God’s Final Written Notice to the Family
2. Final Notice to the Family
(1) The Church at Ephesus
Each of the letters to the seven churches in the Book of Revelation refers to a specific church in John’s day. He is told to have each letter delivered to the churches in a specific route. The first one is the Church at Ephesus.
The characteristics mentioned describe precisely the kind of church scheduled to receive the message. These seven churches are in close proximity, yet they differ radically. Prophetically, the letters also describe seven church ages, as well as individual Christians found in all churches and ages. The Ephesian Church represents the Apostolic Church era that lasted from AD 30 to AD 100.
Each letter includes a description of the Lord relative to their condition. Six are commended for some aspects of their faith. He has nothing good whatsoever to say to the last church. With the exception of one church, all are seriously warned by the Lord to repent and return to Him. Each letter finishes with a promise.
Look carefully and see if you recognize yourself! Ask: What is the Lord saying to my local church? What is He saying to me?
Leadership of the Church at Ephesus
“To the angel of the church of Ephesus write…”
The Ephesian Church received the first letter. The word “angel” in Greek is “Angelos” and means “Messenger”. This is a letter addressed to the leadership of the church.
How the Church at Ephesus started
This church in Asia Minor (now Turkey) was planted by the Apostle Paul on his second missionary journey around AD 30. Accompanied by Bible Teachers, Priscilla and Aquilla, he led many Jewish people to the Lord. It was a rich and prosperous city with a great seaport, a gateway city to the known world.
Paul visited it again on his third missionary journey and his preaching caused a great stir. You will find the story in Acts 19:28-41. He taught there for three years and left Timothy in charge. John the Apostle is also believed to have spent his last days worshipping with the Ephesian Church.
“And he came to Ephesus, and left them there; but he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. When they asked him to stay a longer time with them, he did not consent, but took leave of them, saying, ‘I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing.’ And he sailed from Ephesus” Acts 18:19-21
Description of the Lord
The Lord describes Himself as holding “the seven stars” in His right hand and walking among the seven golden candlesticks.
“To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, hese things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands” Revelation 2:1.
Description of the Leadership
Revelation 1:20 tells us they represent the leadership and the seven churches. The Lord is passionate about His Church and in fellowship with them. That is exactly how John described Him in the first chapter of his book.
The Lord is very concerned about the LEADERSHIP of His Church, in all its forms of expression. He holds the “seven stars” in His right hand as the Head of Authority and Power. The Church leadership is not the highest authority – the Lord Jesus Christ is. His written Word is the Final Authority in all matters of faith, doctrine, and lifestyle. The Lord is just as concerned about the members of His church. He walks among them, taking notice of individual local groups and individual members. He knows exactly what is going on in their heart of hearts. And as the Lord of the Church, He has something to say to His Church.
“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 1:20.
Commendation of the Church at Ephesus
A BUSY AND FAITHFUL CHURCH commended by the Lord for being active, often laboring to the point of exhaustion. Busy morning, noon, and night, doing their best to make an impact for Christ in their generation. The first years of the New Testament Church were powerful ones indeed. The New Testament records that thousands of new believers were added to the church daily.
The Gospel spread all over the known world in spite of bitter persecution from the Roman government as the Ephesian believers remained patient under tribulation. They remained true to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in spite of false teachers. Paul had earlier warned the leaders that false brethren would attempt to destroy the faith of the church and pervert the Gospel in order to attract followers. It is no different today!
“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.
“For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears” Acts 20:29-31.
A Persevering Church
The Christians in this Church, together with their leadership kept on keeping on. Nothing could deter them from fulfilling their busy program and reaching out to the lost and those in need.
A Sad End of a Powerful Era
The Ephesian Church started off as a strong vibrant church. Perhaps it was too busy. Towards the end of the first century, its passion for the Lord was replaced by activity. Like a loveless marriage, outwardly everything look good. Inwardly they had lost personal touch with their Lord. This is a major challenge to every local church and every Christian! Do you remember how passionate you were about your relationship with Jesus when you first came to Christ? How you loved reading your Bible and spending quality time with Him in prayer? How you loved meeting with other believers and just could not wait for the next opportunity to fellowship? Winning the lost was your first priority and your heart burned for souls.
A Church in Crisis
- Increasingly less Glory of the Lord in evidence.
- Increasingly less personal fellowship with the Lord of the Church
- Increasingly less passion for the Lord.
How is it going with you in these areas now? How is it going with your local fellowship? Is your prayer meeting pumping? Does your church even have one? Are new believers being added to the church daily? I fear – like the Ephesian Church – we too have become a church in crisis.
Some say the opposite of love is hate, but those are two sides of the same emotion. The opposite of love is really INDIFFERENCE – no passion, no feelings of emotion, no interest.
The Lord’s Complaint about the Church at Ephesus
This was the Lord’s complaint about the Ephesian Church, the outcome of the Apostolic era. Many believers had lost their first love. Going through the motions, religious activities, church attendance, rituals, treating the assembling of ourselves together much the same way as attending club activities… all without passion. The Lord is passionate about His church and very unhappy with our lack of passion as we take Him and holy matters for granted. Is that your experience and mine?Would you call yourself a passionate follower of the Lord Jesus Christ? Click To Tweet
The Lord has Something to Say to His Church
One word sums it up: REPENT. More church attendance, Bible reading, and even prayer won’t remedy a loveless relationship. There is only one answer to a “lost love” condition – Repent… change and walk in the opposite direction. Remember where we came from and allow the Holy Spirit to restore our passion. We must never allow ourselves to slip away from the Lord because the Lord warns that the consequences will be serious. We walk single-file with the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance is not a favorite word in our modern church age, but it is a recurring theme in the Lord’s letters to the seven churches. We must listen to the Lord and not to men in matters of faith.
A Final Word of Commendation to the Pulpit and the Pew
The Lord is looking for a Christ-Centred Church. He wants our full attention and focus. The ministry must not dominate the believers, but disciple and grow them in the Lord. In those days there were a group known as the Nicolaitans. The name is made up of two Greek words meaning “victory over the laity” or religious dictatorship. Man-made rules replacing the Word of God force believers to look to people or groups for direction instead of the Holy Spirit. The Lord declares He hates that spirit. Leaders are His servants and their commission is to care for His flock. Followers of Nicolai also believed in a separation of body and spirit. In other words, you could live as you like (body) as long as your spirit was pure (in your own eyes). That spirit is still evident in the church today.
Those who hear and respond to the Voice of the Lord in these critical days before the Return of the Lord will find their spiritual hunger fulfilled by Him, their passion restored by the Holy Spirit, and their hearts burning with love for Him.
May we not become spiritually deaf but spiritually alert to His Voice… hearers and doers of His Word.
A Challenge to the Church
Let’s take our spiritual temperature!
- Am I reflecting His glory to my world?
- Am I in regular, consistent fellowship with His Church (however it expresses itself)?
- Am I passionate about the Lord?
- Do I spend quality, specific time in prayer talking to Him?
- Do I read His Word and listen to Him talking to me?
May we be found to be passionate, in fellowship with the Lord, reflecting His Glory to our world… ready for His Return.
Follow this blog as we look at each church in detail over the next few days.
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