Revelation 2 ESV
“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.
“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’”
The subject of works is a controversial subject in today’s church here in America. The Bible speaks against works of the flesh, and it speaks against good works done in the flesh, of ourselves, and not of God. And it speaks against hypocrisy and doing works in the flesh to be seen of men and for the approval of other humans but that are for show only while the person who is performing for an audience is still living in deliberate and habitual sin.
So then some people decide that God is against all works and that we are to do nothing and that Jesus Christ does it all for us. And some of them take it so far as to deny that we should repent of our sins and walk in obedience to our Lord and honor Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. For they call that “works-based salvation.” But is it? No!
For we read in Ephesians 2:10 that “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
And we read in Titus 2:14 that Jesus Christ “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”
[Eph 2:8-10; 1 Co 15:58; 2 Co 9:8; Gal 5:6; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:9-14; 2 Thess 1:11-12; 2 Tim. 2:21; Tit 2:11-14; Jn 15:1-11; Tit 3:8; Jas 2:17]
So, here we have the Lord commending this church – the body of Christ in the city of Ephesus, which most likely met in people’s homes – for some of their works. He was not against these works. What he was against was that they had abandoned the love they had for him at first. They were no longer passionate about serving the Lord and obeying him and submitting to him as Lord and letting him be Lord of their lives.
For, it is possible in our walks of faith, if we are not careful, to lose sight of the God who is behind these works approved by God, and to just do the works God prepared in advance that we should walk in them, but to neglect our personal times of worship and fellowship and spiritual growth with our Lord. We may be continuing to do the works of the Lord but to neglect our intimacy with the Lord and our following him in all areas of our lives.
The same thing can happen in a marriage relationship. Now, I am not talking here about either spouse willfully and deliberately and habitually sinning against the other. I am assuming the same type of relationship as this church had with the Lord is the relationship one spouse has with the other. But what sometimes happens overtime is the fire goes out in the relationship, and they go through the motions of being married, but the passion they had for one another at first begins to die out.
Now, I know that a marriage is not based in our emotions or all marriages would fail. And the same applies in our relationship with the Lord. So, I am not talking about relationships based in how we feel, for love is not what we feel, it is what we do. And that applies both in a marriage and in our relationship with the Lord. But that fire for the Lord, that zeal for him, and that heart that feels what he feels can begin to go out.
And since this says that they had abandoned the love that they had at first, and God is love, and love comes from God, and the Bible teaches that to love God is to obey him, and love means to prefer what God prefers, it means that in some ways they were continuing in what they were called to do, but that overall they were not loving the Lord as they ought. They were not obeying him in all areas. Their hearts were not surrendered to him.
And we must guard against this in our own lives by making certain that Jesus Christ is truly Lord (Owner-Master) of our lives and that we are surrendered to him, and that we are committed to hearing from him daily and to following him wherever he leads us one day and one step at a time, and that he is the love of our lives and that our desire is for him above all else and that we want nothing more than to please him in all that we are and do and say and for the glory and praise of God and not for ourselves.
Repent and Do
When the Lord puts his finger on areas of our lives that need to change in order to conform to his likeness and to his commands then we must respond in repentance and in obedience. We must immediately stop what we are doing that is displeasing to him and we must do what he asks us to do, instead. We must never ignore or resist him. We must never put him on hold, thinking we will get to it later. We must obey immediately.
The Scriptures teach that those whom the Lord loves he disciplines (chastises, rebukes, scourges). Now, this is not necessarily tied in with disobedience, for he even prunes his branches who are bearing fruit for his eternal kingdom. But sometimes this discipline is a result of our disobedience and we need it to be corrected and so that we will be moved to repentance and to renewed (reignited) faith in our Lord.
But not everyone who is disciplined responds to the discipline in the correct way. And then stronger discipline may be in order. And if they do not respond to that, they may be those who will never return to the Lord, for the Scriptures do warn of that. So, we should never take God’s warnings to us lightly and the same with his disciplines, but we should respond to the Lord in repentance and in reignited faith and commitment to him for his glory.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:21-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Rev. 2-3; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8, 27; Rev 22:14-15]
The Old Rugged Cross
Words and music by George Bennard, 1913
On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suff’ring and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.
Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.
In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see,
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.
To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.
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