Christ described what He expected a church to be like. I believe a number of churches today would not meet His standard. The Apostle John was told to write to seven churches and critique them spiritually, as Christ told Him what to write. The first letter was to the church at Ephesus.

Ephesus claims to be where Mary, the mother of Jesus lived. It had many influential Christian leaders in its church. At the end of the first century, Ephesus was one of the most important cities for Christians. It was also where the Temple of Artemis was located. There was pagan worship and much evil in the city.

Revelation 2:1–5 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far 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.”

Scripture describes this church as full of good works and had many magnificent programs. It was fairly busy and had plenty of Christian activities. “But they were receiving no blessings”. History tells us sin among their members was not tolerated. False witnessing was not allowed either. Those who professed to be believers but lived the way of the world were excommunicated. No one who was unscrupulous in business, impure in his conversation, known to be living immorally, habitually intoxicated, given to fits of rage, unfaithful to his pledges or convicted of lying would have lasted in the Ephesians church. These people would have been told to leave the church and not come back.

It was not easy for the Ephesians. They received criticism and opposition from the world. Yet, year after year, they remained faithful and kept going. Those in Ephesus would not have accepted sexual immorality for a minute. Unlike many churches today who have become tolerant of sexual immorality that they call personal choices or alternative lifestyles.

The problem they faced was, even though they stood against evil and false teaching, maybe to a fault, they failed in their love to Christ and their love to each other. This was a large church filled with pride and apparently they had become very legalistic. Some churches today still believe that it takes works to please God. Their obedience to religious rules was more important than love of Christ and love toward others. It is easy to put one’s efforts into the church’s ministry and fail to love. Even considering all the good that was being done, they had lost their passion for Christ.

Ephesians 1:15 “For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people,”

Paul, in one of his letters,- had previously commended the church for its love of God and of others. That was the height from which they had fallen. Even though you get back to having a relationship with God, if there is no love, there will be no light or no blessing. Love must be first and nothing less will do. A believer functioning without love for Christ and others is worse than useless. Therefore, if you do not repent, you will fall like Lucifer fell. Or, I will make your church cease to exist. Your light will go out. Scripture goes on to point out that you may be living right because you hate evil and the ways of immorality but, those who do not love often end up hating. The Spirit was saying to the Ephesians, those who listen to the Holy Spirit and do what He says will be victorious. They will remain faithful to Christ at all costs.

Here is a fallen church. Some believe: potentially they could lose the promise to live with Christ and God in eternity. They had failed to keep the two most important Commandments: love God with all of your heart, mind and soul and others as yourself. My experience is I have been a member of churches that would have failed that test. As a result, instead of steadily growing, they decreased their membership. There appeared to be no blessings coming from Christ.

What we can learn from the letter to the Ephesians church, as individuals, we could memorize the Bible, work 50 hours a week for the ministry and fail because of our lack of love. Acts 4:33 “With great power, the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all.” It is grace and not works that saves us and gives us the power to love. We must develop the discipline to love God and others if we want to have any relationship with Christ.

Recently in prayer, I sensed the Holy Spirit telling me I needed to improve in my love and the encouraging of others. This blog is written to remind me and others of the two most important Commandments if we want Christ’s blessings.

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1 Comment

  1. Keith Jones

     /  March 18, 2016

    This must be getting close to some 800 blogs you have written now Don. You should be on NNU’s staff.


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