In a letter Jesus personally addressed to the Church in Ephesus, He writes, “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5 Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” - REVELATION 2:2-6
1. Background Stuff: The Ephesian church began in Acts 19 with the apostle Paul baptizing 12 new believers. He stayed with them for three years, teaching them the scriptures daily. It’s in that account, (Acts 20) where Paul preached so long that a young man named Eutychus dozed off and fell out of a window in a three-storey building. No worries; Paul brought him back to life. It’s also in that account that a group of brothers named, “sons of Sceva” was beaten harshly by a demon-possessed man; (they thought they could prostitute the name of Jesus). Soon after, revival broke out in the city of Ephesus.
2. Stuff Jesus is Happy about: Jesus commends them for their doctrinal vigilance. Apparently a cult group named, “the Nicolaitans” had tried planting false doctrines within the church but had been fought off by the Ephesians. Another group claiming to be apostles also tried to weasel their way in, but this church was so strong in Biblical teaching and sound doctrine, that the so-called apostles were revealed to be frauds!
3. Stuff Jesus isn’t Happy about: The Ephesian church was doing everything right, except what really mattered. They had become so busy doing the work of ministry that they had forgotten to include the Lord of the ministry in their activities! They hadn’t simply forgotten their first love; Jesus says they had forsaken Him. The picture here is of someone driving a broken down car to a junkyard, and walking away, it’s one of complete abandonment. They abandoned their first love, Jesus.
4. Warnings ‘n’ stuff from Jesus: This warning is a little scary because Christ speaks of removing their lampstand from its place if they don’t return to their first love and do the things they did at first. There’s no reason to think this is referring to a loss of their salvation, but when you take a lamp out of a room, what happens? It goes dark, right? That could either refer to Him allowing persecution to overwhelm the church, or making them irrelevant in their influence for the gospel. Either way, they should avoid at all cost having your lampstand removed.
5. Rewards ‘n’ stuff from Jesus: For those in Ephesus who heed His instructions, Jesus says they will be given the right to eat from the tree of life. That tree of life still exists today. In fact, we’re told in Revelation 22 that the tree is now situated on main street in the city of heaven, next to the river of the water of life which apparently is as clear as crystal. We’re told in that same account that the tree of life now produces 12 kinds of fruit, a fruit for each month, and get this, there is no waiting. When the fruit appears, it’s always ripe. Think about the uniqueness of this tree because a tree is only supposed to produce one type of fruit throughout its existence. How strange and beautiful it must be. In addition, we are told that the tree is for the healing of the nations, so it’s a constant source of nourishment even in heaven. How exciting!
6. Stuff to think About: Could the spiritual condition of the Ephesian church be true of you in this season? Has your life been so occupied with Christian activities that you’re no longer captivated by the love of Jesus Himself? Have you abandoned your first love, Jesus?
7. Stuff Jesus wants YOU to do Today: In order to experience an increased level of intimacy with Jesus Christ, bring back to your recollection the things you did with Him and for Him when you first began in your faith. Do those things again. Secondly, repent. No longer engage in the activities and thoughts life that caused you to forsake Him in the first place. Reverse the process. Abandon and forsake the things you do that rob your affections for Christ, and stick to doing the things that stir your love and affections for Jesus.