A Church Called Thyatira – Revelation 2:18-29

Posted by: cghearn | 11/02/2014 | 12:00 pm

Download: A Church Called Thyatira – Revelation 2:18-29

Have you ever had trouble with temptation, since giving your life to Christ?

In Thyatira, the church had issues with two primary things: lust and idolatry.  People were more than likely going to the temples of pagan gods to worship them which included having sex with one another to please the gods.  The church was giving into that which they knew was immoral and harmful to their spiritual life.

In the story of the Odyssey written by Homer, there is a part where Odysseus (the hero of the story) is warned that when he is out to sea, he will come across a particular obstacle called “the sirens.”  The sirens were beautiful women whose voices drew sailors in to crash on the rocks of their island.  Odysseus is warned that the sirens sound so beautiful, that if they are heard, that they would ensnare any man who came near to them.  Odysseus commands his men to shove wax in their ears and to tie him to the mast of the ship so that he can hear the sirens sing, but can’t reach them.  As they passed the sounds of the beautiful sirens singing, Odysseus cries out for his men to turn the boat toward the sound, but fortunately his men are unable to hear him and the crew makes it through the temptation of the sirens song.

Each one of us has things in our lives that we’re drawn to which we know can hurt us either physically or spiritually.  These things may even be harmful to others around us as well, yet we’re still drawn to them.

The only reason that Odysseus didn’t jump off the boat and swim towards the great temptation of the sirens was because he had taken steps before to ensure that he wouldn’t.  He had proactively requested that his men keep themselves out of harm’s reach and also that he himself be tied down.  This is all a metaphor for accountability.  Accountability and confession are the only true methods that we have that can defend us against temptations that may be too powerful for us to handle on our own.

Doctrine of sermon:
The church that has permitted sinful behavior will be divided and feeble

The church that has permitted sinful behavior must learn to readily identify the issue

Jesus doesn’t mince words with the church in Thyatira; he is explicit and clear about what was going on and who was doing it.  He called out a woman (with the pseudonym “Jezebel”) who was causing issues of sexual immorality within the church.  This problem of sexual immorality is and always will be one of the largest problems facing the church.  In today’s culture, we face serious issues when dealing with porn.

  • 89% of porn is created in the U.S.
  • $2.84 billion in revenue was generated from U.S. porn sites in 2006
  • $89/second is spent on porn
  • 72% of porn viewers are men and 28% are women
  • 260 new porn sites go online daily

We, in America, struggle with sex and idolatry too: the sex is porn and our idols are computers and smart phones.

Jezebel in the Old Testament lead king Ahab to worship pagan gods and it says of Ahab that he made God angrier than any other king before him.  The point that Jesus is making is that this is no small matter to him.  When God says something, he expects us to listen and not to misquote what he’s saying.  Several Bibles printed throughout history would have made a mistake in this case.

Published in 1631 “The Wicked Bible”, instead of reading the 7th commandment as, “Thou shalt not commit adultery” reads instead, “Thou shalt commit adultery.”

The Fool’s Bible published in the 1600’s instead of reading in Psalm 14:1, “The fool hath said in his heart there is no God” reads instead “The fool hath said in his heart, there is a God.”

A rather bizarre footnote to I Peter 3:7 appears in the “Wife Beater Bible” of 1549. It says, “And if she be not obediente and healpeful unto hym; endevoureth to beate the fere of God into her heade, that thereby she may be compelled to learne her dutye and do it.”

A final example, and probably the ultimate printer’s error, appears in a pre-1702 Bible which has King David exclaiming, in Psalm 119:161, instead of “Princes have persecuted me without a cause” reads, “Printers have persecuted me without a cause.”

The church as a whole must be able to identify issues that occur within the church and deal with those problems in a God-honoring way.  We cannot misquote or misrepresent our Messiah, unlike the slides we just saw, Scripture is not open for us to re-translate as we see fit, no matter how angry you are with your wife.

Redemption:
Even when we fall into sin and are in error, God still gives us the chance to turn.

The church that has permitted sinful behavior is given the chance to repent and turn

This is where God and I differ.  I am not as forgiving as God in that if I sent my son who was perfect in every way to die for the sins of sinners that were initially my enemy who then continued sinning after I’d forgiven them for their sins defiling the sacrifice I had sent in my son who was perfect in every way…I would not be as forgiving as God because I am not as forgiving as God.  God’s grace has graciously guaranteed the gratuitous gift of grace to those who defiled his creation which I think is too large a gamble to give to a grievously glib sinner such as myself.  I love justice just as long as justice is being jeered against another and the judgment isn’t jiving against me.

I hate it when people speed through school zones.  One time I was driving to an appointment that I needed to get to and I saw on my right a person speeding through the school zone that we were in, then if that wasn’t enough, the car right behind him also went speeding through the school zones and went over a hill out of my line of sight.  But right as I got to the other side of that hill I saw the first car that sped through the school zone get rear ended by the second car.  Of course I reacted with joy because justice had been served!  But this isn’t necessarily the nature of God.

God allows this church the chance to turn from their sins before he lowers the hammer to punish the offenders.  He even gives this “Jezebel” the opportunity to turn away so that he can restore her, but she does not change and continues in her filth.  At this point, do you think God wanted to punish her?

Turn with me to Ezekiel 18:21-23 & 25-29

One of the greatest gifts God gives to those of us in error is time.  God says he’s going to give to Jezebel “cronoV” which means “time.”  This is where we get our English word chronological.  We sometimes think that God is distant from us; have you ever stopped to think that he may be giving you the gift of time to think about your life and possibly to think about whatever it is you may be currently asking him for?

Redemption:
God will almost always give us time to think and change what we may be doing wrong, but will eventually begin holding certain parties responsible for their actions.

The church that has permitted sinful behavior will always have some unnecessary burden

Christ gives the burden to those who will not change the way that they’re living which means that the church, in turn, will also always have an extra burden placed on them by Christ himself.  The church that has this type of behavior in it will always be both sick and weak…which is how Satan prefers the church of Christ to be.

There are some burdens which the church will bear which are worth bearing.  Meeting with the deacons twice a month instead of once a month is, we believe, a burden worth bearing.  Taking our time when considering people to put in leadership (I’m learning) is a burden worth bearing.  But there are some burdens that are given which do not need to be carried, rather they need to be dropped.

We had a particular individual within Breathe that for a time was walking around telling a whole bunch of people (particularly young, single women) that he had, “a word from God for them.”  He began to cause serious harm to some of the members that we had because he was telling women things that he had no business in saying to them.  After a while, it was causing serious turmoil, not just to the women he was telling, but to other members within the church as well.  I confronted this individual and asked politely that any future “prophesies” that would be spoken needed to be brought to me before they were told to anyone else.  God spoke to this individual and directed them somewhere else.  Breathe hasn’t had issues with this since.

There are some burdens worth bearing and there are some burdens we need to drop.  This church was about to have one of its members thrown into a sickbed because she refused to repent, her children (possibly those who were her disciples) were going to die, and others were about to face great tribulation.  Yet if the church had just dealt with these issues as they came, they wouldn’t have had to deal with these burdens at all, instead they allowed them to weaken the church.

When carrying another’s burden,
you will always be certain,
that a ready hand is no longer free.
You are weighed down
like the corners of a frown,
lost in an ocean you’d certainly drown,
and if you care at all take heed,
Take a burden for a day,
And deliver a friend from dismay,
Fulfill the gospel to help him on his way,
“But only for a time” you must say,
“For remind him he’s the one who packed it, can’t you see?”

We must help others to help themselves and not help others to help themselves.

Redemption:
If the church is going to be strong and thrive, it needs to know which burdens are worth bearing and which ones are not.

Conclusion

Doctrine of sermon:
The church that has permitted sinful behavior will be divided and feeble

Illustration:
Same-sex marriage is the key sinful behavior that has been on the news, in the media, and on social networking sites for the last few years.  I’ve seen heated debates and I’ve even seen this issue divide family members from one another.  It is the hot topic of our time and it cannot be ignored.  Homosexuality (the act, not the temptation) is a sin and there’s no other way to look at it biblically.  However, many denominations have begun welcoming this sinful behavior into their leadership in order to be more modern effectively denying God’s word.

According to the denomination’s(Presbyterians U.S.A., not P.C.A.) statement, on Thursday, June 19th “the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) approved a recommendation from its Civil Union and Marriage Issues Committee allowing for pastoral discretion to perform ‘any such marriage they believe the Holy Spirit calls then to perform,’ where legal by state law.” In other words, regardless of what the Scriptures plainly say, as a PCUSA minister, if you feel called to violate God’s Word and perform a same-sex “marriage,” follow your conscience, not the Bible.

–The Presbyterian U.S.A. church has lost over 20% of its membership in the last few years alone.

In 2003, the first openly gay bishop was consecrated; in 2009, General Convention resolved that God’s call is open to all; and in 2012, a provisional rite of blessing for same-gender relationships was authorized, and discrimination against transgender persons in the ordination process was officially prohibited.

–The Episcopalian church has dropped more than 50% in overall membership from 1966 to the modern day.

In 2009 the ELCA (Lutheran churches of America) formally approved homosexual relationships. From 2009 to 2010, ELCA membership declined 6% compared to declines of less than 2% in every previous year since the church’s 1987 founding. Everyone rightly interpreted this notable fall as a response to the ELCA’s new endorsement of homosexuality.

–The ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Churches of America) has fallen 23% in the last 20 years.

These dates should not match up, however because they date back to well before the homosexuality debate.  So, where does it start?

In 1969, Governor Ronald Reagan of California made what he later admitted was one of the biggest mistakes of his political life. Seeking to eliminate the strife and deception often associated with the legal regime of fault-based divorce, Reagan signed the nation’s first no-fault divorce bill. The new law eliminated the need for couples to fabricate spousal wrongdoing in pursuit of a divorce; indeed, one likely reason for Reagan’s decision to sign the bill was that his first wife, Jane Wyman, had unfairly accused him of “mental cruelty” to obtain a divorce in 1948. But no-fault divorce also gutted marriage of its legal power to bind husband and wife, allowing one spouse to dissolve a marriage for any reason — or for no reason at all.

It started with one bad political decision followed by troves of unhappy people who thought a divorce would make them happy, but they found out it usually only makes one even more miserable.

Application:
I have a book here that I think we all should read by Dr. Russell Moore concerning the future of sex and marriage in our country.  Let me read from you one quote from his book.

Turn to Matthew 11:28-30

(Drew speaks to those dealing with adulterous thoughts and same-sex attraction; telling them to stop bearing their burdens alone)