Moving Back to Our First Love
In my last post I wrote about the church at Ephesus and what Jesus had to say to them in the book of Revelation. He gives them credit for what they were doing right, but he strongly rebukes them because they had satisfied themselves with Christian doctrine and not Christ Himself. They put Christian service above loving Jesus. Basically they forgot that Jesus was most interested in their hearts not just their heads and their hands.
Jesus gives them a loving rebuke. Twice he says, “repent,” which means they need to acknowledge what happened, turn from it and return to their first love.
Acts 19 takes us back to the birth of the church of Ephesus and the first love attitudes they once had and to which they needed to return.
When we read Acts 19:1–3 the first thing we notice is that they were honest about their spiritual condition. They were “all in” to do the first works, and they were also honest about their current level of power and life from the Holy Spirit. Even though Apollos was their teacher he only knew of John’s baptism. While the men Paul encounters are vague and uncertain, they freely and honestly admit the truth about their spiritual condition. They were humble men seeking to learn all t hey could.
Acts 19:4–5 reveals the next important point—they were teachable and responsive to further instruction. They were humble receivers and doers of the Word. Notice that they didn’t argue or defend their teaching from Apollos. They weren’t caught up in themselves. Instead, they were eager to learn more about Jesus. Their hearts were open.
Next, they were open and receptive to the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:6). They let Paul lay hands on them. They were open to more of Jesus and they didn’t resist or quench the power of God. When we see them a few years later, they were religious. They had a form of godliness, but, in Jesus’ words, they were resisting the power.
Acts 19:17 shows us that, as an early church they were magnifiers and worshippers of Jesus. Their hunger for the Holy Spirit moved them to powerfully worship and magnify Jesus. They let it all out—raising hands, singing, dancing in heartfelt adoration and praise of Jesus. What an example to us!
In Acts 19:18–19 we find that they were transparent before each other. They were confessing and telling deeds publicly. They were burning trashy books and forsaking their past lives before Jesus came into their hearts. I didn’t matter who was watching or what other people thought. They were only concerned with what Jesus thought.
This church at Ephesus started with a revival fire.
They were honest about their spiritual condition—they knew that they could grow in Jesus more every day and they were humble enough to admit it.
They were open and receptive to the Holy Spirit—again their humility led them to a fresh openness. They didn’t fall prey to “the way we’ve always done it.”
They were magnifiers and worshippers of Jesus—they weren’t so familiar with Jesus that they lost their intimacy with Him. They actively worshipped Him and didn’t want cold or apathetic worship.
They were transparent before each other—They confessed to each other and were not more concerned with people’s opinions than Jesus’ opinion.
The early Ephesian church wanted Jesus and only Jesus. Thirty-five to forty years later they traded that first love of Jesus for dead orthodoxy. They went from revival to rebuke and Jesus, in Revelation, was calling them back to Him.
How about us? Are we honest, open and teachable? Are we glorifying God and testifying to each other (and holding each other up in prayer)?
Or, do you just want dead orthodoxy and a few moral rules?
What’s your choice?