Why Then is All This Befallen Us?

Judges 6:13  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Judg. 6:13
In the above brief review we have, seen the sad consequences which result when saints, however favored of God, give the natural man a place as to his mind and tastes, even when there was no breach of the law. Now let us turn and learn how Ephesus, to whom so much light and truth had been committed, became unfitted to be a candlestick.
Ephesus, as we learn from the Acts, had a bright beginning, and evidently had advanced far beyond the Corinthians, to whom the Apostle could not make known the wisdom of God, and to whom he could not speak as unto spiritual, but as unto babes in Christ. The Ephesians were established in grace, and the Apostle had declared to them "all the counsel of God," had "kept back nothing that was profitable" unto them, as we read in Acts 20; and he adds to this in his epistle to them, where he writes, "Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ." Eph. 3:4. In Revelation 2 they are commended for their works and labor, and endurance, and because they could not bear them that are evil. They were morally far beyond the Corinthians; "hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not." They carefully attended to the Apostle's warning in Acts 20, and in everything they surpassed the Corinthians, who evidently had been so damaged by false teachers that the Apostle in the end of the second epistle insists on the great moral difference between them and himself.
The Ephesians had borne and had endured, and for Christ's name's sake, had labored and had not fainted; and yet after all, they had failed to such an extent, that unless they repented and did the first works, their candlestick or lamp would be taken away. It is deeply affecting and important to apprehend the nature of their declension which is conveyed in the words, "Thou hast left thy first love." What is first love? When does one leave it and thus lose so much? As far as I have gathered from Scripture, I should say that first love was that absolute personal devotion of the Church to Christ, that it could say in the language of another, "Whither thou goest, I will go." A peculiar energy of the Spirit is manifested in Stephen when "he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus." Peter had first love when he would leave the ship and enter on a path unknown and fatal to a mere man, in order to join the Lord. Nothing can satisfy first love but association, which in the Church involves union. As has been said, "The first estate must be maintained or God's glory and the truth are falsified." The consummation of first love is union. It is there only that the first love of the Church rests. The Church is in first love when union with Christ in heaven by the Holy Spirit is known; and the first love is left by the Church, or the individual saint, when faith as to union with Christ wanes. Winds and waves distract a Peter; anything which diverts us from Christ where He is as the one absorbing object, not only deprives us of the joys that love imparts, but spoils our testimony, as with Peter and Barnabas in another day.
Love is the heart absorbed with its object; and the Church enjoys its love in Christ's love which generated it. We love Him because He first loved us; our love wanes as this knowledge of His love wanes. It is in heavenly association that we reach His love that passes knowledge. When His attractiveness wanes, the love wanes. When He fully commands the heart, we are in His banqueting house, and His banner over us is love. The nearer love is to its object, the more it is satisfied and renewed. It is there it is nourished and cherished. It is there that "He that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me." Christ dwells in our hearts by faith when our union with Him is realized.
When the Church or the individual is in first love, there is an assured sense of right "to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." When I feed on Christ, when He dwells in my heart by faith, I am enabled to be a true witness of Him here. I must imbibe Christ in order to reflect Him. If I do not imbibe Him, I have lost my first love, and I cannot reflect Him. It could not be possible. The lamp is taken away. But if I am living in the faith of being united to Him in heaven, I am feeding on Him there, and then I am enabled to be a witness for Him here, so that every one who wanes in the assurance of faith of being united to Christ where He is, wanes in power to express Him here; and on the other hand, the one who does the first works, cleaves to Him where He is, feeds on Him there, is a witness for Him here.
I need not add more; may the Lord grant that the above may be a word of warning and of help to each of us. May we lay it to heart, that if, like Corinthians, the natural man is allowed a place, his influence will crop up in the Church, in the world, and in social life; self-consideration and a love of earthly things will characterize us. And again, though we may be Ephesians as to growth and intelligence, yet' we may have waned from out first love, and thus after -all that we have received, be nothing of a lamp to our fellow Christians on every side seeking and needing help; and as to ourselves, not eating of the tree of life in the midst of the paradise of God. The Lord help us. From "Voice to the Faithful"