• Thyatira: The Corrupt Church

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Jesus gets personal in this 4th letter

Revelation 2:18-29  "And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write, 'These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass:

  • 19 “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first.
  • 20 “Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.
  • 21 “And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent.
  • 22 “Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.
  • 23 “I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.
  • 24 “Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden.
  • 25 “But hold fast what you have till I come.
  • 26 “And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—
  • 27 ‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels"—  as I also have received from My Father;
  • 28 “and I will give him the morning star. 29 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’

Have you ever discovered Jesus  challenging you to have him as all you really FEAR?  The fear of the Lord is a big concept in the Word of God. No less than thirty times God commends reverential awe that leads to loving obedience.

Fearing the Lord is Reverent, Awesome Love

“The fear of the Lord” does not suggest that God’s children live in an atmosphere of terror, “for God hath not given us the spirit of fear” (2 Tim. 1:7). More accurately, it indicates that we as God’s children reverence the Lord so much we  will not deliberately disobey Him or try His patience.

Fearing the lord has eternal results: Psalm 19:9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;

The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

Fearing the lord gives eternal wisdom: Psalm 111:10  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.

Fearing the lord reflects the eternal character of Christ: Isaiah 11:2-3 The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. 3 His delight is in the fear of the Lord, And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, Nor decide by the hearing of His ears;

Fearing the lord produces eternal riches: Isaiah 33:6 Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times, And the strength of salvation; The fear of the Lord is His treasure.

Fearing the lord multiplies Christ's church: Acts 9:31 Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.

Fearing the lord leads to personal holiness: 2 Corinthians 7:1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

A teen once demonstrated this heart attitude  as his friends suggested that they go to a certain restaurant for a good time.  “I’d rather go home, my parents don’t approve of that place.”  “Afraid your father will hurt you?” one of the girls asked sarcastically.  “No,” he replied, “I’m not afraid my father will hurt me, but I am afraid I might hurt him.”

He understood the principle that a true child of God, who has experienced the love of God, has no desire to sin against that love. 

Fearing the Lord Is Not an Option

Clearly, the fear of God is not optional: “Live in the fear of the Lord always” (Prov. 23:17); “fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28); “in all things obey . . . fearing the Lord” (Col. 3:22). Fearing God has both positive and negative elements. In a positive way, every true believer has reverential fear of God-an awesome awareness of His power, His holiness, and His glory. Proper worship always includes that kind of fear of the Lord.

The negative aspect of the fear of God has to do with dread and terror. Even believers should have a measure of that kind of fear, which acts as a protection from sinning.

  • The writer of Proverbs observed, “By the fear of the Lord one keeps away from evil” (16:6).
  • For the very reason they are God’s children, believers are subject to His chastisement (see Heb. 12:5-11).
  • Sometimes His dealing with disobedient believers can be severe, as with Ananias and Sapphira, who lost their lives for lying to the Holy Spirit. God used that punishment to produce godly fear and obedience within the early church (see Acts 5:1-11).
  • Some of the believers in the church at Corinth also died or became ill by the direct infliction of God’s chastisement for their sin (1 Cor. 11:30).

Now to Revelation 2:18.  We are at the fourth stop of a seven city tour that gives us the church in prophetic perspective.

Each letter emphasizes why we must fear him

1.   Ephesus:  REMEMBER JESUS IS JEALOUS FOR YOUR LOVE! Lay hold of first love for Christ.

2.   Smyrna:  HOPE IS JESUS THROUGH LIFE UNTIL THE  END! Trust Christ through suffering.

3.   Pergamum:  REST IN THE SECURITY THAT COMES FROM CLINGING ONLY TO JESUS! Conform to Christ not the world.

4.   Thyatira: fear THE CHASTENING LOVE OF JESUS.  He won’t tolerate sin in the church.

Part One: Meet the Assembly Living in Hard Times

v. 18a

  • We look this morning at the longest of the seven letters Christ wrote to His church.
  • We consider today the least known of all the churches.
  • In fact, the only thing we know is the first Christian named from Thyatira.  Open to Acts 16:14-15.  Paul’s first European convert was a merchant from Thyatira named Lydia. 
  • On Paul’s second journey, as he stops in Philippi, he leads a seeking woman to Jesus  (v. 14) a “seller of purple (scarlet) fabrics. Acts 16:14-15  Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.15 And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” So she persuaded us.
  • Thirty miles from last week, Pergamum, as well as thirty miles from tonight’s letter to Sardis.

As Ephesus portrayed the apostolic church and Smyrna the church persecuted AD 60-313, and Pergamum the church wed to Rome 300-600.

So Thyatira is the church of the dark ages from AD 600-1500 from the first Pope Gregory the Great to the Reformation.

  • If Pergamum was the church that was wed to the world, then Thyatira is the church that had been living a long time wed to the world.

Living for Jesus  was Hard in Thyatira

Thyatira was renowned for its trade guilds.   Much like our unions today.  They set prices for labor and sales areas and so on:  Potters, dyers, tanners, bakers, metal workers, textile makers, bronze smiths, slave dealers, leather workers and the rest had their guilds in this town.  Let's note three things.

1.   Trade guilds were compulsory; to be employed in a trade was only via the guild.  It was a closed shop.

2.   Every guild in Thyatira had a patron God or Goddess. Thus, every guild function began with paying homage to that deity by offering--this was the obligatory opening to all meetings which were required to be an artisan/craftsman.  Business followed and then the customary banquets known for their sexual freedom.  The cost for the Christian was unmistakable.

  • Ramsay the famed 19th century archaeologist, writes “revelry, license and intoxication marked  these pagan religious societies (trade guilds) lounging on dining couches, surrounded by troupes of dancing, singing and slaves...would be fatal to all self-restraining spirits”.  In short, a guild was no place for Christians quitting the union was economic suicide.!!!

Lesson #1  -  As in Thyatira, then so in your life today, it is a choice each day.

  • Either Christ or the world.
  • It was compromise and prosperity or Christ and  poverty.
  • No on can serve two masters Christ said.

Part Two : Meet the Author Jesus Christ the Judge

V. 18b

1.   JESUS IS GOD THE SON: “Son of God”  not Revelation 1:13 Son of man.  It is the fullness of divine power, why?  Believe they were compromising--tolerating evil!

2.   JESUS IS ALL SEEING, ALL KNOWING ALWAYS PRESENT: “Who has eyes like flames of  fire” - v. 23  Wow - penetrating and discerning, seeing and assessing. Look at:

  • Jeremiah 17:10 I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways,  According to the fruit of his doings.
  • Hebrews 4:13  And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account

3.   Jesus is the judge of all the universe: “ His feet burnished bronze.”  Bronze always picture of judgment.

  • ohn 5:22-29  “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 23 “that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. 24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. 25 “Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. 26 “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, 27 “and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. 28 “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 “and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

So the author is the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ with fullness of divine power searching eyes/heart- knower, meeting out judgment. 

Lesson #2  -  Jesus Christ knows your heart perfectly well today and is ready to judge iF necessary!

Part Three : Seek Christ's  Approval

v. 19

1.      Your deeds

2.      Your love (only church w/love)

3.      Your faith, Pistos = faithfulness, loyalty, fidelity

4.      Your service, Diakonian = yes, deacon ministry as a servant.

5.      Your perseverance, Hupomone = to abide under, steadfast endurance.

6.      Your deeds of late greater = wow!

Lesson #3  The Christian life  is a  life of growth, deeds, love, faith, service, perseverance and growth.  2 Thessalonians 1:3

We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other,

If it’s alive, there’s growth or you’re sick.  Lost people’s end is worse than start.  Matthew 12:45,  II  Peter 2:20.

Part Four : Listen to Christ's  Admonition

v. 20-23

But I have this (one thing) against you, toleration of evil in the church. Does that mean don’t bring lost to church?  No, bring them, just don’t start parading them as saints, redeemed ones and part of the body of Christ. What was the evil?  Jezebel - Many ideas:

  • Wife of pastor or a
  • Woman by the name of Jezebel who was a powerful false  teacher (best)

Hold on now - two terminal errors noted here:

1.   God said women are not to teach the church (I Tim: 2:12-14 and others). “She teaches” the  roots of women being in submission to men in the  home and the church have roots in creation,  not  the  fall, and it’s mandatory in church. 

2.    God said women are not to lead the church (I Timothy 2:12-14, I Corinthians 14)  “and leads my bondservants astray”. That’s not new.

  • I Kings 18 Jezebel led Israel into gross idolatry and introduced sex perverts, male and female, into the priesthood of Baal  worship.
  • False Christian Science  was started by Mary Baker  Glober-Patterson-Fry-Eddy.
  • Theosophy’s errors were propounded by Annie Besant and Madame Blauatsky.
  • Seventh Day Adventism was led astray in the teachings of Ellen White.

And so on--beware of women who go against God’s word and lead churches.  They face judgment.

Actually, the 4th Lesson is:  Be Scriptural and be balanced. 

  • We still have cold, hard hearted legalistic Ephesus like Christians who whip, judge and punish with loveless indifference.
  • And so do we have also weak and limp tolerating all in love, no rules, no offense meant Thyatirians.
  • Both lead to error and judgment.
  • Be scriptural:  Know it and do it.
  • Be balanced:  Love with a pure heart.  Saints and  sinners hate sin.

Part Five : Heed Christ's  Appeal

v. 24-25

Hold fast till I come.  First mention Christ’s return.

Part Six: Trust Christ's  ASSURANCE

v. 26 - 28  “Morning Star”

True believers have AN INEXPRESSIBLE  FUTURE 

Revelation 2:26-29  “And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end,

  • To him I will give power over the nations— 27 ‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’— as I also have received from My Father;
  • 28 “and I will give him the morning star. 29 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’

True believers have AN important future

  • v. 26b to him I will give power over the nations— 27 ‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’— as I also have received from My Father.

We will reign with Christ over the earth. I do not know what each of our specific duties will be, but we will have authority. Speaking about those who will be in heaven, Revelation 22:5 says, “They shall not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God shall illumine them; and they shall reign forever and ever.”

True believers have A bright and glorious future

  • 28 “and I will give him the morning star.29 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’

What precious promises: 

What’s that?   Jesus light, life, hope in dark and gloom...we can’t lose, we’ve already won - you’re on the winning team with Christ (first lesson).  Christians make it to the end.  Are you tolerating evil?  Stop.  Are you growing?  If not, start.  Are you pressing to the end?  Good, you’re an over-comer!!!

  • God will reward us with immeasurable treasures:  Mark 10:29-30  So Jesus answered and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel's, 30 "who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time -- houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions -- and in the age to come, eternal life. (NKJV)
  • God will overwhelm us with unbelievable pleasures:  Second Corinthians 12:4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. (KJV)

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