Thyatira

Examining The Eternal Consequences Of Following False Prophets.

Tim Lundy
Feb 7, 2021    33m
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This letter from Jesus to the church at Thyatira reminds us of the importance of knowing what the Word of God tells us. When you are familiar with the Word of God, it will allow you to recognize false prophets, thereby avoiding the eternal consequences of believing their lies. Video recorded at Los Gatos, California.

Transcription
messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Tim Lundy: 00:01 Hey Venture, as we continue this series letters from Jesus, we've also been looking at historical letters, letters in our history that make a difference.

Tim Lundy: 00:11 And I thought in light of black history month, I'd highlight a letter that was instrumental in the civil rights movement. It's a letter called, Letter From Birmingham Jail, it was written by Dr. Martin Luther King. He wrote it in 1963, and he literally wrote it from jail, as he was jailed because of the peaceful protest he was leading to try to get rid of desegregation. The letter was actually response to a letter that had been written by eight white pastors, and they had published their letter, a call to unity in the local newspaper. And in it, they declared that they really shouldn't have these protests, that justice should be adjudicated in the courts, not out on the streets. And Dr. King read their letter, and he literally started his response on the margin of the paper, and he continue to write it, it's an open letter that went out. And as you read through it, he uses his biblical knowledge, he uses his theology, to inform his thoughts about justice, to inform and speak to a country that needed to hear it.

Tim Lundy: 01:29 And there's so many famous lines from that letter. You've probably heard recently, many people have quoted, they've said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Now Doctors King's words, almost 62 years later, they still have power, especially when you consider the source. Because it would be just a few years after that, that Dr. King, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, one of the dark parts of our history, is he was killed on the balcony of the Lorraine motel. And if you go there today, they turned the whole motel into a civil rights museum, you can see the exact location.

Tim Lundy: 02:12 You know, he's a man that gave himself to this cause, and there's a power that comes with that, and his words ring out, even today. You know, as I think about that, I think about the power of these letters that we're looking at too, and they have a power and authority that goes beyond Dr. King or any other person, because they come from Jesus. Who brings not only divine authority, but he also brings sacrifice, he gave his life, specifically, for his church. And he's writing these letters, remember, to real churches, with real people, dealing with real problems.

Tim Lundy: 02:56 And today we look at a church where he brings authority, it is the church of Thyatira. And if you've got your Bibles, you can turn there or you'll read with me on the screen. You can turn to Revelation chapter 2, it's the longest letter we'll look at. And in this, he addresses this city of Thyatira, and the church that was there. And of all the cities we looked at, this is the smallest one. It really wasn't known for culture, it wasn't known for university, it didn't have a lot of temples, if anything, it was kind of an industrial city, a trades town. In fact, they were known specifically for a couple of things, they were known for the bronze that they would make, a real high quality bronze, and it was also a city that was known for creating this purple dye. They would take the root of a vegetable, and a seashell, and they grind them together and they could create a purple dye and they would make purple fabrics that were sold. In fact, Lydia, one of the first converts in Asia, was known, you can read about her in the Book of Acts, she was from Thyatira. In fact, it said, she's a seller of purple, she was part of the trade that was there.

Tim Lundy: 04:06 And in this city, you've got this church that is up against all the opposition and the other things, but they're facing a particularly unique difficulty in this church. Now, as we look at it, look how Jesus characterizes himself, He says “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." Now look at this, kind of two characteristics that point out, the Son of God, and then this flame of fire. The first one as the Son of God, he speaks with divine authority, mean he's laying down his calling card here. This is one of the most overt times where Jesus declares his divinity, he says, I am the Son of God. Early in Revelation, he referred to himself as the Son of man, he's identifying his humanity. Here though, he goes, no, I'm the Son of God, I'm the eternal Son of God, so when I speak, there's some authority.

Tim Lundy: 05:07 And then you add to that, he goes, I've got flaming eyes of fire and burnished feet of bronze. Here's what he's pointing out with those two descriptions. You can see it in the next, he has perfect insight and purity. I mean, when you say I've got flaming, anytime you see flame in scripture, it's talking about the purity of God. And so he says, I've got these flaming eyes, I see you, I see clearly, I have absolute insight. And then, you know, he's speaking to a region where they produce bronze, and they knew what that would take. They knew to produce a perfect bronze like that, the heating element that you burn away draws. And he describes his feet in that way, he's like burnished bronze. Now all of this is speaking about authority, speaking about clarity, speaking purity. There's a part of it, if you were reading the letter, part of you would go, man, he's bringing the heat, I mean, he's about to really lean into this. And as we read this letter, that's absolutely true, that's absolutely what he's doing.

Tim Lundy: 06:15 Now, before he gets to that though, the criticism, he wants to compliment them, because this is a good church. And look how he describes it, look at the compliment that he gives. He says, “‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first." Man, that's two characteristics. Look the first one, I mean, it's just basically, they are marked. And if you wanted to have a report card for a church, it doesn't get much better than this, love, check faith, check, service, check, endurance, check. I mean, straight down the line, that's pretty powerful. And then, not only that, look at the second point with this, they're not a stagnant church, they're growing in many ways. It wasn't just that they had these characteristics, he says your deeds now, what you're doing now, is greater than what you used to do. I mean, if you look and you go, man, I don't want to look at a church and they got love, and they got faith, and they've got service, and they've got endurance, and it's more now than it used to. They're not like the church in Ephesus, Ephesus, he says, you guys are leaving your life. He goes, you guys are actually growing in your life. And again, this is a good lesson for us because it's real easy when things are so good, it's real easy to just go, I don't want to deal with the bad, I don't want to go there.

Tim Lundy: 07:46 But think about it, if you had maybe a child who's in high school and they came and they said, you know, you go tell me about your report card. And they go, I got straight A's in four of my classes. You go, wait, aren't you taking five classes? Well, yeah, chemistry. Well, tell me about your chemistry grade. Well, I'm failing chemistry, but hey, I got straight A's in the other four classes. Now, as a parent, you would stop and go, I love this, but we've got to deal with this. And I would just encourage, you know, it's easy and other areas of life. Sometimes, in marriage, things are going so good, but there's some issues we don't want to deal with. And you almost don't want to move into it, because the other stuff's so good, and so we just kind of ignore it. And maybe it's your work or your company, I mean, profits are up. Now, we've got personnel issues, we've got other things, the culture of the company is not great, but I don't even really want to deal with it, because this part is so good.

Tim Lundy: 08:48 And especially in a church, sometimes it's easy in a church to just kind of go, can we ride on the good stuff, and not really deal with the stuff that we know is going to be messy? See, Jesus loves this church, and remember he started this by going, Hey, I'm the Son of God, I got flaming eyes, I see, I got burnished bronze feet, I'm purity, and so we need to talk. And I have a specific criticism for this church. Look at it, as he says, he says, "I have this against you." And this is strong, I mean, when he said he's bringing the heat, he's bringing the heat, "That you tolerate (and look how he puts it) that woman Jezebel. Who calls herself..." He says, I don't, but she, "...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." Now again, let me just remind you, these are the words of Jesus, when he's strong, he's strong. So he says, I love all these things going on in this church, but we've got to deal with this. And if you summarize all this, a couple of things that stand out with it. The first, they're tolerating a false teacher who was corrupting the church. I mean, she's this false teacher in the church, and as Jesus identifies her, notice he goes, that woman, Jezebel.

Tim Lundy: 10:32 Now her name wasn't literally Jezebel, he's using historical reference there. If you go back to First Kings, and the children of Israel had good kings and bad kings, the king who was listed as the worst king was King Ahab. And one of the key reasons, is he married a woman named Jezebel, she was from an adjoining country, she served false gods, the Baals, as people call it, and the Asherah. And those gods had so many just despicable practices, there were a lot of sexuality to it, a lot of orgies, there was sacrifice that was involved in it. And she began corrupting the children of Israel. And if you read through First Kings, Elijah stood up to her. In fact, he had the showdown with her prophets, and they try to call down fire. and then God called down fire for a Elijah. This huge showdown, she tried to have a Elijah killed in it. I mean, at the end of her life, God had prophesied how she would die, she was thrown down out of a tower, the dogs ate her body.

Tim Lundy: 11:40 She went down in human history, even today, I've heard it recently. Someone called someone a Jezebel, and everybody looked at it and go, man, how could you use that name? No one names their children Jezebel anymore. I mean, have you ever walked up to somebody and go, this is our baby girl, little baby Jezebel. We call her Jezzie, little Jezzie, do you want to see Jezzie? I mean, if they said that, wouldn't you expect kind of like this demon child, you know, no one names that we don't use it. And Jesus knows that, but he specifically calls this woman that name.

Tim Lundy: 12:18 Now, I think part of what's going on, as you see, remember the church isn't dealing with it, I think they're intimidated by her. She's got this position of authority, she's this teacher, everybody walks on eggshells around her. And so Jesus says, hey, I'm the son of God, we're going to break some shells, we're going to identify her for who she really is. You guys think she's this great teacher, she's a Jezebel. Now you might look at that and you go, yeah, but how does a church that's so great, let a woman like this become a teacher, have a position of authority? And I think there's two things in the text that point out how she got this.

Tim Lundy: 12:59 Notice he says, she calls herself a prophetess. And a little bit later, you'll see in another verse, he says, people have been caught up in her deep teaching, these secrets that no one knows. And that's a powerful combination, it's a powerful combination even today, when people claim they have this prophecy and then they combine it with this secrecy, this truth that nobody else has discovered before. Now, again, especially in that church, it's not wrong that she's a prophetess. In fact, in the early church, you got to remember when this was written, they didn't have the New Testament as we have it, and so God had some distinct roles that he used in the church. He gave apostles, and he gave prophets, and then also evangelists, and pastors, and teachers. Now in the early church, especially in this time period, the apostles were the establishing authority. They were the ones, and they spoke and they wrote the Word of God, we have those letters and they are trace back to the apostles. The prophets and the prophetess, there were women who were prophets as well, that served in the New Testament church, they had a distinct role as well. They were there, because remember you couldn't just go to church and open up your Bible and see what it said in the New Testament, and see the latest teaching. And so the prophets would be there to speak what God was saying, they were the voice of God into it, so it was a very distinct and powerful role.

Tim Lundy: 14:27 And if anybody claimed prophecy, notice what Paul said in First Thessalonians. He says, "Do not despise prophecies." Don't despise when God has sent these people, "But test everything, hold fast to what is good. Abstain from every form of evil." Now, because it's such a powerful role, Paul says, you need to test. In fact, he wrote the Berean church and he said, you know what I love about you guys? Anything that I teach you, man, you're always comparing it to scripture, you're testing it, you're researching it. So you test it by going, does this match what God has said in the past? And also you test it by their fruit, their lifestyle, how are they living their life? And on both counts, this woman who called herself a prophetess, Jesus said, I don't call her that, I call her Jezebel.

Tim Lundy: 15:25 See, you take prophecy, someone that is willing to just say, Hey, thus, sayeth God, and God's got a word of prophecy. We hear that a lot today, and I'm not debating whether they're still prophecy today, but I do hear it overused. I do hear people, they'll come forward, I've got a prophecy about your life. A lot of times when people are using that, I think they're mistaking it with the spiritual gift of discernment. There's a spiritual gift of discernment that the Holy Spirit gives you insight into a situation, insight into life. I I've had that at times where I'll be talking to somebody, or counseling with them, and I don't know how, but the spirit will just make me aware of insight of what's really going on here. And I don't think it's prophecy, and I would never say, oh, thus sayeth the Lord. I'm going to prophesied this over you. But I can at times go, hey, I think God is telling me that this is going on. And you kind of see it on their face when they go, yeah, well, that's exactly it. And I have no way of knowing it, that's discernment, that's the Holy Spirit working in that moment, that's not a prophecy that you declare over someone.

Tim Lundy: 16:32 But if you take prophecy, when people want to speak about this way, this authoritative way, and then you combine it with the other thing, her deep secrets...And the Gnostics in that time period, they always would teach, we've got these deep secrets, we have these insights, we know these things that no one else has ever seen before. Guys, that's a powerful combination, and we see it today. I mean, prophecy and secrets, how many YouTube channels are dedicated to it? How many videos have you seen? Somebody will send you, especially in this time, and it always starts with ominous music, and this video will reveal to you, the cabal, of what's really going on in the world. And they start these secrets that no one knows, and this is how it fits with this prophecy and all that, and people are eating it up. And once you start down those rabbit holes, man, you can find yourself deep in it. And we've seen it, that's how it plays out. And I know, even as I say that some of you are going, but Tim, we can't trust the mainstream media, and we can't trust...I'm not telling you to trust that, but hear me, just because somebody forwarded you a video, why do you trust that? Guys, we don't have to chase that stuff, I would encourage you, focus on the clear truth that God's revealed, focus on the clear truth of what he calls us to, we test everything according to his word.

Tim Lundy: 18:07 See, when you chase that, look at the devastation, look what happened here. The false teaching had opened the door to false practice, it always goes hand in hand. You get false teaching, and look what it did, she's leading, Jesus says, my servants into this immorality. She had brought in through her prophecy, and through her secrets, and all her teaching. She brought in this form of teaching, now that she's introduced a form of sexual immorality, we don't know how it manifest, but she had convinced them, God's okay with this, this is how it should be practiced. And nobody wants to touch it, nobody wants to address her, nobody wants to go against the prophetess because she has a secrets nobody else has.

Tim Lundy: 18:50 And Jesus said, no, we're cutting through that, she's not a prophetess, she's a false teacher. She's a Jezebel, and she's leading my servants astray, and you guys are tolerating it, but I can't, and I have given her time to repent. I love that, Jesus is patient with anybody, even this woman. He goes, I'm not just coming down with a hammer, I've given her time to repent, but she won't listen. So here's the call to action, look what he calls. And again, I've told you it was strong, he says, "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." Now he's not talking about her physical children, he's talking about her spiritual children, those who've been caught up in this. "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." I mean, he looks at this and again, the strength with what he's coming, this false teacher, what she's done in leading them astray. And so he said, I'm just going to declare what I'm doing, so that you guys know exactly what's going on here. And he's talking about here, his willingness to use tribulation, his willingness to use sickness.

Tim Lundy: 20:21 You know, I've talked about this a couple of weeks ago when we looked at the church in Smyrna, and this was a church, they were facing tribulation, they were facing suffering, not because of sin, but because they actually were faithful. And I told you at that time, a lot of you that are facing sickness, a lot of you that are out there, you don't need to live under this doubt of man, is God doing this to me because I've been sinful? No, when God is using sickness, when God is using suffering as a way of getting our attention, he's always explicitly clear, like this. These people had no doubt why this was happening. And so if you're ever going through a time suffering and you don't know why it's happening, you don't have to immediately go to this place, man, I know it's because of my sin.

Tim Lundy: 21:07 But the flip side of it, man, if you are in a season where you're in rebellion against God, if you're in a season like these people, you don't take it seriously. It doesn't just have to be sexual sin, I mean, in First Corinthians, Paul is addressing the church, and it was around communion. And they were getting together when they were supposed to get together and celebrate communion and be the church, some of them were getting there, they'd get drunk, they would steal from the poor in the process, they would not open the church up. Look how Paul addresses this in First Corinthians, "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world." Now look what Paul is saying here, and it matches what Jesus is saying to this church. He said, there's some of you when you come to communion, communion's that time when we remember that Jesus died for me, his blood was shed for me. He says, this is the time you stop and you examine yourself.

Tim Lundy: 22:32 And now, he's not saying you go into it, we've got to be afraid every time, oh man, do I have some secrets sin, I've got to be afraid to take communion. No, he's talking to people who very explicitly, they've embraced where they are, they've embraced what they're doing. And he goes, man, when you do that, you're basically saying the sacrifice of Jesus doesn't matter, the word of Jesus doesn't matter. I just live the way I want to live, I'm going to do this. He goes, man, you're bringing judgment on yourself in that. And God loves you enough, that he knows sin is always death, that he will use anything to get your attention. There was a goal in both these passage, he was patient with Jezebel, he's been patient with these people. Paul's talking about a God who's patient here, but he says, hey, when he's convicting you about something in your life, and you just hold him off, and you just tell him that you don't care and you don't deal with it, God's going to get your attention because he knows sin kills you. And he'd rather you'd deal with it on this side of eternity then the other side, and he loves you enough to do anything to get your attention.

Tim Lundy: 23:49 Now, guys as I say that, let me be real clear because there's some of you and I know you, you're struggling with sin. Man, you have good days and you have bad days, and you struggle with all kinds of sins, maybe they're sexual sins, maybe they're issues in your life, maybe it's greed, maybe it's money, maybe [inaudible]. All of us, I mean, if we're honest, all of us are in this struggle. And even as I say those words, that's not what Jesus is talking about here, he's not talking about people who are struggling with sin. He's not talking about people that you have good days and your bad days, but in it, man, you're bringing those to God, in it, you're looking to God. In it, it doesn't matter how many times you falls, he loves forgiving you, you're in that process of it. See, some of you live under this cloud all the time, that you think God has a kind of a giant punch card. You know, like a punch card at the frozen yogurt place or the ice cream place, you know, 10 punches and I get a free one. We think, man, if I do this sin one more time, man, I got 10 punches and then I God's going to smite, it's a smite card. Because you know, you only get to do it so many times, and then God's done with you, that's not how it works, and that's not what Jesus or Paul are talking about here.

Tim Lundy: 25:06 Jesus says, if we confess our sins, what is he? He's faithful and just to forgive. How many times does he forgive? Seven times seventy, in other words, he says, he just keeps forgiving. So maybe you're somebody here today and you go, man, I am really struggling, and I would encourage you, he's with you in the struggle, he's for you in the struggle. But as you're in that struggle, what you're doing is you're asking him to forgive you. What he is talking about though, are people who refuse to deal with their sin. People, that maybe he's been convicting you for a long time, and you don't struggle with it because frankly you've embraced it, you don't want to think about it. You've convinced yourself that God's okay with it, that's what this teacher did. She finally convinced them, we can live this way. And you know what, God's okay with it, it doesn't matter what his word says. And Jesus says, no, I can't let you do that, I can't let you go there.

Tim Lundy: 26:11 And so as you look at this, this call to action that he places on them, is that you, you've got to deal with it. Now look at the rest of the church as he finishes out and says, "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 He's talking to the rest of the church, he goes, hey, there's a lot of you there, you're not caught up in this. I love what he says to them, look what he says, "To you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. Only hold fast what you have until I come." Here's the only thing he's calling him to do if you look at it, and it's so simple in the next point, to the rest of them, Jesus only asked, just hold on, hold onto what you have. Those of you who are walking with me, those of you, maybe you're struggling, maybe you're struggling with real things, but you're doing it out of love, and you're doing it out of faith, and you're doing it out of service, and you're enduring. I'm not expecting you to be perfect, in fact, all I want to tell you today, just hold on. Man, wouldn't it be great to just hear those words from Jesus? Just hold onto what I've given you.

Tim Lundy: 27:24 Part of the church, man, you've got to wake up and repent, part of you just hold on. And do everyone who overcomes, look at this commitment he makes at the end, "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.’ Kind of two things that you see out of this, one, this great promise, that he promised to share his ruling authority with them, with us. Man, for those who hold on, for those who look to him, for those who live and walk in him, he goes, man, do you know what, right now you may feel under it, one day you're going to be over it. Right now you feel like you're last, one day you're going to be first. And this is not just any authority, it's the authority of the Son of God, I'm going to share it with you, and you get to rule with me.

Tim Lundy: 28:31 He promises them that, and then notice that other line he said, and I also promise to give them the morning star. And you look at that and you go, what is the morning star? Well, the very end of the book, he tells them what the morning star is. He says, I am the son of God, I am the son of David in Revelation 22:16, and then he says these words, I am the morning star. So when Jesus makes a promise, hey, I'm going to give you the morning star, do you know what he's saying? He promises, he's going to give himself to them. Can you think of a better gift? Out of all the things somebody could give you, if they looked at you and said, hey, I'll give you me, I'll give you everything. I am, I'll give you everything I got, trust me, follow me. That's what Jesus promises to us.

Tim Lundy: 29:31 Guys, as we finish out today, these are hard words. You know, I told you a couple of weeks ago, everybody loves their idea of Jesus, but then when you read the real words of Jesus at times, it's pretty striking. So maybe as we're finished out today, maybe you're somebody, you're not a part of church, you're outside of the church. And you look at that and you go, whoa, that is strong. Here's what I would encourage you though, you know what I hear from people outside the church a lot of times, you know, what they hate about the church often, is the hypocrisy. The church is great at judging out there, but not dealing with their own stuff. And Jesus is saying in this letter, yeah, I don't like that either. I didn't come to bring judgment out there, but I did come to look to my church and go, hey, let's be honest, let's be real, let's deal with this stuff.

Tim Lundy: 30:28 And so if you're reading this letter as somebody who's outside of that, I hope you're encouraged by that, that maybe the very things that frustrate you, if we lived it out in the way that Jesus calls, we wouldn't have that reputation at times. Maybe you're here today and you're hearing these words, or you're watching this, and as you watch it, you're somebody who struggles, maybe you're struggling with real sin. Hear the patience of Jesus, hear the forgiveness of Jesus, he's not punching your card, he's not adding it up, he's with you. So much so, he gives himself to you. And finally, maybe you're hearing this today and you're somebody that does need to wake up. You're somebody that God's been convicting you about something for a long time, and you won't look at it, and you won't deal with it. And you've about convinced yourself that he's okay with it, but there's a part of you deep inside that knows that's not true. I'd encourage you today, repent. God loves you too much to let that sin take over, and he'll use any means necessary to get your attention. So why don't you take that step today? And instead of denying, confess it, instead of running, turn, instead of pretending like it's not there, admit the reality and receive the forgiveness that he loves to give.

Tim Lundy: 32:16 Let's pray. Father, I thank you. I thank you for your love for your church. I thank you for your grace for the church. I thank you for the truth that you speak with. Lord, we read a letter like this, and in some ways it shocks us a little bit because people today are scared to talk as straightforward as you do. But it's just a reminder to me, of how much you do love us, that you're so patient with us no matter what we get caught up in. But you do love us enough to deal with us in truth, you love us enough to use any means necessary. Lord, I pray, if there's somebody listening to this that they need to deal with it, you'd give them the courage, that instead of running, they turn, instead of denying, they would confess. Lord, I pray, if there's somebody out there and maybe they've been struggling and they just feel guilt and shame over it, I pray they'd have a sense of both your truth, but also your grace. That you're the God that every time we confess, you forgive, every single time. And that's only possible because you're the morning star who gave everything to us. And so we pray these things in Christ' name. Amen.



Recorded in Los Gatos, California.
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