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I Corinthians 16:22. If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.
Revelation 2:4. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
“If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ…” Now let’s go through the rank and file of this meeting tonight, and, say, let me feel your pulse. You know, a lie detector will quickly detect if there’s a lie in your system. But here’s a love detector that detects quickly whether you’re in love or not. Or, you can detect people that are in love naturally.
But “if any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ...” Oh. That love, the Bible says, “passeth knowledge.” If human love can quicken the pulse of a person and can make them to be so careful… I’ve seen the worst bums turn into “dudes” overnight—I have—fellows that would never think of cleaning their fingernails, or pressing their pants, or shining their shoes. Overnight, they became gentlemen par excellence. They couldn’t talk “Brooklyn brogue” anymore; they had to speak the “Oxford tongue.” Just human attachment, some human affection will turn a bum into a prince. Of course, he doesn’t stay that way. It’s just skin-deep, that kind of stuff.
But the love of Jesus Christ, oh that wonderful love without which no man can get saved. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy mind, with all thy soul, with all thy strength” sounds like law. It isn’t law, it’s a love affair. It’s a proposal of Almighty God to a poor beggar on the dunghill—to you and to me.
“If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be cursed.” That’s a strong word. But he is cursed. Jesus Christ says, “I’ll throw that candlestick out of its place except you repent… You’ve left your first love.”
What are these gifts for that people boast of—that we like to boast of? We like to make a fuss over, we like to make propaganda over the blessings that God gives us. And, beloved, all the while we’re being cursed; we’re being cut off from the fountain of living water. “…You’ve left your first love.” …
What is that first love? Why, that first love is my love for Himself—when nothing else bothers me, and nothing else interests me, and nothing gives me any joy but Himself. Oh, He, hanging on the cross: there’s my Bridegroom! There’s the lover of my soul. There’s where He gives me His love: when I eat His flesh and drink His blood. When I become united to Jesus Christ because that blood was shed for me. That blood was shed as the price of my redemption that I might become His own purchased possession.
They said [to Rebecca], “Will you go with this man? Will you become his wife.” That’s what Jesus Christ is asking of you and of me tonight. “Will you go with this Man?” “If any man will come after Me…”—that’s the first love, when He’s your choice.
I fell head-over-heels in love with Jesus. I look back upon those days now and I wonder “how in the world did that happen to a kid like me?” Day and night I couldn’t forget Him. Day and night my heart was just in love with Jesus—not His gifts, not His blessings at all—nothing but Himself. How did it happen? Why, it happens by the Holy Ghost. It happens by the Spirit of the Living God who comes directly from the heart of Jesus to your heart…
He invites us all to come and lean upon His bosom. He invites every one of us to come to Him, and to get so close to Him. That’s what constitutes the first love. He is the fountain of living water, and there is no life outside of Him.
When he cried on the cross, “I thirst,” they brought Him vinegar and He wouldn’t take it. That wasn’t the thing that constituted thirst. It was the thirst for your soul. It was that great burning heart of Jehovah, burning with love for sinners. And He wasn’t able to gain their hearts in any other way but by bleeding Himself to death. That’s the only way He could gain my heart. But He did, thank God.
It isn’t something you can produce. It’s something that must come by union with the Son of God. His love is the first love. That fire, that consuming fire: “Our God is a consuming fire.” Thank God! And that love of Jesus Christ will consume all earthy loves—all the things that defile my soul, and my body, and my spirit. That love of Jesus Christ, do you want it? Oh, you can have it. Jesus Christ loved me when I was an enemy, how much more now, when my heart opens to Him.
And here is the Book, written for me: An Old Testament, and here’s (…) a New Testament: “I will and I bequeath to you the unsearchable riches of Christ. Who wants them?”
And the unsearchable riches of Christ are Himself. Himself, oh, in all His beauty, in all His righteousness, in all His godliness, in all His purity! And as I draw nigh to Him, He draws nigh to me. Hallelujah! He washes me with His own precious blood. Oh, that blood. Isn’t it hot? Doesn’t it burn like fire? Doesn’t it wash away all uncleanness? And He keeps me and holds me as the apple of His eye.
“Oh, come away My sister, My love, My dove, My undefiled.”
An indictment against popular music, merged with a quote from later in the message at 12:21. (from 4:31)
Majestic Sweetness Sits Enthroned, a hymn by Samuel Stennett:
Since from His bounty I receive
Such proofs of love divine,
Had I a thousand hearts to give,
Lord, they should all be Thine.
In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree, a popular song by Harry Williams, 1905:
In the shade of the old apple tree,
Where the love in your eyes I could see,
Where the voice that I heard,
Like the song of a bird,
Seemed to whisper sweet music to me,
I could hear the dull buzz of the bee
In the blossoms as you said to me,
“With a heart that is true,
“I’ll be waiting for you,
“In the shade of the old apple tree.”
Arise, My Soul, Arise, a hymn by Charles Wesley.
Others May, You Cannot, a tract by G. D. Watson (1845–1924).