May 2010

Dear Friends,

 "To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan's so-called deep secrets (I will not impose any other burden on you): Only hold on to what you have until I come. To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations." (See Revelation 2:18-29) 

Both the church at Pergamum and at Thyatira were rebuked for following false teachings which will be our focus this month.  Last month we studied the issue of sexual sin in these two churches but the deeper issue was the false teaching/teachers that led the people into sexual immorality and idolatry which the Lord calls spiritual adultery:  "You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God." (James 4:4) {"In a city whose economic life was dominated by trade guilds in which pagan religious practices had become criteria for membership, the Christian convert would be faced with the problem of compromising his stand at least enough to allow participation in a common meal dedicated to some pagan deity. To reject this accommodation could mean social isolation and economic hardship. To be a member of a guild almost certainly would have meant participating in religious idolatry, immorality and debauchery. Thus, there is a dual meaning to the accusation that the Jezebel party practice "sexual immorality." To summarize, then, Revelation's "Jezebel" suggested the Christian could come to terms with the world and still be faithful to Christ." Paul Kroll, 2002 –  Grace Communion International}  

  "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people." "Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord." (2 Cor. 6:14-17) How do we apply this to  our lives?  Marriage – Christians are not to marry non-Christians (including nominal Christians).  (If already married to an unbeliever, this passage does not justify separation or divorce. God's will in such a case is that the marriage relationship should be maintained with a view to the eventual salvation of the unsaved member.) (1 Cor. 7:12-16). Friendships – a believer cannot have "spiritual fellowship" with unbelievers.  A Christian should maintain contact with the unsaved in an effort to win them to Christ, but he should never engage in their sin in such a way as to lead them to think he is no different than they. Business – A Christian should not go into partnership with one who does not know the Lord. Secret orders – The above Scripture also applies clearly to secret orders or fraternities such as the Masons and others. Church – A faithful follower of Christ would not want to hold membership in a liberal church where unbelievers were admitted as members and God's Word does not have authority.                                                             

This "prophetess" was like the Jezebel in the Old Testament (1 Kings 16-22) who led the people of God into idolatry and immorality through her marriage to Israel's king Ahab and in the name of religion killed God's true prophets and promoted Baal worship. The "Jezebel" here in Thyatira (probably her metaphorical name) promoted a Gnostic heresy –  which claimed to tap into the secret mysteries and "the depths" of God – a phrase which she undoubtedly borrowed from Paul's letters (Rom. 11:33; 1 Cor. 2:10). This secret knowledge is what many of the cults teach and what Oprah Winfrey is promoting today through A Course in Miracles and Eckhart Tolle's books and teachings. Some Christian leaders call her the most dangerous woman in the world.    There is another false teaching in many churches today that Dr. Larry Crabb calls the evangelical prosperity gospel which is also harmful. It does not deny that Christ is the only way to salvation (as Oprah and Tolle do) but that God promises temporal blessings to us when we obey him. Crabb calls this the Law of Linearity. Do A (obey the Lord) and get B (temporal blessings). But the Law of Linearity is a "priority" problem and God calls it idolatry. "You shall have no other gods before me." "Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God (not His gifts) with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Exodus 20:3; Matthew 22:37-38) It is a "promise" problem, for the New Testament never promises that obeying God will bring temporal blessings. In fact, many Scriptures say that obeying God will bring trials, suffering and persecution. "Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted."  (2 Timothy 3:12; Also see John 15:18; Acts 14:22) It is a "definition" problem. God defines spiritual "blessings" as anything that draws us closer to Him (which often means trials and suffering versus when things are going our way) and anything that makes us more like the Lord Jesus who lived every moment of His life to please His Father and bring glory to Him. (Romans 8:28-29) God will never help us live the Law of Linearity. If we choose to seek the blessings of this life more than God Himself we are in a battle with God: "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his flesh, from that nature will reap destruction." (Gal. 6:7) Yet, there is a spiritual Law of Linearity – the new way of the Spirit: "The one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life (the God-like life)." (Galatians 6:8) And God will empower us to live the new way of the Spirit that will please Him and be for our eternal good. "Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose." (Philippians 2:12-13)

What is God's solution to the problem of false teaching?  To know His Word, His Truth!!! Scripture says that apart from knowing and obeying God's Word we cannot know right from wrong and are susceptible to false teachings and teachers. "Though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil." (Heb. 5:12-14) "Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance (obedience) of the Law of the LORD, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel." (Ezra 7:10)  "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." (Acts17:11)                                                     


1. What did the Lord say to you through this message?

2. Are you unequally yoked with unbelievers in any of the areas above?

3. On a scale of 1-5, how well do you know God's Word?                  

Be ready to meet the Lord –  If you need to grow in the knowledge of His Word what will you do and when will you do it?                                                                                                                                                           Until He comes,  

Len and Kristen                 

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