“Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”
The verse above is God’s admonition to the church of Ephesus. Ephesus was a church that was once on fire for God. This church was a church that labored for the LORD, patient with people, and was not tolerant of sin in the church. However, something happened in the church that caused God to rebuke the church and threaten to remove their candlestick out of His place. What happened is this church stopped their “first works.” This church stopped going soul winning. This church got so busy doing everything else that they stopped doing what made them great, and that was aggressively reaching the lost for Christ.
Sadly, it is evident from history that this church eventually didn’t listen to God’s reprimand. Ephesus is in modern-day Turkey. The prevailing religion in Turkey today is the Muslim religion, with 99.2% of its population claiming to be Muslims. What a sad commentary for this city. The church of Ephesus was so aggressive that, at one point, Christianity became the city’s official religion. Something happened between then and now. In Revelation 2, God shows us what happened to this church that led to Christianity dying and the church being extinct.
First, they forgot to remind. God says in the verse above, “Remember…” They stopped talking about the first works. They became enamored with other things and made other works more important than the first works. We are only one generation away from Christianity becoming extinct in our homes or church. There are empty buildings all over America that once used to host a thriving church. There are godless families all over America that once used to be God-fearing families who were aggressively serving the LORD. What happened? They stopped reminding the next generation who they were and instead they attacked their heritage. Never forget or stop reminding people of the old paths.
Second, they stopped repenting. The church of Ephesus became so haughty that the altars stopped being used. Repentance has always started in the heart but becomes evident at the altar. When you quench the Holy Spirit’s conviction by refusing to use the altar is when you are headed towards spiritual decay.
Third, they lost the love of the first works. Of course, the first works are soul winning. My friend, never think you are too big to be a soul winner. Soul winning is not a gift; it is a command. You are bound to spiritually die when soul winning is no longer important to your life. Soul winning always helps you to keep your zeal for Christ alive.
Fourth, they stopped listening to the Holy Spirit. Verse 7 says, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith…” You must never stop responding to the voice of the Holy Spirit. Cold, indifferent, and backslidden hearts are caused by the first time you didn’t respond to the Holy Spirit’s conviction. You are not far from spiritual death when you stop listening to the Holy Spirit.
Ephesus is truly a sad story that could have been avoided had they kept doing what made them great. You will never become an Ephesus if you keep doing what brought God’s blessings on you and your Christian walk.