What’s the One Thing that Christians
DATE: 18 Nov, 2001
PLACE: BBC Blarney
Introduction (2Cor 12:15)
A. The seven churches of the Book of the Revelation are a real eye-opener, as far as what Jesus expects of His churches, and what He finds!
B. He has the Apostle John write a short letter to each of seven churches of the day, and they amazingly match three things:
1. The types of churches in existence in 95 AD –all located in Turkey
2. The types of churches throughout history
3. The types of churches that are present even today!
C. They serve as examples and warnings to churches everywhere that they should be exemplary in their conduct and their doctrine
D. Each church had their peculiar problems with society, geography, and people, but each had an obligation to rise above and overcome them as CHRISTians!
E. The first church is located in Ephesus
F. And no matter how much the Lord loves us, as in Ephesus, modern Christians seem to love the Lord less, and less.
G. This message aims to correct that!
Message – Keeping Our First Love, First (Rev 2:1-7)
A. The Revelation (Rev 2:1)
1. That Jesus is LORD – He is holding the STARS in His hands – He can take care of you!
2. That the Lord Jesus is present – not far off
3. That the Lord Jesus Knows us better than we know ourselves!
B. The Review (Rev 2:2-3)
1. These are all things that MUST be in our lives as Christians to be known as Christians – there are many people who may be SAVED< but definitely are NOT like Jesus Christ!
2. The Christian Church at Ephesus had the following characteristic
a. Good works – efforts (Eph 2:10, 8,9)
b. Labours – not talking about easy works either, but hard labours sometimes, in serving our King of kings!
c. Patience – Christianity is not about instant fruit, or instant gratification – it involves something called Determination and Perseverance
d. Disgust – they had perfect hatred towards:
1) People who are clearly evil – there is NO loving them!
2) False religious leaders – there is NO loving them (Jesus didn’t)!
a) Nicolaitanes (2:6) – Clergy over the laity
b) These were the high church people of the day
c) Believed in holy men, and holy altars, and holy water
d) The common man was always only “the sinner”
e. Discernment - Examining – reasoning through things – they checked things out (Acts 17:10,11)
1) They had the right doctrine
2) The right Bible
3) The right desires
4) The right spiritual goals
1) Means they carried burdens – lived with them, patiently (Ps 55:12; Mk 2:3)
2) Held up while under the weight of troubles and temptations (Jdgs 16:29) – a good testimony!
3) Put up with bad things in life not going their way (Job 31:34)
4) Did not shirk from the will of God when it called for them to STAY in the midst of hard times
All for the glory of Christ’s name
3. This church was a lot like Martha in Luke 10:38-41
C. The Rebuke (Rev 2:4) – something very important was wrong!
1. They had not examined their OWN HEART lately
a. Examined the preacher’s doctrine
b. Checked the doctrines of people who wrote books
c. Worked hard at DOING right
d. But forgot about BEING right
e. They BOTH must be true in our lives!
f. Do you remember the Pharisees, how they did so many things right?
2. Not a rebuke about “not loving”, but about not having their FIRST love (Jer 24:2) – the best love, the most vibrant, that which is at the first, or at the top – not the dregs!
a. It is not that they had NO love
b. They just didn’t have the right kind of love
c. We all love, all the time – even angry people are in love – they feed on, and love the supremacy that their anger gives them!
d. Love is the GREATEST WORK a soul can do (Mk 12:30,31)
1) Love OF God
2) Love of the Lord Jesus – can’t say you love God and not Jesus
3) Love of your spouse – takes some work, some effort, some labours, some patience, AMEN!
4) Love of your kids – real love, not money-buying love
5) Love of your church – is it YOUR church, or “Craig’s church”, or the “Blarney church”, etc.
6) Love of your calling – do you LOVE where God has you, and what God has you doing? Do you love what God is doing in your life RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE?
7) Love of soul-winning
8) Love of this BIBLE – from cover to cover – “Don’t just date it, MARRY this Book!”
9) Love of the simple (2Cor 11:1-3)
e. Love is the greatest reason for DOING anything (1Cor 13:1-3)
f. Any church that doesn’t have an overwhelming sense of love that compels them to serve, is NOTHING!
g. The Lord is more concerned with what we do WITH Him than what we do FOR Him.
h. To the public this church was a success, but to Jesus it was a failure!
3. The problem was simply that these Christians had LEFT that kind of love
a. Left it behind – left it for something else, of lesser value
b. Didn’t LOSE it
c. There is not ANYONE in this room who is a Christian who got saved without a great amazing love for God at salvation! Look at Gal 3:3! Somehow something attracted us away, and moved our hearts on to “bigger and better things” so-to-speak!
4. There is something about this “First Love”:
a. We have to receive it (1John 4:19)
b. We need to CLING to it – like a man does his wife, and visa-versa
c. We need to also protect it from being soiled, or ignored, or devalued
5. Why? Because only by IT is a sinner transformed.
6. Story: Love over Will Power. Aleida Huissen, 78 of Rotterdam, Netherlands, has been smoking for 50 years and has been trying to give up her harmful bad habit. But she has not been successful – that is, until recently. She has now given up cigarettes. The Secret? Leo Jansen, 79, proposed marriage last year, but refused to go through with the wedding until Aleida gave up smoking. Says Aleida now, “Will power never was enough to get me off the tobacco habit. But Love did it!”
D. The Requirement (Rev 2:5) 3 requirements: Remember, Repent, and Re-Start
a. If you are saved, you have a memory of being closer to the Lord than you currently are – you remember what Jesus does for you out of love
b. If you not saved, then this is an empty gesture – like preaching about the joy of marriage to a bunch of bachelors!
a. Change the way that you think and look upon things
b. Redirect your love back to the first things, the RIGHT things
1) Good, strong, Christ honouring preaching
2) Godly music
3) GODLINESS! Being clean and pure
4) Your spouse – your mate ought to know you love God, and that you LOVE THEM immensely
5) Same with your kids, and this church, and this Book, etc
3. Re-Start – God’s mercies are new every morning, and waiting for you!
a. A beautiful car that had left its engine back a hundred miles back doesn’t need to be replaced – just go back and get the engine, and then get going again
b. All the above things SHOULD be in our lives, but only as long as it is all done out of a heart full of LOVE for the Lord Jesus!
E. The Restoration (Rev 2:7) – This is why Jesus rebukes us – for our benefit!
1. If a church’s heart is not in the things of God, then Jesus pulls the plug on that church, and the light goes out!
2. Our heart attitude, once changed, brings about
b. Transformation – from selfish and carnal, back to spiritual
c. Over-coming – conquering – this is what were designed to be
3. If we stay right, we will have one blessed time in heaven at the Marriage Feast – instead of having to eat in the “kitchen!”
A. How long have you struggled with some things – it may be you are struggling upstream against evils, and tribulations, and trials
B. Maybe your struggles have become bigger than your relationship with Jesus
A. An opportunity to remember, repent, and re-start your life, God’s way
B. A call for Christians to STOP every effort, and check to see if it is being done out of LOVE for the Lord Jesus, or of self – there are only TWO possibilities
1. Repent of the worship of self
2. Repent of ignoring this emptiness, and ache in our hearts for too long