Monday, August 29, 2011

Looks alive but is DEAD!

I read the first part of Revelation 3 early last week, however I am taking until now to blog about it.  I didn’t want to be hasty in my initial comments about verse 1 because often times our initial knee jerk reaction is off.  Whereas I am not certain I am right on, now, a week later I am still thinking the same thing…..so here it goes. Verse 1 talks about a church that has a reputation of being alive, but is dead:

Revelation 3:1 "And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: 'The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. "'I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.

The first thing I thought of when I read that last week was three of our modern day American churches.  Whereas there are definitely others, these are the first ones I thought of….probably because I was deceived by all three at some point in my life:

Catholic church, ELCA Lutheran churches, Word of Faith churches

All of these churches either add to, take away, or preach a completely different gospel. The message to them today, is the same as the warning Jesus gave to the church in Sardis…repent:

Revelation 3:3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.

Yes, the catholic church preaches about Jesus, but where do they get the other doctrines they have added?  Yes, the ELCA churches preach about Jesus, but who decided they have the authority to leave out Scripture they don’t like? Yes, the Word of Faith churches use the name of Jesus, but where is their reverence for the King?

Some of you reading this might be part of these churches and are born-again; the Sardis church had the same thing going on:

Revelation 3:4 Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.

Whether God is calling you out of those churches is between you and God; however, I do not see anywhere in the Word where light can have fellowship with darkness. To conquer we need to have fellowship with Jesus, we need to be encouraged by other Christians, we need to hold fast to the end…how can this happen in a church that is dead?

Revelation 3:5  The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.


Recap Jesus messages to the churches so far

Some items done well:
-works for Him
-patience
-don’t bear those who do evil
-test those claiming to be apostles
-labor for His name sake
-do not become weary in laboring for Him
-hate the works of those practicing and teaching false religions and perverting the Gospel
-work in the face of tribulation
-work while in poverty
-do not be swayed as those around are being killed for the faith
-do not deny faith in Jesus at any cost
-Love
-Faith
-Service
-Patient endurance
-Increasingly zealous for good works

Some items that need repentance:
-left first love
-not doing the works done at first
-allow false doctrine
-not rebuking those in the church practicing sin
-not separating themselves from false religion
-do not tolerate those teaching false religion, idol worship and sexual immorality

“Characteristics”, “descriptions” of Jesus:
-Holds seven stars in His right hand
-Walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands
-First and the Last
-Was dead and came to Life
-Has the sharp two-edged sword
-Son of God
-Eyes like a flame of fire
-Feet like burnished bronze
-Searches the mind
-Searches the heart
-Has the seven spirits of God
-Has the seven stars

Call to action:
-return to the love you had at first
-overcome
-do not fear when suffering for Christ
-overcome the testing of evil by being steadfast in the faith
-be faithful unto death
-repent of sexual immorality
-repent of idol worship
-conquer
-keep His works
-hold fast until He returns

Rewards:
-Eat from the Tree of Life
-Crown of Life
-Not hurt by the second death
-Eat from the hidden manna
-given a new name
-authority over nations
-walk with Jesus in white
-name will be in the Book of Life
-Jesus will confess our name before His Father and the Holy Angels

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Jesus is very clear....are you listening to Him?


In my study of Revelation 2:18-29 I found that Thyatira was a city known for its dealing in metals and fabrics. Without knowing this, the description Jesus gives of Himself does not seem as significant; however, knowing this helps us to understand that Jesus is always trying to relate to people to communicate His Truth. There is no doubt that the people of this culture would have received additional impact to verse 18 than we would today:

Revelation 2:18 "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.

As we read the things the church of Thyatira are doing well, it is difficult to understand how they could be led astray to such depravity:

Revelation 2:19-20 "'I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. 20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.

In my study I found that the name Jezebel is used in 1Kings regarding a woman who married King Ahab. I was confused as to why Jezebel from 1Kings would be paralleled in Revelation. I was wondering if it is the same person, which seems odd considering the 1000 year time difference. Some notes I referred to indicate that potentially Jezebel only symbolizes the prostitute Babylon. My thought is (and I only say “my thought” so you can take it with a grain of salt since I am not sure)…but my thought is that Jesus seems to be addressing a certain person; however, I think it is evident in Revelation that everything is not always as it seems on the surface.  Whatever the case may be, we know that Jesus does not take lightly those who practice sexual immorality and worship of false gods:

Revelation 2:20-23 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. 21 And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. 22 Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. 23 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.

People in our culture may not outwardly and openly use prostitutes (although it goes on), we would especially be stunned to see prostitutes being used in some type of act of worship. In addition, our culture would be confused at a rebuke of “eating things sacrificed to idols”.  Whereas these two things may seemingly not apply to our culture, I think it is imperative that we take a look at the rampant sexual immorality and perversion that is rampant in our culture. I am sure that the Christians of Thyatira were swept up in the “normalcy” of their culture and partook without a thought, much like we do in our culture. Jesus warns them of their error and also warns them of the consequences. In the same way, our culture needs to be warned. Fornication, homosexuality, pornography, pre-marital sex, adultery, masturbation, strip joints, and sexual fantasy are part of the blatant sexual immorality that our culture has blurred the lines on and Jesus wants us to repent. The same as true of the “eating food sacrificed to idols”…we may be confused as to what that looks like in the first century culture, but we know what it looks like today if we will stop and think. What idol worship do we partake of that puts God on the back burning? Money, power, fame, popularity, vanity, entertainment, religion, family, career, friends? As you read that list a logical response might be, “wait a minute, the first half of the list I understand the problem, but the second half is good stuff”… however, idol worship is anything that takes priority and position above God and your love and service to Him.

We are 4 churches in to Jesus Words to the 7 churches and 2 have them have been rebuked for the same thing, sexual immorality and idol worship. There are three things we can be certain of: 1-Jesus is VERY serious about these things  2-The lure of these two things is very powerful, clearly they are the most powerful weapons used by Satan 3-Jesus warns, but He also gives opportunity for repentance, restoration, regeneration and redemption

For those that will heed the warning and repent and put their faith in Jesus and His promises, PRAISE GOD! For those that choose to ignore the warning and potentially have a flippant attitude that says, “if He gives us opportunity for repentance, restoration, regeneration and redemption I will seize that opportunity after I have had some ‘fun’ for a while”. Be warned, we are not guaranteed tomorrow and even if you are blessed with another day doesn’t mean you will be granted repentance:

Romans 1:20-25 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

2Timothy 2:22-26 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

“Come to your senses” today. Ask that God “grant you repentance”. There is no faking it until you make it with God, Jesus searches our hearts and minds; outward action and words mean nothing if the condition of our heart and mind our not pure and set on Him:

Revelation 2:23b I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.

Recap Jesus messages to the churches so far
Some items done well:
-works for Him
-patience
-don’t bear those who do evil
-test those claiming to be apostles
-labor for His name sake
-do not become weary in laboring for Him
-hate the works of those practicing and teaching false religions and perverting the Gospel
-work in the face of tribulation
-work while in poverty
-do not be swayed as those around are being killed for the faith
-do not deny faith in Jesus at any cost
-Love
-Faith
-Service
-Patient endurance
-Increasingly zealous for good works

Some items that need repentance:
-left first love
-not doing the works done at first
-allow false doctrine
-not rebuking those in the church practicing sin
-not separating themselves from false religion
-do not tolerate those teaching false religion, idol worship and sexual immorality

“Characteristics”, “descriptions” of Jesus:
-Holds seven stars in His right hand
-Walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands
-First and the Last
-Was dead and came to Life
-Has the sharp two-edged sword
-Son of God
-Eyes like a flame of fire
-Feet like burnished bronze
-Searches the mind
-Searches the heart

Call to action:
-return to the love you had at first
-overcome
-do not fear when suffering for Christ
-overcome the testing of evil by being steadfast in the faith
-be faithful unto death
-repent of sexual immorality
-repent of idol worship
-conquer
-keep His works
-hold fast until He returns

Rewards:
-Eat from the Tree of Life
-Crown of Life
-Not hurt by the second death
-Eat from the hidden manna
-given a new name
-authority over nations


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Would Jesus rebuke your church?


Today as I read Revelation 2:12-17 (what Jesus said to the church of Purgamos) there were some things that I wanted to read commentary on; however, I decided to blog about what I am receiving so far and then read some commentary about the historical questions I have. So, that’s the plan…the first part will be my initial thoughts, second part will be our summary outline this far, the third part will be what I gained through commentary.

The first thing I noticed is that the text reads “THE TWO-EDGED SWORD”, not “A TWO-EDGED SWORD”.

Revelation 2:12 "And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, 'These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword:

The next thing I noticed is that Jesus says, “I know your works and where you dwell”. We can be confident as we serve Him that our labor of love for Him does not go unnoticed and we are not forgotten; He has His eye on us.

Revelation 2:13 "I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.

In the last half of verse 13 Jesus mentions one of His martyrs, Antipas. I did a search for this name and I did not find any other place in the Bible where Antipas is mentioned; however, just because that is the case doesn’t mean that his faithfulness went unnoticed by Jesus. The other thing that does not go unnoticed by Our King is the faithfulness of those that hold strong in the faith, even in the face of death and other persecution. I don’t know what it means when He says, “where Satan dwells”; but I know this….the Word says that Satan is the prince of this world and he prowls around seeking whom he may devour. If we know this to be true, there must be a whole other level of intensity “where he dwells”. I don’t know this to be the case, as I said earlier, these are just thoughts that came to me as I read.

As I read through that verse I couldn’t help but have an image in my mind of these faithful Christians that will not waiver in the most hostile environment imaginable for a Christian…a place where Satan dwells and Christians are killed. You would think that in that environment (much like the church of Smyrna) there would be no rebuke from the Lord; after all, He did not rebuke the church of Smyrna. But, we find that He does find fault:

Revelation 2:14-15 But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. 15 Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.

Clearly we have solid, born-again believers in this church, but they are allowing sin in their midst. Once again we see two clear points, better isn’t best; and we are NOT to have fellowship with professing Christians that practice sin. It seems that it is one thing for a person to be deceived in to thinking they are saved while they habitually continue in sin; but it seems there is a whole different level of evil that can be within a faithful church when a person can have the kind of influence on a church to the point where they can infect the church with such evil and false teaching, yet the faithful will not address it. As we look at the list of things these people are doing it is easy to be condemning, yet we do not condemn those that are putting stumbling blocks in front of people in our churches today. We allow false doctrine to be preached without giving it a thought, let alone rebuke. We allow practicing homosexuals to “shepherd” churches and act like we have “grown” as a society. We allow new age doctrine to spread like wild fire and think we are smarter. We can sit and shake our head at the craziness they allowed in the church of Pergamos and totally ignore the elephant in our own churches. Our message today is the same as the message Jesus gave them:

Revelation 2:16 Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.

Some might say, how can we know of this false teaching, I just go to the church I grew up in, or I just went to the church closest to my house? The answer is right in front of you; the two-edged Sword, the Word of God, the Bible. Read, study and meditate on the  Word of God  so when you hear or see that which is contrary to God’s Word you can rebuke it, just as Jesus did. Not only did Jesus rebuke, be He also called them to repentance.


Recap Jesus messages to the churches so far
Some items done well:
-works for Him
-patience
-don’t bear those who do evil
-test those claiming to be apostles
-labor for His name sake
-do not become weary in laboring for Him
-hate the works of those practicing and teaching false religions and perverting the Gospel
-work in the face of tribulation
-work while in poverty
-do not be swayed as those around are being killed for the faith
-do not deny faith in Jesus at any cost

Some items that need repentance:
-left first love
-not doing the works done at first
-allow false doctrine
-not rebuking those in the church practicing sin
-not separating themselves from false religion

“Characteristics”, “descriptions” of Jesus:
-Holds seven stars in His right hand
-Walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands
-First and the Last
-Was dead and came to Life
-Has the sharp two-edged sword

Call to action:
-return to the love you had at first
-overcome
-do not fear when suffering for Christ
-overcome the testing of evil by being steadfast in the faith
-be faithful unto death

Rewards:
-Eat from the Tree of Life
-Crown of Life
-Not hurt by the second death
-Eat from the hidden manna
-given a new name

Picked up from commentary on verses 12-17:
1)    The churches failure to discipline false teachers will prompt Jesus to intervene directly
2)    Pergamum hosted temples of several false gods and even worshipped the emperor as god; all of which qualified them to be the site of Satan’s throne
3)    Jesus shared His title of “faithful witness” with Antipas, who sealed his testimony with his life
4)    To continue in communion with persons of corrupt principles and practices is to become “partakers of other men’s sins” which is displeasing to God. (1Timothy 5:22 Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people's sins; keep yourself pure.)




Sunday, August 21, 2011

"Deny Jesus or die"!...."OK, Bye"

As we go through what Jesus says to the seven churches in Revelation I am going to keep a running summary of props, rebukes and more below each post. I think it would be worth reading through the list every day. Jesus thought enough of these items to include them in the final Book of His Word and I think we would do well to know what are King wants from us and what He doesn’t want from us.

As I wrote that I could almost hear some people saying, “that works righteousness!”  No it isn’t.  Look what Paul said in Romans 1:

Romans 1:5-6 Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, 6  among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;

Those that have been born-again have received Grace FOR the OBEDIENCE of the Faith…..WHY?......for HIS NAME!!!  When we are born-again we will desire to glorify Him and as to not have any confusion among His saints He gave us His Word in that we will know exactly how to conduct ourselves.

Philippians 1:27-29 Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, 28  and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. 29  For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,

That being said, let’s move on to the next church Jesus addresses….Smyrna.

Notice that Jesus is very short and sweet in His Words for Smyrna. He does not rebuke them in any way…..why?  Because they are under HEAVY persecution and a church that is under persecution will be purged of the fake Christians; after all, if you are only pretending you wouldn’t stick around as the brutality comes. You can almost envision a scene of persecutors saying, “renounce Jesus Christ or die!”….”OK, bye”

Revelation 2:8-11 "And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, 'These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: 9 "I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11  "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death." '

Recap Jesus messages to the churches so far
Some items done well:
-works for Him
-patience
-don’t bear those who do evil
-test those claiming to be apostles
-labor for His name sake
-do not become weary in laboring for Him
-hate the works of those practicing and teaching false religions and perverting the Gospel
-serve Him in the face of tribulation
-serve Him while in poverty

Some items that need repentance:
-left first love
-not doing the works done at first

“Characteristics”, “descriptions” of Jesus:
-Holds seven stars in His right hand
-Walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands
-First and the Last
-Was dead and came to Life

Call to action:
-return to the love you had at first
-overcome
-do not fear when suffering for Christ
-overcome the testing of evil by being steadfast in the faith
-be faithful unto death

Rewards:
-Eat from the Tree of Life
-Crown of Life
-Not hurt by the second death