sermon: Letters to Seven Churches (Part Two): Ephesus
Crusty Old Soldiers
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Given 29-Dec-18; Sermon #1467; 73 minutes
We should understand the letters to the seven churches as vital messages to us rather than regard them as prophetic indictments of congregations outside our own. Christ intended that we personally apply the commendations, warnings, and exhortations in each of these letters. All seven letters share a common template: (1) a salutation to an addressee (which we can apply to ourselves), (2) descriptions of Christ walking among the lampstands, (3) an evaluation of the church's works, (4) a verdict on the church's current condition, (5) a command to do something about remedying any deficit, (6) an exhortation to repent, and (7) a description of the reward one will receive for acting on this exhortation. The congregation at cosmopolitan and prosperous Ephesus was at the epicenter of idolatrous Dianna worship; its members battled various pagan heresies continually. Christ commends them for their warrior-like commitment to battle the Nicolaitans (church tyrants), On the other hand, their "hardened soldier" mentality had taken its toll, as, having left their first love, they were in danger of forfeiting their candlestick. These crusty old spiritual warriors had fulfilled their battle missions but had replaced love with an obsession to fight for doctrinal purity. Christ admonishes the Ephesians and to shake off callousness and return to the innocence of their parents Adam and Eve before they yielded to sin. The reward presented to them was the same offered to Adam and Eve—the fruit of the Tree of Life.
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