On Sunday we returned to our series “God’s Word to the Churches.” We examined the letter to the second church, the church at Smyrna. This was one church that Jesus had nothing negative to say about. This was an incredibly poor church, yet Jesus said they were rich. You can listen to this message by clicking here or view our sermons page.
Yesterday morning we returned to our series on “God’s Word to the Churches.” Our journey began in the city of Ephesus, the capital of the province of Asia. The city had a population 250,000 people. At one time it was the greatest city in all of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). Ephesus was a huge marketplace, with peoples from all over the world interacting. Asia Minor served as a land bridge between the continents, and was the “highway” for Greece, Rome, Italy and Spain. When you were headed east Ephesus was the place where “everybody” stopped. You have heard the saying, “All roads to lead to Rome,” but in Asia all roads led to Ephesus. The pagan temple of the goddess Diana was located in Ephesus. It was a gigantic temple and was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The temple was visible from miles around. The city also had a reputation for occult practices. It was in the great city of Ephesus that Paul established the church of Ephesus. This was a church that had been born in revival. In Acts 18-20, we read of how Paul came to Ephesus and preached for three months in the synagogue. Although he was greatly opposed, God did a tremendous work in the city. We read in Acts 19:20, “So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.” This was a Church that through the years had been blessed with great pastors. Paul had been there for two years, Timothy followed Paul, and it is believed that the Apostle John himself followed Timothy. The Church at Ephesus was a kind of home church for many in Asia Minor. From Ephesus many of the neighboring churches were “planted”. The name “Ephesus” means “delightful”. The church began as an island of purity in a sea of wretchedness. The Apostle John delivered the letter to the church of Ephesus that had been dictated by Jesus Christ Himself. In this letter we read that the church of Ephesus was an incredible church that was doing everything right. There was one problem though – they had left their first love.
I want you to try to picture Jesus Christ in your mind. I’ll give you a moment… Did your mind paint a picture of Christ that is accurate to Who Jesus really is? Probably not. First of all, we cannot truly comprehend the majesty and glory of our Savior. No, our feeble minds are too small. Our mind’s picture of Christ will always be too small. There is a great little phrase over in 1 John that says that “we shall see Him as He is,” not as He was. If your mind pictured the Jewish carpenter of Galilee, then you didn’t have an accurate picture of Jesus. If your mind pictured the Rabbi teaching His twelve disciples, then you didn’t have an accurate picture of Jesus. If your mind even pictured Jesus hanging on the cross, then you didn’t have an accurate picture of Jesus. No, Jesus is on the throne as the risen Lord of Glory. In Revelation 1:9-20, John is given a glimpse of Jesus Christ “as He is.” He had seen something like that at the Transfiguration, but now He sees His Savior in all of the splendor and majesty that He possesses. Remember, it had been sixty years earlier when he had seen Jesus ascend up into Heaven. There is no misunderstanding Who it is that John sees, but He isn’t as He was. He is “as He is.” This past Sunday, I preached a message entitled “A Vision of the Glorified Christ,” (click to listen). This was the first message in our new series entitled, “God’s Word to the Churches.” You can listen to other sermons on our sermons page.