those of you who have cold hearts in this room today that you would repent of your sin because that’s what Christ says you must do. Second, I pray that if you won’t repent (which means to confess and turn), that God doesn’t allow anyone who steps through our doors looking for hope to remember you or have any interaction with you. I would hope that you would not influence anyone in this congregation; it’s dark enough on the outside of this congregation and we need as much light as we can get when we’re among one another.