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Keep Christ First: Revelation 2:1-7

02 Sep

Sunday Worship 31st August 2014

Your name is Apollos, and you come from a tradition of skilled silversmiths in the prosperous city, Ephesus. From youth, you have worshipped idols, and eaten your daily bread through the trade of making idols. It has been your security, identity, and only source of income. Everything about your life has in some way been connected to the pagan temple till you met Paul and his team of Christ preaching evangelists. The day you trusted Christ, everything changed. Your life was radically transformed, you experienced a peace and joy you had never known, and you began a new life of suffering for the cause of Christ.

Text: Revelation 2:1-7

Purpose: Christ speaks to the church of Ephesus, to encourage them in their faithfulness, and to warn them of the danger of serving without love.

Proposition: God wants you to love Him first.

Truth 1: Strength: they were strong: I know…2:2

Christ encourages the church by reminding them that He knows their strong points.  And this encouragement covers two areas of life for the members of the church. 

First: Standing against the world outside the church:

  • Works: God knew their occupations, which had been effected by their commitment to Christ.

Acts 19:11-28 Many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds…many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed…and there arose a great commotion about the Way. For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Diana, brought no small profit to the craftsmen. He called them together with the workers of similar occupation, and said: Men, you know that we have our prosperity by this trade. Moreover you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands. So not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Diana may be despised and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship, and they were full of wrath and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians! So the whole city was filled with confusion,

  • Labor: God knew how they had suffered for Christ’s sake

Philippians 1:27-29 Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ…and not in any way terrified by your adversaries…for to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.

  • Patience: God knew that they had been faithfully enduring under the burden of livening in a pagan society.

Second: Standing against the world inside the church:

  • You cannot bear those who are evil: God knew they resisted evil in the church. People who have a divisive, dishonest, and hurtful character are not only outside the church.  Sometimes they get into the church.  They profess faith in Christ, but have never truly embraced it. It takes time, but eventually these people will be exposed, and their presence will cause trouble into the church. They must be removed.

Acts 5: Ananias and Sapphire are struck dead by God for causing division in the church.

Jude 1:4 Certain men have crept in unnoticed…ungodly men.

3 John 1:9 Diotrephes, loves to have the preeminence among them…prating against us with malicious words…do not imitate what is evil.

2 Timothy 2:16-18 Shun profane and idle babblings…their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort.

 2 Timothy 4:14-15 Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him…beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words.

1 Timothy 6:3-7 If anyone teaches otherwise…he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words…men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth…from such withdraw yourself.

  • Tested those who say they are apostles: God knew they were careful about following false apostles. They put their claims to the test and found they are not valid.
  • Labored for my names sake: God knew their motivation. They did all these things for the name of Christ, not to uplift their own names. They were not like Ananias, Sapphire, Diotrephes, Hymenaeus, Philetus, and Alexander.  They were living for Jesus.

Truths 2: Rebuke: they were living in sin: Nevertheless, I have this against you…2:4

  • You have left your first love

Deuteronomy 6:5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, and strength…these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.

1 John 5:1-3 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God…and also loves him who is begotten of Him…this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.

1 Samuel 15:22 Has the LORD as great delight in sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice…rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, stubbornness as idolatry.

Truth 3: Warning: They were in danger of judgment: Or else I will come to you…2:5

  • Remember from where you are fallen: Think back to the way you viewed God shortly after your conversion, and realize you have fallen from that initial love.  Even though you have done all these good things, you are still in this condition.
  • Repent: You must have a radical thinking change
  • Do the first work: Your primary occupation is not driving, working with numbers, teaching a class, or any other occupation. It is loving God. All objects of love that replace God are idols in your heart.
  • Or else I will come to you quickly and remove your candle stick: God will personally fight against the church, and remove its witness in the local community, if they do not repent!

Conclusion: A few questions to reflect upon in light of this passage:

  • Do I get more delight out of my daily labor then my communion with God?
  • Am I more concerned with my own reputation than doing what God says is right?
  • Is there some sin in my heart that I love more than God?
  • Do I have a greater love for knowing the truth than being held by that truth?
  • Do I do right for others, myself, or a love for God?
  • Is my commitment to Christ stronger than my commitment to husband, wife, father, mother, friend, or employer?

If Christ would warn the church of Ephesus who has given far more than we have given, and done far more than we have done, then what would He say to us? May we today remember from where we may have fallen, repent, and do the first work of loving God with all our person, or maybe there will not be a 10th anniversary service at Anchor Baptist Church Cape Coast.

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Posted by on September 2, 2014 in Preaching

 

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