In our last Bible study, we had seen how God used the Apostle Paul to raise up a church in Ephesus. Ephesus was a city where the false God Diana was worshiped. That cult had a large following and it’s temple seated anywhere from 20,000 to 30,000 people. It took Paul three years to establish the church and as a result of his efforts, there was revival.
How revival started in Ephesus.
Before we address how revival started in the city of Ephesus, we will see a series of events that occurred prior to that event. Let’s look at some points—
- Paul spent some time ministering to twelve men. He made sure they were equipped and ready for the challenge. ( Acts 19:1-7)
- Paul preached the gospel in the synagogues. He was not afraid to stand up to his beliefs. Unfortunately, many rejected his witness. (Acts 19:8-9)
- Another door of opportunity opened up for Paul. Tyrannus had a place for Paul to teach the gospel unto others. This, in turn, allowed his students to preach the word and reach many in his surroundings.
- God confirmed his miracles with signs and wonders (Acts 19:12)
- An unsaved group of men tried to take upon themselves the casting of demons. The results were disastrous. (Acts 19:14-16)
- This incident caused the church to examine themselves by the Holy Spirit. The church had allowed mixture to creep in. They repented and burned all the books that had to do with curious arts such as Magic, Sorcery and the Occult. (Acts 19:19)
- The result was the growth of the word of God and souls coming to the kingdom
As a result of these events, souls started to get saved and the temple was getting empty. Idolatry was big business and the silversmith industry was getting clobbered. No longer were the idols of Diana being sold. Demetrius led a mob with false accusations to kill Paul and stop this revival, but it backfired. (Acts 19:24-41)
Entering into God’s rest
The church of Ephesus, eventually, prevailed. They went on to exercise great influence on their city. They passed the test and God gave them rest to do his work in that area. Many believers have the mistaken idea that they need to suffer constant attacks from the enemy. It gives them a sense of comfort and assurance of their salvation. Yes, Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy but he can depart from you for a season.
Let’s look at the following points. First, the devil departed from Jesus for a season. (Luke 4:13). Would we conclude that there was something wrong with Jesus because the devil departed from him? No, Jesus passed his testings in the wilderness! Second point to consider is Acts 9:31. The churches had rest for a season. Passing your testings in life will cause Satan to depart from you for a season.
That is why it is so important to pray for those over us. God wants us to lead a quiet and peaceable life. (I Tim 2:1-3). Friends, there are times of rest that God gives us for our benefit. When we pray for those above us, it can influence our leader’s heart and give the church favor.
The third point is pleasing God. You can have a church in the midst of people who hate you. When you start looking to please God and be obedient to his calling, your enemies will be at peace with you. The fear of God will be prevalent and uncommon favor will follow.(Prov 16:7)
One final point is understanding the word from a military point of view. The word of God calls us soldiers. (2 Tim 2:3) I was in the military myself and understood the importance of rest. Soldiers need time to rest. A much-needed rest will help them to enjoy the fruits of their labors. It will refresh them for the next battle to com.
The end result of God’s rest is victory. The church of Ephesus was so influential that many ministries wanted to get it’s stamp of approval. A stamp of approval would mean that they would expand to other areas, but it was not that easy. The leadership at Ephesus had the gift of discernment. They knew whether the Apostles were sent or not. (Rev 2:1-3)
Another notable achievement with this church was following correct doctrine. Correct doctrine was very important. Discerning the false doctrines of it’s day–the Nicolaitanes caused the Lord to be pleased with their work. (Rev 2:6) All these achievements would make for a happy ending, but the Lord is not through. He noticed that they had fallen from their first love. In our next study, we will see how the Lord deals with this short-coming.