God's Nonetheless

Bible Book: Revelation  2 : 1-5
Subject: Love for Jesus; Church, Dying; Commitment


Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor, www.pastorlife.com

Revelation 2:4

In the Book of Revelation, chapters 2 and 3, we see clearly revealed that the Lord Jesus walks among His churches. He knows the state and condition of the local church and His opinion, in the end, is what really matters regarding a church being acceptable or disappointing. We may consider things in our church to be excellent, good, fair or poor, but what really matters is what Jesus thinks about us and knows about us. He looks at our actions and attitudes, and He is cognizant of every detail in the lives of the members of a local congregation.

Let every believer be aware that Jesus patrols the churches whenever and wherever His people meet to serve, pray, give, fellowship and worship. He observes the faithfulness and faults of the members individually and as a local church body. He is interested in each church because He is the Head of the Church, the Foundation of the Church and the Lord of the Church. It is, after all, HIS CHURCH.

In our text today we discover Jesus moving among the believers who are part of The Church at Ephesus. This is not some parable told about the Lord, for we know that a New Testament Chuch existed in the city of Ephesus. This church began when Paul was on his second missionary journey, which was around 52 AD or about 20 years after Jesus was crucified and risen from the dead.

When Paul was on his third missionary journey he stayed in Ephesus to serve the Church at Ephesus for approximately 2 to 3 years. Already, at that time, it was necessary for Paul to work on removing false doctrines being taught in that church. Paul spoke to the elders of the Church at Ephesus on his final journey to Jerusalem. So, we can ascertain that this church was strong and well served by lay leaders whom Paul deeply appreciated and loved while he served there. Around 60 to 63 AD Paul wrote a letter to the Church at Ephesians, and can see that the church was moving forward under good leadership at that time.

Things changed in the church at Ephesus prior to 100 AD, for it was then that the Apostle John received the message that the Lord reveals to The Church at Ephesus in the Book of Revelation. As the Bible describes the visit of Jesus to the Church at Ephesus, we note that there were some compliments He gave them. Our Lord stated that this church held true doctrines to be critical. Also, He complimented their hard work and dedication. Again, the Lord spoke positively about how they required all new members to fully accept true doctrines in order to join the congregation. But, after these words of praise from our Lord, we discover a troubling adverb - NONETHELESS. That word means "in spite of". In spite of all the good the Lord saw, there was a critical ingredient missing. Something was absent that endangered the church and its future.

What exactly is the issue that troubled the Lord concerning The Church at Ephesus? Jesus states it bluntly - this church had left its first love. What Jesus tells this church to do is something that every church ought to do  - take a look at how much you actually and honestly love Jesus. One can be faithful in attendance, work hard and hold to biblical doctrines but still not be in love with Christ. This, my dear people, is serious - dangerous - it can be fatal to a local congregation.

I want us to to look at what Jesus told the Church at Ephesus to do ...

I. The Call to Remember

When a marriage counselor is working with a couple having problems in their marriage he will often ask them to go home and separately write out the sweetest times they remember from their marriage history. When they come back to him he will ask them to read these to each other. Couples have been known to break down in tears in those moments and have determined to work on restoring their marriage during such encounters. Why were some couples moved emtionally during those moments? Recalling the beauty and memory of being loved and loving overcame the differences that had grown between them.

Some years ago I led a marriage seminar for the men in a church I pastored. I asked each man while away from home at the retreat to write a letter - a long letter - telling their wives what they appreciated most about them. These wives were amazed when their husbands returned home and gave them those letters. The wives were touched beyond words and some of them described to me how they simply cried holding those letters in their hands. Like food, love can grow stale if it is served cold. The warmth of sharing love openly and deeply is touching to the heart and soul.

I suggest that some of us do that with the Lord today. Have you ever loved Jesus more than you do right now? Can you remember a time of revival or spiritual awakening that was filled with such joy that you didn’t want a worship service to end or couldn't wait to get back to church again. Why isn’t your love for Jesus like that right now? Perhaps you need to write Jesus a love letter - it will bring out the depth of all He means to you and all He has done and is doing for you. When we remember what Jesus did for us at the cross, and remember how precious that was to us in the past, it can shake off the stale lovelessness and renew a divine warmth our hearts need. When we consider all He is to us today, it will refreshour hearts.

Jesus calls on us to remember Him and to remember how He picked us up, cleansed us of our sins, placed us in His family, wrote our names down in heaven and has taken us through every step of life since. Remember? That is what He calling on us to do.

But, note also ...

II. The Command to Repent

To Repent means to turn around and go in a different direction. Jesus is commanding the Church at Ephesus to turn around and renew their dedication to Him and to His work. How much that is needed in our churches today.

I don’t know if you are aware of it, but many of our churches in America are in decline, or at best simply holding their own. There is a lack of enthusiasm and joy among the members. Evangelism hardly exists at all in a majority of our churches. Mumbling and complaining is rampant, and this leads to division. Members are far more interested in their children’s Sunday morning soccer or softball games than in training them to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. No wonder gang activity, drug addiction, teenage pregnancy, gun violence and suicide are at all time highs. When we leave Jesus out Satan fills the vacuum.

With Covid ravaging our world, the church is suffering as well. Some churches only have online services for members and guests. Attendance in many of those churches that are meeting is at all time lows. Many leaders are worried that the church will not be the same when this pandemic is over. Listent to me, for those who really love Jesus, nothing will keep them from returning to full service when this matter is solved, but I must tell you that real repentance is needed in the lives of a great number of God's people. We have taken His Church for granted and now we can see what happens when the doors are closed. It is high time we looked on high and renewed our commitment to Christ - our love for Christ.

Jesus commands us to repent of our indifference. Remember what Jesus meant to us when we were saved? That is what we need to sense anew at this time.

The first two points lead us to this ...

III. The Consequence of Removal

To refuse our Lord’s loving call and clear command is to experience the consequences of our choice. Jesus said that the results of going on in the path of leaving our first love is to watch as our "candlestick" is removed.

In biblical days oil lamps or candles were the only means of artificial light. People in those days had no electric lights and were dependent on oil and candles. If either was missing the people were in total darkness.

Jesus warned the Church at Ephesus that a dark future awaited them unless they returned to their first love. Now listen closely. The people in the Ephesus church were hard workers and believed the right doctrines. We see that clearly in the biblical text. Jesus wasn't asking them to work harder or merely check the correct boxes next to doctrinal questions. He was calling on them to commit their hearts to Him.

That is the need today - God wants your heart - for, when He has the heart, the head and hands will follow. Sadly, for those who refuse to look in the mirror of the soul and see the blemishes that have appeared in the spiritual life, a bleak future lies ahead.

Jesus said the following about His Church in the last days, as recorded in Matthew 24:12:

"Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold." (NLT)

Paul speaks of the work that wrongful love will produce in 2 Timothy 3:1-4:

"But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God." (ESV)

When the love of God is weak, sin increases rampantly and rapidly. And be sure of this, God does not allow the light of His love to be reflected from the dirty souls of His people. He simply removes the "candlestick." The light we need to share the gospel is not our own light - we are reflectors of the Light of the World - Jesus reflects His on light through those who truly love Him. No wonder we are not seeing the people come to the Lord as we once did in America. Polish the soul with love for Jesus and the Light of the World will be seen as in days of old.


Imagine a wife who says to her husband, “You don’t love me anymore.” Then think of the husband saying, “What do you mean by that? I go to work everyday, don’t I? I take out the garbage and cut the grass. I don’t throw my socks on the floor. Doesn’t that prove that I love you?” Excuse me sir, but that certainly does not prove that you love her. She can tell by the way you look at her. She can tell by the way you hug her. She can tell in the frequency and manner in which you say that you love her whether your love is sincere.

Is your love for Jesus heartfelt? Can He see it in your heart and in your worship? Be honest now - have you ever loved the Lord more than you do right now.

  • It is time for us to Remember
  • It is time for us to Repent
  • It is time for us to Return

You might like to know that some years after this message was delivered to Ephesus, as recorded in The Book of Revelation, the church there dried up and shut down completely. Only a shell of what was once there remained. Don’t let that be said of your life for Christ or of your church. Now is the time to return to Him wholeheartedly.

God may see some very good things in our churches and in our lives, but when He says "Nonetheless, I have some things against you" - we had better take a serious look at our hearts. He first demands that we love Him above all else. Let's renew that love right now, right here, in the right way.