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Our First Love

by Ernest Martinez

Many evangelists and pastors use the verse from Revelation in which Jesus says: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me." ( Rev. 3:20 ) Though this verse is often used to bring people to the Lord Jesus for salvation, in context it should rather be used to encourage the Church. Jesus said this to the Church that was lukewarm, the Church of the Laodiceans, the Church that was neither cold nor hot. He said: "Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see." ( 3:17 - 18 ) Jesus said He wanted to dine with His church, to come with them and eat with them. He said "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the Churches." (Rev. 3:22 )

But there were other churches that needed rebuke as well as encouragement. Paul spent a few years serving the Ephesians and was saddened by the thought of leaving the Church. Before he went to Jerusalem he sent for the elders of the church of Ephesus. ( Acts 20:17 ) In verses 18 - 21 he said that he served them with many tears and trials and he held back nothing that was helpful for their spiritual growth. He testified that when he goes, that in every city he goes to "chains and tribulations" await him as the Holy Spirit told him. ( Acts 20:22 - 23 ) He said to them in verse 28 - 30: "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves."

So many tears, so many trials, so much warning, and yet we find the Church is the first on the Lord's list in Revelation to correct their false sense of reality. He told them: "I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary." ( Rev. 2:2 - 3 ) Though we should not assume that the Lord was saying that they should forsake those things that He here mentioned, but that they should not have their confidence in those things. "Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love." ( Rev. 2:4 ) Love is the greatest work and virtue that God has given us, but it is not separated from doing those things that they were doing. They were to: "Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place unless you repent." Those first works of love are those that caused us to listen to Holy Spirit when he spoke. They are the same works that cause us serve him faithfully.

Paul taught Timothy to teach and preach the word and said to him: "As I urged you when I went into Macedonia remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm." ( 1 Timothy 1:3 - 7 ) Paul taught the Ephesians, sent Timothy to them, and still the forsook their first love. Let us encourage each other to return to our first love and confirm that love each day.

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Published on: 2005-12-28 (7531 reads)

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