Local Church Severed by Christ (Ephesus)

This is far more serious than be kicking out of your association, denomination, or convention, it is to be kicked out of your status as a church in heaven and around the Ascended Christ.  As we look at the subject of apostate local churches and those whose candle is flickering from the book of Revelation chapters 2 and 3, the question hits us, “Can a local church lose contact with the church which is the body of Christ, which of course would be the equivalent of a local church losing touch with Christ?

Yes a local church can lose contact with the body of Christ, and there are obvious words in Revelation 2 and 3 that persuade us of that.

1  Ephesus.  Christ told John to write a letter to the pastor at Ephesus saying that the church had divorced, committed adultery and fornication in Bible terms, by not showing the love of Christ as when they were organized.

“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will cone unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”  (Revelation 2:5,6

A local church with a little backsliding, and since every Christian has a little backsliding, that can not be so bad.  So they didn’t have their first passion for the love of Christ, and unfortunately we always compare it with marriage and how, we think, a husband or wife, can not have the same passion as they did in the first year of marriage.  Of course the book of Ephesians makes the comparison between Christ and the church, and we must needs look at it directly.  However, it is important to get the reprimand, recommended course of action, and threat from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself—

  • The reprimand: “thou hast left thy first love” and recall that this is their and our Lord and Savior talking here, He Who wanders between the candlesticks of the churches and holds in His hands the Pastors.
  • The course of action the deacons have to vote on and then bring before the church for a vote: The demand of Jesus for action is stern and detailed in 4 parts, “remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works.”
  1. Where was your church originally, so remember where you were, and at the beginning you can not deny that you have fallen from the first condition and status, because the Lord Jesus is looking at you and He says THOU ART FALLEN!
  2. So even though you had the mistaken notion that repentance was for unbelievers, Jesus is telling you to repent,
  3. and then with repentance go back and do the original first works that you did for Christ. (NOTE that this is not the first works for the church or the pastor, but the first works for Christ.)

(3).  The threat from Jesus is also thorough and impossible to misunderstand to the local church and by way of the pastor.  And we need not forget that every church member at Ephesus could read the Revelation parchment for themselves if not the whole NT.  The threat from Jesus is also in 4 parts, “or else I will cone unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”

  1. OR ELSE, how many times have you heard those threatening words from boss or parents or teacher and principal, OR ELSE, OR ELSE, but you never thought to hear it from the Ascended Jesus Himself.
  2. This kind of judgment of a church with a flickering candle does not way for end judgment, it is so important for the progress of the kingdom of Christ that it takes place immediately, “I will come quickly.”
  3. Jesus says, and you can count on it as it will happen or has already happened and since you do not believe in a falling away now, you do not even know it happened. The Bible teaches that near the END the Holy Spirit will be withdrawn from earth, the way things are now among the churches, they will not even know it, for they either do not depend on the Spirit of God and have not for years, or they have the substitute for the Holy Spirit of speaking in unknown tongues and a temporal and artificial holiness!

Here and the whole Bible is given for us as examples, sometimes good and sometimes bad, so if we would apply the message to the local church at Ephesus, what would it be?  Of course, the main message is to correct the leaving of the Lord Jesus Christ as our first love, and that is difficult to get a handle on in terms of our church and other churches today.  Precisely what does it mean to leave Jesus as the first love?  The Apostle John was writing the book of Revelation near the end of the first century–by the way John was pastor at Ephesus when exiled to Patmos, and perhaps one reason the Ascended Christ start threats against six of the churches with Ephesus; approximately 50 years earlier Paul started church growth at Ephesus and then sometime later work to them the book of Ephesians.  Many clues are in that book about how to retain or regain a priority for Christ, and within itself Ephesians would be a great manual for church growth.  (Please free download, read, and study Paul’s Statement of faith and practice at http://www.biblecombibleman.com/PaulsStatementFaithPractice.pdf.

Specially Paul finds 50 years before the threat of Jesus a problem in the church at Ephesus as written in his letter of Ephesians in the matter as to how the church members learned Christ.  “But this is not the way you learned Christ…”  (Ephesians 4:20)  You would not doubt agree that leaving Christ as first love can be equated with the improper learning of Christ, and furthermore this problem is contemporary in our churches, no doubt in your own church if you have the intellectual honesty to admit it.

 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus…”  (Ephesians 4:4  17-29)

Basically, there were two ways they were leaving Christ as a first love for 50 years before the threat:

  1. An inadequate salvation that did not properly learn Christ; and (an inadequate 9 month conversion, and the seed sown by Paul showed itself after 9 or so months only to be that received with joy but the cares of the world during 42 years choked it out, the cares of course are mentioned in the second way, below of having the same worldly cares as other Gentiles.
  2. Church members were living the same way as the Gentiles around them.

Christ for Individuals invitation in the second half of Christ’s message to the church is really a message to all the churches.

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.”  (Revelation 2:7)

A whole message could be preached around this verse as the text, but a short exegesis of the essential points for church growth.

  1. Since this is an invitation to the individual church members (CFI), each church member is to keep a personal ear tuned to the Holy Spirit of God.
  2. Specially each member is admonished to hear and heed what the Holy Spirit says to ALL CHURCHES. (You see here there is no way possible for you to exclude yourself and your church!)
  3. Even though the candle of your church is flickering and you are about to lose the position of status and honor IN THE PRESENT PRESENCE of Christ, you as an individual, and since CHRIST IS FOR INDIVIDUALS, have an out. You can Overcome. You can do bigger and better than your local church, and be better.

The reward for overcoming the apostasy in your local church is ETERNAL LIFE, “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.”  (Revelation 2:7)

{Please download and read the Bible commentary in the LCC series of Christ for Individuals, the 5 book of the Apostle John at http://sungrist.org/LCCV2_CFI.pdf .}

 

 

 

 

 

 

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