Friday, February 14, 2020
If there was ever a time that you thought it imperative to believe the testimony of Jesus Christ, it’s now. The end of this age is literally upon us, but very few Christians are moved away from their ear-tickling traditions and status quo beliefs that Christ will rapture us out of this world before the apocalyptic tribulation. Both they and their teachers have been deceived.
The coronavirus and other diseases, pestilences, even locusts, and more locusts destroy and kill. Insect species are dying off. Volcanoes and earthquakes multiply. Super-power nations vie for supremacy. Violent storms besiege earth. Liberal Evangelical Overlords Come Unglued. The Caspian Sea Turns Blood Red In Kazakhstan. AI chips in human brains will become a reality. And the One World Religion pushed by Pope Francis. But the wise prepare to endure all these tribulations to the end (Matt. 24:13) as global chaos increases.
Today is Valentine’s Day, and the world, as is its custom for the love of money, has capitalized this day to maximize revenue. The world doesn’t really care if you love God, spouse, family, or children, just so long as you purchase its novelties of gifts, cruises, vacations, get-a-ways, cards, flowers, candies and chocolates. If it were not for the hope of such revenue, the world wouldn’t give a flip about who, what, or why you love. But in Christ Jesus, He must be our “first love”.
Today, prayerfully consider, who is your first love? Most people, from a culturally ingrained perspective, would likely say “That would be my spouse, sons or daughters”, or other familial centered responses. But the true Christian’s response is different – his or her first love must be Christ. And a first love for Christ compels faith to believe His life changing testimony. His calling is to believe His testimony and prepare to endure to the end of this present age.
God has much to say about who the Christian’s “first love” (Rev. 2:4) must be for, and it’s not familial. From God’s calling of ancient O.T. Jews, to N.T. true Jews of Rom. 2:28–29, His first command yet stands: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27). This tests faith, for “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). God and His Christ are not seen, but familial members are seen. Thus “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6). These truths compellingly direct our “first love” (Rev. 2:4).
The Christian’s “first love” must be Christ, for He did what no one else could. He gave His life on the cross of Calvary that all who, not only believe in Him, but actually believe Him could be saved, John 3:16, 36. That truth is easily lost on a culture-pleasing gospel and traditions of men. This is why Jesus warned that traditions make “the word of God of no effect” (Mark 7:13).
And speaking to the church at Ephesus, Christ, devastatingly said, “I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (Rev. 2:4). Since this was true 2,000 years ago, what would Christ say to the progressive, culture-pleasing and money-driven church of our day? I think He would say “you have left your first love” as the church largely feeds people things that tickle the ears, especially for the times of the end, promising a pre-trib rapture though not one Scripture affirms it. In fact, most of the Western church literally shuts down the testimony of Christ for the time of the end. But love for Christ believes, teaches and prepares in His end-time teachings.
Reflecting on familial love, the Lord Jesus said “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matt. 10:37). If one is “not worthy” of Christ, he doesn’t have Christ. So, how does the dispensational pre-tribulation rapture, opposing Christ’s Matt. 24:29–31 post-tribulation rapture show love for God and His Christ? It doesn’t. It rather reveals a first love for the erroneous traditions of men.
May it never be said of us that we have left our “first love”. In true love for Christ, allow this day to rekindle and quicken your first love for Christ. Commit to allowing His Word of truth to have the supremacy and first place in your heart. If we do that, then our spousal and familial love, and other earthly relationships will be as God and His Christ commanded. To disbelieve the Word of the Lord, puts one in jeopardy of eternal death where there “will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 8:12; Matt. 22:13; Matt. 24:51; Matt. 25:30; Luke 13:28).
The heart that’s truly been transformed by new birth faith will love and defend both Christ’s written Word and that of the Holy Spirit. The one born again will never receive, carte blanche, that which comes from the pulpit, but like the Berean’s will search “the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). The sacrifice that Christ paid for our salvation demands no less – His shed blood and death on Calvary’s tree, and His triumphal resurrection.
Like the earthly road Christ traveled, so too is the road His saints must travel – a difficult road of rejection and being hated by not only the unbelieving world, but also by those “having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” (2 Tim. 3:5). Therefore, put on “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16), that you may be able to stand against every falsehood and tradition of men in this late hour, because the time of the end is definitely now at hand.
As you meditate on your “first love” being Christ, say with the psalmist – “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psa. 103:1–5). Amen!
Marlin J. Yoder