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Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

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seven churches of asia

Seven Letters to Seven Churches-Ephesus Part 12

Revelation 2:1-7

“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” Revelation 2:4

To recap: here we have Ephesus, a church that is on the doctrinal straight and narrow, willing to confront false teaching and just doing a lot of things right. Yet, Jesus condemns them for having left their first love. As we discussed in the previous post, that could be a simple fading of the joyous love they felt for the Lord when they first came to believe, rather like a married couple when the honeymoon is over.

We are going to meander a bit today, as I have lots’ on my mind and may wander a bit. Maybe they had left their love for Jesus, and their love for each other? As some pointed out in comments, both can apply. Not only that, but the two are inexorably tied together, and can’t really exist apart from one another. We can’t truly love our brother until we properly love God. If we love God, we WILL love our brother…and on it goes.

Today we are going to look at the relationship between doctrinal adherence and love, as it seems to apply to Ephesus.

In the work I am part of, we fancy ourselves to be the final bastion, and keepers of proper Doctrine. We stand on it, we love it, and we teach it. Just ask us, we will tell you. I am totally okay with that. Truth matters and I believe we have done a fine job of gleaning proper doctrine from God’s Word. God expects us to seek and stand on the truth in the Bible.

I like to serve with people who think and believe like I do, even on secondary issues. That’s normal; we like to be with people like us. I have no problem whatsoever with that, as it makes things go smoothly.

Can we go too far? Yeah, we can. I think we can fall into sort a “doctrinal legalism,” where we lost sight of what matters and get bound up in things that don’t. How did God show His great love for us? He saved us. What, then is the best way we can show love to those around us? Preach that message properly. Look, I will die on the hill of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone; if Christians don’t die on that hill, souls will die and be separated from God forever. On the other hand, is sprinkling versus dunking my hill to die on? I mean, sprinklers have it wrong; water immersion is correct. Yet, do I need to die on that hill, or just not go to church with those folks?

What I mean by this, is how do we interact with people on these secondary issues? Especially, now do we deal with those who don’t believe regarding them? I will use a real-life occurrence to illustrate. I am a cessationist, and not interested in a debate about it here btw. I don’t believe tongues are a gift for today. Some do, and that’s okay. Anyway a few years back I encountered a young lady who was out of the church and, by her own statement, not a believer. She understood my Baptist background and was quick to bring up the topic of tongues. It seemed evident she wanted a debate about the issue. While that might be fun, it was not on the table. Why? Because she was, by her own admission, not saved. I could have had the debate, and at the end, she would still be lost. So, I just sidestepped that and asked why she wouldn’t believe. I was shocked. She wanted to believe, but didn’t think she could because…drum roll…she had never spoken in tongues! So, we had a little talk about that; we talked about by grace alone, by faith alone. I don’t know how it ended up for her, but I do know that she was closer than if I had chosen to debate doctrine with her.

I am a premillennial, pre-tribulation rapture kind of guy. I believe it to be so; you may not. When a person we know is feeling hopeless for the future and what it holds, is that the time to resoundly correct them on their crummy eschatology? Probably not. What really matters?

Titus 2:13  Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

If we get so broiled up on the fine points of doctrine that we forget the One we love, then we have a problem.

Friends, doctrine does matter. Truth matters, That is why Jesus commended the church at Ephesus for theirs; doctrinal purity pleases God.

On the other hand, our relationship is with Jesus, not His doctrines. Maybe Ephesus had forgotten that?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Seven Letters to Seven Churches-Ephesus Part 11

Revelation 2:1-7

“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” Revelation 2:4

So, what was really the problem with the church at Ephesus? Everybody seems to agree that they had stopped loving the Lord as they ought to have been loving Him; yet, we are sort of stuck at the question: What might it look like to not love the Lord like we ought to be? As Dr. Phil likes to say, we need to put verbs in our sentences.

I suppose most people remember when we first fell in love with our spouses, and the almost giddy desire we felt to be with them, court them and please them. I think in most cases, our live sort of revolved around them. Sadly, most of us also know how that usually works out over some years; the devotion becomes less and less until sometimes we are just going through the motions with our spouses. We have lost that first love.

Now, how many of us know believers like that? Folks who were almost giddy with glee and anticipation about the new relationship they had found, only to slide into apathy and disinterest in a few years? I am pretty sure we all know folks like that; we may have BEEN folks like that in our own lives.

Now, it may seem odd to raise this; because after all, wasn’t the Lord just commending this church for being so hardworking? Yes, He was. Friends, it’s just a truth that most of the work, in most churches, is done by a few people. A local assembly of believers can have a wonderful reputation for being a hard-working church, and yet that work is getting done by the efforts of a minority.

That’s just not a sustainable model for the local church. I don’t care how enthusiastic the hard workers are, eventually they either tire, get too old, or die. We have churches today full of people who honestly think coming to preaching for an hour a week constitutes sacrificial service to our Lord. Yet, outside of that, they have no interest in anything else. They want to get fed for an hour by the preacher but have no interest in providing spiritual nutrition to the lost and dying world around them. They have lost their love for the Lord Jesus and His people.

Tell your spouse this; I dare you: Tell them you still love them, but the only time you are going to come around is for supper. See how that goes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seven Letters to Seven Churches-Ephesus Part 10

Revelation 2:1-7

“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” Revelation 2:4

Part 10. Wow. I hope readers don’t mind us really taking our time and poking around a bit. Actually, it really doesn’t matter, as that is what I am going to do anyway! Writing blog posts is as much for me as for readers; it is my way of studying. We might say, my blog posts are my study notes. So, part 10 it is.

So, here we are again. Ephesus: hard-working, doctrinally pure, yet they have left their “first love.”

Today, we are going to just poke around very briefly in the language of our verse and talk about the significance of some of it. I have said before, and I will say again; I am not a Greek scholar and have never studied it as a subject. That is great if you have, but not an absolute requirement for good Bible study. On the other hand, the New Testament was written in the Greek language, and being able to perform at least basic word studies is really useful!

In this case, we don’t even need any Greek, per se to glean some significance from the words we see up here. FYI, this also shows the usefulness of using more than one Bible translation in studies. Anyway, onward we go!

I love my King James Bible, I really do. I just enjoy reading it. It’s all I have really known, and what we use at our place for worship. However, as in any Bible, we have to be on the lookout for any possible biases on the part of translators. I am not saying there was any bias here, but we have a word added here in the KJV that adjusts the meaning here in just a small bit. Here we have the phrase, “I have somewhat against thee…..” That almost seems to mitigate the fault Jesus found with this church. The original manuscripts did not include that word, “somewhat.” In the originals, as well as many other translations, the phrase is much more direct. For instance, in the ESV the phrase reads, “But I have this against you.” No punches are pulled there; Jesus is direct in His condemnation of the actions of this church.

Next is the phrase, “…because thou hast left thy first love.” Who did the leaving here? Thou…you…them…us. We know God never leaves us; He tells us this:

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5

“And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.” Genesis 28:15

“Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” Deuteronomy 31:6

“There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” Joshua 1:5

“And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the Lord God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord.” 1 Chronicles 28:20

That’s just a few times, right? That’s a promise from God; He won’t ever leave us. Seemingly, the church at Ephesus had left Him; this is significant.

Even the word, “left,” in the KJV has deeper meaning than just a cursory glance might reveal. In search of a better word, some translations use, “abandoned,” which seems to be a more accurate description of just what happened here. Other meanings of this word from the Greek could be to have remitted, or sent forth, that first love. They did this, not God.

Well, maybe next time we will talk some about somethings that actually happen with a people or a church have left their first love. Until then, be blessed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seven Letters to Seven Churches-Ephesus Part 9

Revelation 2:1-7

“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” Revelation 2:4

Well, here we are. Ephesus: Doctrinally sound, hard-working, willing to confront false teachers. Yet, Jesus had a rebuke for this church. They had left their first love. What might that mean? After all, they were doing ALL the right things.

First of all, let’s address the seriousness of this warning, when our Lord says He has something against us, it is good sense to listen close. To be failing in such a way is a very serious matter.

It’s really not hard to figure out what the first love is. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31. Friends, this is the most important thing; Jesus told us that when he spoke those words. 

It frankly doesn’t matter how many good works we do, or how successful we are in them; if they are not first and foremost motivated by our love for the Lord Jesus Christ, and following that our love for other humans, then they are meaningless.

We might say that the bodies and minds of this church were in it but not their hearts. Over the next few days, I will offer some more specifics and thoughts that might help us understand how this might actually play out in a local congregation.

In the meantime here is a quote from a John McArthur sermon on the church eat Ephesus. I thought it put the issue at Ephesus in stark and clear words:

How would you like it, ladies, if your husband came to you some time and said, “I don’t love you anymore, but nothing will change?” Is that enough? “I’ll still earn a living. I’ll still eat with you, sleep with you, drive with you. I’ll still father the children and be your husband. Nothing will change, I just don’t love you.” Devastating. How would you feel if your wife came to you and said, “I don’t love you, but nothing will change”? In a sense we couldn’t imagine saying that to the Lord. “Lord, I don’t love You like I once did. That’s gone. But I just want You to know I’ll still come. I’ll still work. I’ll still sing. I’ll still give. I’ll still even believe the truth. I just don’t love You.” We wouldn’t say that, but the Lord knows if it’s true.

Is that what our hearts are telling the Lord?

 

 

 

Seven Letters to Seven Churches-Ephesus Part 4

Revelation 2:1-7

“Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks” Revelation 2:1

Yes, yes…we are STILL there! I’m really not in any rush, and all I am doing here is sharing things that come to mind as I read, write, and even talk about these posts.

A couple of comments were made that are worth looking at. If you want to see them in context, head back to Part 3. Click on the names, and you will go to their blogs.

I believe that the correct translation of “candlesticks” would be a Menorah.

I agree – those Jewish Christians would have immediately recognized “seven lampstands” as a reference to the Tabernacle/Temple, which was to them (as Jews) the place where Gods glory dwells among us. The full description is somewhere in Exodus, but i forget where and im too lazy to look it up. But yes, this is definitely a direct reference to what we today (in English) term as “menorah”, and as Wally pointed out, there’s a lot to unpack in that one evocative little phrase.

You know something? This reference to something that readers would instantly get matters a bit. It’s just true that somethings in Scripture are shrouded in mystery and even uncertainty. We don’t get or agree on all things. By the way, that’s not a bad thing at all; if we just got it all, we would read once and move on to something else. I believe God keeps us guessing sometimes so that we will seek him more thoroughly by reading His Word. But, back to the the issue at hand!

On the other hand, sometimes Jesus says: “Hey, listen up!” Sometimes He wants us to just get it. Even though not all got His parables, they were always grounded in a reference readers would get, and that was relevant to their lives. We will see that over and over as we go through the seven churches of Asia; references are made to illustrate points readers would get because the references were real to their lives.

This candlestick reference would have been pretty clear to any Jewish readers of these letters; again we see that every word in the Old Testament points to Jesus who appeared in the flesh in the New Testament. That’s just pretty neat, in my book.

Here is a little something Jesus also said repeatedly as He wrote these letters: “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” He’s trying to make some things clear; are we listening?

 

Seven Letters to Seven Churches-Introduction Part 1

Today, we are starting a new series, “Seven Letters to Seven Churches.” In case readers haven’t figured it out yet, our new series will be about the 7 Letters Jesus Christ dispatched to the seven churches of Asia in the Book of Revelation.

FYI, for no other reason that I want to, this new series will run Monday and Friday, and the “Follow Me,” articles are going to Tuesday and Thursday.

Even though this is from the Book of Revelation, this will not be any type of study of Eschatology. I’m actually not the biggest student of that; maybe later in my Christian “career,” I will be, but I am not now. Don’t get me wrong; it’s very important that we study and try to understand every single word in the Bible. So, while I do like to study eschatology, I am far from ready to write an actual “study” about it.

Having said that, we are going to keep this simple. There is a Historicist view of the seven letters that suggest they were designed to represent 7 different periods of church history from the time John was inspired to write this book until the present. We aren’t actually going to look at them from that angle at all. I am not really a fan of that interpretation of these letters.

The letters seem very straight forward for the most part, and the vivid symbolism we see in much of Revelation is absent. We see here, seven letters dictated to the Apostle John by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself to be delivered to what were, at the time, seven real congregations in Asia Minor(present-day Turkey.) So, immediately we can see that there was an immediate application to reach churches in real time. Jesus was writing about very specific concerns He had with these churches.

Since every word in the Bible is ultimately intended to today’s audience(whenever today happens to be,) we are going to approach this from the standpoint of how we can apply the lessons in these letters to churches today. Because many, at different times, may have had these issues, or may in the future.

So, we will be keeping things simple for the next bit. I’m all about the application of God’s Word, and there is plenty of that in these letters to keep us busy for a bit.

If you want to read ahead, here is our full text for this study.

Introduction: Revelation Chapter 1(list from gotquestions.org)

Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7) – the church that had forsaken its first love

Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11) – the church that would suffer persecution 

Pergamum (Revelation 2:12-17) – the church that needed to repent 

Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29) – the church that had a false prophetess 

Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6) – the church that had fallen asleep 

Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13) – the church that had endured patiently

Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22) – the church with the lukewarm faith 

Let’s Talk Revival!!! Part 7

This week, we will close out our recap on the series on Revival and the Seven Churches of Asia with our devotionals on the churches at Smyrna and Philadelphia, the two churches that seemed to be revived and thriving. As last weeks was rather short, this one will be somewhat longer.


Read all of Revelation Chapter 2 here

The Church at Smyrna

Revelation 2:8-10

And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.


Smyrna, a Church Under Fire

Note right away the very short nature of this particular letter. Jesus had nothing bad to say about this church. He merely had some commendation to pass along to Smyrna, as well as a warning later in the letter. He had a warning, not an admonition. In fact, only Smyrna and Philadelphia escaped without any words of critique from our Lord.

During the course of study, I read several commentators who referred to Smyrna as the “suffering church,” because apparently things were not easy for them. It seems the church at Smyrna faced trouble from two directions.

It needs to be noted that the city of Smyrna was somewhat of a leading center for the Roman practice of Emperor worship, with the Emperor of the day being Domitian. Of course, the Christian community was more than willing to obey and support the civil laws and government of the time. On the other hand, they were unwilling to extend worship to the Roman Emperor and offer sacrifices to him.

Not only was the church at Smyrna being persecuted at the hands of the Roman government itself, but they faced it as a result of the actions of the local Jewish community, which was quite large. At the time, the Jews enjoyed the protection of the Roman government, and they were not required to participate in worship or sacrifices to the Emperor. They were, however, very quick to hurl accusations at the Christian community. Jesus said, I know the blasphemy of them, indicating that He well knew the lies the local Jews were spreading about the Christians. Because they seemed to have conspired and planned out these lies in an intentional effort to erase the local Christians, Jesus referred to these Jews as the synagogue of Satan! The lies were many, ranging from cannibalism, to immorality, and oddly enough they were even accused of being atheists for not believing in the assortment of Roman Gods

The important part here is to understand why this church was undergoing persecution. Obviously, they were doing the right things; they were putting themselves out in the world clearly and definitively as what they were, and that was Christians. They were different than the world around them. As throughout the history of the church, anytime Christians do what they should and live as they should, persecution and troubles arise.

If the life our our churches is trouble free and easy, with no one questioning us or rising in opposition to us? We might be in need of revival.

A Warning for Smyrna

We have seen  that this church has already suffered substantially for their faith; in fact, they had gotten a double dose of persecution. They were being persecuted by the Roman government for staying true to the Faith, as well as some claiming to be among God’s chosen people, the Jews. Life had not been easy thus far for the church at Smyrna.

Jesus did not have an admonition, or negative words for this church; He did, however have a very solemn and honest warning. Unfortunately, more and possibly worse was to come.

What is coming? Well, more tribulation is coming. Our passage teaches us that some will be jailed, and tried, possibly for exercising their faith. Let’s talk quickly about this period of ten days . Some assign very symbolic meaning to this in terms of it representing perhaps ten phases of persecution under the Romans yet to come; some say it could represent some undermined amount of time, perhaps even ten years; others say it literally means ten days.  There is some credence to the idea that in other places, ten days was simply a “short time.”, signifying that this persecution would be intense yet short lived. Who knows, really?

We can absolutely conclude, however, that more was coming for these believers.  God has told them it is coming; but more importantly, He has basically told them, “Do not be afraid!” They need not fear this upcoming persecution, because what awaits them in Heaven with their Savior someday is far more wonderful than anything they face here could be bad. They will receive “The crown of life.” Note the similar reference to this crown in James 1:12. Just a quick note; there is nothing in this passage which would cause us to teach that the Crown of Life represents a gift of Salvation. In other words, this church is not being taught that if they persevere through the trials they would be rewarded with eternal life. This gift is only for those who have accepted God’s gracious gift of salvation, and will then be rewarded for their perseverance, which they are capable of because of the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

What’s the application for our discussion on revival here anyway? Seems an odd connection, really. Here is what I saw.

If we do what we are supposed to be doing in our world and our communities, we will suffer. If we are living live on easy street, then we may need reviving.

If we do what we are supposed to do, then God will take are of us, protect us, and ultimately reward us.

So. let’s get busy. God told Smyrna they could handle it, and He is telling us that as well.

Read all of Revelation Chapter 3 here

The Church at Philadelphia

Philadelphia, A Revived Church

Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love. Everybody knows that, right? The name literally means “love of the brethren,” and is simply two Greek root words combined. It comes from the word pheleo, “to love” and adelphos, “brother.” The city has borne several names throughout history, but we know it as Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, much like it’s namesake right here in the United States.  Just a small tidbit of history here might be fun to note; the name of the city actually never had any roots in The Bible whatsoever. It actually comes from the story of King Attalus II whose brother, Eumemes was the King of nearby Pergamum. The love and loyalty Attalus had for his brother was so great and well known that the city was named in honor of that great love. Not necessarily relevant to our discussion, but very interesting nonetheless.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, much like the church at Smyrna, had no negative words to say to the believers in Philadelphia whatsoever. I have read of this church being referred to as “The Faithful Church,” and “The Revived Church.” Just because it seems to fit, we are going to consider Philadelphia as The Revived Church.

I think we will spend some time discussing the many things this church was doing right over the course of the next few days. Ironically, the little we know about the church in Philadelphia comes from only this very short passage in God’s Word;, yet the words of praise Jesus had for this church could fill a book if expanded on fully. So, for the next few days, we will do a little filling.

Who’s In Charge Here?

What keeps a church in a revived state? That almost sounds like an oxymoron I know, as the stay in a revived state implies that one never needed reviving, but it’s the best way I could think of to ask it! But as much as anything, focus on one thing might be just the thing which keeps us in the state our Lord wishes us to be in. The state of being, not necessarily “re” vived, but simply alive and well in the first place.

This might be a little stretch with the text we are talking about, but I don’t really think so. It has to to with our focus, and our text clearly explains some things about what our focus as a church should be, and why. So, the title question remains: Who is in charge here?

Jesus Himself proclaimed Himself, when delivering these letters to the churches, and specifically the one we are addressing, to be holy. Who is holy? Well, only God is holy. One could construe this as Jesus stating quite clearly that He is also God. Being God certainly provides some credentials, some bona fides, if you will, as to His authority over the church He is addressing. He referred to Himself as he that is true. He is pointing out that He, and not any of the pantheon of false gods worshiped at the time this letter was written, is the one and True God of the universe. Again, impressive credentials for one establishing His authority over the church being addressed. He possesses the key of David. In this context, possession of a key clearly establishes authority. It is no accident that those in charge of some establishments are referred to as “key carriers.” Along with keys come authority; this is ultimate authority in fact. Authority for what? We may ask. Perhaps the door to the Kingdom? No one can enter the Kingdom unless the door is opened by Jesus Himself, and no one can be shut out from the Kingdom except by Jesus Christ Himself. Again, powerful credentials!

Colossians 1:17,18 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

So who, or what, is the head our our churches? If it’s anything other than Jesus Christ who possesses the ultimate authority which was handed to Him by God the Father, we might be in need of revival.

A Faithful Church

We are still talking about the church at Philadelphia today. As we have talked about over the last couple of days, this church was already revived, or had never had need for revival in the first place. I have also heard Philadelphia referred to as the faithful church.

First things first. Jesus Christ knows the works of our churches. We may have the most beautiful building, the biggest flashiest auditorium, and the most people; however, Jesus Christ knows the real story behind the scenes so to speak. He knew that with this church, and we know that because He told them in the letter He sent them. He knows our churches as well.

This church had only a little strength. This was in no way anything negative being said about this church. In fact, when we read on we see that this reference to their apparent lack of strength was in fact a great compliment regarding the reality of their actual great strength!

We don’t really know exactly what the problem was which caused Jesus to refer to them as having only a little strength, but we all know some things which might cause us to  think that about a church we know, or even our own church. Perhaps it was small unimpressive numbers of members; perhaps they did not have a great place or fancy home to meet in; perhaps their members came from the poorer, most unfortunate sections of town. We don’t know exactly what the issue was, but we do know that, on the surface, they may have appeared to not be very strong.

We all know God had some things to say about our position of strength in Him when we ourselves are weak as we all know how Paul concluded his noted writing on his thorn in the flesh, and the conclusion he reached:

2 Corinthians 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

So, while this church was perhaps poor, small, and weak on the outside, according to our Lord, their works were strong and powerful. What was happening here? Well, later in the passage some specifics are talked about, but some we can assume. What can we assume? Certainly people were being saved, lives transformed, and the Gospel was being preached!

Are we in a place serving which seems small and of little note? Don’t be discouraged, as later we will see that Jesus made some wonderful promises to this church; these are promises he has in fact made to all of his churches which remain faithful and true to His Word and in His works.

God’s Promises to a Faithful Church

Yesterday we talked about how this church at Philadelphia may have seemed small and weak by the standards of the world around them, but how the truth was that Jesus considered them to be of great strength. Over the next day or several, we are going to talk about some of the promises God has made this church because of their faithfulness.

The first thing we see guaranteed to this church is that Jesus has set an open door before them, and no man can shut it. Previously we talked about Jesus as the one with the keys, and the fact that the keys clearly symbolize authority.

What is the open door set before this church that no man can shut? Well, there are a couple of possibilities we can see here, I think. It seems that at least on the surface, that what we see is the guarantee of security in the grace of God through Jesus Christ to the saved believers in this church.  In other words, because of their status as redeemed of God, their salvation and entrance forever into the Kingdom of Heaven is promised and secure.

There is also something deeper here, having to do with things of importance right here on, this earth, in this life. Has anybody ever prayed for God to “open a door?” I think most have, it is common for many to ask The Lord to open one door and shut another, as a way to share with us what His will in a particular situation is.

So, then, what might be the door that is being opened here? The door for additional and greater service to Him of course! I have heard it said that the biggest thing we can offer God is not our ability, but our availability. Many of us dream of doing what we would call “great things” for God, and He certainly gives some the chance for that. But perhaps He also wants us to show we are willing are willing to do the small things.

Are you in a church that seems small and without much strength or power? Does it get discouraging because other churches seem more vibrant and growing? Do you dream of God doing great things in the local assembly you are part of? Perhaps He has great things planned for you, but also perhaps He just wants to see us become willing to tackle the small stuff too.

God’s Promise for Protection

As I said earlier, we are going to spend a little time talking about this church in Philadelphia. Because not only are we talking about what our churches are doing wrong these days, but when we can we will find good examples to follow as well. Philadelphia certainly provides a good example which we could all be following. They were a likely small, poor church, and yet had remained faithful and true to God’s Word and God’s work. In effect, they were  a church in revival. Because of this, God had made them some promises; He makes those same promises to us today.

Again, we see this reference to those which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie;. Obviously this church, like Smyrna, was facing a similar tribulation in that they were being persecuted by those who themselves were claiming to be children of God. Again we see this reference to the Synagogue of Satan. Who were these people? I’d love to hear some views on this, as there are a couple of ways we could look at this. One thought I found that I rather liked was the idea that because of their rejection of Jesus, that He Himself regarded them as no longer being true Israel. One commenter from earlier made the point that maybe they weren’t really Jews at all, but trouble making out of towners  basically come to give the Christians grief. Interesting discussion if anybody wants to have it.

Regardless of who was causing the trouble, the point really is that somebody was. This church was doing the right things and not having and easy time of it as a result. God’s promise was a long term proposition; note that He did not promise them relief from their troubles, nor did he offer them protection in the sense that we would consider it. His promise was in the future, and it was of an eternal nature. Some day, God Himself will deal with people like that, and then all will know why; all will come to know those who stay true are being rewarded, and those who do not, or reject him, will be dealt with also.

God’s word has quite a lot to say about how He will deal with the enemies of His churches, and many involve footstools. Let’s take a look.

Psalm 110:1 (A Psalm of David.) The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.

That particular passage obviously means something, because it was given much mileage later in Scripture. I would venture to say it’s repeated use would be a clue this is a promise for us today.

Matthew 22:44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?

Mark 12:36 For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.

Luke 20:42,43 And David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Till I make thine enemies thy footstool.

Acts 2:24 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,

Then, of course, we see the same promise repeated to this faithful church in Philadelphia. God’s promises to us are sure, and this one seems extra sure as God seems to have offered the assurance of repeating it, as if to say, “Got that?”

If we do the right things, we won’t be treated right. If we preach God’s Word as it is written, and do God’s work as it is commanded, we won’t have it easy. The Jews in question were just an example to us; ours will be different. The point is, if we do as we should, we will get grief from somewhere. There are two ways to avoid this:

Don’t preach God’s Word

Don’t do God’s work

But, if we do what we should, troubles will come. God, however has promised us protection from that. He guarantees it.

More Promises From God

We have been talking about the church at Philadelphia, who we have referred to as the faithful church, or the revived church. As we have covered, Jesus had nothing but words of praise and commendation for this assembly of believers. We have been using them as an example of what a church in a living, vibrant state looks like. This is what our churches should look like.

God has made some promises to this church, and we are working our way through them. These folks have been faithful with a little, and now God is blessing then with a lot.  He has promised them additional opportunities to serve, and protection for them if they do that. Now we see a promise to protect them from the hour of temptation.

Well here, we go, because this is a controversy just waiting to happen. Fortunately, we aren’t going to have it!  It seem fairly clear that what is being referred to here is not just some local pot of trouble that these people will find themselves in, but a larger spot of trouble, involving more than just them. We see this because this is referred to as the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Here, we are seeing a trouble which will seemingly affect everyone. So, what exactly is coming?

Therein lies the controversy. It’s possible this could be referring to some coming systematic persecution by the Romans; in that day that would have certainly fit how “the world” was considered. It could also be something much bigger, involving literally the entire world, What we may be seeing here is the idea that the believers, and others, will escape the wrath of the coming Great Tribulation prophesied in Daniel. In other words, many see this as evidence of a pre tribulational rapture of the church. Others see this as evidence that, even though they think the church will be present during the Great Tribulation, that she will be protected and preserved during it.

So, again, readers feel free to come on board and talk about this, but as always be nice. This is one of those things we can diverge on and nobody is a heretic okay? Just for the record, I am a pre tribulational rapture kind of fellow.

But the point is not a debate about the end times; the point is God’s promises. Earlier we saw God had promised to protect this church from the local issues they were facing. This promise just expands on that. As a reward for their faithful keeping of God’s Word and performance of God’s work, this church will also be protected from much larger things.

We will be also. Got that? In our churches we need to stop fearing the world around us. God’s Word and God’s work has not changed; it is us who has changed. One of the main reasons we have changed is fear of the world and desire to fit in that world. We need to stop that, as God has clearly promised that if we do the right things, He will protect us.

Let’s Talk Revival!!! Part 6

This week’s recap of our daily devotionals is going to be quite short. We are only talking about the church at Thyratira and this only covered two days.


Revelation 2_19-21

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. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth 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.


Read all of Revelation Chapter 2

Thyratira-A Commendation

When we began looking at the seven churches of Asia, we were just going to look at the ones specifically told to repent;however, we are going to keep going. Today we will begin a look at the church at Thyratira, which was also a struggling church. Then we will take a final quick look at the two churches Jesus seemed the most pleased with.

Even though this church had its issues, which we will discuss later; they were also doing some things well. In addition, they seemed to be improving and growing in their work for the Lord. So, what was going well in this church?

This church had love(charity). This seems the opposite of the previously mentioned church at Ephesus, where they had lost their first love. The first commendation for love in these letters was given to this church. What we see her is a love for God and for one another. That’s a great place to start, since Jesus did tell us that love is the greatest commandment.

This church was faithful in it’s service and patience. Because of their love, they were likely intent on service and meeting the needs of others. Furthermore, this patience had produced a church that persevered in its service and works.

The final part of the commendation to this church is interesting. Many of the churches seemed to be slipping backwards, or in the wrong direction. Note this: and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.  This church was certainly not backsliding; they were growing stronger in fact. Their love was probably going stronger, along with their faithful, persistent service. In other words, this church was growing more mature in its Christian walk, and was increasing its efforts to spread and foster the Kingdom of God.

They were not without blame, however, as we will see in tomorrow’s devotional. Like most churches, even good ones, Thyratira had its issues.

Are we in a church where overall things are going well, but yet there are pockets of issues which are ignored or overlooked? We might need revival.

The Church That Tolerated Sin

 As we previously discussed yesterday, there were some good things going in in the church at Thyratira. They were growing and maturing spiritually, and were certainly doing more than just putting on a front or going through the motions. There were real, God pleasing things going on there. However, all was not well there either.

Do we all remember Jezebel? She is the idolatrous queen who enticed Israel to begin worshiping Baal during the reign of King Ahab. In modern terms, she would be an idolatrous false teacher. So, here we have a church on one hand growing in love and maturity, yet on the other hand being very tolerant of a false teacher.

Along with the false teaching, there was apparently some fairly rampant immorality going on here, perhaps being taught and even encouraged by the false teaching. This is rather like the “Doctrine of Balaam,” which enticed the Israelites into sexual sin and idol worship in the church at Pergamos we discussed earlier.

Not only were the people hear tolerating sin and false teaching, but may have been quite proud and refusing to repent. In verse 21 on our passage we see, And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. 

Not everyone was guilty of that, we have already shown the many were faithfully doing the right thing in this church. Jesus, in the verses that follow, is very clear of His concern for this situation and what He plans to do about it if change does not occur.

Revelation 2:22,23 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 searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

Why such great concern? After all, this church was certainly doing some things very right; Jesus said so after all. The problem is, sin and false teachings in a church are like cancers. If they are not taken out and treated immediately, they will spread and kill the entire body. If allowed to spread, they quickly reach a point where the patient can no longer be saved.

Are there those we are know are false teachers being allowed to openly exist in our churches, but yet we do nothing? Is there much “secret” sin among our members with no efforts at correction or restoration? We might be in need of revival.

Daily Devotion-July 30,2015-More Promises From God

Revelation 3:10

Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.


Read all of Revelation Chapter 3 here

We have been talking about the church at Philadelphia, who we have referred to as the faithful church, or the revived church. As we have covered, Jesus had nothing but words of praise and commendation for this assembly of believers. We have been using them as an example of what a church in a living, vibrant state looks like. This is what our churches should look like.

God has made some promises to this church, and we are working our way through them. These folks have been faithful with a little, and now God is blessing then with a lot.  He has promised them additional opportunities to serve, and protection for them if they do that. Now we see a promise to protect them from the hour of temptation.

Well here, we go, because this is a controversy just waiting to happen. Fortunately, we aren’t going to have it!  It seem fairly clear that what is being referred to here is not just some local pot of trouble that these people will find themselves in, but a larger spot of trouble, involving more than just them. We see this because this is referred to as the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Here, we are seeing a trouble which will seemingly affect everyone. So, what exactly is coming?

Therein lies the controversy. It’s possible this could be referring to some coming systematic persecution by the Romans; in that day that would have certainly fit how “the world” was considered. It could also be something much bigger, involving literally the entire world, What we may be seeing here is the idea that the believers, and others, will escape the wrath of the coming Great Tribulation prophesied in Daniel. In other words, many see this as evidence of a pre tribulational rapture of the church. Others see this as evidence that, even though they think the church will be present during the Great Tribulation, that she will be protected and preserved during it.

So, again, readers feel free to come on board and talk about this, but as always be nice. This is one of those things we can diverge on and nobody is a heretic okay? Just for the record, I am a pre tribulational rapture kind of fellow.

But the point is not a debate about the end times; the point is God’s promises. Earlier we saw God had promised to protect this church from the local issues they were facing. This promise just expands on that. As a reward for their faithful keeping of God’s Word and performance of God’s work, this church will also be protected from much larger things.

We will be also. Got that? In our churches we need to stop fearing the world around us. God’s Word and God’s work has not changed; it is us who has changed. One of the main reasons we have changed is fear of the world and desire to fit in that world. We need to stop that, as God has clearly promised that if we do the right things, He will protect us.

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