Focusing on Love

Read: Rev. 1:4 - 2:7

Text: Rev 2:4 (KJV) Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

Theme: We should keep our focus on Jesus Christ and His love, so that we will not forget and leave our love for Him.


Introduction:

We are studying a series of lessons concerning our Hope for the Future. Our lessons so far have concentrated on that hope, which we all have as believers. However, for the next few weeks, we will begin to look at some of the challenges we face, in light of that hope.

For the next 4 weeks, we will look at the first 3 chapters of Revelation, and ask ourselves this questions, "In light of Christ's return, and the hope that this gives us, what would be the center of our attention?"

"IN LIGHT OF THE HOPE THAT IS OURS, WHAT SHOULD WE BE FOCUSING ON RIGHT NOW?"

Today we will look at Revelation 1-2, noticing two wonderful things - The Love of Christ for us, and the importance of maintaining our love for Him.


Notice that John begins the book of Revelation by reintroducing his readers to Jesus Christ. Let's learn from some of his descriptions:

QUESTION - How does John describe Jesus in verse 1, and what do we learn about Jesus from this description?

(ANSWER - WAS, IS, IS TO COME).

QUESTION - How does John describe Jesus in verse 5f, and what do we learn about Jesus from this description?

(ANSWER - FAITHFUL, FIRST BEGOTTEN, PRINCE OF THE KINGS, ONE WHO LOVED).

QUESTION - How does John describe Jesus in verse 13f, and what do we learn about Jesus from this description?

(ANSWER - Dressed like a priest, picturing honor and authority; White hair, picturing purity and eternality; Eyes like blazing fire, picturing piercing judgment).

QUESTION - How did John react when he saw Jesus? Why was his reaction now different than in John 13:25? (John 13:25 (KJV) He then lying on Jesus' breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it?)

Let's concentrate on one description of Jesus, and that is in verse 5 - the one who loved us, and then let's contrast that with Jesus' description of the church at Ephesus.


I. Jesus Loved Us. (Rev. 1:5)

A. He loved us ("Unto Him that loved us...")
1. When we were unlovable.

QUOTE - "It is not the most lovable individuals who stand most in need of love, but the most unlovable."

Isa 53:6 (KJV) All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Rom 3:11-12 (KJV) There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

ILLUS. We are like the prodigal, and Jesus loves us like the father loved his prodigal son.

2. When nobody else loved us.

Psa 142:4 (KJV) I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.

SONG "No one ever cared for me, like Jesus. There's no other friend..."

C. Like nobody ever loved.

John 15:13 (KJV) Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Gal 2:20 (KJV) I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

1 John 3:16 (KJV) Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

ILLUS. "A farmer had a weather vane on top of his barn on whose arrow occurred the words, 'God is love.' One asked, 'What do you mean by that? Do you mean that God's love is changeable - that it veers about as the arrow turns in the wind?' 'Oh, no,' said the farmer, 'I meant that whichever way the wind blows, God is still love.'"

QUOTE (Curtis Hutson) "A man may die and go to hell unsaved, but he will never go to hell unloved."

B. He Loosed Us. ("and washed us from our sins in His own blood")
1. We were bound.

ILLUS. We were like Peter in Acts 12, who was "between two soldiers, bound with two chains..." (Acts 12:6)

ILLUS. We were like the woman who was bent over and unable to stand upright, "whom Satan hath bound..." (Luke 13:16)

ILLUS. We were like my dog Max (or was it Pharaoh), who got tangled up in his rope and fell down the hill by my house. He became so entangled that the more he struggled, the tighter the rope became, until finally I came and cut him loose.

Rom 3:23 (KJV) For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Rom 6:23 (KJV) For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

2. We could not loose ourselves.

Isa 64:6 (KJV) But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Titus 3:5 (KJV) Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

3. Nobody else could loose us.

READ John 5:1-9 (The man was IMPOTENT, he could not help himself. He HAD NO MAN, nobody else would help him.)

4. Jesus loosed us.

"... and washed us from our sins in His own blood."

2 Cor 5:21 (KJV) For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Gal 1:4 (KJV) Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:

John 10:11 (KJV) I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

Isa 53:11 (KJV) He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

C. He Lifted Us ("and hath made us kings and priests...")
1. He gave us eternal life!

John 10:27-28 (KJV) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

- That means eternal in QUANTITY

- That also means eternal in QUALITY

John 10:10 (KJV) The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

B. He gave us eternal reward!

C. He gave us eternal glory!

II. We Need To Focus On Loving Him (Rev. 2:4)

QUESTION - What kind of a church was the church at Ephesus (i.e. good or bad)?
 
QUESTION - What characteristics of this church are listed here? Are they good or bad characteristics?
 
A. Good church. (Rev. 2:2-3)
1. Responsible for spread of gospel to all of Asia.

Acts 19:10 (KJV) And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.

2. Hard workers

"I know thy works, and thy labour..."

3. Perseverance

"... and thy patience..."

4. Did not tolerate wickedness

"... and how thou canst not bear them which are evil..."

5. Did not tolerate false teachers.

"... and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not..."

6. Endured hardships for the sake of Christ.

"... and hast borne..."

7. Had not quit nor grown weary in serving Christ.

"... hast not fainted..."

QUESTION - How many churches today could be described this way?

QUESTION - If you were a member of such a church, would you believe anything was wrong with it? Was something wrong with this one?

B. Bad problem (Rev. 2:4)
1. Had once been known and commended for their love.

Eph 1:15 (KJV) Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,

2. Now rebuked for leaving it behind.

QUESTION - What does it mean to leave your first love?

3. NOTICE - Jesus did not say they had LOST their first love.

ILLUS. I LOST some notes I needed to prepare for this message.

ILLUS. Curtis Hutson tells of the time he LOST his wallet with several hundred dollars in it.

NOTE - We lose things all the time, but losing something is UNINTENTIONAL.

4. NOTICE - Jesus said they had LEFT their first love.

(This is INTENTIONAL.)

QUESTION - What love had they left behind? (i.e. love for whom)

5. Perhaps their love for God had waned.

Mark 12:30 (KJV) And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

(Most important commandment - all their other service had to spring from such love if it was to be pleasing to God.)

6. Perhaps their love for others had wanted.

Gal 5:14 (KJV) For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

(Second commandment - again, if their service did not spring from such love, it was meaningless in God's eyes.)

QUESTION - Can this problem occur today? How?

QUESTION - Is there anything we can do to avoid this problem in our lives?

QUESTION - If we find ourselves already in such a condition, and believe that we have allowed our love to wane... that we have LEFT our first love, is there anything that we can do to correct the situation?

C. Simple solution. (Rev. 2:5)
1. Remember

QUESTION - What should we remember, and how will this keep us from leaving our first love?

2. Repent

QUESTION - Of what should we repent?

3. Return

QUESTION - To what should we return?

D. Sad result, if not corrected. (Rev. 2:5)
QUOTE - "Historically, the church in Ephesus continued for several centuries. In the fifth century it hosted a major church council. Eventually, the entire area was deserted. Today the region formerly called Asia Minor is controlled by Islam. The light of this important church is gone." (Martin R. Dahlquist - Bible Expositor and Illuminator, 6 April, 1997)

Conclusion:

What is the point of all this?

How does it apply to our current studies about the believers' hope for the future?

It reminds us that we need to keep our focus on Jesus Christ and His love, so that we will not forget and leave our love for Him.

May God help us to understand the love of Jesus Christ for us...

and may He help us to keep our love for Him burning brightly, lest there ever come a time when Jesus might say to us, "I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love."


Please direct questions, comments, and submissions to William E. Johnson
Copyright 1997 William E. Johnson.