(Revelation 2:1-7) 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 candlesticks; 2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast labored, and hast not fainted. 4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 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 candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. 6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 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.
Audio of Sermon:
The Book of Revelation is …
Revelation 1:1 (KJV) The Revelation of Jesus Christ…
Though there are a series of visions found throughout the Book every vision reveals truth about Jesus Christ, As we come to chapter 2 of the Book we see seven different types of Churches. Some of these Churches are rebuked by Jesus, and others praised. There is one thing that is overwhelmingly true for every type of Church.
Jesus Loves His Church
He wants only the best for every Church. Of the seven Churches addressed few are without flaw – yet His love and concern is equal for each Church. Jesus addresses the Church at Ephesus first, saying:
(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 candlesticks;
Jesus is intensely in love with His Church. The Church belongs to Jesus. The leadership of the Church belongs to Jesus. Jesus is the Builder of the Church. The Bible says:
Psalm 127:1 (ESV) Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
The Lord builds His Church. The Lord builds His Church on the knowledge that He and He ALONE is the Christ. When Jesus walked this earth He was always building, always teaching, always preparing His Church to stand following His ascension to glory. One day Jesus asked His disciples:
(Matthew 16:13) …. Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
The world varies in its opinion of Christ. In that day some said that Jesus was John the Baptist. Others Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. Today people think Jesus is a great Teacher, a mortal man just as important as Buddha or Ghandi. The world sees a little Jesus. But then our Lord asked the key question:
(Matthew 16:15) But whom say YE that I am?
YOU are the Church I am building. YOU are the people I am walking with. YOU are the ones that I am going to die for. Who do YOU think I am? Without hesitation Peter spoke and said the finest thing he had ever said:
(Matthew 16:16) Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Peter said a lot of things in Christ’s ministry, many times wrong. But this time he got it right! Jesus told Peter:
(Matthew 16:18) And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
If Christ knows YOU as His Child, then YOU know Christ as the Rock.
There is no other Christ, no other Messiah.
The Church is built on this unique foundational truth.
The Church not built on Christ as Messiah – Savior – Lord is no Church at all.
Christ is the Builder of His Church.
Jesus loves His Church. Jesus builds His Church. The Church belongs to Jesus. Christ purchased the Church with His shed Blood. The Apostle said to the leaders of Ephesus:
(Acts 20:28) Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to FEED the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
The Church is a collection of BLOOD BOUGHT BELIEVERS. Jesus did not spill His Blood – He SHED His Blood, purposely, for you and I. He invested Himself in the Church, intimately Himself. The Church is founded on the suffering Savior, on the cries of Calvary, on the beaten and bloodied Savior, on the Crucified Innocent.
1 Peter 1:18-20 (KJV) Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;  But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:  Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
Because Christ shed His Blood for the members of the Church, and because the members of the Church have “called upon the Name of the Lord and are saved” (Romans 10:9-10), we are precious to Him.
Psalms 72:14 (KJV) He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence: and precious shall their blood be in his sight.
Is it any wonder that Jesus is in the midst of His Church? Jesus speaks to His Church and His Christian. Jesus said in John 10:27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me”. Jesus was speaking to John. Jesus speaks to His Children. This is not psychosis, but Christ personally talking to those who talk to Him.
Jesus came to John on Patmos, and Jesus will come to you!
Jesus spoke to John. If John were psychotic, then the whole of Scripture is psychotic. The Word of God in Scripture was spoken to Prophets and Apostles so that they could WRITE the Word for us.
(Revelation 2:1) Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write;
The Bible was not written by God to the lost of this world.
God gives a Gospel to the Lost, but His Spirit & Word to His people.
Yes, there is the promise of salvation in Christ given in this Grand Old Book. But the Bible is the Word of God to the people of God, the Church. When the early Church formed what did they do? We are told that the members of the newly formed Church …
Acts 2:42 (NKJV) ….continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
The Church understood the Book was written to them. The Apostles wrote “doctrine” and shared the Word of God. They “fellowshipped”, loving one another because they were loved of Christ. They “broke bread”, enjoying the Lord’s Table together, reminding one another how much Jesus loved them all. And they “prayed” not out of habit, but to make spiritual contact with one another and with the Lord Who was with them. Christ was in the midst of the Church He loved and loves still. The Bible says:
Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.
Acts 2:46-47 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
They fellowshipped daily, not incidentally, not once a week or once a month or only on Easter and Christmas. The members of the Church loved Christ and loved one another because they were members of Christ.
(Revelation 2:1) … These things SAITH he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand …
The leadership of the Church – called “stars” by Jesus – knew that they were in Jesus’ nail scarred hands. Too many pastors today are shining for the world to see. Jesus expects His “stars” to shine for Him, to share Him, to declare His love to the Church. To speak of the Jesus ….
(Revelation 2:1) … who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
He is in the MIDST of His Churches, ALL of His Churches.
He does not RECLINE in our midst. He WALKS. He is active, and actively watching His Church. Jesus through His Word is continually refining His Church. The Scripture declares
(Ephesians 5:25-27) … Christ … LOVED THE CHURCH, AND GAVE HIMSELF FOR IT; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
Christ loves His Church. He wants it to be “glorious, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing”. He wants His Church to be holy and without blemish. He loves us so much He died for us, and Jesus wants His Church to be built up, to grow, to reach. To not be a tiny light but a tremendous light. So He addresses His Church through sermons, through the Word of God.
Jesus Christ Watches What His Church Does
The Lord begins by commending the Church at Ephesus. He says:
(Revelation 2:2) I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
There are THREE THINGS Jesus commends the Church at Ephesus for:
You might ask “aren’t WORKS and LABOR the same thing?”. Not in the original Greek language. The word translated “works” is the Greek ERGON which refers to labor, effort expended, toil. We are saved by faith in Christ, but once saved we are to work for Him. Jesus did not call us to salvation to just sit on our hands. We are called to be the hands and feet of Christ. When the disciples saw Jesus following the resurrection – when He appeared to the ones He gave Himself for – He first showed them His nail scarred hands and His side. Then Jesus told them:
John 20:21 (KJV) Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.
As Jesus was sent to do the Father’s business, His Church is sent to do the Father’s business. What did Christ do? He reached out to the suffering. He comforted, loved, and lifted. Jesus rebuked sin and preached the Gospel. As the Father sent Me, even so I send you (or ya’ll, if you want to be Southern). The Church was sent to do for Christ as Christ did for the Father. The Church was sent to LABOR in the fields of the Gospel. Every member was and is sent to share Christ to others. Jesus told the Pharisees:
John 5:17 (KJV) … My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.
The Triune God works to save mankind. The Church that is Christ’s has members that work for Him, sharing His love to a lost and dying world. Jesus saw the WORKS of Ephesus, and sees our WORK (or lack thereof) and notes it.
Jesus also saw the LABOR of Ephesus. This is the Greek KOPOS which means “anguish or suffering in labor”. When a woman goes through “labor” she suffers. KOPOS is suffering in labor. Ephesus like most of Christ’s Churches suffered for the sake of the Gospel. There is no suffering in compromise with worldliness. The Apostle said:
James 4:4 (KJV) Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
The world will constantly try and modify the Church to suit its own lusts. It did so with human sexuality, and did so with the sacrament of marriage. The Bible says:
John 3:19 (KJV) … light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
Where there is light, there will always be darkness. Jesus did not hate the darkness, but shined against the darkness with His sacrificial love. We are not to hate the darkness nor to befriend the darkness, but are to “walk in the light as Christ is in the !!br0ken!!
1 John 1:7 (KJV) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
John 8:12 (KJV) Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
The darkness hates the light, so we who live for Jesus will suffer. Jesus said we would suffer. He said “If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you” (John 15:18, 24). Even though persecuted, the Church at Ephesus kept on living as Christians should live. They kept laboring for Him, doing what they had been taught.
Furthermore, the Church at Ephesus was a PATIENT Church.
Jesus told them “I know thy patience”.
I have known many young men who approached me to sponsor them in the ministry. I have sponsored many, but few have stayed. Why? Because they entered thinking it would be a cake walk. It is not. To work for Christ requires patience. We are to be patient as God is patient, to keep on going, keep on because He said so. The Bible promises:
(Galatians 6:9) And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
(2 Thessalonians 3:13) 13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.
The Church at Ephesus kept working, even though it was painful and, at times, seemed as if there was no hope. The Lord said of His Church that “you cannot bear those that do evil”. In so many Churches the devil hides in the crowd, whispering and backbiting, sneaking evil. The Church of Ephesus could not and would not bear evil.
thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
The Church was attacked by false teachers and false apostles but continued on. Ephesus rejected all truths that were not Bible truths. The Lord commended them, saying
(Revelation 2:3) And hast BORNE, and hast PATIENCE, and for my name’s sake hast LABORED, and hast NOT FAINTED.
They did not quit.
They honored Jesus’ and His name.
They persisted in faith in Christ!
Work Without Love Is Good But Not Great
Ephesus seems to be a fantastic Church. What could be wrong at Ephesus? They worked for Jesus. They labored though persecuted. They stood true to the Light of Christ. Like an elite military unit they honored the Kingdom of God. But they fell short in one area.
(Revelation 2:4) Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee,
because thou hast left thy first love.
Jesus loves His Church, but they had fallen out of love with Him. They were doing the right things, but out of habit. It’s an easy mistake to make. We go through the motions of the calendar year. At a certain time we will have a Blood Drive and a Sunday for the Cure. We have a Memorial Day celebration, Veteran’s day, special days. We come for Christmas and Easter services. We do Vacation Bible School, Children and Youth Ministry – but it becomes routine. We have and do programs, but are we doing them because we love Jesus.
The Lord got on me about this. I was going through my weekly routine: three sermons to prepare, people in hospital and nursing home to visit. I was making a list, doing each thing, checking it off as I went. Then the Lord spoke to my heart:
Why are you doing this?
Are you doing this because you love Me?
Or is it just thing that must be done?
When Jesus was asked the question “What is the greatest commandment of all?” Jesus told the asker:
Matthew 22:37-40 (KJV) …. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with ALL thy heart, and with ALL thy soul, and with ALL thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second [is] like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
When we sing the final hymn tonight, will we be singing TO Jesus or ABOUT Jesus? One way is appropriate. The other is not. Jesus told Ephesus – this hard working, faithful bunch of believers:
Revelation 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 candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
Jesus told His Church to remember, repent, and return (do the first works) to loving Him, or else He would remove their candlestick out of his place.
Jesus said of the Pharisee:
Matthew 15:8-9 (KJV) This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with [their] lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me…
It is those who love Jesus that end up in the Paradise of God. God calls His Church to love Him.
(Revelation 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.
A heart not in love with the Lord cannot please the Lord, no matter how hard it works! It is possible to work really hard for God, yet never be saved. That is the tragedy that the Spirit warns against. He who overcomes …. Who is born in love of the Overcomer Christ – that person has promise of the Tree of Life in the midst of the Paradise of God.
The question before us all is, Do we love the Lord?
May God touch our hearts with His Word.