“Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent“
Jesus turns now from encouragement to exhortation.
Remember therefore from where you have fallen
The “therefore” refers to a loss of love for the Lord Jesus (Re 2:4). They fell from a deep love for the Lord Jesus. They fell from fellowship with Him. They fell from all heart to all head. They lost warm love for the Lord.
In Greek, the word “fallen” means that they were in a state of spiritual decline. This was more than an occasional slip.
The word “repent” comes from two words: change and to think. Repentance, then, is to change one’s thinking about something. The idea is to change one’s complete viewpoint on something as the result of looking at life as Jesus looks at life.
The English word “repent” conveys the idea of sorrow or contrition. The Greek word does not carry that idea; it is more a total change of thought and behavior. It conveys both ideas of attitude and behavior, depending on the context.
You buy a chartreuse dress and bring it home for your family to see. You ask, “How does this dress look on me?” Everyone suppresses roaring laughter. You take the dress back for something more sensible. That is repentance. You change your mind about the dress.
In this case, the meaning of “repent” is clear — change your attitude toward your love for Christ (2:4). Reverse your lackluster love into a burning love for the Lord Jesus. Think about the depth of love you have for Him. Change your apathetic love to an appreciating love for Him.
and do the first works
The word “do” is a bit misleading. We almost exclusively use this term for a deed or an action, but “do” carries the idea of cause, bring about, purpose, manifestation, or practical proof. The context indicates that by “first works,” Jesus wants this church to get back to their “first love” for Him, the love they had when they first became Christians (Re 2:4).
or else I will come to you quickly
Jesus is not afraid to give an “or else” to His church: “Repent…or else.” Jesus always disciplines those He loves. He would not love His church if He did not discipline it. To discipline is to care about the people you discipline. In this case, this is a collective discipline of the entire church.
and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent
The word “remove” means to set in motion, to move. We get our English words “kinetic” and “cinema” from this Greek word. Jesus will remove the church from a sphere of effectiveness or possibly out of existence totally.
Discipline is contingent upon a lack of repentance. If we repent, Jesus will not execute His discipline upon the church (“lampstand”). This is the repentance of the church.
Look at the churches that once preached the gospel but now stand as empty shells. All you find in these churches is “Us four and no more,” except for maybe a few mice. Jesus removed the testimony of these churches. Thousands of churches disappear every year throughout the world.
Some of us were more than we are.
We need to change our thinking about where we have come. We were more than we are now spiritually. Get back to where you started.
There is a tendency to compartmentalize our sin. We can labor with great dynamic, albeit in a deep vacuum of fellowship with the Lord. This is sublimation. Sublimation always produces misery. That is why we must change our minds about true communion with the Lord. First, we must “remember,” and then we must “repent.”
Has your church lost its “first love?” Has your church lost its passion for salvation, and for the One who gave it that salvation? Remember your first love for Him. Remember the days when you first became a Christian. Remember your love for Him at that time. Remember your enthusiasm for sharing Him with others. Have you fallen from that? Repent! Change your mind about your present state. Quit your complaining. Let go of that critical spirit. Put loving the Lord back at the center of your attitudes.