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"That Love Which Is Of God"

Chapter VII



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; 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: 3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. 4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 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. 6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.24 (Revelation 2:1-6).

There have been different authors and commentaries taking up these verses and going to some lengths to explain what this leaving of the first love is. One writer, after a lengthy chapter on the church of Ephesus says the following: "What is this first love? It is the Christian's early love for Christ. The believer is married to Christ, (Romans 7:4), Paul wrote to the Corinthians: ...I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ...' That is Corinth or Ephesus or any other church at its beginning. But I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtelty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. There is Ephesus or any Church without its first love. Now the marriage relationship does not mean as much as it used to and neither does the Christian's relationship to His Lord, so the home and the Church suffer."25

This author and preacher is on target, but there is more to what God is saying here in Revelation 2.

Another writer makes the following comments on this losing of the first agape-love: "Like the church of Ephesus, there are many churches today which have a hard-nosed orthodoxy without compassion. They are doctrinally sound, but totally lacking in warmth of spirit. Their application of Scripture to others is to the letter of the law, but the spirit of the law is left out. They are orthodox without love. The church at Ephesus was an assembly in which it might well be said, 'The honeymoon is over.' They had lost 'the love of thine espousals' (Jeremiah 2:2) in their zeal to labor for the heavenly Bridegroom. It is not that they had no love for Him at all, but that the 'first love' moved by tenderness and warmth was missing." 26 (Emphasis added).

Again, we see an author who is mostly right, but off on what the passage actually teaches.

We see yet another author who says that this first love is Christ which the passage does not teach at all. "There is, however, one fault to be corrected. They had not left their first love, that is, they had become enamored on things other than the person of Christ." 27

This idea of Christ being the first love is a wonderful idea and makes great preaching, but that is not what Revelation 2 says that losing the first love is. Yet, we have not found a writer who says differently. "That forgetfulness of self and thinking only of Christ, which are the fruits of grace, were gone, and, as we find everywhere in the Scriptures, nothing can compensate for want of the heart for Christ." 28

Another author says, "Now they could not be charged with having no love at all for Christ, but they had left their first love. First love is the love of espousals, (Jeremiah 2:2)...29

Still another, who is nearest to being right, says: "Now the love of Christ and the Church is that of Bridegroom and Bride. You cannot judge by what you see in the luke warm churches today of the intense devotion of Christ's person into which such assemblies as Ephesus were brought by the Holy Spirit. "...It was Ephesus, leaving that devoted pouring out of response to His love that grieved His very heart." 30

Here we see now a variation of other authors on this passage and these are all very reputable men. This writer has often used these works and been greatly edified by them and will still do so. But let's now consider another thought about the (agape) love of God from Revelation 2.

Notice verse 4: "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love." "Left thy first love:" What is He saying about this church? Note the context of verse 2: "I know thy works and thy labor, 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 . . ." Now, let us look closely at verse 6 and compare the subject. "But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate." (For the first time, the Lord finds something which He can agree with this church). They were short-fused with "them" (verse 2) and God charged them with having left their first love. And later, He clarified what kind of short-fusing with which He could agree. God does not hate "them" and is never found to "canst not bear them." "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2Peter 3:9).

John 3:16 says, ...God so (agaped) loved the world...He gave his only..." God is very displeased with those who get so bound up in fighting "them which are evil" and trying "they, which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars," that they forget the first love of the Son of Man who "is come to seek and to save that which was lost." God never declared that He hates them, to my knowledge, unless they are the incorrigibly wicked. God does, however, hate deeds here. In Proverbs 6:16, we see this: "These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:" Psalm 101:3 says, "I hate the work of them that turn aside" it shall not cleave to me."

Here we need to again realize that there is a proper balance between standing for the old time faith once delivered to the saints, and that compassionate concern over the "them" of this world. In Jude 22-23, we read of compasson. "And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh." (Not the soul, not the heart).

There must be a true balance that (agape) love can maintain. There has to be. I believe the Holy Spirit knows that balance and will so lead those filled with His "Lordship."

Beloved, are you filled with the Holy Spirit. Do you maintain a balance between hating sin and loving the sinners? Are you able to stand for the old time truths faithfully and yet (agape) love those who do not, and still give your "only" to them? Are you able to hate disobedience and hypocrisy toward the beloved Scriptures, but still maintain a spirit of giving liberally "beyond your power" to their heart the Gospel of (agape) love and give it so from the heart genuinely?

On, that the Holy Spirit would help us to see the (agape) love of God in this balance. Souls? Yes, in Agape! Orthodox doctrine? Yes, in Agape! In Ephesians 4:15 we find a blessed and so needful balance. "But speaking the truth in love, (agape)..."

God hates deeds, but not them that commit such iniquity. He will rebuke any church or individual who gets over much into "canst not bear" others. Most folks like that are not real soulwinners, only selective in phileo affection. "You show me pleasure and I'll show you the Gospel." God forbid that we leave our first love - "others."