I find my answer in a church that held a very special place in God’s plan as the gospel rapidly moved westward from Jerusalem. It was planted by Paul and Silas on Paul’s second missionary journey and they spent three years establishing and equipping this church (Acts 20:31). The record of Paul’s investment in this church is unlike any other, especially in the elders who were to shepherd the flock by the Holy Spirit (20:28). The presence of the Spirit was known among them.
About thirty-five years passed and they received a letter; not from anyone, but from the Lord Jesus Himself. From outward appearance, they were a very successful church. They worked hard and endured the pressure of opposition. They refused to allow counterfeits and false teachers into the church and protected right doctrine. Even with all they faced, they never gave up. So why would Jesus write them a personal letter?
The church at Ephesus had fallen from the best and most important part of their love for the Lord Jesus, their Head! The seriousness of what they had done is revealed in Jesus’ words, “you have abandoned (let go, to send away) the love you had at first” (Revelation 2:1-7, verse 4 here). Intimacy with the Lord as the Head of the church requires first love in priority and importance! If we as a church have not maintained this priority, we forfeit intimacy with the Head.
The results are staggering! Jesus said to Ephesus. “I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent” (2:5).
This leaves us with a question; ‘why is the church not repenting today?’ We become so preoccupied with our programs, traditions and denominational structures; making sure we stay in line with guidelines that have been handed down that we fail to STOP AND RETURN TO SCRIPTURE! Repentance only takes place after we compare ourselves with the “first model”. That is why Jesus told them to “Remember therefore from where you have fallen” (2:5). Yes, a church can forfeit its intimacy with Christ the Head, but it can be restored through this path of repentance.