The Baptist Classroom
by Doug Newell
In Revelation 2:1-7, Jesus sends a message to the church in the city of Ephesus.
It is amazing to consider the fall of Ephesus in light of all they were doing right. This church had a lot going for it, they were doing many good works in the name of our Lord Jesus. From the outside, they looked like the model church, but Jesus, the Great Physician, diagnosed a heart problem. They had left their first love. Ephesus was a doctrinally strong church, they didn’t tolerate false doctrine, they were a hard working church, they were a sanctified church, and they were a bold and earnestly contending church. But as Jesus said, “Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee.” Jesus tells them they left their first love.
The first love is our love for God. We are to love God with our whole being. This doctrinally sound group’s love had grown cold. A love of truth without a love for “the Truth” is not pleasing unto God. They had a love for the church without a fiery love for the Head of the church. They held to doctrine, but it had become simply a teaching to them. If Jesus is not the primary love and motivating factor in the church, the church has left its beloved and lost its focus. They left Him in their heart, but not in their actions. They were doing the right things and preaching true things, and maybe even for the right reason. But their hearts had grown cold to the person of Jesus. We should love the Church because Christ loves it, and not for any other reason. We can’t love the work more than the one we are working for.
How can we avoid such an error? Fellowship and communion with the one you love. If you want to grow in your love of Jesus, you need to meet with Him. You need to commune with Jesus in prayer. You need to listen to Jesus speaking to you in His word. You need to walk with Jesus in your life. You need to obey Jesus as your Lord. When you read your Bible, read it to hear your Lord. When you go to church, prepare your heart before you get there. Pray for the preacher, pray for yourself that you’ll be able to receive the message. When you get to church, come expecting to receive a blessing. Sing out unto the Lord, thinking about the lyrics of the hymns. Bring your Bible to church and read along, listen intently, and apply the truth to your heart. When you go back home, think about the service and what you heard. The cares of the world can choke out our first love. You can backslide by falling into open sin, but you can also backslide sitting in the pew every Sunday, or even from behind the pulpit, if you are simply going through the motions without a love of Jesus Christ.