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15/04/2009 / Test All Things

A Study Of Revelation 2:4-5

In Revelation chapters 2 and 3 God has messages for seven Churches in Asia Minor. There were many more churches, but God picked out these seven as examples of what the New Testament Church is like. But God’s message is actually to us: “Where do we stand? To which of these seven churches can we compare ourselves?

Not surprisingly, God selected the first one of the seven to be the Church at Ephesus. This was the Church for which the Apostle Paul labored more than for any other Church. Paul worked with them for about 3 years. If any of the first century churches should know right from wrong, it was the Church at Ephesus. But to this Church God says: “Thou hast left thy first love.” Let’s read:

Revelation 2:1
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;

Revelation 2:2
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:

Revelation 2:3
And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

(And now put in your memory bank the words of the following two verses:)

Revelation 2:4
Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

Revelation 2:5
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.

Revelation 2:6
But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

Revelation 2:7
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.

God had many good things to say to this Pastor at Ephesus. This was a Church that was very active in doing the Lord’s work, and they were jealously guarding their doctrines. But when you read verse 4, you have to remember that the word “somewhat” was not in the original text. That is why that word is in italics. Verse 4 is actually much more serious than it sounds in the KJV. Literally God said:

Revelation 2:4
Nevertheless I have (somewhat) against thee, that thou hast left thy first love.

God sees their heart. Paraphrased, God says to the Pastor of this Church: You have done many good works, but there is something missing in this Church, something that is very essential; it is something that you cannot do without: “You have left your first love for the Lord”.

You know, our love for the Lord is what makes the Church an exciting place. We may be very busy, but that is not what bonds us together. Our love for the Lord bonds us together.

Our First Love: When Did It Begin? (Ephesians 1:3-13)

Well, let’s take the Church at Ephesus as an example.

When did their first love begin?

You might say it began when the Apostle Paul preached the Gospel to them.

Is that really when it began?

Listen to what the Apostle Paul told the Ephesians about that.

Ephesians 1:3
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

Ephesians 1:4
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

When did it begin?

It began in eternity past when God the Father chose us in Christ. Out of the entire human race He elected us before the foundation of the world. No one could stop God from carrying out His plan. But when the Father looked down the corridors of time He saw us as we really were: dirty rotten sinners, enslaved to Sin and Satan, deliberately rebelling against God and marching on the broad way to Hell. Something had to be done about our sins before we land in Hell.

Therefore about 2000 years ago, God the Son laid down His heavenly glory and took on the body of a man, Jesus the carpenter of Nazareth. He voluntarily took upon Himself all the sins of all those whom the Father had chosen, and on the Cross He paid the price that had to be paid for those sins, which was the equivalent of an eternity in Hell. He satisfied all the requirements for our sins. He died, was put in a grave, and after He rose from the grave God could say in Ephesians 1:7,

Ephesians 1:7
In whom (talking about Christ) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

But there was more required for our salvation. We were still living like the Devil, as haters of God. Therefore, God the Holy Spirit had to come and take the stony heart out of our flesh and give us a heart of flesh. In other words, He made us Born Again. God the Holy Spirit made us hear the Good News that the Lord Jesus Christ had died for our sins, and made us believe this Good News.

Ephesians 1:9
Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

We believed because God the Holy Spirit made us believe the Gospel, and what God had done in our heart no one would be able to undo it. Therefore we read in verse 13,

Ephesians 1:13
In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

Our eternal destiny was sealed. But let us remember: “We love Him because He first loved us”

Therefore it is a solid foundation (Matthew 16:18-19, Acts 20:26-27)

If God has saved us, then we can be certain that we cannot lose our salvation. We can trust that as a rock-solid foundation. Perhaps you remember that the Lord Jesus said that to the Apostle Peter:

Matthew 16:18
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter (Petros), and upon this rock (Petra) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Matthew 16:19
And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Peter was not the Rock on which Christ would build His Church, but Christ Himself was that Rock on which He would build His Church. The Lord Jesus told Peter that he was blessed, because the Father had revealed to him the truth and he was a saved man, and he now belonged to the Kingdom of Heaven, where he was so safe and secure that the gates of Hell could not undo his salvation.

Likewise the Saints in the Church at Ephesus could look back and see that they too were safe and secure, because the Apostle Paul had revealed to them the truth and they had received it gladly. Paul told them the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Acts 20:26
Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all (men).

Acts 20:27
For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.

Is this not strange?

Before his conversion Saul the Pharisee was guilty of persecuting Christians, throwing them in jail and even approving of their death. Most certainly, he was guilty of the blood of Stephen who was stoned to death. But here Paul says: “I testify to you this very day that I am clean from the blood of all”. And then he explains why he is clean from the blood of all: “For I have not shunned (I have not kept back) to declare unto you the whole counsel of God”.

This should make every preacher of the Gospel to tremble. For example, if we only would tell people a feel good gospel, such as “God loves you and Jesus died for you on the Cross, and He is waiting for you to accept Him as your savior”, then we would not bring them the whole counsel of God. Then we would be bringing them a gospel that cannot save, and we would be guilty of the blood of those who have been deceived that they go to Heaven, when in fact they would be going to Hell.

But the Church at Ephesus did not have this problem. They were taught by the most faithful servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, and he also was the most eminent theologian of his days. If they had been taking notes, like some of you have been taking notes, they could fall back on a solid instruction that was a solid foundation.

Why then all the warnings? (Acts 20:28-31)

Why did the Apostle Paul give them all these dire warnings in Acts 20?

Look at verses 28-31,

Acts 20:28
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

Acts 20:29
For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

Acts 20:30
Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

Acts 20:31
Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

This was the farewell speech that the Apostle Paul had for the Ephesian Elders. Paraphrased, he says, “As soon as I leave there will be an attack on the Church”. Then he looks them straight in the eye and he says, “Out of one of you will come a deceiver who will lead astray many in this Church.”

Is it not strange that God gave them this warning so soon?

He was talking to a brand new Church. They were sincere in their love for the Christ and in following the teachings of the Apostle.

Was it possible that they could fall away so soon?

Is it possible that we too need to hear the same warning today?

Yes, we also can fall away. Let’s not kid ourselves; Satan is working overtime. Look at the Church at Ephesus about 30 years later. Paraphrased, God says to them: “You have left your first love; you are on the verge of being a dead Church right now”.

Acts 20:31
Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

What Pastor can you find today who will preach like that?

There are few Pastors today who are troubled in their soul that their Church might go apostate. And yet, Paul preached like that. Today you find that Pastors preach just the opposite. Pastors all over the world are saying: “Christ will build His Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”. They cling to this promise and ignore all the warnings that God lovingly has placed in the Bible for our benefit.

But then, why is God giving us these warnings?

Is our salvation not secure?

You have to realize that God’s language to a Congregation is different than it is to each individual Saint. Not everyone in the Congregation is a saved person. This is an integral part of the plan of God. Even in Jesus’ Congregation there was one of the twelve who was a Devil. That was God’s design.

To the Church at Ephesus God says: “Thou hast left thy first love”.

Our First Love: Can It Disappear?

To each individual Saint God says: “You have received eternal life; you are safe and secure in My hand; you will never fall away and Christ cannot divorce you because there cannot be divorce”.

If you have been saved your first love for the Lord Jesus Christ cannot disappear.

But a Congregation or a Church does not have the security that an individual Saint has. God does not have a law in the book that forbids Him to divorce a Congregation. God did it before when He divorced Himself from the Congregation of Israel, and He did it again with the Congregation of Judah. God can do it again with the New Testament. Church. Look for example at the Church at Ephesus.

To that Church God says: “Thou hast left thy first love”.

Revelation 2:5
“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”.

And when God removes the candlestick, the Church is dead. This is very serious language. Every Congregation should fear and tremble: “How are we doing”?

There are very few Pastors today who will preach about this subject at all, even though it is well documented throughout the Bible. They rather cling to the promise: “Christ shall build His Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it”, and they ignore passages like 2 Timothy 4:3-4,

2 Timothy 4:3
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

2 Timothy 4:4
And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Those words are talking about our time. Today especially Satan is working overtime and is coming with gospels that feature signs, and wonders, and tongues, and dreams, and visions, and angel-visitations, and other miraculous manifestations. People like that because they will not endure sound doctrine, but rather they have itching ears and they rather turn their ears unto fables. God tells us about the worldwide apostasy of the Church in Revelation 13:6, which is talking about Satan:

Revelation 13:6
And he (i.e. the beast that comes out of the sea) opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.

(Watch:)

Revelation 13:7
And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.

Revelation 13:8
And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, (and who is “all”?) all whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world.

Revelation 13:9
If any man have an ear, let him hear.

Can you see the Longsuffering of God to bear with the sins of the Church for many years, even for centuries?

But the Longsuffering of God for the Church is not infinite. There comes a time when God sends Satan, and “It was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them”.

God says to the Church at Ephesus: “Nevertheless, I have this against thee:”

“That thou hast left thy first love”.

My patience is coming to an end with you.

But what was their first love?

Is it to love our neighbor as ourselves?

Must we give much money to charity to show our love?

No! Their first love was their love for Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ says that to love Him is TO DO His will. Or if I formulate it in the words of Revelation 2:5.

Revelation 2:5
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.

What are those first works that Christ told them TO DO?

Better ask: What is the work that Christ has assigned His Church to do?

It is the work of evangelism and the work of preaching the Cross of Christ according to the teachings of the Bible.

To begin with, it is the preaching that we all are sinners on the way to Hell, because Almighty God hates sin so much that He must cast sinners into Hell. And the preaching that the Lord Jesus Christ came to save His people from their sins, by going for them to the Cross to endure the equivalent of an eternity in Hell for His people.

What a beautiful sacrifice!

Who are His people?

According to the Bible, His people are those whom the Father has chosen from before the foundation of the world out of all kindreds and tongues and nations, whose names are written in the Book of Life of th Lamb. (See Revelation 13:8).

But if the Church has left their first works and is not reaching out to the unsaved people in the world with the true Gospel, then they also have left their first love.

Let this be a warning to us!

Is the Church going to repent and DO the first works as Christ has commanded?

Well, if we presently are in an End-Time situation then “they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” and we will slide into a worldwide apostasy as we have read in Revelation 13:7-8,

Revelation 13:7
And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.

Revelation 13:8
And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

Is it not amazing that this has been prophesied already in the Old Testament?

Please turn with me to the Prophesy of Daniel, chapter 7, and we will read just two verses there. Just like in Revelation 13, where John is given a vision of a Beast that comes up out of the sea, in Daniel 7, the prophet Daniel is given a vision of a Beast with ten horns that comes up out of the sea, but it is particularly “The Little Horn” which is in focus, and “The Little Horn” is Satan as the Antichrist.

Daniel 7:21
I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;

Daniel 7:22

Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.

God says here, and at many other places, that just before the end of the world, Satan makes war with the Saints and prevails against them. That is the Final Tribulation Period.

Woe to them who ignore God’s warnings!

God says to the Church at Ephesus: Repent, or else………I will remove thy candlestick.

Revelation 2:5
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.

This is serious language. The Candlestick is representing the Church as the light of the Gospel. When God removes the Candlestick the Church is a dead church. This information flies right in the face of those who confidently say: “O, we have nothing to fear, because Christ shall build His Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it”.

God would not do such a dastardly thing to make His Church a dead church.

Really?

Would God not do such a thing?

He did it to the Church at Ephesus. The Church at Ephesus is no longer in existence. God did it again to all the seven Churches of Asia Minor in Revelation 2 & 3. None of them exists any longer. And remember, God used this kind of language to five of the seven Churches in Revelation 2 & 3.

So, why is the Church in the world today ignoring all these warnings?

Is it not because they do not repent?

But if they do not repent, then God will remove their candlestick.

Now the next question: How does God remove their Candlestick?

When a Church has left her first love and is no longer doing the work that God has assigned to her, then that Church is dead. She is no longer worshipping the one and only God, and God will give her over to the worship of other gods. God gives us an example of that in 2 Thessalonians 2. In this chapter God again gives us the scenario of the End of Time. God says in 2 Thessalonians 2:3,

2 Thessalonians 2:3
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

2 Thessalonians 2:4
Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

The great falling away, or the great apostasy must come before Christ returns. Most Churches believe that we are close to the return of Christ.

But if Christ is coming soon, why are there so very few Pastors today who are troubled in their soul for those in their Congregation who are not saved?

2 Thessalonians 2:11
And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

2 Thessalonians 2:12
That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

This is HOW God removes the Candlestick. God will send them strong delusion that they should believe the lie.

What is the lie?

One of those lies is that God is still bringing Divine Revelation today.

Our First Love: Can It Stay? (2 Timothy 4:2, Revelation 2:5)

For those individuals who have been saved, they are safe and secure in Christ. They will not lose their first love and they will not lose their salvation. But for a Church, or for a Congregation, that is an entirely different matter.

Do we in our Church realize for what purpose God has drawn us together, and do we in our Church realize what our assignment is from God?

God says in 2 Timothy 4:2,

2 Timothy 4:2
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

This is God’s assignment first of all to the Pastor, but it is not only to the Pastor. This is God’s assignment to the whole Church.

What if your Pastor dies?

Then God may raise up someone else from this Church who will carry the torch. But the message in the preaching should still be the same. And if it is not the same, then the Church must come to realize their God given task.

Revelation 2:5
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.

The Pastor is accountable to the Congregation for what he preaches, and the Congregation must help the Pastor, and check out the Pastor so that he always brings a message that is true to the Word of God. God has designed His Church so that there are always these checks and balances.

It is important that we DO the first works that indicate that Christ is our first love. If that is what we say, then that is what we must DO: Reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

· Never must we allow an Arminian gospel to creep into our Church.

· Never must we make rules that are contrary to what we read in the Bible.

· Never must we allow the writings of men such as confessions to be of equal importance to the Bible.

· Never must we allow an evangelism budget cut; we are called to be the light of the world.

· Always must we ask ourselves “Are we doing it God’s way”? Can we improve on what we’re doing?

· Always must we be Watchmen of the Gates of Zion, doorkeepers of the house of God.

· Always must we give God all the glory and take no credit for ourselves: Soli Deo Gloria.

· Always must we acknowledge that everything that comes our way is all by Grace alone, through the Lord Jesus Christ, who designed it all for our benefit.

Therefore, our first love: Can it stay?

Yes it can, but only by the Grace of God will a faithful Congregation be Watchmen of the Gates of Zion.

And what is the cost?

The cost is that faithful churches will always be a small Congregation.

This kind of a Gospel is not very popular. The Bible says that the true Gospel is an offense to the natural man.

God says to the Church at Ephesus: Remember………and do the first works.

Now, let me apply these words to all of us individually. As you know this is an admonition, which also applies to individual believers. For each individual the Lord Jesus Christ must be our first love, and then He will be first in every corner of our life. This is the normal Christian life.

We do not love Him because we have to. We love Him because we want to. We love Him because He first loved us, and gave Himself for us, that we may be His Bride not having any spot or wrinkle. And if we indeed are His Bride, then we love the Bridegroom more than anyone else in the universe. But let us also put some feet under this statement of love. Jesus said in John 14:21-24,

John 14:21
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

John 14:22
Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?

John 14:23
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

John 14:24
He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.

This is not the only place where God demands obedience from them who claim to love Him. If we love Him, we KEEP His commandments as evidence that we indeed love Him.

For example, in 1 John 5:2-3 we read:

1 John 5:2
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and KEEP his commandments.

1 John 5:3
For this is the love of God, that we KEEP his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

KEEP His commandments?

This is not a popular subject these days. Most people go their own way rather than obey what the Bible says. Most people find loopholes to do their own pleasure on the Lord’s day. They find loopholes to justify divorce and remarriage. They find loopholes for just about anything they like to do, rather than read the Bible and read what God says about it.

But that is not the lifestyle of a Christian. How can we grieve the person who gave everything He has.

He that hath an ear, let him hear (Matthew 11:15, Matthew 13:9, Matthew 13:43, Mark 4:9, Mark 4:23, Mark 7:16, Luke 8:8, Luke 14:35, Revelation 2:7,11,17,29, Revelation 3:6, Reevelation 3:13, Revelation 3:22, Revelation 13:9)

Have you heard this admonition before?

Yes, of course. Every one of the letters to the seven Churches of Asia Minor in Revelation 2 and 3 concludes this way, and the Lord Jesus used this expression often in Matthew, in Mark, and in Luke. Most of the time the Lord Jesus used this proverbial expression after He had spoken a very important doctrine, to sound the warning that this doctrine should not be forgotten.

For example, after telling the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, which is a parable that teaches the doctrine of Election and the doctrine of Hell as plain as day, the Lord Jesus said in Matthew 13:43,

Matthew 13:43
Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

In other words, he among you that has the ability to understand this, or that will believe this, let him hear the warning, and let him remember and not forget these important principles of salvation and retribution. They are of eternal importance.

In Revelation 2:7 the Lord Jesus said to the Church at Ephesus:

Revelation 2:7
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches;

In other words, he among you that has the ability to understand the meaning of having left your first love, and the meaning of having abandoned your first work, let him hear the warning and let him remember and not forget what our first priorities are: Christ must be first in our life, first in our work, first in our devotion, first in our allegiance and, most importantly, first in our love.

What does a faithful Church have to watch out for?

I would say that we are to be Watchmen at the Gates of Zion, and we must look very carefully at who enters the Church, and who we assign a leadership position to, and always pray for wisdom.

What else do we have to watch out for?

We must always search the Scriptures and find out how we are doing in the eyes of Almighty God.

Are we still on the right track?

We must never let a theologian from the past dominate our understanding of the Scriptures. God’s revelation of His secrets in the Bible keep unfolding as we are moving closer to the second coming of Christ.

By Alfred J. Chompff

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5 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. rowena de mesa / Jan 16 2010 10:11 am

    Thanks so much for this topic. Its a great help for me

  2. Elias Corredor / Dec 13 2010 8:01 am

    This really helped & blessed me, Thank God for the anointing & gifts he gave us man. I appreciate the time & effort you put on this message God has given you. God bless you.

  3. T. / Mar 10 2011 3:38 am

    I Read This About Revelation 2-5 But My Question Is This, What If A Person Who Has Realized They Have Felt Into Aposate, But They Repented And Turn From Every Evil Sin And Started To Keep The Commandments And Do The Will Of GOD, Will That Same Indivual Be Saved Bascially Speaking Of A Lukewarm Christian/Aposate, Please Respond Back Thanks & GOD Bless!

  4. Mateu Dube / Aug 6 2012 8:04 pm

    Thanks for the shared information l gained a lot,God bless

  5. Lucy / Mar 29 2013 10:09 am

    May the Lord Bless you for this very informative message – It has opened my eyes and I truly now understand

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