September 11: Authentic Love (Revelation 2:1-7)
Prepare for Sunday morning worship using the guide below.
This Sunday Josh Herring will continue a series called Christians Creating Culture: An Examination of Gospel Identity, True Community, and Cultural Flourishing at 9:00am in the youth room. Ray Rutledge will be in the Adult 1 classroom continuing through The Gospel Project (currently going through the Old Testament).
 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.
 “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.  I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary.  But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.  Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.  Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’
After seeing a vision of the cosmic Christ, John is told to write to the seven churches on the basis of that vision. At the beginning of each letter, Jesus is identified by some aspect of the vision from chapter one. What this means is that the letters teach the followers of Jesus how they should respond to seeing Jesus as John saw him in that vision. The letters are like personal application of the vision of Jesus.
The first letter is to the church in Ephesus. This church was heavy on doctrine, but light on love. They were biblically literate and highly moral, but they were loveless. They had abandoned their former zeal, the strong affections of the days after their conversion. And they not only had left the love they had at first, but they had also stopped the works they did at first. Love is demonstrated through witnessing and reflecting the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Ephesian church had abandoned both their love and their witness. This is a call for us to assess the quality of our love toward God.
Review and Apply
What are some ways that you are cultivating a love for good doctrine? How are you doing this not only as an individual but also as part of the church community?
Have you experienced growing in love for God by learning more truth from the Word of God? Have you ever found that learning more Christian doctrine has had the opposite effect, actually making you love yourself more (arrogance) and loving God less? Why do you think learning doctrine can have either result? What makes the difference?
Can you remember some point early in your Christian life when you had strong spiritual experiences and intense excitement about God and the gospel? Do you think your vitality is deeper or more shallow today than it was at that point? Do you think your love peaked at some point in the past and has been declining ever since?
What are some things you can do to assess your spiritual condition and make progress in the faith?
How can you contribute to Christ Covenant’s health -- not simply you yourself regaining your first love -- but helping the church as a whole to move that in direction?
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