True New Testament Revival: Getting Back to Our First Love, Part 4 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #282)
A homily is “a short talk on a religious or moral topic; a usually short sermon; a lecture or discourse on or of a biblical theme.”
TEXT: Revelation 2:1-7:
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 Nicolaitanes, 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.
C. Stacey Woods said, “The Church is an organism that grows best in an alien society.”
Leonard Ravenhill said, “Jesus didn’t just die to save us from hell. That’s a fringe benefit. He died to get total occupation of us. He died so that we can be holy in speech, in actions, in everything.”
In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “For several years, members of the Congregational church had been nurturing strife and animosity. As evangelist Asahel Nettleton began his ministry in the church, he chose to address those issues that hindered the harmony of the church. He spoke plainly and pointedly about the importance of loving one another and living in unity as a means of advancing the cause of Christ. Unfortunately, his preaching appeared to have little affect. The church seemed content to enjoy the prestige associated with having him as pastor, without heeding his revivalistic preaching. They seemed to think the coming of a revivalist would solve their problems and bring revival without their first resolving problems that hindered the blessing of God.”
In our last three homilies, we looked at the three points of commendation that Jesus gave to the Church at Ephesus. The Ephesian believers were hard workers, they were patient, and they did not tolerate false teachers. Now, the Lord moves to the point of rebuke. There was one thing that Jesus did not like about this church. He says, “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.”
What was their first love? Jesus only commanded the love of God and the love of one’s neighbor. The Bible says, “We love Him [Jesus] because He first loved us.” The Christian’s first love is a reaction to the love that God has shown him through sending Jesus Christ to die on the cross for his sins. No other person or thing that the Christian may love should compare to the love the Christian has for God and Jesus Christ. Yet, the Ephesian Church had stopped loving God as they used to.
When we think of how the Church at Ephesus left their first love, we must realize that, from the outside looking in, we would not be able to tell that this was the case. This church seemed to have it all together. They were patient, hard working, and on guard against false doctrine. What we are seeing here is a church that had fallen into legalism. They did all the right things, but their heart was not in the right place. Jesus is more concerned about how we do things than He is about what we do. Good work is no substitute for love. It is easy to think that the Ephesian church had it all together; but Jesus saw its problems.
Dr. Warren Wiersbe said, “First love is the devotion to Christ that so often characterizes the new believer: fervent, personal, uninhibited, excited, and openly displayed. It is the ‘honeymoon love’ of the husband and wife. While it is true that mature married love deepens and grows richer, it is also true that it should never lose the excitement and wonder of those ‘honeymoon days.’ When a husband and wife begin to take each other for granted, and life becomes routine, then the marriage is in danger. Just think of it: It is possible to serve, sacrifice, and suffer ‘for Jesus’ name’s sake’ and yet not really love Jesus Christ! The Ephesian believers were so busy maintaining their separation that they were neglecting adoration. Labor is no substitute for love; neither is purity a substitute for passion. The church must have both if it is to please Him.”
The community outside of the church probably thought that the Ephesian church had it all together. But Jesus was looking at their heart. He wanted to encourage them to keep on doing what they were doing, but to do it with the right heart. The source of the Ephesian church’s ministry — and the source of everything that we do as Christians — should be love for God and love for Christ. When we are motivated by love, our behavior will ring true. As Paul said, no matter what other spiritual gifts we have or spiritual accomplishments we reach, if we ‘have not love,’ we are ‘nothing.’
Now, if you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, please keep in mind that the Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” First, understand, that you are a sinner and that the wages of sin is death and Hell. But God sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for your sins. He was buried, and He rose from the dead by the power of God so that you can be saved from death and Hell. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. You have done the most important thing in life. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.