Presentation on theme: "The church at Ephesus stands unique among all those mentioned in the New Testament. No other church can be followed through the text quite so completely."— Presentation transcript:
The church at Ephesus stands unique among all those mentioned in the New Testament. No other church can be followed through the text quite so completely. For instance, we can see its: Beginning, Acts 18:18-21 Development, Acts 19:1-8 Maturation, Acts 19:9-20 Challenges, Acts 19:21 – 20:1 Further Education & Encouragement, Ephesians Disease & Prescription, Rev.2:1-7 There simply is no other church which can be so openly laid bare for examination in the New Testament. As such, there is much which can be learned from them. Perhaps we can scratch the surface just a bit this morning.
Ephesus: the city It was the capital of the division of western Asia Minor. It was originally colonized principally from Athens. During the time of the Romans, it was known as “the first and greatest metropolis of Asia.” It was known for mainly two things: 1.A 50,000 seat theater (which was at that time the largest in the world) used primarily for athletic games and fights of wild beasts- both with each other and men, cf. 1Cor.15:32 2.The Temple of Diana- the city’s patron goddess of the hunt, whose image “fell down from heaven,” Acts 19:35.
Ephesus: the fledgling but growing church Although Paul was there first in Acts 18:19-21, his stay was evidently brief and evidently uneventful. But he did return (as previously promised) in Acts 19 for an extended period of some 3 years (20:31). During this time, we see some significant developments: the conversion of John’s disciples, and their endowment with the Spirit, vv.19:1-7 the extensive teaching both in the synagogue and school, 19:8-10 the extraordinary miracles that were done through Paul, 19:11-12 the events surrounding the sons of Sceva, 19:13-17 the resultant repentance and conversion of many, 19:18-20
Ephesus: the beginning of problems (in the city at least) Everything was going great, until Demetrius began to stir things up. As a silversmith, his livelihood was dependent on making and selling statues and likenesses of Diana, 19: His contention was that Paul was turning away business, 19: This uproar eventually contributed to Paul leaving the city, 19:28 – 20:1.
Ephesus: a more complete view the problems in the church The uproar caused by Demetrius and the silversmiths was mostly a city issue. But eventually, some 40 years after the church was founded, we see major problems in the church at Ephesus, Rev.2:1-7. Please note: They did a lot of things right (in doctrine and practice), vv.2-3; But were not radiant in their motivation and emotional attachment- somewhere along the way, they had left their first love, v.4! While all of the exact reasons for this departure may not be able to be fully known, the important and obvious question is: “What was the first love that they left?”
Ephesus: what was the “first love” that they left? In reviewing the records of Acts, Ephesians, and Revelation, three primary loves become apparent as the answer(s): They had an intense love of Truth, Acts 19:8-9,18-20; Rev.2:2-3; They also had a deep love for those who taught Truth, Acts 20:17-35 > 36-38; (cp.Rev.2:6) And they had an abiding affection for those who lived the Truth, Eph.1: But somewhere along the way, these loves faded, or more correctly, were not maintained as they should have been, and the Ephesian church was in danger of losing the recognition of Christ as being one of His, Rev.2:5b.
Ephesus: what was the prescription to returning to the “first love” that they left? Quite simply, the four R’s: Remember: from where you have fallen, Rev.2:5a; Repent : change your mind about your current course to the extent of willingness to change it, Rev.2:5b; Repeat: the deeds you did at the first- i.e. when you were in love, Rev.2:5c; Or else be Removed, Rev.2:5d! They had to, in effect, start over by going back to the beginning when their love of Truth, those who taught it, and those who practiced it dominated their faith rather than simply “going through the motions” or right but not radiant religion!
Now, what does the church at Ephesus teach us here at Southside? That it is not enough to show up and go through the motions of “right” religion. That our faith, and the practice of it, has to be more than just “right”- it has to be radiantly motivated by true love of truth and those who teach and practice it. This happens on an individual basis first, then collectively. So, and don’t take this the wrong way, but “How is your (spiritual) love life?” Just alright, or radiant like it was “at the beginning”?