WHY CHURCH FALLS (PART V)
By Akin Ojumu
Christians in the seven churches of Revelations 2 and 3 were redeemed people. Many of them had turned from idol worship and immoral living to embrace Christianity wholeheartedly. These people paid a heavy price for serving the Lord in the midst of immoral and idolatrous societies.
Having been taught by Apostle Paul, the most gifted Christian apologetic of all times, the believers became one of the most doctrinally sound Christians in the history of the Church.
Paul spent more than two years at Ephesus pouring himself into the congregation, teaching them the Word of God and sound doctrine. Right there, in the middle of a licentious pagan culture of the imperial cult and worship of the goddess Artemis, Paul helped these believers to grow in the faith, becoming some of the most pious and Biblically literate Churches of any era.
In his valedictory message to the elders of the Church at Ephesus in Acts 20: 26-27, Paul told them:
“Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all people. For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.”
Paul gave them everything, he taught them everything and held nothing back. In fact, it was from the Church at Ephesus that the Churches at Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea became the center of Biblical knowledge and sound doctrine. We know this because the Church turned the city of Ephesus upside down.
The Believers in Ephesus were so fervent and devoted, the silversmith traders who made their living around the worship of the goddess Artemis almost ran out of business because the people quit idol worship in droves. Business got so bad that the traders had to whip up a riot and rile up the city against Paul and the nascent Church.
The Lord even commended the piety, deep devotion, doctrinal astuteness, and discernment of the Ephesian Christians in Revelations 2:2-3:
“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.”
The Ephesian Christians labored (i.e., worked until breaking point) for the Gospel, they were intolerant of evil, and their knowledge of Scriptures was vast and their perception so deep that they were able to quickly recognize false apostles.
Yet, none of the seven churches exists today. The problem with the Church at Ephesus was that they left their first love i.e., their passion for the faith soon turned into a cold orthodoxy and loveless religiosity. Their Christianity turned into the service of performance and mere routine.
Cocooned with their religiosity and loveless piety, the Ephesian Christians walled off themselves from the sinners around them. They became more focused on defending their theology rather than loving people, and they developed a disdain for their sinful neighbors and anyone they considered less spiritual than themselves.
You see, the road that leads to lukewarmness often starts with lovelessness. When a church stops loving it’ll soon start compromising. With compromise comes tolerance for sin. A compromising Church that tolerates sin would ultimately be content with using formulas, tactics, strategies, schemes, techniques, and rituals as substitutes for deep devotion and spirituality. Putting on a show that’ll excite the crowd becomes the goal.
Lovelessness becomes liberalism, liberalism turns to licentiousness, licentiousness results in lifelessness, and lifelessness ends in lukewarmness. This is the usual progression for the ruin of ministries. It is the path all fallen ministers take. And it’s a road all who care about their eternal destiny must avoid.