CHRIST THE ROCK CONGREGATION
SUNDAY OCTOBER 6TH 2019
Sermon by Pst Marc E Simeon
THE FATE OF THE CHURCH OF EPHESUS
LA CHUTE DE L’EGLISE D’EPHESE
Re 2:4 Mais ce que j’ai contre toi, c’est que tu as abandonné ton premier amour. (LSV)
4 “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. (NKJV)
THE GLORIOUS GENESIS OF THE CHURCH OF EPHESUS
- If you were to take the Apostle Paul apart and ask him: Of all the churches you’ve planted, which one was the most grateful to you? Without any hesitation, he would answer, the church of Philippi.
- If you were to ask the apostle Paul, which of the churches seemed to have a brightest future? Without any doubt, his answer would be the church of Ephesus.
- Which church was healthiest? Ephesus
- Which church was most organized? Ephesus
- Which church was sounder doctrinally? Ephesus
- Which church was showing the most progress? Ephesus
- Which church was more mission oriented? Ephesus
- Which church was more Christ centered apparently? Ephesus
- Which church that was more cared for? Ephesus
- Which church would you like the rest of the churches in Christendom to pattern after? Ephesus
- Ephesus, Ephesus, Ephesus!
The sense of satisfaction that Apostle Paul had for the Church of Ephesus echoed in his Epistles to the Ephesians.
Eph 1:15 ¶ C’est pourquoi moi aussi, ayant entendu parler de votre foi au Seigneur Jésus et de votre charité pour tous les saints, 16 je ne cesse de rendre grâces pour vous, faisant mention de vous dans mes prières,
Eph 1:15 ¶ Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers:
- Up to the writing of the book of Revelation, the church of Ephesus was doing remarkably well.
- Quite frankly all churches should try to mimic the ministry style of the church of Ephesus except for their diminishing love for God.
THE FEAR OF DRIFTING AWAY FROM GRACE
- Drifting away from faith is real for people and for churches
- Drifting away from the faith occurs everyday
- No one is immune from drifting away from God. There is no point in one’s pilgrimage to heaven where one can push the auto pilot button or the cruise control button.
- All must be vigilant and engaged in the process. The help of the Holy Spirit is assured, and victory is also assured to the prudent Christian.
- We need to understand that the Holy Spirit does most of His work in our lives like the power steering in our cars.
- As you try to steer in God’s direction in life, the assistance of the Holy Spirit is assured to make it possible.
- If you take your hands off the steering wheel, the power steering system is to no avail.
- We must consciously and daily put that cross on our back and follow Christ.
THE DRIFTING PROCESS
- In the Bible and in real life we see all can drift except God, because God is immutable and unchangeable and that there is no variance in Him.
- Satan the adversary and all the fallen angels that we now call demons were once in the presence of God.
- They were in harmony with God
- Some were the most trusted and the most beloved of God.
- When iniquity was found in them, they were casted away.
- Our first parents Adam and Eve were once filled with the presence of God. They were clothed with the glory of God.
- They had the perfect relationship with God, until sin was found in them.
- They lost the glory immediately and the fall permeated in all their endeavors.
- The Children of Israel were chosen to become a set apart and holy nation for God. They failed miserably although God is not through with them but they drifted away and paid a dire price for it.
- The relationship between God and mankind is always covenantal; there is always an “if” a condition, even if the “if” is not always tangible for everyone to see.
- Hebrews 2 verse one tells us that we give earnest heed to the things we heard lest we drift away.
- Heb 2:1 ¶ C’est pourquoi nous devons d’autant plus nous attacher aux choses que nous avons entendues, de peur que nous ne soyons emportés loin d’elles. (LSV)
- Earnest heeds implies full attention, full compliance, full reverence, full devotion, full attachment.
- The things we heard, implies the word of God, the will of God, the commands of God, the precepts of God.
- Lest means: otherwise, if not, in fear of, in danger of
- We drift means: to leave the path, to fall away, to leave the track, to miss the mark, to deter, to detach, to derail, etc
- Away means: away from the Gospel of salvation, away from the grace of God, far from the heritage of the saints.
The following verses in Hebrews chapter 2 read as follow.
2 For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him,
Heb 2:2 Car, si la parole annoncée par des anges a eu son effet, et si toute transgression et toute désobéissance a reçu une juste rétribution, 3 comment échapperons-nous en négligeant un si grand salut, qui, annoncé d’abord par le Seigneur, nous a été confirmé par ceux qui l’ont entendu,
- Keep that line of thought to understand what the author of Hebrews is stressing here. If the word of God delivered by angels carried the full weight of judgment.
- How much more severe the punishment of drifting away will be when it was The Son of God Himself or God incarnated that came in person to deliver the message of salvation.
- After the Christ had paid the full price for the salvation of mankind with his own blood. If we neglect such an expensive salvation and allow ourselves to be drifted away, how then do we plan to escape the magnitude of the judgment of God?
THE DEATH TOLL OF SICK CHURCHES
- The death toll of sick churches reach 100%
- Unless repentance takes place, and prevention is taken, no matter how insignificant the initial disease that stuck the church, it will surely lead to its death.
- The first church, the Primitive Church was a blazing fire.
- Their growth rate was phenomenal;
- Their fellowship and brotherly love was unparallel.
- Their zeal, their boldness to advance the kingdom of God was second to none.
- While ministering and serving the Lord and assisting to the needs of the saints, they were struck with a big problem.
- Discrimination almost capped the first church over food distribution.
- The apostles had to act swiftly to bring the church back to its feet.
- Their narrowed view of the Gospel caused them to evangelize just to Jews while neglecting the Great Commission to spread to the Good news of salvation to the whole world.
- All a sudden, the primitive church of Jerusalem lost their center stage in Christendom.
- When the dispersed and persecuted Christians arrived at Antioch, they began to share the Gospel with Gentiles as well as Jews; consequently, a great move of God began in the church again.
- The church of Antioch became the new model for the rest of the churches to follow.
- Although the Apostles remained significant for the universal church, but he church of Antioch became the launching pad for the greatest heap in Christianity around the world.
- God is no respecter of persons. If a church is in line with His purpose, that’s the church He is going to use.
Cemetery of Dead Churches
- There is a great cemetery of dead churches. Some are out of existence completely and some still have masses of people that swell the pews every weekend.
- If you could assemble all the dead churches from around the world and make a cemetery large enough to put all these dead churches in coffins large enough to insert their entire sanctuaries within.
- The size of this cemetery would cover a whole State in America.
- In fact, all the seven churches we read about in Revelation have all died.
- The church in Corinth died
- The once affluent church of Antioch died
- The church in Galatia died.
- In America the death rate of churches is very high.
- An estimated 30,000 congregations shut their doors in the United States from 2006 to 2012. (Christianity Today)
THE SIGNS OF A DYING CONGREGATION
- The first sign of death in a church is the departure of the Holy Spirit just as the Spirit of the Lord departed the temple in the Old Testament. The physical death may take decades to occur, but it will happen on course.
- The church is the bride of Christ, when it is disconnected with Christ, it cannot survive.
- Many churches are on probation without knowing it. Some churches are wearing the very core of the patience of God, but they are indifferent about it.
- First sign of departure is passivity of the Word of God. (God’s Word is not taken seriously), or (The World of God as equal footing with traditions), or (The Word of God is coupled with another revelation)
- Second sign of departure is an obscured or erroneous view of the Lord Jesus Christ. If the Jesus you worship is not God incarnate then you got the wrong jesus.
- Third sign of departure is pragmatism or modernizing the church to fit the present society.
- Fourth sign of departure is tolerance of other views and even opposing views of the Bible as a mean to salvation.
- Fifth sign of departure is the upholding of doctrinal errors on purpose.
- Sixth sign is passivity on sin
- Seventh sign of departure is higher reverence for men or men’s traditions than God.
- The eighth sign of departure is unholy fire / entertainment for excitement instead of the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
- The ninth sign of departure is reliance upon the material possessions of the church as a mean to stay alive.
- The tenth sign of departure is the passivity in the pulpit. Availing the pulpit to non-Christians, or unholy people.
- 11th sign of departure from God is passivity on prayer meeting and meditation
- The 12th sign of departure from God is the love of money and making profit, seeing the church as profit making business. (Den of wolves)
- The 13th sign of departure from God is denominational pride.
- The 14th sign of departure from God is stagnation: same old, same old. No sensitivity to the present move of the Holy Spirit.
- The 15th sign of departure from God is a spirit of competition that introduces carnal promptings for vain glory.
- The 16th sigh of departure from God is the spirit of exclusion, discrimination based race and economic status.
- The 17th sign of departure from God is the usage of pagan items and practices.
- The 18th sign of departure from God is when the church becomes more of a political platform instead of a place of worship to God.
- The 19th sign of departure from God is worldly philosophy of ministry
- The 20th sign of departure from God is blasphemy using the church as a platform to insult God.
Remember, Repent, repeat the first deeds.
Re 2:5 “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place–unless you repent. (NKJV)
5 Souviens-toi donc d’où tu es tombé, repens-toi, et pratique tes premières oeuvres; sinon, je viendrai à toi, et j’ôterai ton chandelier de sa place, à moins que tu ne te repentes. (LSV)
- This warning is very serious and should not be taken lightly.
- I know that we’ve been talking about the church of Ephesus. It’s easy to get your mind fixate on a church, or a body of believer.
- This warning is personal. The problem of a given church is the common problem of the majority of the members of that church beginning with the principal leader, the pastor, the overseer.
- The pattern to repentance is also individual. When each member of a given church begins to repent, collectively one can say that church has repented.
The consequence of losing the first love for God matches that of drifting away from salvation.
- Repentance is available while it is still time.
- After the patience of God has worn out, one’s heart becomes seared; rejection and damnation will soon follow.
- In the case of a church: the Holy Spirit will depart from that place.
- Genuine Christians will start leaving that church in search for a living church.
- Stagnation and compromises will have their turns. If a few members persist to stay in that church, old age and death will get them.
- Many churches are zombies; they are dead churches making the appearance to be alive.
- How many more messages do you need to hear on the subject before you become convinced that God is trying to get your attention?
- Andre Couch wrote that song.
Take me back o Lord to the place where I first received you!
- Don’t we all need to make that same prayer?
- Let us all ask the Lord to take us back to the place where our intimacy with him was at the highest peak.
Jer 2:2 Va, et crie aux oreilles de Jérusalem: Ainsi parle l’Éternel: Je me souviens de ton amour lorsque tu étais jeune, De ton affection lorsque tu étais fiancée, Quand tu me suivais au désert, Dans une terre inculte. 3 Israël était consacré à l’Éternel, Il était les prémices de son revenu; Tous ceux qui en mangeaient se rendaient coupables, Et le malheur fondait sur eux, dit l’Éternel.
Jer 2:2 “Go and cry in the hearing of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD: “I remember you, The kindness of your youth, The love of your betrothal, When you went after Me in the wilderness, In a land not sown. 3 Israel was holiness to the LORD, The firstfruits of His increase. All that devour him will offend; Disaster will come upon them,” says the LORD.'”
- Be it the desert, take us there Lord, if that’s the only place where we can find our lost intimacy, your presence, your in-filling, your joy, your peace, your serenity, your affection.
- Revelation 2:4 echoes in my head everyday in the past month. As a minister, that’s the one thing I know I have to work on.
- There had been so many trials and setbacks since that first love era with God, that I can hardly remember some of details.
- I can only say to God: Let’s fall in love again!
- This time, I will be more mindful of the distinctive in our relationship.
- I will prioritize my time and energy better.
- I will avoid getting in the fast track of ministry while neglecting you who are the real essence of my devotion.
- I will prioritize my time alone with you
- I will prioritize meditation of the word of God
- I will prioritize heartfelt worship and adoration to you.
I pray and hope that God would not have to judge our relationship with Him over the lack of our first love. Let it so be in Jesus’ Name.