Scripture makes it unmistakably clear that each dispensation, or age, has terminated in laxity and the waning of the affections.
It is possible to accumulate extensive Biblical knowledge, combined with much zeal, but nothing can take the place of deep heart attachment to the Lord. The words of Proverbs 23:26 beautifully convey this. "My son, give me your heart and let your eyes keep to my ways."
In the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3, this vital subject is emphasized:
Loves Devotion (Rev 1:5)
"Unto Him that loved (loveth) us, and washed us from our sins, by His own blood." This expression indicates a ceaseless flow of unchanging affection. His love abides in immutable strength. How sustaining!
Loves Defection (Rev 2:4)
"But I have this against you that you have left your first love."
It seems that this was all He had against the assembly in Ephesus. But this is everything. The first declining stage in the hearts of the Ephesians had already set in. The motive spring had failed to operate. Whilst a cursory glance at the word "somewhat" may suggest something of little significance, the true fact was a matter of the most serious consequence and significance.
It wasnt that they had ceased to love Him, but that their love had ceased in its best quality and value. Not first as to time, but first as to quality, as seen in Luke 15, "Bring forth the best robe."
As the two began their seven-mile walk back to Emmaus from Jerusalem, the sun was sinking below the horizon. So too were their hearts and hopes. But, the words of the greatest Expositor made all the difference! "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken..." (Lu 24). Then He opened their understanding, and they said, "Did not our heart burn within us as He spoke to us on the way, and as He opened the Scriptures to us."
Loves Demonstration (Rev 3:9)
"Behold, I will make ... them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee."
False religions, along with their leaders, have always been opposed to the simplicity of Scriptural order and ways of gathering. At times, they have been active in their persecution of true Christianity. But Scripture gives the assurance that the time will come when these situations will be reversed. The Lord will cause such leaders to do homage before the feet of those who were the objects of the Lords affection.
Loves Discipline (Rev 3:19)
"As many as I love, I rebuke (reprove) and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent." The Lord Jesus speaks with the tenderness of a lover. His love has not waned or cooled down. At times, He reproves His erring people, but always does so with tenderness and affection. Priestliness characterizes His actions towards His people.
The reward offered for the pursuit of such a life of heart-attachment is beyond all description. Listen again to the words of the Lord Jesus in John 14.23: "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My Word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode (Our home) with him."
Exodus 25 makes a very interesting comparison. It enables us to appreciate the preciousness of the experience. It has to do with the bringing of an offering (heave) to God for the service of the Tabernacle:
(a) vv 1-2 "everyone that giveth it willingly with his heart."
This answers to "If anyone loves Me."
(b) vv 3-7 "And this is the offering you shall take of them ..."
This answers to "He will keep My Word."
(c) vv 8-9 "and let them make Me a sanctuary: that I might dwell among them." This answers to "... and We will make Our abode with him."
Lets now consider three examples of those who acted with "Purpose of Heart" to please God:
Barnabas The Son Of Exhortation
In Acts 11:22,23, we read: "Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem (obviously not a building) and they sent forth Barnabas that he would go as far as Antioch (Syria). Who, when he came and had seen the grace of God was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord." He exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose.
The Devotion of Heart A Response
News of a new work in Antioch (Syria) reached the assembly in Jerusalem, and they decided to send Barnabas to see what God had done. They considered him the best choice for this important mission, having the complete confidence of the assembly in Jerusalem.
Barnabas wisdom, care, and affection became very evident in:
On his arrival in Antioch he was amazed to witness the mighty work of God that was done in the lives of Jews and Gentiles by the grace of God, "When he saw the grace of God he was glad."
His heart was filled with joy.
He exhorted the believers that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord." He encouraged them all with resolute hearts, true to the Lord. He was that kind of man himself. He was indeed a "son of consolation."
Having sent for Saul (later Paul), they spent an entire year with the assembly, "and taught many people."
To be continued