Monday, June 05, 2006

Revelation 2:2-7

Read it here.

At the RFC mens breakfast on Saturday, our speaker, whose name i've forgotten, touched upon the letter to the church in Ephesus in his talk. I guess the letters in Revelation are about the easiest things to understand in the book, but apart from that they're also full of really good truth (funilly enough, this being the Bible!).

The church in Ephesus is obviously one place where Paul wrote a letter to, and it seems from these verses in Revelation, initially at least that they had come through the struggle that prompted Paul to write to them. It says that God knows their works, how they toil, how they struggle for the truth, how they test the apostles. It all seems good so far. The letter even commends them on how they are patiently enduring and bearing up for Jesus' sake without growing weary. Again, so far it this certainly seems like a letter of comendation, and i suppose up to this point it it. It seems that at this point the Church in Ephesus is one that can be held up as an example to the churches around it. In verse seven they are further commended for 'hating the Nicolatians' as God does. So what was the problem? Verse four is the problem.

The Ephesian Christians had lost their first love. They had stopped doing the things they did at first. They had lost the joy of their salvation. They are told to remember from where they had fallen, and repent, unless God punish them. I think it's interesting that a church can still look good on the outside, indeed it seems still be effective on the outside if the first four verses are anything to go by, and yet still have lost thier first love. Perhaps they had put service above Jesus, or patience, or apostle testing or Nicolatian hating above Jesus. These things were all good and right in themselves, and are commended as being such. But they had lost their first love, the reason they were saved, the reason their lungs were filled with air. They had forgotten the things they did at first, whether intentionally (by thinking there was some kind of other level of sanctification) or not. There's a warning to all of us here.

'Repent, and do the things you did at first' they are commanded. 'The things they did at first'. I love hanging out with Becki and Anna at the moment. They are doing the things they do at first right now, that first rush, that real and unshakeable breathless gratitude to the Lord for all He has done. It's a joy to see. This is where we must never move from. This is where we must stay. Joyfull and greatful just for belonging to Jesus. All we do in service of Him must must be an overflow, an expression of our love for Him. Or we, like the church in Ephesus have lost our first oove and must repent. There is nothing apart from Jesus, nothing outside of Him, nothing beyond or behind Him, no higher state into which we can push. Just more of Him, our first love. There are times in life when we lose sight of that. When Christian life becomes about meetings, or quiet times, or putting chairs out...and i know because i've been there. And it's a tragedy. Jesus is all there is. We must not, we must never move from Him, from His completed work on the cross, from the things that have saved us. We are justified and then sanctified. It will never work the other way around. And why must be work at it? Because he who conquers will eat of the tree of life in paradise.

Oh the wonderful grace of God, which gave John a revelation and the church in Ephesus a letter. That He calls them to repent according to His love and mercy rather than just leaving them to it or letting them burn for an eternity in hell. What an awesome God we amazing is His grace, and His ways. We must watch ourselves. We must strive to keep Jesus at the centre, keep the main thing the main thing, or it's all going to be a tragic waste of a life.

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