In the wizard of OZ we read of a tin man without a heart. He was a mere echo inside; his desire was to have a heart. Many believers and churches are like him today, they have no heart, have a heart problem or lost the one they once had. Many churches today develop spiritual heart problems, they may be problems with the valves, aneurysms, weak heart muscles, they may need a by pass, a new valve, a transplant, a pacemaker or surgery.
Across this land and our world there are many sound and Biblical churches. The Pastors faithfully teach the word of God and the members faithfully serve God. However, the thrill and excitement have gone, the heart ceases to pump or race with enthusiasm.
The Bible records such a church for us in Revelation 2, the Church at Ephesus . We read of its beginning in Acts 19, it was founded upon the teachings of the Apostles. Paul spent more time there than anywhere else. It was a tremendous missionary church and founded 6 other churches. It was a large church, growing in the word of God, profoundly multiplying. It was a powerful church. Paul warned this church day and night and with tears. He gave them the whole council of God. Timothy succeeded Paul. Apollos the great orator preached there. Aquila and Pricilla the great husband and wife team were also there. Acts 18:24-28. This church had the cream of the crop. When it came to churches this one had the best foundation.
1. THEY BELIEVED ALL THE RIGHT THINGS. VS 2
‘ I know thy works’. They were good labourers. The risen Christ praised them for their works and labour. The Greek word for labour means to ‘work to the point of exhaustion’. It is the kind of toil that takes everything that minds and muscle can put into it. This was not a church of spectators people were involved in service and worship. These people did not say ‘Come and entertain us: feed me while I watch and enjoy’. They didn’t just eat the crop, they worked hard at planting and caring for the crop. These people were hard workers, they ministered, they shared, they taught, they discipled, they prayed. Oh how the church needs people like this today. There is a lack of commitment to continue serving the King. They called to visit the sick, to help the injured saints, the lonely, they served people, and they used their gifts. Any Pastor desires to have such people in the church today. Are you like these people, are you willing to work to the point of exhaustion?
2 THEY WERE STEADFAST. VS2
‘ I know your steadfastness’. They not only worked but they kept on working. This was no flash in the pan, no emotional response to an appeal for workers they had positive persistence. What a wonderful commendation from our Lord. Month after month, year after year they were going at it, working for the Master. Their gallantry, their courage was extemporary. These believers took hard ship, loss, and difficulty as a challenge to their faith. How do you look under the light of such wonderful believers? They ploughed right on through and turned their situations into grace and glory. They moved ahead, they did not quit. Thank God for such churches and such saints today who faithfully work and keep on working. They are the dependable ones in the flock and truly a people who help keep things moving. What would we do without them? Why don’t you tell them they are doing a great job?
They were a tough bunch and faced all obstacles with a real faith. Paul said they were always abounding in the work of the Lord. Can we say that about you, about your church? Abounding means to ‘overdo it’, they stayed at it, saw it through. Do you leave a job half finished, or stop when someone annoys you or do you be faithful and see a thing through?
3 THEY SUPRESSED EVIL VS 2
They ‘couldn’t bear evil’. They deeply resented sin and evil, they acted against it. They wouldn’t tolerate it in their fellowship. Sadly today many so called Christians live the way they like and come to worship on Sunday. These people were serious and committed to the Holiness of God.
4 THEY HAD SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT VS 2
‘They tried all the false apostles’. They could spot a phoney a mile away. They did not tolerate false teachers or false doctrine. What a mess the church is in today, we accept laughter as being a fun experience with God, laugh our bellies off while men are going to hell, Employ ‘user friendly methods’ to bring people to church with no Gospel confrontation, listen to the false prophets and teachings. Emphasising spiritual warfare and spiritual mapping, exorcising supposed demons out of believers instead of dealing with sins of the flesh and disobedience. Is it any wonder there are so many problems in churches? We are using worldly methods, bringing worldly people into the church, getting some sort of commitment and then believe they are Christians. Down the line many do not go on with Christ and the most of those who do stay and cause problems, especially if they get into leadership positions. There are many false conversions, many emotional experiences not having the Holiness of God, the passion for souls, the desire to serve the saints sacrificially? The Ephesians had ‘TESETED THE SPIRITS’ just like John had taught in 1 John 4:1-6.
5 THEY SUFFERED PERSECUTION VS 3
They had ‘borne’- endured or stayed faithful when under pressure, tribulation and testing. They did not grow weary and faint or quit. They were willing to pay any price for Christ’s sake. What a powerful group of people. I wish we had more saints like them today. It was a good church that wanted to glorify God.
6 THEY SEPERATED FROM HERITICS VS 6
‘You hate the deed of the Nicolaians’. Nicolas was associated with false doctrine, immorality, evil, uncleanness and ungodliness. The name Nicolas means one who conquered the people. Irenaeus writes he was one of he deacons of Acts 6 and because of his position he was able to lead people astray. He led them into immorality and wickedness, assaulting the church with sensual temptations. They abandoned themselves to pleasure. They turned the grace of God into wickedness. This happens today. A number of Christians have a false view of grace and they believe they can do any thing and because God’s grace is so great he will forgive them. Paul said ‘ … shall we continue in sin that grace may abound. God forbid or certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer therein?’ Rom. 6:1-2.
‘Which I also hate’, Christ hated them.
7. THEIR HEART OF LOVE FAILED. VS 4
By now you might think the church at Ephesus was perfect but you are wrong.
‘Never the less I have some what against you because you have left your first love’. It is possible to be steadfast, faithful, suppress evil, have spiritual discernment, be sacrificial, have sound doctrine but be out of love with Christ. Could this happen to you, could our love grow cold? Let me put it another way, is your love still hot, is there any heat in it? Is the honeymoon over, is the thrill gone? They still believed all the right things coldly but not with heat or passion. Loss of love is the forerunner of apathy. Many churches today live on the edge of this problem of cold hearts towards Christ. Many are already there, orthodox but cold. When a church gets strong Satan pushes all that orthodoxy into a cold routine where there is no fire, no love, no enthusiasm no thrill just frills. We have heard it for so long, we have done it for so long, served for so long but lost the fire. The fire and passion throbbing with new life seems to come from the new converts.
HOW TO GET BACK THE FIRE OF LOVE AGAIN
Just look back and remember how it was when the Spirit of God first lit the fire in your heart. Do you remember those love-filed days when your mind flooded with His love and kindness? Spiritual defection, coldness or indifference begins with forgetting the first days. Has the first generation love and zeal gone. The candle went out at Ephesus , the church is not there any more, their right doctrine and living was devoid of a passion for loving Christ. This can happen to any believer, any good sound church, stop now and ‘remember’.
- Remember when you were first converted and the thrill of what Christ meant to you?
- Remember, the days of excitement and you were willing to sacrifice all?
- Remember, the days when you couldn’t get to church fast enough?
- Remember, the time you reached out in evangelism?
- Remember, when you discovered your spiritual gift and began to function in the church?
- Remember, when you loved to come to Bible study?
- Remember, when you first began to pray and love d the prayer meetings?
- Remember, when your faith was a thrilling adventure?
‘Metanoeo’ (Greek) to change your mind, purpose or opinion. Change your moral and spiritual thoughts, reflect and change your attitudes and opinion about sin, about your selfish attitudes and concepts. It is a turning away from the wrong thing. It is also necessary to forsake these things. Sorrow and contrition should follow this act of repentance. Coldness is a sin; you need to repent of it. We need to break the shell of the self-life. We need to be honest with ourselves and break the crust of conceit. We need to deal with our sophistications and complications and simply repent. The false life of being a Christian actor, acting out the drama but it is not true.
Repentance for the unsaved man is not an emotional thing, it is knowledge that he has broken God’s law and is in need of forgiveness, which only comes through the work of Christ on the Cross. Will you make a conscious not an emotion start today, repent today and be saved?
Christian will you repent of your sin, wrong and coldness. ‘Godly sorrow worked repentance’, as you reflect upon your first love for Christ has it gone, do you need to be refired? Yes, today believers need to repent. Before we go tell the unsaved to repent we need to do so ourselves, lets be honest. The church doesn’t want to hear this today, we drift on in our new experiences, our laughter charade, our deceitful user-friendly evangelism, our false prophecies and teachings, our material prosperity doctrines, our hypocritical lives, our love of pleasures, our fake happy marriages. Yes it is time for the church to be honest and real.
‘Or else I will come unto you quickly, and will remove your candlestick out of its place’. Many churches are closing their doors, the Word are no longer being taught and acted upon. Christ is still watching the candlesticks today, he doesn’t mind trimming the wicks or using the snuffer to snuff it out. Let Him relight your candle, your life.
Do the first works – recapture the thrill of those early days. Your service of love when nothing was more important than Christ. Those days when you were giving and forgiving and shared your life with others. Now you are selfish. Perhaps you have become withdrawn because some Christian or church hurt you, perhaps you have felt used and abused, but did He ever do you wrong? Why go cold in your love for Him, why let your relationship with Him grow cold it wasn’t His fault. Go back to Him. Get back into harness- do what you used to do. Get right now.