The church at Ephesus was full of “faithful” brethren. Paul founded it. John was one of their shepherds. Timothy was their preacher. The mother of Jesus worshipped there. They enjoyed the ministry of Apollos, Epaphras, Onesimus, Mary Magdalene, Pricilla and Aquila. If you were looking for faithfulness, you could stop after visiting this church family. These brethren in Ephesus overcame imperial cult worship, dealt with rampant paganism, were impacted by the idolatry of the Temple of Artemis, rejected various false apostles, overcame the errant teaching of the Nicolaitans, and survived the ignorance of the sons of Sceva. There are no less than nine New Testament books connected to this congregation. These were model Christians. Right? Wrong. There are seven letters written to seven New Testament churches. They are found in Revelation 2-3. Jesus sees one thing missing in Ephesus: L-O-V-E (Revelation 2:1-7). They had it at first, but somehow they lost it. Despite thei “faithfulness” of the Ephesians, they were lost. Condemned. Why? All of their faithfulness and steadfast worship… All of their devotion to being right and correcting wrong… All of their biblical knowledge… All of their connections to great men and women of God… was not enough to save them! The one thing they were missing was the one thing that sealed their eternal fate. L-O-V-E. Is this harsh? Not at all. Notice that Jesus speaks of the need for “first” works and “first” love. The greatest commands involve love. Paul speaks of it. John lived it. The Ephesians lost it and didn’t even miss it. How could they fix it? Repentance was necessary. If this antidote was not administered immediately, Jesus promises to remove what fire they had left. What is the lesson in this message? Love is truly the greatest command (Matthew 22:36-40). Without love we are spiritually bankrupt (I Corinthians 13). Do you serve God because of your obligation to do the right thing or because of your affection for the One who saved you? There is a difference. Love is the fire we need to please God. It’s also the virtue we need to change the world. But none of that matters if it doesn’t radiate in your heart.
You are loved.
Dr. Ray Reynolds