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Sunday January 11th 2009
To the Church of Ephesus ? Part One
1). Re 2:1 ? "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: 2 "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; 3 "and you have persevered and
have patience, and have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary. 4
"Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
5 "Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works,
or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place--
unless you repent. 6 "But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans,
which I also hate. 7 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the
churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in
the midst of the Paradise of God."'
a). Revelation Chapter 2 begins with the Lord?s judgment upon the church of
Ephesus, which is the first of the seven churches ?which are in Asia? and forms the
beginning of the judgment of all born again believers from this dispensation at
Christ?s Judgment Seat following the resurrection/rapture - Re 1:12 Then I turned
to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden
lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man,
clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden
band. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes
like a flame of fire; 15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and
His voice as the sound of many waters; 16 He had in His right hand seven stars,
out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the
sun shining in its strength.
b). All of course with a view to decisions and determinations being made
with regards to Christians attaining positions of rulership with Christ as part of His
Bride, being adopted as a firstborn son, receiving the salvation of the soul ? and
what is particularly fascinating about what is recorded in Revelation Chapters 2
and 3 is that John is transported through both time and space ? to the end of this
dispensation into the Lord?s Day in heaven ? to be an eye witness of events that are
to take place with regards to all Christians that remain yet future.
c). However having said that we need to realize that what John records is not
something like what will take place, it is the very event itself ? what we read is
exactly the experience in which we will all one day participate - Re 1:1 ? The
Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants--things
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which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His
servant John, 2 who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus
Christ, to all things that he saw.
d). John is not dreaming, nor is he witnessing a vision, he is literally present
at an event in future time at which both you and I were present and will be present.
2). Not only does the Lord, in these 2 Chapters of Revelation, present to us the
very detail of our appearance at His Judgment Seat, He also, through the use of the
7 churches ? seven being a number of completion ? presents to us the history of the
church throughout the 2000 years, the 2 days of this dispensation.
a). He begins with the Church at the beginning of the dispensation ?
represented by the church in Ephesus ? and concludes with the Church at the very
end of the dispensation ? represented by the church in Laodicea.
b). And what we see in these two churches are born again believers who left
their ?first love? at the beginning of the dispensation, resulting in the born again
believers alive at the end of the dispensation being almost totally nauseating to the
Lord?s sight because of their complete indifference to that ?first love?, yet sadly in
complete ignorance of their deplorable situation ? Re 3:16 "So then, because you
are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17
"Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' --
and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked?
c). Given the close proximity of the Lord?s return for His Church we would
have to conclude that the Lord?s words recorded here will be addressed to the
greater majority of Christians alive on the earth at this present time. Even people
that we may know and love ? and God forbid, even us. We would do well to
remember that what we read here in Revelation is not something we shall witness
as a detached observer, but as an active participant. We will hear the very voice of
Christ speak these very words that John has recorded.
d). We may thank God though that in every generation there is a remnant of
believers who have remained faithful to their high calling - Re 3:21 "To him who
overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat
down with My Father on His throne. 22 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the
Spirit says to the churches."'"
3). And here in this final overcomers? promise ? the seventh of seven in these two
chapters ? is another truly remarkable facet of what God has placed in these 2
Chapters of Revelation.
a). Not only does the Lord give us the exact detail of what will take place at
His Judgment Seat, and not only does He lay out for us the complete history of the
Church during this dispensation , but He also makes absolutely plain what action
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needs to be taken by each individual Christian at any point within the dispensation
to avoid the negative consequences spelt out in the judgment given.
b). And this admonition for each individual Christian was then given to the
Church through the pen of John at the very beginning of this dispensation for
anyone with ears to hear.
c). In consequence we can realize then that we are completely without
excuse to appear before the Lord as anything other than an overcomer.
d). And yet the very recording of the literal judgment itself detailed through
John?s pen shows unequivocally that few from our generation and most preceding
generations come to that have taken any notice of what the Lord has said.
e). Because of our lack of excuse this must lay the blame for this squarely on
our own shoulders and we can have nothing to say about the righteousness of the
Judgment handed down - Mt 22:12 "So he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come
in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless.
4). Now we could allow ourselves to wallow in doom and gloom here, but this
would not be sensible ? the scriptures have been given to us, the mysteries of the
Kingdom opened to us and the admonition of the Lord made available to us, not to
provide a stick to beat us with at the Judgment Seat, but to provide everything that
is necessary for us to be victorious in the race of faith - Ro 8:35 Who shall separate
us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine,
or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed
all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." 37 Yet in all these
things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am
persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor
things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created
thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus
a). Jos 14:11 "As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent
me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out
and for coming in. 12 "Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the LORD
spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that
the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the LORD will be with me, and I
shall be able to drive them out as the LORD said."
b). Heb 12:1 ? Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a
cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily
ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking
unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before
Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of
the throne of God.
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5). And so, with all this in mind we can realize that the Lord has left nothing
missing from His revelation to us. He has done everything that it is necessary to do
to provide the way for us to enter His Kingdom as a joint heir with Him.
a). And so we are going to spend some weeks in the Book of Ephesians to
see what we may learn from it to help prepare us for that coming day.
b). 2Pe 1:10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call
and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an
entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our
Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 12 ? For this reason I will not be negligent to
remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the
6). But before we begin on the Book itself let us lay some background and
foundation against which we can read within a fuller context.
a). To go back to Revelation Chapters 2 and 3 for a moment we will readily
see that of the seven churches ?which are in Asia? only Ephesus has a Book of
scripture bearing its name. Although Paul?s letters generally would be read
amongst the churches within a specific area, the Lord has seen fit to draw our
attention to Ephesus.
b). And in the fact that this church is singled out to represent the experience
of believers at the start of this dispensation, we might also see in it a parallel with
any group of believers who begin the race of faith with a view to winning the prize.
c). What happened to the Ephesians then can provide us with a poignant
warning with regards to our own experience and what God has seen fit to say to us
through the letter addressed to them must inevitably provide the insight into what
we must do in order to overcome that which overcame them. Only of course if we
will have ears to hear and the good sense to put into practice that which the word
says - Jas 1:21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and
receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But
be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone
is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face
in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what
kind of man he was.
7). Ephesus was a port city on the Mediterranean Sea in an area known as Asia
Minor, located in modern day Turkey. [Maps]This whole region of Asia Minor had
received thorough teaching and was the recipient of not only Paul?s letter to the
Ephesians, but also the letters of 1 and 2 Peter - 1Pe 1:1 ? Peter, an apostle of
Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia,
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Asia, and Bithynia, 2 elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in
sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus
a). Two letters that deal exclusively with the salvation of the soul and the
influence of false teachers.
b). And of course the Apostle John?s Revelation of Jesus Christ ?
Re 1:11 saying, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last," and,
"What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia:
to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to
c). From this alone we would realize that we are dealing with a group of
Christians who were well grounded in the word of the Kingdom, who had every
opportunity to go on to maturity.
d). And we might also note that God was not tardy in trying to get their
attention and provide them with encouragement and warnings.
8). Paul?s personal involvement with Ephesus is recorded in Acts Chapters 18 and
19. And we find in Acts 18 that having come to Ephesus he leaves Priscilla and
Aquila there to minister - Ac 18:18 ? So Paul still remained a good while. Then he
took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with
him. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, for he had taken a vow. 19 And he came
to Ephesus, and left them there; but he himself entered the synagogue and
reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they asked him to stay a longer time with them,
he did not consent, 21 but took leave of them, saying, "I must by all means keep
this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing." And he
sailed from Ephesus.
a). And it is while in Ephesus that Priscilla and Aquila meet Apollos a
powerful teacher of the scriptures whom they took aside to teach ?the way of God
b). Paul himself returned to Asia, and having his center in Ephesus spent
some three years teaching the mysteries that had been entrusted to him ?
Ac 19:8 ? And he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months,
reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God. 9 But
when some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the Way before the
multitude, he departed from them and withdrew the disciples, reasoning daily in
the school of Tyrannus. 10 And this continued for two years, so that all who dwelt
in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.
c). Notice from v8 the subject of Paul?s teaching, ?the kingdom of God?
d). And note from v9 that ?all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord
Jesus, both Jews and Greeks?.
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9). In Acts 20 we find Paul again passing through Asia and although not stopping
in Ephesus he calls the elders of the church to him at Miletus to deliver what would
be his last face to face admonition to them - Ac 20:17 ? From Miletus he sent to
Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. 18 And when they had come to
him, he said to them: "You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what
manner I always lived among you, 19 "serving the Lord with all humility, with
many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; 20 "how I
kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you
publicly and from house to house, 21 "testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks,
repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 "And see, now
I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me
there, 23 "except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and
tribulations await me. 24 "But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life
dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I
received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 25 "And
indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom
of God, will see my face no more. 26 "Therefore I testify to you this day that I am
innocent of the blood of all men. 27 "For I have not shunned to declare to you the
whole counsel of God. 28 "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock,
among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of
God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 "For I know this, that after my
departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 "Also
from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away
the disciples after themselves. 31 "Therefore watch, and remember that for three
years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. 32 "So now,
brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to
build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 "I
have coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. 34 "Yes, you yourselves know that
these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. 35
"I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the
weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed
to give than to receive.'" 36 ? And when he had said these things, he knelt down
and prayed with them all. 37 Then they all wept freely, and fell on Paul's neck and
kissed him, 38 sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they would
see his face no more. And they accompanied him to the ship.
10). And just as the Holy Spirit had testified Paul found himself in Jerusalem in
captivity, because of the actions of a group of Jews coming from Asia. This
eventually resulted in his imprisonment in Rome from 60-62AD. And during this
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confinement he writes the letter to the Ephesians that will be the subject of our
a). Having been released from prison about 62AD Paul then began to travel
once again and it is while in Macedonia at this time that he writes his first letter to
Timothy - 1Ti 1:1 ? Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God
our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope, 2 To Timothy, a true son in the
faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. 3
As I urged you when I went into Macedonia--remain in Ephesus that you may
charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4 nor give heed to fables and
endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in
b). And where do we find Timothy? In Ephesus and where does Paul want
him to stay? In Ephesus.
c). And the reason Paul wants Timothy there is ?to charge some that they
teach no other doctrine?, nor be sidetracked by ?fables and endless genealogies?.
d). This would refer to any doctrine contrary to that which Paul had taught ?
a doctrine clearly defined by the scriptures themselves - Ro 16:25 ? Now to Him
who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus
Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began
26 but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been
made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God,
for obedience to the faith?
e). 2Th 2:13 ? But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you,
brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for
salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, 14 to which He
called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
f). Col 1:25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from
God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, 26 the mystery
which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed
to His saints. 27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the
glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that
we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. 29 To this end I also labor,
striving according to His working which works in me mightily.
g). Paul?s admonition to Timothy then, with respect to the Ephesians, is that
he keep them focused on the ?mystery?, the word of the Kingdom which he had
taught. Which would bring about the Godly edification which is in faith. And
clearly the fact that ?some? had to be charged not to do something different means
that a different gospel had already started to emerge.
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h). And this of course would be in complete accord with what the Lord had
foretold in - Mt 13:33 Another parable He spoke to them: "The kingdom of heaven
is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all
i). And is written about in - 2Pe 2:1 ? But there were also false prophets
among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will
secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and
bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive
ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.
j). And - Jude 1:3 ? Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you
concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting
you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this
condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and
deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
11). So what impact did the savage wolves not sparing the flock, those speaking
perverse things, the false teachers have against the background of Paul?s ministry
and Timothy?s ministry and Peter?s letters? Sadly scripture leaves no doubt ?
2Ti 1:13 Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in
faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 14 That good thing which was committed
to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. 15 ? This you know, that all those
in Asia have turned away from me, among whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.
a). First is the admonition to Timothy, ?hold fast the pattern of sound words
you have heard from me in faith?v13
b). And then in v15 the shocking statement ? ?all those in Asia have turned
away from me?.
c). All those he warned night and day with tears for three years.
d). And in the words recorded by Paul we can hear the heart of the Lord ? an
echo of an earlier rejection - 1Sa 8:7 And the LORD said to Samuel, "Heed the
voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but
they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.
e). There would of course be a remnant within Asia who had not succumbed
to this. But so widespread was the rejection that it could be classified as ?all?.
f). In what appears to be a relatively short space of time those who had been
taught and grounded in the faith had turned their back on their inheritance.
g). How could this be given what they knew? The answer can be found in
the first warning in the Book of Hebrews - Heb 2:1 ? Therefore we must give the
more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.
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h). This was not instantaneous, but a drift over a number of years. It?s the
old story of boiling the frog.
i). And please note ? who is responsible for giving the more earnest heed?
j). And what we see here in 2 Timothy is in perfect keeping with the final
warning in Hebrews which has to do with complete disdain for the birthright ? the
rights of the firstborn - Heb 12:16 lest there be any fornicator or profane person
like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. 17 For you know that
afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no
place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.
k). Exactly the same thing we see in the final letter to the ?churches which
are in Asia? in Revelation Chapter 3 ? where the church of Laodicea has become
rich and wealthy and in need of nothing with regards to the things of this age, but
is wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked with respect to their birthright in the
age to come. As Esau the church at large has disregarded the birthright in favor of
a present gratification.
l). In the church of Ephesus then we can see in microcosm the experience of
Christianity at large, and the warning of the possible scenario for every group of
Kingdom seeking Christians.
m). Let us by no means think that we are exempt from this possibility ? only
through the diligent practice of what scripture teaches, by each one of us
individually can we be assured of the final victory. It is within our grasp.
n). Nu 13:30 Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, "Let us
go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it."