When I was at the Master’s Seminary training for the ministry, one of our professors—Jim Rosscup, who taught Bible Exposition—told us of his freshman year at Dallas Seminary, the beginning of his theological training. He told us of feeling intimidated by the knowledge of other students in the class who had come to DTS straight out of Bible college, so their Bible knowledge was deep and wide. Jim had come to the school from an engineering background and found it all so new. In those early days, he talked to his teacher Dr. Howard Hendricks about his struggle and the fact that it was all so new and rather overwhelming. Hendricks replied, “Jim, let’s hope it never becomes old.”
That is a good word and warning, is it not, to all of us! The Christian must ever be on guard against the erosion of their excitement and enchantment with Christ and the things of God—against their love for the Lord Jesus growing cold and stale or their passion for the eternal normalizing (Matt. 24:12)! It is a sad day when grace is no longer amazing. This was certainly a problem among the Ephesian Christians toward the end of the first century. In a letter to them, Christ takes issue with their lack of love for Him (Rev. 2:4). They were doing many good things; they were diligent in service, patient in suffering, and orthodox in doctrine (Rev. 2:2–3). But they were doing those good things without doing the truly greater thing, which was to love Christ (1 Cor. 13:13). Over time their Christianity suffered from a creeping separateness from Christ. They were busy in the church but falling out of love with Christ, the head of the church. Routine and predictability marked their walk with God and their work from Christ. Things had to change.
In a series of three terse commands, the Lord Jesus seeks to reset and rekindle this dying relationship (Rev. 2:4–5). First, they needed to remember. Christ called this church to recall the very beginnings of grace and the charm of God’s love that once captured their hearts. Second, they needed to repent. Christ called this church to make an about-face and leave the sloping path that was taking them further and further away from first-love commitment to Christ. Having recalled what was once good, they must immediately reject that which is less than the original good. Third, they needed to repeat. Christ called this church to replicate those early and extreme acts of devotion that often mark the first flush of love. He wants to see a honeymoon-type love for God in action that is free, pure, and reckless.
Have your prayers become predictable, your worship joyless, your reading of Scripture stale? Is it all becoming old? Then it is time to get back to a first love for the One who first loved us (1 John 4:19).
Remember, repent, and repeat!