The Church at Ephesus: Part 5 of 5 (series: Lessons on Revelations)
by John Lowe
If we are overcomers, we will share a full reward; but if we are careless and unconcerned about spiritual things, we will “suffer loss.” Salvation is free . . . rewards are earned. If we overcome, we will be granted certain privileges in Paradise that those who failed to overcome will not be granted. Certainly, there will be degrees of reward in Heaven (1 Corinthians 3:11-1516).
It is interesting to me to note that the Lord Jesus Himself will present the rewards. (“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life.”) Jesus Himself will grant the privilege. This teaches me how closely believers are connected to the Lord—not only here, but in eternity. Heaven will be a big place, there will be a lot of people there; but it will not be so big, nor will there be so many individuals, that Jesus will not have time for those individuals. I am glad I’m going there. If you are not on your way Heaven—repent, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, “and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31, John 5:24).
The word “paradise” means “Garden of Pleasure,” and that is exactly what God intended Eden to be. It would have been God’s great Garden of Pleasure for Adam and Eve had they not disobeyed God and listened to the devil. The Paradise of God will be restored at the beginning of the eternal ages (Revelation 22:1-717). That restoration will be eternal. It will never be invaded by sin, sorrow, and disappointment (Revelation 21:2718). Jesus promised, “I will give to him to eat of the tree of life.” In the Paradise of God (yet to come) there will be no tempter, no devil, no sin. It will be the Garden of Pleasure. The devil will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone (Revelation 20:10).
Individual and direct responsibility to Almighty God is a cardinal truth and a cardinal doctrine of the New Testament Church; however, in the Roman Catholic church, souls are commanded to follow the church. Individual conscience toward God is completely ignored. It is the church, the pope, the priest, the Bishops who deal with God for the members of the Church of Rome.
Love is a personal matter. We are saved one by one; we must be restored one by one. No hint is given that the entire Ephesian church responded favorably to this letter, but the hope is that individuals would. When Adam fell, he lost paradise, and he lost access to the tree of life. Here is a fallen church. It too has lost the paradise of bliss which comes from walking with God. The Lord’s call here is a call to the individual believers to get back to the daily quiet time with Himself. It is tragically possible to have a saved soul and a lost life.
This letter to Ephesus ends with “the one who has an ear . . .” (Revelation 2:7 NET), a statement used throughout these letters to the churches. It means that if anyone understands the real meaning of what he or she hears, then he or she must respond.
While the close of verse 7 refers back to the tree of life from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:24), God’s paradise refers to the future when God restores heaven and earth from the fall of humanity.
There is a poem (I don’t know who wrote it) that has pretty much the same message as our passage:
Where is the blessedness I knew
When first I saw the Lord?
Where is the sole-refreshing view
Of Jesus and His Word?
What peaceful hours I once enjoyed—
How sweet their memory still!
But they have left an aching void
The world can never fill.
Believers, take your life of wrestling here, and expect and look for a quiet life hereafter; but not till then: the word of God never promises quietness (peace) and complete freedom from conflict here.
Special Notes and Scripture
1 Patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.
2 (Acts 20:29-31, NIV) “I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.”
3 (Revelation 1:13, 16, NIV) “And among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.”
4 (Ephesians 1:22-23, GNT) “God put all things under Christ's feet and gave him to the church as supreme Lord over all things. The church is Christ's body, the completion of him who himself completes all things everywhere.”
5 (John 10:27-30, GNT) “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never die. No one can snatch them away from me. What my Father has given me is greatera than everything, and no one can snatch them away from the Father's care. The Father and I are one.”
6 (1 John
4:2-3, GNT) “This is how you will be able to know whether it is God's Spirit: anyone who acknowledges that Jesus Christ came as a human being has the Spirit who comes from God. But anyone who denies this about Jesus does not have the Spirit from God. The spirit that he has is from the Enemy of Christ; you heard that it would come, and now it is here in the world already.” 7
(2 Corinthians 11:12-15, ERV) “And I will continue doing what I am doing now, because I want to stop those people from having a reason to boast. They would like to say that the work they boast about is the same as ours. They are false apostles, lying workers. They only pretend to be apostles of Christ. That does not surprise us, because even Satan changes himself to look like an angel of light. So it does not surprise us if Satan’s servants make themselves look like servants who work for what is right. But in the end, those people will get the punishment they deserve.” 8
(1 Thessalonians 1:3, NLT) As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9
(John 13:34, NLT) “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” 10
(1 John 3:18-19, KJV) “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.” 11
(1 Corinthians 13:3, KJV) “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” 12
(1 Peter 2:9, NIRV) “But God chose you to be his people. You are royal priests. You are a holy nation. You are God’s special treasure. You are all these things so that you can give him praise. God brought you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 13
(Hebrews 10:19, NIRV) “Brothers and sisters, we are not afraid to enter the Most Holy Room. We enter boldly because of the blood of Jesus.” 14
(John 15:26-27, NIRV) “I will send the Friend to you from the Father. He is the Spirit of truth, who comes out from the Father. When the Friend comes to help you, he will be a witness about me. You must also be witnesses about me. That’s because you have been with me from the beginning.” 15
(Revelation 22:2, 19) “It flowed down the middle of the city’s main street. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing 12 crops of fruit. Its fruit was ripe every month. The leaves of the tree bring healing to the nations. Suppose someone takes away any words from this book of prophecy. Then God will take away from that person the blessings told about in this book. God will take away their share in the tree of life. God will also take away their place in the Holy City.” 16
(1 Corinthians 3:11-15, NIRV) “No one can lay any other foundation than what has already been laid. That foundation is Jesus Christ. A person may build on it using gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay or straw. But each person’s work will be shown for what it is. On judgment day it will be brought to light. It will be put through fire. The fire will test how good each person’s work is. If the building doesn’t burn up, God will give the builder a reward for the work. If the building burns up, the builder will lose everything. The builder will be saved, but only like one escaping through the flames.” 17
(Revelation 22:1-7, NIRV) “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life. It was as clear as crystal. It flowed from the throne of God and of the Lamb. It flowed down the middle of the city’s main street. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing 12 crops of fruit. Its fruit was ripe every month. The leaves of the tree bring healing to the nations. There will no longer be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city. God’s servants will serve him. They will see his face. His name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun. The Lord God will give them light. They will rule forever and ever. The angel said to me, “You can trust these words. They are true. The Lord is the God who gives messages to the prophets. He sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.” “Look! I am coming soon! Words of prophecy are written in this book. Blessed is the person who obeys them.” 18
(Revelation 21:27, NIRV) “Only what is pure will enter the city. No one who causes people to believe lies will enter it. No one who does shameful things will enter it either. Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life will enter the city.”