Summit in General
Jeffrey's Change of Guardianship
Tyler and Sarah Going to China
Students Finish Strong
Dave and Brooke in France
Pastor Aaron Preaching
Persecuted Brothers and Sisters Abroad
Text - Revelation 2:17-29
Before we start, I want to comment on some recent news events that are going on, especially since we’ve been talking about various kinds of churches. There are people calling what happened to Miss Prejean a “persecution.” Beloved, this is not persecution, this is a mild inconvenience.
In the last two weeks, twenty pastors in China have gone to jail, sixteen are still being held. Two Christians in Afghanistan had their throats slit and four were shot. A Saudi Christian, Hamoud Bin Saleh, who should have been executed for his proselytizing in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, was just released from prison after spending four-months there; he probably won’t live long now that everyone knows he’s a Christian, unless Christ decides to sustain him.
We’ve put our hope in a woman who can’t articulate the gospel of Jesus Christ and who is firmly entrenched in the church at Pergamum, in love with the world and unashamed of her sin.
I want to take this moment to remind you that God’s will for your life is your sanctification. Whatever you do with your life, whether you’re a missionary, doctor, wife, nurse, soldier, salesperson, pastor, Wendy's clerk or whatever, God’s main goal is your sanctification, and high on that list, as First Thessalonians tells us, is to avoid sexual immorality. This includes him disapproving of you wearing bathing suits that expose more of you than they cover.
Going through these churches, I hope you see that Christ cares about when his saints do good deeds, and he cares when they do bad deeds. He is proud of the good deeds, and he abhors the bad. We live in a culture that says, “Do your best and whatever happens I’ll be proud of you.” That’s not how Christ works, he’ll love you no matter what, he proved that by dying on a cross for you, but you can grieve his Spirit by failing to live for him. The same for me, I’m going to love you no matter what, but beloved, if you set your goals high and achieve those goals, I’m going to be so proud of you.
This is both in spiritual and natural things, but especially spiritual, and I want to hear about your successes. First chair in band, first string in sports, straight A’s; set your goals high and then achieve them. Whatever you do, do it for the glory of Christ. I heard of a church in Michigan where each Sunday School class listed out the names of their classmates, then when they would give one a gospel tract they’d put a check-mark, if they had a conversation they would put a “C”, and for a conversion they would put a cross. By the end of the year, every one of their classmates had heard about Jesus. Beloved, that would make me so proud of you, set your goal on your entire high-school graduating class being Christian; you’ve got seven years, get to it. And guess what, if you don’t convert everybody, you only convert 50%, I’m still going to be proud. By setting your sights on perfection, you have a goal and something to aim for, after-all, isn’t our goal perfection in our thoughts, words, and deeds, loving Christ completely, serving him totally?
So, to compare, we’re going to look at a church today who had none of these goals, and was totally clueless. The Beatles have song that says, “All you need is love, love, love; Love is all you need.” We’re going to prove that that statement is wrong.
What was Ephesus’ problem? Loveless.
How was their doctrine? Impeccable.
So doctrine without love is bad. But we’re going to see that love without doctrine isn’t any better.
Revelation 2:18-29 And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: 'The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. Only hold fast what you have until I come. The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Tell me someone famous from Thyatira. Lydia. What did she do? She was a seller of expensive fabric. Thyatira was famous for their textiles and other guilds. A guild is like a union. This is, as far as I can tell, not important for the lesson that they had a lot of guilds, except that it is important who Lydia is. She was the first convert in Europe, and her house became the first church in Europe. Women have a very important role in the church, but checks and balances are vital, both ways.
The name Thyatira means daughter. One of their problems was that they had a woman pastor, I don’t know if the name and this fact are connected. Lydia would either be really old in this church, or most likely would have already gone home to Heaven, but the fact that she was a prominent person in the church was likely one of the reasons that so many were following a woman pastor. Past success shouldn’t drive your current efforts, you should be following the Bible. Lots of churches make this mistake, verse 19 is going to expand on this thought.
v. 19 I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first.
This is exactly the opposite introduction as Ephesus got. This church was undoubtedly feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and befriending the lonely, and not only so, but their love was increasing. Because their love was growing they apparently stopped caring so much for doctrine as long as their was a visible manifestation of love.
v.20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.
Love without doctrine is going to go nowhere. Imagine we want to go to the moon, we need two things; we need a space ship, and we need fuel. Imagine we just have fuel (love), and we push the “go” button, what’s going to happen? Are we going to get to the moon? No. Imagine we just have a space ship (doctrine) and we push the “go” button, what’s going to happen? Are we going to get to the moon? No. Lets put the fuel in the ship, and push the “go” button, are we going to go? Yes.
As we see from Ephesus and Thyatira, doctrine without love is worthless, but so is love without doctrine; you need both.
There are two examples of Thyatira today in America. They are both murderers of souls. The first is Walt Disneyism, which is love and morality without a hint of Christ. If you watch his older movies, he frequently uses biblical stories without so much as mentioning God. He believed that your good works could get you to Heaven and that no-matter which religion you were in, do good works, and you’d be fine. It is missing the doctrines of sin, Hell, and redemption; not to mention Christology: who Jesus Christ is, what he did, and why it matters to you.
The second is easier to see, but not any less dangerous. At the time of the writing of this letter, Montanism was in its infancy, but it would rock this church. It is what is called Pentecostalism or the Charismatic Church. It most manifestations it can be called a cult, and the name of that cult is Word-Faith, or the belief that your words have power to change the world because you're a little god. Not all Pentecostals are lost, but more are lost than are saved.
A brief note, Charismatic, is a good name, but it’s been hijacked and wrecked. It means “Gifts”, and we know that each of us is gifted by the Holy Spirit for our specific role in the church. But they take it too far.
One of the ways is the belief that unless you speak in “tongues”, or are “slain” in the Spirit, or “prophecy” that you aren’t saved. These gifts are made-up things, taking biblical concepts and renaming them after doctrines of demons. Tongues in the Bible refer to speaking in known languages; they speak in goofy made-up languages, sometimes I think it is a demon actually speaking through them, check out the website, I’ve put up a very scary video of this happening to someone who thinks they’re a Christian, but are deceived.
Isaiah 3:12 My people—infants are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, your guides mislead you and they have swallowed up the course of your paths.
God says in this verse that women ruling over them is a judgment for their rampant sin. Strangely, these movements are usually led by women, but not always. The first manifestation of this in Montanism was run by a man named Montanus, but he had two girls with him, Priscilla and Maximilla; Priscilla was excommunicated for claiming Christ was a girl. The main doctrine of this cult is that you’re a little god, that you aren’t THE God, but that you can do a lot of things if you only name it and claim it. A big part of this is healing and prosperity, both of which rarely work, and when they don’t, you get blamed for having a lack of faith. It is godless paganism.
v.21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality.
This cult is called a cult quite often, and the Bible is easily used to refute their ungodliness, yet they love themselves more than they love God and will not repent, even though God gave them ample opportunity to.
v.22-23 Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead.
This cult leads to spiritual death, both of those leading, those following, and of their children. This verse terrifies me, because it shows that there is something I could do that would impact your souls negatively for eternity. This is why both doctrine and works are so important; if I just taught you all the time, no matter how good the teaching was, without demonstration it wouldn’t sink in. If all we did was good things for people without ever naming the name of Christ, you wouldn’t be saved, you wouldn’t understand why we do good things, you wouldn’t understand that we’re not trying to work our way into Heaven, but that we’re being obedient to Christ in proclaiming his wondrous works and taking care of his flock.
Or worse, if my doctrine and ministry was dead on, but I constantly and frequently sinned without any shame, it would prove my hypocrisy and nobody wants to follow a religion filled with hypocrites, which unfortunately is what most of Christianity is today. I hope you see in me, Dave, Jenny, Pastor Aaron, and your parents a real, genuine, loving, biblical, consecrated Christianity; but it’s not your job to follow us, it’s your job to follow Christ, who we should be imitators of.
v.23 And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.
This relates back to how Christ describes himself, as one with eyes like a flaming fire. This church seems always to be in the spotlight, but nobody ever pays attention. Todd Bentley, one of the antichrists in charge of this church, recently cheated on and then divorced his wife, proved to be an alcoholic, and was shown to be a huge fraud. They put on huge shows and pretend to heal people, but if you look at their success rate, it is pitiful. Even if they heal one person, Christ and his Apostles never failed to heal anybody they set out to heal, so it shows right there that its not from God, and their reward will be accordingly.
2 Peter 2:2-3 False prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
v.24-25 But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. Only hold fast what you have until I come.
Christ calls the Montanists, the Charismatic Movement, those holding onto the deep things of Satan, which is really what I think most of their works are, Satan manifesting himself through their lack of redemption, their desire to see signs and wonders, and their aversion to seeking after righteousness.
Undoubtedly many in this church were standing up to this cult, and beloved, I know people in this cult, and they love it so much that they refuse to repent of it, and it gets sooooooo frustrating. Here Christ recognizes this battle and tells his faithful followers to keep the faith.
v.26-27 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father.
We’re going to talk more about these in detail in a few weeks, but this is Christ quoting Psalm 2:8-9, promising that the battles we are fighting now will come to victory on the last day, and that our enemies, if they will not repent, will be broken into itty bitty tiny pieces.
v.28-29 And I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Morning Star is a way to refer to the king of kings, it was used to call Babylon's king powerful among kings, it was also used to call Satan the leader of angels. (Isaiah 14:12) Who is the true King of kings? It is Jesus Christ. (Revelation 22:16) Make Christ and his glory your end reward, fight sin and stand up to his enemies, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins in his name. Your promise is that you will receive him and his glory, and not only so, but also his inheritance. This is a HUGE promise which is worth everything we could ever endure on earth; be that hatred, persecution, aberrant theology, goofy churches, and the rest.
The church at Thyatira will make you mad, but Christ knows it and has threatened them. Thank God that he is longsuffering and good, and pray that his forebearance leads them to repentance.
This video is pretty scary, but it really shows why this church is anything but Christian: