Revelation 2:1-7 / When Love Grows Cold

Posted on January 29, 2015


This is the sixth in a series of verse-by-verse expositions of the book of Revelation. This message was delivered at Hillcrest Baptist Church on the morning of January 18, 2015. This message deals with the importance of a love for Christ. This post contains an audio recording of my message, along with my sermon notes and a study outline. Please note that the sermon notes are not a full transcript.

Revelation 2:1-7

Ephesus was an inland city 3 miles from the sea, but the broad mouth of the Cayster River allowed access and provided the greatest harbor in Asia Minor.

Four great trade roads went through Ephesus; therefore, it became known as the gateway to Asia.

It was the center of the worship of Artemis (Greek), or Diana (Roman), whose temple was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Paul ministered there for three years, and later met with the Ephesian elders on his way to Jerusalem.

Acts 20:31

Timothy, Tychicus, and the apostle John all served this church.

Christ is ever present within His church, and there is nothing hidden from Him. He sees all.

You works, your attitude, and your morals are all noted by Christ.

The Ephesians were obviously diligent about doctrinal purity.

They would rightfully test those who claim to have a word from the Lord, which is still very important today.

1 Thessalonians 5:21

1 John 4:1

There are no shortage of people who will willfully distort the Word of God and lead you astray.

As Christians, we must always be on guard.

For over 40 years since its founding, this church had faithfully worked for the name of Christ, despite persecution.

They were driven by the right motive. . . for Christ.

Colossians 3:17

We also should work for the name of Christ.

In all this; however, there was a serious fault in the church.

To be a Christian is to love the Lord.

Mark 12:30

However, their doctrinal and moral purity, their zeal for the truth, and their consistent service were no substitute for the love for Christ they had forsaken.

It really does not matter how much you hate evil, how you pursue the truth, or how many good works you do if your love for Christ grows cold.

The first order of business for a Christian is to love the Lord.

1 Corinthians 16:22

The accusation was simple, they had left their first love.

There is nothing more to the accusation, but it is serious enough in itself.

For a Christian’s love of Christ to grow cold is bad enough. It negates all other efforts, and causes Christ to issue a warning.

Jesus; however, would rather bless than condemn.

Ezekiel 33:11

With that in mind, Christ gives them the three steps they need to take to repentance.

The problem had been identified, and the remedy given.

Remember, repent and do!

1) Remember. . . from where you have fallen.

It is possible to slip away gradually without realizing what is happening.

In fact, that’s usually the way it happens.

We don’t normally fall all at once. Most Christians would never even entertain the thought of a wholesale forsaking of Christ.

But when you slowly slip away, a little at a time, you are gone before you ever realize what has happened.

In such a cse where you realize this has happened, the remedy is the same as for the Ephesian church.

You need to pause and reflect on the relationship with Christ that you once had.

That relationship which was based on a fervent love for Him, and resulted in heartfelt works of devotion in His name.

Works which were truly motivated by love. Such should be the mantra of every believer and every church.

Mark 12:30

Colossians 3:17

2) Repent. . . There must be a sharp break with the sinful activity (in this case it was a lack of love for Christ).

Then, you must turn your back on such an attitude or activity, and turn toward Christ.

Jesus must become your sole focus, which leads to the third step.

3) Do the first works.

Many churches today stand at the same crossroads. They have become so busy doing “the Lord’s work” that they have forgotten the Lord.

Most churches would become very indignant at the suggestion that they need to reduce and simplify their “ministries”.

Nonetheless, the instruction is for them to “do the first works”.

The solution, it seems, is to return to the time that they Loved the Lord, and worked solely to please Him.

In many cases, it may be beneficial for a church in such a situation to go back to the basics, and make a fresh start.

Starting over may seem a bit radical, but I believe that a great deal of the modern church, as busy as it may be, needs a rebirth.

Failure to do so would result in the removal of the church’s lampstand. In short they would cease to exist.

Certainly, a church without a love for Christ can not long remain.

One last commendation is given, that they hated the deeds of the Nicolatians.

Knowledge of the Nicolatians is somewhat speculative.

Irenaeus, a 2nd century bishop, says that the Nicolatians originated from Nicolas, one of the Deacons from Acts 6:5

He writes that Nicolas was a false believer who later became apostate; but because of his credentials he was able to lead the church astray.

He writes that like Balaam, he led the people into immorality and wickedness.

Clement of Alexandria (a 2nd century theologian) says this of the Nicolatians:

They abandoned themselves to pleasure like goats, leading a life of self-indulgence.

We don’t know for sure if these writings are accurate, but we do know that whoever the Nicolatians were, they were heretics, and at least the Ephesian church had discernment enough to hate their deeds.

God cannot tolerate sin, and he expects us to stand against it.

The letter closes with one last appeal from Christ, which is sealed with a promise.

Notice that the appeal is a personal one, intended for any individual in the church who would respond.

For all the purpose that God’s church holds in this world, and in His plans, salvation is a personal matter.

Because we are saved one by one, we are restored one by one.

There isn’t any indication as to whether or not the entire church would repent, but some individuals within the church likely would, even if others did not.

The promise of course is that beautiful promise of eternal life.

I can’t think of a better motivation to love and serve the Lord, than that of this promise, which He sacrificed so much to give.

Posted in: Eschatology, Sermons