What on earth have we done with the teachings of Jesus?
We are continuing on with our studies into the letters to the Seven Churches in the Book of Revelation. Yesterday we covered the letter to the compromising church. Today we commence with the fourth letter to the corrupt church in Thyatira, now a city called Akhisar in modern-day Turkey ~
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:“I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first.
I gave her time to repent
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. 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.
“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. And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—‘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; and I will give him the morning star. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
He judges in perfect wisdom
Henry says – Thyatira was a town of trade. From here came the woman named Lydia, a seller of purple. On hearing Paul preach, God opened her heart and she believed, and was baptized. She entertained Paul and Silas there. The letter was sent: by the Son of God, who is here described as having eyes like a flame of fire, and feet like fine brass. His general title is here, the Son of God. That is, the eternal and only-begotten Son of God having the same nature with the Father.
His eyes are like a flame of fire, signifying His piercing, penetrating, perfect knowledge. A thorough insight into all persons and all things. One who searches the hearts and tries the reins of the children of men (Rev. 2:23). His feet are like fine brass denoting His motions are steady, awful, and all pure and holy. As He judges with perfect wisdom, so He acts with perfect strength and steadiness.
No charity, no faith
In this church Christ makes honourable mention of their charity, a disposition to do good to all men, or more special, to the household of faith. There is no faith where there is no charity. He commends their service that they had laboured in the Word and doctrine. Their faith was the grace that had activated their charity and their service. They were patient; for those that are most charitable to others and most faithful, must expect to have their patience exercised.
There was a growing fruitfulness among them: their last works were better than when they first believed. This is an excellent character; when others had left their first love, and lost their first zeal, these were growing wiser and better. It should be the ambition and earnest desire of all Christians that their last works may be their best works. That they may be better and better every day, and best at last.
Repentance requires space and time
However there was a faithful reproof for what was amiss. This is not so directly charged upon the church itself as upon some wicked seducers who were among them. The church’s fault was that she conspired too much with them.
These wicked seducers were compared to Jezebel and called by her name. Jezebel was a persecutor of the prophets of the Lord, and a great patroness of idolaters and false prophets. The sin of these seducers was that they attempted to draw the servants of God into fornication, and to offer sacrifices to idols. They called themselves prophets, and so would claim a superior authority and regard to the ministers of the church.
Two things aggravated the sin of these seducers, who, being one in their spirit and design, are spoken of as one person. They made use of the name of God to oppose the truth of His doctrine and worship. Additionally they abused the patience of God to harden themselves in their wickedness. God gave them space for repentance, but they repented not.
The church suffered her
First, Repentance is necessary to prevent a sinner’s ruin. Secondly, Repentance requires time, a course of time, and time convenient. It is a great work, and a work of time. Thirdly, Where God gives space for repentance, He expects the fruit from repentance. Fourthly, Where the space for repentance is lost, the sinner perishes with a double destruction.
Now why should the wickedness of this Jezebel be charged upon the church of Thyatira? Because that church suffered her to seduce the people of that city. But how could the church help it? They had not, as a church, civil power to banish or imprison her. But they had ministerial power to censure and to excommunicate her. And it is probable that neglecting to use the power they had, made them partakers in her sin.
Christ searched the reins and hearts
In the punishment of this seducer, Jezebel, Rev. 2:22, 23, is implied a prediction of the fall of Babylon. I will cast her into a bed, into a bed of pain, not of pleasure, into a bed of flames. Those who have sinned with her shall suffer with her, but this may yet be prevented by their repentance. I will kill her children with death, (those who participated in her sin) that is, the second death. There is no resurrection for those that are killed by the second death, but only to shame and everlasting contempt.
The design of Christ in this that All the churches shall know that I am He that searches the reins and the hearts. And I will give to every one of you according to your works. God is known by the judgments that He executes. Christ has an infallible knowledge of the hearts of men, of their principles, designs, frame, and temper, their indifference and their secret inclinations. He has impartial justice, in giving everyone according to his work, that the name of Christians should be no protection, their churches should be no sanctuaries for sin and sinners.
Yet the encouragement given to those who keep themselves pure and undefiled: But to you I say, and unto the rest, etc., Rev. 2:24. Observe what these seducers called their doctrines—depths, profound mysteries, amusing the people, and endeavouring to persuade them that they had a deeper insight into religion. Christ called them—depths of Satan, Satanical delusions and devices, diabolical mysteries. For there is a mystery of iniquity, as well and the great mystery of godliness.
It is a dangerous thing to despise the mystery of God, and it is as dangerous to receive the mysteries of Satan. How tender Christ is of His faithful servants: “I will lay upon you no other burden; but that which you have already – hold fast till I come, Rev. 2:24, 25. I will not overburden your faith with any new mysteries, nor your consciences with any new laws. I only require your attention to what you have received. Hold that fast till I come, and I desire no more.”
Christ is coming to put an end to it all
Christ is coming to put an end to all the temptations of His people. If they hold fast faith and a good conscience till He come, all the difficulty and danger will be over.
We now come to the conclusion of this message, Rev. 2:26-29. Here we have the promise of an ample reward to the persevering victorious believer. Very great power and dominion over the rest of the world: Power over the nations. This refers to the other world, when believers shall sit down with Christ on His throne of judgment. We shall join with Him in trying, and condemning, and consigning over to punishment the enemies of Christ and the church. The upright shall have dominion in the morning.
He brings day into the soul
We shall have such knowledge and wisdom, suitable to such power and dominion: I will give him the morning-star. Christ is the morning-star. He brings day with Him into the soul, the light of grace and of glory. He will give His people that perfection of light and wisdom which is necessary to that state of dominion that they shall have in the morning of the resurrection.
This letter ends with the usual demand of attention: He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. This tells us that we should all attend to the promises as well as to the precepts that Christ delivers to the churches.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
- Know that Christ has a thorough insight into all persons and all things
- He searches the hearts and tries the reins of the children of men
- He judges with perfect wisdom and He acts with perfect strength and steadiness.
- Know that there is no faith where there is no charity
- Those that are most charitable to others must expect to have their patience exercised
- It should be the ambition and earnest desire of all Christians that their last works may be their best works
- We ought to be aware of conspiring with those who would seduce us and others
- Know that repentance is necessary to prevent a sinner’s ruin.
- Repentance requires time, a course of time, and time convenient.
- Where God gives space for repentance, He expects the fruit from repentance.
- Know that where the space for repentance is lost, the sinner perishes with a double destruction.
- Christ has an infallible knowledge of the hearts of men, of their principles, designs, frame, and temper, their indifference and their secret inclinations
- The name of Christian will offer no protection and their churches will be no sanctuaries for sin and sinners
- Know that Christ will not lay upon us any other burden, but that which we have already
- Know that Christ is coming to put an end to all the temptations of His people
- If we hold fast to faith with a good conscience, all the difficulty and danger will be over
- For those who hold fast we shall sit down with Christ on His throne of judgment
- Christ will give His people that perfection of light and wisdom which is necessary to that state of dominion
- We should all attend to the promises as well as to the precepts that Christ delivers to the churches.
Total Commitment Can I expect the full reward If I sit quietly on the fence? Avoiding anything untoward Dare I seek some recompense? No, not for me a tiny part That I can easily give But all of me, my soul, my heart For I no longer live. I’m out of the murky mire Into Your world of splendour You’re all that I require Take over, I surrender. Gone the dreadful feeling of sinking Gone the chilly strains of coldness Now alert and sure my thinking Marching on with power and boldness. By the late Andrew Feakin [passed away 16th March 2019]
Prayer: Father, I come to You. Thank You that You judge in perfect wisdom. Help me balance my faith with charity and walk in patience with all I meet. May my best works be ever increasing until my last works. Help me have discernment to walk away from those who aim to lead me astray. Help me keep short accounts with You and give me continually the gift of repentance. Aid me to walk in the fruits of that repentance. Help me not lay any burden upon myself or others that which does not come from You. May we hold fast that which we have until Christ returns. In Jesus name I ask. Amen.
To the Corrupt church!
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