Get Your Heart Right (Revelation 2:1-7) - September 15th 2013

    The cities of the seven churches of Revelation (Revelation 2, 3) made up an ancient travel circuit with Ephesus roughly in the center. This study begins a series of studies of these churches that will give us insights into the way God sees obedience and disobedience in the church.

    After the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, the church in Ephesus was the center of Christianity. Preparation for studying this church requires reading Ephesians and Acts 18—20. 
    John’s vision reveals the Lord Jesus holding the seven angels (messengers, possibly pastors) in His powerful hand. He walks among the seven golden lampstands (churches).              Revelation 2:1
    The magnificent city of ancient Ephesus was called “desirable” because of her beauty, opportunities, position and provisions. The church was founded by Paul or possibly Aquila and Priscilla. This church enjoyed strong pastoral leadership from Apollos, Timothy and John.

    1. Do the right things.
    To understand the letter, we must get a better understanding of the spiritual journey made by a person in the early days of the church. Paul wrote the Ephesians and reminded them they began with no relationship with God (Ephesians 2:1-3). Then God brought them into a life of faith (Ephesians 2:4, 8). As a result of their new faith they needed to eliminate some practices from their lives and face the world with a new lifestyle (Ephesians 4:22, 23). He encouraged them to put on faith’s clothing and practices (Ephesians 6:13-17). 

    When John wrote Revelation and addressed the Ephesians, he acknowledged their deeds, hard work and perseverance (2:2). They were busy with worthwhile activities. At the same time, they did not tolerate wicked people and tested those who claim to be apostles (2:2). From the beginning, people had tried to destroy their faith unity (Acts 20:29). John called special attention to the false doctrines of the Nicolaitans (could have involved sexual immorality, an “anything goes” approach to cultural lifestyles and/or false leadership—2:6). John recognized the believers’ efforts to carry forward their faith, despite the hardships and exhaustion they experienced (v. 3).

    2. Do the right things with the right spirit.
    4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.
    These good people were so busy doing the good work of the Lord that they did not have time to pay attention to their own walk with God. Faith was a routine. Relationship with Jesus had become religion.
     5 Remember the height from which you have fallen! 
    Paul had prayed that the Ephesians would develop the right kind of love years before John wrote (Ephesians 3:17-19). No one wanted mechanical Christianity. Jesus addressed the need to invest our hearts during His ministry. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment (Matthew 22:37, 38).
    5 Repent and do the things you did at first.  Change your ways! Do you really want a hollow walk with God? If not, address your heart.
    If Jesus were your first love today, what would you do?
    5 If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. Today Ephesus is in ruins with no church.
    What a sad picture! A place once alive with activity is now windblown and silent in death. So many sacrifices and so many efforts were lost because their hearts were not engaged.

    3. Do the right things in the right spirit for the right reason.
    God’s people pursue the things of God to honor God. Words and actions need to be connected to our hearts in order to have meaning and accomplish their true purpose. John ends the letter with a promise for the victorious ones (2:7).  Those who learned to love, labor and live in Christ would be overcomers. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. (1 John 5:5)
    The tree of life would stand as a symbol of “Paradise Regained,” immortality in the paradise of God. Here our Heavenly Father promises to meet all our needs, shed light and give meaningful life for all eternity.

    Have you been to Ephesus in your relationship with God? Do you know what it is like to do the right things with an empty heart? What do you think God is saying to you in today’s study?

    The New International Version is the Bible translation used in this study.