In Rev. 2:16-17 Jesus said, "Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. He that has an ear, let him hear what the spirit saith unto the churches; to him that overcomes will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knows saving he that receives it." To the church of Pergamus twice Jesus had been mentioned the sword that came from His mouth. Undoubtedly, the sword that comes from the mouth of Jesus is the Word of God. Once we have come to know Jesus as our Savior, itís the Word of God that we must feed upon and rely upon as the source of all that we believe and all that we teach. "If any man speak, let him speak as of the oracles of God." Sermons become watered down and begin to lose their godly effect as preachers use more and more of their own ideas and less and less of the Word.
"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." It will not matter how much you have accomplished or how strong you once were, because if you are not in Godís Word enough, you will lose the spiritual vitality that is required to do the work of God in such a way that His name be glorified. If you are a believer but do not have enough of a daily diet of the Word, you will be like Samson with his hair shorn. You will get you up and go you out, but you will find that you are weak compared to what you could have been. You will fail to say things that you ought to have said, and you will miss opportunities because your spiritual senses will be dulled. Without enough of the Word of God you will lack the judgment and the discernment that you could have had.
This is probably part of the reason for the compromises made by the believers in Pergamos. They would not have compromised with false religion had the Bible verses been fresh on their mind that deal with false teaching. Rom. 16:17 says, "Ömark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you have learned, and avoid them." Gal. 1:8 says, "But though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." I John 4:1 says, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."
Jesus gave His message to the fourth church starting in Rev. 2:18 and He said in Rev. 2:18-19, "And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things say the Son of God, who has his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first." Jesus said that he knew their works, and then he mentioned four things: love, service, faith, and patience. The word that is translated "charity" comes from the Greek word "agapao" and means love, the greatest and deepest love. Your work for God is of no value unless it is motivated by love. I Cor. 13:3 says, "And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profits me nothing."
If you have love for God and man, then you will also have service. The word "service" comes from the same word as "deacon." You can only serve others if you are not centered on yourself. There is plenty of good work to do in the world, but there are not enough servants. There are a vast number of people all over the world who have had no one to care for their soul, but there are not many who have enough love so that they would become servants to others or would even pray for the needs that others have. There are many who are willing to be a leader, but not so many who are willing to serve.
Jesus said to the believers in Thyatira that He saw their service, and He also saw their faith. In order to serve you must have faith. "Without faith itís impossible to please God." Without faith you will eventually stop serving because you will see difficult circumstances or you will see a lack of outward results, and you will become discouraged by one thing or another. But if you have faith in God you will be able to serve and to keep serving, because you will do what you do with confidence that God will accomplish His will, and that God shall keep His promises. You will be able to serve anywhere under any circumstances if itís Godís will, because you will know that with God all things are possible. With the right amount of faith you will fear no one and nothing, because you will know that Christ is always with you to guide and to empower you.
If you have love that inspires you to service, and if your service is strengthened by a faith in Christ and His promises, then you will have the patience to persevere just like those in Thyatira. You will have patience if you have found the ability to wait upon God and His will and His guidance. But if you come to desire something with your own will, you will not have the patience that you need. Many things in life just will not happen when you think they should or when you wish they would. You absolutely must have the spirit of a servant so that you know you are following God and not your own will, and you absolutely must have a strong faith so that you know that God knows what is best and that He will accomplish things in His own time. If you are not a servant in this way, and if you do not have this kind of faith; then you will not persevere. Something somewhere will bring you down.
The believers in Thyatira did persevere, and when Jesus commended them in Rev. 2:19 twice He mentioned their works, and Jesus said "the last to be more than the first." Something thatís important to understand about the Christian life is that God is trying to make you into something. When you came to Jesus, you were nothing but a sinner. You were not able to do anything for God. But God saved you and made you a saint, and put you on the road to become something for Him. Itís not how you start that counts, itís how you finish. We all start out pretty much the same: sinners in need of a Savior, but there will be a big difference at the finish. Some will accomplish more than others, and some will work the work of faith and love more than others. God has laid out for us a perfect standard: the highest and greatest of all teachings that are found in what Jesus taught His disciples. We also have the greatest of all examples in the person of Jesus Christ Himself and the way He lived when on the earth. When we start the Christian journey we are very much unlike Christ, but we have a zeal for Him because He saved us from our sins, and we begin to do works. Hopefully, as time goes by Jesus will be able to look at us and say the same thing that he said to those in Thyatira that concerning our works the last "are more than the first."
Jesus also knew what things the believers in Thyatira were doing that they ought not to do. He said to them in Rev. 2:20-23, "Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because you permit that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication, and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searches the reins and hearts: and I will give unto everyone of you according to your works."
The reference to Jezebel is not a reference to a real person, but is a symbolic reference to false religion. In the Old Testament Jezebel was one of the most wicked people in the Bible. Not only was she immoral, she was opposed to God and she persecuted the true believers. The church of Jesus Christ is called the bride of Christ. False religion is called a Jezebel. Evidently the believers in Thyatira had the power to get rid of the false teachers, but instead of preventing them from teaching in their midst, they permitted such teaching to continue. Needless to say, the Lord Jesus was not pleased by such compromise and some very stern warnings were given.
One of the warnings was given in Rev. 2:23 where Jesus said, "And I will kill her children with death." The children of Jezebel would be those who were the spiritual offspring. That is, those who were attracted to the false teaching, those who accepted the false teaching, and those who were a part of what was going on, not because of their relationship with Christ, but because of their involvement with the false teachers. The death that Jesus mentioned is spiritual death. Only Jesus can give life. Anyone who has come to religion because of false teachers is in big trouble: they are in danger of eternal death. False teachers can be very good at what they do: they can be very appealing. They can have pleasant personalities, and they can have powerful speaking abilities. But if they do not have the sound doctrines of the person of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they must not be listened to.
When Jesus warned the believers in Thyatira about their association with false teachers, He reminded the believers of a certain principle that is a part of life, and this principle should be remembered as a hedge and a warning concerning any error that we might fall into. Jesus said in Rev. 2:23, "And I will give unto every one of you according to your works." This saying is true in the life that we now live. For every action there is a reaction. Whatever a person sows that shall they also reap. Some of the things that happen to you in this life are simply a consequence of things that you have done. Had you made different actions, you would have had different consequences. This principle of retribution or reaping what we sow is true in this life, and it will especially be true at the judgment of believers when we are rewarded or not for the things done in our bodies. Salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus, but rewards will be based upon works. One of the works that God has given for us to do is to learn and to hold on to sound doctrine in the face of the attacks that will come against sound doctrine.
There was the possibility that the believers in Thyatira would not be faithful to sound doctrine. Therefore, Jesus said to them in Rev. 2:24-25, "But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. But that which you have already hold fast till I come." The number of false teachers and their ability to seduce the hearers must have been very great, because Jesus said that the only burden or the only responsibility that He put upon the believers in Thyatira was to simply "hold fast" until His return the sound doctrine that they already knew.
If they did hold fast, Jesus also promised them a reward. He said to them in Rev. 2:26-29, "And He that overcomes, and keeps my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessel of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches."
There are people in this world who are motivated by the desire to rule over others. Some people have sold their soul and committed great acts of violence in order to gain power in this world. But whatever power they have gained has only been for a very limited time. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said that the meek shall inherit the earth, and here in the book of Revelation Jesus says that those who will gain power over the nations will be those who make it to the end and remain faithful. If you want to be given power over the nations and rule with Jesus some day, then this is how you do it: learn sound doctrine, avoid being seduced by false teachers, and then hold on to the sound doctrine unto the end. What is the end? Itís either death or the return of the Lord, whichever comes first. We are not talking about the salvation of your soul, but we are talking about rewards that are in question after salvation.
Jesus said that to the person who was faithful in regards to sound doctrine, He would give him the "morning star." A star is a shining light. A star symbolizes a position of glory and honor in the heavens. Jesus Himself is called the bright and morning star in the book of Revelation Chapter 22 verse 16. If we are faithful in teaching the Word of God and in holding fast the doctrine, Jesus will share with us certain powers and privileges and honors in His glory. A similar promise is made in the Old Testament in Daniel 12:3 that says, "And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever."
In spite of how bad the false teachers are, and in spite of how much they have done to hurt the truth, even to the point of seducing believers to believe a lie, Jesus still gives even the false teachers a chance to repent. Jesus said in Rev. 2:21 of Jezebel, the symbol of false religion, "And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not." God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. If any perish, it will be because they refuse to repent in spite of Godís invitation.
God is more than fair: He is gracious and kind, and He gives even the greatest of sinners the chance to repent. But every person in the world only has so much time. The great and righteous and holy God sees and knows. He must fulfill His divine righteousness and judge the earth. Turn to the Lord Jesus while you still have time.
Copyright; 2000 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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