Whoever Has Ears, Let Them Hear
An Exposition of Revelation #3
1“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. 2 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. 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 the love you had at first.5 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 lampstandfrom its place. 6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.7 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
Lessons From Ephesian Mail:
(1) Every virtue carries with it the seed of its own destruction (2-3; 6)
Contenders for the Faith - "I know your hard work" - Ephesus was a harbor town; therefore multicultural and pluralistic. They faithfully confessed the Gospel in the midst of it.
Perseverance - "You have persevered" - Ephesus housed temples to the Roman Emperor Diocletian and the Ephesians refused to bow to him.
Theologically Discerning - "you have tested those who claim to be apostles and found them to be false" - As the Christian faith grew, so did heresy; especially in a town like Ephesus.
Good Judges of Character - "you hate the practices of the Nicolaitions" - Ephesians also housed the temple of Artemis; who was the goddess of fertility and pleasure. The Nicolaitions just plugged Christianity into this formula for hedonism and removed Artemis.
Highly Moral People - Because of the aforementioned.
The Ephesian Problem
Lacked love; grew hostile to the culture they were called to reach. Contending had turned into contentiousness. Perseverance into a high brow. Discernment into a heretic hunt. Good judges of character had become condemners. High moralism turned into else righteousness. The answer was return to simple love for God and people.
(2) Memory can be a powerful force to return to a more satisfying relationship with God (4-5)
At Every Stage of Biblical History, Remembrance and Memory Is a Trigger for Righteousness
Bound for the Promised Land – Remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness (Deut 8:2)
While In the Promised Land – take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of slavery (Deut 6:12)
To Stay in the Promised Land – remember the former things of old; for I am God and there’s none like me (Isaiah 46:9)
While worshipping in the Promised Land – “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; your wonders of old (Ps 77:11)
At Every Stage of NT History, Remembering Jesus’ Words had to Happen for the Church to Survive
Communion – this is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me (1 Cor 11:24)
Ministry to Others- Paul to the Ephesian Elders – remember the words of Jesus “it is better to give than receive (Acts 20:35)
Holy Spirit’s Ministry to Us – But the helper, the HS, will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all I have said to you (Jn 14:26)
So remember the things you did at first; and especially that you never graduate from having faith like a child.
(3) As Christianity becomes more unpopular, having a convictional backbone will become more vital (6).
What a convictional backbone is not:
Loud Piety – Peter – Will never deny you;
Noticeable Piety – Pharisees Problem – Love to be seen
What it is:
Firmness and resoluteness of character in the face of threat
What it requires that the Church in Ephesus Had:
(1) Competence – theological understanding; they didn't tolerate the practices of the Nicolitians because they knew the Bible.
(2) Confidence – knowing what you stand for is worth it;
(3) Courage – here I stand I can do no other
What It Needed they Didn’t Have:
Grace in delivery and purpose
An Example from Our Protestant History
"Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen." -- Martin Luther
(4) Truth absent of love clangs. Love absent of truth condones. But love and truth together shine (7)
Whoever has ears, let them hear
The Galatian Problem that started creeping into Ephesus; Legalism; Principles of Scripture affirmed but devoid of the relational dynamic of love.
The Corinthian Problem; License; Scripture subservient to love and feeling.
Love and Truth
The Ephesian Ideal; both in the letter and here.
So important is love that lampstands can be removed without it. May ours shine brightly in this community until he comes again.