Sermons

Summary: Change is the essence of repentance. It is to stop doing what you are doing that is not making you an effective Christ-pleasing Christian, and to start doing what does make you that kind of Christian.

For decades the American people have been lulled into complacency by hearing the Gallop Pole say

that over 90% of Americans believe in God. This led to a false security that we were a godly nation.

But now Gallop decided to get more specific, and he discovered that only 10% of Americans are

really committed Christians who take Jesus seriously, pray, and live the Christian life. The vast

majority of Christians in America are indistinguishable from the non-Christians in their life-style and

values.

The church has contributed to this by a non-virtous toleration, and permissiveness that says as

long as you help us meet the budget, do as you please, but if you get caught, don't say where you

attend church. Now I must confess that I am by nature a permissive person. I was raised by

permissive parents and I loved it. I was free as the breeze, and did as I pleased from kindergarten

on. I was downtown in Sioux Falls, the largest city in South Dakota, as a mere kid from 6 to 9. I

was shining shoes and going to shows until dark. I played on railroad tressels, and by the dangerous

falls. I went skinny dipping with the older boys and loved my childhood years. Because of that I

became a permissive person. I loved the freedom and I survived, and so I just follow the golden rule

and give others the same freedom.

I have to remind myself that how I turned out had nothing to do with the permissive life-style I

had, but with the grace of God. All three of my closest friends in those permissive years ended up in

the state penitentiary. I escaped that destiny only by the grace of God. I found Christ as my Savior

at age 9, and this made a radical difference in the way I used my freedom. I choose not to steal with

my friends. So what I know from my own experience is that freedom is great, and if you use

freedom to choose good rather than evil, then permissiveness is a virtue. But if you use freedom to

do evil it is a vice. So what you have is some people who will use their freedom for folly, and you

become foolish for allowing them so much freedom. But others will use it for positive and healthy

adventure, and you will get credit for being so bold as to allow such freedom.

What is needed then is discernment as to how individuals will use their freedom. If you have a

child who will use every opportunity to do something dangerous and stupid you need to be more

intolerant of their freedom. If they are responsible and can make wise use of freedom, then you can

take more risk. Risk is what it is all about. God took a risk in letting Adam and Eve have access to

the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and it was a high risk. They failed the test and fell. You can

argue that God was too permissive, but that is the only way to find out how people will use their

freedom. If you allow your child to go off to college, you are taking a high risk. They can use that

new found freedom to become irresponsible and damage their lives. But if you don't take the risk,

you can never know what their potential could be. Freedom is scary, and it is a gamble, yet there is

no choice if you want the best.

So what does this have to do with the letter to the church in Thyatira? Everything! The main

vice in this church is their permissiveness and the damage it is doing to the church. The other

churches have had external problems and pressure from the community, but this church has an

internal problem, and their corruption is an inside job.

The problem was a woman named Jezebel. It is symbolic name, of course, for nobody names

their little girl Jezebel. The Jezebel of the Old Testament was a pagan who became the Queen of

Israel by marriage to Ahab in about 884 B.C. She killed the prophets of God and brought idolatry

and immorality into Israel. She was one of the most wicked women in history. She is the only

woman I know of in history who was so evil that she became dog food after her violent death, and

dogs ate her body. It was a gruesome judgment and ever since her name has never been found in

those books of names for your baby. That name really went to the dogs, and so the only time you

use this name is when you want to express contempt.

The orginial Jezebel was not a believer in the God of Israel. She was said to worship Baal, and

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