A divided church

To the angel of the church in Thyatira write:

These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. Nevertheless….

Revelation 2.18-20a

Once again as with the previous three churches there are positive things at Thyatira. Their deeds, love and faith together with their service and perseverance were singled out by the Lord and they had moved forward since they were a new church plant. They had grown in their work and ministry in their area.

But they were a divided church. Some were tolerating ‘that woman Jezebel’ who called herself a prophetess v.20 while the rest v.24 were not seduced by her false teaching were to be spared any further burdens to bear. It was enough to be in a divided church!

We do not know what this Jezebel was claiming but the only other person with this name in Scripture is the wife of King Ahab one of the most evil kings of Israel spurred on by his wife. So at least for us the name is a loaded name. For the purpose of this piece today it is not the details of what she was teaching that is our focus but the fact that it was attractive enough, intriguing enough, for some of the church members to be drawn to her. This is ever the danger when false prophets infiltrate a church and draw others after them. Ah, but you say, that is not something I recognise in my church. Beware! For such infiltration is very subtle and easily draws the unwary in, as the false teaching (cf. JWs and Mormons) is often so close to orthodox Bible teaching that our guard is dropped.

But do not be deceived for the one whose ‘eyes are like blazing fire’ searches hearts and minds and will repay those who follow such false teaching.

A church divided in this way leaves the followers of such false teaching in a very dangerous position and those who remain true to God’s Word, and have not been lured by ‘Satan’s so-called deep secrets’, bearing a heavy burden. However, the  gracious Lord will not add to them any further burden v.24,  while at the same time they are  challenged to ‘hold onto what they have’ (the truth) till Jesus comes. To hold on in this way is to receive the ultimate rewards of v.26-29.

The lessons we take from these letters are many but today I want to highlight just one.

What we believe and follow is of the utmost importance so we need wisdom to distinguish and to be firmly rooted in God’s Word so we do not fall for false teaching which can be so very alluring. The dangers are all around us as it is easy to be drawn away by ‘false teaching’ which may appear very attractive and even ‘better’ and ‘more exciting’ than God’s revealed truth. There is also an attractive, but again dangerous,  temptation to abandon or water down God’s word for the sake of an easier life.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says the churches.

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