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Chapter 2 - Ephesus
And in chapter two, we begin with the first church, which is the church of Ephesus. The word, "Ephesus" means desirable and appealing. Metaphysically in us, this church stands for our desire nature. In reading this letter, we find that the desire nature of us is the first thing about us which becomes activated in the process of worship. Desire and appeal which are the meanings of the word, truth has caused your consciousness to desire more of God and more of God's good. Your desire for more of God and more of his good has become a church of worship within your soul, which the book of Revelation calls by its Greek name, Ephesus.
Truth has also quickened what we call your power of appeal, which is also part of the definition of this name, that is your willingness to ask of God, to appeal to God. You are no longer reluctant to ask for whatever good you find desirable or needful for your life or the lives of others. Truth has taught you to know the source of all good. You have faith in the willingness of that source to give of its blessings. So you do not hesitate to appeal to it through prayer and with affirmation when there is a righteous request thought for you to make. So your church of Ephesus, which is your desire for more of God and his good, and your willingness to appeal to him as the willing source of your good, you are quickened and activated in the desire part of your nature.
Through your desire for God and his good, you are actively worshiping God, the source of all good. Now, in this letter, some words of praise and encouragement are next given to that church. We find that in these words of verse 2,
“I know thy works and thy toil and patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil, and hast born and hast patience, and for my name’s sake, hast labored and hast not fainted.”
Here is the Christ mind's praise for your church of Ephesus. That praise means that your desire for greater good from God has cause you to become of one of God's true workers.
Your greatest work is all inner work, which is really the only truly important kind of work. In doing this work, you do not become exhausted or worn out in this inner work you are doing but you take delight in it. Another interesting thing you will found out is that you are not doing so much work strictly on outer things as much as you do on your inner thoughts, inner feelings, and your inner attitudes within yourself. It is here where you are accomplishing such great improvements even though you may never boast about this, not even to yourself.
Then another thing which is happening to you since your desire for God and truth and good were quickened is that you are becoming a more patient person. Patience is a sure sign of growing spiritual consciousness. Now, in reality, patience is not a personal accomplishment of the human personality which we deserve credit for because actually patience is a gift of God bestowed on us as a reward for the work that we have done to improve our own consciousness. That is in most cases, we do not start out our spiritual improvement works with patience. But when we work on such improvement, we are rewarded with greater and greater patience.
Then our letter reads, "And how thou canst not bear them which are evil." Now, this means that since you have made your desire for God's good and God's truth a leading motivation in your life, you find that you no longer want anything more to do with useless, unnecessary suffering, neither for yourself or for any other human being. In the Bible, the word, "Evil" often means simply useless, unnecessary suffering. The fact that you are a person who no longer wants to accept this or bear it in your life or in your world is a tribute to the growth and improvement you have made.
You now desire only God's good and God's truth for your life and for the lives of all others. This is one of the great things which your church of Ephesus in you has accomplished for you, for your developing consciousness. This is all beautifully praised in the words of our letter which we have read. But there is a weakness in our desire nature, which is called to our attention by the words in verse 4 where we read, "Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee that thou hast left thy first love." We must each ask ourself in connection with this church within us, do I always remember God first? Do I always love God first in all my desires?
You must ask yourself this question in regard to your church of Ephesus, your desire nature. Do I remember God as my first love in all my desires? Remember, God was and God is the first love of our desire nature. If your desire nature had not decided to love God first and above all else, you never would have completely accepted and come into the truth way of life. You would have found a million excuses not to. But you have entered the way, the truth, and the life revealed by Jesus Christ. So your desire nature had to have at some point, acknowledged God as its first love.
But as we well know, our desire nature still has a tendency to wander. It does become fickle. So in a sense, it is possible for our desires to start “playing the field,” so to speak. There are times when in our desire nature, we are leaving its first love. In our desires, we can often begin to go off the track. There are times when we can desire things other than God and good and truth. In our desires, we can sometimes put second things first. In our desires, we can sometimes forget the truth we have learned.
We can desire things which are not really good for us or for others. If and when we do this, we find that we become inwardly confused and then our confusion starts to make our desires cause us to become unhappy. What does this tell us? It tells us that any time any desire you may have is in any way making you unhappy, it is always because you are not putting God first in your desire. It, your desire nature, the church of Ephesus has left its first love. This is what our letter tells us.
But then there is a correction that can be made to rectify this. It does not need to stay that way. Put God, your first love, back in first place in all your desires. This causes your church of Ephesus to return to its first love. When it does, this is the promise of reward, which is found in verse 7, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the spirit saith to the churches. To him that overcometh, to him will I give to eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God."
One of the meanings of the words, "To eat of the tree of life," is to acquire the ability to derive nourishment and benefit from everything you experience in life, and from everything you are able to observe in life. This is actually possible for a person. Anyone who meets the requirements can eat of the tree of life, which means to develop a very special kind of ability which will enable you to derive nourishment, actual nourishment and benefit from everything you experience in life, and from everything you are able to observe in life. This is not fantastic. This is not a golden impractical promise. This is a definite possibility. This is possible to any person who will restore his love for God back to first place in his desire nature, the church of Ephesus.
Now, if a person does not care about truth or never thinks about the love of God, or is indifferent toward developing spiritual understanding, well such a person will never never know how to eat of the tree of life. In fact, quite often, just the opposite seems to happen: Life seems to eat him.
In other words, to such a person who does not care about truth, does not think about loving God, we find that life experiences and difficulties, do not have a nourishing or beneficial effect upon him. But rather, they all seem to take a great deal out of him. Life eats him up. He becomes easily discouraged, exhausted, worn out. But this is a form of unnecessary suffering. Life should not wear a person out. It should nourish him, educate him, benefit him, and renew him.
This is exactly how life does become for one who loves God, truth and good, uppermost in his desire nature. He is given the secret of eternal nourishment by being shown by the Christ mind within him how to extract the good out of every life experience, event and situation. He is literally eating off the fruit of the tree of life. He realizes where his life is really taking place. He knows that his real life, that is his eternal life and all that it really is is not actually taking place out there, in all the passing externals of materiality. But he knows that his real life is spiritual, that his real life is eternal, and that his real life takes place within, where he is one with God or as the writer of Revelation puts it, the tree of life in the midst of the paradise of God.