The Church in Sardis
Write this letter to the angel of the church in Sardis. This is the message from the one who has the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars: “I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead.” Revelation 3:1 NLT
The angel here is the messenger of the church. Jesus is the One sending the message by the messenger.
The sevenfold Spirit of God is none other than the Holy Spirit! The very Spirit of God rests upon and indwells the person of Jesus Christ! In Isaiah 11, we read this: “And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.” Isaiah 11:2 NLT There we see six characteristics of the Holy Spirit: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Might (or Strength), Knowledge, and Fear. The seventh is The Holy Spirit Himself. Jesus is the One Isaiah was prophesying about. “After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”” Matthew 3:16-17 NLT God is always represented by the number seven. Seven is the number of perfection and completion. An example of this is Genesis 1 and 2 - creation (six days - chapter 1) rest (seventh day - chapter 2). Jesus, God the creator (see John 1:3, 10; Colossians 1:15-17; Hebrews 1:2) ceased His labor on the seventh day. This day represents His perfection and completion. Jesus is all knowing! This is called Omniscient. He sees and knows all things. He knew the condition of this church -Sardis. He knew that they professed life in Jesus, but were really dead. Sardis was about thirty miles southeast of Thyatira. The city was an old one that was located atop an Acropolis (a fortified part of an Ancient Greek city, typically built on a hill). It stood 1500 feet above the land around it, like a giant granite stone that towered into the sky. This city was thought to be invincible and undefeatable. The city was rich and sinful. The original name of the city was Hyde. It later became known as Sardis. Sardis was the ancient capital of the Lydian kingdom. The city was, in most cases, victorious when it was attacked, specifically because of its advantageous location. However, it was defeated by an unlikely foe. Croesus, king of the Lydian empire, attacked Cyrus, king of Persia and was soundly defeated by Cyrus army. Retreating to Sardis for regrouping and recouping, Croesus felt safe. There he expected to be unreachable. However, he left out one minor, yet fatal detail. He didn't place a guard on the wall at the spot that could be scaled by a courageous climber. Feeling confident that no one could scale the 1,500 foot mountain side, He went to bed only to awaken to the city being held by the opposing forces. This is much like the church of our time. We feel comfortable and confident, in our ways, to the point that we are slumbering in our own demise. The enemy has found his way into our churches and has taken over. Without even realizing it, we are dead in our sins and we are incapable of seeing them. We go through the religious motions, but we are spiritually dry and dead. What we need is repentance of our religiosity and a reformation from the Holy Spirit of God to flood our churches. John MacArthur has said this about Sardis: "It was basically populated by unredeemed, unregenerate people playing church. You have a name that you're alive, you have a superficial reputation, but spiritually you're dead." What is the state of your life and church? Pray this prayer with me today: Holy Father, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, blow the wind of Your Holy Spirit through the church and purge us from our religiosity and bring a reformation and revolution to Your church. Without Your Lordship we are nothing more than a dead community club that aspires itself as Your church. Please grant, to us, a biblical revival and spare us from judgment. In Jesus name!!! Amen!!!
To All who Are Victorious
But I also have a message for the rest of you in Thyatira who have not followed this false teaching (‘deeper truths,’ as they call them—depths of Satan, actually). I will ask nothing more of you except that you hold tightly to what you have until I come. To all who are victorious, who obey me to the very end, To them I will give authority over all the nations. They will rule the nations with an iron rod and smash them like clay pots. They will have the same authority I received from my Father, and I will also give them the morning star! “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.” Revelation 2:24-29 NLT
In Thyatira there was, apparently, a remnant of true believers who had not succumbed to the false teachings of the Jezebel in the church. Most likely, Jezebel was not the woman's name. She was referred to as "Jezebel" because of her rebellious, pagan ways. She had incorporated paganism with church worship. Immorality resulted. The church in Thyatira was in full blown immorality and had lost its conviction and consecration. Antinomianism had set in. This belief held that the flesh was under the control of sin and could not be brought into submission. Therefore, sin was a natural occurrence of simply living in the body. This teaching boasted that the spirit of a believer was redeemed and righteous but the flesh was doomed to sinful behavior until Christ came or death. To put it bluntly, this church was being taught that you could do whatever you want as a believer in Jesus and still be right with God. There was no conscience of holiness and righteousness. In fact, there was a celebratory attitude toward pagan immorality. This church was in "deep, satanic" control and didn't even know it. This sounds too much like many of our modern "hyper grace" churches in America. "Come as you are", "Do what you want", "Jesus loves you anyway". We are marrying ourselves to the culture rather than marrying ourselves to Jesus. Yes, Jesus loves us! Yes, He is the way of salvation! Yes, we will struggle against sin until He comes or we die! However, we cannot dive into the cesspool of sin, party with the devil, and claim that Jesus has given us permission to do so. This is diametrically opposed to His character. He is Holy!!! Jesus did not come to liberate us in sin. He came to liberate us from sin. “Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?” Romans 6:1-2 NLT “I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago, for they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” Jude 1:4 NLT “Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you. You live this way already, and we encourage you to do so even more. For you remember what we taught you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin. Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor— not in lustful passion like the pagans who do not know God and his ways. Never harm or cheat a fellow believer in this matter by violating his wife, for the Lord avenges all such sins, as we have solemnly warned you before. God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives. Therefore, anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human teaching but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.” 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 NLT It is abundantly clear that God has saved us to redeemed us from sin and it's penalty. He has saved us to show forth His righteousness. Take a look at a commonly quoted passage of scripture: “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT We are saved by grace! Hallelujah!!! I am so glad this is true. Now let's take a look at the very next verse of that same passage: "For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 NLT We are recreated in Christ Jesus to do good works. Notice that good works are the result of a genuine salvation experience. Good works never equal salvation, but good works are certainly the product of salvation. We should never allow the teaching of Christ to be intertwined with the works of Satan. The two do not belong together. The church in Thyatira was doing just that. Jesus was vehemently calling the church to repentance and forewarning them of coming judgment. O, how we need preachers to preach this message in our time. The church is in need of a biblical, holy revival. We need purging and purifying. Sin has set up its headquarters in many of our churches. Satan knows that the only way to defeat the church is to join it and corrupt it. When he does, it dies. Many churches today are nothing more than a club that has a religious name. Christ has called us to be His church! Lord, please help us to be just that. Will you pray that prayer today? Will you be a part of the remnant of Christ that refuses to cower to the culture? Will you stand true to Christ and His righteousness? If so, Jesus promises us the same thing He promised the faithful in Thyatira: The kingdom and the King (read again Revelation 2:24-29). Jesus said we would be granted the honor to reign with Him on this earth and we will enjoy His kingdom. “And you have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth.”” Revelation 5:10 NLT In Genesis 1:28 God gave man dominion over the earth. In Genesis 3, man fell to sin, thus forfeiting themselves, their posterity, and all the earth to Satan. Through Jesus Christ, we have redemption of all of these. I am so glad that I have accepted the King (Jesus) and that He will allow me to reign (have dominion over the earth) because He has ransomed us from Satan and sin. Until He returns, or until I die, I want to live in honor of His Holy name!
America, Bless God
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.”
Psalms 33:12 KJV
I pray everyone enjoys their Memorial Day. Many lives have been lost in the payment of our freedom. I, for one, will not forget that. I am very thankful to live in a country with the freedoms we enjoy. God's grace has been shed upon us for many years. While we celebrate, however, may we recognize the need for our nation to repent and turn back to God. Without this, we are like a runaway train nearing the end of the track. Many today will play. May we, the church, take time today to pray. “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” Psalms 9:17 KJV “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” Proverbs 14:34 KJV “Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.” Acts 14:16 KJV God is no respecter of persons. Just because we are Americans does not give us favor with God. If He allowed Israel to fall into captivity, he will certainly not spare us, unless we repent of our grievous sins. We are killing our unborn, embracing and endorsing homosexual marriage, greedily pursuing material things, love pleasure more than God, accept sex outside of the marriage bond, use divorce as a way to "end a contract" rather than keep a covenant, and many other things. Our hearts should ache in repentance. Will you join me today in prayer for our wounded and weary nation. We need the touch of the Great Physician. Only Jesus can save us from impending judgment. Instead of saying "God Bless America" let us say "America, Bless God"!!
God's Design For His Church
“But I have this complaint against you. You are permitting that woman—that Jezebel who calls herself a prophet—to lead my servants astray. She teaches them to commit sexual sin and to eat food offered to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she does not want to turn away from her immorality. “Therefore, I will throw her on a bed of suffering, and those who commit adultery with her will suffer greatly unless they repent and turn away from her evil deeds. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am the one who searches out the thoughts and intentions of every person. And I will give to each of you whatever you deserve.”
Revelation 2:20-23 NLT
The name Jezebel is mentioned in the King James, New King James, and New American Standard Bible 20 times. The New Living Translation has it 19 times because verse 37 of 2 Kings 9 refers to Jezebel in the pronoun "her". 19 of the references are Old Testament (I Kings 16:31; 18: 4, 13, 19; 19:1, 2; 21: 5, 7, 11, 14, 15, 23, 25; 2 Kings 9:7, 10, 22, 30, 36, and 37). Only one in the New Testament (Revelation 2:20).
Jezebel was the wicked queen of Ahab, king of Israel. “Ahab son of Omri began to rule over Israel in the thirty-eighth year of King Asa’s reign in Judah. He reigned in Samaria twenty-two years. But Ahab son of Omri did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, even more than any of the kings before him. And as though it were not enough to follow the sinful example of Jeroboam, he married Jezebel, the daughter of King Ethbaal of the Sidonians, and he began to bow down in worship of Baal.” 1 Kings 16:29-31 NLT She ruled the roost and dominated his kingdom. Jezebel was a rebellious heathen. “(No one else so completely sold himself to what was evil in the Lord’s sight as Ahab did under the influence of his wife Jezebel.” 1 Kings 21:25 NLT This same spirit was embodied in a woman in Thyatira. She was usurping authority and leading people astray from the ways of the Lord. This woman was a false prophet. Her teachings were carrying the bride of Christ, the church, away from faithfulness to God into straight up spiritual and sexual adultery. Instead of the church keeping its vow to Christ, the church was now celebrating it's marriage to the world. In Pergamum, the church married the world. In Thyatira, the church was happily celebrating the adultery. The church in Thyatira had crawled up into Jezebels bed and was, without conscience and conviction, committing grievous sin. In the three previous churches (Ephesus, Smyrna, and Pergamum) there were segments of the church falling into sin. Here in Thyatira, a large number we're accepting the sinful ways of Jezebel. Smyrna had a synagogue of Satan, Pergamum was the throne of Satan, and now Thyatira was the servant of Satan. A regression into sin began with Ephesus leaving it's first love, Jesus (see Revelation 2:4). This lead to Satan setting up his church (see Revelation 2:9) in Smyrna. The result was Pergamum becoming the seat (throne) of Satan (see Revelation 2:13). Now, here in Thyatira, the majority of the church has succumbed to satanic behavior. Jesus had already complimented the good things they had done, now He is revealing His displeasure at the evil they are doing. Just like most of us today, we see the "good" that the church has done but we do not see the evil that lies in its midst. We are comfortable, complacent, and unconsecrated. Satan has crept into our churches and has usurped what God has consecrated as His. We have become so comfortable with our religion that we have lost the relationship. We are on the verge of God's angry, righteous judgment. He has seen our adultery and our acts of perversion. He is calling us back to righteousness. If we do not repent, He will let the sin take its course and ultimately destroy the lives of those who refuse to repent. The church is the lighthouse of God to the world. We cannot be slumbering in bed with the devil while souls of men are dying. The city of Thyatira was a military outpost to help guard Pergamum, the capital city of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). The city had apparently seen destruction and rebuilding multiple times over the years. Just as it was a place of war physically, so it was spiritually. The church was under attack and going down fast. This church was being destroyed from the inside out. They didn't have a love problem. They didn't have a faith problem. They had a sin problem. They had let a wicked woman become their leader instead of a godly man that God had ordained. Men are called to lead the church. “But there is one thing I want you to know: The head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” 1 Corinthians 11:3 NLT
Just as Ahab had let Jezebel rule the roost, so we are falling prey to the same tactics. “For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church.” Ephesians 5:23 NLT If a man is supposed to be the head of the home, let me ask you one simple, yet probing question: How can the woman rule the church? “I do not let women teach men or have authority over them. Let them listen quietly.” 1 Timothy 2:12 NLT “So a church leader must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach.” 1 Timothy 3:2 NLT Did you notice the masculine pronouns "he"? Women are created by God and are a vital part of life. However, they are designed by God uniquely and differently than men. Theirs is a different call. This doesn't make them less in value or importance. Both men and women are unique. God has created and called us both to serve within His design and purpose. When we get outside that, we implode. Men must learn to lead in our homes and churches, in the biblical way, if we are to have God's pleasing. The church is God's. We must structure our operations within the church by qualifications of scripture. This JezebeI had taken them away from God's design and desire. I see this in many of our churches today. I realize that I take a minority position here, but I believe it is sound biblically. We must let God's Word be the basis of our doctrine and practice. We have become more concerned about programs than principles and proper practice. We are service oriented - faith and love, yet we are not sin conscious. We are comfortable with our religion. We don't look at things biblically. We see them culturally. Our relationship with God is superficial at best. We only want to see the good we are doing, rather than the sin we are committing. God help us!!!
A Faithful Servant of Christ
“As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:6-8 NLT
This scripture is sent today, as a statement of faith, in loving memory of a beloved brother in Christ,
Coy Whitaker! He departed from this flesh at 6:13a.m this morning. I can hear the Master saying “Well done, my good and faithful servant". The Calvary Church family mourns today. In the midst of our sorrow rises the Hope that Christ Jesus our Lord has payed for, provided, and Coy Whitaker possessed. Let us resolve that we will reunite, one day soon, in that land where death will be no more! I love you brother Coy! Sure gonna miss you brother! You were, indeed, a faithful servant of Christ!
Are You Listening?
“I know all the things you do. I have seen your love, your faith, your service, and your patient endurance. And I can see your constant improvement in all these things.” Revelation 2:19 NLT
Jesus sees all the things we do, public and private. He sees beyond the limits of the human eye. He sees the unseen. The eyes of the Lord see our motives. There is nothing hid from Him! “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.” Hebrews 4:13 NLT Jesus knows the good we do, and the bad. In today's scripture, Jesus commends the church of Thyatira for their love, faith, service, and patient endurance. He even adds a compliment of their constant improvement in these things. Mercifully, Jesus notes the positives that the church was doing. He didn't begin His assessment with a negative, hateful tone. Lovingly, He applauded the good things first. This was not manipulative flattery. Jesus was genuine in His words to each of the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3. He loves His church. He sees everything about us, and yet He loves us. He loves us too much to leave us in our sin. We should be most grateful that Jesus is patient with us. Every day He speaks words of encouragement and opportunity to each of us. Each day is a priceless gift from Him saying "I love you"! Some people only see the negatives in a relationship. Jesus sees the best and the worst and still patiently calls us upward to His Holiness. He will not leave us in our disobedience without a call to repentance. In His goodness He speaks the truth to us in order to give us opportunity to repent and be restored. “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” Romans 2:4 NLT There remains one problem: Our inability to see our own sins. Only Jesus can shine the search light of His holiness upon us and reveal our true condition. We must never get so caught up in the good things we are doing that we become comfortable and don't hear what Jesus has to say to us about things that need our attention. May we never misunderstand God's love as His acceptance of our sin. Yes, He accepts us when we repent of our sins and accept Him as our Savior, but He never embraces our sin. He embraces the sinner. In His love, He became one of us to die for our sins (see John 3:16 and 1 John 3:16). He did this to provide redemption for us (see Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; and Hebrews 9:12). He died to save us from our sin, not to grant us approval to wallow in our sin (see I Thessalonians 4:7; 2 Timothy 2:19; 2 Peter 2:21-22) We are His bride! We are called to represent Him. Today, take a moment to let Jesus tell you how much He loves you, and let Him applaud the good things you are doing, but don't stop there. Take a moment to settle before God and ask Him to prepare your ears to hear His words of correction, your eyes to see things that you've been missing, and your heart to know His will. He sees everything about you, things you don't even see. What does He want you to know that you may be missing simply because you are complacent in the culture? We cannot compare ourselves to one another and get an accurate assessment of ourselves. We must look upon Jesus and let His holiness call us out and up!
After all, He loves us. He will pull out the heavenly belt of correction if needed. He will apply the board of education to our seat of learning if that's what it takes to keep us walking in righteousness. Take time to read Hebrews 12:5-11. A good father will affirm his love for his child. A child should be able to trust their father. This grants him the privilege and responsibility to administer correction to the child. Our Father has proven His love for us. May we submit ourselves to His correction. What is He trying to say to you today? Are you listening?
The Church In Thyatira
Write this letter to the angel of the church in Thyatira. This is the message from the Son of God, whose eyes are like flames of fire, whose feet are like polished bronze:” Revelation 2:18 NLT
Thyatira was located about 30 to 40 miles southeast of Pergamum. If you were to look at a map, Ephesus (the first church) was located on the west coast of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). Just north, on the same coast, was Smyrna. North, and inland slightly, was Pergamum. Begin a southeast descent and you will come to Thyatira. The city is about 50 miles inland from the Aegean Sea. Originally, it was an ancient Greek city named Pelopia. During the Hellenistic era, around 290 B.C., the city was named Thyateira. This city was famous for its dyeing facilities and was the center of the purple cloth trade. The purple dye was derived from the Murex snail. The Murex snail is a medium to large size predatory snail that has an extensive bony-like, spine-like shell. A labor intensive process was used to extract the purple dye from these creatures. Tyrian purple (known as royal purple) was the finished product. This was the city's main industry. The population of the city was smaller than all of the other seven cities named in Revelation 2 and 3. The modern city name is Akhisar. Here in Revelation 2:18, the first thing we read about is Jesus Christ. We see Him depicted as He was in Revelation Chapter 1, except this time He is referred to as the Son of God instead of the Son of Man. The Son of Man refers to His humanity. As a man, He identifies with our sorrows and suffering and moves with compassion upon us. As the Son of God, He is the Divine Lord and Judge of humanity. In this case, He comes to state, to the church, that His flaming eyes see all of their works and identify their deepest motives. His feet are polished bronze hat have been prepared in hot fire. His feet are ready to trample out the judgment that looms over this church. In Revelation 19:11 to the end of the chapter, we read of this judgment that will come on the world. Yes, Jesus is loving, graceful, and compassionate. However, let us not fail to recognize His Omnipotence, Omniscience, and Omnipresence. He is coming in judgment to the world. The only way to escape this judgment is repentance. He is calling His church to repent. He sees everything about us. The churches which haven't proclaimed and lived the truth will be foremost in the coming judgment. The church is God's bride and body. We are to represent Him. If the church is sinful, where does that leave the world around us? “For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News? And also, “If the righteous are barely saved, what will happen to godless sinners?” 1 Peter 4:17-18 NLT Church, where do we stand? What would Jesus say to us? Are we so complacent in our routines of religious observance that we feel confident and comfortable? Have we gotten so accustomed to our "feel good" sermons that we have lost our view of His holiness?? May Jesus help us to see through His eyes of flaming purity and walk with His feet of burning holiness. May we be His church, prepared for the second coming of Christ.
A White Stone
Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.” Revelation 2:17 NLT
There is one statement that Jesus makes to all of the seven churches of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. "Anyone who has ears to hear must listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches." This, in and of, itself is interesting. They all had natural ears. They all were attending the church. They all held various positions within the churches. Each "professed" follower of Christ had natural hearing. The real question is about their spiritual hearing. Jesus was alerting them to their need to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying. Often we get caught up in our routines, traditions, and cultural behavior that we don't hear what God has to say. We forget that the One we should be listening to, is Him. There are a lot of voices speaking to our lives. Which voice is speaking loudest in our lives? Are we so entangled in the affairs of life that we don't hear the voice of God? Have we been deceived by Satan to the point that we think we are ok when, in fact, we are lost and undone? Just like Pergamum, we go to church, profess to know Jesus, know all the right doctrinal rhetoric but live so far away from God. We need to stop for a while, take a moment to let the Great Physician examine us, and allow Him to give us a full diagnosis. Once we do that, then we can let Him do whatever needs to be done to correct our condition. Only then can we have a good prognosis. Do we hear Jesus calling? He stands at the door knocking. Will we let Him in and listen to what He has to say? “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” Revelation 3:20 NLT In each generation there is a remnant of true believers. To those who overcome (the genuine followers of Jesus - not just associate believers) there is the promise of partaking in the heavenly manna. Manna was given by God to the Israelites as they traveled through the wilderness. In Exodus Chapter 16 we read about it. Manna means "what is it". Manna was bread from heaven that was provided each day to sustain the children of Israel as they journeyed from Egypt to the promised land of Canaan. A jar of this manna was placed by Aaron, Moses brother and first high priest, in the ark of the covenant (see Exodus 16:33). In John 6:51, Jesus is called the bread of life. We eat of Him and live forever. “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.” NLT To the true follower of Jesus, there is the promise of seeing Him face to face (Revelation 22:4) and dining at His table (Revelation 19:6-9). Because we trusted in Jesus and committed our lives to His kingdom rather than this world, we will be granted the eternal bliss of the eternal heaven, where we will dine at His table forever. Lastly, Jesus tells the overcomer that they will be granted a new name on a white stone. This is an interesting thing, for sure. White is representative of purity. Christ makes us pure. Some say it is a stone like the priest wore on his breastplate (called urim and thummim) to help him determine the will of God. Some say it's a symbol of eternal life. Some say that it is a diamond of love for Christ's beloved, the church. Others, however, think it could be related to the games of the time. When a victor would be recognized in the games a white stone would be given to them which would grant them admission to the festival that would be held for the victors following the games. This is the one I personally lean toward. Jesus has washed us white as snow by His blood (Isaiah 1:18; I Peter 1:18-19). He has made us victors (see I Corinthians 15:57). He has given us new life. He has written our names down in eternity. Stone represents something that lasts. Because of our genuine faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we will overcome and we will enjoy the festivities of eternity.
It's Time For Repentance
“Repent of your sin, or I will come to you suddenly and fight against them with the sword of my mouth.”
Revelation 2:16 NLT
Repentance is certainly in order when the church is allowing things that God says is sin. We, the church, can not tolerate sin in our midst. I'm not saying that we should be self righteous and arrogant about the view of ourselves. We all have sinned (Romans 3:23). What I'm speaking about is the acceptance of sinful practices within the church. The church of Pergamum had allowed some of its congregants to live under the doctrine of Balaam and Nicholas. As we have seen in the last few days, the teachings and practices of both of these groups were not in line with true, Biblical Christianity. These members/attendees were corrupting the church with their compromised behaviors. Jesus called them out categorically and commanded them to repent or face the judgment of His sword. The sword is represented here as an instrument of God's impending judgment. His sword is His Word. All He has to do is pronounce judgment and it will fall. Just like Balaam in Numbers 22, God is angry with the sin within the ranks of those who are supposed to be His, yet totally disobey Him. Take a look at the story: “So the next morning Balaam got up, saddled his donkey, and started off with the Moabite officials. But God was angry that Balaam was going, so he sent the angel of the Lord to stand in the road to block his way. As Balaam and two servants were riding along, Balaam’s donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand. The donkey bolted off the road into a field, but Balaam beat it and turned it back onto the road. Then the angel of the Lord stood at a place where the road narrowed between two vineyard walls. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it tried to squeeze by and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall. So Balaam beat the donkey again. Then the angel of the Lord moved farther down the road and stood in a place too narrow for the donkey to get by at all. This time when the donkey saw the angel, it lay down under Balaam. In a fit of rage Balaam beat the animal again with his staff. Then the Lord gave the donkey the ability to speak. “What have I done to you that deserves your beating me three times?” it asked Balaam. “You have made me look like a fool!” Balaam shouted. “If I had a sword with me, I would kill you!” “But I am the same donkey you have ridden all your life,” the donkey answered. “Have I ever done anything like this before?” “No,” Balaam admitted. Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the roadway with a drawn sword in his hand. Balaam bowed his head and fell face down on the ground before him. “Why did you beat your donkey those three times?” the angel of the Lord demanded. “Look, I have come to block your way because you are stubbornly resisting me. Three times the donkey saw me and shied away; otherwise, I would certainly have killed you by now and spared the donkey.” Numbers 22:21-33 NLT The donkey saved Balaam's life. Just like many today, their anger is misplaced. Often, they are angered by those who try to call them out of judgment from the sword of God. Without them even knowing it, the preacher of the truth is trying to save their lives. Animals are not the ones who sinned, we are. Animals came under the curse because they were under Adams domain. When a donkey can see the angel of the Lord and we can't, something is wrong with our relationship with God. Balaam was supposed to be a man of God, but he had not been. His disobedience had angered God. Let me address this issue briefly. God does get angry. His wrath is righteous and is always applied appropriately. In John 2:1-11 Jesus turned the water into wine at a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee. Following this He went to Capernaum for a few days. Leaving from there, (John 2:13-17), He went up to Jerusalem for the Passover Celebration. As He entered the Temple area He saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves. He also saw dealers exchanging foreign monies in the Temple. His righteous indignation was stirred and He proceeded to make a whip to drive these money changers out of the Temple. Anger, itself, isn't sinful (see Ephesians 4:26). Take a good look at this scripture: "But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness.” Romans 1:18 NLT In Revelation 14:9-11 we read that anyone who worships the beast and accepts his mark will have to drink the wine of God's anger. The character of the person who is angry determines how they implement their anger. Jesus anger is perfectly righteous because He is perfect. Today, He is still calling the church to repentance. In many of the American churches we have accepted sinful practices much like that of Balaam and Nicholas. Some accept sex outside of marriage, allow couples who are living together unmarried to serve as leaders and become members. Some have now endorsed homosexual marriage and even ordain homosexuals into the ministry. Adulterous conduct remains unchallenged within many churches. Paul had to deal with the same issues in the Corinthian church. “But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people.” 1 Corinthians 5:10-11 NLT “Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NLT It's time, church, for repentance. Let's come out from the world, not make the church like the world.
What Is Your Life?
In a similar way, you have some Nicolaitans among you who follow the same teaching.” Revelation 2:15 NLT
Listen to a comment made by Pastor John MacArthur: "Then there's another thing He has against them. Verse 15, That little phrase "in the same way" is important because the teaching of the Nicolaitans led to the same behavior. Nicolaitans were comparable to those who were following Balaamism. Some think this goes back to Nicholas who once in Acts 6 was appointed as a deacon but later defected and became an apostate, we can't verify that. But apparently this man, whoever he was, Nicholas, like Balaam had advocated a mingled life style. He may have been kind of a pre-Gnostic, someone who believed he had entered in to ascended knowledge. He no doubt was a Libertine who believed that you could conduct yourself any way you wanted it. It advocated an extreme indulgence in sin, uncleanness, immorality and orgies based upon a perverted understanding of God's grace. It was an abuse of freedom." Grace has given us salvation from Christ, but not a license to sin. This is what the King James Version calls licentiousness (degenerate and immoral conduct). Jesus has not given us freedom to sin, rather, freedom from sin. “I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago, for they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” Jude 1:4 NLT We have many who attend church, claim Christ as their Savior, but live lives that are contrary to His Holy Name! Jesus should not be used as a "get out of Hell free card". He is Lord!!! His Lordship commands us to righteousness. “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say?” Luke 6:46 NLT We are called to holiness, not a holy mess! What is your life?
Rev. Curtis Norris