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"Remember 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," is the solemn warning. "Remember the height from which you have fallen," is the Moffatt translation, and Weymouth gives it, "Be mindful, therefore, of the height from which you have fallen." The loss of love for Christ is a fall from a high spiritual plane to a depth far below. It represents a back sliding condition that needs to be repented of. When the church ceased to be occupied with Christ and fervent in her love for Him, she fell, and great was the fall thereof. The church had fallen from love, and "God is love," therefore the church had fallen, or back slid from God. The "first works" had come out of their "first love," and when love diminished, the works did also. "Repent and live the life you lived before," or "Repent, at once and act as you did at first," are other translations. There can be no love works without love. A return to the first-love experience is the prerequisite to a repetition of the first love works. Works do not produce love, but genuine love shows itself in works. The relation between Christ and His church is illustrated in the Scriptures by that of a bridegroom and bride, or a husband and wife. Loss of love in the home, if not regained, will eventually prove fatal, and end in divorce.

The only remedy for waning love is to "remember" the first-love experience and then never be satisfied till it returns. Christ can never forget the first-love relationship. He remembers the beautiful love experience, and regrets its departure. The fault, however, is not His. It is the church that has relaxed her affection. A remembrance of the happy love state that once existed is sure to create a desire on the part of a Christian to return to it. The return journey, however, requires more effort and time than the fall. Looking back on the height of affection and experience once achieved, we must with slow and often painful steps begin the ascent again. The very memory of the ground lost produces humble contrition and persistent effort.

                                                       Not an idle Threat
Unless there took place a speedy reformation, the candle stick would be removed and the church would cease to be the light of the world. This was no idle threat, for Christ had already removed the candlestick from the Jewish church and given it to another. To the Jews, Jesus said, "The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." It is the loss of love that forfeits the light and privilege of light bearing, of witnessing for Christ. The testimony of loveless members value and power. God values the service of love, and when this is lacking the mere round of ceremony is offensive to Him.

The very continuance of the testimony of the church depends on her love for Christ, to whom she belongs. The removal of the candlestick indicates removal from high standing and special privileges in the sanctuary of God. Love and light are closely related, for "God is light’ and "God is love." When the church loses her love she will soon also lose her light, as well as a sense of duty to let it shine. Inasmuch as "love is the fulfilling of the law," the first works of obedience disappeared with the first love. "God is Light because God is Love. It is a case of cause and effect. Therefore, the light of the church must fail when the love fails; and there is no remedy but to ‘repent and do the first works.’ " - PHILIP MAURO, Of Things Which Soon Must Come to Pass, Page 94.

Love is the supreme grace of the Christian religion, and the cooling of that love is the first sign of decay and the first step toward a general apostasy. From the decline of love the early church marched steadily onward away from God, till apostasy climaxed in the scarlet woman, Babylon the Great. The church that started out as the light of the world finally plunged the world into the Dark Ages. The candlestick was removed, and darkness covered the earth till the blazing torch of gospel light was again held aloft in the great Reformation of the sixteenth century. "The candle of the wicked shall be put out" is a Biblical statement.

After ministering this severe rebuke Jesus added some more praise to mitigate the sting: "Still, you have this in your favor: you hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, and I hate them too." (Moffatt.) The bringing forth of a new virtue after giving such severe reproofs and dire threatening is an evidence of the most tender love and sympathy. All feelings of righteous indignation against evil which lead to a loathing of those things which defile is welcomed by Christ as an evidence of life. There is hope where hatred of evil prevails. To love the things Christ loves and hate the things Christ hates is indeed praiseworthy. The Ephesian church did not fall into the common error of believing that doctrine can be divorced from obligation and that an intellectual acceptance of the gospel is superior to moral character. Failing in love was their only error.

There has been much conjecture regarding the origin and identity of the Nicolaitans, but they are doubtless included among those whom Paul predicted would arise in the church of Ephesus and "draw away disciples after them not sparing the flock." (Acts 20:29-3l.) Paul declared that "the mystery of iniquity" had already begun to work in his day. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-7.) It is believed by some that the word Nicolailan comes from Nicolas, meaning "conquering the people," and indicates the danger of supplanting Christ and Christianity by false and counterfeit systems of religion. The exaltation of the clergy exercising lordship over the laity was one of the developments that appeared at an early date in the apostolic church.

According to Acts 6:5 one of the seven deacons was a man by the name of Nicolas, who was declared to be "a proselyte of Antioch." Some believe that this indicates that he was not a Jew. Irenaeus says that this Nicolas was the founder of the sect of the Nicolaitans. Clement of Alexandria declared that Nicolas was a man of strong passions and principles, who was willing "to do violence to the flesh," but unable to conceive the higher ideal of "the flesh being subdued by the Spirit." He adds that Nicolas was not really responsible for the excesses of his followers. Some of the best modern students question the reliability of the testimony of these early writers regarding the origin of the Nicolaitans.

This sect is mentioned again in the epistle to the church of Pergamos, and the statement indicates that they were gaining headway in the church. They seem to have been liberals or modernists, who felt that the church was too strict in its standards, and they advised compromise. They were known as libertines, and were doubtless of the Gnostics, who arose to plague the early church. They seemed to have practiced immorality on the ground of spiritual liberty. Such a false conception of freedom from law early invaded the church, and is still popular in many quarters. Many believe in continuing in sin "that grace may abound." The Nicolaitans believed in and practiced polygamy, and taught that it was lawful to eat food sacrificed to idols. The genuine Christians hated their evil deeds. Hate is the reverse of love, and there is a hate that is true to love. Jesus loved righteousness and hated iniquity. (Hebrews 1:9.)

                                                    Appeal  and  Reward
"He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit said unto the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." The appeal to hear the voice of the Spirit is seven times repeated in the epistles of Christ. While Christ revealed Himself to John as the author of the Apocalypse, it was the Holy Spirit who inspired the prophet to write it. The voice of Christ is also the voice of the Holy Spirit. They two are chief of the witnesses through whom God speaks to man. The term "churches" indicates that we need to hear the important message not only to the church of Ephesus but all seven churches of history.

It is a dangerous thing to refuse to listen when the Holy Spirit speaks, to close the ear to His appeals. In Zechariah 7:11-14, refusing to hearken and pulling away the shoulder and stopping the ears are said to lead to serious consequences. The heart finally becomes as hard "as an adamant stone," on which no impressions can be made. "To day if you-will hear His voice, harden not your heart" is the admonition of Scripture in regard to the voice of the Spirit. The appeal to hear the message of the Apocalypse applies with special force to the church of this last generation. A refusal to hear and obey will lead to the unpardonable sin. It constitutes a rejection of both Christ and the Holy Spirit. Ears as here used must include "faith, the ears of the soul." Only those who are born of the Spirit have spiritual ears.

The seven promised rewards make up the sum of all the good things that were lost through disobedience, and that are to be regained through faith. "The word overcomes implies that the Christian life is a warfare from which there is no discharge, but it is a warfare, our author teaches, in which even the feeblest saint can prove victorious." - R. H. CHARLES, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Revelation of St. John, Page 53, 54. Continuous overcoming brings to the victor a continuous supply of the fruit of the tree of life, for Paradise must begin here. The Scriptures in a symbolical sense constitute the leaves of the tree of life, and "its branches hang over the wall," providing spiritual fruit to the saints on earth as a pledge and foretaste of the privilege of the Paradise restored.

Paradise is definitely located in Revelation 22:1,2,14 as being at the headquarters of the government of God. Man lost his right of access to the fruit of the tree of life and the blessings of Paradise through disobedience. The overcomer will return to his long-lost Eden home and again have a right to its glories untold. The tree of life disappeared from the earth because of sin. It will reappear when Paradise is restored. What was lost through the disobedience of the first Adam will be restored through the obedience of the second Adam. Paradise is a Persian word adopted in both Greek and Hebrew. It means a park, or pleasure ground. It is called "the garden of God," and "the garden of the Lord." Paradise is "the garden of all delights." This promise to the members of the church of Ephesus constitutes a mighty and eloquent appeal for repentance and faithfulness, to "hear what the Spirit said unto the churches." Thus the first promise of the first epistle of Christ is of the restoration of the first thing lost through sin-access to the tree of life and its life-giving fruit.

 Summary:  The main lessons from the letter to the church at Ephesus are:
1)  God holds his true servants in his hand.
2)  God takes note of our labors for his cause
3)  God takes not of our attitude toward evil.
4)  The danger of declining love and the growth of self love.
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