In Revelation 2:4 Jesus says to the angel of the church of Ephesus, “ . . . you have left your first love. ” Someone has taught that this first love is “love feasts, ” which are our communion services. I understand the Greek can be translated both ways: “love” or “love feasts. ” This teacher also proves from this passage the importance of having communion as often as possible, at least once a week. What does it mean?
Revelation 2:4 is about our love for God.
I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot endure evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you, and will remove your lampstand out of its place–unless you repent. (NASB) Rev. 2:2-5
Praise and Warning. The Holy Spirit says that He knows their deeds, labor, perseverance, attitude towards evil people, rejection of false leaders, and their failure to grow spiritually weary. What a great statement to make about this church! Most of us would be happy if we could find a church like that. Today, many churches have settled for second or even third best. They are happy with their doctrine, happy with their large church, money, leadership, missions program, ministries, or whatever. But God was disappointed with them because they had left first love.
Marks of The Heart. The church at Ephesus had a problem – an absence of love for Him. He says they had left their first love. The Greek word for love is AGAPE. Of the one hundred and fourteen times it is used in the New Testament, only once is it translated “love feasts” (Jude 12). This is a very unusual use of the word. The other one hundred and thirteen times it means “love.” It is very speculative to say the word means “love feasts” and then to jump and say it means “communion.”
This passage is NOT talking about love feasts or communion. Love is the focus here. Have you ever noticed that God always focuses on our hearts AND conduct? He does this because our actions are barometers of our heart’s relationships. Just like in marriage or any relationship. The condition of our hearts can be identified by our conduct. Here is the first mark.
Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote . . . (NASB) Isa. 29:13
This problem is easy to see during worship. We sing songs, express praise, and pray words that we that do not really think about. Many times we sing songs because we love the melody, and rarely think about the words. In fact sometimes we sing words that are not true about us or with which we disagree. Sometimes the lyrics are not even biblically correct. When this happens we are singing by “rote.’ “Our heart, and our minds are not in it. We are caught up in the ritual but not in a love for Jesus.
As the heart slips farther away from God, the next step is indifference to God and his Word, and an absence of ministry.
And they come to you as people come, and sit before you as My people, and hear your words, but they do not do them, for they do the lustful desires expressed by their mouth, and their heart goes after their gain. And behold, you are to them like a sensual song by one who has a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not practice them. (NASB) Ezekiel 33:31-32
Did you notice the Holy Spirit warns them to do “the deeds you did at first?” He is not specific. They had a heart problem and a heart problem starts ignoring everything, except for one’s favorite activity. It becomes self-centered rather than God centered. Oh, the person can serve his/her “ministry” and ignore God. He loves his/her “ministry” more than God.
God wants our heart “AND” our action. When our heart is close to Him, when the words of the Bible have rich meaning, when the songs we sing pulse with emotion, when our ministry is given to please Him, then our hearts flow with rivers of living water. We sense the life of the Holy Spirit flowing through us.