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The Letters to the Churches

The Unveiling: Revelation   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Revelation 2:1 NKJV
“To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands:
We began last week learning about the outline of Revelation how this book is laid out. If you will remember last week we ended by looking at the setup.
The things which you have seen (past) Chapter 1
the things which are (present day for John) Chapters 2-3
The things which will take place after this (Future) Chapter 4-22
So now in our study of the book of Revelation we will move into the things which are, the present reality for the apostle John while he was writing the vision of the Lord. He begins addressing the churches he is writing to. We come tonight to look at the church at Ephesus and we hope to look at this church and the dangers she faced in hopes to glean principles to help us not commit the same mistakes she made. So tonight I want to speak with you on this subject. ICE AROUND THE CHRISTIAN HEART.
There are many things that describe the Christian, fear of the Lord, the desire to imitate Him, holiness, and obedience. However the supreme Character quality that should be found in every believer in Jesus Christ is the LOVE of Jesus Christ.
Matthew 22:37–38 NKJV
Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.
God desires the supreme love of your life because He is worthy of the supreme love of your life. love for Jesus would have been supreme in the apostle Johns mind because after John had denied him three times at his restoration Jesus asked him 3x John do you love me, do you love me, do you love me?
Jesus’ primary concern is that He is known by us and we are known by Him in such a deep meaningful way that we are equated as being His bride and He our husband. YOUR LOVE FOR JESUS MATTERS!
John writes tonight to one of the seven churches of Revelation, the church is located in Ephesus and the church has an enormous problem. they have a heart issue, a heart sickness, they are battling cardiac hypothermia. Their blood used to boil over with love for their Savior but at the time John writes he sends them a dire warning.
Now while these seven churches represent types of churches still functioning today, these literal congregations have ceased to exist. He writes this evening to the church in Ephesus and addresses this sickness of the heart.
Then he begins to give Christs message to the church in Ephesus, now we will be handling the letters differently tonight than I have in the past, the reason is because we have dealt with this in depth not even a year ago and much will be repetitive. So were going to look at this from a birds eye view and then zoom in on some important points along the way.
Now if you will remember in Chapter 1 Jesus Christ had told John that He had a message specifically for each of these 7 churches in Asia, (picture) and in chapters 2-3 were going to get into those messages that are tailored to those churches, now the whole book of Revelation was sent to each of these churches.

The Recipient

Revelation 2:1 ESV
“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.

ἄγγελος (angelos), ου (ou), ὁ (ho): n.masc.; ≡ DBLHebr 4855; Str 32; TDNT 1.74—1. LN 33.195 messenger (Mt 11:10; Mk 1:2; Lk 7:24, 27; 9:52; 2Co 12:7; possibly Rev 2–3); 2. LN 12.28 angel, i.e., a class of being that is a servant of the Lord, and functions as a messenger (Mt 1:20; Lk 1:28 v.r.; 22:43 v.r.)

This word for angel does not mean that this si writing to a specific angel that watches over the churches this word literally means “the class of being a servant of the Lord that functions as the messenger”
So as Jesus dictates this letter to John Jesus Himself is giving His message directly to the messenger to the church. that is the servant whom He has called to be their messenger, delivering the word of the Lord. This is referring to none other than the pastor of the church.
So once again I reiterate, if a pastor does not have motivation to serve He need look no further than because when there is trouble within the congregation, and the letter is being written to address that churches sin, the letter is coming to his mailbox not the deacons, not the board, not the church itself.
It is the pastor who receives the letter to deliver to the churches. I am telling you there is no more need for motivation to attempt to make the church right than to know this truth. Here is how we know that it is Jesus Himself writing this letter.
“The words of Him who hold the seven stars in His right hand”
These are the words of He who holds the 7 stars...
Who is the 7 stars? Well He tells us at the end of chapter 1
Revelation 1:20 NKJV
The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.
Revelation 1:
7 STARS= Pastors
7 LAMPSTANDS= 7 churches
So a word to the pastors, Jesus Christ holds you in HIs right hand, this is the hand of power this is the hand of protection! There could be no better encouragement. So he holds the pastors in His hands and He walks in the midst of the 7 churches.
so here we have a picture of Christ walking among the churches surveying what is happening within them. He comes to the church at Ephesus and begins to speak.
Revelation 2:2 NKJV
“I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars;
Revelation 2:2 ESV
“ ‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.
Revelation 2:3 NKJV
and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.
So in these first few verses Jesus Christ has alot of positive things, alot of good things to say about the church of Ephesus, He talks about the fact that they are a very hard working church, they work and toil, they labor. He also talks about their patience, and He says they cannot bear them which are evil! That they have tried those who have called themselves apostles and have found them to be liars.
So heres a church who is good at recognizing false doctrine, good at recognizing false teachers who would creep in claiming to be apostles, they couldn’t bear evil, they took a stand against that which was wrong and the Bible says that they had not fainted, they were a church that endured and continued in the faith.
They have not grown weary they are pushing through the difficulty they are facing all of those things are commendable, and here Jesus commends them. But look at the sickness they are battling

The Sickness

Revelation 2:4 NKJV
Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
Revelation 2:4-
Re
Revelation 2:5 NKJV
Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.
This church was practicing good doctrine but they had slipped into loveless mechanical religion. The love for Christ was gone and all that was left was cold and empty. They would resemble the pharisees of their day, only except for judaism they held to Christian orthodoxy. They would have sounded, and looked the part of the on fire believer but on the inside it was hollow and void of the love they had in the beginning.
We can get there to can’t we?
Where we become religious professionals coming to church only because it is what we are supposed to do, although we really aren’t hoping to come worship our Lord with thanksgiving, we are coming because we serve, or we come because it is the right thing to do, or we come because it makes us feel a certain way.
Friends that is not worship!
Jesus desires for our hearts to be full, coming to him with praise and adoration, to sit at His feet and learn from His word, to long for a touch from His hand! Jesus is not interested in our religious sacrifice!
Psalm 51:16 NKJV
For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering.
Psalm 51:17 NKJV
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise.
The Lord desires brokenness, for our hearts to beat along side His.
(valentines day)
I DONT WANT A GIFT BECAUSE IT IS THE DAY TO BRING ME A GIFT, I WANT THE GIFT THAT IS FOR NO REASON AT ALL OTHER THAN BECAUSE YOU LOVE ME!
This is the kind of love God desires from His church. A heart so filled with love for Him that we do things for him because our hearts are filled to overflowing with love and gratitude for Him!
Jesus sees this church in Ephesus and He says for everything yor doing right it is all for naught because the one thing I desire most you are not doing. You are not loving me with everything you are and have!
Notice the

The Remedy

Revelation 2:5
Revelation 2:5 NKJV
Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.
Jesus implores them what it felt like to to look back in their lives and remember the time when they were desperately in love with Him. They needed to see how far they had fallen. They needed to know that they were not ok, and he implores them to take an honest look inward and ask was there a time when my love for Jesus was better?
If so where did I go wrong?
EVERY CASE OF SPIRITUAL FROSTBITE ALWAYS BEGINS WITH FORGETFULLNESS
We forget where the Lord has brought us from
We forget how the love of god feels
We forget how faithful he has been to us
We forget the devotion we had at the beginning
As we begin to forget all of these things we become lulled to sleep by the duldrums of everyday life until we wake up one day and we are a shell of what we sued to be… why?
WE HAVE FORGOTTEN TO LOVE JESUS
We sing to Jesus
We share Jesus
We listen to stories about Jesus
BUT DO WE LOVE HIM?
Or do we just date Him?
Is he our husband, are we committed to Him, or are we cheating on Him with lesser things that can never satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts?
IF YOU LOSE YOUR LOVE, JESUS SAYS, YOU LOSE YOUR LIGHT.
What does He mean by lose your light?
I WILL REMOVE YOUR LAMPSTAND
Lampstands hold up the light, lampstands are the churches themselves and the ministries within. I have said on a number of occassions if we can keep our hearts in love with Jesus the ministry of this church will take care of itself.
this is exactly what Jesus is saying everything is contigent upon their love, if they want their church to continue they must love wholeheartedly! The only way to go back to where you used to be is to repent!
So here is this church in the city of Ephesus and they are taking a stand and doing good things for the Lord, and they are fighting the good fight, but..... their love for Jesus has grown cold. They are keeping their reputation as a living vibrant church going but their spiritual love for Jesus is flat line dead.
Jesus says you cannot be a witness for me unless you have a loving relationship with me. SO REPENT GO BACK AND SET ME ONCE AGAIN AS THE OBJECT OF YOUR AFFECTION!
He commends them for hating the deeds of the Nicolaitans:
The Nicolaitans are mentioned in the book of Acts but there deeds are not clearly specified, what we do have about the Nicolaitans was that they were subject to lust and sensual sins. So the fact that the church despised such things were commendable to them.

The Advice

Revelation 2:7 NKJV
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” ’
This letter closes with an exhortation and a promise. Christ exhorts the church
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Not everyone within the church listens with spiritual ears. Some people cannot hear the voice of the Holy Spirit calling them at all. this is why Jesus closes with such an exhortation. There are those within the church who simplygo through the motions and the reason why they have no love for Jesus is because they do not truly know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior!
This is why Charles Spurgeon exhorted pastors to preach to dying men as a dying man. It means to call people to repentance every chance you get because there may not be another chance for them!
(Gayle Deese)
This is why it is so important to share our faith and to encrouage others to place their trust in Christ alone for Salvation!
TO HIM WHO OVERCOMES I WILL GIVE TO EAT FROM THE TREE OF LIFE, WHICH IS IN THE MIDST OF THE PARADISE OF GOD!
Now when some people read this they say it is proof that our deeds must be there for example “WE MUST OVERCOME AND PERSEVERE IN THE FAITH IN ORDER TO TRULY BE SAVED.
But it is not our ability to adapt and overcome which saves us.
John writes
1 John 5:4–5 NKJV
For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
1 John
YOU ARE AN OVERCOMER THROUGH CHRIST JESUS!
No matter what you endure you are an overcomer!
Revelation 12:11 NKJV
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.
Only those who have a testimony (the saved) can overcome the trials which will take place in our lives daily, and the tribulation which is to come!
We will eat from the tree of life
What is the tree of life?
right now this tree is guarded
Genesis 3:24 NKJV
So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.
Genesis 3
So tonight let’s take a look at what we will eat from as we love the Lord and abide with Him until He returns or calls us home.
Revelation 22:1
Revelation 22:1–2 NKJV
And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
This speaks of the satisfaction and beauty of Heaven.
there will be total satisfaction because God said we will no longer hunger nor thirst!
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