Posted by: Brad Beaman | April 12, 2008

Rekindle the Flame

As Pastor of a prominent Church in Boston, A. J. Gordon stood to address a packed crowd. Before he began to preach one of the deacon’s escorted a stranger in and seated him. There was something about the man that bothered Gordon. His penetrating eyes made it difficult to preach the sermon. When the benediction was pronounced Pastor Gordon went to find the stranger.   

 

He said to the deacon, where is the man, the stranger you brought in here? I want to see him. He is gone but he will be back the deacon said. Who was the man Gordon asked. He was Jesus Christ, the deacon replied.

 

A. J. Gordon awoke from the dream. He had fallen asleep on Saturday night preparing for his Sunday sermon. That dream changed his ministry and it inspired his book, How Christ Came to Church. He realized every time he preached Christ was there.       

Download How Christ Came to Chruch  or listen to the audio book How Christ Came to Chruch

Revelation 2:1-7  
1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: 2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5 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. 6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 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.

This is the letter to Ephesus the first of seven churches. This is a great church. It is a place where Paul invested himself.  

To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:

When it says angel here it really means Pastor. (I think some pastor originally came up with that one). Angel can be a heavenly creature, but it can also be a messenger of a heavenly message. Someone who preaches the Word of God to the people.

 

These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand. There are seven different descriptions of Jesus in each message to the seven churches.

 

All of these are taken from the description of Jesus in Revelation Chapter 1.

 

Revelation 1:20

The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

 

Jesus walks among the churches and holds the pastors in his right hand. He walks among the churches and evaluates. Some churches he commends. Some of the churches He condemns and others there is a mixture of commending and condemning. He is present in the church and evaluating. 

 

Ephesus was a city at the center of economic prosperity. In Acts 19 we read it was a place where Paul invested himself. There was a Pagan Temple there known as the Temple of Diana. It was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It was the center of Pagan worship.

 

The Christians at Ephesus had to worship and keep their faith alive in this kind of atmosphere. That was the kind of great church Jesus was speaking too. This church had some great strengths and Jesus commends them.      

 

Hard work for the Lord

This was an active church. Jesus said, I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. Here was a church that worked to the point of exhaustion and persevered when things got difficult. 

 

Jesus walks around this church and notices who is here and who is working hard. I believe he is saying to us, I know your deeds. I know your hard work. Do I have to remind you how hard your church has worked?  

 

Jesus put a high premium on hard work. Jesus had good things to say about hard work for the Lord. He might commend your church like he did the church at Ephesus.

 

Jesus commends them for their Sound doctrine

Ephesus had such great preachers as Paul, John, Timothy, Apollos and Tychicus. You don’t just follow these guys and preach philosophy. This church checked out all the doctrine and tested it to make sure it was true.

 

If teaching there was false the believers at Ephesus knew it. They knew what it was like to have the Word of God preached straight to them. They could easily recognize when something was false.

 

Jesus commended them for hating the teaching of the Nicolaitans. This group taught that the way to win the battle over morals was to give yourself completely over to sin. The church at Ephesus would not tolerate those kinds of lies.

 

The church at Ephesus would not condone homosexuality. They would not tell singles it is OK to have sex out of wedlock if there is a commitment. Jesus hates the teachings of the Nicolaitans and it would not be in their church. Jesus commends them for that!

 

Jesus complaint was that they lost their first love.

The warning is so important. When you share the same strengths as this church at Ephesus. Then you need to guard against the same weaknesses. 

 

They lost their first love!

 

Can this really happen? Could your hard working church that loves good doctrine lose their Love for Jesus Christ? Can they have so much and in actuality lose everything?

 

Francis Schaeffer went to college at eighteen years old. He went to college and seminary and was battling against theological modernism and standing for sound doctrine and the Bible. He says at the age of thirty-nine years old his life caved in. Twenty-one years after coming to Christ he was in crises. He said something went desperately wrong and all meaning went out of his life. This happened while he was battling for the purity of the church.   

 

 What happened is he lost his first love experience with Jesus. He recognized the problem, redirected his ministry toward love and founded the L’Abri fellowship with a new found love for Christ. He wrote, “Lovelessness is a sea which knows no shore, for it is what God is not….in the midst of being right if self is exalted fellowship with God can be destroyed.”

 

Paul said if I can move mountains and understand myths and have not love, I am nothing. Jesus said to the church at Ephesus that you no longer love me as you once did. Suddenly a great church finds the main ingredient missing.

 

If you don’t love Jesus as much as when you first met him that is a big problem. It is no small matter when a church loses it’s first love for Christ. If something drastic doesn’t happen the church is finished. Hard work will never replace relationship.

 

Ephesus was in Turkey. The church of Ephesus is gone. Their lampstand was removed. They may have remembered and repented this time, but at some point the fire went out. 

 

The action Needed: Remember, Repent   

The first thing you need to do is to remember what is was like when you were first in love with Jesus. When I remember like this I picture a worship service in 1982. There is even a certain song we sang and I sing it again just to help me remember that height. Keep your first love experience with Jesus in your mind and let it stay there.

 

Let that lead to repentance and brokenness. Let this lead to brokenness over your growing cold in your relationship with Jesus (If you have). Repent, do a U-turn back to your first love. It is a remembering that leads to repentance that produces blessing.

 

Keep the flames of love for Jesus burning high.

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Responses

  1. Hey Brad –

    Thanks for the link to the book – I’ve been reading it inbetween calls at work! Google ‘John Piper don’t waste your life’ when you get a chance… I love the internet!

    -cs
    http://chrisschellenberg.com/


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