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Letters to Pergamum, Thyatira, & Sardis

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
June 12, 2020 12:01 am

Letters to Pergamum, Thyatira, & Sardis

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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June 12, 2020 12:01 am

In a world that curses and hates us, Christians look to Jesus for blessing and provision of strength to press on. Today, W. Robert Godfrey continues his discussion of the letters to the churches in Revelation.

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Today on Renewing Your Mind. The truth is no one on the face of the earth, believed and held her still help and that's what's revealed here. There is a judgment comment where you stand in the judgment not stand in the judgment. How can you stand in the judgment stand in the judgment. If you stand in Jesus unless we see how desperate our need is we don't really appreciate how glorious the Savior's Sunnis in the field doing very soon. If we could just do better fix ourselves feel worthy to draw close to God. Welcome to the Friday edition of Renewing Your Mind and today Dr. W. Robert Guthrie choses how letters we find in the book of Revelation. The very words of Christ himself to three churches warn us, convict us, but also fix our gaze on the abiding presence of our we turn now to our look at this first cycle in the book of the Revelation. The letters to the seven churches, and where to the third letter to the church in Pergamum and to the angel of the church of Pergamum right the words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword. I know where you live where Satan's throne is yet to holdfast my name and you did not deny my faith even in the days of answer. Plus, my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you, you have some there who hold the teachings of Baylon, who taught they like to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality, so also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolai attends.

Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon, and war against them with the sword of my mouth. He has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches to the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it here now we come to these three churches that are partly commended and partly criticized and the church in Pergamum did face. I was going so uniquely difficult, but certainly a very difficult situation. Pergamum was an important city, a prominent city and it was a local Roman capital.

So there is a very strong Imperial presence in the city and that puts strain on the Christian community. If a civil government decided to persecute Christians. In some places they had to send out persecution letters or persecutors, but here in Pergamum there's already a strong Roman presence in power and so Christians were at risk.

Also in Pergamum was a very large temple of Zeus and so it was one of these cities where the presence of the pagan religion was particularly powerful economically as well as spiritually. And so there was a lot of pressure on the church in Pergamum and that's why Jesus says to the church. In verse 13 of chapter 2, I know where you live where Satan's throne is a maybe a dual reference boat to the political power of the throne of Rome but also Zeus was usually portrayed sitting on the throne. So here is a kind of double reference to what was going on there and the pressures that they found themselves under and the great called and is not to be drawn into idolatry and then that is often linked to immorality is just one word in Greek, immorality, and often in English and translate sexual immorality, and it certainly can have that sense but sometimes immorality in the Bible just means idolatry, so it's not two separate sins. It's two words for the same sin, then we're not exactly sure if that's true here. Is it just warning against idolatry which is spiritual adultery or is it two problems. The bigger problem here certainly seems to be the temptation of idolatry and there's been a prominent martyr there well known to the church adipose and the it's interesting that the Lord preserves his name here. We don't know much about adipose but we know he was a faithful martyr of Christ, and that the Lord remembers him and commemorates him here.

Then we find another interesting phenomenon in the book the taking of Old Testament concepts and using them symbolically to apply to a New Testament situation.

So here the reference is to Baylon who taught Baylor to put a stumbling will walk before the sons of Israel.

Here's a reference to the wandering in the wilderness to the temptation to bail up your the curse pronounced upon Israel and you know if we're understanding this literally. Are we to suppose that they lament Baylor core resurrected for this occasion to come to the city of Pergamum. No course not. What John is saying on behalf of Jesus. Is this same kind of phenomenon of trying to curse the people of God of trying to lead them astray into false worship that happened in the wilderness is now happening again, and we have to recognize these temptations that come again and again and to avoid them and here is the second place for the Nicolai attends are mentioned will come back to the if you're very very good. That will be your treat and so here is the promise that the Lord will help them that the Lord will save them when they repent the call to listen to the call to repentance and the promise that if they persevere. He will give them some of the hidden manna. Again, a reference to the wilderness experience how God sustains his people with the bread of heaven in a course. John wrote for us great chapter 6 of John's Gospel on Christ's declaration that he was the bread of heaven come down to and that he feeds us with himself and I will give him a white stone with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it again.

Dr. Beale suggests that this white stone was probably a reference to the. The jury practice of deciding whether someone was innocent or guilty, and if you are found innocent. You're given a white stone or they use the Whitestone to vote about innocence or guilt, and so it's a a reference to that, that the Lord, if you repent will find you innocent and that innocence will be declared to your soul and objectively true and should be a great encouragement to you to persevere and to follow the Lord.

Sorry, here we have, then the third letter that we come to the church at Thyatira the fourth church and it's a longish letter compared with us some of the other letters and to the angel of the church in Thyatira write the words of the son of God who has eyes like a flame of fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your lateral works exceed the first, but I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess in his teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.

I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her into a sick bed, and those who commit adultery with her. I will throw her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works and I will strike her children dead and all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart and I will give to each of you according to your works, but to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not heard what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say I do not lay on you any other burden only hold fast what you have until I come. The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when the earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my father and I will give him the morning star.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches whether several interesting things here in this letter as Ephesus was the letter about love and support of the letter about life and we could perhaps say of Pergamum. The letter about judgment. We wanted a single word, we might say five tires letter about searching Jesus identifies himself as the son of God who has a lot eyes like a flame of fire.

These using his eyes to search out who they are to recognize who they are to evaluate who they are and how their living and of those searching eyes find that there is much to commend their love, their faith or service their patient endurance that your lateral works exceed the first so there's a lot good going on in Thyatira, but I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel are here again. Jezebel is not resurrected from the dead.

In the Old Testament, but what Jesus is saying to the churches that this teacher, we assume it's a woman but sometimes you might raise a question about that just because so much of this is symbolism so if you women want to fight back saying on a note the female parts just symbolic. It's really a man is doing this. But anyway, or if you want more women in the Bible.

Here's one, but maybe not the one you want to identify with.

But the real point here is that there is a teacher who is doing the destructive work of Jezebel in the destructive work of Jezebel was to try to get the people of Israel not only to worship God, but also worship bail and it's interesting later in the letter he talks about those who are interested in the deep things in the whole history of the church. One of the ways that people get into trouble is they listen to teachers who say all you know all the stuff you've learned is true and good, but I deeper things for you-deeper things for you and that seems to be what this Jezebel is doing and all that ordinary Christianity that John taught you is find its true petition war.

I have more for you and it might almost be in terms of what's being said here is that the more is your more free than you thought that Jesus came to make us free, free from the condemnation of the law free from the obligation to follow all the Mosaic ceremonial law for freedom Christ is made us for impulsive, you know, we are so free that if we worship idols and eat food dedicated to them. Can't hurt us. We are so free if we commit adultery.

It can't hurt us. That's the deeper knowledge of freedom than you ever have before. That seems to be what this Jezebel has been teaching and the Jesus has come to confront his people with that and what we see here is a church divided and I said earlier that part of what is interesting in these letters is that the whole church doesn't stand or fall together. Churches can lose their lampstand churches can be lost as a whole but that doesn't mean everyone in the church will be lost. So it's both the church and the individual. It has to be faithful and invited Tyra we see people being commended for being faithful even though there in the midst of some who have not done all that they could do and should do to keep the church pure.

So here is a very interesting picture of Jesus searching the church distinguishing in the church among those who are holding faithfully, and those who are wondering, you notice that Jesus not only searches with his eyes but is described as the one whose feet have burnished bronze. Now what's the advantage of having bronze feet will I find the older I get the to peer I get all the sudden I think.

Wait a minute I got up rebalance from the fall right over. I could use some burnished bronze shoes, except that I wouldn't be able walk at all of this is a picture of the stability of Jesus the solidity of his foundation of how he does not move from the truth and what is calling on here is the Christian should not move from the truth. They should follow their Savior, they should stand firm to the end on what they are committed to. That's we see in verse 25 only hold fast what you have until I come.

We don't need sacred things from private teachers. We need the public teaching of the word of God which is apostolic and that's plenty to stand on until Jesus comes again and then he promises that we'll have a rule and that rule both of Jesus and that's going to be given to us is expressed in what our society would call pretty's current terms.

Verse 23 and I will strike her children dead.

But Jesus now by children. There is not really referring to the chronological young he's referring to the followers of the Jezebel. If they don't repent and then he says those who follow him will rule them. Verse 27 with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces. There's allusion song to write a will rule them with a rod of iron and this is not a message that the world wants to hear from Christianity, it's not a message. The most of the church wants to hear. It's not a message that initially makes us feel comfortable.

I think if we said that to Jesus.

He would smile and say I didn't actually come to make you feel comfortable. I came to tell you the truth and the truth is there's going to be a judgment is going to be a serious judgment is good be a terrible judgment for those outside of me and as I think I've said in one class before I feel like in some churches today are sort of the attitude that says you know if we will only all agree that there is no help and there won't be a help. The truth is if no one on the face of the earth, believed and held her still help and that's what's revealed here. There is a judgment comment where you stand in the judgment not stand in the judgment. How can you stand in the judgment used in the judgment of you standing Jesus. That's a great truth being taught here some theory serious truth that's person. One of the reasons I love to sing the songs, the Psalms, make you face these hard things and think about and realize that unless we see how desperate our need is we don't really appreciate how glorious the Savior if it was easy to save us, then he's not that much of the Savior, but since it's not easy to save us, and because the risk to us is so great that we see how great he is as a Savior.

And then Jesus you know there's not a lot of humor in the Bible. I wonder if Jesus just a little bit smiled at verse 28 and I will give him the morning star. One of the things Jesus promises to you is that he will give you a MorningStar are you looking forward to doesn't mean anything at all mean the Jesus promises to give us the MorningStar well, God forced Baylon to declare as a prophet that God's coming Messiah would be the MorningStar and so having condemned Baylon in the previous letter now." Baylon, I think maybe just a little bit of smile, say, Bill didn't get everything wrong. I am the MorningStar and therefore you will be MorningStar's and it's a wonderful sort of promise of how God will appoint us to be lights in the world as we reflect Jesus so there's a lot going on here.

We can't do all of it, but it should really encourage us as it should really have encouraged them as to how much of a blessing. Jesus is going to be providing for his people, and then the fifth letter to Sardis while were oriented.

Chapter 3 were moving along such a breakneck speed. Chapter 3 letter to Sardis and to the angel of the church in Sardis write the words of him who has seven spirits of God and the seven stars I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but your dad wake up and strengthen what remains and what is and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember them what you received and heard. Keep it and repent. If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know it at what hour I will come against you, yet you still have a few names and Sardis people who have not soiled their garments and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.

The one who conquers will be clothed. Thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my father and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches and here are the letter to Sardis is a letter about holiness and appeal to holiness and appeal that they would purify their works by repenting.

He says they are asleep, wake up. He says, wake up the night is far spent, and it's interesting he alludes to what we read in Matthew don't way that Jesus will come as a thief in the night and a lot of people be asleep and Jesus appeals to members. The church don't be that one of those who are sleeping. Don't be one of those who miss the glory of my return again. Their number things happen here. He he specifically links the seven spirits of God to the seven stars of the churches and is talking about how the Holy Spirit will be in them and with them if they repent, and that he commends the few who are there who are doing what is right and he says that they have not soiled their garments.

They walk with me in white, for they are worthy member. He was described in chapter 1 is dressed in white and he's now saying their walk with me in white.

There worthy because he's made them more than they have white because he's given them the garments of white that was one of things that RC always was so sensitive to how we have new garments, new clothes were now clothed a new in the righteousness of Christ and that's what's being said here that those who've repented those who have drawn near to Christ or those dressed like him in white and then he says, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life.

This I think is an allusion to Psalm 69 you know we talk about imprecatory Psalms Psalms that have curses in them. And the worst curse. I think in the whole of the Psalter is in Psalm 69 where the psalmist prays a lot them out of the book of life. That's really awful assignment.

I think the book of life.

There is the book of the covenant people who are part of the covenant people of God but they have so betrayed the covenant that there no longer really part of the covenant and what Jesus is saying here is all never pray that you be blotted out of the book of life because you're my covenant people who trust me, who turned to me who repent of your sins and find your life within me and so this is a beautiful but also arresting call to holiness and to live for him. And then Jesus says I will confess the name of those who trust me before the father and before his angels so we see this commitment of the Savior.

I think it's a powerful picture. Sometimes I think we picture Jesus as having died for us on the cross, risen from the grave and then given us all these gifts and then not so personally. Maybe still connected to us and this is such a beautiful picture of his personal connection to us. He knows us he cares for us. He calls to us.

He walks with us. He clothes us and he promises that he will confess us before his father who is in heaven.

So you see how this is an encouragement.

It's a warning that times what the function of the warning is always to encourage always to strengthen always to draw closer to Christ and that's why as we go along. I think we will see that this is indeed a book of blessings.

What an encouragement. It's so easy to feel like our sin keeps us from going to God for help.

But as we heard today. He always shows us our need, so that we might turn to him to find help and strength. Thanks for listening on this Friday by Millie Webb. We just heard another lesson from Dr. Robert Godfrey's new teaching series blessed hope it's a look at the book of Revelation.

This is a book that can seem intimidating, even confusing. It's often treated as sort of a secret code book something inaccessible to average Christians.

Yet as we heard today. It's full of practical encouragement for peer and now that's what I would like to offer the entire series to you for your gift of any amount you can call us and make your request at 800-435-4343 but you can also go online to Renewing Your Mind.or perhaps you lead a Bible study in your home or a Sunday school class at your church.

This is a perfect study for either venue so I can contact us today with your gift of any amount and request Dr. Guthrie series blessed hope. The book of Revelation number again is 800-435-4343. The story of Moses and the burning bush is familiar to many of us each one of the earliest Bible studies we learned in Sunday school as children, are we familiar with why God revealed himself that way. I hope you'll join us next week is Dr. RC Sproul explores Moses life altering encounter with God, beginning Monday here on Renewing Your Mind

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