For the last year or so, we have been doing a Bible study with the 20 and 30 somethings. We are going through a packet that was given to us by our pastor called “God’s Man in the Sons of God.” It was written in the 1960s by Bill Britton. It is a study on the book of Revelation. The size of our Bible study fluctuates every week by who can make it based on their schedules. Regardless of who shows up we always have great discussions.
Currently, we are working on going through the letters written to the seven churches. Yesterday we started with the church at Ephesus. The church at Ephesus has the most promise. Revelation 2:2,3 says
“I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.” (NKJV)
They did good works. They were knowledgeable about the Word. They probably had great worship too. They even had discernment about those who spoke falsely in the Name of Jesus. However, verse 4 goes on to say,
“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” (NKJV)
The word, love, used in this verse is #26 in the Strongs Greek for agape which means, “love, that is, affection or benevolence; specifically (plural) a love feast: – (feast of) charity, dear, love.” It derives from the Greek word, agapaō, which is also the same word Paul uses in Ephesians 5:25 when he instructs men as husbands to love their wives just as Christ loves the Church.
Verses 5 through 7 go on to say,
Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God. (NKJV)
When John described the church at Ephesus, he is describing many churches out there today. Their pastor is knowledgeable about the Bible, they are Spirit filled, they have great discernment about those who come into their churches, they have many programs for different groups (singles, womens, mens, marrieds, kids, etc), etc. However, their love for each other, their love for God has become more of an obligation than something that brings them joy, happiness.
One of the examples someone used was when we feel God prompting us and we act out of obligation, as a way to check something off our “Christian checklist” then we are no longer doing for Christ out of love. When we are doing works or we are not doing those works with joy, then we have left our first love. It makes sense when you put it in the same context that Paul does when he is writing his letter to the Ephesians. When a man and woman are married, they do things for one another, even something they do not like to do, because they know it will help them out and they do it with joy and love because of this fact.
It is something that I have been considering since our Bible study yesterday… Something to pray about…
For now, I am off to bed. It has been a long weekend but filled with good things.
“Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.” – Deut. 28:6