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“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” – Pastor Lee teaches Revelation 2:1-7

Feb 21, 2021

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Introduction

 If all the canon of Scripture from the first verse,

 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”,

 to the last verse,

 “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen,”

 tells of God's historical plan for our redemption.

 Where does Revelation 2:1-7 fit into the overall plan?

         1.     Genesis is the book of beginnings, with the first mention of God's plan for our redemption (Gen. 3:15).

         2. Revelation is the consummation of that plan: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” Grace by definition is being given what we don't deserve.  Christ gave Himself to redeem us and reconcile us back to the Father.

         3. Although there are many prophecies in the gospels and epistles. Revelation is primarily about prophetic future events, the “unveiling” of Jesus Christ in all His glory and the completion of God's plan for our redemption.

        4. In Rev. 2:1-7, the letter to the church of Ephesus, by all accounts, is a solid church where all aspects of the Gospel were taught and lived.  However, the Lord gives a stern rebuke:

“Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”

(Vs. 2:4)

        5. The historical fact here is that this really happened in Ephesus.

        It can happen in our lives and the lives of our churches.

        But, in the very next verse the Lord gives them, and us, a plan for redemption/reconciliation:

            • Remember “from where you have fallen.”

            • Repent

            • Repeat “the first works”.

“Or else!”

Is the church of Ephesus still standing today?

This speaks to a large part of God's redemptive plan through the Scripture, His mercy, grace, patience, goodness and truth (Ex. 34:6).

Exposition

Addressee

Vs. 2:1a

"To the angel of the church of Ephesus write,..."

         Ephesus, Capitol of Roman Asia

                   * Timeline (1 Cor. 16:8-9)

                    * Cultural context (Acts 19)

                    * Leaders (Apollos/Priscilla, Aquila, Paul, Timothy, John)

 Christ's Calling Card

Vs. 2:1b

'"These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands:"

        “The seven stars...”

                     * Angels, messengers, pastors (Rev. 1:20)

        “...His right hand...”

                   * Symbolic of His power (Heb. 1:3, 12:2)

        “...Seven golden lampstands...”

                   * Churches (Rev. 1:20)

                     We who are under His control, can do nothing aside from Him.

Christ's Report Card

The Good

Vs. 2-3

"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."

     Commendation

        “I know your works...”

                    He sees and knows all things within His church and the hearts of His people.

                     * Fruit of the ministry. 

        “Your labor...”

                   * Toil to the point of exhaustion

        “You cannot bear those who are evil...”

                   * Tested false apostles (Didache)

                   * Tested false doctrine (Gnostics)

                              - Jesus (Matt. 7:15-20)

                              - Paul (Acts 20:28-31)

                              - John (1 Jn. 4:1-6)

         “You have persevered and have patience...”

                    * Suffered while patiently bearing burdens.

                   * For 30 years in the most difficult environment, Paul knew what would come against them, and encouraged them in his epistle. (Eph. 6:12-18)

         “For My names sake...”

                   * The greatest motivation and honor – to do anything for His “names sake" including suffering shame! (Acts 5:40-42)

         "And have not become weary." 

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

(Eph. 6:9-10)

In our eyes: a perfect church!

BUT: “He who walks in the midst of the golden lampstands” looked into their hearts and saw differently.

The Bad

Condemnation

Vs. 4

"Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love."

        “Nevertheless,...”

                   * A scary word

                    * Negates the previous

 One "Oh No!" wipes out a thousand “Atta boys”!

         “I have this against you...”

                   * The “BIG” attention getter.

         “You have left your first love...”

                   * Think of the pain this caused our loving Savior.

                   * Put yourself in His place (if possible). Think of the heartbreak and disappointment of “the One who paid it all”.

                   * How quickly His loved ones forget the reason for their “First Love," the cross!

                   * “Left” not “lost,” a big difference, something left can be returned to.

         Recall the pain of your own lost “first love.”

                   * Spouse, betrothed

        Define “first love”

                    * Jeremiah 2:1-2

         How could this happen? How could we leave Him?

                   * Our focus on ministry “business”.

                   * Worldly influence, “cares of the world,” “deceitfulness of riches.” (Matt. 13:22)

                    * Forgetfulness of who we are. (Gal. 2:20)

Christ cares not as much about what we do for Him, as about why we do it. And that we do it with Him, not just for Him.

“For the love of Christ compels us…” (2 Cor. 5:14)

This is the great danger for us as believers, ministers and the entire church.

        – People sense truth and the passion we have for Christ or the lack of it.

        – When we lose our focus on Christ, we are also susceptible to the attacks of the adversary.  (Eph. 6:12)

         How do we know when we have "left our first love," Christ?

         His commandments become "burdensome.”

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.

(1 Jn. 5:3)

Christ's Council Card

Vs. 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."

      So, how do we find the "first love" we have "left?"

        “Remember...”

                    * Your first love, the:

                              - Passion

                              - Sacrifice

                              - Longing

                              - Joy

         “Repent...”

                     * Turn back to Him

        “Do the first works...”

                   * Repeat what you did at first.

        “Or else...”

                    * Always a choice

                   * And a consequence

        “Remove your lampstand...”

                    * Loss of the light! (Jn. 8:12)

                    * Loss of His trust!

                    * Loss of the “church” and it's mission.

                    * To fail in our “call”.

         “Unless you repent...”

                   * Again! Do we get it?

Christ's Encouragement Card

Vs. 6

"But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate."

          “But this you have...”

                    * Encouragement

                    * Compassion 

         “You hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I hate also.”

                   * Nicholas, a proselyte from Antioch (Acts 6:5)

                   * Gnostic

                   * Antinomianism

                   * Doctrine of Balaam (Rev. 2:14-15)

          “Nicolaitan” – Nico (Gk. ) To conquer laity - people

 Christ's Promise Card

Vs. 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."'

         He who has an ear...”

                   * Understand (Matt. 11:15)

         “To him who overcomes...”

                   * How do we overcome? 

And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. (Rm. 16:20)

Revelation 12:11

         “...I will give to eat...”

                  * Grace

                  * Promise

         “...The Tree of Life...”

                  * The Garden (Gen. 2:9, 3:22)

         “...in the midst of the Paradise of God.”

                   * Heaven (Rev. 22:2, 14)

  Conclusion/Application

“He who has an ear, let him hear...” 

“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing the Word of God.” (Rom. 10:17)

Christ continually told listeners during His earthly ministry not only to hear, but to understand.

The “Paradise of God” (Garden of Eden) held the “Tree of Life” and the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil”. 

When man disobeyed God and ate from the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil” (Gen. 3:6), God's heart was broken for the first time.  We, in essence, left our “First Love”, God, whom we had walked and fellowshipped with in His “paradise”.  (Gen. 3:8)

But the Father had a plan.  His Son (Gen. 3:15), would come to earth, take on flesh, live perfectly, die horribly and rise gloriously!  Then:

 “Whosoever believed in Him, would not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:15).

So, upon acceptance of the freely given gift of Christ’s grace, we are now allowed to eat freely of the “Tree of Life” in the “Paradise of God”.

So, upon acceptance of the freely given gift of Christ’s grace, we are now allowed to eat freely of the “Tree of Life” in the “Paradise of God”.

Why should we love Him?

“Because He first loved us.” (1 Jn. 4:19)

AND

“…that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

(Rm. 5:8)

SO

Let us keep our eyes on the “Author and Finisher of our faith”, that we will not forget His great love for us, as believers, ministers and the church. If we do this, we won't be able to leave our first love and lose “that lovin' feelin'”!         

AMEN

 

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