Written by: Dr Siva Moodley
Article source: JOY! Magazine
The seven churches of Revelation represent the churches that we attend today. Our church is either one or a combination of some of these churches. Did you know that some of these churches that received letters did not even exist when the letters were written? Consider, therefore, the seven letters as a prophecy directly from Jesus to us right now. Remember, this was a ‘group mail’ so everyone knew what prophecy was given to each church. Each prophecy follows a distinct pattern. First, the location of the church so that we are aware which church it is and understand the secular influence. Second is a description of Christ for that type of church. Third is the commendation (or congratulation) for all they had accomplished in faith. Not every church gets this commendation. Fourth is the condemnation for wrong doing. Not all churches experience this disapproval. Fifth is the consequence of their actions, for those who are condemned. Sixth is counsel on how to fix the problem. Finally, seventh is a challenge to reach new levels of obedience and faithfulness.
The church in Ephesus was faithful
The first church that Jesus writes to is John’s physical church in Ephesus (Rev 2:1-7). The Ephesus church was an active church, located in a major, influential, and wealthy city. First, the church was commended for being hard working in propagating the Gospel. A large portion of the church was actively involved in ministry. Second, holiness was very important to them. This church did not hesitate to confront and deal with any form of immorality or rebellion. When, for example, they saw someone living in sin in the worship team or any church member, they would confront them and help to restore that person. Third, they were loyal to Jesus and His Word. They studied God’s Word diligently and when they discovered false doctrine, they did not tolerate it. The Word of God was central to all their activities. Fourth, they were consistent in their walk. They did not backslide or grow weary when persecuted or enduring hardships. The Ephesus church was an active, faithful, biblically-sound church that everyone would want to attend.
Jesus observed something missing in this church, that few today look for.
This church was missing something critical
However, Jesus observed something so critical missing in this church, that few today look for. They had everything ‘Christian’, but lacked God’s love, passion, and power. It’s so easy to become performance-based as a Christian. Martha was made aware of this when she rebuked Mary (Luke 10:40). Paul told the Corinthian church that all their efforts were a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal (1 Cor 13:1). These instruments made a lot of noise, but lacked any physical life. Also, they were used in the worship of Idols, which lacked life too. So, the absence of love is equivalent to dead worship in a dead relationship.
What does this look like today?
In modern terms, the music and worship team were great. The people danced and waved their flags in excitement, yet God was not the centre of their worship – it was the excitement of the environment. Everyone enjoyed the worship except God. Praise and worship becomes entertainment in an Ephesus type church. The most skilled musicians and singers are sought after, yet the anointing is no longer a requirement. In an Ephesus type church, spiritual encounters like weeping in God’s presence, falling prostrate before Him, and feeling His power run through our bodies are replaced by the excitement of worship. A lot of noise but no presence. Excitement was the substitute for the Supernatural.
When a church returns to an extensive programme of prayer, that church is returning back to its first love.
Don’t lose your first love
The Ephesus church was a packed church and the sermons so articulate, yet the fire of God was absent. It’s easy to lose your first love and still be excited about church. It’s easy to work for Jesus, yet not with Jesus. It’s easy to do church without Jesus being present. The Ephesus church believed they were doing everything required of a Christian, yet they were backslidden. The Corinth church had the gifts of the Spirit operating yet were backslidden (1 Cor 13:1-3). The point that Jesus was making is simply this – when God sees a successful church, full of great music, preaching, mission-focussed, holiness-driven, Word-based, but no presence and no anointing, His response is “Where is your first love?”
Turn back to prayer
God instructs church in Ephesus to firstly remember the supernatural encounters that they used to have with Him. Secondly, they needed to repent of the sins and obstacles that stole their encounters with the supernatural. Finally, they would need to repeat their original walk, starting with prayer and returning to the basics again. Jesus talks about us becoming like little children again, having a child-like faith. When a church returns to an extensive programme of prayer, that church is returning back to its first love. The attendance numbers at intercession is an indication of the first love. Jesus ends with a stern warning – change your ways now or face the consequences of doing church without Me.
Siva Moodley is a pastor and author. Visit sivamoodley.com for info on our daily TV programmes, weekly interactive livestreams with Apostles Siva & Jessie Moodley, conferences, prayer requests, bookshop details, and more.
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