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Revelation 2:1-7. Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; 2I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 3And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. 4Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. 6But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
Why is the Lord Jesus Christ so deeply interested in looking into our hearts, and to see whether we really love Him? After all, we have a lot to show. We have a great deal of blessing to talk about. We have a lot of gifts to exercise, and we have a great admiration for ourselves. But Jesus says, “I know your works.” And oh, what is this heavenly Bridegroom looking for in our hearts today? That’s the question. “I have this against you because you’ve left your first love. Remember whence thou art fallen.”
I tell you, that’s a tremendous fall when we have fallen from our first love. After all, that is the attachment, that is the contact with eternity. It’s loving Jesus. The Bible has much to say about that lovership with the Lord Jesus Christ. I know that all of us are called into that wonderful experience: just to love Jesus Christ. In that other prayer we heard a while ago quoted, one prayer, in Ephesians (and it’s quite interesting that this epistle that I read is the epistle to the Ephesian church where God had given such great blessing) and the Apostle Paul, he says, “After I heard of your love and of your faith, I cease not to pray for you. I bow my knees. Now there’s something to build upon!” How sad it is to find that so many Christians begin in the spirit and they end in the flesh.
They do love God in the beginning, but after a while they get interested in themselves. They get interested in blessings, or in gifts, or in powers. That has happened in Pentecost. But when we look into the Bible, we see that the eyes of Jesus Christ are “piercing to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit.” And when He says, “I know your works,” or when the Bible says, “the Lord knoweth them that are His,” the Lord knows the hearts that love Him. They are precious to Him.
Beloved, there’s nothing in our experience or in our heart that has any value in the sight of God but that love of my heart for Jesus Christ that wants Him. That’s the thing the Holy Ghost is striving to develop in us: a lovership for Jesus Christ. And how does love express itself? The Bible tells us, “He loved me and He gave Himself.” Beloved, that’s the only kind of love that God accepts from you and from me: when I love Him and give myself.
Oh, Jesus, that’s what You demand. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy strength, with all thy soul, with all thy powers” is the first commandment. And instead of running away like Moses and the Israelites did, we ought to be attracted to this great heart that burns with the fire that is hotter than the fire of hell. “Many waters cannot quench love.” And I know this day that I cannot please God one iota except by loving Him. And Jesus says, “If any man love Me, he will keep My words.”
Oh, that’s it: that (…) that wonderful love of God which Moses wasn’t able to give me, and which the law was not able to produce in me, God Almighty pours into my heart through the power of the Holy Ghost. That’s the first love! Oh, when my heart burns with the fire of God, then I can say, “I love Thee Lord, but with no love of mine, for I have none to give.” Now I know that I love You!
When Jesus comes down from heaven to walk in the midst, and He doesn’t scare us like He did from Mt. Sinai—He doesn’t frighten us with a voice like thunder. He doesn’t come to us and scare us into loving Him. He doesn’t want that kind of love. He doesn’t want love that you’re scared into. And He does not want love that is produced by a sight of the great reward that God has for those that love Him. No, He comes in His humble guise.
The trouble with most of us is this: every time we come to meeting, God has to start all over again. We’ve gotten into a dump in the meantime. We have exercised flesh in the meantime. We’ve driven away the Holy Ghost in the meantime. How different when God has got you—when the Holy Ghost has possession of you, and you’re not the one that prays, and you’re not the one that loves, and you’re not the one that lives anymore. You have entered into intimacy with the Son of God. You’ve been identified with Him, and you can say with Paul, “I live no more. I have so completely abandoned myself to this heavenly Bridegroom that my life is nothing anymore. I’ve been crucified with Christ.” It’s an inward experience.
What does He say? “My sister, My love, My dove, My undefiled, let Me see thy countenance. Let Me hear thy voice, for My head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night.” What does He mean? He’s presenting Himself as a stranger, a total stranger that has nowhere to lay His head. He is forsaken of the wise, of the princes, of the theologians, of the religious in this world. But here’s one whom He calls His “dove”—a pure virgin, a pure heart. She has but one passion given to her by the Holy Ghost. She doesn’t advertise her powers and her gifts and her value and her worth. All she cares is that He knows. And in the wee small hours of the night, when every other voice is silenced, and all the lights are out, she waits tenderly, patiently for her Beloved, and He visits her. He’s not a stranger with her, and she’s not a stranger with Him.
Oh, where are these souls? Beloved, God is seeking them. “According to the riches of His glory by Christ Jesus.” How is it possible? It’s not thinkable that He before Whose brilliance and brightness all the blazing suns in all creation fade into darkness, that He seeks my love—something that every human being can give! I can give my heart, although it’s been defiled like the heart of Mary Magdalene. But oh, if I choose Him, He will take my heart and purify it, and He will give me His heart, and He will give me His Spirit, and He will “strengthen me with might”.
speaker icon There have been people here who should have been strong, and should have been ready for “D-Day.” And where were they? Picking strawberries… in a dump… licking their own sores instead of willing to lay down their lives, crucified with Christ.
A story of consecration meetings constantly repeated to no effect. (from 5:37)
A minister who found spirit-filled meetings boring. “Where shall this lowly Nazarene find hearts that love Him enough to receive Him and to give themselves to Him? Where shall He find hearts if not in Pentecost, if not in a meeting like this where He persistently manifests His presence?” (from 13:44)
An early experience of spiritual power, and its relation to natural love. “A lot of that love was natural love,” even though the meetings were powerful. “I was able to able to say to the people, ‘You bring sinners, and I guarantee they’ll be saved.’ They couldn’t escape it.” (from 20:26)
An example of outwardness, even in ministers. (from 24:02)
Another example of unspiritual ministers. “They turned up their nose even at our morning worship period in the Faith Home. If they could possibly arrange an appointment with the dentist during that time, they’d do that… or floating around town.” (from 27:22)
An illustration of personal love for a king. “‘Any day, I can go into any home and lay my head into anybody’s lap and be at home.’ Where can Jesus lay His head?” (from 31:22)
by Madam Guyon (1648-1717)
I love my Lord, but with no love of mine,
For I have none to give;
I love Thee, Lord, but all the love is Thine,
For by Thy love I live.
I am as nothing, and rejoice to be
Emptied, and lost, and swallowed up in Thee.
Thou, Lord, alone, art all Thy children need,
And there is none beside;
From Thee the streams of blessedness proceed,
In Thee the bless’d abide.
Fountain of life, and all-abounding grace,
Our source, our center, and our dwelling-place.
Date: “I know that in many of us the love of Jesus Christ is purer today than it was 33 years ago.” That may place this recording around 1958.