During the Apostolic Church era, the Lord planted his Church at Ephesus. The Apostle Paul started the work, and men like Timothy and Titus (probably) continued the work. A very strong church was planted there, and the Apostle John called Ephesus home in his old age. History tells us that Mary ended her days there under the care of John. But, within these strengths, and a great heritage, lurked a practical heresy-- the heresy which finally destroyed the church at Ephesus. Notice...

Revelation 2:1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

The Ephesian church had a great heritage, did they not? They sent out the missionaries from the Bible Institute of Paul in the school of Tyrannus. Six great and mighty churches were planted. This came with much persecution. Historians tell us that the temple of Diana of the Ephesians was a filthy pagan place. Nearly naked female temple prostitutes freely ministered to male worshippers sexually. The Christians would not even walk by that temple.

The leaders of the temple of Diana, and city leaders, asked the Christians to simply walk by, take a pinch of incense from a dish, and toss it into the ever burning fire near the entrance of the temple. They were told they needed not enter to worship, only toss the small pinch of incense into the fire, and walk on by.

The Ephesian Christians refused. Out of their zeal came persecution, and as is always the case, a very powerful and strong church. For many years, they held their ground, in fact, they never compromised in this thing. But, they did lose their "first love" according to Christ in The Revelation to John. Why? We now know that the pagans in Ephesus, the very good decent socially sensitive pagans if you will, watched the persecution of the believers. They also watched their personal lives. They saw that they were clean, decent, and worthy citizens of Ephesus. Slowly at first, the decent pagans came to attend the fellowship services of the Christians. They liked being with these people with personal standards. They wanted their children to marry such people.

Eventually, so many "good godly" pagans were in attendance that a large stone church was erected, and the "house church" of the early days was abandoned. We have spoken to two people who saw the ruins of that stone church, and you Baptist readers will rejoice to know that they had a tank for baptism by immersion. In that tank many pagans must have been baptized, for by and by, the Ephesian church became big, powerful, and was the leading power in the city.

They did not toss the pinch of incense into the flame of Diana, but they tossed the pinch of incense into the flame of compromise and greed for easy comfortable religion. The Ephesian church died in about 250 AD. Ichabod !!

There are SIX stages of regress from the narrow way:

1. Sound biblical heritage in parents, local churches, biblical creeds, or Bible training institutions.
2. Zeal to serve the Lord, stand against sin and evil, and the finding of a life calling.
3. Fruit added by God to the faithful servant-- years of steady predictable faithfulness.
4. Opportunity to enlarge the ministry and see more cash flow if a very small compromise is made.
5. The official tossing of the pinch of incense-- Commitment to pagans.
6. Finally, the vomiting out of the fallen servant by God and the Lord's Church.

In this journal you will find the stories of men who started out with fire in their soul-- burning to serve Jesus Christ and preach the Gospel and "teach sinners your ways". Then, one day, they had the opportunity to enlarge their ministry, and / or their pocket book, if they would make just a very small compromise. The pinch of incense was tossed, and the rest of their life became a slough of despond spiritually. Oh, many diddle head saints buy their books, attend their seminars, and send them donations. But, Ichabod is written on their faces. "The glory has departed." The Holy Ghost is nowhere in sight.