Word of the Month

The first works

November 2004

The Lord's admonition to the congregation of Ephesus: "Repent and do the first works" had a very serious backdrop. The One who dictated the Revelation to John had just made him say to the congregation: "I have this against you, that you have left your first love." (c.f. Revelation 2:4.5).

Is there not a danger today too that our enthusiasm and dedication to the work of God might decline or that we do things out of mere habit? "Repent and do the first works" also applies to us.

The concept of ‘repentance' has a negative connotation: one thinks of sackcloth and ashes and self-flagellation. But ‘repentance' simply means returning to divine standards and accepting the divine offers. How many people still remember and conform to divine standards? Let me mention a simple example: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." This constitutes an irrefutable divine commandment. Those who keep it do the first works. Repentance includes changing our disposition in an effort to resemble the nature of Jesus Christ as closely as possible. If we act accordingly we will grasp God's word and grace with all our soul and thus receive forgiveness and redemption in each service. That is possible for everyone - as long as we want it!

Those who make the effort of growing more and more into the mind of Jesus are happy and willing to do works pleasing to God. This particularly includes living as a child of God: in the first love, filled with God's grace, and with enthusiastic dedication and willingness to sacrifice for God and His work. Let us always be aware that this work will remain, be carried out to perfection, and will continue in the kingdom of peace. Being proud of this and testifying to seeking souls of the uniqueness and magnitude of the work of redemption are also signs of the first love.

Not to be overlooked among the first works are fervent prayers and the firm determination to follow loyally. Those who pray move the powers of heaven and attract the blessing of the Most High upon themselves. And only following will lead us to the goal. Finally, the first works are crowned by the hopeful anticipation of Christ's promised return -this is and remains the focal point of our faith!

Those who keep faith until the end, who do not leave the first love, who repent, and do the first works will be completed in grace and receive a corresponding reward. When we are at the goal, we will no longer need to repent, but the first works of love and joy will continue into all eternity.

(From a service by the chief apostle)