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June 12, 2022 1:00 am
What do we need to hear if our passion for God is lost? The Apostle Paul founded a church in the ancient seaport of Ephesus. The church was doctrinally robust; they had even cast out false teachers. Yet while their minds were full, their hearts were empty. In this message, Jesus commends the Ephesian church, but then chastises them with a word we need today.
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Ancient Ephesus was a seaport in what is now modern Turkey known for a great temple to the pagan goddess called Artemis.
Ephesus was also the location of the church, founded by the apostle Paul in Revelation chapter 2 we find a message to the Ephesians from Jesus himself, a message with lasting implications for rest today.
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This is The Moody Church. Our weekly service of worship and teaching with pastor Erwin Blitzer today will hear the second of eight messages on what Jesus thinks of his church. We welcome special musical guests. The national Christian choir from Washington DC later in our broadcast Erwin Blitzer will speak on when Jesus observes our love. The national Christian choir comes now to open today's service. A great how glad we are today that the national Christian choir is with us and they're going to be blessing us throughout the service with their lovely music worship and adoration of our great God and our Savior Jesus Christ and were glad that you are here today in a moment were going to be singing together him number three, holy, holy, holy, Lord God, all mighty and then number 87 fairest Lord Jesus. 634 more love to be our Scripture reading today is by Harry Causey Perry is the leader of the founder and the director of the national Christian choir were glad that you are here today and even as we worship the Lord our God, let's give our hearts to him and say Jesus we give ourselves to you today. Putting aside all distractions and concentrating on the one who redeemed us join me as we pray, and our father.
Today we want to thank you that as we shall be singing in a moment, holy, holy, and even as we are aware of our own sinfulness and our own need. We ask in Jesus name, that our hearts will be open to you like a flower toward the sun and we ask that in an unhindered way, we shall worship you and love you because you are holy, but you do receive is through Jesus Christ our Lord in his name we pray never be put to shame. Deliver me in your righteousness turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue. Be my rock of fresh strong fortress to see how great is your goodness which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you will be still in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you. Praise the Lord for he showed his wonderful love the Lord, all his saints. The Lord preserves the faithful.
But the crowd pays back in full.
Be strong and take heart, all you and the little my friend today I begin with the question, what does Jesus think of his church. That's the question.
The question is and tell what does George Barna think of the church.
She does a great deal of analysis regarding church and culture that's not the question not the question of what a church consultant believes about the church, though they may be helpful in certain situations. The question before is very simply, is this what does Jesus think of his church, and more specifically, The Moody Church or the church to which you belong. What does he think of it.
Well today were in Revelation chapter 2.
As we learned last time John had this marvelous revelation from Jesus. Jesus comes standing. The Scripture says, standing amid the candlesticks and we learned that the candlesticks are the seven churches.
By the time you get to chapter 2 of Revelation. He is not only standing among them. But he also walks among them.
What does Jesus do on Sunday mornings he comes to church. All I know there's a sense in which he's everywhere and therefore simultaneously as being omniscient and omnipotent and omnipresent. But there's a sense in which Jesus Christ focus on the church is more important than the essay the political situation of the world because it is the church for which he die, and today he goes among the aisles. He's up in the balcony and he's observing and what he's looking for is the extent of our love and that's the agenda. Why seven churches when we know that there were at least 12 churches in Asia minor.
These are representative churches every church that is ever existed since in one sense fits into one category or another at least loosely the churches represent various churches throughout the history of the church and that's why as I encourage you to read. Ask yourself what one best describes our church and so with that background, we look here at the letter to the church at Ephesus.
By the way, it says to the angel of the church and the word angel sometimes means messenger and it may be that Jesus is thinking about the messenger of the church is also possible that every church has an angel one specifically assigned to a congregation.
Some people think that the angel is the pastor well that could be if he's the messenger, but between you and me and nobody else listening. This pastor is not an angel but nonetheless I received the letter I received the letter to the church at Ephesus and really at the end of the day to us to the angel of the church in Ephesus.
The words I write these words of him who holds the seven stars and the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches.
He not only has them in his hands but he holds them in his hands, and you have a relationship that is any more direct than that and then it says and who walks amid the seven golden lampstands amid the churches here at the aisles and in the choir loft and in the balcony and all over Jesus is walking in our midst of the letter begins. Actually, with a word of commendation he gives them a complement. He says I know your works, by the way, and he doesn't know omniscience. He knows our motives. He knows whether we are late or early.
He knows exactly what our motivations are.
He knows like no consultant could possibly know because I know your works and your toil. We put those together.
In fact the idea is that these people work to the day labor to the point of weariness. I'm sure that they help the sick. They responded to those who are lonely they were a beehive of activity, just like Moody Churches from about 8 o'clock on on Sunday morning. By the way, at 7 o'clock hour on men here who are part of our responsibility of maintenance thereof to sweeping the sidewalks. If you don't get here at seven you'll never see them do that. They're preparing the church, making sure that everything is in place for us. The technical crew is praying here at about what is at 730 or eight, asking God to help them because the technology really is necessary for us to get the word out and in the Sunday school teachers began to arrive in all kinds of other things happen and it's a busy church and the church at Ephesus was a busy church but it was also busy outside of its walls as we are serving the Lord wanted church to be a pastor of a beehive of activity.
I remember a pastor saying that he lived in a little town with a church where everyone from the town went to church and he is to go to the train station every day to watch the train come in and leave. And afterwards he go home and some is and why are you here every day doing that and he said this is the only thing in this town that moves that I don't have to push love to see that train will there's lots here at The Moody Church that I don't have to push last night I read the entire bulletin all of the opportunities for ministry. We've got so much going on. Thank God there's much going on that I don't have to push like the church at Ephesus.
Your weariness and your toil and your perseverance. You'll notice it says patient endurance.
Now remember the context that the 19th chapter of the book of acts tells us about the beginning of the church and it is there where you had the great statute to the goddess Diana and that Demetrius I believe that he was a silversmith who made little shrines to the goddess and made his money. That way, and then when the church began people stop buying these shrines and so he put pressure on Paul and a riot began and Paul was chased out of the city.
Goddess Diana isn't she one of the seven wonders of the world. We are told. Now you can imagine the Christians they were marginalized they were persecuted they didn't get the good jobs, just like many of us are fearing in America where freedom of religion is constantly being limited and will be eventually limited to the human mind. It seems to me, and what you find today is that through the separation of church and state. You dare not impose your views or even state them in certain contexts. Churches always had situations like that, that's nothing new. So the church was marginalized, but they had patient endurance. In fact, notice what the text says that they were working and they tested those who call themselves apostles and are not so what you have is busy church and a church that is doctrinally sound again, we don't have time for it, but asked why when Paul said goodbye to the elders at Ephesus pieces grievous wolves shall calm men shall devour the flock, take heed to the church of God which he purchased with his own blood and watch those false teachers all right.
Fast-forward. It's 30 or 40 years later. Now in the church heated Paul's warning and they booted out false teachers you discern those who were false and you called them liars. And that's what they are and were living in a day and age of false teachers, particularly on television. Not everybody on television is a false teachers. But they abound and they have huge followings and the make huge claims. What were the false teachers saying these Nicollet attends, which incidentally is a word that occurs later in the text and means destroyer of the people they were saying things like this because Jesus Christ suffered. We don't have to. The false teachers were very much into oratory and the huge fees for a coming to speak. In fact, they criticized Paul because he would preach free and they said no we won't, unless unless we got money. They were the money backers of their day, and they're all over television. I remember seeing with my own eyes and hearing with my own ears that one of these false teachers who so obviously false. I just unbelievable to me that people don't get it.
He was saying if you send me your mortgages from your house.
We will burn them and you'll get a letter from your mortgage company saying that your house is paid really, but a year later I had lunch with a pastor in the city where this man has his ministry. And I said what happen he said. First of all, there were people who paid $2000 to have him burn their mortgage and after that they received letters from a collection agency telling them that they did better pay up or lose their house.
We are living in a day of huge deception and I want to take my hat off to the church at Ephesus who discern the false prophets and who called them liars because they're out there and have you ever noticed by the way that their crowds are largely poor people because these people are saying if I only had the faith of my Google group.
If I only had the same kind of great faith to speak myself rich. I've heard people say speak to your wallet and say, be thou failed. I tried that and I opened it and it is full of air. Let's commend this church. They discern false prophets. They nailed them and they said you are a liar. Praise God for their doctrine to hear you have a church that is busy, that is doctrinally sound the kind that every pastor wants to be the pastor of and I might say duplicates, Moody Church. Now let's go on text says, but whenever you see that word you have to ask yourself all college but verse four word of commendation now turns to a word of complaint, but I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love that you had at first while you're doing it without love. I commend you for what you're doing. But where is the love when the church got started. There was this enthusiasm. There was this sense of commitment to Jesus, this reckless abandonment in giving people gave generously, they witnessed and they were united community and how important that is to have a strong church you got have a church without community and that's what the church of Ephesus had, but now again you're thinking of the apostle Paul in the book of Ephesians a letter that was written to the church he prayed for them that your love may abound yet more and more that you might know the height of the depth of the love of Christ, and now 30 or 40 years of past and were talking second generation Christians where talking children whose parents were on fire for God, but they themselves have not picked up the same as zeal, so their love had grown cold and in different still busy still doctrinally sound still active, but without the passion and love for Jesus. Now what is it that makes us lose our first love. Maybe not lose it, but at least move away from it.
You have abandoned. That's what Mike texted you have abandoned your first love. What makes us do that. The Old Testament God says regarding his really says I have chosen you as my bride. He says I have loved you, I'm your husband, but you've gone after other gods, what will most assuredly ruin a marriage and that is to find another lover. Someone else who steals your affection someone else who draws your soul away from the person whom you are committed to. That's what happens.
James says in his book he says you adulterers and you.
Adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity against God, and there you have it. Other lovers Jesus put it this way. In one of his parables, he says that the seed is sown, and that the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches.
Now there is a phrase that I need to preach a message on the deceitfulness of riches, it chokes the word and it becomes on fruitful so there you have nobody ever wakes up in the morning and sis today I'm going to move away from my love for Jesus.
Nobody ever says that it drifts drifting like when my wife and I were on a ship where talking to some people out on the deck and it was only later that we look back to shore and realize that we'd already gone, perhaps a mile you don't notice it and you don't notice what happens in your life. The coldness sets in the rationalization set in.
And before you know it, the fervency of your love is gone. So you're still doing you're still into theology are still interservice you're still active with the passion for Jesus has drained. Now it's just a sure it's just work and no delight. While well we've looked at the complement Jesus paid them and then he gives them. Of course this complaint, you're hurting me because you don't love me like you should now command very directly verse five remember therefore from when you fall in, just take out time and remember I remember when I was converted and how the next day, it seemed as if I could do anything I said to myself, and I still remember this clearly walking into my father's garage and saying I know God there was this great sense of a fervency you know a friend of mine and I we were so enthusiastic for Jesus that in high school we used to hitchhike now, you can't hitchhike nowadays, but we used to do it and we go to a town of about 16 people and we buy. Previously we take with us. I should say thousands of tracts. Some of these were not very attractive. They were printed on cheap paper and we go to a fair and we give them out as the people were leaving giving out thousands. That's where I learned to preach. I remember out on the street corner bead at people hassle us in we'd be out there. You know, because really the love for Jesus was all that mattered and I look back now and I say wow I was pretty fervent back then. I hope I haven't lost it, but there's a good chance that I'm moving away from it. If I don't repent is the Bible's gonna tell me in just a moment.
Was it like when you received Christ as Savior. When just coming to church and coming to prayer meeting and reading God's word was just was just your appetite. Now it's gone. Remember from whence you are fallen, and then Jesus said repent now as I contemplated this in dawned on me that we would never be asked to repent from something unless it was a sin. So as you look into your heart today. As I look into my heart today and if there is coldness and in different it isn't just something that you need to live with or you need to adjust to. According to the Scriptures.
It is a sin that demands your repentance repent. That is sin you still Pastor Lutzer my heart is cold, but I have no idea what it could possibly be. Well, I have frequently taken advice from one pastor who said that he had a parishioner come up and say oh you know my heart is so cold I'm far from God, but I I have no idea what would be, he said get on your knees and guess at it. Just guess at it.
Last night I spent to perhaps 10 or 15 minutes in quietness before the Lord to saying all right. Lord what's in here that I need to confess because I'm not loving Jesus as fervently as I should and I was amazed at what the Holy Spirit pointed out that I needed to can us and to repent of.
Give God five minutes give him 10 minutes and you will discover why the love is drained and why the passion is gone, perhaps because of bitterness, perhaps because of an addiction, perhaps, of whatever perhaps because of self will which I see in my heart, repent means change your mind call it sin. Don't call it a weakness. Don't blame your schedule just say I'm in I'm sitting here I my fervency lover. Jesus is gone, so the text says, remember, repent, and then it says do the first works.
That's what the text says here as it is before you. It says and do the work she did at first. Now the order here is very important. You don't get your love back by doing the works that you did at first simply by beginning to pray beginning to read the Bible. That's part of the things that you'll have to do what you have to repent first. Because you see the love of God is not something that can simply be worked up.
It is really a gift whom having not seen the love of the Scripture says, in fact (if you do not love Jesus at all. It is almost certain that you have never received them as your Savior.
I'm not talking just about the fact that you admire and we got people all over admire Jesus but do they love.
It's a mark of the new birth that we would actually love someone whom we've never seen and yet the text says that's exactly what God implants in our hearts when we are born of the spirit and we can move from that love but it's been planted there by God. And then you do the works that you did at first and then he says, and if you don't, he says, I will remove your candlestick from its place your lampstand. This is very serious stuff recent years I've been studying why it is that the church was stamped out in North Africa because of his long at some point when I have more time to study it out more directly. I'm trying to find answers for that incidentally all seven of these churches are in Turkey today and there is no church. Essentially, in any of these places. What happened historically is when this church receive this letter. Apparently they had a revival and you can understand what I needed Jesus wrote a letter to Moody Church and I were to say this is from Jesus and this is what he said we would take it so seriously that we would repent.
I am sure that we what and apparently they had a revival, but as time went on, and as the centuries progress, having left and abandoned their first love.
They faded into oblivion and you can go to Ephesus today where there is no church, no church can say we have a permanent place in the economy of God. I say to myself, I say to Moody Church to future generations. Here, don't take anything for granted now. Jesus is remember and then he says if you are in overcome her and it appears in this passage, at least as if all believers are over comers because he says I have a place for you. He says this, you hate the works of the Nicollet attends, which I also hate.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches to the one who conquers there we are, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is planted in the paradise of God. The very tree that Adam and Eve were told they could not eat from. They were barred from eating it. I will allow him to eat of the tree of life which is in the paradise of God, and you can read more about this in Revelation chapter 22 where it is about the heavenly city and how you have this river and on the river on both sides of it.
You have this gorgeous gorgeous description of heaven, whether or not this is symbolical or whether or not it is literal. One thing is sure to the person who overcomes to the person who repents they will have easy access for all of eternity to the tree of life.
The tree of life, symbolizing eternal life, not just in eternal existence, but life to the full. Do you remember day by day. When you go to work that eternity is coming in after that flits through your mind, you realize that eternity is along time really long today as the national Christian choir was coming down the stairs I said to someone, but we get to walk down the stairs with you. We walked with the choir members for a few moments and I said I'd like to hear every one of your stories but I said that's gonna have to wait for heaven and they all agreed it would have to wait for heaven but you know in heaven going to spend five years with Abraham. Take your time.
You know we've got all of eternity.
We can get all the stories of the national Christian choir and hundreds of thousands and eventually millions of others and you know eternity really is long and to him who overcomes, to him who lives with the full recognition that Jesus is first all false lovers are confessed and forsaken to him I will give to eat of the tree of life, the paradise of God that is going to be great. Bottom line, first of all I want you to remember that time doctrine is not a substitute for devotion doctrine is not a substitute for devotion.
They had the right doctrine and I commend them and I personally decry the lack of doctrine in our churches today.
I think that eventually is going to weaken the church as we shy away from doctrine, it's a very, very serious thing. But doctrine is no substitute for devotion. There's a man here who's probably here this morning. He was a pastor for many years and he would mind if I story. In fact, if I asked him he'd come up and tell you it himself. He was a pastor.
He preached the gospel. He says, just as it is preached at Moody Church and he was not born again until about six years ago and then he said this to me. It was justification by belief believe the right things but he said it never entered into my heart as an act of faith.
Wow there are people like that who are doctrinally sound that they are right catch this now, but they are dad right. I have to say that again their dad right.
Years ago I learned you know the little ditty here lies the body of William J who died while maintaining his right-of-way.
He was right completely right. As he sped along but just as dead as if he'd been wrong here to Moody Church. We want to hold to sound doctrine.
We want Jesus to write the same part of the letter to us until you get to verse four.
We want to hold the truth but not with an ad, not with the self-righteous edge, not with the judge mental edge want to always hold that with deep passionate devotion to Jesus. And so, remember that doctrine is no substitute for devotion and remember that labor labor is no substitute for love if you could prove it there in the text.
They've done all this and Jesus said yeah but I have this against you this complaint that's hurting me.
You've left the love that you had at first and all the work in the world can never make that up. The Bible says that we love him because he first loved us.
The text says somebody said I asked Jesus how much do you love me and he stretched forth his hands and he said so much. He stretched forth his hands and died on the cross. Can we not love him with fervency and get rid of the fall's idols and the falls loves in our life.
Can we not do that so that we as God's people can serve with passionate love for Christ Michael Tate is a young scholar who is on our staff here actually at The Moody Churches missions coordinator in last Sunday evening used an illustration I said Michael which are fit with what I'm doing gave me permission to use it. He said that we should love Christ so much. This is as I remember the story. He said we should love Christ so much that if he doesn't come for us. If he doesn't come for us were proven to be fools because we risked everything for Jesus, everything is everything is a risk for Jesus our time, our talents are, our money, our abilities, our our affections. Everything is risked for Jesus and then he gave this illustration. He says that a young woman saying goodbye to her lover who goes to war.
She says goodbye to him and then she lives a very pure life because she's keeping herself for him. She has the possibility of other suitors. But she says no to them all because she's passionately in love with a man to whom she is betrothed, and so she spends her life helping others to see the glories of purity and commitment. Now he doesn't come back, she may say to himself well I might just as well have accepted another proposal. After all you know is Wayton here in a sense she's a bit of a fool, actually, because you know she waited for him and she kept herself for him. When she could have had somebody else and had a fling may be I don't miss the point.
The point is simply this, that we know our lover is coming back is no doubt for that. We know let's risked everything for him. Everything in and risking everything say we're going to love him passionately working to get back on track were to be fervent in our work, but we're going to be people who love Jesus and in the process. Love one another because you can't love Jesus without loving his people. Despite all of their imperfections just can't work you love him, love others dust of door, was a very famous painter in Europe and he painted a picture of Jesus, and someone said old, you must love him to paint him like that gust of door said, I do love him but if I loved him more. I could paint him better.
Can we as a church today commit ourselves to loving him more so that we can paint them better are you are you with me up there and we commit ourselves to that, as a congregation were not to lose our first love, or else were going to sing together. Actually, 390, but the words will be on the screens. It's really a prayer spirit of the Lord to send upon my heart first second and last stanzas, but it's a it's a prayer of asking the Holy Spirit to give us love. Let's sing it together, knowing on today's Moody Church over Pastor Lutzer spoke on when Jesus observes our love taken from Revelation chapter 2 the 2nd to 8 messages on what Jesus thinks of his church next week will learn about a message to the church at Smyrna as we hear Dr. lutes or breach on when Jesus observes our suffering what Jesus thinks of his church can be yours on CD for a gift of any amount to The Moody Church. Our call 1-800-215-5001.
Let us know you'd like to support Moody Churches ministry our thank you to you is a seething elbow with eight powerful messages. You can hear and then pass on to others. Call 1-800-215-5001 or you can write to us at Moody Church media 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard Chicago, IL 60614 online go to Moody offeror.com that's moodyoffer.com join us next time for another Moody Church.
Our with pastor Erwin lutes or the congregation of historic Moody Church in Chicago