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You Have Forsaken your First Love!

Articles

You Have Forsaken your First Love!

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Jul 12, 2021

Revelation / Chapter 2 / V1-7

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“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices 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 give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” ~Rev 2:1-7

 

The church in Ephesus can be considered the role model of its time among the Christian circle. Concerning their Christian conduct, impeccable: they were fervent in their service, did lots of spiritual work, endured hardships for the Lord, and did not grow weary. They were also careful not to make haste to trust anyone – even when false apostles came among their midst in the name of Christ, they were soon exposed. They could be considered the perfect church, not only did they receive praises of approval from fellow churches, who see them as the perfect example to model after; the church in Ephesus also believed that they would surely receive the crown of life if they were to continue to persevere in this manner. Considering such a faultless church and yet the Lord rebukes them of having left their first love. What exactly does this ‘first love’ refer to? Does it refer to their loss of love for the souls of man, that they no longer have the passion they initially had for the gospel? Or have they taken on such a strong defence against false apostles, so much so, that they have become cynical and no longer trust anyone, having their hearts turn cold, becoming unsympathetic, that they lost their genuine love and concern they first had towards others? All these are probable reasons. However, the underlying problem is perhaps more severe. The Lord warned them saying, that unless they repent, He shall come upon them and remove their lampstand from its place, and stop using them as a witness to the world.

What the Ephesus church had forsaken wasn’t the passion they had for the gospel, nor the love they had for people. Rather, it was their first love for the Lord Jesus – that love they had for the Lord when they first received Him as their Saviour, which was pure and innocent. Now, the Lord was no longer the centre of their love. But how could this be possible? Haven’t they always persevered and endured hardships in the name of Christ and were even capable of exposing false apostles? They have kept all these things from the very beginning without ceasing, when did they ever forsake the Lord? 

Without a doubt, they have been doing what they did previously even unto this day; but this was what merely appeared on the outside, within their hearts, they had stopped doing it for the Lord for a long time. They had long forsaken their first love for the Lord! They could be doing this spiritual work in order to maintain their good reputation, or for their self-glorification, or for any other reasons, but one thing is certain, they were no longer doing it for the Lord. The Lord rebuked them, telling them to remember where they had fallen. For even the Ephesus Christians themselves, failed to detect their fall, they were unaware of their current spiritual state and thought that they still loved the Lord as before. What they ought to do immediately, was to halt all their spiritual work and repent before the Lord. To plead with the Lord, to illumine them and help them to remember when they had fallen. Now, for them to do more spiritual work would be pointless, because the Lord was coming to remove them and no longer use them for His Kingdom.

 

The Ephesians’ blind spot is also the blind spot of the churches today. Many churches may engage in all sorts of spiritual work on the surface; however, their true motives are never for the love of the Lord. They could be doing it for the preservation of the church traditions, or out of fear of criticisms that they are ungodly, or they could have treated spiritual work as a means for social gatherings, or they could have done it for many other reasons, but it is definitely not done out of love for the Lord. From a secular point of view, we may feel that doing ‘something’ is better than doing ‘nothing’– churches that are active in spiritual work ought to be better than those churches which do no spiritual work at all. However, the Lord does not view it in such a manner. The Lord assesses how good is a church from a spiritual perspective. If the basis of a church ministry is not because of love for the Lord, then no matter how much the amount of spiritual work done, it would be worthless and they ought to cease. The Lord said He would remove the lampstand of the Ephesus church from its place and we can’t help but to relate it to the incident where the two sons of Aaron in the Old Testament, Nadab and Abihu, who offered profane fire before the Lord and were stricken dead by Him. The Church on earth is the Lord’s golden lampstand and ought to give off heavenly light – a most holy and glorious spiritual light of the Lord Jesus Christ! Should any spiritual work from a church be done not out of love for Christ, no matter how dazzling the light it gives off, it is but profane fire before the Lord. It is no surprise that the Lord has to remove it from the world quickly!

God through the seven letters in Revelation, revealed His divine attributes. (Please read ‘How did the Lord choose the seven churches in Revelation?’) The letter to the Ephesus church revealed His omniscience and His all-knowing power. From the Lord’s introduction at the beginning of the letter, we know that the Lord is the one that walks among the seven lampstands which are the seven churches. Although the Lord resides in heaven, His insight towards the spiritual condition of any church surpasses any man. The problem of the Ephesus church was not only oblivious to the outsiders, even they themselves were unaware of it, but only the all-knowing God knew. The Lord is also the Lord of the seven stars, should the Ephesus church fail to repent after receiving the letter, the Lord would not hesitate to remove their lampstand from its place and forbid them from giving off light anymore.