Bible Studies for Life, July 26
Barry Snapp, pastor
Victory Baptist Church, Rockmart
When we think about the Book of Revelation, we think eschatologically. We tend to think of end-time prophecy and a sneak peek of things to come. However, in Revelation Chapter 2 John is speaking of current events in his day. He writes about seven actual churches in Asia Minor. Although written nearly two millennia ago, John’s writings have application and implication for us today.
One of these seven churches was Ephesus. Ephesus had some positive attributes, but one major negative attribute. Ephesus had grown routine. They were in the proverbial rut. Ephesus was the church that had left its first love!
Have you ever known a church that used to be on fire for God? They used to burn brightly for the cause of Christ, but now the flame has become an ember. The flame is smoldering. The flame has all but burned out.
Why? That church has left its first love. Such was the case with Ephesus.
Ephesus said, “Jesus, we love you, but we’re not in love with you. We love You, but we don’t love You like we used to.”
We sing the old hymn “Oh How I Love Jesus.” The Church of Ephesus sang “Oh How I Loved Jesus.” They had lost their passion. What a shame!
Let us consider …
John records the words of Jesus. The Book of Revelation is not the Revelation of John, but the Revelation of Jesus (Revelation 1:1). Jesus is the One Who holds the seven stars and walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks. The seven candlesticks represent the seven churches.
Again, Jesus is speaking of Ephesus. Before He condemns Ephesus, He commends Ephesus. Before He gives the bad news, He gives the good news. Jesus says, “Ephesus, I know some things about you. I know your works, labor, and patience.”
We first read about Ephesus in the Book of Acts. Ephesus had a great history. Paul was their pastor, then Timothy. Ephesus had done much in their past. They had been through many dangers, toils, and snares. They had endured suffering. They were an active, hard-working church.
Jesus said, “Ephesus, you can’t bear that which is evil.” Ephesus lived a holy separated lifestyle. They were different. They didn’t live like everybody else. Ephesus believed right. They had good theology. They didn’t fall for false teaching.
The Nicolatians didn’t sway them. The Nicolatians tried to infiltrate the church through hierarchy and loose living. They wanted to run the church, but Ephesus held strong. They hated their deeds. Ephesus understood deeds don’t determine doctrine. Doctrine determines deeds. Jesus commends Ephesus for their endurance and steadfastness.
After Jesus gives the good news, He lowers the boom and gives the bad news. All of Ephesus’ good gets canceled out by what Jesus says next.
He makes a sobering announcement: “I have something against you. You have left your first love.” Wow! What an indictment! Ephesus used to be passionately in love with the Lord. Jesus was their first love. What is first love? First love is affectionate and attentive love. First love is extravagant and exciting love. First love is fervent and fully-devoted love. First love is vibrant, sold-out love.
Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God …” There was a time when loving Jesus was a blessing. Now it’s a burden. It used to be a delight. Now it’s a dread. It used to be a joy. Now it’s a job.
The songwriter said, “My Jesus I love Thee, I know Thou art mine. If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.” But Ephesus did not love Jesus now. They had left their first love.
Has there ever been a time when you loved Jesus more than you do now? Remember how it was when you first got saved? Lord, restore our first love.
What if your wife said to you, “I love you, but I don’t love you like I used to love you?” It would break your heart. Imagine what it does to the heart of God. Jesus condemns the forsaken love of Ephesus.
Correction: Live It Out
Jesus has given His disappointment and diagnosis of Ephesus. Now He gives them direction. What do you do when your first love has waned? Ephesus had left its first love. Now what?
Jesus rebuked the church to help them, not to harm them. Jesus gives Ephesus four words in way of corrective instruction: Remember, Repent, Repeat, Remove. In verse 5 He says, “Remember from whence thou art fallen…” Jesus says, “Remember when we were totally in love? Remember the sweetness of salvation.” Then He says, “Repent, and do the first works…”
Get right with God. Turn from your wickedness. Repent or perish. Repentance is a Godly sorrow that produces a life change.
Then He says to repeat. “And do the first works…” Do what you used to do. If it worked back then, it’ll work today. Start doing it again.
He says Remember, Repent, and Repeat. Then finally in a word of warning, Jesus says “remove.” Jesus tells of the consequence of leaving your first love. He says “… or else I will come quickly and remove thy candlestick out of his place, except you repent.”
What was Jesus saying? He was saying He would extinguish your candle. He wasn’t saying He would take away their salvation, but rather He would take away their influence. That’s what happened to Ephesus. They lost their shining influence for Christ. Why? Because they left their first love.
In closing, Jesus gives a ray of hope for a remnant who will listen to God and hear His Word. Verse 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.”