Faithlife Sermons

180; 7 Churches; Ephesus - All Head, No Heart

7 churches 7 letters  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Re intro series - spectacular Jesus that provides the backdrop to the other ways we see Jesus.
Jesus has a messages to the 7 churches. He has a consistent pattern in the letters: keep it up, and cut it out.
When we think of the churches, we have to realize these are people. A church isn’t a building a church is a gathering of Christians. If someone were to say something about SCCC, most-likely they wouldn’t be talking about the building, they would be talking about people of the church.
While we may be looking at Jesus’ letter to another church, we’re doing a lot more than that. We’re seeing how Jesus feels about the church and what he expects of the church. When we look at them, we should be looking at ourselves.
Show the Map. Patmos is where John is. Notice something; this is the ancient mail route. Jesus addresses each of the towns with churches on the mail route.
Open to Revelation 2
Open to Revelation 2

A little about Ephesus

Ephesus was one of the largest and most important cities in the Roman empire. Very prosperous and large.
Domitian had Ephesus established as a city of worship. The city was founded around the worship of Artemis (Diana), she was the supposed goddess of childbirth. There were large numbers of temple prostitutes.
The temple was the largest worship building in the Roman world. It was much larger than a football field, with 127 marble columns that stood 60 feet high. The building was solid marble! We have no idea how they did it.
Two crazy facts (these are things they would have been very familiar with):
Domitian wanted people to worship him as a God. His letters started with, “Your lord and master commands.” He had an infant son that tragically passed away. Domitian wanted his son to be worshipped as well so he printed coins with his son holding seven stars in his hand - more on that in a minute
Artemis worship also included a large garden with a special tree in the center. It was an odd justice system. If you went to the tree, you automatically had asylum - more on that as well.
The temple was the largest building in the Roman world.HCoin
Temple of Artemis (goddess of…)
Bigger than a football field with 127 columns that were 60 feet high and 8 feet around

A little about the Church in Ephesus

Paul founded the church. said he preached in a famous lecture hall there daily for two years.
Luke was with him there.
Paul left Timothy to pastor the church.
Later the Apostle John moved there and joined the church and he brought Mary the mother of Jesus with him.
This was an all-star church! if anyone did it right, it had to be the Ephesian church. Let’s look at what Jesus has to say to them.


Revelation 2:1 NIV
1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands.
Walk among - I’m with you
Jesus says, “I’m the one holding the stars.” If you remember in chapter 1 he reminded us that he died but now he lives forever. Think about what he’s saying; I’m not a memory, I’m alive and will be forever.
These are the words of the one who walks among you.
He’s not far off. He’s not detached. He knows. He walks among us.
It’s not simply that he’s present. He knows. Last week. To each church, he says, “I know.”
We said it last week; when God says , “I know” it is both a comfort and a challenge.
I imagine there are folks here today that need to be comforted by the fact that Jesus knows.
Illustrate with the Pool of Bethesda.
If you’re here today and you think; I try and try, or I pray and I pray, or I’m lonely, he knows.
I know - (your Father knows… ) (picture the pool of Bethesda, Jesus walks among the people and isolates one man…)
Imagine…I try and try, pray and pray, lonely, (Jesus Knows)

To the church at Ephesus he says, I know—keep it up.

Revelation 2:2–3 NIV
2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
The church at Ephesus has had to work hard and Jesus knows it. They’ve had to make hard choices.
They’ve struggled to thrive in a dark place. Now, don’t think that I’m saying they dealt with heavy persecution just for worshipping Jesus. Jesus was welcome, as long as he could be set alongside all the other gods of the day. That’s where the church ran into a problem.
They’ve struggled to make hard choices in the church.
There’s a consistent principle in the NT that tells us to; love the Shepherd (Jesus), love the sheep (the Christians), and get the wolves out (people who seek to divide or gain a following for themselves).
You see this in the words Paul left with the church at Ephesus:
Acts 20:28–30 NIV
28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.
They’ve had to fight the wolves and Jesus knows it. Sometimes the church has to draw hard lines and sometimes being a Christian in the home, in the workplace, even in the church, can be really hard. Jesus says, “I know.”
I’m sure they wish the letter stopped there. I would!

To the Church at Ephesus, He says, I know - Cut it out!

Revelation 2:4–5 NIV
4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.
You’ve forsaken the love you had at first.
What love is he talking about? I’m convinced its love of the Shepherd and love of the sheep. I think this can be proved by experience and Scripture.
Experience - when we first became Christians, we were so excited about Jesus and the church.
Scripture - they asked Jesus; what is the most important commandment? He said, “Love the lord with all your heart, soul, mind , and strength.” Then he never skipped a beat and said, “Love your neighbor as your self.”
I want to push that further:
John 13:34–35 NIV
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
1 John 4:7 NIV
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
Love the Shepherd - love the sheep - get the wolves out.
They were willing to fight the wolves, but they had forgotten to love the Shepherd and the sheep.
Think about it; this is the church Paul planted! Timothy pastored! John was there! How did this happen?
I’d bet they didn’t even know it had happened. Ephesus is that church that makes sure the doctrinal statement is right, their paperwork is perfect (all the kid’s workers have their background checks). They make sure everything is in order. But…they’ve forgotten to love.
Let me say this with absolute clarity; you may have your theological points down right but if it doesn’t lead to love, it’s junk and it simply won’t get you anywhere.
Jesus and Peter
Without love, I’m nothing.

Jesus give three directives:

Without love, I’m a clanging cymbal
Three steps
Remember - remember the way you loved at first.
Repent - stop your lack of love
Do - choose love again. Love is a choice.
Here’s why this is so important: a church that loves the Shepherd and the sheep well is a little piece of heaven planted right here. Jesus is praised, lives are changed, families are restored, and people receive hope. A church that doesn’t love, is a glorified country club and, honestly, a waste of time. People want to be part of a place that loves - people will invest their lives in a place that loves.

Three thoughts on keeping love front and center

Jesus is more than an idea.
He is real. He has paid the price. He knows.
The Bible is more than a story.
Its the account of God’s relationship with his people. When he says, “Don’t be afraid”—don’t be afraid. When he says, “I know what’s going on and you need to cut it out”—we better cut it out.
The person next to you is more important than you think.
When you look around the room - you see the apple of Jesus’ eye. Love them. How do you speak to them? How do you treat them? How do you support them?
This is so important that Jesus tells the church at Ephesus; if you don’t change, I’ll come (actually its in the present tense) I am coming, and I’ll shut you down. Do you get the impression that this is a big deal?
Jesus has just a couple more things before he wraps the letter up:
Revelation 2:6 NIV
6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
Honestly, we don’t know much about the Nicolaitans, but we get the idea they taught that it was ok to go along with ways of the world (hey, don’t make waves), you can be a Christian when you’re not around other people.
Jesus says - I hate that. If you’re embarrassed to be known as mine when you’re in the world, we don’t have any business together. The church in Ephesus was right to not go along with that.
Who were the Nicolaitans?
But then Jesus, says something odd.
Revelation 2:7 NIV
7 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
These words from Jesus are familiar! If you have ears to hear, let them hear! He said this all the time when he teaching in parables. You know, when Jesus taught through pictures—things like, I’m the one holding the seven stars.
Jesus taught in parables for two reasons:
First, to correct.
He told stories that helped us correct our misunderstanding about how the Kingdom works.
Second, to confuse.
Jesus isn’t about entertaining people. If you desire God, or as Jesus puts it, if you have ears to hear, pay attention.
To the one who is victorious - I will give...
Jesus points us to a different tree. This one isn’t in a pagan temple. This one is in the paradise of God. This one isn’t found in the rubble of history. This one is real and present and available.
Have our doctrine straight and love.
Pray—> invite

Congregation Meeting

SC3 problem. Household conversation
Defuse problems
spending is the lowest it has been in a very long time. 6 years ago the budget was 61k higher than it is today. That’s 5k per month higher than we are now. We have cut out everything and we’re not making it
seem to be spending money?
What’s at stake?
What’s it going to take?
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