In the Lord’s epistle to the church in Ephesus there are four main points – love (loving the Lord with the first love), life (enjoying Christ as the tree of life), light (shining as the Lord’s testimony), and the lampstand (bearing the Lord’s testimony); love, life, light, and the lampstand are four crucial words in Rev. 2:1-7.
First of all, we need to never leave the Lord as our first love, and we must do the first works, otherwise the Lord will come to us and remove the lampstand out of its place, if we do not repent.
The main reason for the degradation of the church is leaving the first love for the Lord; the main reason for the failure of the church throughout the ages is losing the first love for the Lord.
We need to recover the loss of the first love by giving the Lord the first place in all things – He must have the preeminence, and we must consider the Lord Jesus as the first in everything. If we make Christ everything in our daily life, we overcome the loss of the first love.
We also overcome the loss of the first love by being constrained by the love of Christ to not merely live “for the Lord” but “to the Lord”, that is, being determined to gain the honor of being well-pleasing to Him by being absolutely under His control and direction, caring uniquely for His aims and goals.
The first works are the works that issue out of the first love; the works that the Lord desires to have from us is the works issuing out of our love for Him, and before His judgment seat He will investigate how much we did was out of love to Him.
It is possible, however, that we would worship God, serve God, and do works in God’s name, yet do it without loving the Lord with the first love but doing it mournfully, not at all happy that we are required to do these things.
May the Lord save us from having the lampstand removed from the church, that is, from not being able to bear the Lord’s testimony before men. May we return to the first love, love the Lord with the best love, do the first works, eat Him as the tree of life, and bear the Lord’s testimony on the earth!
Eating the Tree of Life and Shining forth Christ to Bear the Lord’s Testimony
The Lord promised to the overcomers in the church in Ephesus, those who have an ear to hear what the Spirit says to the churches, that He would give them to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.
Eating the tree of life, that is, enjoying Christ as our life supply daily, should be the primary matter in the church life today; of course, this doesn’t mean that we “sit down all day long and eat the tree of life” but that we eat the Lord, take Him as our supply, and do the first works by loving Him and being richly supplied by Him.
The content of our church life depends on our enjoyment of Christ; the more we enjoy Christ, the richer the church life will be, but if we don’t enjoy Christ, we may not enjoy the church life that much but may even find problems with the saints or the elders.
We need to enjoy the Lord as the tree of life every day; this requires that we love Him with the first love. If we don’t love the Lord with the first love, we will not enjoy Him as the tree of life, but if we love Him, we spontaneously eat Him and are supplied by Him as the tree of life.
If we leave our first love toward the Lord, we will miss the enjoyment of Christ – and this will result in losing the testimony of Jesus; whenever we don’t enjoy the Lord as the tree of life, we cannot express the Lord and we lose the testimony of Jesus.
From this we see that loving the Lord, enjoying Him, and being His testimony go together: the more we love the Lord, the more we have the right to eat of Him as the tree of life, and as a result the light of His testimony will shine brightly through us.
You could even say that love, life, and light are a trinity; love is related to life, and life is related to light – if we make Christ the first in everything, we will have the first love, and we will enjoy the Lord as our life, with the result that this life will become light to us (John 1:4; Phil. 2:15-16).
Christ came as life; in Him was life, and life was the light of men; now He is in us, and we are His luminaries, shining Him forth to others. If we love the Lord, we are filled with the enjoyment of Christ, and something will emanate from our being – others will see the divine light shining through us!
This light shining through us will convict and touch people, and they will receive the divine life. The more we enjoy Christ as life, the more the divine light will shine through us. Furthermore, together will shine as the lampstand, the church, in the dark night of the church age (Rev. 2:5).
The Lord doesn’t want us to merely “let our candle light shine before men”: He wants to gain a “city on a hill”, a shining lampstand, shining out the light of the Lord coming from the enjoyment of Christ of all those who love Him. When we are those who love the Lord, eat the tree of life, there will be the light shining forth, and the church will bear the testimony of Jesus!
Lord Jesus, may eating the tree of life be the primary matter in the church life today. Save us from merely doing works for You, and bring us back to the enjoyment of Christ as our life supply day by day! Lord, may our church life be rich, full of the enjoyment of Christ, so that we may shine Him forth for others to see the testimony of Jesus! Amen! Lord Jesus, we love You with our first love, we eat You as the reality of the tree of life, and we want to let You shine in us and make us the testimony of Jesus!
Enjoying Christ as our Love, Life, and Light to keep the Testimony of Jesus
From the Lord’s speaking to the church in Ephesus in Rev. 2:1-7 we can see that, if we are enjoying Christ as our love, life, and light, we will keep the testimony of Jesus as the shining of the lampstand is our locality.
Being the church in our locality doesn’t mean that we do this or that, we follow this doctrine or that doctrine, or even doing this or that practice; being the church means bearing the Lord’s testimony, that is, doing the first works coming out of the first love and supplied by the divine life.
What preserves us to be the genuine testimony of Jesus is having the first love and doing the first works.
We need to remember these four main words beginning with letter “L” – love, life, light, and lampstand.
These four l words start with love. We must give the Lord Jesus the preeminence in every way and in everything to recover the first love. Then we will enjoy Him as the tree of life, and this life right away becomes the light of life (John 8:12). Then we will be shining in our daily life and corporately as the lampstand. Otherwise, the lampstand will be removed from us individually and from the church corporately. The Lord warned the church in Ephesus to repent and recover the first love for the enjoyment of Him. Otherwise, the lampstand would be removed from them. We need love, life, light, and the lampstand. Then we will be rewarded by the Lord with what we are and live in Him. (Witness Lee, The Overcomers, ch. 3)
Amen, may we be those who give the Lord the first place in everything so that we may love Him with the first and best love – the love which is Himself as our love.
Then, as we love Him with the first love, we will take Him in as the tree of life by eating Him in His word, and we will be inwardly supplied and filled with Him. The result will be that we will shine Him out in our living both personally and corporately.
But if we don’t live Christ and we don’t behave in Christ in the church life, there will be nothing as a reward to us in the church life; rather, we may even feel bitter toward the elders and toward the saints.
However, if we live Christ, enjoy Him, behave in Him, and love Him with the first love, we will be richly rewarded by the Lord with our living of Christ and loving of Him, and we will be happy in the church life.
If we take Christ as the first in everything, we will have the first love toward Him, we will enjoy Him as our life, we will shine forth with Him as light, and we will become the shining lampstand as the testimony of Jesus in this age.
This will be our reality today, our reward in the next age, and our full expression for eternity. For eternity we will love the Lord as our Bridegroom, eat of the tree of life and be supplied by Him, shine forth with Him as light, and be His corporate testimony and expression in the universe.
Lord Jesus, we want to enjoy You as our love, light, and light so that we may keep and be the church as the testimony of Jesus in this dark age. We give You the preeminence in every way and in everything to recover the first love and enjoy You as the tree of life. Lord, may You be our daily supply as the tree of life, so that Your life may shine in us and through us as the light of life. Amen, Lord, make us Your corporate testimony today as we enjoy You as our love, life, and light to keep the testimony of Jesus!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by brother James L. for this week, and, The Overcomers, ch. 3 (by Witness Lee), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Returning to the Orthodoxy of the Church (2016 fall ITERO), msg. 1 (week 1), The Church in Ephesus.
- Hymns on this topic:
# The Church the lampstand is to Christ, / Christ is the lamp with God as light; / The light divine from Christ doth shine, / The Church upholds its glory bright…. / To be this testimony pure / ”First love” to Christ the Church must keep; / Then from the “tree of life” she may / The overcomer’s portion reap. (Hymns #822)
# Thou art love-and Thou art light, Lord, / In the Son as life Thou art; / Love expressing, light illum’ning, / Thou dost life to us impart. (Hymns #13)
# The churches are the Body / Of Christ on earth today. / They are His testimony, / That He may have a way. / They are the golden lampstands / In cities far and wide. / They are His fighting army, / And His beloved Bride. (Hymns #1265)