Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Pastor Tom Sawhook
Sunday, January 24, 2010

Fellowship Bible Church
Hamilton, Ohio


(Fourth in a new series on the book of the Revelation)
The unveiling or unfolding of Jesus Christ.

(The Church At Ephesus)

Share 7  features centered around Jesus' evaluation of the church of Ephesus.

1. Before we launch into our study, I want to remind you about a few things in regards to the seven churches.
    1. These were real literal churches, but are also reflective of churches in all periods of time with various types of spiritual needs.
    2. While the instruction is to the churches, we must keep in mind the churches are made up of people and there fore we should as individuals make it personal and applicable.
    3. Each message addressed to the seven churches has its own distinctive characteristics, but there are also similarities.
        a. Each message begins with the expression "I know thy works"
        b. Each message offers a promise to him that overcometh
        3. And each message or letter has the same concluding words "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."

Revelation 2:1  "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 lampstands."

I. CHIEF INSPECTOR: The Lord Jesus Christ
    a.  "Angel" = Messenger (leader)
    b.  "seven stars in his right hand" = messengers of the church
    c.  "seven golden lampstands" = seven churches
    d.  As we mentioned last time this pictures Christ as the absolute ruler of the church- The One more
            than qualified to give a perfect evaluation

II.  CHURCH : Church of Ephesus
     1. For the most part formed on his third missionary journey.

   Rev. 2:1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus
    *Paul paid a brief visit to Ephesus on his second journey, leaving his associates Priscilla
         and Aquila there (Acts 18:18-28)
    *He returned to Ephesus on his third journey and remained there for three years.
         (Acts 20:31)
    *He began his ministry in the Jewish synagogue; and when his countrymen rejected his message, he
         moved into the school of a teacher named Tyrannus (Acts 19:9) and preached and taught
         for about two years.
     2. His ministry had a tremendous effect on the city:
        - You had people who practiced witchcraft
    - You had people who worshipped demons
    - You had people involved in astrology
    - You had people dabbling in the occult
    - They had priests, magicians, witches, warlocks, and astrologers
    The church had a great beginning when many turned to Christ and burned their books of magical incantations;
        many people were won to the worship of the true God (Acts 19:17-19)
        - Church was later lead by Timothy
        - and the apostle John
III. CITY: Ephesus
     1. Pergamum was the official capital of Asia Minor, but Ephesus ws it's greatest city.
     2. One Roman writer called it "LUMAN ASIAE"- The light of Asia
     3. It was a prominent city for many reasons
    1) The Center of Commerce
           a. It had a sophisticated system of docks, so that ships could come in and unload their
              goods and easily turn around and go back out to sea
           b. Some merchandise came from the east and went out to sea from Ephesus
           c. Some merchandise also came from the sea to Ephesus - These goods were channeled
              throughout the known world
        2) Ephesus was also a prominent city because it was the hub of four main roads - ultimately
           leading to it's great harbor
           a. One road came from the north - flowing from Pergamum and Smyrna
           b. One road came from the northeast - coming from Sardis, Galatia, and Phrygia
           c. One road came from the southeast - it brought wealth from the Euphrates valley
              through Colosse and Laodicea
           d. One road which came from the south - which ran directly to Ephesus from the Maender
         3) Ephesus was also a city of many titles
           a. "The market place of Asia" - by historians
           b. "The highway of martyrs" - when individuals were brought from Asia to be thrown to
              the lions in the arena at Rome, they usually were brought through Ephesus.
           c. "The vanity fair of the ancient world" -due to its debauchery and immorality, primarily
              because of the worship of the Goddess Diana
              Her workshop was vile, attended to by thousands of temple prostitutes, who would engage
              in sexual acts with people of the city as acts of perverted worship to Diana or Artemis.
         4) Ephesus also had political freedom
           a. It was called a "free city" - in that no Roman garrisons were placed there.
           b. Rome felt they were trustworthy to govern their own affairs
           c. Each year the city drews thousands of people - to view the Olympic-like games, drama
              plays, and various pagentries.
     Rev. 2:2 I know thy workds, and thy labour, and thy patience
      1. In each church he states "I know thy works"
      2. "know" refers to complete and full knowledge.  The Lord of the church knows everything there
         is to know about the church - both good and bad.
   Diligence in relation to:
     1} Plenty of toil "and thy labor"
        1. Labor denotes labor to the point of sweat and exhaustion. It describes an all-out effort
           demanding all that a person has to give---physically, mentally, and emotionally
          Its used to describe:
             Spiritual leaders who labor in the Scriptures
              I Tim. 5:17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they
              that labour in the word and doctrine.
              I Thess. 5:12  And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you,
              and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you.
               Ex. SS teachers, Jr. church teacher, pastor and elders
              Saints who labor serving others
               Romans 16:6  Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us
               (Many who will put forth plenty of toil and effort in serving others)
 This can be done in the sports realm, in theater or plays, cooking, education..  and sometimes
these people put forth very little toil and effort and labor when it comes to serving others for
      2} Perserverance in trials
         Rev. 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience
        1. Patience denotes patience in trying circumstances.
        2. It deals with a courageous acceptance of hardship, sufering, and loss
        3. This commendation indicates that despite their difficult circumstances, the Ephesian
           believers remained faithful to their Lord.
      When difficult times come your way, do you remain faithful to the Lord?
        1. That doesn't mean you never have questions as to what's going on
        2. It doesn't mean you always understand it
        3. It doesn't mean you never wonder why this is happening to you.
         (But regardless you remain faithful to the Lord as you persevere through the trial)

       Unfortunately, some believers when trials come their way do three things.
     1) Complain - Why me?
     2) Cave into the pressure - as viewed by their attitudes and actions and profanity
     3) Cease any meaningful relationship with the Lord

      Would the Lord commend you for your diligence this morning in relation to:
        1) Plenty of toil
        2) Perserverance in trials
        Rev. 2:2 "and how thou canst not bear them which are evil"

       1. They held to a high, holy standard of behavior and were sensitive to sin, undoubtedly
          following the Lord's mandate to practice church discipline.
       2. As a church, the elders and myself have had the unpleasant task of doing this.
       3. The church is too valuable to let individuals come in and cause trouble that seeks to
          tear the church apart.
       1. The apostle Paul had warned the Ehpesian church in the past about false teachers
         Acts 10:28-31 
           Jesus also shared Matthew 7:15  Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's
           clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
           John warned about them  2 John 7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who
           confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.  This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
       2.  The believers at Ehpesus put these phonies to the test and found them to be liars.
       3.  Their discernment can also be seen in verse 6 pertaining to the Nicolaitans.
       4.  The few references to this heresy in the writings of the church fathers link it to
           Nicolas, one of the seven men appointed to oversee the distribution of food in Acts 6
       5.  Some argued that Nicolas was a false believer who became in apostate, but retained influence
           in the church because of his credentials
       6.  Others suggested that the Nicolaitans misrepresented his teaching
       7.  Whatever its origin, Nicolaitanism led people into immorality and wickedness
       8.  It has been suggested the "the teaching of the Nicolaitans" was an exaggeration of the
           doctrine of Christian liberty which attempted to give people a license to sin.
       9.  In our church, if we want to know if someone is speaking the truth or effor, we discern
           it using the Word of God as our standard.
           Psalm 119:104 "Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way."
       10. Verse 3 is a summary of verse 2
           Rev. 2:3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and
           not fainted.
    * Love for Christ was missing
        Rev. 2:4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

       1. Though they maintained sound doctrine and continued to serve Christ, that service had
          degenerated into mechanical going-through-the-motions kind of service.
       2. We know at one time their love for Christ was evident as mentioned by Paul in his epistle
          to the Ephesians
       3. But now 35 years have passed---and their love has cooled off toward Christ and is
          noticeably missing
       4. When your love for Christ is missiong, then it will also be missing in relationship to
       5. Why is this love issue so important?  Because love is the key thing.
       6. When asked by a lawyer from the Pharisees as to which was the great commandment in the
          law, Jesus responded -
          Matt. 22:37-40 Jesus said unto him, though shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart
          and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.
          And the second is like unto , thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  On these two
          commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
       7. Point is when you have a true love for God, it will in turn lead to a true love for others.
       8. But the opposite is also true--when you love your love for God, you in turn will lose your
          love for others.
       9.  And the Ephesians had lost their love for Christ
       10. They were busy working FOR Him without a true love TOWARD Him.

        Principle #1
      Being active for Christ will never serve as a substitute for love to  Christ

      1.  You can actively be involved in:
       Teaching, preaching, singing in the choir, playing an instrument, singing special music, cleaning
       the church, serving in the nursery, helping with youth groups, helping in Jr. church, helping
       as an usher, or greeter, cleaning the furnace filters, cleaning up the trash, etc.
      2.  You can do all these things, but if your true motive is not a sincere love for Christ, it's
       all vanity or emptiness
      3.  It's not just doing these things for Him, but spending time with Him developing that love
      Ex.  Let's say that your wife does your laundry, cooks your meals, keeps the house looking nice,
         does an excellent job shopping, even washes your car or truck.. but spends NO time with you
         or shows no loving affection TO you. 
      These things are nice, but it shouldn't be a substitute for her love to you or vice versa.
      4. And Jesus conveys that same message to the church at Ephesus.
      5. So be very careful while you're serving Jesus, you don't neglect Him in the process.
     Rev. 2:5 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 lampstand out of his place, except thou
    1 - Remember the way it used to be
         With Ephesus is was 35 years earlier.
       1. Let's make it personal--perhaps your love for Christ has cooled off and is missing in
         your life.   Reflect back and remember the way your love for Christ motivated you in many
       2. When you would say to Jesus:  I love you soooooooo much.
          a.  Take this area of my life that doesn't please you and get rid of it
          b.  That I can hardly wait to get to the services
          c.  That I'll gladly give sacrificially to help the cause of your work
          d.  And you weren't ashamed to die for me.. I won't be ashamed to talk about you to my
             friends, family, co-workers, or others you bring across my path
          e.   That I can hardly wait for my devotional time with you, as you so faithfully speak
             to me through your precious Word and so patiently listen as I talk to you in prayer.
     2 - Repent  (of the way it is)
        1. Repent means to have a change of mind
        2. So it's one thing to remember the way it used to be, but it does not good if it doesn't
           change the direction of your life now in the present.
     3 - Return (To the way it used to be)
        1. Context is to the Ephesians
        2. Again let's make this personal
     1- souls
     2 - scripture
     3 - supplication
     4 - services
     5 - service to Christ
     6 - singing
     7 - saying 'thank you'
         3. Maybe some of us need to return to our love for Jesus that we once had in relation to
           these areas
         4. Notice the warning He gives if they refurse to heed His commnad
           Rev. 2:5 'and will remove thy lampstand out of its place, except thou repent.'
      Principle #2

     A life without love for Christ, is a life without a light for Christ.

      1 - When you lose your love, you lose your light
      2 - When we speak of light, we're talking about influence
      3 - Just as real light has an influence on darkenss, our spiritual light has an influence on
          those who live in spiritual darkness
      4 - It all starts with our love for Christ
           a. When you love Him, you will obey and yield to Him
           b. When yielded to His Spirit, the love flows
            Romans 5:5 ' the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given
                unto us.'
           c. That love, in turn, flows through us unto other people and they will see it, and it
              becomes a positive influence for Christ.
           d. But without that love for Christ, there will be no light for Christ

      Principle #3
    In the Christian life, a good beginning does not guarantee a good ending.ALL

    1. The church of Ephesus couldn't influence anybody any more at that time not like it was in the
    2. What about you?? Are you simply resting on your past spiritual track record.  Are you
       influencing anybody in the present?
    3. What about us as a church? 35 years from now.  Will it still be standing strong on the Word of God
       and influencing the lives of others?  Or will we be gone?
    4.  This is why keeping our love for Jeuss as the #1 motivating factor for all that we do, is
       is so vitally important.
        Because in the Christian life, a good beginning does not guarantee a good ending.
    Rev. 2:7 "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."

Challenge centered around
    1.  Listening to the Spirit's message
       1 - To the church at Ephesus
       2 - To us individually
          To focus and listen and heed what is said to these seven churches
    2. Looking forward for the Son's Promise     
       1 - "Overcometh" - The term does not refer to those who have attained to a higher level of the
          the Christian life, but identifies all Christians.
          I John 5:4, 5
       2 - The promise to all believers gives us something to look forward to:
           Rev. 2:7  'to him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst
            of the paradise of God'
       3 - The tree of life is first referred to in Gen. 2:9 where it stands in the Garden of Eden
       4 - But due to Adam's sin he was forbidden to partake of it lest he live forever in a sinful
           state of being.  It was temporary
       5 - But the heavenly tree of life will last throughout eternity.  The tree of life thus
           symbolizes eternal life.  The paradise of God is heaven
            Rev. 22:2  "in the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there
           a tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month."
       That gives us something definitely to look forward to.
   As we've looked at the first church of the 7 churches of Asia, Christ evaluated the individuals in
   that church.  He found they were busy for Him.. .but that key ingredient of love for Him was
   As we evaluate our own love for Christ, may we make any corrections that are necessary so that His
   love is the motivating factor in everything that we do for Him.
   Let our love for Christ shine as the light for Christ as we seek to be an influence in a dark and
   desperate world.

No comments: