GOD’S PURPOSE FOR HIS CHURCH-PART 13. “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ….
You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which 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. But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
He, who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:1, 3-7).
John’s first letter was addressed to the church in Ephesus. Though Pergamos was the center of the Roman religion and of the government, Ephesus was the more accessible, the commercial center and the home of the native goddess Diana; and because of its wealth and situation it gradually became the chief city of the province. The history of Christianity at Ephesus began probably about A.D.50. The church in Ephesus is a very prominent and influential church in the province. It was of the opinion that the other 6 churches that John wrote to must have sprang up from the church in Ephesus since Paul’s 2 years of ministry in Ephesus during his third missionary journey touched the whole province. The disciples of John the Baptist, Aquillas and Priscillia were also known to have preached in Ephesus.
- “You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.…” Enduring hardship simply means to refuse to give up in difficult times. Men who endure hardship remain focused and committed to their cause even when things don’t seem to be working in the direction they expect. Such men are needed for the gospel to remain undiluted, and for the kingdom of God to advance in a corrupt and hostile society. For a church to remain a true church of God and thrive in a society that is given to a high level of idolatry like Ephesus where ‘Diana’ was the goddess of the land, it must be ready to endure hardship. The Ephesian Christians contended not only against the worship of ‘Diana’ but also against false doctrines. They kept their faith in the midst of hardship and they were commended for this. They were people with deep rooted faith, so they were able to withstand opposition in different forms. Men who love easy way Christianity and get along with the things of God only when things work well would not survive Christian life in Ephesus. The Ephesian Christians were good soldiers of the cross who endure hardship to keep and preserve their faith and to also propagate the gospel in a godless and idolatrous society. “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:3).
We have heard the story of people who gave all they possessed and tried to be as godly as they could when they heard that Jesus Christ was going to come in a particular day. When the day came and passed and the Lord Jesus Christ did not come, they returned to their former way of life and even became more ungodly and hardened to the gospel than before. These are not the kind of people we are talking about when we talk of men who persevere and endure hardship for the Lord’s sake. The Apostle Paul said: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:35 & 37).
- “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love….” Despite all the good qualities for which the Ephesian Christians were commended, the Lord said that they have forsaken their first love. That is a state of backsliding! An individual can still be in faith and yet has backslidden in one area of his Christian commitment and if care is not taken it could go to another stage until the person is completely out of faith. This is the more reason why a Christian must watch lest there be any room or chances given to the adversary. “And do not give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:27). Our adversary the devil fights daily to see that we do not succeed in the race so we must not give him any foot hold if not he will take advantage. We are living in a world where there are so many distractions and a believer who is not careful can easily go off the track. The demands around us sometime make us to adjust our commitment to God and to the things of the kingdom little by little until we lose the motivation for service. For the love of a Christian not to wax cold for God he must make his intimacy with God a priority. “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved”. (Matthew 24:12-13)
- “Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first”. The first step to restoration for any man who had fallen is to acknowledge his state. The prodigal son became a celebrated son of his father the moment he came to his senses and acknowledged that he has sinned.
“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate”. (Luke 15:21-23).
No sinner can become a saint without first of all acknowledging himself as a sinner and no church can experience any revival without a spiritual hunger or spiritual dissatisfaction. It is not God’s will for any Christian or any church to dwells on past glory. When our commitment and exploits of the past is not reflecting in the present, then it is a state of backsliding. The Ephesian church was challenged to remember their first love and repent. The church that remains in her comfort zone while millions are still under the deception of Satan to worship false gods needs repentance. There are millions of people that cry for the light while they suffer in darkness. Who will arise and shine the light in the dark places of the earth?
“Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:15-16)
Matthew Olorunnaiye is a missionary trainer and a Bible teacher, he and his wife both serve with Calvary Ministries (CAPRO).