Sunday, February 16, 2014

Return to Your First Love

Love Sweet Love
Love sweet Love by ~Lethiel on deviantART

Revelation 2:1-7:
“To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lamp stands:  “I know your works, your labour, 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 laboured for My name’s sake and have not become weary.  Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.  Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lamp stand from its place — unless you repent.  But this you have, that you hate the deeds 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 to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”’  (NKJV)

Return implies that the one being called to return had once started in the right direction and has now lost the direction. He is therefore being recalled to the earlier locus. As we use to say in our secondary school days “it is a call to retrace your locus” Here the return is directional for we are not just called to return, we are called to return to “our first love”. This means that we have first loved, lost the love or lost the object of the love. These two things are different – We have either lost our love, in which case, like in case of Tamar and Ammon in Second Samuel 13, the love has turned to hatred; or as in the case of the Church of Laodicea, the love has become lukewarm or we still have a burning, hot love but have lost the object of the love. We may have, like the Israelites, loved strange gods instead of the God that rescued them from Egypt – the land of bondage or like we see in the wife of Hosea – Gomer, we have become harlots and followed after other men, instead of our own husbands; whichever is the case, a call to return to the first love is very appropriate and it is a call that must be heeded and immediately too.

The Call to Return

This call to return to the first love was first addressed to the Church at Ephesus or what many Bible scholars have called the Apostolic Church. We shall very briefly look at this Church and see its relevance to all of us here and vis-a-vis see how this call is relevant to us.

The Church at Ephesus represents a picture of a kind of assembly in the world during the entire Church Age. The Church at Ephesus was the first Century Apostolic Church –AD 30-100. It was very warm and on fire for God. It represents a period in the Church history. It includes the Church in the Book of Acts and it was the early Church with all the zeal of its first love burning for Christ. It was during this age that Peter and the other Apostles challenged the authority of the day and stood firmly for Christ in the face of persecution and death. It was during this age that Paul made his Missionary Journeys and the Apostles went everywhere preaching the Gospel. It was during this period that Apostles were described as “people that turn the world upside down”. The name Ephesus itself is suggestive. It means the desirable one. But towards the end of the first Century and towards the close of the period represented by Ephesus, the leaven of evil was already at work and the Church began to cool off and became indifferent.

One would have expected that this Church which God Himself has praised in verses 1-3 would have continued in this love, patience and enthusiasm for God, but no, the world will grow from bad to worse. Things will grow worse till the warm Church of Ephesus has become the cold Church of Laodicea with its apostasy which Christ threatened to spew out of His mouth. The world would continue to grow evil till Christ comes. That is what Christ foresaw when He said: “When the Son of man comes, shall He find faith on earth” (Luke 18:8) So the warm Church has left her first love and therefore here follows the warning in verse 5:   “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lamp stand from its place — unless you repent.”

Remember that God has all along referred to the Churches as Candlesticks and if the Church does not repent the warning is that it would be removed from its place. Ephesus is today no more for it is already removed from its place but all through ages, God is known to reward individuals who remain faithful to Him. The record of Ephesus – the Apostolic Age, therefore ends with a gracious promise. “He, who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”

With this at the background, let us try to relate this to our own experience. Everyone of us here who has experienced a personal trust and belief in our Lord Jesus Christ as his/her personal Saviour knows that our love and enthusiasm for Him when we first believed was comparable to that of the early Church as we saw in verses 1-3. You were very desirous to share your faith, could stand before anybody anytime to defend what you believed. Like David, you were “glad when they said, let us go into the house of the Lord” But as time went on; you started taking Him for granted. You no longer depended on Him for everything. Some things now you can do on your own. Bible reading and personal quiet time became when and if you are able. When you are not able, God understands. You now know some Bible passages to defend your inability to do what God has commanded; your love has grown cold. You have left your first love. We all have passed through this period or are passing through it now.

God today is telling us all to:


Remember what? See verse 5. “Remember therefore from where you have fallen;” The tragedy of our age today is not that we have fallen; it is that many do not know where they have fallen. They don’t remember. For where you don’t remember, you can’t seek amend. In a previous post on “Remember Lot’s Wife”, we saw that all of us today need to remember. If we don’t remember we shall always be caught unawares. I have often forgotten and found myself in the net of the evil one before I remember. Oh that every one of us here today would remember where he has fallen.


Repentance is the only thing that makes Christianity meaningful. Repentance is not a scalar quantity. It is a vector quantity. It has both magnitude and direction. It is a turn from and turn to. Turn from your evil ways – the Bible says there is a way that seems right in the eye of man but the end thereof is the way of death. (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25. Repentance is turning from our ways into the way of God. But there can be no repentance except we remember that we have gone astray. The prodigal son never thought of coming back to his father until “he came to himself” (Luke 15:17) Can we all today remember whence we have fallen; Repent! 

Do the first works! 

Return to our first love. Return to our first love is a decision that we have to consciously take and take because we really mean it. Like the case of the Prodigal son, it wouldn’t be easy. Imagine the shame of going out full and returning empty. Imagine the shame and humiliation of coming to say “Father I have sinned before heaven and before you, and I am no more worthy to be called your son.” Imagine the pain of a son coming down now to take the position of a servant. But the repentant prodigal son was willing to do all these and more because he remembered, repented and walked decidedly back to his first love.

We have a consolation in doing this, we are returning to a sympathetic Father who is interested in our welfare and who has anxiously been waiting for the erring child to return. He will welcome you just as the father of the prodigal son welcomed him; with outstretched hands and very warm affection.

Why should God bother about my love?  

The Bible says in Luke 19:31 –”The Master has need of him.” Do we Christians today realize that the Lord has need of him: Both he that goes and he that is called? God has need of you to go for Him and has the need of the unbelievers yet outside. But how can you go except you love God, except you return to your first love and how can they be saved and brought to Jesus Christ except you and I go to them? The problem of our world today stems from the fact that Christians today have lost their first love and have left their first work. We are not doing what we should be doing. Let us face it, none of us is as active as the Ephesians we read in Revelation 2:1-3. How then can we expect the world to turn from evil to good when they have not known the source of goodness? The Bible specifically says that “the way of peace they do not know. They have been misled crying peace, peace when there is none.” (Jeremiah 6:14) Of course “there is no peace to the wicked” (Isaiah 48:22) or when they talk of prosperity – there is none. In all of our institutions of today, there is no peace – problems everywhere, inflation, name any evil and it is present with us today. Why? Because those who are called by His name have lost their first love. The Bible is the only answer to man’s problem and the answer lies in the Christian. God made us the promise: “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14) So my brothers and my sisters, the world is sitting on a bomb but it is you who should either detonate the bomb and destroy it or defuse the bomb and save the world. The choice is yours.

I only pray that we have in our self examination this morning seen where we have fallen, seen the grave responsibility that our being in Christ bestows on us; seen the wonderful opportunity God has given to us as His children. I hope we shall therefore seek to return to our first love and begin again to do those things which we did at first. Let us remember that God has promised wonderful blessing to all who will faithfully do what He has asked. (Verses 6-7)

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