Tag Archives: Ephesus

LEFT THY FIRST LOVE!


LEFT THY FIRST LOVE!

William Andrew Dillard
Parson to Person

The church of the Living God at Ephesus played a prominent part in the initial spread of Christianity as well as in the makeup of the New Testament. The book that bears its name features some of the best loved verses in the Bible.
The church was born in an idol worshipping city, creating significant, violent protests, yet it was a tremendous work of the Apostle Paul, who went out of his way to pay it one last visit near the end of his free ministry. It was also home to the ministry of Aquila and Priscilla, and a preaching station of glib Apollos.
It was this writer’s delight to visit the ruins of the ancient city which still bears ample evidence of its early prominence, including remains of winding streets, shops, libraries, homes, and huge storage facilities of grain. There are also remains of city laws engraved in stone in prominent places. Indeed the ancient amphitheater that hosted a protest crowd of some 50,000 in the days of Paul is there together with remains of an ancient church house and deep water baptistery. There are also prominent brothels, speaking to the sensuality of the idol worship so prominent, water cooled houses, epicurean regurgitation stations, and other indicators of material excesses of the day.
Again, the church is directly addressed in Revelation chapter two. The underscored criticism of it is that they had left their first love. Commentators, and other theologians have conjectured just what that means, and often skewed it to their own thinking more than to contextual evidence.
It is abundantly clear that the church, and indeed the entire city suffered from devastation of disease and earthquakes, yet the ruins of what once was remains. Evidence abounds that what happened to the church at Ephesus is what continues to happen to churches throughout the age: they left their first love, and their candlestick was removed, even though they may have continued to operate religiously for a time. What is that first love? The same that we all have. It is love for the God of the Word, of whom we want to know more from our spiritual birth onward. Carnality often deals that a mortal blow. Do you love the Word more than this material world? How much time do you spend with it?

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LOWING CATTLE AND BLEATING SHEEP



William Andrew Dillard

HEBREW HONEYCOMB
LOWING CATTLE AND BLEATING SHEEP

How blessed and marvelous is a dedicated church whose members are on fire for God! Their motive and purpose is to please God, and to influence others toward Him. They understand that Christ is the head of the church, the Savior of the body, and that His Word is sweet, even so highly desired as the very bread of life. In my mind, this was the status of the early churches of Paul’s ministry. I think of Ephesus in particular having had the privilege of visiting that ancient city. Ephesus fell into decay and is no more. The zealous church that the apostle planted there is also gone, having suffered marginalization, persecution, and pressures from a godless, but religious society. It is interesting to note that only a few decades after its birth, the church received stern warning from Jesus in the words, “I have somewhat against thee…” Though commended for some spiritual assets, the charge must have been stinging to their hearts. They had busied themselves with religious activity instead of the necessary, personal, one-on-one relationship with Christ Jesus; hence, they were told “. . . thou hast left thy first love.” Rev. 2:4. Simply put, they were engaged in religion, but their motives were misdirected. Could they turn a deaf ear to the Lord? Could they continue as a church that way? The answer is “yes” but they would not be a church belonging to the Lord Jesus. They must remember from where they had fallen, repent or else they would lose their candlestick (be severed from Christ as His body). This problem did not end with the Ephesians. It goes on in wholesale manner today. All of God’s people need to re-think Samuel’s confrontation with Saul when the king declared he had done the will of God. Samuel asked, “What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” I Sam. 15:14. The prophet then replied: “. . . Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” I Sam. 15:22 Church activities may involve a lot of misdirected motives! But, God is pleased when His people return to their first love: a personal relationship with God and His Holy Word. Forget the fat cattle and sheep, and the “sacrifices” to the Lord that cost you nothing! Let the Creator’s Word reign supreme in practical obedience to its meaning!

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THE LOCAL VISIBLE CHURCH ONLY LESSON 5


THE LOCAL VISIBLE CHURCH

I.STATEMENT OF FACTS.
A.The word “ecclesia” is used 115 time in the Greek N.T.
B.The ways it is translated:
1.Church – 112 times.
2.Assembly – 3 times.
3.The word “church” in I Peter 5:13 is supplied by the translators, and is not in the original Greek.
C.Of the 112 times the word ecclesia is translated ‘church or “churches” it definitely applies to the N.T. Organization, except in one case – Acts 7:38, Here the reference is to Israel assembled in the wilderness.
D.The following breakdown will prove:
1.That 93 of the 111 times ecclesia definitely refers to local congregations.
2.That the remaining 18 times ecclesia refers to the Lord’s church in the institutiona, generic, or abstract sense (lesson 6).

II.SURVEY OF THE REFERENCE TO LOCAL CHURCHES.
A.The Church at Jerusalem”
1.Acts 8:1; Acts 11:22; Acts 15:4
2.Acts 12:1; Acts 15:22 – proved by the passage.
B.The Church at Antioch (Syria):
1.Acts 11:26; Acts 13:1; Acts 14:27
2.Acts 15:3 – by context.
C.The Church at Cenchrea – Romans 16:1
D.The Church at Corinth:
1.I Cor. 1:2; II Cor. 1:1;
2.Romans 16:23 – written from Corinth.
E.The Curch at Laodicea – Col. 4:16; Revelation 3:14
F.The Church at Thessalonica – I Thess. 1:1; II Thess. 1:1
G.The Church at Ephesus – Revelation 2:1; Acts 20:17
H.The Church at Smyrna – Revelation 2:8
I.The Church at Pergamos – Revelation 2:12
J.The Church at Thyatira – Revelation 2:18
K.The Church at Sardis – Revelation 3:1
L.The Church at Philadelphia – Revelation 3:7
M.Churches in houses – Romans 16:5; I Cor. 16:19; Philemon 2; Col. 4:15
N.Plural usages:
1.In Syria and Cilicia – Acts 15:41
2.In Galatia – I Cor. 16:1; Galatians 1:2
3.In Asia – I Cor. 16:19; Rev. 1:4; Rev. 1:11; Rev. 1:20 (twice); Rev. 2:7; Rev. 2:11; Rev. 2:17; Rev. 2:23; Rev. 2:29; Rev. 3:6; “Rev. 3:13; Rev. 3:22.
4.In Macedonia – II Cor. 8:1
5.In Judea – Gal. 1:22
6.In Judea, Galilee, Samaria – Acts 9:31
7.In Lystra, Iconium, Antioch – Acts 14:23
8.Of the Gentiles – Rom. 16:4
O.Proof by context:
1.Jerusalem – Acts 2:47; Acts 5:11; Acts 8:3; Acts 12:5; Acts 18:22 (not at Caesarea); I Cor. 15:9; Gal. 1:13; Phil. 3:6.
2.Corinth – I Cor. 11:18; I Cor. 11:22; I Cor 14:4; I Cor. 14:5; I Cor. 14:19; I Cor. 14:23; I Cor. 14:28; I Cor. 14:35; I Cor. 6:4; I Cor. 14:12.
3.Asia – Acts 16:5; Rev. 22:16
4.Judea – II Cor. 8:19; II Cor. 8:23; II Cor. 8:24; I Thes. 2:14.
5.Macedonia – II Cor. 11:8
P.Churches at any given place:
1.I Cor. 4:17; Phil. 4:15; James 5:14; II Cor. 8:18; III John 6; III John 9; III John 10; Matt. 18:17 (twice); Romans 16:16; I Cor. 7:17; I Cor. 14:33; II Cor. 11:28; II Cor. 12:13; II Thess. 1:4; I Tim. 3:5; I Tim. 5:16; I Cor. 11:16; I Cor. 14:34.

III.QUOTATIONS BY SCHOLARS.
A.These previous parts have covered 97 (4 plus 93) of the 115 times ecclesia is used in the Greek N.T. (the remaining 18 will be covered in the next lesson – the generic use of ekklesia).
B.Overbey says, “Every time ekklesia appears in the New Testament it makes sense translated according to its common menaing of assembly” (The Meaning of Ecclesia in the N.T., Overbey, p. 44).
C.Again he says, “In approaching the N.T. We see that the word is admitted by all to have this mianing (assembly) in about ninety places. The other times it is used there is a difference of opinion. Some contend for assembly, others for a new meaning best described as the universal invisible church. How can we tell which is correct? The principle is used that says the common meaning will not make sense if we are permitted to assume it has a new meaning. Following this principle we find that the word assembly makes sense in every contested passage so that any new sense must be rejected” (Ibid, pl 46).
D.I. K. Cross says, “We here charge that there is no such thing known in the New Testament as a church that includes every saved man on earth. This is the family of God, but never the church of the New Testament” (Canadian Baptists, Cross, p. 5).
E.A. C. Dayton declares, “Each church was complete within itself – independent of all earthly control, and subject only to the law of Christ” (Theodosia Earnest, Vo. II, p. 116).
F.J. R. Graves said, “The proof given that the very work Ekklesia (an assembly) denotes a complete church, equally implies its independency, i.e., that it is dependent upon no other body for its existence or self-perpetuation, or the discharge of all the functions and trusts of a Church of Christ” (The New Great iron Wheel, Graves, p. 134).
G.Graves again, “I have shown that the idea of a great Universal Invisible Church , or a Visible Universal Church composed of all the visible churches, or, as some claim of all baptized, independent of local churches, can not, by any fair exegesis, be found” (Seven Questions and Answers to Church Authority, Baptist Examiner, p. 37).
H.S. H. Ford asserts, “It should be remembered that by church, Baptists mean what the New Testament teaches – a local, real congregation of baptized believers united together for God’s service” (Ibid).

I.H. E. Dana says, “This matter of qualification for citizenship was quite important, for many residents of such a city had no place in the Ekklesia … The term referred to a body of persons having definite qualifications, assembled to carry out certain organized aims on democratic principles. So there wre elements pertinent to its (Ekklesia) New Teatament meaning.
1.The assembly was local;
2.it was autonomous;
3.it presupposed definite qualifications;
4.it was conducted on democratic principles” (The Church, L. L. Clover, p. 94).
J.Overbey says, “Jesus used the word ‘church’ twenty-three times, twenty times in Revelation, and three times in Matthew. Twenty-two times there is agreement among all that the word means assembly. It is either plural or the context is very clear so that there can be no doubt in any mind that he is speaking of a local, visible body. Matthew 16:18 is the only place where some think it has a new meaning. But if Jesus used the word twenty-two times and there is no question concerning its meaning then it seems that we must believe that the one remaining place has the same meaning” (Brief History of the Baptists, Overbey, p. 26).
K.Boyce Taylor asserts, “ . . . The Etymology of the word ekklesia makes it of necessity a local churhc” (Why Be a Baptist, Taylor, p. 47).
L.Armitage concurs, “In the apostolic age the church was a local body, and each church was independent of evgery other church. The simple term ecclesia designates one congregation, or organization assembly, this being its literal and primal meaning . . . It follows, then, that the New Testament nowere speaks of the ‘Universal, Catholic, or Invisible Church,’ as indicating a merely ideal existence separate from a real and local body . . . A local churhc fully expresses the meaning of the word ‘ecclesia’ wherever it is found in Holy Writ” (History of the Baptists, Armitage, pp. 118-120).

IV.SUGGESTED READING.
A.Ecclesia – the Church – B. H. Carroll
B.Why Be a Baptist – Boyce Taylor
C.Ekklesia – the Church – Bob Ross
D.Meaning of Ecclesia in the N.T. – Overbey
E.Seven Questions and Answerw as to Church Authority – Baptist Examiner
F.The Church – L. L. Clover
G.The Origin of Baptists – S. H. Ford
H.Theodosia Earnest, Vol. II – A. C. Dayton.

SUMMATION: The various verses used to try and prove a universal invisible church keeps changing as the correct usage is shown to be always local and visible. Each verse has been addressed and shown the proper usage. There is not, with proper usage and context, any where a universal invisible church can be found in scripture. A hard heart and will-ful desire will resist the truth and destroy even more doctrine in their error.

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A LOVE STRONGER THAN DEATH


Song of Solomon 8:6 – “Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm:
for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave:
the coals thereof are coals of fire, which
have a most vehement flame.

The love of Christ is a seal to those that believe. This love that is strong as death not only seals our soul but His seal is on our arm as a sign to others we are His. This story is replicated in the New Testament where the church is called the light of the world and the salt and Paul expressed to the Ephesian brethren the seal of the Holy Spirit that kept them till the day redemption. Based upon this love, our forefathers in the faith faced death by drowning and fire. They faced many privations and destructions that we only read about today. How strong is our love when compared to the love of God in sending His only begotten Son to die in our stead?

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