February 14 2022
Today, Monday February 14
Ephesus, Outwardly a Great Church Revelation 2:1-3 "To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, 'These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: 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; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary.
The first letter John wrote was to the church of Ephesus. This was a church that he knew quiet well since he at one time had pastored this church. This church was founded by the Apostle Paul (Acts 19-20). We need to remember also, that even though John is writing this letter, it is a message from the Lord Jesus Christ, “These things says He…..” (v. 1). If you would have visited this church, you definitely would have wanted to join it. Outwardly, it was a great church in so many ways.
That is why the Lord first graciously speaks words of approval and words of commendation (vv. 2-3, 6)! To begin with, this was a serving church, busy doing the works of the Lord. No doubt their weekly schedule was filled with activities. He said, “I know your works…”. As a pastor I was very grateful for the many people who were willing to serve alongside of us to reach our community and minister to broken and hurting people.
The church of Ephesus was also a sacrificing church. The Lord said, “I know your labor…”. The word labor means "toil to the point of exhaustion." The Ephesian Christians paid a price to serve the Lord. These believers were willing to “present their bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to the Lord” (Romans 12:1).
The members of this wonderful church were a steadfast assembly. Jesus said, “I know your patience…”. The word patience carries the meaning of "endurance under trial." Remember when John was writing this letter the church was under tremendous persecution. It is easy to serve the Lord when everything is going good but another thing to keep on serving when things go south! I have seen so many people throw up their hands in surrender at the first sign of hurt or disappointment when they begin serving. But I still know hundreds of great followers of the Lord, that despite what has happen to them or around them that are still faithfully serving! This church at Ephesus kept going when the going was tough.
The Ephesian church was a separated people, for they carefully examined the visiting ministers (see 2 John 7-11) to see if they were genuine. “You have tested those…”. Paul had warned the Ephesian elders that false teachers would come in from the outside and even arise from within the church (Acts 20:28-31), and John had instructed them to "try the spirits" (1 John 4:1-6). Indeed, Satan has his false ministers and the church must be constantly alert to detect them and reject them (2 Cor. 11:1-4, 12-15).
Ephesian Christians separated themselves not only from false doctrine but also from false deeds. “But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” (Revelation 2:6). The word Nicolaitan means "to conquer the people." These false teachers initiated what we know today as "clergy" and "laity," a false division that is taught nowhere in the New Testament. All God's people are "kings and priests" (1 Peter 2:9; Rev. 1:6) and have equal access to the Father through the blood of Christ (Heb. 10:19).
And finally the believers at Ephesus were a suffering people who patiently bore their burdens and toiled without fainting. “You have persevered and have patience…”. And they did all of this for His name's sake! No matter, how you examine this congregation, you would conclude that it is just about perfect and you probably would want to join it.
Yes, outwardly the church of Ephesus was a great church! But remember the Lord is looking at the heart and knows why people are serving and laboring. What does Jesus see when He looks in your heart?