Summary: Sermon Five of a series
The Permissive Church
As we continue this study, let us look back at what we have seen. We have seen the church that needed a second honeymoon, Ephesus. The did what they did out of duty instead of love for the Lord. We saw the church that needed courage, Smyrna. This was a persecuted church. We have also studied the church of tolerance, Pergamos. This church was a compromising church. In this section we will look at the fourth church to whom Jesus dictated a letter through the Apostle John.
Thyatira, modern Akhisar, is located 42 miles inland from the Aegean Sea. It was noted for abundant crops, trade and the manufacture of purple dye that was very costly. You may remember that Paul’s convert, Lydia, was a native of this city. She was saved at Philippi, seen in Acts 16:14. It says, “And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.” Some skeptics say there was no church in this city, though they were never there. Is it so hard to believe that Lydia and her family could have taken the Gospel back to their families? Actually there are historical evidences of a church in this city. One writer that doubted its existence turned around and stated that it was over run with false doctrine in the second century. John Gill noted that a bishop from Thyatira attended the Council of Nice in the fourth century. He mentions it had a “presbyter” in the eighth century named “Esaias.” So a church was sent a letter from Christ, what did He say?
We see in verse 18 the communication, the Judge is speaking. He reiterates His deity by His title of the “Son of God..” and the attributes of “eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass.” In Revelation 1:14-15, these two attributes are seen as Jesus is revealed to John, now they are used again. This description goes back to Daniel 10:6: “His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude.”
The eyes of God are a fire, piercing through the rubbish of our lives searching out the hearts. In this is seen the omniscience of Christ. His sight reaches to all persons, and things, and is very searching and penetrating, and discovers and brings to light things the most dark and obscure. We read in 1 Corinthians 4:5, “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.” His eyes will reveal all. I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 3, and the judgment seat of Christ. It says that “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” This is speaking to believers, and our works will be made manifest, that is it will be revealed. That day, the judgment seat of Christ will reveal it. Why? It will be revealed by fire. Our works will be tried through the eyes of Jesus, and be revealed for what they really are. Oh that Jesus will help us to be real.
The fire also represents light. That shows us the love of Christ. Jesus is the Light of the World. John 1:9 says that Jesus is “that was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” What grace, that Jesus gives light to every man that comes into the world. Every one that has ever been born will be without excuse when they stand before God. Notice Romans 1:19-21, it says, “ Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” When any soul in this world will accept the light that they have been given, it is my belief that God will send them more light.
I personally know a missionary named Alex Fellows. Bro. Fellows is in his eighties and has been a missionary to Ethiopia for sixty years. He was saved walking down the street in his home country of Australia, and shortly after surrendered to go to Africa as a missionary. He did not know how to finance it, he nothing of deputation. What he did know is that God wanted him, not only in Africa, but in a specific village. His lost brother gave him some money and Bro. Fellows boarded a ship going to Africa. When he arrived, he found he was in South Africa and far from the village to where God had called him. He did not have money for the continued passage. With what little he had left, he got a room for the night. He went to the room and began to pray. He told the Lord that he knew that he was supposed to go to that particular village and needed God’s provision. When he woke the next morning, he exited his room and found an envelope setting on a table with his name written on the front. Inside this envelope was money. Only one person knew that he was there, and as far as he knew, he did not have any money. He found another boat going north and would dock in the area where he needed to be to start his journey to that village. After the journey, he found a small train station where he could buy a ticket into the bush, where the village was. He approached the ticket counter and inquired of the price of the ticket. To his disappointment, he only had half of what he needed. He turned and began to pray, “Lord, you have brought me this far, and I am supposed to go to this village...” As he continued to think and pray, he saw an unusual sight. Standing on the deck of the station was a British officer. Not only was it a British officer, but it was a female British officer. This was unusual in the culture that many years ago. He approached her and spoke to her. She inquired what he was doing in that part of the world to which he responded that he was a missionary going to a particular village. She told him that the British army was working close to that village and wondered if he had purchased his train ticket. He told her he had not, and she replied, “Good, come and I can get it for half price.” God had provided. But this is not the end of this story.