Scripture
Revelation 2:18-29
Sermon Series
"JESUS SPEAKS TO HIS CHURCH"
Date
July 29, 2018
Speaker
Pastor Witt

 

 

Greeting: Grace and peace to you from Jesus, who is and who was and who is to come.

 

Text: 18) To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: “These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze.  19) I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.  20) Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess.  By her teaching she misleads My servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.  21) I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling.  22) So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways.  23) I will strike her children dead.   Then all the churches will know that I am He who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.  24) Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets (I will not impose any other burden on you): 25) Only hold on to what you have until I come.  26) To him who overcomes and does My will to the end, I will give authority over the nations – 27) He will rule them with an iron scepter; He will dash them to pieces like pottery – just as I have received authority from My Father.  28) I will also give him the morning star.  29) He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

 

Introduction: You are familiar with the saying: “United We Stand, Divided We Fall.”   It is a rallying cry for people to join together in a positive, common cause and have strength and staying power.  The motto fits many situations in life.   It is, however, possible to rework this famous saying and reorder the words to announce this message: “Divided We Stand, United We Fall.”   This latter saying fits in cases where we are talking about a healthy division or separation from people and things that are corrupt.  “Divided We Stand, United We Fall” is the message that certainly fit the situation our Lord Jesus spoke to in Thyatira, the recipient of Christ’s 4th letter to the churches of the Revelation.

 

The city of Thyatira was located 40 miles south and east of the city of Pergamum.  It did not have the size or the power or the reputation of the cities that Jesus has previously written to.  The cities of Ephesus, Smyrna, and Pergamum, with their larger size and advanced culture and administrative power, were bigger and brighter lights in the area, However, Thyatira had its own importance and features to be proud of.  Thyatira was originally founded as a military outpost by King Seluccus I, one of the leading generals under Alexander the Great and one of the heirs of his vast empire.   Thyatira became a working city.   It was a center for industry and commerce and had many trade guilds.   Each guild of craftsmen had their own patron god they honored.   So Thyatira had lots of false gods and much idolatry.   Thyatira was mentioned by St. Luke in Acts 16 as the home city of Lydia, the business woman who sold purple fabric and who was a key member of the young Christian church in Philippi.

 

Jesus addressed the congregation in Thyatira by introducing Himself as the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. With this description, Jesus declares Himself to be the true God who is majestic, glorious and powerful – from head to toe.   He reveals Himself as the God who sees all things and takes decisive action.

 

The Lord Jesus found some things to commend in the congregation.  He announced that the Thyatiran Church was growing in faith, in love, in service and in perseverance.  There was spiritual life in this group of Christians and there was progress being made.   Jesus noted: “You are doing more now that at first.”  They had experienced a steady increase.  Their situation was improving.   There is a point for us to ponder.  Spiritual perfection is our goal, but it is one we will only realize in the perfection of heaven.  Right now, spiritual progress is a realistic goal for God’s people as we strive and struggle to continue to believe in and live for the Savior.

 

There were things to appreciate and praise in Thyatira.   However, the church had one extremely large problem.  Some in the congregation were tolerating a wicked, female leader whom Jesus called “Jezebel.”   She claimed to be a prophetess of God, but was misleading and corrupting people by talking them into practices of sexual immorality and idolatry.  The woman was like Jezebel of the Old Testament, the wife and queen of wicked King Ahab, the devious daughter of the King of Tyre who persecuted God’s true prophets and introduced the blasphemous worship of Baal, the fertility god.   Christ’s reference to this dangerous, rebellious woman as Jezebel, may have referred to her encouragement for church members to join the local trade guilds and their adoration of false gods, their alcoholic excesses and their immoral acts.

 

Jesus had already warned this erring woman to repent of her sin, but she had stubbornly refused.   Now Christ would come to punish her and her devoted followers.  He would also punish others who had joined her in her idolatrous despising of the true God, unless they repented and turned from their sin.  Jesus extended 3 specific warnings.  He gave one to the false prophetess herself.   He would case her “on a bed of suffering.” He gave another to her loyal followers whom Jesus calls her “children” and whom He would “strike dead.”  He gave His third warning to those who have followed her spiritually adulterous ways, but have not been completely carried away by her teaching.  Jesus would make them suffer intensely.   With this last warning, Jesus was calling for loyalty to Him and for division from error and separation from those who were hardened in their sin.   If these people stayed untied to the false prophetess, they would fall with her.   If they would divide from her and be faithful to Jesus, they would stand.

 

Jesus’ words are a strong call to all those who are caught up or are tempted to be caught up in compromised Christian groups or cults, those religious groups that claim to follow Jesus Christ and His Word, but who, in fact, believe, teach and practice things that are contrary to God’s Word.   The Lord calls on people to repent of their sin of following what is false and making ungodly compromises.  He calls on people to separate from those who are promoting and defending spiritual errors.    Christ’s call is one that fits so much of what is going on in the visible church today.   There are many modern-day Jezebels and Ahabs who have assumed positions of influence in the visible church and who have established dangerous heresies and idolatries as the norm.  For example, we have influential voices who deny the divine inspiration, and absolute reliability and authority of the Bible; who reject the idea that people are sinful and deserving of God’s punishment; who view Jesus Christ’s atonement for the sins of all people as a cruel hoax, who flatly reject the teaching of salvation as a gift of God’s grace through faith in Christ; who ignore and confuse the Bible’s teaching on the God-established roles for women and men in the family and church.

 

Jesus solemnly states that He would and He will punish false prophets and prophetesses and their followers.   He would spare us from having to suffer the fate of experiencing His wrath.    Jesus also calls for continued loyalty from those who have been faithful to Him.   He says: “To you who do not hold to her teaching, I will not impose any other burden.   Only hold on to what you have.”   Our Savior calls us to retain and faithfully use what He has given us.   Jesus’ call not only covers the respect we may have shown God’s Word in the past.   It also includes what we will do in the future.   Jesus does not want us to be frozen at our current level of loyalty to Him and be content with that.   He wants us to respond to Him with further progress in our allegiance in the future.   We have room to grow in our loyalty to our Lord.   He desires and encourages us to grow steadily.   There are more challenges to face, more weaknesses to repent of, more errors to resist, more lessons to learn, more goals to accomplish for Christ.

 

Jesus offers us encouragement and incentive.   The Lord urges us to overcome and do God’s will to the end.   Jesus says: “To him who overcomes and does My will to the end, I will give authority over the nations.  Jesus promises that He will let us share in His glorious rule.   He also says: “I will also give him the morning star.”   Jesus is the bright “Morning Star.”  He promises that His followers will be with Him and share in His beauty and majesty forever.  What wonderful blessings He grants to those who have faith and prove faithful.

 

Close:  In this vital 4th message to His Church, our Lord tells us that if we are united to corrupting error, we will surely fall under His condemnation and punishment.   But if we are divided from error out of allegiance to Jesus, we will safely and eternally stand in His gracious blessing.   May Jesus Christ, whose loyal sacrifices gave us life, make us strong in our loyalty to Him until the end.   Amen.