“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this:
 ‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false;
 and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary.
 ‘But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
 ‘Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place unless you repent.
 ‘Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
 ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ.
The church in Ephesus did receive some commendations from the Lord.
I explained 2 of them in the last lecture. The first was their toil and perseverance to walk in the truth.
The second was not to tolerating evil men.
However, what the Lord commended the church in Ephesus for is actually what churches and congregation ought to do.
A church must teach its congregation to live by the word and the will of God, and to throw away things that are against the truth.
Also, to be faithful and fulfill the given duties for the kingdom and righteousness of God is what churches and congregation must do.
And it’s natural that toil and perseverance should follow them.
But, how many churches are out there today that might be able to receive such commendations?
Even though Hebrews 10:25 says, “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the day drawing near,” more and more churches are giving up meeting together nowadays.
Instead of living by toiling and persevering in accordance with the word, they try to lead easy believing lives.
The same applies to not tolerating evil men.
1 Corinthians says in 5:11-13, “But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church, but those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.”
This scripture tells you not to keep the company of those who do unrighteous things and commit sins without living in the truth, even if they call themselves God-believers or brothers and sisters in faith.
It even tells you to expel the wicked people from among you.
But don’t misunderstand this; it doesn’t mean that you should act in this way toward novice believers who have just accepted the Lord and have come to church after living in sin and evil.
It tells you not to get along or eat with, and even to expel from church those who commit sin not if those people are novices, but we are told that even if they are said to have faith and have a title such as deacon or elder.
But why is the Lord Jesus Christ, who told us to ‘forgive seventy times seven times,’ commanding us not to forgive them, but to expel them?
Dear brothers and sisters.
Even though people commit sin, when they repent and turn back, God shows them His mercy and forgives them.
But even when they are rebuked for their sin, if they don’t repent and turn back because their hearts have been hardened, they will be moved by Satan and they will commit even greater sin. Eventually they will do great harm to the church.
A church must save many souls and enlarge the kingdom of God according to the will of God; but instead the churchis hindered from accomplishing God’s works by such people.
If you leave them alone, they will increasingly spread the seed of evil throughout the church just as yeast leavens bread. That’s why the Lord commands us to expel them.
But again, it doesn’t mean that you have to remove them after you admonish them only a couple of times.
As I explained in the last lecture, Matthew 18:15 says, “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private.”
In other words, when you see your brother in faith sin, you should not spread it to others, but you should go to him first and show his fault in private with love.
When you do so, if he repents and turns back, he will not go to the way of destruction, and you will have saved your brother.
But when he doesn’t listen to you, the following verse 16 says, “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.”
If you fail in your personal attempt you must then talk to a couple of people who are senior to you in the order of the church about him, and let them admonish him.
If he doesn’t even listen to them, you must talk to your church, or a servant of God. If necessary, you must report it to someone in a still higher position continuing to follow the church order.
You have to admonish him with the word of God, or sometimes rebuke him so that he can turn back.
If he still doesn’t listen, then it tells you to ‘let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.’
When you leave such a man alone, he will stain more people with sin, and bring more harm to the church.
Therefore, the reason that God tell us not to tolerate men of evil is not because God does not have love. You must understand that it’s because God wants to make the body of Christ, which is a church, bought with a price of His blood, for more souls.
May you never tolerate evil in your church by the will of God so that your church is worth receiving praises from God, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I pray!
Now, let’s continue to look into tonight’s scripture. The Lord commended the church in Ephesus for ‘putting to the test those who call themselves apostles, but they are not, and finding them to be false.’
Here, ‘apostles’ doesn’t refer to those like 12 disciples of Jesus, or the Apostle Paul. It refers to those who have faith and received a title.
In the church today, there are titles such as “a servant of God”, an “elder”, a “senior deaconess”, or a “deacon”.
Sometimes, regardless their faith, titles are given to them according to their age of faith, and they may become leaders.
However, now matter what titles are given to them, and no matter how they become leaders, if God doesn’t recognize them, they become ‘those who call themselves apostles’ as written in tonight’s scripture.
Since the titles and duties are given by God, they must be recognized by God.
But, without having the qualifications to be recognized by God, if they are given titles and duties due to their age of faith and other outward appearances of qualifications, they are apostles in name only.
Then what does it mean that ‘you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false?’
For example, when a shepherd of a church teaches the congregation to cast out evil, and to live in the word of God, if they have faith, they will say ‘Amen’ to the word of God, and obey.
The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow so that they can find improper things in them, repent of them, and turn back from them.
But those whose heart is hardened will not turn back even after they listen to the word of God.
Even worse, when their unrighteousness is about to be revealed, they deceive people and rally them. When their unrighteousness is finally revealed, they betray the church, speak ill of it, and leave the church.
The falseness of these so-called “apostles” is finally exposed.
There are some people who are God’s servants who are self-professed apostles, but chances are that they are not.
They are God’s servants who have to teach the word of God, but they rather judge or condemn other servants of God and other churches with the word of God. Though they are blind themselves, they may also lead the congregation improperly and not in the way of salvation.
The high priests, priests, Pharisees, and scribes in the days of Jesus were representative of such servants.
If you look into Matthew Ch. 23, Jesus called them ‘blind guides,’ and rebuked them saying, “So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
Likewise, so-called apostles pretend to be holy people of God outwardly, but when God gives them trials, their falseness will soon be revealed.
Therefore, in order to reveal such falseness in a church, God allows the church to undergo trials.
And during the period of trials, the church may experience many persecutions and difficulties.
For example, when Deacon Stephen pointed out the wickedness of people and revealed their wrongdoings, they were pierced in their hearts, and they stoned Stephen to death.
Likewise, when the wicked are revealed, or when their true identities are made known, they become wicked all the more, and do evil overtly.
So, when a church undergoes trials to find falseness of so-called apostles, sometimes people with weak faith also fall with them.
Then the shepherd has to endure the pain as if the part of his own body were torn away.
To find falseness while enduring the pain is a deed that cannot be practiced without the love for the Lord.
This church also has experienced the procedures to put to the test those who called themselves apostles and to find out their deceitfulness.
In order for Father God Himself to weed out the chaff, and to stand the good grain on the rock, God allowed such trials.
In doing so, there was mourning to the bones. But the reason that God allowed such trials to this church was that only when we completely overcome such trials can we, as a holy congregation that is acceptable to God, gather and accomplish the providence of world mission and the Grand Sanctuary.
Since I know this providence of God, I endured all the trials with toil and perseverance in thanksgiving.
And I could see during the process of those trials that when their faith was true, their faith wasn’t shaken in any situation, but rather they came to have stronger faith and goodness through the trials as if the ground became hardened after rain.
And after we overcame the trials, God could then give us greater blessing in justice.
That’s why God allows His children to undergo trials to reveal the men of falseness and deceit even though He knows that the trials will also bring suffering to His loving children
Therefore, when such trials come, there will be things outwardly that may hurt our hearts. But since the kingdom of God and His righteousness can be strengthened through such trials, we must be thankful before God.
Now fourthly, the Lord commended the church in Ephesus for ‘persevering and enduring for the sake of the Lord’s name, and not becoming weary.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ.
When you find evil in you while listening to the word of God, you must repent of it and turn back, and try to live by the word of God.
But sometimes, there are people who resist and make troubles when they identify such things.
A shepherd must pray with tears even for such people, endure them with perseverance, and continuously teach them with the word of life so that they cannot go to the path of death.
While Moses went up to a mountain and fasted for 40 days and 40 nights to receive Ten Commandments from God, the Israelites committed such a great sin of worshiping idols.
When God became so enraged with them and said that He would destroy all the Israelites, Moses fervently prayed to God with tears to beg for the forgiveness of their sin.
Apostle Paul was also stricken, imprisoned, and received persecutions to spread the gospel, he was thankful because of Jesus Christ, and endured with perseverance and won the victory.
Likewise, the shepherd of the church in Ephesus also endured for the Lord, and didn’t grow weary. That’s why he was praised.
When the shepherd has grown weary, he cannot pray. When he doesn’t pray, he cannot protect his sheep from the spiritual battle against the enemy devil and Satan. He cannot even get the lost sheep back.
When he doesn’t grow weary, he can pray for his sheep, and he can be faithful to his given duty, and take care of his sheep.
If you want to become a shepherd and a church worthy of receiving praise today, you must become like this in prayer faithfulness and perseverance.
In these last days, stained in sin, to lead the sheep to heaven, such endurance and perseverance are necessary.
When a shepherd sees the souls befriend the world and live in the darkness, even though he teaches them the truth over and over again, and shows them the proof so that they can believe, the shepherd feels like his blood drains out.
When he sees the souls committing sin again even after they are repeatedly forgiven, the shepherd has to endure them with perseverance again and again, and he has to pray for them while shedding the tears of mourning.
He cannot set his heart at ease from the souls even for a moment. He cannot be lazy but diligent in taking care of the souls with love and care even though he has to give up things for himself.
Also, even those who profess their faith pervert the gospel of truth and compromise with the world in these days. So there are many things that must be endured for the sake of the Lord’s name.
Even though some churches and servants of God teach only according to the bible, and proclaim that the word of God is true, they are judged and condemned as if they were wrong or they were hypocrites.
It is just like Apostle Paul who was called ‘a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes’ by Jews who were told to believe in God.
If they truly believe in God and the Lord, they must be joyful with those who spread the gospel of the Lord, and give strength to them. But directly opposite to it, there are people who hinder them, persecute them, condemn them, and do evil. I feel so sorry for them!
But since we believe in the Lord, no matter what kind of trials or persecutions we may encounter, we must endure them with joy and thanksgiving, and we must not grow weary but fervently pray and accomplish our given duties.
This is the true faith in the Lord.
Dear brothers and sisters.
The church in Ephesus received commendation for its toil and perseverance to walk in the truth, not tolerating the evil men, putting to the test those who called themselves apostles but are not, and finding them to be false, and persevering and enduring for the sake of the Lord’s name.
It would have been good if they had continuously received commendation, but they didn’t.
In the verses 4 & 5, there is reproach of the Lord; “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place unless you repent.”
Even though the church in Ephesus received commendation, when they left their first love and their deeds of faith, they heard the fearful word of reproof, saying, “I will remove your lampstands unless you repent.”
Therefore, you should never lose your first love and deeds. Now, why did the church in Ephesus hear the reproach for losing their first love?
John 14:21 says, “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” And 1 John 5:3 says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.”
Like these words, in the beginning, the shepherd and the congregation of the church in Ephesus loved God, and tried to resist against evil and to live in the truth.
They tried to gather, prayed all the time, longed to listen to the word of the truth, and fervently evangelized people.
For the sake of the Lord’s name, they toiled, endured with perseverance, and won the victory with joy and thanksgiving.
But as time passed by, they started to depart from the truth.
At one point, they left their first love; they didn’t try hard to gather together, they ceased praying, they didn’t try to live in the truth, and they fell back into the ways of the world.
Please check whether you are like them or not. Please look back on yourself, and if you are, I urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to turn back right away tonight.
You must turn back when you realize it. If you don’t, and leave it alone, you won’t be given strength to turn back later.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ.
When people meet God for the first time, and receive the Holy Spirit, they become full of joy because of the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
As they are instructed in the way, they diligently enter into various services, and try to pray.
Since they surely believe that heaven and hell exist, they evangelize their family, relatives, and even their neighbors.
They are happy when they are with the brothers and sisters in faith. They are happy to come to church, wait for Sunday, and long for the word of God.
But at some point, their first love starts to cool down.
The biggest reason is that they stop praying. Since they stop praying, they lose the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
When the fullness of the Holy Spirit is gone, and they leave their first love, then they start to see the world again.
They cannot worship in spirit and in truth; they worship reluctantly and formally. They soon start to doze off not only in worship services, but also in prayer meetings.
Since they don’t have strength to resist against sin, they compromise with the world and commit sin again.
Then, in order to recover the passion of the first love for the Lord and the first deeds, what should we do?
We will look into this in the next lecture.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ.
The will of Father God is to see the children of God getting more and more diligent as time passes by. God wants His children to cast away sin and to live in the truth so that their faith will become stronger and they will become more and more holy.
But you should always remember that you may fall in trials and lose the first love unless you are awaken because you will be tempted by the enemy devil and Satan until you become completely sanctified.
This applies to all individuals as well as all churches.
When the Lord explained to me about the church in Ephesus, He told me that there is a church today like the church in Ephesus.
Just as the church in Ephesus received commendation, the church tried hard to live in the truth, and while they received wrongful persecutions for the sake of the Lord’s name, they endured everything with perseverance.
Since they had the passionate first love, they became united all the more even in the persecutions, they prayed more fervently, and they tried hard to accomplish the will of God.
Even though they didn’t go into the deeper levels of faith and spiritual understanding, they tried to go into deeper level of the spiritual realm, and proclaimed the word of the truth.
They were not lazy but diligent, and fervently expanded the kingdom of God.
So, God was pleased with them, and gave the church His blessing.
The church revived greatly, the congregation received blessing, and there were healing works.
But at one point, the church started to change.
And the influence was all over.
If they had turned back right away, as soon as they lost their first love, and started to change, they might have recovered soon, but they already had arrogance in their heart, saying “We’ve done a lot and done well.”
When they started to lose their first love, they felt affliction and said to them selves “Something is wrong. We should not be like this.” But as time passed by, they couldn’t even feel that.
They comforted their heart when their achievements were recognized, and they became arrogant by thinking, “God is also recognizing us.”
So, they ceased praying, and rather than pursuing the will of God, they were busy protecting what they have achieved so far.
Dear brothers and sisters.
While you are listening to the message, please don’t start entering in judgment by thinking that you have identified the church!
Please check yourself whether this message applies to your church or to yourself in your thinking, your practice, your prayer and your deeds..
Especially those who came for the divine healing meeting to receive prayer, you should be able to find answers to a question: Why were you stricken by such and such a disease or problem in the first place?
And please take this opportunity to look back whether or not you have lost your first love.
What I mean is that you must check your faith; prayer life, the heart and attitude of attending worship services, the attitude of fulfilling God-given duty, and longing heart and deed for the spirit.
May you recover the fullness of the first love completely and over flowingly, in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ, I pray!