Church Of Philadelphia
7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,
‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”: 8 “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. 9 Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. 12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name. 13 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
In this series on the Seven Churches of Revelation, we have examined the Churches in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira and Sardis. Today we will examine the Church of Philadelphia and not only…how our church compares to it, but also how we as individual Christians compare to the Christians in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia was founded by the citizens of Pergamum to create a gateway to the central plateau of Asia Minor. This city was often damaged by earthquakes, which resulted in a fear that kept a large part of the population from living within the city walls. Today there still exist a town on the ancient site of Philadelphia called Alasehir in Turkey, having a population of around 15,000. The word Philadelphia comes from two Greek words: PHILEO, which means, "love" and the word ADELPHOS, which means "brother." Thus, the name Philadelphia means "brotherly love."
‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens” 8 “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.
First: The church is greeted by the One who is Holy and True. Christ first reminds us that He is holy, or in other words, "set apart" from all that is evil. For the child of God, that’s good news.
It means that His love for us will never be corrupted by a lack of integrity or goodness on His part. His care will never be canceled out by selfishness or laziness. Because our Heavenly Father is holy and completely separate from all moral imperfection. He is able to love us with a full and perfect love.
Second, He wants us to see that He is true. He is absolutely genuine. He’s not like the gods of the world, who are only gods in the minds of their worshipers. Because He is true, there is never any doubt between what He says about Himself and what He actually is. He is the perfection of righteousness and the fulfillment of all prophecy. Christ is the author of truth, the One who is completely true and must be completely truthful.
The Messiah is the One who has the key of David. Jesus has the key to the kingdom from where all blessings flow. He has the key to grace. All who would find salvation must find it in Him. He has the key that will unlock all the bars and barriers to man’s heart. He has the key to health and healing. He has the key to providence and provision. All that happens is under His domain. He, (Jesus) not Peter, has the key to heaven. Jesus has all authority on earth and in Heaven. What He opens, no one can shut and what He shuts, no one can open. This statement was prophesied by Isaiah…
22 The key of the house of David, I will lay on His shoulder; So, He shall open, and no one shall shut; And He shall shut, and no one shall open.
Christ had no condemnation for this church. This church appears to be a small church, but one that is obeying the teachings of Christ. The church of Philadelphia, as the name implies, must have loved God and loved one another, even their enemies. Do you think Christ would have any condemnations for our church? If so… what would they be? Something to think about as a church and also as an individual.
Jesus in the same sense holds the key to the New Jerusalem that is coming when He returns. Christ holds the key...He controls who gets in and who does not. There is no one else who can open or close this door. Christ has the authority to say who will enter the kingdom of God. No one comes unto the Father except through Christ.
Christ knew their deeds, just as He knows our deeds. There isn’t anything that we do, or anything that we say, or anything that we think, that Jesus doesn’t know. Christ knew their hearts and He knew that they had truly accepted Him as their Savior and Lord. Jesus had opened the door to eternal life in heaven for them and no one could take that away from them. Is there anything in our thoughts or our life that we are ashamed of? Well, there are no secrets that Jesus doesn’t know. It is impossible to hide anything from Him.
The Christians at Philadelphia had kept the word and teaching of Christ and had done their best in spreading the word of Christ, even though they had little strength. They were probably few in numbers and not wealthy, but they were rich in the blessings of Christ and they always put Him first in their lives. They were probably witnessing everyday and those whom accepted the Word, Christ open the door for them, but…to those who did not, Christ shut the door to them.
9 Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.
The persecution the church faced was from hostile Jews. The hostility exhibited by the Jews against the true believers was supernaturally empowered. I am going out on a limb on my commentary of this verse. We have many false religions and cults today that claim that they are Christians. I believe that Christ is referring to these people in the above verse. (so called followers) There are even people sitting in churches today that claim to be Christians, but have not really accepted Christ as their Savior. The time will come when the truth will be known. The day will come when these so-called Christians…but really members of the synagogue of Satan.
Again... “wheat and tares”, in the same house.
The Church of Philadelphia stood firm in their belief regardless of their fate. These believers faced the same battles that we face each and everyday. And…they stood firm!!!
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
As long as we are in the flesh this is our daily battle. Stand firm. When everyone is against you…stand firm. When the testing/trials come…stand firm. You and I know that we are not facing them alone. What does “Immanuel” mean? GOD WITH US!!! That is a promise. Its forever!
10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.
To follow Christ is to learn how to endure, to persevere, in what He has asked us to do, because of who and what He asks us to become. This is called the perseverance of the saints. To hold on and obey Christ’s word no matter what we encounter in life…brings us tremendous blessings, here and in the life to come.
The Christians of Philadelphia kept the commands of Christ and they endure trials patiently (without complaining to God or blaming God). They will be spared from the great trail. I believe that all believers in Christ will be spared from the great tribulation that is to come. We will be raptured, but those that are left will go through many wraths from both the antichrist and God. During the great tribulation, only those who find Christ and refuses to get the mark of the beast will be saved, though they will still suffer much.
It will be extremely hard for a person to accept Christ while living through the tribulation. To do so would mean probable death or intense suffering for you and your family. By accepting Christ during the tribulation, you would have to refuse the mark of the Beast and then would not be able to work or even buy food. If you are here today and don’t know Jesus as your Lord and Savior…what are you waiting for? Cry out to God. Be saved, be forgiven, be made new. Receive the gift of eternal life.
Let us continue…
11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. 12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.
If we overcome, as did the church of Philadelphia, we will be honored in God’s temple and always be with Him and we will always belong to Him. When we receive Christ as our Lord and Savior our names are written in the Book of Life. We belong to God and nothing can take that away from us. When I married my wife, she took on my last name and that meant that she belonged to me and not to some other man. It is the same with God. When we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are wed into the kingdom of God and we take on God’s name and we belong to Him forever. We will live with Christ forever in the New Jerusalem to come. I can’t wait! What about you?
Christ makes a special pledge to the overcomer. If we will renounce in this life the way of complacent and compromising Christianity, then in the next life, in God’s heavenly city, (which is considered a temple) we will be pillars, stable, immovable and secure.
God will assign us to strategic places of support to uphold His ministry. The Christians of Philadelphia might live in fear of earthquake, and persecutions on earth, but nothing will shake them in heaven.
A further promise is given that he will go out no more. This seems to indicate that he will no longer be swayed by the temptations and trials of this present life but will abide in the will of the Lord. In addition to this promise Christ gives them a threefold assurance that they will enjoy the heavenly Jerusalem because…. “I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name”. Does this sound familiar…from one of our bible studies, about receiving a new body? And now a new name? (1) they will have the name of God, (2) they will have the name of the city of God and (3) Jesus’ new name. These are eternal realities for those who overcome.
In Conclusion: A warning…
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Again… Jesus warns us that we need to listen to what He is saying to the seven churches for it applies to us today just as much as it applied to the seven churches of the book of Revelation.
Today we have looked at a church that Jesus was well pleased with. He was pleased with works of the church and the people. I can’t wait to meet the congregation of the church of Philadelphia. They must be a wonderful group. Think about it. There wasn’t a power struggle on who would make the decisions on how the church was to be run. Everyone got along. They loved everyone. They didn’t complain or get angry. They loved Christ so much that all they wanted to do was to please Him and obey all of His teachings. Wouldn’t it be great if our church was like that?
Six churches so far, one more to go. So far only two churches were well commended by our Lord for their faithfulness. (Smyrna and Philadelphia) And to all the rest…faced Gods judgement.
Let us pray….
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” 24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.
The Christmas story is the greatest story ever told. It is the story of what God did to save you and me. It started at the beginning of the human race. God created man in His image so that He can appreciate and enjoy His creation.
The moment Adam and Eve fell into sin, God put into motion His greatest work…His work of salvation. He carefully unfolded His plan through prophetic revelation. Specific predictions were given hundreds of years before their fulfillment. Then when the time arrived, He sent His only begotten Son into the world to deliver man, woman, child… from the prison of sin and death…and bring them into the kingdom of God.
God chose Mary to be a special vessel of honor. No one before her and no one after her would have this honor. She was chosen by God to be the earthly mother of His Son. She was chosen to be the vessel through whom the eternal Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, would be born into our world.
Was Mary chosen because she was pretty? No… Was she chosen because she was a princess? Absolutely not! Was she chosen because she was a celebrity? Was she chosen because of who she was or because of what she had done? NO!!! She was just a common woman. It was by God’s sovereign grace that she was chosen.
Thank God for sovereign grace. The Bible says that not many of us who were chosen are wise, educated, rich, and powerful. God chose us from among the millions regardless of who we are and what we have done. He chooses whoever He wants. And for you and me, that is sovereign grace.
If you could use one word to describe Christmas, what word would it be? Sadly…some would use words like headache, busyness, expensive, or even bothersome. To many people Christmas is just another day, only a little more expensive and a lot more trouble. I thank God that Christmas shopping is not as bad as “black Friday”, where many get hurt, just to get the good deal. You see… that is how the world has made Christmas to be. The truth of Christmas has been removed. Instead of joy and peace, it has become burdensome, busy, and comes with a price tag. How sad that an event that brought so much joy in Heaven should bring so little joy here on earth.
I would like to suggest to you… as we celebrate this Christmas season that it should be a time of joy, peace, love. and gratitude. You see, throughout the year, we have faced a lot of good times, troubled times, struggles, hurt and so on. But through all of that, “Immanuel”, which means, (God with us) has been with us from the beginning. Jesus Christ is the true reason for the season.
A Christmas TV special, Charlie Brown asks if anyone knows what Christmas is about, and Linus recites the story of Christ’s birth from Luke 2. Have we forgotten, that Christmas is not primarily about us, our family, friends, presents? But about Him. (Jesus)
Charlie Brown Pic:
(Don’t add To Powerpoint)
11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
One year a Christmas afternoon visitor asked five-year-old Ruth, "Did you get everything you wanted for Christmas?" After a moment’s hesitation, she answered, "No, but then it’s not my birthday!"
Isn’t it easy to get so wrapped up in the celebration that we forget what it is we are supposed to be celebrating? The world does that. It has become politically incorrect to say Merry Christmas- they want is to say Happy Holidays or Merry X-mas. We have the Jewish day of Hannakuh, or the African celebration of Kwanzza, to compete for the place that belongs to the Son of God. But even without buying into the world’s ways, we can easily forget what Christmas is really all about… by forgetting Jesus.
If God has given you the Greatest Gift Ever, His Son… focusing on Jesus means that you not only remember the Savior in the manger…but remember the Savior in our heart. Remember that this baby grew up and went to the Cross to pay for our sins, that He rose again to give new life, and that He lives in our hearts today to give you joy peace and love.
This is our third Christmas, (Fil-Am Baptist Mission Church) although I do miss the first year when everybody was here, those who were with us when God made this church to be. They will always be in our hearts, and in our memories. Within the three Christmas that we have spent together, God has also added some new faces with whom we have grown to love and to be part of this church.
As we celebrate this Christmas season, let us not forget the real reason why we are celebrating.
Its all about the Baby in the manger, wrapped in swaddling cloths. God’s precious gift to the world.
The Dead Church (Sardis)
3 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write,
‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. 3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore, if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. 4 You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. 6 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Seven Churches of Revelation, we have examined the Church in Ephesus, the Church in Smyrna the Church in Pergamum and the Church in Thyatira. Today we will look at the Church in Sardis.
As with all letters Christ sends to His seven churches, this one begins with a description of the Author. In fact, as you may recall from previous sermons on these letters, the description Jesus Christ gives of Himself in the opening line of a given letter gives a critical message to the particular church addressed in that letter. So, there is need to understand Jesus’ description of Himself in our text. Here Christ describes himself as possessing or holding 2 things.
1: Seven Spirits of God:
2: Seven Stars:
3 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write,
‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.
First, there is something to be learned from the introduction to this message concerning the Lord and the church. The first question that might come to our mind is the seven Spirits of God.
(God has seven Spirits?) This statement of the seven Spirits were taken from the book of Isaiah…
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.
We have here part of the prophecy of the Messiah and it lists seven spirits.
(1) The Spirit of the Lord
(2) The Spirit of Wisdom
(3) The Spirit of Understanding
(4) The Spirit of Counsel
(5) The Spirit of Might
(6) The Spirit of Knowledge
(7) The Spirit of Fear of the Lord
The letter to Sardis is unique, that there is nothing at all Christ commends them for. There is no positives here, only negatives.
“These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.
Totally different from all the other churches that we had covered so far. There is no mention, of love, faithfulness, service, faith…none of that. Instead, God directs them clearly, as a “dead church”. Scary right!!! For God to write this church a letter, a living thriving church, but inside the Lord declares it to be a “dead church”. Keep in mind when God passes judgement, there is time to repent.
Sardis had a great reputation as a church. They had a fantastic name and if we were church hopping in that day, we would have no doubt have ended up at Sardis. We are not told why they had a good name or how they got it. It may have been as a result of their lovely building, their numbers, their programs, their inspiring worship. We are not told and so we can assume that it doesn’t matter. What does matter though is that Christ said to Sardis, reputation means nothing. It doesn’t matter what happened in the past and it doesn’t matter what other people think about your congregation. What matters is what Christ thinks. They had a name all right, but they were dead.
“Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God”. You see…one thing stuck out in this letter. For a once dead believer to be made alive, God…by His power, needs to make one alive. And once God makes or gives a new/born again believer life. The fruits of the Spirit will start to show and become evident in the believer’s life. So… it is clear that, when God pronounced judgement, when He clearly said, “I have not found your works perfect before God”. God has to see His Son in every believer, if not…then the person is still dead.
So why was Sardis dead? Notice that we can’t find any reference to Sardis having problems with persecution of false teaching. Sardis was not aggressive in its witness to the city. There was no persecution because there was no invasion of the enemy’s territory. The city saw the church as a respectable group of people who were neither dangerous nor desirable. They were decent people with a dying witness and a decaying ministry. Satan didn’t need to send any attacks on the church or any false teachers there to lead them astray because the church just wasn’t a threat.
3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore, if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.
If you did something to save my life, I would be indebted to you forever. Christ saved our life. Made us alive, when we were once dead. Are we indebted to Him? We should be! We should be doing everything that we can in serving Him, including serving in our Church and outside, in our everyday life. Sometimes we give others more respect and do more for them than we do for God. I believe this is what the Church in Sardis was doing. Let’s get it right. God needs to come first and everything else second. Wouldn’t you agree!!! Your answer should be a definite YES!!! We do not know when Christ will return, but I believe by the teaching of the signs in the Bible that it may be soon, even in our lifetime. If Christ would come tomorrow, what would He find you and I doing? Serving Him or serving the world? “I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you”. Will we be ready when the Lord comes? I sure hope so!
WAKE UP!!! God says…don’t forget you were saved, if you were saved? hold fast to what you have learned, and still learning until that day of His coming. “therefore, if you will not”. God has declared judgement. Again, just like all the letters to the churches that we had learned, God is fair/just in His judgement. He will always give time to repent. Simply because of His great mercy!
You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
So…it is clear, that there were a chosen few. Just like in every church, there will be the faithful/chosen ones. And there will be pretenders. (Wheat & Tares) all in one house!
The letters of Christ always end on a positive note with promises for those who overcome. For even though most in Sardis were dead, there were some who were alive.
For those who are found alive, who have not compromised their stand and are not stained by the things of this world. “they shall walk with Me in white”, These are ones who have received forgiveness, washed by the blood of the Lamb.
As chosen believers, we are to fight sin, overcome sin, since we bought by His blood. We are to repent of our sins as hard as we can, and not to live in it as we once did. That means that we are to ask forgiveness for our sins, but also it means that we will turn away from our sins. We are to live a righteous life. Jesus said that these few righteous people will walk with Him dressed in white for they are worthy! Don’t you want Christ to say that about you and I? Of course we do!
We…as Christians, have a very hard battle to win while we are still here. The battle to remain faithful in our walk with the Lord. Wearing that white garment, hoping and doing our best not to put any stain on it.
“He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels”.
Christ is telling us if anyone overcomes their disbelief, and repent from their sins and accept that, Jesus is Lord and Savior, then they too will be dressed in white. Jesus has promised us that He will never blot out our names from the book of life if we have truly believed in Jesus.
Sitting in a church every Sunday and doing good deeds doesn’t get our name in the book of life. Walking the isle doesn’t get our name in the book of life either. Being baptized with water doesn’t get our name in the book of life. We may fool others by saying that we have professed Christ as our Savior, but God knows our hearts. He knows if we have truly received His Son Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. We can go through all the motions, but if our heart isn’t in the right place, our motions means nothing. “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead”. Scary right!!!
I am truly thankful for these messages. From these messages, God…by His great mercy, gives us time to repent and to learn from the mistakes from the past. You see…that is how much God love His creation.
1 Timothy 2:3-4
3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
This is our Great God. That is why we seat here every Sunday listening to His words. That is why we have Bible study every other week, so that we can know and learn from the truth.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
6 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
So…that our robes will remain white, because we have been “thoroughly equipped”. Names will remain in the “Lambs Book Of Life”.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Five churches so far, Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, and today Sardis. Four condemned, one commended. (Smyrna) Two more to go.
Let us pray:
The Corrupt Church - Thyatira
18 “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 [g]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.”
It’s a bit weird for a church to be called a “corrupt church”. Sadly, this was the title of this church in my Bible. While looking for a good title for this message, I came across one that said, “Jezebel church”. Ouch!!!
Basically, this church was contaminated from the inside. It was influenced to go against the teachings of God. So…just like the other churches that we have covered so far, this church received a letter from our Lord. Contamination or influence can be a part of our everyday life.
We can be influenced in a good way or we can be influenced in a bad way. So, we have to be really careful on the things that can influence us greatly. Like I had mentioned… we can be influenced in good way or a bad way.
Let’s visit this church of Thyatira and see what we can learn from them…
18 “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:
As always, Christ reveals himself in a special way to the church being addressed. We have seen in the past that the description used is always relevant to the situation they are in. In verse 18 he describes himself as the “Son of God.” This is the only place in Revelation that this title is given to Christ, though it is used often throughout the gospels. It comes straight out of
Psalm 2:7 I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father.
It is also mentioned that, “The Son”, (Jesus) “has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass”.
The images of flaming eyes also reminds us that God’s eyes are penetrating, seeing everything, knowing everything. Nothing can be hidden from His sight.
17 For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity hidden from My eyes.
And, also mentioned by the writer of the Book of Hebrew…
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.
So…it is very clear, that Christ can see everything. NOTHING, can ever be hidden. And His eyes are “flaming”!!! Flame can through the dark to see what needs to be seen or it can also mean that the Lord is in anger.
“His feet like fine brass”. Bronze was the hardest metal known of at that time and is often used of to speak of judgment. Christ was therefore angry… so angry that He was preparing for judgment. We’ll talk why the Lord is angry in a minute, but before we do, God recognize that there were some good things in this church. This church was well commended…
19 “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first.
WOW!!! These are good qualities right!!! “love, service, faith, and patience”. If we were just to look at this church, with these qualities, we can say that this church was doing a very good job. Close to perfection. They were a growing church. “as for your works, the last are more than the first”. In the NIV translation, “and as for your works, the last are more than the first”. So, they were a faithful, loving, growing church.
Somewhere along the way, this church was contaminated from the inside. Even after all of Gods commendation to this church, God still judged it fairly. After all, our God is a JUST, God.
Even if they started out good, the rest of the way started to fail. Someone took over, and God is angry, “eyes like a flame of fire”. God tells them their offence…
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.
Despite the growth and the apparent faithfulness, love and ministry seen in the church, they were being misled doctrinally and spiritually. There was a woman who Jesus called Jezebel who was calling herself a prophetess but was misleading the people.
What is a prophet? .... The simplest definition of a prophet is one who speaks for God. This can either be foretelling the future or forthtelling the Word of God. A true prophet has authority because their words come from God either through direct revelation or straight from the Word of God. A false prophet has mislaid authority which does not come from God. This so- called prophetess in Thyatira was not a prophet at all. Why? Because what she was proclaiming as coming from God, was contrary to God’s word.
Now…its never made clear that she was the pastor of this church. While working on this message, I started asking myself…where was the leaders of this church? Where’s the pastor, the deacons of this church? How did she get a way with such an influence to this church? How did this church allow it to go so far? We just read, that they were good at one point…faithful!
How did they get to this point, as to make God mad and to cast judgement upon this church.
However or whatever she did, she had a good influence to this church. Perfect example of women pastoring a church, again…its not clear that she was a pastor, but she had a very strong influence on this church. It also made me think, of how other churches around the world with women pastors missed to read this story.
Like an apple with a worm in it. This church looked good on the outside, but inside it was rotten. We often look at other churches and say - God is really doing something in their midst - they are loving. Look at all the people flocking to their services. They are reaching out to the community and really making an impact. People are changing. But you can’t judge a book by a cover.
We rush to hear speakers of big churches thinking that they must have it all together because their church is growing. We soak up everything they say and accept it because they must know what they are talking about. Thyatira, was a growing church, a thriving church, filled with love and faithfulness, but they were rotten on the inside because they were following wrong doctrine. “And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence”. (1 Timothy 2:12) What happened to that command? Where was all the men of this church, that they allowed it to get this far?
Anyway…lets get in this deeper. Who is this Jezebel and what kind of power does she have over this once, faithful church. What was this wrong doctrine that this prophetess was teaching? We read in Vs 20 that it she led people to sexual immorality- fornication and eat food sacrificed to idols, both of which were clearly condemned in the Word of God.
It is likely that this prophetess was teaching that it was alright to be part of the world. No shocker there right! If it happened then it will…and is happening now. She has convinced them not to worry, “God has told me it was alright! (Prophetess) It is alright to go and be a part of the world and participate in the immoral and idolatrous worship that occurs, after all live by grace and are not under the law anymore.” OUCH!!! And who were the rest of the church to disagree with what she was saying? She did claim to be a prophet!
The name Jezebel conjures up thoughts of a very seductive women using her flair to entice men into her bed. The real Jezebel was nothing like this. She was a queen of Israel at the time when Elijah was a prophet. She was a wicked woman and was the pagan daughter of a pagan king and had no business being married to Ahab, the King of Israel. When she became queen, she turned the heart of her husband, then the hearts of Israel to the worship of Baal. Influence the king, then the people. She was smart, cunning, she knew what she wanted and she took it. Her first official act, as recorded in Scripture, was to kill the prophets of the Lord (1 Ki 17:4). She was no seductress… her ways were blatantly against God. She did away with God’s spiritual leaders and replaced them with the prophets of Baal. She was definitely not to be messed with.
Do you see the similarities here between the Jezebel of Old Testament times and the prophetess in Thyatira? Both tried to replace God’s authoritative word with a poor substitute. How often do we do a similar thing? And again…I am just blown away, shaking my head, as to how some present churches are allowing the same thing to happen to Gods church! Did they tear off this part of the Bible? Anyway, let’s continue…
“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”.
“Sickbed”, meaning death. A warning is given to her and to the church. You see…God is just, He is fair. He gives everyone a chance to repent. The Church of Thyatira was tolerating evil. Now, the Lord confronted them with this sin! Make no mistake, tolerating evil is sin—heinous sin! What is worse, when a congregation tolerates evil, it means that all within the assembly must share in the condemnation when it is pronounced.
The Lord seems to indicate that Jezebel was at least a superficial follower when He says, He gave her time to repent. However, whether she was a believer or merely or just a pretender that have always sought to invade the churches, this woman refused to repent. Specifically, this woman refused to repent of her sexual immorality.
The immorality of this woman had mentioned the birth of children. It is not possible to say with any degree of certainty that God is not speaking of physical children, however, I doubt that He is speaking of physical children. Because Jesus is addressing a spiritual entity, the Body of believers gathered in Thyatira, it seems apparent to me that the Jesus has in view spiritual children, (disciple) spawn that adopted Jezebel’s attitudes, spiritual seed that had embraced the rebellious evil she embodied.
Rather than policing their ranks, the congregation accepted the act of wickedness, thus diluting the righteousness that should have marked them. The Puritans were certain that one of the marks of a true New Testament church was discipline. They were undoubtedly correct in this assessment. One of the dark marks against the churches of this new age is that we are unwilling to discipline fellow believers. Consequently, we Christians at the end of this Church age love evil through our neglect. So…the result of that neglect, the whole church, this body of believers in Thyatira…ALL OF THEM, will face the same consequence…the same judgement!
Jezebel doctrines teach that something evil can be good. Homosexual marriages are okay as long as they are based on love. Same as being yoked to an unbeliever. Seeking after material possession is okay as this is a sign of God’s blessing. Doing away with the bible is okay as long as you are in communion with God. All these are evil but seem to be good.
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.
“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”. The letter is addressed to those within the congregation who refused to give approval of wickedness. It was not just that they were obstinate or that they did not long for church harmony, it is that they recognized error and their spirits in horror at the thought of participating with this evil. There were saints then, and there are saints now, who are unwilling to exchange truth for harmony. There are quite enough professed Christians who are willing to tolerate just a little bit of evil in order to avoid unpleasantness or division. Stand firm if you know that you are obedient to Gods commands.
The Helper “The Holy Spirit”, has come! He restrained Christ’s true followers who were found among the Congregation at Thyatira, He kept them from sin. He now works in your life in the same way. If we are faithful in Gods commands, His promise to the true believers of this church, and the true believers of this age is this, “I will put on you no other burden”. Remain faithful, stay in the path of Gods words and persevere. “But hold fast what you have till I come”.
This is all by Gods power that one can endure. Believe in Gods truth, believe in Gods faithfulness in your life, and you will learn to flee from a spirit of Jezebel, and flee from the traps of the enemy.
“And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations”. Christ promises that if the true believer perseveres, He will grant them a share in His messianic kingdom. Over which He has already received authority to rule. They will receive authority as He has received authority and will rule over nations. Those who remain faithful till the end will reign with Christ as promised.
Our last verse:
29 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
We heard it hear again church. 4 churches now. Three condemned, so far one faithful. (Smyrna)
Let us learn from our brothers and sisters of these churches that we have learned so far. Let’s learn from their mistakes and hopefully, never receive a message from the Lord that says… “But I have this against you”. Gods words are all we have in this fallen world. We cannot join them because the world says it ok. We still have a lot of work to do. Let us let God be our guide and finish this race!!!
Let Us Pray:
Pastor Richard Santos
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