We know with great certainty from the scriptures that the Church Saints are considered to be the Bride of Christ ( see here and here ).
We also know that the ancient Jewish wedding customs along with the descriptions and parallels given in John 14 dictate that Christ will return suddenly and unexpectedly to gather up His bride in order to return to "the Father's House" as the final stage in the marriage ceremony ( see here ).
We know that the time is approaching rapidly - as we watch the last days of this generation. This really leaves us, the bride, with three simple questions.
Are we prepared?
Are we ready?
If so, like a bride should be, anxiously awaiting the wedding ceremony?
This thought process can't be complete without looking at Revelation 2 and the letter to the church of Ephesus. After telling them about their good works and what they had endured, Jesus had this to say:
But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
What does this mean? Below are a few links which give some interesting commentary:
No, the real problem with the Ephesians was that they had lost something of their understanding of God’s love for them.
They had forgotten that they were beloved sons of God. They were a busy church but their works were based on their love for God, rather than His love for them.
In writing to the Ephesians Paul prayed that they would know the love of Christ (Eph 3:18).
He did not pray that they would grow in their love for Christ. Some people think we are filled with the nature of God to the degree that we love God but that’s not what Paul said. He said we’re filled to the degree to which we know the love of Christ.
John, the beloved disciple, was at one time a member of the Ephesian church and he was famous for reminding people of the Father’s lavish love toward us. “Love comes from God” (1 Jn 4:7). “Real love isn’t our love for God, but his love for us” (1 Jn 4:10).
Our love flows out of, and is a response to, his love.
In Revelations 2:4 Jesus says to the Ephesians, “You have left your protos agape” or your foremost or primary love. What is the source of our protos agape? It is a revelation of Christ’s love for us.
Why do I say the Ephesians had become religious? Because Jesus commends their hard work but then says they’re not doing the things they did at first. So they’re working hard but to some extent is the wrong sort of work.
From this we can conclude that the Ephesians were a hard-working, non-loving church. That sounds a lot like a church that’s coming back under the law. They may have started out with grace but they are now trying to attain their goal by human effort.
Our first love, if we are believers, is putting Jesus ahead of everything else. This church's problems spiritually, can be seen in most of our churches today. God will not allow compromise, but on every hand we see just that.
In II Timothy 3:5: It says, "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." Probably this church has gotten too sophisticated for healing and deliverance. Perhaps some of the world's music has crept in unaware. Perhaps this church has begun to entertain more than teach. This church is more appealing to the world than to God.
As we look at all of these churches, we must examine ourselves and our church and see just what category we fall into.
Our first love, if we are believers, is putting Jesus ahead of everything else.
This church's problems, spiritually, can be seen in most of our churches today. God will not allow compromise, but on every hand we see just that.
How many of our churches today are lifeless, dull, and mechanical? How many lack the light and witness of Christ and His power? The condition in this church, and in our churches and individual lives, did not happen overnight. It was a gradual process whereby believers left their "first" love, their passionate "bridal" love for Christ. The "first love" to which Christ called the church in Ephesus to return can be with the "bridal" love in a marriage relationship.
A new bride is so in love with her husband that he is the central focus of her life. When she takes her wedding vows, she promises to forsake all others and give herself solely to him. She eagerly anticipates his desires and lovingly tries to meet all his needs. She spends every possible moment with him. In this "bridal love" relationship, there is a special intimacy that develops between the bride and her bridegroom. She longs to know everything possible about him. She opens her heart to him, revealing her innermost secrets and desires. While they are apart from one another, she longs for him and eagerly anticipates when she will be with him once again. Because of her love, the bride puts her bridegroom first, before all else, including her own needs, desires, and ambitions.
It is this type of pure, fervent, self sacrificing "bridal love" for Christ that made the disciples willing to give themselves 100% for the cause of Christ. It was this type of love that burned up their own selfish desires, motivated them to serve Christ with single hearted devotion, and made them willing to lay down their lives for the cause of Christ. It is this type of love that we must have burning within us to enable us to fulfill the purposes of God in these final moments of time before Christ's return. Just as Christ called the church in Ephesus to return to their first love, He is walking among us today, calling us to repent and return to our first love.
Here are seven warning signs that signal that a church or individual has left their first love.
- Christ is no longer the central focus in your life.
- You neglect your relationship with the Lord and spend less time in prayer, worship and the Word.
- You allow family, friends, job and your own desires to come between you and your relationship with God.
- There is a loss of intimacy in your relationship with God.
- You are caught in a cycle of dead works
- You are more tolerant of sin
- You will no longer have a burning passion for the lost
Your works were motivated by intense love and devotion to the Lord. Compare your love for the Lord today with what it was then. Has your love grown deeper or has it lost its fervency? Are your works motivated by a passionate love for God or are you doing them merely out of a sense of duty? Ask the Lord to forgive you for leaving your first love. Begin to do your first works again. Make a new commitment to the basics of prayer, worship, and the Word. Fan the flame of the dying embers of your first love through renewed communion with the Lord. This fervent love is required of all those who belong to the Lord. Jesus called this the first and great commandment:
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment." (Mat. 22 v.37-38)
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