This week Pastor Ray continued his series “7 Churches, 7 Choices” and concluded his message on the church at Thyatira with The Uninformed Church: Part Two.
Insights From Pastor Ray’s Sermon
During the introduction to his message, Pastor Ray relayed a story from one of John Ortberg’s books about a man who was in desperate need of work. After applying at a local zoo, the man was informed that the zoo did indeed have work for him; all that would be required was that he act as a gorilla in the gorilla exhibit each day. One day, the man was so into character that he accidentally swung himself over into the neighboring exhibit for lions. Fearing the worst, the man came out of character as the gorilla and began to scream for his life. To his surprise, the lion suddenly whispered to him, “Shut up, you idiot, or you’ll get us both fired!”
This story may be comical, but it can teach us a valuable lesson: not everyone is who they say they are. The Jezebel mentioned in our passage for the week, Revelation 2:18-29, was certainly not who she claimed to be; she was acting out a part that was not real. The Christians in the church at Thyatira either did not see this, saw it and ignored it, or saw it but went along with it out of fear of offending Jezebel. In all these cases, their response would lead to ruin. Jesus knew this, so He sent this message to them as a warning and a call for repentance.
Let me remind you of the most important lesson I have personally taken from this series. Be cautious that you do not see Christ’s message to each of these churches in broad and general terms. Don’t allow yourself to think of the church at Thyatira as “that church over there.” Jesus is giving this message to you, too. So, ask Him to help you see the relevance and application for your own life as you continue to study these churches.
For insights from last week’s sermon, check out that blog post here.
4. The defiance of grace.
Have you ever defied the grace of God? We have all done this in some form or fashion. We can often be guilty of saying something like this: “Yeah, I know what God’s word says, but…” and then we list all the reasons why we’re about to disobey God’s word even though we know it is wrong. This is an attitude with which we must be extremely careful. James says in James 4:17 that the man who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it is clearly sinning. This is what was happening among believers in Thyatira regarding Jezebel and, to some extent, in Jezebel herself.
Although she knew what she should do and was outright refusing to do it, God’s message was that she had been given adequate time to repent. He does the same for us today. Peter says in 2 Peter 3:9 that “The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” If we are not careful, we will become guilty of Jezebel’s same sins, something that can happen in us either overtly or covertly.
Pastor Ray quoted Patrick Morley’s book, I Surrender.
“The Church’s problem is the misconception that we can add Christ to our lives but not subtract sin. It is a change in belief without a change in behavior. It is revival without reformation or repentance.”
We must learn that repentance is not just a belief that we adopt, it is a response that produces change in our lives. If there is something that you know you must repent of, today is the day. You must do it NOW, because you are living under the patient grace of God, but you have no guarantee of when He will say that enough is enough.
5. The deadly response.
Due to her failure to repent, Christ declared judgement not just on Jezebel but also on her children. Most scholars do not believe that this is referring to physical children of Jezebel but instead to those that were a byproduct of her ministry and her false teaching. There is an important lesson for us here… Even if you are not in full time vocational ministry like those of us on a church staff, as a follower of Christ you do have a ministry. Your ministry will produce good byproducts or bad byproducts, so if there is something you are failing to repent of, the consequences will not only affect you but all those under your ministry.
What Christ says here about Jezebel begs the question: is sickness the judgement of God? You might be sick today or care about someone who is sick and wondering if this is because of something you or they have done wrong.
three lessons about sickness.
Some sickness is the result of living in a broken world.
Does this mean that because we live in a broken world God has no power over the sickness we face? Of course not! Remember that God makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good, and He sends rain on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45).
Some sickness is for the glory of God.
Do you remember the story of the man born blind from the Gospels? You can find it in John 9. When His disciples saw this man, they asked Jesus who had sinned that the man was born blind. Was it him or was it his parents? Jesus’ response was clear: “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in Him (John 9:3).
Some sickness is indeed the judgement of God.
We must be careful not to miss that some sickness might have the purpose of discipline to produce repentance in our lives. If you find yourself sick, it is worth taking this to the Lord in prayer and asking Him if there are any ways that you are defying Him or refusing to repent of some sin. He might be trying to get your attention; if you ask Him, He will be glad to show you! Sickness as judgement and discipline is exactly what God promised would happen to Jezebel and Thyatira if they neglected repentance.
6. The decision to remain faithful.
Pastor Ray has called this series “7 Churches, 7 Choices” and this is where the choice for Thyatira begins to reveal itself. Would the believers in this church remain faithful to Christ’s message for them? It was their decision to either remain faithful or to not, and we must make the same choice today. There is an end coming for all of us. How we choose to respond to our cultural circumstances in the present makes all the difference for our future in eternity.
Christ has not called His Church to just tag along. He has called us to make a difference right where we are. Jesus knew that the church at Thyatira could make a difference, but He warned them about what they needed to deal with before they could.
Pastor Ray often tells our staff that we are the thermostats for our various areas of ministry at Ridgecrest because we set the temperature for everything about our ministries. This concept applies to the whole Church as well. We are not to simply register the temperature in the culture as if we were thermometers; we are to set the temperature in the culture. It is time for the church to stop talking about the temperature and start changing it.
Three ways you can change the temperature
If you are having problems setting the temperature in your own life, it’s possible that there is a problem with your salvation. Today is the day for you to turn to Christ in faith.
It is time to deal with the specific sin that you are allowing to corrupt your life and produce a wedge between you, God, and all the plans He has for you.
As Pastor Ray mentioned last week, Thyatira was not a bad church. While they were good at loving others, they were uninformed about their culture and the weeds that were able to spread in their church. Is there an area in which you are uninformed? If you are going to set the temperature, you need to get smart.
That leads us to the final lesson from the church at Thyatira…
“Believers need discernment and discipline until Jesus returns.”
Part of our mission here at Ridgecrest is to CONNECT the people of God to the mission and purpose of God. This requires taking the next step, and everyone has a next step! We want to help you with yours today. Fill out the form at the link below and one of our staff members will contact you soon!