Sermon Notes:

Back when I was a pre-teen I learned from that philosophical group: Huey Lewis and the News that it’s the power of love that makes the world go ‘round.

This was true for Marty McFly in Back to the Future and it’s true for the church as we’ll see in the letter to Ephesus.

Revelation 2:1-7

Today we begin looking at the Seven Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia.

Let’s begin by giving some foundations:

Structure – Each letter is written with the same basic structure.

~ Commission to write (“to the angel…”)

~ Description of Christ (“The words of…” – from chapter 1 and specific to the church’s situation/needs)

~ Commendation (“I know…” – except Laodicea)

~ Rebuke (“But, I have this against you…” – except Smyrna and Philadelphia)

~ Counsel (to repent or maintain) and Consequence (disaster or blessing)

~ Call for Discernment (“He Who has an ear, let him hear…”)

~ Promise for Conquerors (“The one who conquers…”)

In addition to these key parts there also seems to be a pattern on the order of the churches.

The first and last are at danger of being cast out completely.

In addition to these key parts there also seems to be a pattern on the order of the churches.

The first and last are at danger of being cast out completely.

The second and sixth are doing well and commended.

The third through fifth are dealing with some faithless within the faithful.

This builds a mirrored structure (called a “chiasm”) with Thyatira in the center. And, at the center of that letter we read (v23): “And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.”

Which brings us to the recipients. 2:23 indicates a message to “all the churches.” We have already discussed how the number 7 indicates completion. Thus the letters to the seven churches are to the complete church.

And, this is backed up in the letters themselves. Notice that each letter begins with an address to a specific church, and it ends with “let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” So, the Spirit is speaking a general message to all the churches through the specific letter to an individual church. This should not be surprising to us – this is what God does through all of Scripture.

And, the Message from God is that he sees and knows and he will return according to the reality of who we are (seen in our actions). Every letter could be summed up in a general sense as a call to Christian life and witness.

This is God’s broad message to the church: You mist renew your faith and witness.

And, so, we come to the Ephesian Church.

~ Commission (v1a): To the angel of the church in Ephesus write

~ Description (v1b): The words of him who holds the seven stars and walks among the seven golden lampstands

~ Commendation (v2-3,6): Steadfast enduring for truth

~ Rebuke (v4): You have abandoned love you had at first

** Let’s process this. Jesus knows them because he holds the angels of the churches and is in their midst. He knows their works – their defense of doctrine. This is good. In fact, one of Paul’s last comments to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20 was to be on guard against “fierce wolves” – “men speaking twisted things to draw away the disciples.”

Jesus knows their works in defense of truth. But, he also knows their works – that they have abandoned their love expressed in works.

Some think the loss of love is a loss of witnessing. Others see this as a loss of loving works.

Here we don’t see a distinction between these. We don’t talk about service, but evangelistic service. Our good works rooted in the gospel and our gospel rooted in our good works.

The point being: you can defend all of the truth that you want to, but if you are not working from your Christian faith as a witness – then Jesus has this against you: You have forsaken love.

As James (2:26) says: Faith apart from works is dead.

Now the:

~ Counsel and Consequence (v5): Remember, repent, and do first works – or lose your lampstand.

As Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount: You are the light of the world – no one lights a lamp to cover it.

Now the:

~ Counsel and Consequence (v5): Remember, repent, and do first works – or lose your lampstand.

As Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount: You are the light of the world – no one lights a lamp to cover it.

~ Call for Discernment (v7a): He who has an ear, let him hear

~ Promise for Conquerors (v7b): Conquerors eat from the tree of life in the paradise of God. The tree of life hasn’t been seen since Genesis 3. We’ll find out in Rev 22 that it will exist in the New Jerusalem watered by the river of the water of life flowing from the throne of God.

Now the familiarity that the early disciples was this: Ephesus was the temple warden of Artemis. One of the 7 wonders of the ancient world was the temple of Artemis in Ephesus – a marble building the size of a football field.

You may remember in Acts 19 when a riot broke out from the craftsmen because of the advancement of Christianity. Their rallying cry was “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”

The Ephesian Artemis was different than the Greek Artemis you may be familiar with – though later they intermingled.

The Ephesian Artemis was a tree spirit who had the power to bring life and take it away.

She is the tree spirit of life. Hear that? Tree of life? Look at the promise in v7 again. Conquerors eat from the TRUE tree of life.

The idolatrous, pagan, and illicit worship of Artemis was a depraved substitute of the real giver of life.

Today, our culture pursues life – not so much at pagan temples, but – by indulging in what this world offers.

Whether they pursue life – in money, sexuality, possessions, so-called freedoms, or other religions, what they need is not a church that is an adamant defender of truth, but stays at home.

What they need is a church that is uncompromising in truth and shows it by engaging the world in works of love.

At one time, the Ephesian pagans were in a riot because the proclamation of Jesus was shutting down their worldly life.

Remember, repent, and do those works again. Oh, that God would stir us up to love the world with the truth of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection in such a way that it disrupts their worldly comfort.

Here’s your first call to a restored witness. There’s a better life than what the world offers.

Here’s your first call to a restored witness. There’s a better life than what the world offers. And, those who choose to serve in love – to overcome complacency and comfort – in order to reach their community for Jesus will attain access to life in the paradise of God.

But, the church that sits stagnant, Jesus will remove.

Would you heed the words of James and give actions as proof of your faith?

Would you love Jesus and this world enough that you would get out of your pew to reach them?

Would you believe that the “life” that this world is selling you is so far short of the tree of life watered by the river of the water of life from the throne of God brings?

Do you want more? Or are you ok with the light going out?

Do you want a better life?

All of this is grace and the love of God. He generously warns us so that we have time yet to change course.

May his love guide us back to works of love.

Messages by Greg Taylor

© 2018 Bethlehem Baptist Church.
1286 Briar Ridge Rd, Mt Eden, KY 40046
502.477.2592
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