Summary: From the church of Thyatira we learn that we fall from grace when we allow any other authority than Jesus Christ to rule in our lives, and His church is weakened by rebellion against His established church leadership.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned as we’ve studied the first three churches of Revelation, it’s that there’s nothing new under the sun. As we’ve taken the time to look so far at these churches, we can see that no matter what we as a church are going through at this point in history – whatever it is that we may be facing – it is only a repeat of what the church of God has already gone through at one point in time or another. So technically, I don’t even need to preach this message this morning, because we already know it – in some ways we’re already experiencing it. I can imagine that for some of you, these messages may be getting a little repetitive. I know that as I sat down to write this sermon this week, it took me forever to figure out how to start it because every introduction I came up with sounded like the first three I’d given. But as I thought about it, and as I asked God for the wisdom to know how to deliver this message to the congregation this morning, I realised that the whole Bible is about repetition.
You see, as I looked at it, I realised that from Genesis to Revelation, the Bible always comes back to the same point. And as I looked at the messages to the churches which we’re studying, I realised that, on both the prophetic and devotional levels, the letters to these 7 churches were all saying essentially the same thing. And as I spent some more time thinking about it, I realised why. Why would every story, every chronicle, every prophecy of the Bible be about the same thing in the end – come back to the same point? It’s because, from God’s perspective, there’s just one thing that we need to know. And so what He does in Scripture, with every page, with every chapter, with every verse, is drive that point home.
You know, I sometimes say that it would be great if you could just hit people over the head with the Bible enough times and they’d believe. Do you know what I mean? Maybe I’m the only one here who thinks that way, but wouldn’t it be just great if we could take this Book, and go up to our neighbour, and thump the Word of God over their head twenty or thirty times, and they’d get it? Friends, I know I’m not the only one who thinks that way – God Himself thinks that way, because for centuries, He’s been telling people the same message over and over again, in the hope that if they’re exposed to the same message enough, it’ll finally get through. I can tell you that in my life, it sometimes takes reading a lot of Scripture before I get it – and even then it takes more reading before it really sinks in. But I thank God that He’s not willing to give up on me; and I thank God that He’s not willing to give up on you. And even though every message comes back to the same point, God knows it’s a point we can’t hear enough.
So while this message is going to be a bit repetitive, I’m going to preach it anyway. And as we study the church of Thyatira this morning, we’re going to re-emphasise the main point God is trying to get across to us, with the hope that someone else will get it. So turn with me, please, as we read the letter to Thyatira, found in the last part of Revelation chapter 2, starting at verse 18 (read vv. 18-29)….
This is a long letter. In fact, it’s the longest of any of the letters written to the churches. But like all the other letters, it has one main point. We’re going to come to the main point shortly, but first, we’re going to take some time to learn a few other things along the way.
One of the first things we learn about the church of Thyatira is that it was an active church – a church, we read, that is recognised for its works, its charity, its service, its faithfulness and its patience. This was a church that was getting the work done. And, we are told, instead of slowing down as time passed, this church actually had a greater reputation for its labours in its later years than it did at the beginning. Instead of losing its youthful zeal, it increased in its passion for service.
Now, a word should be said here about the kind of works and service the letter is talking about. It should be mentioned that the letter is not talking about the programs the church is running. You know what I mean by programs. The church that has programs has a full calendar: Curling for Christ on Sunday afternoon; Bowl for Blessings on Monday night; Jog for Jesus on Tuesday; Chit Chat and Bible Trivia on Wednesday; Homeruns for Heaven on Thursday; and Golf for Glory on Friday. But God isn’t looking for a church with programs. He’s looking for something else. You see, the Greek word used here for “works” is ergon which means “labours”. And the Greek word used for “service” is diakonia, which means “ministry”. So what God is commending in this church is not just hard work and some good programs; what He’s commending are labours of ministry.