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Thursday: Message to the Church in Ephesus — 18 Comments

  1. If you talk to any married couple they can tell you about the loss of first love. I discovered it in the first year of our marriage. It is called, "taking one another for granted." I was a teacher and teaching is time-consuming stuff so I started to work late after school. And in those days we did not have mobile phones; in fact, we did not even have a landline phone at home. I would work at school on projects and arrive home late for tea (supper). So we had our first disagreement and I did not win it. Somewhere I recognized that it was all my fault. Carmel had a right to know where I was and how long I was going to be.

    Taking your spouse for granted is serious stuff. I wish I could say that I learned the lesson right then 50 years ago, but I still have lapses (and so does Carmel). Making a marriage work means that you have to continually work on the "taking one another for granted" problem all your married life.

    It is all too easy to take our spiritual life for granted as well. We fall into a rut and our spiritual activity becomes automatic. Our prayers become routine, we think we read the Bible, when in fact it is gathering dust, we go to church once a week for a couple of hours and that's it. We need to put a bomb under our spiritual experience and revive it. We need to accept the challenge of growing our Christian experience, not maintaining it. Here is what I did. Last year, I accepted the challenge of writing a comment on SSNET about the lesson every day. Finding something new to write every day has been a great experience. It means that not only do I read the lesson and all the verses in it, I often have to do other reading as well. It has been a journey, discovering my spritual "first love" all over again.

  2. Someone will probably ask who the Nicolaitans were. Even though they get only one mention in scripture, there are quite a few theories about them. A quick Google search will net most of them, and quite a few of then dwell on sexual depravity. Suffice it to say that whatever the heresy it is one that was clearly abhorrent to Christ. Most attribute the name to followers of Nicolas, one of the men chosen to be a deacon in Acts 6. However, information is scant and most of the early literature that describes the sect was written long after the event.

    Rather than speculating on the historical group, it is probably best to make a spiritual application relevant for us today.

    • Nicolaitans are a group that taught radical dualism between the body and the soul. They believed that what is done with the body cannot in any way defile the soul. Therefore, they taught that believers are freed from the law and they can do as they please.

      Ellen White explained that the church today has people who bear the characteristics of the Nicolaitans. Notice how she describes this heretical group:

      “Those who are teaching this doctrine today[i.e. Nicolaitans] have much to say in regard to faith and the righteousness of Christ; but they pervert the truth and make it serve the cause of error. They declare that we have only to believe on Jesus Christ and that faith is all-sufficient: that the righteousness of Christ is to be the sinner's credentials; that this imputed righteousness fulfills the law for us, and that we are under no obligation to obey the law of God. This class claims that Christ came to save sinners, and that He has saved them. "I am saved," they will repeat over and over again. But are they saved while transgressing the law of Jehovah? No; for the garments of Christ's righteousness are not a cloak for iniquity. Such teaching is a gross deception, and Christ becomes to these persons a stumbling block as He did to the Jews—to the Jews, because they would not receive Him as their personal Savior, to these professed believers in Christ, because they separate Christ and the law, and regard faith as a substitute for obedience. They separate the Father and the Son, the Savior of the world. Virtually they teach, both by precept and example, that Christ, by His death, saves men in their transgressions.” Bible Echo, February 8, 1897

  3. Jesus introduces him self as walking among the stars and candlesticks, of what does this remind us? Maybe Enoch who walked with the LORD or Abraham who walked before the LORD. Or of Lev 26:9-13 where the LORD- Yahweh - links his covenant and the tabernacle/sanctuary saying my tabernacle is among you and I will walk among you, be your God and you be my people. This is so reassuring to the church, He will love them, guide and protect them, He will be with them always. Decoding the symbol of Jesus walking reveals so much of the character of Jesus!

  4. 1. Deeds (Action, task or service)
    2. Toil (To labor to the point of weariness)
    3. Perseverance (Capacity or ability to endure)
    This Church was hard working, constantly serving God, were involved in the work of ministry.From face value or human eye point of view we would conclude that this Church is awesome and has it all together but God sees beyond that. Christ is able to discern between the good and the bad. This goes on to encourage us that we should not worry that the good deeds that we are doing that they will go unnoticed, people may fail to see but God who is all knowing does see and will reward you one day. The other good thing about this Church is that they do not tolerate false doctrine. It is not sinful to prove all things and examine the doctrines that men preach. They were strong in both doctrine in ministry. They called a spade a spade and could smell heresy a mile off because they knew God’s word.(Acts 17:11 –the Bereans).If you know God’s word inside out ,you will be able to identify false teaching. However, having the right doctrine is not enough.

    There is something that God has against this Church. This ‘somewhat’ that He has against this Church in not a little problem – it is a HUGE ISSUE. We would do well to learn from their mistake, lest we fall after the same example. From human point view you will think that this is a healthy Church but instead Jesus saw sickness in this Church. God looks at the heart…church attendance, religious activity etc are not a barometer for spiritual health. The Church had forsaken their first love. It does not mean they no longer had any love for Christ at all, rather it means that the quality of their love for Him had weakened. It has 2 meanings ‘as you loved me at first’ (Chronology) and ‘my first love’ (Priority).Many today have shifted their love for Christ to love for doctrine, that is what we call legalism – right thing but wrong motive.

    This means they were no longer on fire for the Lord Jesus Christ. The Church has lost their real love and devotion for Christ. Can the groom (Jesus Christ) see His wife (bride-us) grow cold and not be grieved? The Church had become defenders of faith and got involved in the service only to discover that in the battle they had lost the one quality without which all others are worthless. The Bible says the greatest commandment is to love your God with all your heart, mind and soul (Matthew 22:37-39) but now they got themselves so involved in the work more and neglected the love for Christ. If we are to check (Galatians 5:22-23) we realize that the fruit of the spirit are 9 and love is listed first and its not by mistake that it is there, without it you will not be able to do the rest.

    • It's like Maurice recently said "Being in the Spirit on the Lord's day" captures the idea of what God wants to do with us if we would let him. I wonder if “ running church" is somehow taking away from "being in the Spirit on the Lord's day"

  5. Two things that caught my attention are two issues that confronted Ephesus:
    1) Out right evil
    2) False worship

    1) as the lesson tells -It also was known for the practice of magic and was notorious for immorality and superstition, Paul in Acts 19:19 confirms it. The solution is per Paul Eph 6:10-18 to put on the whole armor of God - truth, righteousness, gospel of peace,shield of faith, helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God - he promotes perseverance

    2) there were 3 main types of worship;
    a) the emperor cult - political
    b) the 'goddess' Diana - pagan worship
    c) people in the church that call themselves apostles but are not but are liars
    2) what is the solution? keep the doctrines/truth pure and test the messages, 1 Cor 13 but whatever you do has no value unless the basis is love, love can bear anything.

    • angel could also be translated as messenger, if we put this with Rev 1:3, it probably is the person who will read the message to the church Heb 1:13,14, or it could be the leaders of the church.

  6. We see a few changes from the church of Ephesus during the time of paul and that of John.
    Paul's time;
    1. They were hardworking
    2. Loving
    3. Obedient
    4. Faithful
    5. Trusted God.

    John's time
    1. Weary of God's work
    2. Disobedient
    3. Practiced magic
    4. Notorious in immorality and superstition.

    Jesus sends a message to the church requesting them to repent.

    • Kura, please explain where you find your 4 points for Ephesus in John's day. Rev 2:3 they have not become weary in Jesus' work. It is citizens of Ephesus not the church that practice magic, are immoral and supertishis.

      • Shirley, I was reading through the Acts of the Apostles page 283 onwards, I found how faithful and loving the Ephesians were. Skipping to chapter 57 of the book. I meet some changes that occurred to the early Christians of Ephesus. They practiced magic and the state of immorality increased. This is why Jesus is sending them a message so that they repent. Imagine the Nicolaitans false teachings. They were not there earlier.

        • Kura, thanks for the reference to Acts of the Apostles, I read it with interest. You are right it records the decline of the church which we see revealed in each successive message to the 7 churches. Although the author starts with Ephesus I believe the rest of her comments cover all the churches especially as Rev 2:1-7 tell us specifically that the church at Ephesus cannot bear those who are evil and hates the Nicolaitans. The only thing Jesus has against Ephesus is they have left their first love. A of A Pg 286 clearly it is non Christians that are involved in magic and immorality not the Christians. However Rev does reveal that some in the other churches are straying from the LORD's Principles of Life. Thanks for this interesting discussion.

  7. Revelation 2:4
    4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.

    The problem was serious. Without love, all is vain. No wonder Jesus said, “Nevertheless I have this against you.” “A church has no reason for being a church when she has no love within her heart, or when that love grows cold. Lose love, lose all.” (Spurgeon)

    1 John 4
    19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

  8. To Ephesus, Jesus is presented as the One who is “with you always”, and as the Author, protector and keeper of the message coming to them and all the churches. His knowledge of them is shown to be accurate, and He, as always, is direct to the point of their needs and He demonstrates why He is known by the prophet as the “wonderful counselor”. What sincere follower of Jesus cannot say that this message to Ephesus has not touched their own heart and brought rich blessings when received and believed by responding to it?

    Ephesus, as with all sinners, is called to remember, repent, and do. This will take place for any who regard the counsel of the apostle to “examine yourselves” in the light of Truth. Wonderful promises are given to all who overcomes as Jesus overcame. This counsel is valid today.

  9. Revelation 2:5 - "I implore you, remember the pinnacle of purity from which you have fallen! Turn back to your first love and practice again the methods you did then. If you do not turn back, the light of truth will be lost to you and your minds will be darkened."

    Why did Jesus say that if they don’t turn back the light of truth they have will be lost and their minds will be darkened?

    Is it that God uses His divine power to make a mind misunderstand and lose the wisdom, knowledge, understanding of God’s kingdom that the person once had?

    Or, is this one of God's design laws—if you don’t use it you lose it? If you exercise thought patterns that promote falsehood, selfishness, fear, close the mind to light and truth what happens in that person? Because truth is unfolding if we stop advancing in truth what we once understood will become perverted with lies.

    • James, from which translation are you quoting? My NKJV says repent or I will remove your lampstand which Rev 1:20 says means church.
      However you do make good points we chose to either walk in the light or darkness, Jesus is doing everything he can to draw us to the light.

      • Hi Shirley. I should have given the version. I recently downloaded the MyBible app that has several different translations/paraphrases included. This particular quote came from The Remedy (REM), an expanded paraphrase of the NT that I found had a refreshing new alternative (and as far as I can determine, only) approach AWAY FROM translations that artificially introduce concepts based on a human derived legal system with fear-inducing ideas about God. "This paraphrase is intentional in its focus to reorient the Christian mind to God's character of love and His mission to heal and restore humankind, as taught by the early church." This is explained much better in the Preface.


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