Intro: We will examine the seven churches to which Jesus writes beginning with these verses. In Rev. 1:11, he refers to these churches by name. For each of these congregations, Jesus has a word. I want you to remember that these seven churches can be viewed in three distinct ways as we examine them.
1. They are prophetic because they appear to represent various stages of the church over the past two thousand years. The church at Ephesus represents the period from the Day of Pentecost to 100 AD if this is true. The early church experienced significant growth during this time. But it was also a time when some people started to lose their enthusiasm. 2. These letters were sent to actual congregations that were actually operating at the end of the first century. They can be seen practically: They were written to actual churches at the time, but they still apply to all churches today. These verses contain a message from God for Calvary Baptist Church! 3. They can be seen personally These letters are addressed to congregations, but we should also keep in mind that the Lord also has a message for each individual in them. He has something to say about our relationship with Him to you and to me. My intention is to apply these letters to Calvary Baptist Church by putting them into practice. From each of these letters, I believe the Lord has something specific to say to our church. The principal letter that precedes is to the congregation situated in the city of Ephesus. We need to look at the city in order to comprehend some of the things spoken to the church. Let me tell you a few things about Ephesus, an ancient city. Ephesus was significant at the time for a number of reasons. 1. Ephesus was a major commercial center because it was on the Castor River, just a few miles from the Aegean Sea. It was noted for its superb harbor, and ships came to Ephesus from everywhere the well explored parts of the planet bring their merchandise and their abundance. In its day, it was Asia Minor's richest city. 2. Ephesus was given the right to be a "free city" because of its past service to the Roman Empire. It was a political powerhouse. This indicates that they used self-rule. This indicates that they are free to make any choices they want. Additionally, it indicates that there were no Roman garrisons there. The city was able to thrive thanks to this. 3. Ephesus was a religiously significant city because it was the location of the Diana or Artemis temple. It was one of the Seven Wonders of the World at the time. That temple was visited by people from all over the world. Diana was the goddess of sex and reproduction at this time. A disgusting statue of a woman with a lot of breasts served as her symbol. You worshiped Diana by having sexual relations with a temple prostitute, and this temple was full of hundreds of prostitutes. The temple was also a bank. In order to keep their belongings safe, people would bring them there. It was a gallery for fine art. This ancient temple housed artwork from around the world. Additionally, it was a haven for criminals. A criminal would not face charges if he could reach the temple. It is clear that Ephesus was a vile, wicked, and degenerate city to live in. "No one could live in Ephesus without weeping over the immorality that he must see on every side," a Greek philosopher named Heraclitus wrote. According to Acts 18:19–21, God sent the Apostle Paul to this despicable city. 19; 20:17-38. Founded this church and preached there for two years. Paul wrote the first and second books of the Corinthians while he was there. Timothy was the primary minister of this congregation, 1 Tim. 1:3. Acts 18 reveals that Apollos, Priscilla, and Aquilla all served in the Ephesian church. Ephesus was also where the Apostle John spent his final years. It was here that he composed the Good news of John and his three epistles. Tradition holds that Mary, Jesus' mother, is buried in Ephesus. This congregation was special to hear and know the most elite in those early days. In a wicked time, this was an active church. But God used them, and a lot of people got saved. Acts 20:17–21 explains that the strategies utilized in Ephesus are still effective today. By doing nothing at all, we will not reach our community. By going out into the community and preaching the Gospel, we will reach Caldwell County. The Lord comes to this church after thirty years to tell them where they are and where He wants them to be. He delivers a message of comfort to them. In verse 1, He assures them that they are safe in His hands. The meaning of the word "holdeth" is "being in absolute control." They needed to know that He was in charge in a society that was out of control. Today, we require the same message. As they strive to serve Him, he reassures them that He is always there to watch over them and protect them. I want you to notice as we examine these seven letters that the Lord has a personal message for each of these churches. He talks about His presence among them when he comes to this church. A church like this desperately needed to know that the Lord was in their midst. I want to share with you four observations that Jesus makes regarding this church today. I want to preach on the following idea using this passage: When the flame turns into an emerald. I think Jesus has a message for our hearts right now. I. v. 2-3, 6 JESUS EXAMINES THEIR REPUTATION (Ill. Jesus begins His remarks to this church by describing everything that is excellent about the group. They had a lot going for them, and the Lord tells them that He has seen everything they do for His name. A. v. 2a He Commends Their Service: Jesus uses three words to describe this church's activities. He comes to them with precious words of praise. 1. Works is used to describe "that which is accomplished." It's about how much this church has accomplished for the Lord's glory. Jesus has observed everything they have been doing. 2. The word "labor" literally translates to "a beating." It refers to "intense work coupled with labor and difficulty." It reveals that this church was devotedly serving the Lord. Their fingers were literally being worked to the bone. At the end of the day, this was no Sunday morning just group. They were actively serving the Lord, putting their own lives at risk and putting their own lives at risk. 3. Patience is a word that means "steadfast endurance." It demonstrates that this church persevered in the face of opposition. The people of Ephesus did not value these individuals or their devotion to the Lord, so they physically and publicly opposed them; However, despite everything that was thrown at them, these people continued to faithfully serve the Lord despite the opposition and persecution. (Ill.) If you had attended this church on a typical Sunday, you would have been informed of a week of activities and opportunities for service. The modern church has forgotten what these people knew. They were aware that a church does not grow on its own. Additionally, they were aware that a church cannot operate independently. They were aware that individuals who will persevere are required! · They additionally realize that it takes work to do these things! We have the ability to transform this location into a country club where the frozen chosen gather to celebrate their salvation. Or, we could make this church a place where the saints can worship and get ready to serve; and afterward they leave this work environment for the greatness of God in their homes, schools, networks and business environments. We were not saved by God to glide effortlessly into glory on flowery beds. He saved us to be dynamic in His work until He called us home to His brilliance, Eph. 2:10; James 2:18; 2 Cor. 9:8; Col. 1:10. Would Jesus commend us for our labor and patience if He appeared on this platform today?) B. v. 2b, "canst not bear them which are evil"—these people were leading separate lives—he commends their separation. They did not experience the immorality and evil that dominated their world. They lived in a way that was different from the world around them and took a moral stand. (Ill. All of God's children are still expected to do this. 2 Cor. says that he wants us to be apart from this evil world. 6:17; Eph. 5:1-8. We are commanded to stand out from the lost world around us in everything we do, from how we talk and dress to how we choose to entertain ourselves. Matt, that is the only way we can shine Christ's light. 5:16. Would Jesus commend us for being a divided people today if He were to speak to this church and our own hearts? C. v. 2c, 6 He Applauds Their Standards: These individuals are praised for adhering to correct doctrine. They put those who claimed to be men of God to the test when they passed through their town. Both their preaching and their credentials were examined. They exposed them as the liars they were by refusing to hear or fellowship with them if what they said did not align with the Word of God. They are also praised for their opposition to the "Nicolaitans." There are a few possibilities, but no one is certain who these people were. The phrase is derived from two Greek words: Nikao" - "To Overcome" and "Laos" - "Individuals". As a result, it's possible that the Nicolaitans were a group of church leaders who sought to establish a hierarchy within the church. As such, there might have been some who needed to manage everything and hold individuals under their influence. That group is still with us today! There is a distinction between the "clergy" and the "laity" in some denominations. Another possibility is that the Nicolaitans were followers of a man by the name of Nicolas who tried to steer people away from God and into immorality. He taught a belief that allowed people to serve the Lord while still engaging in immoral behavior. Whatever the case may be, the word "deeds" in verse 6 has changed to "doctrine" in verse 15. This is the opposite of how the Bible clearly arranges things. We acquire doctrine, and our actions are governed by that doctrine. The flesh likes to do whatever it wants and then come up with doctrine that fits it. The adherents of Ephesus were opposed to the spread of false doctrine within their congregation. What caused this? They paired every teaching with God's Word. On the off chance that it didn't agree with the book, they would not get it! (Ill. That same attitude is needed today! The Lord does not send everything that comes down the pike! This past Sunday, a woman in this church told me that she listened to my sermon and then went home to verify it for herself. I exclaim, "Glory to the Lord!" That ought to be the case! Sadly, too many members of the church put their faith in what they hear. They'll watch preachers on television who they wouldn't let into their church. They praise men who stroke their egos and feed their flesh but cannot even articulate the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They don't care what he believes if he makes them feel good. If you take that approach to preachers and preaching, my friends, you could get into trouble down the road. We ought to act like the Berean believers did, challenging everything they heard. The Bible says the following about them: According to Acts 17:11, "these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily to determine whether those things were so." What would Jesus say about our doctrinal standards, not our opinions? (Ill. The funeral for Coretta Scott King showed a clear lack of standards.) D. v. 3 He Applauds Their Steadfastness: This is a church that has been carrying the burden, enduring a great deal of hardship and opposition, and working to the point of exhaustion without showing any signs of fatigue. They were an extremely steadfast group. And they did what they did for the Lord's sake. They are a church that is deserving of praise. (Ill.) The church at Ephesus appears to be the model for all other churches. We ought to be occupied for the Ruler. The command from 1 Cor should be expanded upon. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoving, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord,” says John 15:58. Is that verse applicable to our church? Is your life described in that verse? Would Jesus laud our unwavering determination?) I. Jesus Looks at Their Reputation II. v. 4: Jesus reveals the truth (Ill. After commending this church, Jesus now complains to them.) A. His Disappointment: Although they appear promising from the outside, there are heart issues that must be addressed. Jesus informed them that this was a private matter. It would appear that the issues He observes in this church grieve Him. (Ill. It's important to know that Jesus not only sees what we do, but also who we are. He is able to see into our hearts from beneath the surface of our lives. It grieves Him and prevents us from enjoying His blessings and fellowship when He discovers error and sin in our hearts. It grieves Him, Eph., when we allow the wrong things to remain in our hearts. 4:30.) B. His diagnosis: Jesus tells the people He loves and died for that they simply do not love Him as much as they used to. They "have left their first love," he informs them. They actually have love, yet the profound, intense, consuming affection that filled them enthusiastically to serve Him has left their hearts. They adore their congregation; be that as it may, they to don't cherish him like they used to. They cherish their beliefs; However, their devotion to Jesus has waned. They adore what they do; yet, they are not propelled in that frame of mind by an enthusiastic love for Jesus. Despite their busy schedules, their love for Him has diminished. When it was first started, the flame was so bright and hot that it is now just a smoldering ember. Their love for the Son of God has waned! They've "left your first love." The Christian life, after all, is essentially a love affair with Jesus Christ. Being saved is a love affair with Him. Growing in salvation is loving Him more and more. All that we do in His name is motivated by this love. Whether we sing, instruct, teach, witness, give, and so on, it should all stream out of an always developing adoration for the Master Jesus. Our service is meaningless if we lose our love for Him, 1 Cor. 13:1-3. Love ought to develop! Basically, I love my wife more now than ever before. Today, I have a greater love for my children than I did when I first saw them. I love you guys more and more every day. Love ought to mature. However, I wonder if Jesus would be required to tell some of us, "You don't love me like you used to." If our spouse had said that to us, it would break our hearts. If we knew that the Lord felt the same way, would it bother us? (Ill.) What exactly is this "first love"? What makes it unique? Fervent Love Is the First Love! It's sentimental. It stirs the soul. The soul gets a thrill from it. It is not dead, dusty, cold, or dry. It is alive and it is energetic. Recollect when you previously experienced passionate feelings for your mate? Your love was passionate and heartfelt. You wrote mushy letters and said things you wouldn't have said if love hadn't cut you off from your thoughts. Now, can you recall the first time you were saved? Can you recall how much you loved Jesus, His Church, His People, and His Word? Can you recall the ways in which you prayed, worshiped, and observed? Do you recall the emotion you felt when you considered what He had done for you? First and foremost, sincere love! It's a lot of money. You will spend money on things you can't afford because of love. Have you ever done it? Give that one person you care about something you couldn't afford but knew they would love? Ill. Mary and the ointment container made of alabaster.) True love never divides! True love will do anything and everything for the one it loves. Do you recall a time when Jesus had complete control of your heart and you were afraid to say no to Him? First and foremost, sincere love! Is this how you feel about Him? Do you serve Him out of a sense of duty or out of love for Him? Work can be done without love; However, you can't love without working. You can be devoted to the Lord while working. Ill. Luke 15:25–32, "The Elder Brother.") But you can't love the Lord and not do anything. (Genesis 29:Ill., Jacob and his service to Rachel.) The Ephesian church participated in the Lord's work, but they did so out of a sense of duty rather than a sincere love for Him. Luke 10:38–42 describes their transformation into Marthas. She worked, but not out of affection.) (Ill. How about our group? Are there individuals who serve not out of love for the Lord but rather out of what others expect of them? Everything we do should be motivated by our love for Jesus. We should act with love for the Lord whenever we teach, preach, sing in the choir, clean the church, or serve as a deacon, for example! We cannot always claim to love sinners as we ought to. Some people are hard to like. However, we will still be able to bear witness to them if we love Him as we ought to. Although we may not always love the one we serve, if we love Him, we will gladly accept the call to serve His glory. Can you honestly say that your first, fervent, emotional, and extravagant love for Jesus is still present in your heart? Or, have you abandoned your initial love? Now, stop focusing on the actions or inactions of another person. Today, you must read your own mail and listen to the Lord's voice.) I. Jesus Looks at Their Reputation II. Jesus reveals their reality in third. v. 5 JESUS Makes sense of THE Cure (Sick. Jesus has not come to hurt them; He has arrived to assist them! He speaks a word of praise, a word of criticism, and now a word of correction. He shows them how to fix the problems in their church.) A. He Talks About Remembering: These people are urged to look back by Jesus. He wants them to remember that first encounter with Him. He maintains that them should think about how He helped them. He wants them to remember how excited and emotional they were when they first met Him. He wanted them to remember a time when everything they did was driven by their love for Him. Some of us must keep in mind. We've been saved for so long that we've forgotten how exciting those early days were. Can you recall the moment you first encountered Jesus and felt the weight of your sins lifted from your heart? Do you recall a time when the mere mention of His name moved you to tears? Do you recall a time when your heart was tender and you felt at home conversing with God at the altar? Might you at any point recall? Take a moment to think back to the past. Take a look at it right now. Can you truly claim that you are still in love with Jesus to this day? A condition known as "backslidden" occurs when a Christian saint loses their love for Jesus. They require a rebirth. Remembering is the first step in revival. B. He Talks About Repenting: "a change of mind that leads to a change of action" is what the word "repent" means. Jesus is instructing these individuals to turn from their sin of not loving Him as they ought to. They must examine their hearts and alter their perspective on the Lord. The same advice must be followed by the contemporary church today. Everything in the world has come before the Lord because of us. His place in our hearts has been taken up by work, fun, family, and even church activities. We really want to return to our special raised areas, recover that profound, lavish first love and go completely gaga over Jesus once again. How long had it been since you admitted that you didn't love Him as much as you should? How long has it been since you have expressed your love for the Master in an open and unreserved manner? We need to repent of being cold and rekindle our love for Jesus.) C. He Talks About Doing the Same Thing Again: He tells them to "do the first works." They are instructed to resume their previous activities. That is both the key to their revival and the key to ours. (Ill. We must return to the initial works; returning to Bible study; resuming prayer; returning to witnessing; returning to testimony; again, crying; to praising His name once more; We need to go back to the things that made us fall in love with Jesus so deeply. Today, stand before Him and beg Him to point you in the right direction.) D. He Speaks About Eliminating - Assuming they won't get where they should be, Jesus lets them know that He will douse their light. He did exactly that at Ephesus as well! They neglected to regard the message and He removed their light. Presently, there is no extraordinary Christian work around there. There are only ruins and debris there. (Ill.) We need to replace the bulb in a lamp in our living room. The previous one will be thrown away when I replace it. Why? Ineffectiveness leads to disaster! It's not worth having a light that won't shine. At the point when a congregation quits sparkling in affection for Jesus; He will take His power and touch and place it where people will honor and love Him when they cease to be a bright light for the Lord. I don't want God to take anything from us. Calvary Baptist should not fall into the same trap as so many other churches in the world today. But the day will come when He will take what we do have and give it to those who will use it for His glory if we continue to fall out of love with Him. Write it down! Either remember, repent, and do it again, or get rid of it!) I. Jesus Looks at Their Reputation II. Jesus reveals their reality in third. Jesus explains the fourth remedy. Verse 7: Jesus demonstrates the reward (Ill.) We have heard our Lord's words of praise, criticism, and correction. He ends with words of comfort in this final verse. There is trust.) A. The Prize Is Accessible - Jesus addresses the "overcomer". This verb means "to bring the victory home." He is by all accounts expressing that there will be some in the congregation of Ephesus who will hear the message and notice the message. These people will seek the Lord's face, rekindle their love for Him, and be brought back to a place of fellowship and intimacy. Anyone who looks for this reward will find it. B. The Reward Is Amazing: Those who persevere will have the opportunity to experience something that other believers will be unable to. They will have access to the life-giving tree. Adam was kicked out of the garden in order to prevent him from eating from this tree when he sinned in Eden, Genesis 3:22–24. Those who devote their lives to Jesus will be able to sample the fruit of that tree. They already possess eternal life, as do all other believers. This is a unique gift to the ones who love Him. It would appear that Jesus is implying that those who love Him the most right now will enjoy Heaven the most later. I want as much trouble now and in the future as I can get. What about you? Conc: For a brief moment, I want you to be truthful with both yourself and your Lord. Do you still have your first love? Are you occupied, but not out of love but out of duty? Can you truly say that you have an overflowing, passionate, and extravagant love for Jesus? Or should I say that your heart has become icy? that your enthusiasm has diminished; that you must recite the first works, repent, and remember them? You need to deal with Him if He touched your heart. Both the time and the location are right now.

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