Thyatira--So far, through the letters in Revelation, we’ve been looking at what Jesus has to say as He walks among the churches—many of their issues have been distant to us, and many of their problems find parallels in our lives and in our own church. Today is no different.
Compared to the city of Ephesus, Smyrna & Pergamum, Thyatira was a smaller city, but still very important as a trade center--untouched, unexcavated until 1968
Thyatira was on a major trade route and was well known for its trade guilds - there were carpenters, dyers, sellers of goods, tanners, weavers, tent makers, etc all making a living from their trade. You might remember Lydia in Philippi. She was a trader of fine cloth and came from Thyatira. She was in fact one of Paul’s first converts when he visited Thyatira on his second missionary journey (Acts 16). Acts 16:14 --“One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message.”
Thyatira was also well know for it’s metals, particularly bronze—which is the combination of Copper and usually tin—that was used as jewelry or weaponry or art.
The trade and work in town was run by various guilds. Now these guilds were somewhat similar to our trade unions over the last 100 years. It was very difficult for the blue collar tradesmen and women to make a living unless they were a part of one of these guilds. They differed from trade unions, however, in that they were linked with the worship of other gods. Each guild had its particular patron/guardian god and as a member, you would be expected to attend all its functions and participate in its activities which included offerings, feasts and often immoral behavior—participation in the “faith” was essentially a part of your dues.
The members of the church in Thyatira were torn between making a living on the one hand which meant having to be part of the guilds and on the other hand staying faithful to Christ and his standards.
And it was into this town that Jesus walked. READ Rev. 2:18-29
Jesus is Described as having…
Eyes of flame—
Creative Fire/Elemental Power—In Spiderman 2—the bad guy boasted he held the power of the sun in the palm of his hand, well—Jesus has a much greater power at His disposal and it is not an outside source—it is a part of His being. Our God, He is a Consuming Fire—tolerating no rivals, but also His eyes see right through you and me—eyes that purify and burn away our excuses
Feet of Burnished Bronze—radiating, glowing power—something the people would have been familiar with and would have meant something powerful to them—solid foundation. With those feet…
Jesus walks Among us and knows How We’ve Grown
Deeds, Love, faith, service, perseverance
He knows that they are greater now than at first
I would be thrilled to have this said of us here at UBC—that Jesus can look at us and say we are faithful—more now than 5, 10, 20, 40 years ago—that we have more faithfulness, more service, more endurance and perseverance—that we are Bringing Him More Glory Now than in the early days.
Jesus knows how we have grown.
He knows our thoughts, our past, our immaturity and he knows that we are not the same as we were when we first became disciples.
My faith is not what it was when I was 18. There are some interpretations that I used to be so sure couldn’t be understood another way that have been transformed in my thinking and my growing in Christ. There are some doctrines and teachings that I used to be unsure of that I am sure of now. There was a potential cockiness or arrogance I used to have with thinking I knew the full counsel of the Word of God that I have been humbled by. I used to believe I knew better than God on how I was going to fulfill my calling. I hope you can see growth in your life & faith.
Jesus wants us to grow—to give us fruit of the Spirit--Ephesians 1—prayer—so that you may know Him better. God wants to use all His blessing and All His empowerment for the purpose of knowing Him better and for making Him known in a more effective way.
God wants us to Grow up in our salvation
We are not meant to be immature, but mature, we are not meant to stay in the elementary teachings, but we are intended to understand the heart of God.
We are not meant to be more active at the beginning and less at the end—but our service, our love, our deeds, our desire to live for Christ is supposed to mature with age and experience. Service for Christ is not just for the young, the newbies, you who are mature are supposed to be showing the way, mentoring, discipling, raising up new leaders.
Don’t you want Jesus to be able to look at your journey of faith and say the same? “I’m proud of you—your deeds of late are greater than at first.”
As you grew, I gave you responsibility for more. As you grew, I gave you more opportunity to serve Me. Over the years, I’ve come to expect more from you—b/c to whom much is given, much will be required, or expected. And I’m seeing it in you!”
So if you think that now that you’ve been a Xn for awhile, you can kick back and take it easy. The more you know, the more you are accountable for you. Jesus wants to be able to say this—you are doing more for me b/c you are growing closer to me.
This is an amazing statement and one I hope you and I will be able to hear of our time here at UBC. Jesus was able to see their growth, but something was still wrong
Like an apple with a worm in it. This church looked good on the outside, but inside it was rotten or rotting—and this rotting steals the future of the church.
Jesus Walks Among Us and Knows What We Tolerate
A Church without a solid foundation is going to crumble. Church is not supposed to be about anything goes, anything new must be good, must be OK, anything that works, draws a crowd is not the measure of whether something has the approval of Jesus Christ.
We are not to be tossed in every direction by every wind of doctrine, we are to stay anchored to the Word of God and not popular opinion, not societal norms and expectations.
Not All Tolerance is Good! There are some things we should not tolerate in the church. There are some teachings that are inconsistent with faith in Christ. This woman was promoting several.
It is likely that this prophetess was teaching that it was alright to be part of the trade guilds - “After all,” she’d say “you need to make a living and God doesn’t expect you to starve. Don’t be worried, - God has told me its alright - It is alright to go and be a part of the guilds and participate in the immoral and idolatrous worship that occurs in their meetings - after all we live by grace and are not under the law any more.” And who were the rest of the church to disagree with what was being said - they weren’t prophets were they? They don’t have this new revelation from God.
Specific Issues had to do with:
Sex—we don’t need to follow what the Bible says about it—they didn’t know half of what we know today. Go ahead.
Food sacrificed to an idol—hey don’t worry about it—we know their gods aren’t real and besides—it’s for your job.
In this sense—eating food sacrificed to an idol is akin to full participation and acceptance and belief—by participating you are elevating whatever god and claiming it Lord, when you have already claimed Christ is Lord—Claiming 2 masters & Jesus said no can serve 2 masters—Luke 16:13 & Matt. 6:1
Right Doctrine is important—bad doctrine leads to bad behavior
The desire to approve or tolerate bad, sinful behavior has caused churches even denominations to change long accepted belief. When you study the pattern, in most modern cases
· Such change typically comes after the Rejection of Jesus as the “Way the Truth and the Life”,
· After the Rejection of the Bible as the Reliable, Authoritative, Sufficient Word of God;
· After they come to believe that only Some Scripture is God breathed—that some Scripture is no longer valid, that sees division between James and Paul, between Paul and Jesus
· After some new revelation, some tradition is built up over
Sinful behavior is tolerated in the Church and is justified by bad doctrine. So doctrine cannot be seen as irrelevant or boring—they both have major implications for the life of a believer and the church as a body.
Just like last week, this is the church in error over Belief & Behavior.
Sexual Immorality and food sacrificed to idols were both things that the rest of society approved of and said was normal. The Christians who said “NO” were the weird ones, the out of touch ones. Society would condemn Christians for saying anything to the contrary, would say they were wrong for not participating with them; would arrest them, would ridicule them, would execute them.
1 Peter 4:3-5
Now once again you may be sitting there thinking—“but what does that have to do with us—no one is teaching that we should eat food sacrificed to idols in order to keep our job. No one here, at least is advocating an anything goes sexual ethic”
You mean no one in this room struggles with the demands of their job and the demands of their faith? No one struggles in their conscience thinking—“I wonder if I’ll get in trouble if I talk about this.” Or “Should I listen to my boss and alter this record—lie—in order to justify this expense—or do I remain true to my convictions.”—that’s quickly making the job an idol, a master to serve.
There are False Teachings & Attitudes that we tolerate even here at UBC—that in order for us to grow, must change
Matthew 28:19—The Great Commission
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
• Therefore YOU go and make disciples of all nations…
• IF they Come, I’ll make Disciples—just don’t make me Go
• If they Come, we’ll make MEMBERS and get them on the role but never worry about them again
• If they Come, SOMEONE ELSE will teach them
• IF they Come, we’ll teach them to obey SOME things—if they like them or really want to
• When I’ve Got Time, I’ll Go
• When I’ve Got the Money, I’ll Go
• When I know they’ll Say Yes, I’ll Go
• When I get the Gift of Evangelism, I’ll Go
• If it’s Fun and entertaining for me, I’ll Go
• Someone Younger Can Go
• You Can’t Make Me Go
The longer you and I tolerate these false teachings on the Great Commission here at UBC, the faster we die as a congregation and the body of Christ.
Jesus Walks Among Us and Gives Us Time to Repent—vs. 21
God gives time to change—He calls us to repent, just like He called this woman. Are we Willing or Unwilling to Repent of our Selfishness,
Repent of our Self-Indulgence,
Repent of our Embarrassment,
Repent of our Pride,
Repent of our Wrong Priorities,
Repent of our Unresponsiveness
The Danger for us comes if we are Unwilling
This woman was to be cast on a bed of suffering for her false teaching and leading astray. Leading others into false teaching is a dangerous venture. This isn’t the kind of thing where you don’t get something verse exactly right while teaching Sunday School. This is deliberate and intensive false teaching—denying of the basics of the faith—the divinity of Christ, this is including immoral sexual practices and saying they are a part of true worship. See 2nd Peter 2
Not all Suffering is the same
Sure—Sin Brings Suffering, but then some of these Churches have suffered because of Faithfulness
Bad Judgment Brings Suffering, but then sometimes making the Right Choice brings Suffering, Condemnation or Ridicule
When we suffer because of Unwillingness, b/c of Bad Doctrine & Bad Behavior—the heart of God always wants to bring us to a place of Repentance. Suffering for all these things is Redemptive—but it does not last forever—there will be a time when God sees our Unwilling heart and will give us over to the full effect of our sinfulness—ultimately that is death.
“Only the Good Die Young”—is not true. Bad Doctrine, Bad Behavior has consequences for the false teacher, has consequences for the ones who believe it and the church that tolerates it.
It leads to suffering in spirit (guilt), mind (seared conscience), and body with pain, injury, disease, you name it. Such error can even contribute to an early death—but not just the individual, but whole churches can perish due to false teaching.
Jesus Walks Among us and Has Given us Time to Repent—but it doesn’t last forever.
Jesus walks among us and knows that Secrets are Being whispered
The kind of secrets that says
It’s not enough to love Jesus—you must do something to earn His love
There’s so much more to God than what you read in the Bible—you need to find it in this new revelation—you need to visit this particular church—you need to listen to this famous TV Preacher
Satan’s So-Called-Deep Secrets
Secrets are powerful—they key on a base desire to know something others don’t know—when the educational commercials say, “Knowledge is Power”, we believe it, especially with secrets—Insider Information, Insider Trading, Trade Secrets of the Rich & Powerful, Conspiracy Theories, Area 51, or As Seen On Oprah— “The Secret”—which is really just repackaged Gnosticism, positive thinking new age techniques from the 60’s & 80’s repackaged for the 21st Century.
Maybe the ones—you cannot speak against a sin you yourself have not experienced—or if you really want to know the Grace of God—you must experience the fullness of sin
Jesus Walks Among Us & Searches Hearts & Minds
Belief –What you believe matters
Motives—how you live matters—why you live matters
He uses the Word of God to point it out to us
He uses faithful people to confront us
He uses suffering to get out attention
He uses worship & prayer to awaken our spirits
Jesus Walks Among Us & Sees the Faithful Remnant
Even if society is going the other direction—even if everyone else says you’re backward, says you’re just behind the times, if your foundation is the clear, Word of God
Remain True to your Convictions—Hold On—Persevere
There is no other burden for you—--there is enough persecution with faithfulness, enough ridicule being biblical
Jesus does not look on you with Contempt or Disappointment
Authority over the nations
The ones now persecuting you will be held accountable and you will be a judge over them—they will look into the face of their victims and see justice done
Morning Star—Jesus is the Bright Morning Star—Revelation 22:16—“I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the Bright Morning Star”