Message No. 2 in the series entitled “Christ and His Church.”
Date: July 8, 2018
Scripture: Revelation 2:1-7
The letters to the churches in the first few chapters of Revelation have present day application to local churches and even to us as individuals personally. All seven letters to the churches have application to us now. Today, we will look at the letter of Jesus to the church at Ephesus and we will look at four things:
- The centrality of Jesus – Recall that in each letter to the respective churches, an aspect of John’s initial revelation of Jesus (Revelation 1:12-16) is emphasised. In this case, it is the “one who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands.”
- The seven stars are the messengers of the churches, those who have been charged with leading her as shepherds under the Shepherd. The seven lampstands are the churches. John sees Jesus moving in and among His church, tending to her, caring for her, sustaining her. Jesus underscores the truth that He is the heart-throb of the church, the One in the midst and in the middle, the Source, the Author and Completer of the church.
- The message here is not so much what the church is about, but who the church is about. It is not so much about ministry, but about the Giver of that ministry. Do not forget your Source. If we forget our Source, we cannot survive as the vibrant and dynamic church.
- The commendation of Jesus – “I know,” says Jesus, “your works, your labor, your patience, and your intolerance of evil/error.” Jesus commends them for their faithfulness, their patience, their courageous and noble bearing. There was a tenacity of spirit, a commitment to the truth, and a willingness to travail, because they hungered for the life of God in and through them. They were completely aligned with the mind of the Lord Jesus and the hand of Jesus.
- This church knew that they were not saved by works, but by grace (Eph. 2:8-10). They were also committed to do the good works that they had been called to do, a perseverance in life and a fidelity to the truth. There was an ongoing growth, purity, sanctification.
- Jesus also says that He knows how the church tested the “pseudo-apostles” and found them to be false. The people were able to recognise when the lies were trying to sneak into the church. There are always those who will try to bring some new idea subtly into the church, that is actually worldly or demonic, and the church needs to say no to such influences.
- The correction of Jesus – “Nevertheless I have this against you,” says Jesus, meaning that He wants to re- shape and re-fashion them. He wants them to return to their first love. What does it mean to return to your first love?
- Here we see Jesus as the Lover of the Church – he is not condemning the church, but inviting them back to the source of their strength, His love and relationship with His people. The key to fruitfulness is abiding in the simplicity of love. Irrespective of what our duties are, we all run the risk of getting caught up in “busy-ness,” even ministry busy-ness, but in the process, missing Jesus.
- Here we see the identity of Jesus as “first love” – First love is not so much a pattern of love, as it is a person: “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Jesus is the firstborn of the Father, the firstborn of the resurrection, and He is also “first love.” When Jesus says that we’ve left first love, He is saying that we’ve left the fountainhead of our relationship with Him. He invites us to come back.
What are the traits of leaving first love? We will look at one. In the context of commitment, in valuable relationships, you come to a point of trusting in the person you love regardless of what another says. Jesus never forgets His commitment to us, He never fails in His word to us. He calls us to lovingly trust Him. It is so easy to fall into the trap of falling in love with the principles of Christian living rather than loving the Person. Embrace Him, not religion, not mechanics.
Where do you go first when there is trial, testing, need? To your strategy, to mechanics, to others, or to
Jesus? Don’t lose touch with your Source. Don’t get so caught up in doing that you forget your being, who you are as a child of God. Jesus is our fountainhead. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.