REPENT! RETURN TO A SERVICE OF LOVE OR I WILL REMOVE YOUR CANDLESTICK. Rev. 2:5
Colossians 1:18 says, ". . . that in all things he might have the preeminence.”
The Ephesians had gotten so involved in "church work" they had forgotten why Christ instituted the church and the reason for its commission. Christ is saying, "It is important why you do what you do." The fatal error of the Jewish Scribes and Pharisees was that they were religious zealots outwardly making a show of keeping the letter of the law. Yet, inside in their hearts, Jesus said they were dead and described them as white washed tombs, beautiful on the outside but full of dead men's bones. (Matt. 23:27) If our service is not out of a heartfelt love for Christ, it is worthless. Only that which is done by faith pleases God and will be rewarded. History proves many churches have received the scriptural truth yet failed to obey the truth in love.
It is easy for a church to slip into using a program to build its membership rather than winning souls to Christ. Programs, if done biblically, certainly can be used by a church to reach the lost, but often the program begins to take over and but the motivation of the love of souls is lost.
This message was a serious warning and rebuke from the Head of the Church Jesus Christ. The warning is plain; Christ will remove His power and blessing from a church that refuses to serve in truth and love. Jesus warned them He would remove their “candlestick” means their God called pastor. Playing church out of habit or tradition is not pleasing to the Lord. Christ warns He would leave their assembly and thereby would cease to recognize them as His church and provide not leadership for them. Sadly, many churches have suffered what Jesus warned would happen. Many once sound churches and most Protestant denominations of today certainly fall into this category. They have the name and all the pomp and ceremony, but have abandoned sound doctrine and compromised with the world. Their pride in their denomination shows their motivation is keeping tradition rather than serving the Lord in love. Removing the pastor the Lord sent them meant His direction and blessings would also be removed. Many churches today operate in the flesh and God is not a part of what they are doing.
The Apostle Paul was very much concerned and feared the possibility that he would lose his love for Christ making his labor in vain and in turn be disqualified at the Bema Judgment. (See 1 Cor. 9:27, 2 Cor. 5:10) If Paul was concerned, should not we be even more so concerned about serving Christ for the right motives. What is a wrong motive? It would be ANY motive which is not out of love and deep commitment and devotion to Christ.
Christ warns He would abandon this church if it did not repent of this gross sin of leaving their love of Christ. Some such as Charles C. Ryrie water down the warning by falsely concluding that Christ would only "remove the usefulness of that local church."3 What Christ is saying I will remove you as a church not be your Head any longer. No group that does not have Christ as its Head is a true church. This assembly had deposed Christ by not loving Him. When Christ left this group, they were no longer a true church, but now were a false one. Yes, they went on meeting and doing religious works and they had the name, but God was not in it and all they did was of the flesh and of no value. (See Matt. 7:21-29)
The whole point of Christ addressing the church was to wake them up to their terrible failure. Many times, when it is very obvious a group has left its love of Christ and gone off on its own, we graciously try to avoid offending them, or rebuking or even pointing out their errors. We grasp at straws and look for some redeeming outward quality in them, when in fact Christ has left them, because they left Christ. Is there really any value in saying something is alive when in fact it is dead? Does condoning sin bring them back to life, help them, or bring comfort? Clearly the answer is no and it only makes the matter worse.
It is very possible to be busy as a bee working supposedly for the Lord, and actually be not pleasing to Him. Why? Our works are done in the flesh and glorify ourselves, however, our labor of love and obedience to the Lord glorifies Christ! That is the difference.