“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.
2 “‘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. 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. 6 Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’
John now turns his attention, or rather, Jesus now turns his attention to the seven churches in Asia. Each paragraph is very formulaic (same same), and contains;
- An address to a congregation,
- an introduction of Jesus,
- a statement on the condition of the church,
- a verdict from Jesus about the church,
- a command from Jesus about the church,
- an exhortation to all Christians,
- and a promise of a reward.
See if you can spot these things over the next few teachings!
So, chapters two and three address these seven churches (Paul also wrote to seven churches), then from chapter four onwards we go into future events (interestingly, some think that between chapter three and four is when the rapture of the church happens…)
Today, Ephesus. This church, on the surface, is good! They are patient, they toil, then endure, they cannot bear with people who do evil. So far, so good. They have tested the teachings they receive and found out false prophets, this means they knew correct teachings and they had doctrinal purity.
However, doing lots of good works doesn’t remove the bad ones, does it…
Their fault was that they abandoned the love they had at first. They have deliberately and consciously moved away from practicing love. Charles Spurgeon said (loosely) that if we lose love, we have lost all.
Its tricky, isn’t it, If we over emphasise keeping laws and truth, and forget love, we turn into Pharisees, don’t we, more concerned with protocol than people. We focus on the outward appearance of things, not the inner condition.
But, if we over emphasise love, we tolerate the wrong in people and seek to minimise it under the thought of ‘I’m loving people’.
There needs to be a balance, truth in love, love with truth.
Jesus calls for the church in Ephesus to repent and go back to their first love, a deliberate, intentional, and selfless love for others and each other that seeks to build people up in truth. Not cast them away when they stray, but not turn a blind eye to their sin, either. Balance is the key, and He is the example. Simply, loving God with everything we’ve got, and loving others as much, if not more, than we love ourselves.
For all of us, are we seeking the balance of truth and love?
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
which means that the messages we are going to read to these seven churches are, in principle and application, for all of us.