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May 12, 2022 4:00 am
In the early chapters of the book of Revelation Jesus chastising churches, giving them an opportunity to change their ways and get back on track, but he also commended certain things he saw present in churches. So what does Jesus find praiseworthy in a church that's our focus today on Truth for Life. Alastair Bragg is continuing a series titled letters from the risen Christ.
Revelation chapter 2 verse one to the angel of the church in Ephesus write. These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you, you have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, but you have this in your favor. You hate the practices of the Nicollet absence, which I also hate evil is an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give the right to eat from the tree of life which is in the paradise of God. Amen Oregon this morning to the first of these seven letters to the church located closest as we said yesterday morning today. I love must, from which John was writing on which he saw this vision Ephesus at the time of the writing of this letter was strategically placed. It was at the mouth of a river. The case, the river that was said on the golf in the Aegean Sea. It was at the intersection of three major trade routes and as a result of bad and become a very prosperous place.
It was commercially very successful. It'd been able, on account of the fluidity of finance to build a wonderful theater significant temples and various arenas for recreation and marketplace activities, and it was to this location that Paul had endeavored to go when you read Luke and acts, you will recall that he had been prevented. On his first occasion in an enigmatic statement.
The Holy Spirit prevented them from going. But by the time of his third missionary journey. He makes his way to Ephesus for a prolonged period of time, and Luke tells us that he stayed in Ephesus for somewhere in the region of 2 1/2 years.
I think it will be helpful this morning.
If you turn just for a moment to ask chapter 19 so that we can remind ourselves of the beginnings of this amazing church.
There in Ephesus. I don't want to expound acts 19.
I just want to draw your attention to it, the skyline of the city of emphasis was dominated by the Temple of Artemis or the Temple of Diana, the Greek name for demons. Not only did this Temple dominate the skyline but it essentially had a dramatic impact on the totality of life in the city of Ephesus and the servants of Diana would ply their trade in the streets of Ephesus, all kinds of practices, many of them immortal. Most of them distinctly unhelpful and otherwise within the framework of the city. A combination of magic and religion of superstition and of syncretism.
And when Paul arrives in this place.
He comes in the same fashion as he came to the people in Corinth determined essentially to know nothing except the message of the gospel, and it is this message of the gospel that he proclaims, and as a result of the impact of the gospel message. The trading practices of the servants of the temple, particularly a silversmith. In verse 24 named Demetrius is impinged upon as a result of the transformed lives stemming from the preaching of the gospel. If you allow your eyes to go up the page a little bit, you will discover in verse 17 that the Jews and the Greeks living in Ephesus were seized with fear. The name of the Lord Jesus was held in high owner and as a result of them being seized with fear, which of course is the beginning of wisdom. As a result of the name of Jesus being exalted, then the impact in the community was seen. It had these amazing lectures.
In the afternoon in the hall of Taranto's been going on for some two years and he is also gone from home to home, driving home the implications of what it means to be a follower of Jesus, I have declared verse 21 to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus Christ bike done in 25 and in 26 he says, I'm leaving.
I want you to know that I feel innocent of the blood of anyone. Verse 27 for I haven't hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. Now here's what I want you to notice verse 28. Keep watch over yourselves, and all the flock, of which the Holy Spirit is made you overseers addressing the elders now be shepherds of the Church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave savage wolves will come in among you, and will not spare the flock there's going to be in infiltration.
He says into the Ephesian community and amongst those who name the name of Christ and then verse 30 even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.
So be on your guard. Remember the first three years I never stop wanting each of you night and day with tears.
Now when you simply allow your Bible to flip on to chapter 2 and you read the word of the risen Christ to the church at Ephesus you recognize the word of warning issued by Paul in his departure from these Ephesian believers has so clearly come to fruition.
And there are those amongst the believers there in Ephesus was identified as the Nicollet absence others who are plying their own particular brand of heresy who have a nurse within the congregation at Ephesus, suggesting to men and women that their newfangled new revised edition of Christian living will be far more appealing to them than the starchy information that they have begun to lay hold of and indeed, upon which the congregation in Ephesus had been built, how it is to this community of individuals whom Paul left in the care of Timothy and who were then tradition at least tells us under the leadership of Cindy John the apostle, the one who hears the sound of this great voice behind him looks behind and realizes that a voice the sound of many waters is in his ears, saying to them I want you to proclaim these messages, you can almost imagine the hair standing up on the back of John's neck when he recognizes that the first word that is given to address is a word addressed to the congregation over which he had been granted pastoral oversight and he was the apostle of love and also a son of thunder, who had within the framework of his own personality. The temptation to allow his love to settling the sentimentalism to allow his thunderous commitment to the truth to us to settling for some kind of formal legalism. It's no surprise then that the church that had been under his care that it taken on something of the characteristics of its leadership should be wrestling with these very same issues.
I would not by way of background, let's go directly to the text and I want to give you have for essential headings this morning to try and guide us through. I felt yesterday that we were a little at sea. At least I was at sea and some of you were along with me and so I want to give it a little more structure this morning and the hope it will help at least in our understanding and then of our retention into pastoral fashion. Each of the main headings has within it a word that begins with P and why that is. I don't really know but it happened so often somebody can do the research on it. But let's notice. First of all, that in the word of Christ to these believers in Ephesus. He brings to them a word of praise that is praise for them that he offers. This of course contrasts with where we ended yesterday. He had nothing commandeered three or called to say to the church in Laodicea. It'd all be in rebuke, and it'd all be in warning, but here Jesus as he looks down upon the community in Ephesus is able to acknowledge verse to their hard work. Their perseverance and the fact that they were intolerant of wicked men.
Jesus again identifies himself as the one who knows those of you coming from an Anglican background are familiar with the college for communion where we remind ourselves in prospect of the breaking of bread that we come before he unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid and it is this Lord Jesus who looks upon these people and identifies these aspects which are common. Day three know in order to help me again. I then summarize these words of praise for the church at Ephesus under three subheadings, each of these words begins with T.
I'll tell you what they are, so that you can follow along the task are just task tough and true. First of all, he praises them because they were committed to the task. I know your deeds. I know your hard work. The word which is use their is a graphic word it speaks to the issue of lingering to the point of almost total weariness here. He looks upon these people, and he recognizes he says to them. I know that you're not afraid of hard work that you're not intimidated by the challenges that are represented in living out the faith of the gospel. They had clearly grasped the word which Paul had extended to their forebears in writing the letter to the church in Ephesus, when in Ephesians, he had reminded them that although they were not saved by good works. They had been saved for good works, and that there were good works in Ephesians 210 foreordained there were things that God had for them to do.
And if we had moved amongst the community in Ephesus, we would've found many of them prepared to extend themselves again and again in the task of the gospel.
It would appear that rather than being driven by their feelings, they were largely task oriented. They were not afraid of facing up to these challenges, it would have been happy to include in their hymnody. The verse from the hymn, which reads my gracious Lord I owned. I write to every service. I can pay and call it my sincere delight to hear thy dictates and obey, and in this respect, I think there a challenge to those of us who have or are in danger of growing weary in doing good I am glad to be able to commend you, says the Lord Jesus because you are committed to the task at hand. Secondly, I am happy he says to commend you as being committed to the point of being tough to the point of being tough. I use the word purposefully. The word here for perseverance comes twice in the space of just a few words commend them for sticking with it for seeing it through and the church here in Ephesus was no group of Christian wimps. One of the dreadful things about the way the world looks on the church and not least of all the clarity in the church is that they are largely fairly useless and ineffectual group of individuals that kind of man that if you see them on the train he can pretty well be guaranteed to have his own seat and three other seats around even if the trains busy because nobody really wants to sit next to the frightened that he might burst into tears or something a such a pathetic looking character Robert Louis Stevenson on one occasion, wrote in his diary. I have been to church today and I am not depressed was a matter of some note, I have a word to say to men in a moment or two, but I'll refrain from launching directly into it.
These people in Ephesus were committed. They were persevering they were steadfast they were removable they were abounding in the work of the Lord and is much as they recognize that their labors in the Lord were not in vain.
You will notice that the motivation in verse three was that their perseverance and their endurance of hardship was for the name of Christ, and in this commitment to the task at hand. They have not grown weary.
Berkeley, the late scholar from Glasgow University and Presbyterian minister, whose commentaries that need to be read with great care says that their toughness is the courageous gallantry which accepts suffering and hardship and loss and turns them into grace and glory. Jesus looks upon the Ephesian believers and he says you know you're a gallant group of individuals, and I commend you for your gallantry's Christianity that they were prepared to establish and live was not driven by emotional surges. It would seem there proclamation of the good news was not simply an appeal to the felt needs of the community. Rather, they would have been completely unashamed of identifying with a kind of military imagery that Paul had used again when he wrote to the church in Ephesus, urging them to put on the whole armor of God, and to take their stand against the evil one. Now let me just say a word of encouragement and exhortation to us in relationship to these thing. How how tough are you as a church are strong and steadfast in persevering and how about the man. I'm pretty sure the women are fairly tough and strong in persevering, there is no question that in the reading of the gospel narratives. Certainly post-crucifixion. The women fare far better than the men, the man away hidden behind locked doors, for fear of the Jews. The ladies are still falling on they are at the two. They are poking into affairs. They are beginning to find out just exactly what's going on.
It is to the woman that we have the first word in the encounter with he who is apparently the gardener. I know that it is common even amongst those who once revered her to debunk Margaret Thatcher.
That's easy now after the Berlin wall is down many years removed from when we went to school in total darkness illumined by candles that were kept in closets because there wasn't a man tough enough to stand up to close shop unions and it took only 80 emerging out of the darkness, a woman of conviction in a sea of consensus.
Politicians to stand up ironclad and to declare this lady is not for turning. I fire that kind of commitment we can disagree over political stances. That's not my point this morning.
It is a very fine when someone stands up with 14 chewed and with conviction and with clarity.
It is amazing how people will rally to the task at hand. And yes, she was the best man that we had for the job.
How many of our churches are 16 by the ongoing tireless commitments of Saul committed Christian women who read the Bible more than their contemporary males who are more committed in prayer than their husbands who carry the burden on their backs of the agony of their teenage children bear the burden of their grandchildren's concern who have to look up the Bible references for their silly husband who hasn't read his Bible in a month and I ladies congratulations gentlemen, where are we wimps. Why is the average teenage boy so turned off Christianity. In many cases, the answer lies in the absence of role models that of combining spiritual conviction manually commitments and a sense of living in a real world without real love for Christ against his commendation as he looks upon the community rally comes to urge us to step up gentlemen in the home and in the church and in the community and its top.
So what when I arrived Glasgow the second city of the British Empire and went and went to nuclear Yorkshire AIA wants.
I I discovered there. To my great concern that there wasn't any commitment of football in the school so they endeavored to make me a rugby player but eventually because I could kick. They made me the fullback and I still recall the sense of absolute terror and waiting for the ball kicked from the opposing team to come to me, hoping desperately that the law of gravity would bring it down and into my arms before these horrible boys that were running at me would reach me, and I think, quite honestly, to my shame.
There were occasions when I saw them and I saw the ball and I just moved off to one side, I can only recall one thing being said to me at halftime when they Deputy Director Mr. Whitaker was looking after the team. At that point I gathered is all around and had a word for this one and that one never forget the look in his eyes. He couldn't conceal a sense of disappointment almost disgust as he looked at me and he said to me you begged you been out there for 40 minutes young name go you need brown and my shorts were immaculate. My shirt was beautiful. My hair was this nice.
I was completely useless stone in the Ephesian church as I commend you folks you're giving yourself to the task.
Jesus wants us to follow the example of the Ephesian church and to persevere in doing the hard work of proclaiming and living out the gospel Truth for Life with Alastair Bragg in today's message Alastair urged men to step up to spiritual conviction, commitment, leadership in the home and in the church and the community. If you feel inspired to step up, but you're not sure how to proceed.
You can find more of Alistair's sermons on our firstname.lastname@example.org you can search for sermons by topic, you'll find messages under topic headings, like Biblical manhood. Christian living husbands bothers more once again go to Truth for Life.org. Click on sermons in the dark blue bar and then you can browse by topic, all of Alistair's teaching is free to download and share were passionate about making clear relevant Bible teaching available to everyone without cost. Being a barrier and were able to do this because of the generosity of blisters Truth for Life is entirely listener funded the teaching you hear on this program is brought to each day because of blisters like you listeners who give consistently to cover the cost associated with distributing Alistair's teaching. If you're a regular listener or if you enjoyed being able to download the teaching freely from our website or mobile apps you reach out today with a donation when you give. We will encourage you to request as a thank you gift copy of the book were highlighting called women and God. This is a book that takes a broad sweep through Scripture to look at women specifically why did God make Eve the way he did. What is this mean for women in our day as they consider their various roles request the book when you make a donation of any amount. Just click on the image of the mobile app visit us online at truthforlife.org/donate or you can call us at 888-588-7884 Bob Lapine thanks for joining us.
Jesus had a lot of praise for the Ephesian church but tomorrow will hear how they were still in danger of spiritual bankruptcy.
Hope you can join us. The Bible teaching of Alastair bearing is furnished by Truth for Life with the learning is prolific