THY FIRST LOVE -- WHERE IS IT?
(From a sermon of Bro. Julius Adewumi 4/18/97)
"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 golden candlesticks;
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: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love." (Rev.2:1-4).
When we look at this statement from the Lord to the church of Ephesus, He commended the church for their labour and patience. The Lord praised them for all those efforts. But the Lord said "they have left their first love. What then is the first love? A lot of believers thought evangelism is the first love. But this church of Ephesus was commended for their labour which can only be in evangelism. They were witnessing, converting souls, being patient at it. They have the works. Yet they have forgotten their first love. What then is the first love? I read a sermon of Charles Spurgeon recently and we are both in agreement on this. The first love is the love for Jesus! What do I mean by the love for Jesus? Just think back to the days when we were first saved. At that time when the Lord came upon your lives, what was your mood in those days. Like Charles Spurgeon reminded us in one of his sermons, when we were first saved, there was no distance far enough that we cannot go for prayer meeting, or bible study. Those were the things we would do. It was a love for Jesus!
We might even gather in a place, there might be no person to preach a sermon or teach mysteries, but we just loved the fellowship of the brethren, where we would sing and rejoice. I remember the college fellowship in those days when I was first saved. We would gather for fellowship not because we wanted to listen to a great preacher who came to town, or any great preacher among us. It was just the fellowship of the brethren. Something was bubling in our hearts. It was simply the love of Jesus in our hearts. In those days, songs like:
"I love that man from Galilee,
For he has done so very much for me,
He has forgiven me all my sins
Plant his Holy Ghost in me,
I love that man from Galilee".
Such songs would make our eyes glow as we would look up to Jesus and sing. It was the love of Jesus which made us gather everytime. Over the years, people become stale.
The first love is not that the church was not evangelizing. Christ said "I know thy works, and thy labour". They were labouring for the kingdom all right. What is that first love?
Think about it! How often do you now have enough time to have your "quiet time" with the Lord? Do you stay long enough in the presence of the Lord to commune and study the scriptures as you once did in the first days of being saved? That is how individual saint ought to minister to the Lord.
Come to think of it, we should compare the first love for Christ with the love between a woman and her man when they were yet fiancees, or in their first year of marriage. Wasn't that the time when their love was manifestly strongest? Over the years married couples become stale too. This thing ought not so to be! Let's search for the root cause of this coldness in the love between a man and his wife, and see if it is not similar cause which dampened the love for Christ.
What normally causes marriages to grow cold? Very likely something has come in between the couple. Something has taken the attention of one away from the other. It could be children, work and labour, or a third party whether inlaws or strangers, and so on. While the presence of a third party stranger is fornication, when related to Christ, every thing listed above which can come in between will be classified as an "idol".
Where is that first love gone to? To some preachers and pastors, the first love for Jesus which I am describing could have been lost in the labouring for the kingdom. Some pastors have not enough time for self-development. When they study the scriptures, they are only preparing something for the flock. No communion with Christ, but only with their theological intellect. They are labouring all right, but not ministering to the Lord. Haven't you seen a pastor who is so busy on Sunday, preparing sermons, playing the drum or guitar, presenting the master-piece, shaking hands afterwards. It's all work and business all day. Do they have time to seek the face of the Lord during the week? Many of them may not.
I remember when I was preaching from village to village many years ago. I had no time to fast and seek the Lord's face. I was telling myself "if I stop to fast for some days now, I cannot go to the next village". The Lord had to tell me "Stop! And Fast!" The devil has a way to keep people business-minded so that they will have no time for the most important things.
Labouring for individual business also can take away our first love for Jesus. The Lord warned about this when he said: "the seed that fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard , go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life and bring no fruit to perfection." (Lk.8:14).
Some people cannot stay in the presence of the Lord in prayer or studying the scriptures for one hour . Because they've got to go! They have business to attend.
In marriage the first love or attention of the wife should be to her husband. The husband's need should be the first priority. Not the labour of taking care of the house. Sometime the woman can be so busy with the house chores to the neglect of her husband. Remember Mary and Martha in the bible. One was cooking, while the other was sitting. But the Lord Jesus said "Martha, Martha, ... one thing is needful, and Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken from her." The labour can take away the first love.
We must take the time, perhaps one hour a day, to really meditate in the scriptures and talk to the Lord. Even when we are not fasting. Fasting kind of force us to come back and do it. But when we are not fasting, every Christian ought to have the quiet time, and have a blessful communion with the Lord every evening. The Lord delights in it. It is ministration to the Lord himself. Just like singing praises to the Lord is a ministration to the Lord.
Someone may say "maybe one has known everything in the bible, that is why the quiet time is no more edifying". No! When we were freshmen Christians we were licking every word of sermon from the preachers' mouth. It was the love for Jesus. After the first love is gone, the same sermon from the same preacher will be dissected and faulted several times over. The simple child-like faith is gone. Proud spirit has replaced the teachable spirit. When believers are stale, they will pick apart every sermon, find fault with how it is presented, what is presented and who has presented it. The church must come back to that first love.
Our first love for Jesus is very important. Meditate on what can take away the first love between husband and wife, and see if similar thing has not taken away your first love for Jesus.
"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." (Rev.2:5).
The first work is our ministration to the Lord Jesus, just as the first work of a wife is her ministration to her husband. Let's do the first works in the household of God.
To the Church Corporate, here is a quote from an earlier revival about how the love of the church grows cold:
Now history keeps repeating itself. In the generations of Israel we see revival in one generation, only to see the fires fading in the next. In the third generation, embers may be glowing slightly, but in the fourth, there may be no vestige whatsoever of that original flame. Then God lights the fire again and the process is repeated. .....
Folks are all coming together now by the will of man. I don't say that some of them aren't right with God. Not for a minute do I say that, but the original fire has died down. They are not the same any more.
The fervent desire to please God, the passion to know his word, the cry for reaching out in the Spirit, all begins to fade and instead of that church being on fire with the fire of God, it has cooled off and become a bit formal. That is what was happening back there to the Ephesians. They were getting a bit formal. The abandonment to God was dying out and the people weren't too careful about what God thought of them as they began to be careful about what the world thought of them. That second generation coming on was just like Israel. They demanded a king to be like the other nations. When they did that, they rejected God. But they did it any way.
That is the history of the church. When it thinks more of conforming to the world instead of conforming to God, it isn't long until you see them stop doing things they used to do, and start doing things they wouldn't do initially. They change their manner of dress, their attitudes and their behaviour. They get lax. That is what "Ephesus" means: relaxed- drifting.
That cycle of revival and death has never failed. All you have to do is recall this last move of God in the Spirit when men and women dressed like Christians, went to Church, prayed all night, took to the street corners and weren't ashamed of the manifestations of the Spirit. They left their old dead churches and worshipped in homes or old store buildings. They had reality. But it wasn't too long a time until they began to get enough money to build fine new churches. They put in a choir instead of singing unto God for themselves. They put gowns on the choir. They organized a movement and ran it by man. They soon began to read books that weren't fit to read. They let down the bars and goats came in and took over. The cry of joy was gone. The freedom of the Spirit was gone. Oh, they kept on with a form; but the fire had died down and the blackness of ashes is about all that is left.
You see, it is always gradual degradation that kills revival. 1st John 5:3 says "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandment (his word)." One little deviation from that word was a step away from Christ.
People saying they loved God but not obeying his word, Oh Ephesian Church (of the endtime) something is happening to you. Someone is trying to either add to that word or take from it. But they are doing it so subtly that you can't see it. It is undercover, and they are bringing it by way of reason and human understanding, and it will take over unless you refuse it. GO BACK TO PENTECOST BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE! But as usual, people don't heed God's warning. Dont't hesitate! Repent quickly!
The above quote addresses the corporate body. Every believer must find where he or she has erred and repent! I pray that the believers will seek and search and go back to the first love, and do the first works, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Bro. Julius Adewumi
Gospel Distribution Ministry