Monday, August 31, 2015

False Doctrine is Entering Churches, What Can We Do? Part 23

As we come back to our conclusion on the church of Thyatira, we remember that this was a church that allowed false doctrines to not only come into the church, but became a part of what the church was becoming. It was a lover of itself also known as the church of Jezebel which we will learn more about today into our study into the Book of Revelation, the only book of the Bible that promises a blessing to not only the one who reads the words found within but hears it as well.

Revelation 1:3 ~ "Bless is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near."(NIV). 

As we begin in the letter to the church of Thyatira, Jesus warns of a type of church that has allowed false doctrines to permeate the church so it becomes loveless. It is what the church of Ephesus had become, loveless. They had forgotten their first love. Smyrna was a church that was gripped by the fear of persecution if you remember. We looked at the church of Pergamum which had allowed doubt and compromise to enter their church. Now we look once more at the church of Thyatira, their morality, their light, their commitment to Christ, began to wane.

I think we fail to take into consideration how serious this is. If you take a plane from LAX bound for Hawaii and that plane is off by just 1 degree, you will miss the island by miles. If you have a Bible, God's going to hold us accountable for what we know and what we did with what we know. We need to spend more time understanding and reading our Bibles more as the end times draws near. The Book of Revelation is key. Did we take the time to pick it up and study it? That is why we are doing this in depth study into the Book of Revelation, so that you would know what God's will is for you, and your church and your life.

Jesus is comparing the church of Thyatira to the spirit or doctrine of Jezebel from the Old Testament, had crept into the church to its leaders, that had allowed it to become part of this church. This is why it is such a challenge to the leadership of the church. When Jesus examines our confession, we must be diligent to teach the Word of God.

Revelation 2:20 ~ "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."

It would benefit you to take the time later to understand how for the last 2000 years the doctrine of Jezebel has managed to creep its way into the modern day church. Remember what the war plan of Satan has been thus far. Against the church of Ephesus, Satan used the fact that the church was so busy, that they managed to lose their first love. Satan used the fear of persecution to the church of Smyrna so much that the would be willing to say that "Caesar is Lord." to save their life. He used the church of Pergamum to embrace heresy, so that they would compromise, remember? Satan's war plan against the church of Thyatira, is so true in our modern age. Build a church. Fill up the parking lot, put a cross on the building, have Bibles and hymnals and do all that stuff. Satan would say that is fantastic. Just begin to bring in some good, old-fashioned traditions, and doctrines that have no business in the church, but they're so old, so rooted and so grounded, among religious people and pretty soon, they will begin to say it's okay. You believe that? That's okay, let's just be one big happy family.

If you have ever been to Europe, everything is one bank, one Euro, one union, one thought, one religion, one direction, one people, everything. It's a oneness, compromise at the expense of including people.

Romans 2:22 ~ "You would say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?" 

Every one of us holds to a certain morality. But is that a good thing? The Bible says that humanistic morality leads you away from God. Satan is the one who swallows a camel but strains to swallow an ant. Hypocrisy. This is a dangerous thing, this doctrine of Jezebel. The name Jezebel was the wife of Ahab, but the name now is synonymous with false worship and church sanctioned sexual activity. She ordered the murder of true believers of YHWH God. In New Testament times, the title, "Jezebel" is a freakish hybrid worship system, that hides in the name of Christianity, that allows sexual indulgence without punishment or fear of judgment. She had priests and priestesses, that encouraged an immorality appeased by religion. This demonic representation of Jezebel claimed to be the Oracle = the mouthpiece of God. The doctrine was this, the pagan world around them, adopted the doctrines that when a prophet would speak, they would take that as what we would say is the gospel truth.

Jeremiah 7:15-19 ~ "I will thrust you from my presence, just as I did all your brothers, the people of Ephraim. So do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them; do not plead with me, for I will not listen to you. Do you not see what they are doing in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, the fathers light the fire, and the women knead the dough and make cakes of bread for the Queen of Heaven. They pour out drink offerings to other gods to provoke me to anger. But am I the one they are provoking? declares the LORD. Are they not rather harming themselves, to their own shame?" 

God indicts a people who has forsaken Him and they have bowed to what Jeremiah calls this worship the doctrine of Jezebel, the worship of the Queen of Heaven. If you have ever done any study on the Queen of Heaven, that whoever the Queen of Heaven is, she has given birth to ALL things, that she has given birth to God, Himself; she sits and rules and reigns over the earth, and all that there is and for 3000 years and this doctrine has taught that you, as a human being, cannot relate to God in Heaven unless, you go through the Queen of Heaven first. This precedes the book of Acts, this precedes the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; this is rooted in ancient Babylonian-ism. It goes back to the times of the Pharoahs.

The church at Thyatira embraced it! It said that when this icon or image or statue speaks, dedicated to the Queen of Heaven, the doctrine of Jezebel, we obey. And when it becomes, when that oracle speaks, on behalf of God, it is doctrine. Did not the Bible say in the last days, God who once spoke to us through his prophets has in these last days spoken to us by His Son. See how this hits home to how many of us have been brought up. The Protestant church is guilty of rarely if ever addressing the honor, due to Mary, the mother of Jesus, the wife of John. When you read what the Bible has to say about Mary, she was a godly woman, she loved the Lord, she gave glory and honor to God. She obeyed God. The Lord chose her, not for her holiness, but she herself said, I rejoice in the Lord my Savior and the God of my Salvation. Protestants should give honor in that way to Mary, and the reason why so many swing away from that and even her cousin Elizabeth who gave birth to John the Baptist, is because there are those who have deified Mary. Isn't it interesting according to the Bible that Mary's last words recorded ever were, "Whatever my son says to do, do it."

In Romanism, there is the worship of what is called the Queen of Heaven and the Old Testament condemns it. Mary is not the Queen of Heaven. She was a wonderful precious sister of ours in Christ who we will see in Heaven and worship Christ with her. She is not the co-redeemer as is taught in Mary worship. These are tremendous things that are directly linked to the Queen of Heaven. If Mary could part a cloud and talk to us today, she would set us straight.

We see as we draw closer to the end times, we see people following bizarre, abhorrent manifestations of people who bow down and worship and dedicating their lives to trees, pots, trinkets and food items that are weeping, all around the world. Aberrations. People want signs and miracle. They want to see something so they can set up a shrine, where spiritual ignorance exists. Why can't they simply open the Bible and read the truth? What in the world is going on? They will believe in aliens and others that will fight Darwinism to death. There are scientists now leaning to intelligent design and dismiss evolution now. What's happened? People will follow anything instead of reading the Bible.

We will spend tons of time reading and doing other things that occupy our time, but spend less than a minute reading our Bible and then wonder why we are lead astray with every wind of doctrine that comes along. Do you realize that most of the people who died when the Titanic hit the iceberg died while they were asleep or partying? There was a warning that went out before it ever hit the iceberg, but no one listened.  What were they doing when it hit? Partying and sleeping. It took a long time for it to sink, however, long enough for people to rush back to their rooms to line their pockets with cash and jewelry, gold bricks that they were taking to America and jump overboard. Due to the weight, they went straight to the bottom. It could have been prevented, they were warned. They didn't listen.

When God examines our confession, we must not be like those stuck in religion. Jesus here issues a strong and damning end to such false Christians.

Revelation 2:21-22 ~ "I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. "
These very religious people needed to experience conversion = salvation. What they failed to do was repent. Remember when you were a child, and you built a clubhouse, those who wanted to join had to know the password. If you knew the password, you were allowed in. In Christianity, there is a code word or password and that is "In Christ."

1 John 5:11-13 ~ "And this is the testimony: God has give us eternal life, ad this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may not you have eternal life."

1 John 5:20 ~ "We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true - even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life." 

If we know Him we will not get led astray from false teachers or confused by man-made religions.

John 10:14 ~" I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me."

John 10:27-28 ~ "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand." 

John 10:4-5 ~ "When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice." 

When God examines our confession, we must COME OUT from that which is dying.

Revelation 2:23 ~ "I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and mind, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds."

We learned in verses 21-22 of Revelation 2, that Jesus reminds us that "I gave her time to repent."

Revelation 21-22 ~ "I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. "

His nature leaves the door open, but Judases refuse the offer. It's like saying, "She made her bed, let her lie in it." This came from this verse. Her bed was awesome. It was warm and inviting. It was a bed that made you say thanks because it felt so good. But after a while those smooth silk sheets began to made you think and feel in other ways as well. Until the bed she made for us, gave us such a feeling that nothing that we did could be wrong, and if by chance it was wrong, she would cover that too.

A sick bed is a bed that leads to hell, in comfort, pleasure and ease. The spirit of Jezebel says that you can live like the world and still be a Christian. What can be better than that?

Jesus warns in Revelation 2:23 ~ "I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and mind, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds."

Please hear me on this, not me, but the Lord Jesus Christ. These are not Christian believers here, these are they that have been lied to, and they want it so.

John 3:6-8 ~ "Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it please. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."

John 3:14-21 ~ "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him, shall not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."

Revelation 2:23 ~ "Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and mind (kidneys) , and I will repay each of you according to your deeds."

2 Corinthians 6:16-18 ~ "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. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."

When we face a lack of water in our bodies, the end result is hurting kidneys.

Jesus says that in Revelation 2:24, ~ "Now to those of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have learned Satan's so-called deep secrets ( I will not impose any other burden on you).

Wouldn't you have wanted to be one of those people who did not accept the doctrine of Jezebel? That this was Jesus' message to you.

Revelation 2:25-29 ~ "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 - He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery - just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear that the Spirit says to the seven churches."

Jesus warns that the doctrine being taught in those in Thyatira who were marrying the power of Christianity to the power of Rome, had a hope through Constantine to conquer the globe and make Christianity the world religion. Jesus says Oh no! It's not through human efforts, its through Spirit. He is telling them not to believe in that message. Not a marriage through church and state, it will come through My means. God will bring forth His kingdom, not man.

He clearly defines the body of Christ, from those who believe and those that believe in false doctrines in this letter and what the outcome will be for both. Let us not confuse the two. The church in Thyatira believed in the doctrine that said, that God could only be reached through a mediator, and this mediator was the Queen of Heaven. This was the doctrine of Jezebel.

1 Timothy 2:5 ~ "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ." 

To pray to a statue, a icon, an image, if you are praying to anyone other than God, it is an abomination to the Lord and spiritual adultery. No one takes Jesus' place. There is no one else. No pastor, favorite spiritual person, no Pope, no institution that can guarantee you access to God, but Jesus Christ!

There will be no Utopia on this earth and no one can bring it here on this earth. Don't let anyone fool you! No one in government will bring perfect peace on earth, no matter what they attempt to do. Just Jesus and one day He will bring that to fulfillment.

Friday, August 28, 2015

What Does Your Spiritual Blood Reveal About You?

Welcome back to our study into the Book of Revelation and we are taking another look at the Church of Thyatira, the church had pretty much let down its guard and wanted to blend itself with the world. We certainly see that happening not only in churches from the past, but churches even today. What we need to remember is that even though these letters were written to the churches of Asia Minor, they are also a letter to the lives of Christian believers of today. Have you let down your guard, wanting to blend into the world around you? Jesus has something to say to you through this letter to the church of Thyatira today.

How much trouble do we get into when we let the world come into our lives and begin to influence us? People today are more concerned with how cool a church can be rather than how relevant it can be. You might say your church is relevant today, but I would ask you to define what makes it relevant or cool? You never compromise for one thing to be relevant. If you want to be effective, you want to be different. Be wary of a church that looks like the world, acts like the world. That is a dangerous place to be and one that takes a step downward to the slippery slope. The church of Thyatira was a sick and dying church.

The city of Thyatira was a tremendous place. They produced an abundant amount of wool. They had an incredible amount of textile industries for dying material and fabrics. They had the first known union of the Roman Empire. It was a wool worker's union. Because so much wool, fabric and material was produced there it made them extremely affluent. It was a very beautiful town in comparison to the other cities we have studied, but they were very resourceful. If you had any clothing made from Thyatira, it would have been very colorful. That is what they were known for, abundant colors in their fabric and material. Armani, Gucci and other top designers would have been based there. It was a real place, it had a real church and it was a place of affluence that could be found there.

But some things went on there that led to some very serious indictments from Jesus Christ. When He says in His opening statement, "I am the Son of God and I have these eyes of fire and feet of brass." You've got to learn this practice so you can do it next week and that is "Why did Jesus say that?" "Why did He say that to this church?" Well, when He said that He was the Son of God, it was said and taught in the city of Thyatira that there were other ways to God. The church began to adapt those other avenues. Could you imagine what would happen in the 21st century if someone walked into a church and the man behind the pulpit said, "Welcome all of God's children!" It sounds nice doesn't it?  But it is not exactly accurate according to the Bible. "Welcome all of God's children, no matter what you believe. We are all God's children. All roads lead to heaven. It doesn't matter what you believe as long as you are sincere in that belief. God will look upon your sincerity and evaluate that level of sincerity." The word judge or judgment would never be used. Sin would never be mentioned and there would never be a gospel message preached with the word repentance in it. There is no such thing as the gospel without the word repentance in it!!!

The first word of the gospel is repent, and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. A lot of people go around and simply say, "Just believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved." That is a half truth. You need to understand why you are turning away from your sin and the world and you're fleeing to Jesus Christ. It's a very important thing! Be careful of the subtle things that are being left out in a spiritual context because the Church of Thyatira had departed from the Bible that they had and they didn't preach the full counsel of God. When you don't do that, you embrace all kinds of things from the world. Just so you can look good, not ruffle any feathers or cause any waves. This is a dangerous thing!

Jesus says, "I am the Son of God" so you ask that question, "Why did He say that?" Because His very presence in the church was being challenged by a doctrine of belief that is called Jezebel. He says, "I've got the eyes that are holy and pure. My feet exercise judgment." He says,  "I walking in the midst of the church and I am the Son of God. I see with perfect vision into the heart of every human being and every person in this church, I am looking at you and I see exactly what is in your heart. I know if your doctrine is true or not. And by the way, My feet are like polished brass, that is I am the One who stands in perfect judgment and I will either reconcile your case before God and once again set you on firm ground, firm doctrine and truth or you will experience My judgment of My wrath and holiness. This is the awesome resurrected Jesus Christ and it is tremendous!

When He says, "He has eyes like the flame of fire," guess what kind of gods were worshiped there? You know his name, Apollo was worshiped there and guess what kind of attribute it was said that Apollo had? Eyes of a flame of fire. Helios was worshiped there. What kind of feet did they say that Helios had? Take a guess? That's right, feet like brass. That is why Jesus says these things to the Church of Thyatira. Jesus is saying, listen up. "I am the Son of God, no one else! I've got the eyes, not them! I have the feet, not these pagan gods!" You see this kind of worship had crept into the church. Jesus is saying, "Let's set this straight. You belong to me and you need to know the truth!"

1 Corinthians 13:12 ~ "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face." 

That is when Christ comes or we go to Him. Then we will see Him face to face. Do you ever stop and think about that? When we stand before Him, we will see Him face to face. We will know Him as we are known. You and I are going to know God. People will often say when they get the opportunity to see God, they have quite a few questions for Him. You will not. You will know because God will give you the knowledge of what you need to know. Right now we look through a glass dimly, that is why God gives us the Bible so we could worship Him, obey God and love one another according to the Bible, not according to me, the church or anything else. What does God say? That is what we do!

A Christian is someone who by the power of the Holy Spirit, experiences God living His life out through us. Above all we Christians are the most shocked and surprised when anything awesome comes out of our lives because we know that is God doing the doing. It's like where did that come from? Thank You Lord because that was not in me. You know when someone cuts you off on the freeway and you come up along side them you say, "Praise the Lord, brother!" That's the Lord! I know what I can do.

He sees everything, that is the meaning of His eyes. Now we see that when God is in our life as an actual reality, it will be a healthy reality.

Revelation 2: 19 ~ "I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first."

When your Christianity is healthy, there will be obvious signs of life. According to Jesus those signs are (4) blood types, if you will of a healthy church.

1. I know your works, it is LOVE. This is agape love, the strongest and highest level of the Greek meaning of the word love. It is a active love, a verb that does, meaning practical affection and benevolence, unlike Ephesus, dead right in their Christianity. Sometimes people at church are the biggest bunch of huggers. It might seem weird. When people say they love you, they are saying it because it is a God thing. It's hard to explain to someone who isn't a Christian. We need to watch out that we aren't just saying things that are "Christianese." The church in Thyatira is an active church, they acted it out. If they saw someone in need, they would always stop. What do you do when you see someone who looks different from you. Would you stop? Jesus would and so would this church!
It creates such an opportunity to share your faith with someone in those circumstances because they would not be expecting it.

2. I know your works, it is SERVICE. The word here for service is "diakoni or diakonia, a church willing to attend to the needs of the body. It is where we get the word "Deacon."

3. I know your works, it is FAITH. The word here for faith is"pistis" meaning loyal, non spasmodic, but more and spiritual conviction, your desire for truth, your reliance on Christ for salvation, your consistency and assurance about Christ being your Savior. They really loved the Bible. They had loyalty to the Scriptures and would go to the church. But they left out certain Scriptures and substituted others which we will look at later.

4. I know your works, it is PATIENCE. The word here for patience is hupomone, meaning to take it when it's tough/ if you're cheerful and hopeful waiting for Jesus, your glad endurance. you're continuance at waiting for His return. They were busy about their Father's business. Living as if He could come at any moment. Paul the apostle was excited about the imminent return of Jesus Christ. Are you?

What kind of church are you, when He examines your confession of faith?

All these things are true if we were the church back in Thyatira and Jesus commends us for those things, but as He begins to examine our confession of faith, what does He find? I got to tell you, this petrifies me, because verse 20 tells us that we have to be diligent to teach the Word of God, line by line, precept upon precept, chapter by chapter, book by book. Here is the reason why,

He says, "I have a few things against you." Have you ever had someone tell you that "You're such a great worker." Have you ever been called into the bosses office? "I just want to tell you that your such a great worker. Have a seat." Look whenever your boss tells you to have a seat, I don't know if that is going to be good or bad, you know? You get a little tense. Because you know if its such great news, it's not going to take long. "Hey! How are you going? Come on it. Have a seat. You know you're love for this company is wonderful, you're an inspiration to many people around here. I just thought I'd let you know that. Your service, in fact, you know how a couple of weeks ago, you got the company service award? Fantastic! That's really great. I wish more employees were like you! And your faith in this corporation and what we do, what we make and what we stand behind, ah it's fantastic! Your patience? I know things have not always gone well for you, but you hung in there! With joy even! Excited as how things might turn around! Nevertheless...." Does any of that stuff matter now? Not a word! Most of us want the bad news up front. You know don't butter me up like a turkey, just cook me up front! Let me have it, I want to hear the bad news up front!

Here Jesus commends them to give them hope not to give them some false picture. With this we need to be diligent to preach the Word of God. Your blood types correlate with spiritual types, He is going to draw your blood and determine what is going on inside of you. We hope that our blood shows what is going on so we know what we can do to fix it. On Monday, we will finish up with our study into the Church of Thyatira and I hope you will join me.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Recap of Revelation to Understand the Letter to Thyatira - Part 21

Today we begin our study into the fourth church in the Book of Revelation, the church of Thyatira, pronounce (thigh - a - tie - ra), who had lost their vision of who Jesus Christ was, they were so accustomed to bringing into their worship the human and pagan side of things, they viewed various gods, like Apollo, who had the eyes like a flame of fire, or even other Greek gods, Helios for example, with feet of fiery brass. Jesus comes on the scene and just lays it out for them about who He is! I am the Son of God, I have the eyes of fire, I have the feet of brass, and He straightens out their theology in seconds.

If this is your first time, finding this study today, I welcome you. We are going through the Book of Revelation, chapter by chapter and verse by verse. Sometimes even word by word. We are certainly going through the letters of the seven churches of the Book of Revelation, and that Jesus wrote after his great ascension back into heaven. We remember when He ascended among the disciples in Acts, Chapter 1, when He ascended back up to heaven in glory, and there the messengers that stood there in white, be it, as angels or two men in white apparel as it says in the Bible, heavenly manifestations no doubt as they stood there and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven." ~ Acts 1:10.

After Jesus ascended into heaven, He wrote as it were, seven letters, to these churches in Asia Minor, and they were dispatched as it were in Revelation 1 via an angel to John the apostle. John writes it down by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and these letters are sent out to all seven churches of Asia, but we need to remember to keep this truth in mind, there were many more than 7 churches in Asia Minor, that is today modern Turkey. But those seven cities or seven churches located in those seven cities, created almost an elongated circle, and each of those seven churches had a condition which they lived in and certain doctrines that they either fought against or allowed into the churches that were false, and they put up with sin, in their culture, in their age, in one degree or another. But the truth is, they all belonged to the family of Jesus Christ. The important thing to keep in mind is not all of those people in those churches, were Christians, just like every church that claims to know Christ. Not everyone that attends church is a Christian. You know that, that's just the way it is.

Sitting in a garage doesn't make you a car, just as sitting in church doesn't make you a Christian! You can't just go to church for six months and say "I am Christian." They try to fit in because their morality or behavior does go along with that of the world, they love the safety the church provides because they offer an October 31st celebration that is family friendly and safe for their children, rather than go into the world and experience those things; it's a great way to celebrate the Christmas season rather than getting caught up in the things of the world; they are not exactly comfortable inside the church but they are certainly not comfortable outside the church; there's a sense of morality they enjoy; they enjoy a sense of belonging but outside of that it doesn't go any further. There is no deep or committed entering into the things of God as God has declared or Christ has invited.

We see today the church of Thyatira, it was in a very dangerous place, by the way, the place that we are going to in this study today, this is important because the church of Thyatira not only existed back in that day, but also in the church chronologically but in the hearts of people today who claimed to know Christ. The letters to these churches are not only contemporary, but so contemporary that we might find ourselves guilty of some of the things that Jesus indites them upon. So this is a very challenging portion of Scripture. Why is this important? Because you and I make up a church.

Are we going to be a loving church? Are we going to be a church that is effective? Are we going to be a church that is benevolent to the needs of the people? Are we going to be a church that is faithful to the Word of God even if it involves persecution like the Church of Smyrna? Are we going to be involved and committed to the Bible for what it says for remember the Bible does not contain the Word of God, the Bible IS the Word of God! That the Scripture is not only endorsed by God, but is breathed by God. The Bible was NOT written by men, the Scriptures say that the Bible, by the Holy Spirit possessed these men and wrote the very Word of God, Himself! The Holy Spirit is the author of Scripture, used in the various eye witness accounts if it were, of its authors and writers of these 66 books.

By way of review, I want to point out the thrust in light of where we are going. In Chapter 1, remember this, by the end of Chapter 1 from the beginning to the end in just those few verses, we came to the conclusion at the end of Chapter 1 this is what we found out about the Revelation of Jesus Christ:

That is He is Jesus.
That He is the Christ.
He is the Faithful Witness. He is exclusive, not one of many. He is the ONLY one!
He is the First Begotten of the Dead. He is the first one to be resurrected from the dead to never die again.
He is the Prince of the Kings of the Earth. He is the governor and judge over all the judicial systems.
He is the One who has loved us and washed us from our sins with His own blood.
He is the One who comes with the clouds.
He is the One who was pierced for us.
He is the Alpha and the Omega.
He is the Beginning and the End.
He is the First and the Last.
He is the Lord.
He is the Almighty God.
He is the Son of Man.
He is He that liveth and and was dead and is alive forever more.

The great testimony of who Jesus Christ is. It's enough to blow your mind. 

And now as we have been studying Chapter 2, we see that for each church, for each of its particular reasons have been in need of hearing again exactly what they and every believer in Jesus Christ was in need of...a Jesus Christ who is exactly as the Word of God has revealed Him to be. In each of the letters written to each of the seven churches of Asia Minor, John is given a list of key descriptions of Jesus Christ!

Revelation 1:10-16 ~ "On the Lord's Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said, "Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea" I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone "like a son of man, " dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance."(NIV).

People may mock and reject Him, but it is Jesus Christ who is enthroned in heaven and it is that same Jesus Christ who is coming again in great glory and power and all the angels worship Him. Each one of these attributes of Jesus Christ does and will apply to their lives as well as ours. We now see what Jesus writes to those who are mating, blending or joining itself with the world. It has let down its guard concerning the Bible, and it has allowed the world to come in, and form much of its existence.

Revelation 2:18-29 ~ "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 who 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. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have 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 - "He will rule them with an iron scepter: he will dash them to pieces like pottery" - just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." (NIV).

We are going to look at three very important things you should note, we are going to get through most of the first two points to spend more time on the third and final point of this letter, because we find it is most applicable to our age but throughout the ages. Jesus is going to cut to the heart of the matter in this letter and we need to understand are we going to receive this truth or leave here today rejecting it. I want to issue this warning today and a plea to just hang on. I pray here today, God please give them ears to hear what the Spirit is saying today! The danger here today is that you might misinterpret that what you are reading today is my opinion. My direction and opinion will have no help for your direction into eternity, it's what you study in the Bible, taking God at His Word, and so I am bringing this to your attention first.

In verses 18 and 19 today, we need to ask ourselves today, what kind of church are you? People don't like when you make these things personal. People don't like when they are included in this message today. It must be God talking to you, because no one emailed me and asked me to address you here today. The truth is that the Bible does apply to you and I personally. He's a personal Savior who personally gave Himself to You on the cross, that you and I might enjoy a personal Savior and enjoy heaven with Him and fellowship with one another.

So regarding what kind of church are we, number (1), when God is an actual reality to us. When God is real to us, than tradition, than mindless acts, go out the door. We want to know what we believe and why we believe and how we can tell others about it We want to know how we can live what we are reading. I don't want to pick up this Bible and read something that isn't true. I want to know that if I pick up a Bible and go to the outermost parts world or to the hospital down the street, and pray for somebody that God might raise them up from their bed and heal them completely or a heart might be changed right on the street and they come to believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior. If this is not the truth, then what are we doing? Jesus is real and He is going to address the Church in Thyatira, and He challenges them directly:

Revelation 2:18-19 ~ "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 who 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."

This is nothing new to you if you have been a part of this study from the beginning. He has already said this in the beginning of Chapter 1, He has said, I have eyes like a flame of fire, I have feet like brass, and you already know what that means. In Chapter 1, He gives a list of these things and by the way, He re-mentions those things and how they apply to each church and where they are at in life. He mentions to the church in Thyatira, I am the Son of God, I have eyes like blazing fire, I have feet like burnished brass. I know your works and He gives 4 wonderful things regarding His reality and who He is, He says, I know your works, your love and faith, your service and your perseverance. He says in regards to their works, "you are progressing onward." This is a good thing. 

In the back of your Bible you should have several pages of maps, and one of those maps will show you the location of these seven churches of Asia Minor or Turkey. We started in Ephesus and we move north to Smyrna, then further north still to Pergamum, and now we go south easterly to Thyatira, more inland from the Mediterranean Sea, we are now beginning to head south!

When Jesus says He is the Son of God, He brings direct conflict to the gods that are worshiped in Thyatira. Why? I love how Jesus does this. Remember how the Church of Smyrna was under attack for persecution and would give their life for their faith? What did Jesus say to them by way of encouragement? "I am the First and the Last, I am the One who lived, and died, and rose again. I am the One! Why did He say that? Because remember they were going to suffer death, that there is no greater word to say to someone, like Jesus did, "that I lived, I died, and I rose again. Church of Smyrna you are going to go through this persecution, don't worry, you are going to live again. "

He says something new to us regarding Thyatira, He says, "I am the Son of God. " That's a powerful thing, you want to know why? The church of ancient history lost sight of the fact, that Jesus was THE SON OF GOD. The One and Only Mediator between heaven and earth. Christ Jesus.

Jesus said it, "I AM the Son of God!" It's a powerful and prophetic statement and it's sad it doesn't carry the punch and power for us in the west as it does for those living in the Middle East. When Jesus says I am the Son of God, the Middle Eastern cultures shudder when they hear that because it is such a profound declaration because what it means is to the Middle Eastern thinking and culture in the context in which it was given, Jesus is saying, I am the physical manifestation before you of God, my Father. He is 100% equal to the Father. The Middle Easterns understand this, Judaism condemns this thought even though the Old Testament Scriptures taught in Proverbs 30:4 that "God has a Son." Islam in all around the Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem it says "that God is not begotten nor does God have a son." Isn't that interesting? Even though the Bible in the Old and New Testament says Jesus is the Son of God!

Tomorrow we will learn a bit more about what it was like in the city of Thyatira and what it was like to live there. Hope you will join me tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

You're Going to Get a New Name in Heaven!

To understand the Book of Revelation you have to understand the Old Testament. When we were studying yesterday about the church of Pergamum we were understanding what Jesus was referring to when He reprimanded the church for holding to the doctrines of Balaam, who was called and ordained by God,  and here, the best way to understand what that was is to go back to Numbers 22-25 and read how Balaam was a prophet of God who found he could make a serious profit selling his services to those who wants blessings or cursing issued upon their enemies. He was basically prostituting his office for money. Isn't that what we are seeing a lot of today?

Just like Satan's tactics are designed to lead us astray so was that very same thing happening not only to Balaam but to those in the church of Pergamum as well as the believers and churches today. We all need to be aware to judge what we hear based on the Bible and the Word of God, over what the world would have us believe.

Acts 17:11 ~ "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."

We need to be doing the same in every part of our lives, all of the time. Rightly dividing the word of truth from that of the world. Let's go back and see Jesus' reprimand in its entirety to the church of Pergamum and those believers who compromise in their spiritual walk even today.

Revelation 2:14-15 ~ "Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: you have people who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak, to entire the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. "

We remember that when Balaam attempted to curse the Israelite's, God pronounced a blessing over them instead. We know that Balaam went back to the kings, enemy of Israel and asked for more money to try it again, they paid it, he tried to pronounced a curse but once more God gave Israel a blessing instead. He is able to manage to convince the king one more time to pay him to curse Israel,  but it doesn't work and God continues to bless them instead, the same as before. At this point Balaam knows his time is up, the king is about out of money and Balaam is quite wealthy. You've heard the saying, If you can't beat them, join them? Remember what happened to the church of Smyrna, when they resisted against temptation? Satan simply tries something else. There is a Greek proverb that says, "Whom the gods could not destroy, they made great." If they couldn't destroy them, they simply exulted them instead.  Man can't handle exultation!

So what Satan did, was marry them to the world since they could not be destroyed. Balaam basically told the king of Moab, and all the surrounding kings to bring their finest women, all the most beautiful and hot women and bring them down. Bring them with their pornographic idols, have them bring those as well. Don't forget to bring some sacrifices too, and have them walk real seductively down to the men of Israel. Now remember these men have been away at war for quite some time. Have them begin to flirt with the men of Israel, and he proclaimed that the men would fall for every single one of the women. So that is just what the kings did. The men did exactly what Balaam said they would do and they followed the women to the altars of their pagan gods. They set down their idols and said, "Let's do this. Let's do that." After they completed the acts, they sacrificed the animals, on the altars and then they ate it together. God turned and killed thousands of those Israelis soldiers that day. Why? Because they compromised.

"Oh I will just lower my standard so I can date this person or that person. Surely God will know and understand." You allow compromise in and who knows if you would have just held out for one more moment, when God's answer was coming and you simply gave up. God had that wonderful person for you, or that perfect job all lined up or whatever it might be and you simply gave up. You compromised. Jesus turns and rebukes the church and if you're a Christian, you know what that feels like when He rebukes. It hurts!  He says, "When I spank you, cause I'm about to spank you, when he spanks in His correction and rebuke, He carries you upward as His hand comes down, right into His arms. He never comes down on you! When God disciplines, He puts a stop to our behavior because He knows it's not beneficial to us. When He spanks it's one that lifts us up into His arms.

But will we be willing to be judged like that from the Lord? Will we let Him judge us? He says, I have a few things against you. He mentions the doctrine of Balaam, you know about that know. We have to be willing to be judged by the Scriptures, but also this, we have to be willing to refuse false doctrine in our lives. "Thus you also hold to the doctrines of the Nicolaitans which I hate." The Nicolaitans were these guys, scholars can't agree, there were disciples of Nicholas, who were a bunch of weirdos, or the Nicolaitans, which is a compound word in the Greek Nico = rulers, kings or judges, hierarchy, a status in a religious setting, that ought not to exist. Laitans = laity, the people. Jesus says, "I hate the teaching that a church gets from a select group, that presides over the church, thereby the servants, flock or church, become servants to a select few. Nicolaitans, rulers over the people, who fleece the flock. They take money from them. Who Peter says, "that they through preaching, might acquire money, position, status. Jesus says, I hate it! People who have designated lives, "Don't talk to him, he's the Pastor." What?

How many of you have been in the corporate world, understand the corporate ladder, the pyramid? Who is at the top? The CEO, or the stockholders. The stockholders employ the CEO to ensure the company is working right. And everyone else serves him so to speak. The pyramid goes up. Well not in church. Not in the church of Jesus. It goes upside down. The church is lifted up. The church is exulted, that is why as Pastors of churches, if they are going to be true pastors, that if you're doing something right, they should be encouraging you. If you're sleeping with someone's wife or husband, they are supposed to say, 'You can't do that! Right here in the Bible it says you're not supposed to do that! You're going to ruin your life!' They will do anything they can to help you stop doing the things you shouldn't be doing. But instead, people will turn on their pastors and say, they should be the ones judging them, but all they are merely doing is pointing out what Jesus says, and He has the authority to judge. They are simply helping you to try and get back on track again. To repent and get right with God.

Do you really think when you tell your pastor off, that they are put off by the fact that they care more about your soul than you do? But the truth of the matter is that you are going to ruin your own life and someone else's life as well. The thing is regarding false doctrine, these Nicolaitans, they existed, the church at Pergamum, was the first period of church age, historically through Constantine. It became most prominent. That Constantine, of the Roman Empire said, "You know what? Enough of this. I want Christianity to be the official religion of Rome of the Roman Empire. I want it's headquarters moved to Rome. And to show my token of sincerity, I will appoint Bishops under me. Constantine declared himself to be Pontiff. If you don't know this, than you haven't spent much time in history. Alexander the Great said, I will be the Pontiff, the Pope, and I will declare all of these to be my bishops, and as a token of sincerity I will drape you in robes, I will set you apart from the people. I will grant you basilicas and cathedrals. He commissioned them to be built. He declared that the church would be just like the world. And the world would be just like the church. And the lines were skewed. Now I am not coming down on the Catholic church or religion at all, I'm just telling you that if there is any church, group, denomination, that says, "We are the ministers, and the pastors." People might say that pastors stand behind a piece of wood above everyone else, but it is simply to see everyone else. Not to be above everyone else.

But if your pastor can't interact with you, something is wrong. If pastors have to have a designated life, I eat here, you don't eat here, I sit here, you don't sit here; I park here, you don't park here; that is Nicolaitan!  It creeps into the church, it's all over the place. It's wrong. If you're church shopping, put this verse on your shopping list.

"Jesus said but you, do not be called masters any of you, for one is your teacher, that is the Christ, and all of you are brothers."

That means if I am not born again, I'm not going to make it to heaven. It doesn't matter how high a pulpit is built or if you give a pastor a parking space, or a million bucks, if there are not born again, they are not going to heaven. Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth and the life, and no one gets to heaven but through me." Jesus told Nicodemus, the religious leader of that day, unless you are born again, you will never see the kingdom of God. It's not about how much money you give, Jesus doesn't need your money, it's not how much you serve, He doesn't need your service; He wants your heart, the part you won't give up. He wants your heart. If you are not born again, you will not see the kingdom of heaven. No one will make it in, unless they are born again. Despite how wonderful they might appear. God does not judge based on performance. Where did we get that?

No one welds any power but whatever God gives them. You can't buy faith. It's free. You don't get it by following anyone else but Jesus.

Revelation 2:17 ~ " He who has an ear, let him heart what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna,. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it. "

No more manna to eat. No more sacrificial food, sacrificed on altars. He says He will give us a white stone, the stone of acquittal. All of these sins you have racked up against you, all of these things you have done, Jesus says, He will give you a white stone. In those days if you were acquitted of a crime, the judge would give you a white stone. Isn't that cool! It also says He will give you a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it, that is a great reference to 2 Corinthians 5:17, ~ "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 

God's going to give us each a new name. Do you have a new name waiting for you? When you arrive into the presence of eternity, are you going to get a new name? Is God going to hand you a white stone, which means, you've been acquitted of all crime, sin, wrong doing in your life. If you do, when you turn it over, there is going to be a brand new name that is fit for heaven. You'll get a whole new life. Is your name written in heaven? You can have that by asking him to forgive you of your sins and ask Him into His life.

Heaven is going to be an awesome sight and you missed it because of religion and you missed out on the relationship with Jesus. We don't need to compromise because God is on the throne. Remember that no matter where you find yourself, what kind of job, community, school or neighborhood you live in, you don't have to compromise! Stand strong! God's on your side.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What is the Seat of Satan?

We learned that the city of Pergamum and the church there was all about compromise. What we need to understand is not only how it related to the church at that time, but how it relates to us today. No matter where you live, there is a spiritual dynamic at work, in your community, in your churches, in your government, in your schools, even in your own family, there is a constant battle, the ebb and flow of what's right and what's wrong. A world view if you would. A biblical world view. Pergamum was challenged with an alternative world view that began to infiltrate the church. Jesus tells the church, "I know where you live, I know who's throne is in your neighborhood." We hear it all the time, location, location, location. Well in the city of Pergamum, the seat of Satan was right in the heart of the city. Satan himself was dwelling there in a sense, but Jesus was saying, "I know you are there."

Even though they were sitting in the middle of hell, Jesus wanted them to resist compromise. When we live in a place that is compromising, we need to remember Jesus' authority. "These things says He who has a two-edged sword." It was a sword that is sharp on both sides, however there was a Roman sword that was blunt on one side and sharp on the other. They would have to wield it around like a helicopter. But the sword Jesus has is one that when He swings it one way, He can cut someone down the knees in judgment, and when He swings it the other way, like a skilled surgeon He will cut out the pride in a man's heart, or apathy or false doctrine as this church would experience. It is interesting to note that Jesus was saying, "You need surgery and I am the great physician, and I'm going to give you my Word, that in the book of Revelation, we learned is a sharp two-edged sword that comes from Jesus' mouth in Revelation 1:16 and in Revelation 19.

Will you as a Christian, throw up your hands, give up the reins of your life and let Jesus rule inside your heart? Because if He is not the Lord in our life, then He is nothing to us. He calls the shots. If any church or pastor tells you anything that does not line up with scripture, that is outside of scripture, it's wrong! If that ministry points to a chapter and asks you to read it, telling you these are the verses that apply to your situation, then praise the Lord, they are watching out for your soul. I am going to go to heaven with or without you. I'm going because Jesus died for me on the cross. I'm going because He took away my sin. I'm still a sinner, but I hate it now. I hate my temper. I hate my thoughts, I hate it. But I know I am going to heaven. The Bible says He has washed me in His own blood. My name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life. People will spend three hours wasting their time sitting in the movie, but get the slightest bit grouchy when their pastors go over on their messages.

What kind of church are we, when compromise has surrounded us. (Verse 13).

Revelation 2:13 ~ "I know where you live - where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city - where Satan lives."

Pretty rough neighborhood. We live in Southern California where things are pretty black and white. But not everything - shades of grey are creeping in. It is the Babylon in America. We are home to the pornographic industry of the world. We have more amusements in the world so people can unplug. Things are not always as real as they seem here. In Southern California where people's very existence is based on what they drive, or what they wear, where they live. People come here to visit and they aren't sure if they can lean on that wall, because it might be fake. People don't know if the laws here are real or not. Is this man going to be a governor or an actor? The only thing people who live and were born here in Southern California know for sure, is if that was an earthquake or not. We are getting pretty experienced on fires, what a great place, shaking and baking huh? Southern California, it is known as the Babylon to the world. Have you noticed when some people come to visit, they say, "They can't wait to go back home?" And we think they are crazy! We wonder why there are not totally in love with this place. Why don't they want to move here permanently? People who are Christians, don't understand how we can put up with what we do. What we hear on the radio or on television. They have to cover their eyes and ears. What some people wear either, they simply can't take the temptation living right among us.

We live in a modern day Pergamum! The dangerous thing was in the time of Pergamum it was popular to be a Christian, if you did what the community did. They were surrounded by compromise. Eventually however, compromise creeps in.

Notice that He gives three commendations.

1. Where you dwell.  2. Where Satan throne is.  3. Where Satan lives.

Three geographical comments. Where do you live? Jesus knows about it. He knows exactly what city and place you are staying in. The word "dwell" means address. So in a sense, Jesus is saying, I know the address your stuck with. He is saying, "I know you live in a place that is very hard and all these things are pulling on you. I know that.

Secondly, it is where Satan's throne is. How would you like to live there? I'd love to show you a new house, Oh where is that? It's where Satan's throne is. What's that demon doing on your house? Oh you know that's just part of the neighborhood. How would you like to live there? Well Christians did. So why was it called that? Because on the throne of Athena, and on these various three gods we talked about yesterday, because based on archaeological discoveries, the serpent was present in all of their architecture. The serpent was worshiped along with things I can't share that deal with Satanic worship that they did with snakes, and the snake was exhaulted, placed on a pole and bowed down to, with perverse twisted acts. Children were sacrificed to these things. Aren't you glad you didn't live back then? That is what they did publicly on the mountainside on that great mesa of an altar. Nowadays people just go into the solitude of their own home. Turn on their computer and sacrifice their children as it were. They just turn on their altar. It's not 90 feet by 90 feet, and 40 feet tall. Not like the one they unearthed in Pergamum. No this one is just a couple hundred dollars and it's a 17 inch monitor and you type in a password, and you can go to hell on earth. Aren't you glad no one knows you're doing that? How do you know someone hasn't told someone what is on your computer?

Sacrificing children? You would say that would never happen today! It happens every single day. People are having marriage problems over what is happening inside their homes. They don't pray together anymore, they don't read the Bible anymore, they aren't showing one another they love each other in a physical way any more. They are broken completely. What you come to find out, is that the husband or wife is on the internet, dealing with pornography, or dealing with chat rooms with members of the opposite sex pouring out their hearts to someone on the other end who they think understands them. If that is the case in your home? Get rid of it. Throw it away, smash it so it can't invade your home again. If your concerned with how much money it costs, consider what it is costing your marriage, your family, your kids? What is the cost of how much that is worth you? That is called bondage and compromise. Don't think that doesn't have a lasting impact in the lives of those who are part of that circle.

Jesus knows about our commitment of faith. He knows about our conviction. Jesus knows when we are surround by a world that is full of compromise, will we stand firm in our faith? Will we stand for what is right? Are the lines going to be so skewed that it's okay if this and that happen, just a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and we soon find we no longer have any convictions, we have no rudder, we would be liberal as a church and as a Christian. You no longer really look to the Bible for answers and instead look at a 12-step process to prosperity instead or perhaps how you can have a happy life, a carefree life and we are going to use THIS book instead of the Bible, that's compromise!!!

Jesus Christ is very clear about things. If the lines are grey, then why did Jesus have to die at all? If the lines are grey, then why did He have to suffer on a cross? If the lines are grey, then why did He give us a manual for life called the Bible? The truth is the lines aren't grey. God doesn't operate in the lines of grey because there is no grey. Look at people who are blessed by having Jesus in their life, when the world comes crashing down, they have a peace about they, and how they get through it. Then look at those who don't have Jesus, and how their life is so stressed and so worrisome and so bound up in the cares of this world. It's so sad. Life is never supposed to be like that.

 Fresca from the Pergamum Museum in Berlin

The church of Pergamum allowed the doctrines of the world creep into their lives and their church. One of the things they had to put up with in their community was Askleeppus SoTar, the serpent savior. These were the chantings and worship of the altars in which the church of Pergamum grew up around. They also had doctrines and instead of them fighting against them, they gave up. It came into their church.

Jesus said to them, "You have not renounced your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city - where Satan lives." This is the conclusion of the three commendations Jesus gave to the church before His rebuke to them in verses 14 and 15.

Revelation 2:14-15 ~ "Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans."

Can you imagine Jesus saying, "I hate this?" Balaam, you may have read about him in Numbers 22-25. He was a prophet of God. Balaam found out that after being in the ministry, he could make big money, so he used his office as a prophet, for a profit. He was a prophet for profit who prophesied to pagan nations for money. He sold his office, like Judas so to speak, sold his position with Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. Balaam went to the enemy kings of the Israelites and he went to Moab and he said, "You want to whip Israel?" and they said, "Yeah! We sure do!" He said, "Pay me some money and pronounce a curse, I'm a prophet of God." So he goes and stand on the top of the hill and pronounces a curse over Israel. His own people! Is this guy Balaam not a wolf in sheep's clothing or what?

What we take away from the church of Pergamum is despite where they were living, He doesn't want them to compromise. You might be living in a place like this, the response from Jesus is the same to YOU. Don't compromise. Don't give up.  The most loving person to ever come to this planet was Jesus. How do you reconcile this? The most hated person who graced this place was Jesus Christ. The church, the Christian is supposed to be exactly the same way. We are supposed to be the most loving institution and people on the face of the earth. But if we associate with Jesus, we are also going to be one of the most hated. Go figure that out. We just don't want to go around being hateful, ugly, mean and rude. We need to go around standing for the truth, and let our light so shine before men right, as it were, as Jesus said to do and people are responding to the light that is coming out of the churches or out of our lives, coming out of our families, you want to make sure that you are out of the grey zone. Be the light. We have to do that if we want to be that light. Be different.

It is interesting to realize that while we know the Bible to be true, the fact that archaeologists have dug up and reassembles the seat of Satan or the temple in the Museum of Pergamum is pretty amazing stuff.  By the time you get to the top of this altar, you see the seat of Zeus, and all these biblical references in this secular museum from the Bible founded in this altar. I love that people are discovering the truth that we have always known from the Bible.

Monday, August 24, 2015

History of the Church of Pergamum - Part 18

The church and the leaders today are more fearful of man and the world's opinions than of God's. The church is losing its witness because of fear. We need godly leaders, humble servanthood leaders like Jesus, the ultimate leader. We, as Christians, need to understand what we believe and why we believe it and I really think when you get into today's study of the Church of Pergamum, you will understand how relevant this speaks to so many churches today. In some ways the church of Pergamum did very well but in others not too good and thus the reason for Jesus writing to the leaders and the church of Pergamum. Remember that once again if you have been following this study into the Book of Revelation. there is a blessing for those that read it's words and hear the word written it in.

That it applies to real churches at that time in Asia Minor, not only the seven but that each church can relate to the things Jesus writes about in each of the letters to the seven churches. It also reveals to us, as believers where our own spiritual hearts are as we read them and understand what we need to do to get right with God again. Which means that these letters are applicable to us today. We also learned that these churches are listed chronologically to mirror the church age. The church of Ephesus was all about getting the Word of God out to the world and they were busy doing God's work, but they left their first love. Then we looked at the church of Smyrna that loved the Lord with all their heart, but were under the heavy hand of violent persecution to the point of death. We know that has existed and it is existing even today.

May our hearts be opened, our eyes wide open as we get into today's study and may we give up all our ceremonies and religious practices that are keeping us in bondage without knowledge, in bondage without purpose, that we would be set free in understanding God's Word and His will.

Revelation 2:12-17 ~ "To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. I know where you live - where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city - where Satan lives. Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: you have people who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore! Otherwise I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. He who has an ear, let him heart what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna,. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it. "

It's probably a smart question to ask but why are there so many denominations and representations of the Christian church? Why are there Baptist churches and Lutheran churches, Methodists, Catholics and many other churches? What's wrong or what is the point to all of that? The point is this, that based upon the founders of those churches who perceived or understood certain areas of scripture, a fellowship began. But you need to understand something, though the Baptists may differ from the Assembly of God, and the Lutherans from the Presbyterians, they differ on peripheral issues, that is all of them believe on the essentials of of Christianity, that is an important thing. Keep that in mind, that is what makes them Christian.

They believe in the deity of Jesus Christ, they believe in the resurrection of the dead, they believe in His return to earth, they believe that the Bible is the Word of God, there are Christian essentials that make a church "Christian." It is those peripheral issues that make them denominations. Some may believe that you have to be baptized forward, others believe you have to be baptized backwards, those are non essentials, some people want to be baptized in Jesus' name, others want to be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, but the denominations have spun off, because of peripheral things. What you wear, what you eat, when you eat, all things that God doesn't really have an interest in, except for those essentials.

We now come to the Church of Pergamum or Pergamus, which was a church that knows the Scriptures, knows the Lord Jesus Christ, is part of the grand body of Christ, but it has departed and has allowed false doctrine to infiltrate the church. We see that Jesus gives three strong commendations for their conduct, for their faith, conviction and their perseverance, but He also brings them one strong note of judgment because of the teachings and doctrines that they have allowed into the church to govern the church. This one will strike home.

Do you know that the people you hang out with, you become like them in one degree or another? It is a fact, that the people you hang out with, you become like one of them. Be it for good or for bad. You and I as Christians, can not live our lives without transmitting a message. That's important to understand.  So when we ask which one of these churches do you relate to when you read the letters to the seven churches, we need to understand that for us, we are taking a spiritual check on our own lives to see where we stand as believers.

The church in Pergamum was a compromising church and when you think about it, no one wants to be a compromising church or a Christian. A compromising church is weak, a compromising church is all things to all men so that all men attend it. Not that all men might be saved. A church that compromises tries to establish itself in the community, that their witness is so skewed, that it looks just like the community. It doesn't say anything about sin, it doesn't say anything about the validity of the Bible, it would never cause anyone to think and reconsider about the direction in which they live, it wants grand and super crowds of people, then runs the risk of never getting to the point of the gospel. Not that crowds are wrong, but what it that church doing to get crowds, is it making the gospel convenient, rather than the gospel being preached and people being brought up to the gospel? Is it a church that is one conducted like a business than a family? That pastors are now CEO's, and are the head of the corporation. There are other corporate executives rather than assistant pastors, Is this a church that is trying to present itself to the world in such a way, that the world can not tell, if it's in church to worship the Lord God and have their lives changed by the power of the Bible, or it is just a big self help gathering on a Sunday morning? There is a big difference.

The church of Pergamum was a church in compromise. What kind of church are we, when we are living in a world of compromise? (verse 12).

Revelation 2:12 ~ "To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword."

Geographically the church of Pergamum or Pergamos was only 45 miles north of Smyrna and was a very wealthy city. It was a key center for imperial worship of the Roman Caesars. But based in the city it had some tremendous temples and altars dedicated to three key Greek gods, that were honored at Pergamum. (1) the god Zeus, in fact his temple was one of the seven ancient wonders of the world, the remnants are still there today. This temple had a wall that went out 90 from a rock mountain, 90 feet across and then 90 feet back into the mountain. On top was a great plateau where they practiced all kinds of grotesque pagan worship practices to these Greek gods. They would bring young children and young boys often the first born, and if you worshiped Zeus or Athena or Asklepios, you would bring your first born and they would be dedicated to grotesque sexual worship. They would set up these carvings in grotesque sexual acts, and they would take these children and perform these things with them until they were sacrificed to death on these altars of pornography.

Pergamum was a very wealthy city, vellum or paper was created and designed there. They were able to make parchments, and they rivaled Egypt in the production of writing instruments. They had a library there, that was the greatest in the world at that time, which comprised some 200,000 volumes of writings. Gross bizarre worship. If any of you have been to Berlin, there is a museum there, called the Museum of Pergamum. The museum houses inside it another great altar, that in the year 1903, was taken from an archaeological unearthing of the altar of Athena in Pergamum and was taken to Berlin where it has been reassembled and you can see it today. It is spectacular. It is marble, with great and many steps leading up to the top, where many Greek gods are being pulled in the various fresca designs by Athena. All around Athena and all those she is holding captive, are serpents that are holding them in bondage. For it is in Pergamum, the Christians and the Jews alike in the first century and on to later centuries that said that Pergamum was the seat of Satan, based on the worship of Athena and the worship of Asklepios, these demon gods.

Asklepios you may not know by name, this is the god, that if you go to your doctor, he has a little stick emblem with a serpent on it. This was the first temple that was dedicated to the healing of people. The tragic thing is that it was not a hospital like you and I know today. It was a place where healing took place through the sacrificial acts and ceremonies. They had doctrines made up there that had crept into the church from a world that was lost. Into that Christian church, which still has a witness today, there are still Christians living today in what is known as Bergama in Turkey, a highly populated Muslim community, and it had crept into the church. There are still Christians living there today. That is all that is left of the city of Pergamum.

It is interesting to note that the age of that church is still an age in which we are living in even today, one of compromise. We live in a world of compromise. When Jesus speaks to the angel of the church of Pergamum, we know Jesus is speaking to the leader or head of that church. Jesus is speaking directly to him. How does a church go into compromise anyway? It doesn't just wake up and it's compromised. A church allows compromise to come in, and it begins with the leader or pastor of the church first. It is scary to think that the way of the church goes as its leader does. If the leadership is withdrawn and unapproachable, then the church will be cold and calloused. If the church is approachable, warm and loving, and open, then the church will also mimic that. It is a spiritual law of God, when you look at Jesus Christ, where do you find Him? Among the people. If there was a bunch of prostitutes hanging around a street corner, where would you find Jesus? Telling them about the forgiveness of God. If there were people who were down and out, homeless, where would you find Jesus? Feeding them. If there were people who needed assurance and peace, where would you find Jesus? Among those who are insecure and scared. Wherever the outcast were or wherever a person was in need, that is where you found Jesus.

Something happened to this church. The one that was doing well, now was not. They were doing what was acceptable in the eyes of the world. Some how became involved and that the state began to honor the church. It had approval of things and of powers. The name Pergamum or Pergamos is translated to a mixed marriage. A marriage between state and church. Whenever that happens it is a terrible thing because compromise comes in. Jesus, we see, is speaking to the head or leadership at the church of Pergamum.

James 3:1 ~ "My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing then that we will receive a stricter judgment. 

God calls a minister to the pulpit. God calls an evangelist to the field. God calls His servants. He does that sovereignly.  It's amazing how many people want to be pastors but don't want to do the menial tasks that a church often calls them to do like helping with the painting or laying of the carpet, taking out the trash or cleaning the bathrooms. Those things are born by God into the heart of a man or a woman. You can go to seminary or Bible college, but that doesn't make you a minister. God puts that in your heart to do. God puts that calling into your heart.

This man at Pergamum had been called to teach the truth, but something went wrong. But listen to the mercy of Jesus Christ. He is so kind and tender. He reminds the leader of a very important thing, and that is to stay on course. We need to stay on course, just like church leaders must. Reading our Bible, chapter by chapter, book by book, scripture by scripture, gathering together. Begin a church, reaching those who have been victimized by fires or those who are sick and hurting. Being real. Not some type of production thing. We must be leaders on course as a church.

Hebrews 13:17 ~ " Obey those who are over you, and be submissive to them, Because they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account." 

We live in a culture where people look at their church leadership with disdain. "Who do they think they are? They have no right to tell me anything!" Or when a member of the pastoral staff sits them down and says, "I hear your marriage is on the rocks, what is going on?" And they both tell you this that and the other. Then you give them what the Bible says about what they should both be doing, do you know what they say? "What? That's ridiculous! Come on we're leaving!" When you ask them why they are upset and they say, "Stop judging me. That has nothing to do with what's going on in our marriage." And off they go! How do you help someone like that? You can't do it.

If a church is concerned about your soul, somethings are pleasant and some things are not. When we open the Bible, it speaks to us. It changes our lives. But if we compromise, why should someone get up early and come to church? Leaders who want to serve instead of serving people. People who are of God ordained authority. The church does not exist to serve the leadership, the leadership of that church has been ordained by God, to serve the people. This is key. If you are in a church where people are demanding your serve a leader, or two or three, that is so unbiblical, you need to tell them why you are leaving the church. Don't just get up and leave, but tell them why you are leaving. Jesus' model is that of a servant, not to be served. a biblically led, spirit led, church you will have servant leadership in authority and that is precious authority.

Tomorrow we will delve a bit further into the church of Pergamum. 


Friday, August 21, 2015

Jesus Will Be With You, If You Put Your Faith in Him. - Part 17

Do you ever stop and consider how truly wealthy you are? Not based on the world's standards of defining wealth, but in God's eyes. You are rich in the things that matter in God's eyes, not in earthly standards or earthly achievements, Jesus reminds us not to lay up for ourselves treasures in this world, which can corrupt or rot, but we are to store up our treasures in heaven instead where nothing can threaten your investment. In order for God to really use us, we need to get our eyes off the fact, that this is money, and view it instead as tools. Some times we will have more tools or less, but they are all used to bring about glory and honor to God, and not we have more money than we know what to do with, we will have grown spiritually. We need to remember not to do that.

"What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul." ~ Matthew 16:26

Poverty means that they once had something, but then lost it all. This doesn't mean that they live from check to check, but this is not the kind of poverty that Jesus was talking about. This was a church that was so poor because they were mocked based on their faith in Jesus, they were considered losers, because they refused to worship Caesar, and they weren't receiving any monetary compensation but instead were ostracized by the people living there. They were rejected and considered outcasts while everyone else around them, had it made.

Philippians 3:8 ~ "What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things."

Philippians 4:11-12 ~ "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."

When Jesus told them they were rich, He was telling them that they had invested wisely in eternal things.

2 Corinthians 8:1-2 ~ "And now brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity."

When times of difficulty surround you, you will be able to rejoice. Verse 9.

Revelation 2:9 ~"I know your works while being blasphemed..."

Blasphemia means to vilify, to speak against, to go about slandering another person. To speak evil of another person.

God has a particular hatred for this type of sin, and He judges both the believer and non believer alike.

Matthew 5:10-12 ~ Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Have you ever taken a stand for Jesus when it is biblical? How does that work out for you? 

Revelation 2:9 ~ I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan."

Remember the church of Ephesus, there was a warning to them about false apostles. Revelation 2:2 ~ "I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false."

These false apostles came in apostolic succession, that the apostles that Jesus founded, continued on in succession of church hierarchy to this day. "Those who say they are Jews."  These were a powerful group of Jews that came to Smyrna, while they claimed to be Christians. They believed themselves to be a special priesthood that was continuous (imposters). This was a false priestly system that tried to marry an elaborate legalism of Judaism to the simple grace of Christianity.

Revelation 2:6 ~ "But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate."

It means hierarchy, lordship, authoritative rule, a church serving the ministry, rather than the minister serving the church. Jesus said, "I hate that." This impostership has survived, in the merger of apostolic succession and a continuing priesthood. The Mormon church claims this apostolic priesthood. The Roman Catholic church claims this apostolic priesthood. A system of holy ordinances, performances, elaborate requirements, legalistic rights, and church dependence. It's all known as Romanism.

What kind of church are you, when eternity is an ever present reality in your life. Does that sound like you spiritually?

Revelation 2:10-11 ~ "Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let  him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death." 

When eternity is an ever present reality, you'll see Jesus Christ as your shepherd.

Revelation 2:10 ~ "Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer." 

Jesus tells us not to worry. If we go back to verse 9, we can see Jesus is saying, "I know...I have experienced it too!" That is supposed to translate to great peace in our life. We all want it to simply go away. Do you realize that 2 million people have died in the Sudan? Where is the U.N. on that issue? Where is the United States? Where is Europe? The Sudanese Christians are dying at a rate that is unbelievable. 2 million in 10 years, they are the persecuted church today. Churches are being burned with people in them. Locked in churches while bulldozers run over them. They hold onto their faith when that happens. This is real to them. Is Jesus your shepherd today?

Hebrews 4:15-16 ~ "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. "

Jesus feels and has felt everything you and I feel.

When eternity is an every present reality, you'll see Satan the devil as a tool in the hand of God.

Revelation 2:10 ~ " I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days."

He is a defeated enemy. God's got Satan right now under control. God uses everything he is doing, to bring about His will on the earth. No one knows what the precise meaning of the words "ten days." Jesus uses it specifically, because He is in reality. Some will suffer ten days. One day is like a thousand years to Jesus. When you keep your eyes on Jesus, time won't matter. It will pass. Jesus is basically saying, "I'm on it. That you might be tested, I'm on it." Remember Peter's sifting? You know that when you are enduring anything related to trials, time just seems to drag on by, but Jesus says, "I'm on it.!"

When eternity is an ever present reality, you'll see heaven, eternity as your next home.

Revelation 2:11 ~ " Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life."

First He wanted to close leaving them with a key thought, "I will give you the crown of life." Remember the citizens of Smyrna considered their city to be the crown of life. Jesus was reminding them they didn't belong here any longer. They had a new citizenship that could never be conquered. A crown that would be everlasting. Jesus mocks them, He says, "I will give you the crown of life." There is nothing God can't do!

The emperor isn't it. The city isn't it. The system wasn't it.

Let's look at the things that God promises to those that trust in Him.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ~ "Therefore do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

The Roman crown of victory was everyone to the Roman, but not to the Christian. What can I say to you, who are suffering? What can I say to you, who are about to suffer? I have one word. Bible. If the people who attend any church, gathered together to help you through your suffering, do you realize they couldn't do enough? To understand that if you had all the money in the world, that that money could not buy your health.

It is the Bible. It is His Word.

It was good enough for the church of Symrna. It was good enough for the apostle Paul. It was good enough for Mary. It was good enough for Jeremiah. It was good enough for Noah. It was good enough for John the Baptist. It was good enough for George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. It was good enough for the succession of Christians throughout the ages.

When suffering reaches the maximum, it is then, at those moments when the deepest of Christ's nature is translated into the life of His follower, until we are standing before Him in perfect peace.

Revelation 2:11 ~ "Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let  him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death." 

The second death is the worst of all. A Christ-less hell forever.

Without God. His blessings, His goodness, His mercies.

Among the apostle Paul's last recorded words are 2 Timothy 4:8 ~ "Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day - and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing."

Don't be afraid. To get you through your altar of difficulty and it leads you to death, He has engineered this moment of trial. He will be with you through it all, He will hold your hand, He will not leave your or forsake you. Remember He has died and came back to life, and if you believe in me, so shall you! Ever human being will die at least one time, unless the rapture happens. You are going to die! It's going to happen. Taxes and death! We will eventually die. If you are a Christian, you will only die once, in this world and live forever more with God in heaven. When He speaks of spiritual death, that is coming to those who don't believe in Jesus. When they are escorted upon their death straight to hell. To be born once, you die twice. If you are born twice, you die once.

Are you born again? Have you been born a second time? That is the greatest question right now! Jesus will be with you if you put your faith in Him.

Let's pray before we leave today.

Father, today Lord as we are here, I ask you Lord God to move across this body right now, and Father that You would minister to us, your comfort, your strength, your truth to all of us that are your children. And the beautiful thing is Lord, that You will do that, no matter where we find ourselves today. But Father, today for those who do not know you as Lord and Savior, I ask you Father that You would come upon them right now, and Lord only You can do this, that You would so speak to them, that they Lord God, would know these verses, these words and considerations are true from Your throne, and that You can be known personally. 

Would you consider Jesus Christ? He died on the cross to forgive you of your sins, but the problem is that you are still holding your sins, you're in trouble by the way for them, but Jesus is saying, "Give me your sin. I died for those sins on the cross." You have to give those sins to Him. You have to tell Him, "Lord, I give you my sinful life, and then Lord, I want You to be with me in this life, to save me, to watch over me, to keep me."

If this is your decision today, and you agree with this prayer, you want to know if you died today, you want to go to heaven, you don't need to worry about it anymore. You've heard about Jesus, you might even have a cross around your neck, but you have no assurance if you died today, you'd go to heaven. That can change right now. I'm going to lead you in a prayer right now, and if you mean it, God will hear you. In a moment you will leave this religious experience and enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, which is far better. Right now, the Lord has engineered this day for you, repeat this as you read it as you mean it,

Dear Lord Jesus, 

Forgive me of my sins, write my name in Your book of Life. I give You my life, I ask You to save me now, and give me Your Holy Spirit, that I might live for You, thank You for dying for me on the cross, in Jesus Name I pray, AMEN!!!

You are now a wonderful believer in Jesus Christ right now, and if you died today, you would be with Jesus in Heaven today! You have that blessed assurance that when this life ends, your eternal life begins.

God loves you so much that all that stuff that has happened in your life, He has brought about for this moment, to bring you to Him, through making your way here today. From this moment on, now, decide to follow Jesus.