Monday, July 21, 2008

First Love

"But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first." (Rev. 2:4)

When Christ first laid His hands upon your heart, who was He to you? Did you feel lighter yet fuller? Did you feel the bitterness of His death and yet the sweetness of the forgiveness that flowed there from? Staring into His inexplicably magnificent face did you fall deeply in love, resulting in a desire to do whatever He asked of you? Forsaking all worldliness, did you take up your cross in service of His glory, the saints and the lost? If so, why have you turned away from your first love? G. Campbell Morgan finishes the sermon I mentioned in the last blog entry as follows:

"What answer do you give to the Apostle's question. "Did ye receive the Holy Ghost when ye believed?" If you say honestly, in this hour of clear vision, "No," then receive Him now. You say, "How can I receive Him?" Not by opening your heart to the Spirit, but by opening your heart to Jesus Christ. Not by believing the Christ is the perfect example, but by enlisting under His banner and putting your whole life at His disposal. By trusting Him for yesterday, today, tomorrow, and the infinite forever, with your whole life, physical, mental, and spiritual. If your answer to the Apostle's question is "Yes," then in God's name remember your peril, for we are all in peril...

That was the foundation of the Ephesian Church. It was a wonderful church, so great that Paul wrote the last flaming glory of his letters to it. But that is not all about the church. There is another letter to the Church of Ephesus, which the great Lord, believing in whom, they had received the Spirit, sent to them through John from Patmos. In that letter he says such tragic things as these, "I have this against thee, that thou didst leave thy first love." As God is my witness, I can hardly take up my Bible and read these words without my heart being ready to break. It is the sigh of Christ over the lost love of people who had received the Spirit, and who once had tongues and prophesied...

Here me again patiently. Do not think this harsh, unkind. I deliver it as the message that is on my heart. I am not half as much anxious about you as I am about the multitudes who are outside. I want to reach you in order to reach them. I would far rather see this place in ashes than see it the tomb of a dead, lifeless mob that admires Jesus and feels nothing of His life pulsating in them. We stand upon the threshold of tremendous opportunities. Are we ready for them? The question we are to ask our own souls is, "Did we receive the Holy Ghost when we believed?" If not, here and now, let us yield ourselves to Christ, and we shall receive. If we have received and have lost the thrill, and the saffron of morning has become the gray of eventide, let us go back. Through the way be rough, even though it means the cross, even if shame attends our going, let us go back to the first works, and out of the valley of humiliation shall rise Emmanuel's land of light and love and service for everyone of us."