I want to focus on the golden sash across Jesus chest. It is the sash that covers His heart. It is a Kingly sash, wore by one in authority. It is a symbol of strength for action. The material is real gold and gold is only achieved when refined by fire, indicating that He was tested, yet came forth as gold. The purity of gold over His heart represents the purity of His love.
His heart of love is the basis of His authority, His strength and His actions. His love is the foundation for everything He is and does. This is Divine Love, which we understand when we see the Real Jesus. It is a Love this world does not understand.
We need an extreme makeover of our concept of love.
We need to see the Real Jesus to understand the Love that He expects us to have in our Christian Life.
Most of us really only know phileo, brotherly love. It is love (actually friendship) based on common interests and concerns. It is usually based on our interests and concerns.
Jesus expects Christians to have agape love. He expressed what it means in Matthew 5:44 when He told us to “love your enemies”
To love (agapáō) others means to see what their need is and to meet that need, not according to that person’s concept of need, but that of the one who loves. For a believer, we are to see the needs of even our enemies and we must do everything in our power to meet that need. Believers are never told to love their enemies with the word philéō because that would mean to have the same interests as they have.
To See This we need to understand God calling us ‘friends’
God calls us his friend (phílos), as He did Abraham (James 2:23), when we adopt His interests as our own, just as Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son even as God did His own.
The Son of Man, the Real Jesus Christ has a message for each of seven churches in Revelation. Each message indicates a facet or characteristic of His Divine Love, and how the church is falling short of His love. The very first church, Ephesus, thinks they love Jesus, but Jesus wants them to understand what Divine Love is really all about.
“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. “ ‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.
Some clarifications of the words Jesus uses:
Jesus knows (eido). He knows these people intimately, and watches them constantly.
- “emphasizes better the absolute clearness of mental vision which photographs all the facts of life as they pass” (Swete).
- erga; The whole life and conduct as in John 6:29. “Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” John 6:29
- deed, act, action, something done
- kópos; gen. kópou, from kóptō <G2875>, to strike. Beating, wailing, grief with beating the breast, equal to kopetós <G2870>, lamentation, wailing (Sept.: Jer. 51:3). In the NT, toil, labor, i.e., wearisome effort, generally
- Originally suffering, weariness; hence exhausting labor
Patient endurance (hupomone)
- Hupomoné is associated with hope (1 Thess. 1:3) and refers to that quality of character which does not allow one to surrender to circumstances or succumb under trial.
Cannot tolerate evil men (Not able (ou dunēi).bear (bastasai)
- No power to bear them. They are such a burden, you dismiss them as being a burden and drag to the congregation.
- Test and deny false (pseudo) apostles
- Patiently endured and born up for the sake of Jesus (bastazo)
- bastázō; from básis, basis, foot. To bear, carry in the hands or on the shoulders (picturing the duty of a servant, to bear a pitcher of water). Also pictures carrying the cross.
- Figuratively it means to bear, support, endure, i.e., labors, sufferings
Not fainted or turned back. (kopiáō)
- kopiáō; contracted kopió, from kópos, labor, fatigue. To be worn out, weary, faint
Ephesus sounds like a great church. They are doing all the right things. Any Pastor would be proud of this church! But they should be a church rich in ‘agape’ Love, for Paul taught them all about it…
Paul Emphasized Love to the Ephesians
Remember Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: It was all about needing, knowing, living a life of Love, God’s Divine Love.
- 1:5 – “In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ
- 2:4 – “For his great love wherewith he loved us”
- 3:17 – “that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
- 3:19 – ” the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ”
- 4:2 – “bearing with one another in love”
- 4:15 – “speaking the truth in love”
- 4:16 – “the body…builds itself up in love”
- 5:2 – “Walk in love as Christ also loved us”
- 5:25 – “As Christ loved the church and gave himself for it”
- 5:25, 28, 33 “Husbands love your wives” – because you picture the love of Jesus Christ.
How could the Church at Ephesus fail the Test of the ‘Golden Sash’?
But I hold this against you, that you do not love as you did at first. Remember then how far you have fallen. Repent and live as you lived at first. Otherwise, if your heart remains unchanged, I shall come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. Revelation 2:4-5(Phillips)
~’But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. ~’Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. Revelation 2:4-5(NASB)
But I have this against you: You have abandoned the love ⌊you had⌋ at first. Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. Revelation 2:4-5(HCSB)
Jesus sees and knows intimately how hard they labor and toil and try to live a life pleasing to Him. They live good and moral lives for His name’s sake. They endure persecution for His sake.
- However, Jesus sees that something is missing in their hearts.
- Something about their service bothers Him.
- Outwardly, everything is great, but inwardly, something is not right.
He sees that their duty is correct, but their devotion is missing love. They are laboring and enduring from obedience rather than love.
They have moved away, they have forgotten what made them new creations. They have forgotten the love of Jesus Christ. Instead of it being about Him, and their love for Him, it has become about the service, the duty, and the religious observances. They are serving Him simply because they should.
Jesus holds this against them.
Remember their deeds at the first? Acts 19 recounts their sacrificial love for Jesus Christ. They sacrificed everything for the sake of following Jesus!
And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily. Acts 19:19-20
They have Fallen
They have (aphēkes), at a particular moment, made a sad but definite departure from their fist love.
- your first love (tēn agapēn sou tēn prōtēn). The Love you had at the first!
Aphekes pictures a definite moment in time when they left, deserted, or quit loving Jesus with all their heart mind, soul and strength. It is the same word used in Romans 1:27 that describes a man’s decision to leave the natural love of a woman and start loving a man. O yes, homosexuality is a decision, just as leaving your first love is a decision.
Remember Your First Works
The first works define your life, define your heart. The first works move you to crazy love, where you risk everything for the one you love.
- The work of God resulted in something utterly crazy, giving His only Son to take all the sins of the world. [“This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” John 6:29]
- The work of Jesus led Him to become rejected by His Father, so that He might redeem you and me.
Jesus saw their service, but He also saw their hearts, and saw that they were falling into ritual service, ritual devotion, ritual duties. They were faithfully doing their duty. They were being good people doing what good people should. But the basis for their service was no longer their agape love. They had fallen into a phileo love. Their love for Jesus was now based on their own interests and concerns. Gone was that willingness to risk it all for Jesus Christ.
Jesus never meant His followers to religious or good. He meant them to love, the same way He loved. That love was not comfortable, not good, but it risked everything.
The Ephesians needed to repent. You need to ask yourself, do I need to repent?
- They had made a definite decision, which weakened their love.
- Their decision resulted in a fall from Divine Love, the only Love, which pleases the Lord.
- Their decision resulted in duty not devotion.
- Their decision resulted in the Lord’s demand for repentance and return.
- Decision: to love something other than Jesus Christ, or to disobey his commands
- Fall: Change of focus meant that the throne of God lost its power
Leaving their first love meant that sacrifice and devotion gave way to duty and observances.
The impact of this letter to the Ephesians is seen in answering the following questions from what Jesus said in the Gospels.
How Does Jesus Define Divine Love?
Divine Love is Crazy, with no concern for yourself, your safety, your possessions or even your reputation:
Matthew 5:43-48 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect (COMPLETE, FULL), as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Luke 6:27-31 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
What is the Source of Divine Love?
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:9-11
I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:26
You must know and be convinced of the Power of God’s Name if you are to risk everything for the sake of Jesus Christ.
What Causes us to lose our Divine Love?
A. NEGLECT OF THE WORD: Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. John 14:23-24
B. Other or Divided Interests: “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. Matthew 6:24
C. FRIENDSHIP WITH THE WORLD: You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. James 4:4
D. CHOSE COMFORT vs. SACRIFICE: READ MATT 19:17-21 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect (complete, full), go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me”.
How important is it that we have Divine Love?
John 5:40-44 “yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. I do not receive glory from people. But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
Divine Love is Fullness of life!
Be Full and Complete as the Father is Full! Only when you risk it all do you know true love and fullness! Which would you rather eat-the fruit of the forbidden tree or the fruit of the tree of life! Those that keep their first love will eat of the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life was in the Garden of Eden, where life was complete, full, until sin entered the world. The Tree of Life will be in the New Heavens, when God’s plan is fulfilled, and life on earth is full!
The world teaches that fullness of life is in possessions and money, a prestigious career, the number of friends you have, or even your family.
But Jesus said “whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:35-36
Divine Love is Fullness of Life…Fullness of Life comes to those willing to risk it all for His sake!
What are the consequences of fallen love?
In His letter to the church, the danger was the removal of the candlestick, which signifies the removal of the fire of the Holy Spirit. Today Ephesus lies in ruins, and the church is long gone.
- Worship Devoid of the Spirit
Across the world there are churches that look like churches, act like churches, but the Divine Love of God is not in them. The Holy Spirit is not there. They are functioning out of a mistaken sense of duty. There may be a supposed love for Jesus, but they have fallen from His standards. They are down, serving in their fleshly strength. They are not living in the fullness of Christ of His love, of His word. They are like the Pharisees, content in their religious observances, yet on their way to Hell.
- Children, teens Abandon the Church
The other consequence is that our children grow up with a concept of religion, but no concept of loving a real Jesus. Therefore, they rebel against religion for the sake of religion, and seek after something else that fills the void in their heart.
- A Nation that is Outwardly Moral but inwardly Corrupt
How do we return to our first love?
Jesus said we are to do three things:
- Remember what He has done for you
- Remember what you were willing to do at first.
- Change your heart focus,
- Get rid of those things that have captured your affections, that have taken the place of Jesus Christ.
- Do what you did when you first came to Jesus
- Live for Him totally.
- Risk it all for Him
David Left His First Love
PSALMS 51:7-15 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
David returned to his first love, singing and writing the Psalms, teaching others of the ways of God!
Peter Left His First Love
John 21:15-18 “When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep”. He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.”
Peter had left his first love, even denying Christ, and returning to the thing he loved most-fishing. Yet, when confronted by Jesus, he could only confess deep emotions for Jesus. He was not quite ready to confess agape love, that love that risks everything, sacrifices everything. Still, Jesus said, feed and care for my sheep. You will one day know that agape love.
Return to the works you did at the first. Return to the time you depended upon me for everything. The agape will return. You will regain your first love. You will sacrifice, you will risk it all!
Peter returned to His agape love, and He teaches us the importance of it in his last letter. Look at what Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1:3-11:
2 Peter 1:3-11 – His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with (phileo) brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with (agape) love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:3-11
- You will never fall as I did. You will keep your first love!
Do You See the Real Jesus? Do you see His Golden Sash? Do You Pass the Gold Sash Test.? Do You Love Him with Divine Love?
Have you fallen into comfort and complacency? Are you still doing the first works? Are you still risking everything for Jesus Christ? Perhaps you never did, perhaps you are not a genuine follower of Jesus Christ. Perhaps you never loved Him with agape love. You need to make sure you are a Christian. You need to repent and love Jesus with agape, sacrificing, risking it all kind of love!
Do you really want to Know Divine Love?
Do you want to see the Real Jesus?
Turn with me to Hebrews 13:12
So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. Hebrews 13:12-13
Outside the Camp is Where we Find Agape Love
Jesus Christ died to set apart a people unto God. If we truly love Him, we must go to where He was willing to go – outside the camp.
- ‘Outside the camp’ is where the lepers were kept.
- ‘Outside the camp’ is where murderers were sent.
- ‘Outside the camp’ is where the beggar begged as the apostles walked through the gate.
- ‘Outside the camp’ was where all who were to be separated from society at large were to be kept.
‘Outside the camp’ is where we were called to ‘go to him’ and ‘bear the reproach he endured’ – death. Death to our comfort, death to our desires, death to our reputation.
Going Outside the Camp is where we discover the Love of the Golden Sash.
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him;1 John 3:16-19
- Divine Love risks it all for the city that is to come.
- Whatever you lose in this life will be made up 1000 fold in the life to come.
- We can either retreat and perish in the wilderness
- We can risk it all for the love of Jesus Christ, who risked it all for us.
In the 1600’s there was a man named Joseph Aline and he wrote a book entitled An Alarm to Unconverted Sinners.Let me close our time with what he said.
“All of Christ is accented by the sincere convert. He loves not only the wages, but the work of Christ. Not only the benefits but the burden of Christ. He’s willing not only to tread out the corn but to draw under the yoke. He takes up the command of Christ, yea, even the cross of Christ. The unsound man closes by halves with Christ. He’s all for the salvation of Christ but he’s not for sanctification. He is for the privileges but appropriates not the person of Christ. He divides the offices and benefits of Christ. This is an error in the foundation. Who so loveth life let him beware here. It is an undoing mistake of which you have beenoften warned and yet none is more common. Jesus is a sweet name but men love not the Lord Jesus in sincerity. They divide what God has joined, the King and the Priest, yea they will not accept the salvation of Christ as He intends it. They divide it, every man’s vote is for salvation from suffering but they desire not to be saved from sinning. They would have their lives saved but with all would have their lusts. Yea, many divide here again, they would be content to have some of their sins destroyed but they cannot leave the lap of Delilah or divorce the beloved Herodias. They cannot be cruel to the right eye or right hand. The Lord must pardon then in this thing. 0 be careful here, your soul depends on it. The sound convert takes a whole Christ, takes Him for all intents and purposes, without exceptions, without limitations, without reserve. He’s willing to have Christ upon any terms. He’s willing to have the dominion of Christ as well as deliverance by Christ and he says with Paul, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?”
 Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “phileo”.
 Archibald Thomas Robertson, A.M., D.D., LL.D., Litt. D., Word Pictures in the New Testament, (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1930), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Revelation 2:2”.
 Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 650.
 Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, (New York: Scribners, 1887), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Revelation 2:2”.
 Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “hupomone”.
 Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 328.