- Sermon Notes
Becoming All He Desires
Intro: Settling In
As we grow spiritually, certain aspects of following Jesus can seem to take a higher priority in our service to the Lord. Over time, we can begin to lose sight of the reason for our service, which should be a deep love for Jesus. As we settle in, we can begin to focus on good things, but for the wrong reasons. Jesus has a desire for His church and for us individually as God’s people.
This week we are continuing in the book of Revelation. As we discussed last week, this book is the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which was revealed to the apostle John and written down, in order to show His servants what must soon take place.
John was told to write to seven churches in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). Revelation 1:19 gives a timeline, or map to the book of Revelation, telling John to “write the things which you have seen, the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things.”
The number seven, is a representative of wholeness or completion. By writing to seven churches, it is representative of the whole church being addressed. These seven churches in their names, graces, defects, in their relation to Christ and in His promises and warnings to them, comprehend what is found in the entire church, as it then existed, or would exist. This section of the book of Revelation, chapters 2 and 3, are the chapters that are immediately relevant to us today.
The first church John wrote to was to the church at Ephesus. The church at Ephesus was about 43 years old at this point and had started out doing things incredibly well. But over the course of time, things had changed, specifically concerning a heartfelt love and devotion toward Jesus in all they did.
The church was founded by the apostle Paul. It was pastored by Timothy, and later by John, the apostle writing the book of Revelation. This church had some great leaders and it was the type of church that would, in a way, be the type of church all other churches would try to model their programs and practices after.
John pens 7 letters, beginning with the church at Ephesus who had been a strong church and had done some things quite well. But in order to become the church God desires, they would need to make a change.
Read: Revelation 2:1-7
The lampstands in verse 1 are a reference to the seven churches and the truth that Jesus walks amongst all churches, even ours today. He is aware of what is happening in His church and the heart of Jesus behind these letters, is that His church would become all He desires.
I. Jesus Affirms What is Right
- Jesus begins the letter by commending the church. For their work, for their perseverance, and for their sound doctrine.
- Jesus is not simply focused on what is wrong. There were some aspects of their church that Jesus commended because they had truly done well in them.
- I love that Jesus begins by affirming what is right. He sees the church at Ephesus, that they have continued to work hard, with sound doctrine, for over 40 years. Jesus was sincere in His commendations.
- This is true in our church and in our lives today, Jesus will sincerely affirm what had been done well.
Illus. Being told that the job wasn’t mine.
- Jesus is not giving commendations as a formality, He sees what this church has done, their labor and toil, they have worked hard.
A. Work with the right heart
- The Ephesian church had all the right programs in their church. They had also persevered in their hard work.
- They had worked tirelessly, they were the type of church that on the surface, seemed to do it all right.
Ecclesiastes 9:10, Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might;
- Their programs and efforts to work for the kingdom were commended. They had worked hard, Jesus affirmed them in it.
- What we find later is that their reason for working hard had become out of obligation, rather than a deep love for Jesus.
- They pursued many of the right things, they helped others and acted as they were supposed to act on the surface, but love was not their motivation.
Illus. Helping a co-worker at closing.
- My approach had changed, it had gone from a willing heart to help, to frustration.
- My co-worker could tell that my heart had changed, and when we work and do things for Jesus with the wrong heart, He knows.
Colossians 3:23, Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.
B. Stand on His truth
- Another strength of this church was that they believed the right things, they were doctrinally sound.
- They would not tolerate any false teaching, or false teachers. Their faith was well defined and well defended. They exposed and opposed false teachers.
II Timothy 4:2-4, Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.
- The church at Ephesus had stood on the truth, they made sure that their affirmation of teachers was not based upon their own desires or thoughts, but
upon the Word of God.
- This church stood against practices and deeds that Christ stood against. Jesus says, in this you have done well.
- For our church today, the same is true. Some may come bringing false doctrine which would lead people astray, the church must stand on the truth of
I John 4:1, Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
- John continued in 1 John 4:2-3, saying that the way to know if a teaching or suggestion is of the Spirit of God, is that it will affirm both the deity
and humanity of Jesus Christ.
- The question in the early church did not concern the deity of Christ, rather, His humanity. 2,000 years later, people question His deity.
- Jesus was God in the flesh. The unquestionable Savior of the world. Any true teaching of Christ, includes that He was and is the Savior of the world.
- The church at Ephesus stood against false teachers and false doctrine.
- The church also stood against the Nicolaitans, which was a group believed to have attempted to lead Israel astray in beliefs and practice; and/or seek
to be ruling forces in the church.
- The church was persistent in standing up for the truth however, they weren’t standing on the truth in love.
- Interestingly, Paul, in his letter to the Ephesian church, encouraged them toward Christ-likeness. Which included both truth, and love.
Ephesians 4:14-15, As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, but the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head.
- From this first letter in Revelation 2, we understand that this church had certainly done well at speaking the truth and holding to it, but had left out love.
Illus. Youth group messages and unloving truth.
- Jesus is speaking to this church saying, this I have against you, you have stopped loving me, my purpose, my people, it is all being done out of obligation.
II. Pursue the Love You Once Had
- Here Jesus reveals where they have gone astray. Over 40 years of ministry at Ephesus, over 40 years of programs, over 40 years of holding to sound doctrine, but they stopped doing these things in love.
- They had worked hard, labored and toiled, but weren’t maintaining the right heart. They had great function, but not the right form.
Illus. My 10th grade year, I had become badly injured. Running long distance, starting well. Losing my form and a video recording...Being told I was running incorrectly... “here comes Samuel J.”...
- It was hard to see and difficult to hear but, it changed the way I did things. I began remembering when I was tired, that my form needed to remain intact.
- We can get to this place spiritually as well. Doing right things, but in the wrong way and for the wrong reasons.
- When this happens in your faith, it is critical to pursue the love you once had.
A. Remember where you were
- Paul had once commended the church at Ephesus for their love. It was once a strength in their church body.
Ephesians 1:15-16, For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
- Jesus was now pointing them back to what their love once was. To remember how it felt to be doing things out of devotion and love, rather than obligation.
Illus. In 2 Kings 6:1-7 Elisha and his school of prophets are chopping trees in order to expand their facility.
While chopping wood, the axe head from one of the students flew into the Jordan river.
- This is a picture of what Jesus says to us, as well as those at Ephesus...Remember what it was like to have your cutting edge.
B. Return to the deeds you did at first, with love
- Jesus then calls the church to repent, or, ‘to change direction.’ And do the deeds they did at first.
- Some of the deeds they did at first would be the deeds that Jesus commended them for.
- They needed to add a deep love and devotion to the deeds they were doing.
- This is important for us as a church and as followers of Christ. To do what we do, with love and devotion to Jesus.
- If the deeds you do are done out of your deep devotion and love for Jesus, how will they look different?
Illus. From exclamations and love, to periods and sincerity.
Illus. The pursuit of parenting well.
These elements can change in our church and our lives today. We have to return and go back to a wholehearted devotion in all that we do. What would happen if love remains missing (Vs. 5)?
Revelations 2:1-7 NASB