The Church at Ephesus: Great...Good...Good for Nothing
Ephesus: capital of Asia, home of the temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the World
Ephesians: reasonable, idolatrous, greedy, deceitful, stubborn, influential, fervent, vindictive, misled
Ephesian Believers: better taught than any other church (P&A, Paul, Apollos, Timothy, John); confident of the Truth; quite capable of living the "Christian life" without the Spirit (except for love and fruit)
The Ephesian Church: started by Disciples and Disciplemakers; had great influence; was opposed by Satan, society/idolaters, and traditionalists; lost its love and its light
Acts 18:19 They arrived at Ephesus, where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila. He himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. 24 Jew named Apollos...26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.
Acts 19:8 Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. 9 But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10 This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord. 18 Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. 19 A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. 20 In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power. 23 there arose a great disturbance about the Way. 26...this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia.
Acts 20:17 ...Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. 20 You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. 21 I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. 25 "Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.
1Cor 15:32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, what have I gained?...Let us eat and drink... 1Tim 1:3...stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer
Apostle John Rev 2:1 "To the angel of the church in Ephesus write...2 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. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5 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. 6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
Self-centeredness (think God and others exist for your comfort and benefit)
Independence (from the Head and each other)
Love diminished (of the Head and each other)
Truth diminished (know the Truth, live the Truth, love others with the Truth)
Why many won't finish (much less win) but only be "also rans"
1. Cavernituscraniumitis: we fail to begin with the end in mind (and keep it there until the end).
2. Independence: we persist in the silly notion that we can manage our lives better than the Head in conjunction with the Body.
3. Nibbling: we don't commit to dive in completely and frustratedly flounder in the shallows.
4. Short-sightedness: we focus on the pain (liabilities/costs) rather than the prize (assets/blessings/inheritance).
5. Disrespect: familiarity breeds fearlessness/contempt of the Lord: we remake God in a more comfortable image.
6. Shallowness: we're duped into believing the stage scenery is reality, failing to go behind the facade, examining the foundations.
7. Mediocrity: we focus on staying with the herd rather than on setting our pace to win the race and inspire others.
8. Sloth: We neglect the disciplines which build the endurance for the hills, thinking it easier to run on bursts of emotion.
9. Insensitivity: we forget the principles and actions that brought us success in the first place.
10. Pettiness: we allow insignificant, transient rifts (differences) to ripen into chasms that prevent intimacy and unity.
11. Ingratitude: we neglect to polish the sterling images of our fellowsaints, focusing fatally on their flaws.
12. Power Failure: we come unplugged from the power source, draw on the flesh rather than the Spirit, short-circuit, and smoke.
13. Naivete: we want life to be a stroll rather than a struggle against Satan and fail to arm ourselves accordingly and resist.
14. Immaturity: we never experience the complete satisfaction/joy of making an eternal investment in a living work of art, preferring to squander out time, talents and treasure on merrymaking rather than disciplemaking.
Questions for Reflection/Discussion/Response:
1. What produced the greatness of the Ephesian Church? What more could they have asked for?
2. How could a church with so much wind up losing? If we fail to cultivate that which produces greatness, we're gonners.
3. What are some other things that will prevent us from enduring and finishing well? How can we guard against those things?
4. How can you keep your "first love" your final love? How are you tempted not to finish strong? Are you first fleeing mentally?
5. How have the truths of Ephesians made a difference in your life? And in the lives of others because of you?