“The Corrupted Church” – Revelation 2:18-29
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Corruption---What is it?
The world's definition:
- Dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving
- The process by which something, typically a word or expression, is changed from its original use to one that is erroneous or debased.
The Biblical definition:
- Decay or ruin leading to destruction.
- Physically - The effect of the withdrawal of life in the human body leading to decay. (1 Cor. 15:42)
- The physical effects of gratifying the natural desires of the flesh. (Gal. 6:8)
- Ethically, with moral significance, the effects of lust. (2 Pet. 1:4)
- The effects of false teachers and doctrine. (2 Pet. 2:12)
The church in Thyatira was falling to each of these!
The Lord Jesus was stern in His rebuke of the pastor and church, as a good father to his children:
And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: "My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives."
As we examine Christ's letter to the church in Thyatira, let us examine ourselves and the church today.
Unfortunately, we are not so different.
Addressee: Church and City
"And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write,..."
* The pastor
* The only other mention of Thyatira is: "Lydia...a seller of purple from Thyatira." (Acts 16:14)
* Thyatira's main trade and significance was from the sale and manufacture of a purple (murex) dyed wool favored by royalty.
* Secondarily, they were workers in brass and other metal.
* The patron god of Thyatira was Apollos "the son of god," Zeus.
* Trade guilds were powerful and membership was mandatory.
Thyatira was a small and insignificant church and city compared to the others addressed by Christ's letters.
Even though the smallest church, Christ's letter to them is the longest and most detailed.
Even in a small church, much correction may be required!
Christ's Calling Card
'"These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass: "
"...the Son of God..."
* Speaks of His transcendence, His deity and authority.
* "The Son of Man" (Rev. 1:13) speaks of His immanence. Ex: Immanuel - God with us. (Matt. 1:18-23)
...but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
(1 Jn. 4:15)
"Christians who become too familiar with Christ's humanity, at the expense of His deity, lose the holy fear of God."
Pastor Michael Harrison
"...eyes like a flame of fire..."
* Eyes that burned through deception and lies, always revealing the truth.
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. (Heb. 4:13)
"...His feet like fine brass..."
* The Thyatirans were workers in brass.
* Sacrificial altars, both Greek and Hebrew were most often made of brass to resist the heat of burnt sacrifices.
Both His "eyes" and "feet" are symbolic of judgment.
And He "the Son of God" is the "Righteous Judge."
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
(2 Cor. 5:10)
"I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first."
Thyatira was the first church to be commended for their "love."
Out of "love" and "faith" grow "service" and "patience."
"...as for your works, the last are more than the first..."
* It sounds good, right? But I wonder if this is not part of their problem. They had become too focused on their "works" and "service" (deeds) to the detriment of their beliefs and doctrine (creeds).
"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. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent."
"...I have a few things against you..."
* "You" - The pastor, singular.
"...because you allow..."
* "Allow" - Tolerate a known wrong or sin.
"...that woman Jezebel..."
* Many scholars and translators have it translated as: "...your wife, Jezebel."
* Probably not her actual name, but symbolic of what she did, the same as the Jezebel in the O.T. (1 Kings 16:31, 21:25)
She used the time proven practice of syncretism - to mix paganism with Judaism/Christianity in order to corrupt Judaism/Christianity completely.
The church at Thyatira was corrupted from the inside out, just as was Israel.
Just as we are today. It seems we are again living in the time of Ahab and Jezebel!
"...who calls herself a prophetess..."
* Apparently, they took her claim at face value without testing her:
- Creed (doctrine)
- Fruit of her ministry (followers)
People who come into the church, and claim to have a self-authenticating authority must be tested by church leadership. We are directed by Scripture to test for the truth.
1 John 4:1-6
"...to teach and seduce My servants..."
* Christ is jealous for His servants. (Ex. 20:5)
* Jezebel's teaching led to seduction away from God's desire.
"...to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols."
* God considers idolatry and sexual immorality the same as harlotry against Himself.
Apparently, Jezebel's teaching was that it was acceptable to be a Christian and compromise with the world, in this case, joining a trade guild, worshiping its idols (Apollos), partaking in sexual immorality and drunkenness.
Thyatira was corrupted because its leadership (pastor) was weak.
Jezebel owned her husband and "wore the pants," completely controlling him, and through him, the church.
But there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do wickedness in the sight of the LORD, because Jezebel his wife stirred him up.
(1 Kgs. 21:25)
What was true in ancient Israel, Thyatira and today is when men -- God's designed leaders -- are weak spiritually. There will be corruption in the home, in the church and in the nation.
"And I gave her time to repent..."
* Never think God's patience and long suffering is acceptance of sin, but rather:
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
(2 Pet. 3:9)
"Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. 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."
It is a certainty that when God's patience has been ignored long enough, His wrath will be outpoured.
Christ, our Righteous Judge, is He who "searches hearts and minds," and with complete "justice and righteousness" gives "to each one according to your works."(Jer. 17:9-10)
Unless "Jezebel" and "those who commit adultery with her" repent, they will be judged.
I wonder how much longer will be God's long suffering and patience with today's church?
Christ's Counsel: His Admonition
"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. But hold fast what you have till I come.
"Now to you I say..."
* "You" is the pastor.
"...and to the rest..."
* The faithful church members.
"...and many as do not have this doctrine..."
* "Doctrine" - Jezebel's false teaching.
"...who have not known the depths of Satan..."
* This is Christ's word play and condemnation of the "gnostics," who taught antinomianism, and said they had knowledge of the "depths of God."
"...I will put on you no other burden..."
* The same burden or command that was put on the church by the Council of Jerusalem:
For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.
"But hold fast to what you have till I come."
* What did they have?
- The Crown of Perseverance. (Rev. 3:11)
- Sound doctrine.
False doctrine is easily identified and overcome by those who "hold fast" to sound doctrine, the Word of Truth.
Behind all proper practice is proper teaching.
Good deeds come from good creed!
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.
(2 Tim. 2:15-16)
Christ's Counsel: His Assurance
"And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations--"
"...he who overcomes..."
You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
(1 Jn. 4:4)
Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent."
"...to him I will give power over the nations..."
* Power - Authority to judge and rule. (Matt. 19:28)
"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;"
"...a rod of iron..."
* A king's scepter (Ps. 2:8-9, 19:15)
She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne.
"...they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels'--"
* From Psalm 2 where the Father gives all authority to the Son.
"...as I have also received from My Father;"
* Christ promises that we will rule and reign with Him in His kingdom (Rev. 20:4)
"If we endure, we shall also reign with Him..."
(2 Tim. 2:12)
"...and I will give him the Morning Star."
What or who is the "Morning Star?"
"I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star."
If we have Christ, we have everything!
What greater gift is there?
"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."'
Do we? I hope so.
Take note pastors!
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