There is a quote that you have probably heard regarding history and things that happened in the past. It goes something like this – “Those who do not learn from the past are bound to repeat it” or something similar.
Though we may shake our heads trying to figure out exactly what this means, there is good news. We can learn from the past, gather information from ancient wisdom, and have it impact our lives in positive ways.
The Bible, though completed by 100 A.D., offers this wisdom. It is alive and powerful and the Holy Spirit, Who is God, teaches and guides us as we study God’s words of wisdom. There are so many practical and doctrinal teachings within the pages of Scripture that are just as applicable today as when they were penned.
God’s Word is not outdated or irrelevant. It deals with issues that man has always dealt with. It offers hope for the hurting and guidance for the seeking. 2 Tim. 3:16-17 reminds us that it is God’s inspired (God-breathed) Word given to us and it provides what we need to be the people God desires us to be.
With that in mind, I want to go back in time to an area known as Asia Minor. Today, we know it as the country of Turkey. In Revelation chapters 2-3, Jesus addressed seven churches, real churches made up of real people.
In speaking to these churches, Jesus had much to say that was commendable. He also had some things to say that were intended to remind them that they were slipping in areas regarding God’s Word. I want to focus on some of these things over the next few blogs.
In Rev. 2:1-7, Jesus addresses the church at Ephesus. The Apostle Paul had written a letter to this church roughly 30 years prior to the words of Christ found here in Rev. 2. Paul had also warned the elders of this church to be on guard for false teachers that may try to take over and lead the people astray (Acts 20:28-31).
It was in the 90’s A.D. when Revelation was written. The church at Ephesus, thankfully, had held firm to the purity of God’s Word (Rev. 2:2), and Jesus commended them for this. He also commended them for a few other things in Rev. 2:2-3.
Then, Jesus, as only He can do, pointed out a concern He had for them. He tells them in Rev. 2:4-5 that they had lost their first love. That fire that had burned for Christ and others seemed to have dimmed. Not only that, but possibly their Christianity had become somewhat stale.
This is why every day we need to be drawing closer to God, allowing Him to teach us, lead us, love us, and in return, our love for Him should grow as we spend time with Him as our Father in heaven Who loves us.
Regarding this church in Ephesus, obviously not every church attender fit this category of having lost their first love, but as a whole, the church had slipped in a very important area of the Christian life – love for God and others.
Jesus called them to return to that first love, and with that in mind, I would like to share just two thoughts from this situation in Revelation 2.
1) What we believe is important. Belief does dictate how we live. The Bible is under attack today from many different directions, even within Protestantism. Keeping pure in doctrine is crucial. Throughout history, the church has held to some “foundational” teachings that have guided it.
It is important then to know what we believe and why we believe it. The church at Ephesus had guarded themselves against false teaching and we must consciously, not only as churches but as individuals, do the same. Discern what we hear and read. Make sure that when someone claims to speak for God, it lines up with the truth of Scripture. Here is a second thought:
2) Love is important. Jesus said that people would know that we are His disciples by our love (John 13:34-35). Belief is important, but how we live is also important. Loving others takes work. It means we serve others, and sometimes it may not be easy doing so.
Love means that we are willing to forgive, to show kindness, to not be rude. It means doing our best to help others become what God wants them to be. It means that we desire God above all things, and in doing so, we consciously, with His help, live out Jesus before others.
Love means being patient with others as God is with us. Love, though, also means that we confront a person’s destructive choices because we do care about them. And we do so, not with an attitude of self-righteousness, but in humility, knowing that we are not perfect and are capable of falling ourselves. But because we care and because God has shown us His love in working to change us from the inside out, we want to help others discover His will for their life in this.
The church at Ephesus had a lot going for it. Much more could be said about it, but remember two important thoughts from this section in Revelation 2. One, keep our focus on the Word of God as our guidebook for life and two, remember to show the love of Christ to others, and to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength so that we, in turn, can show God’s pure love to others. Have a blessed day.