SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCATHY
JUNE 2, 2019
Title: “A Cleansed Church”
Text: “Unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; these things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet like fine brass; 19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.” (Revelation 2:18,19 KJV).
Scripture Reading: Revelation 2:18-29.
William Barclay referred to the Book of Revelation as a strange book. Most people reading revelation would feel themselves projected into a different world. Not only is revelation different, it is notoriously difficult to understand. It is important to understand that John wrote this book to bring us infinite rewards, for it contains the blazing faith of the Christian Church in the days when life was an agony and people expected the end of the heavens and the earth as they knew them but still believed that beyond the terror was the glory and above human raging was the power of God. Let us briefly examined the truth of the letter to the church at Thyatira.
The letter to the church at Thyatira is the longest letter to the church located in the least important city. It contains the strongest commendation, yet it has the severest warning of all the letters.
The seven letters to the churches in Asia Minor reveal God’s will for the church. If the church of Jesus Christ is to be the church triumphant, the believers must be overflowing with God’s love. The church is warm and fresh and Christlike. They must possess the quality of loyalty, even unto death if necessary. They will not compromise or be conformed to the world. They will be cleansed of moral impurities, as Jesus demands of the church at Thyatira.
It is God’s will that his church be clean. Ephesians 5:25-26 says, “Christ also love the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water and by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” We cannot possibly be ready for the coming of Christ apart from a cleansed life. The letter to Timothy is a call from the living Christ to his church then and now to be cleansed. What is involved in such call?
In verse 18 Christ identifies himself as “the Son of God,” thus speaking with authority. His “eyes like unto a flame of fire” suggest his penetrating insight into the church. He has the capacity to see who really are beneath the surface. Only Christ knows what a life and a church are really like. He sees behind the closed doors of our lives, knows what we do when no one is around, and knows our inward motives.
As seen before, Christ’s “feet like unto fine brass” refer to his judgement on the church. Brass is symbolic of judgment, and all things are under his feet, so he judges the church by his authority. The Lord Jesus Christ speaks to us in the same firmness when he calls for cleansing in our lives.
In verse 19 Christ praises the believers with strong words of commendation for their life. He praises their works in that they are an active body of Christ. They are not lazy. He praises their works of love. This is agape love. God’s love in them and their love for God and one another. He praises their works of faith. This refers to their faithfulness, and it is their love that results in faithfulness. He praises their works of ministry. This is love in action. It is their act of ministry in kindness and tenderness to other members of the body. He praises their works of patience. They accept their difficult situation from God without giving him a deadline to remove it. He praises their works of progress. These works are more at the last, than at the first. The believers are growing spiritually. Their works are commendable, but there is something wrong.
The problem in the church is introduced in verse 20 by the word “notwithstanding.” There are few things to note about the problem. First, not all the church was involved in it. Some of the people in the church were truly devoted to Jesus. Second, the problem was associated basically with one person, a prominent woman named Jezebel, who called herself a prophetess. She was teaching others a way of life displeasing to the Lord of the church (v. 20).
The character of the woman is seen in her name, Jezebel. As Jezebel of Old Testament times was an immoral woman intent on destroying the worship of God’s people (1 Kings 16:31; 2Kings 9:22), so was this woman in the Thyatira church. She was in a place of leadership, and was influencing others to commit immorality. She was stubborn, defiant, and just downright unwilling to respond to spiritual warnings (v. 21). She was a “teacher” of the deep things of Satan (v. 24) and a “seducer” of other Christians to violate God’s commands (v. 20) She was not submissive to the revealed mind of Christ for the church concerning fornication and eating meat offered to idols (acts 15:28) This church truly had a problem!
How is it possible for this to occur in a church for whom Christ had such strong commendation? One answer is that Satan transforms himself into an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:13-14). Another answer is that false teachers dress up in Christians clothing to deceive the church (Matt. 7:15). We need to be spiritually alert.
The problem in the church was not this woman only; it was also the attitude of the church itself. The church was too easy-going and lacking in discipline.
The Lord of the church had given instructions and warnings, and now it was time for correction. He could not allow Jezebel’s influence to continue. Verse 22 and 23 describe her punishment. Verse 22 says he will cast her “into a bed,” that is, afflict her with illness or disease. Next he will bring “great tribulation,” some heavy pressure that will be in the form of punishment. Finally, he will bring death to all her followers (v. 23). There is no way to escape the eyes for the Lord and the reach of his hand on our lives!
So what does God’s Word say about purity in the church? From Ephesians 5 come some directions. We are to walk in love, not lust (vv 2-3). We are to walk as children of light, not children of darkness (vv. 2-3). We are not to have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness; rather, we are to reprove them (vv. 11-12). First Thessalonians four says we are to seek the most thorough moral purity. First Corinthians 6:18-20 calls us to the full dedication of our bodies to the Lord as temples of the Holy Spirit. Second Corinthians 6:17-18 says that we are to live separate lives, touching no unclean things. Any way you look at it, Christ is to be characterized by moral purity.
Therefore we are to look on moral impurity as a cancer in the church that must be dealt with. And the only way it can be dealt with it to repent of our sins, taking any necessary steps in cleansing and restitution. Doing so will set the church free!
When the church responds in repentance and obedience to the Spirit, three promises from Christ come into reality. First, there is the promise of no other burden: “I will not impose any other burden on You” (2:24 NIV). The truth already given is enough. The principle of God’s Word by which they are to live has already been given. Second, there is the promise of victory over enemies. “Power over the nations” is given by which they shall be ruled with a rod of iron. Both now and in the future, as believers who overcome, we share in Christ’s authority over the world. And third, there is the promise of the presence of Christ himself: “I will give him the morning star.” Jesus Christ is the Morning Star! We overcome in him as we are obedient to his works.
A cleanse life and a cleansed church are Christ’s way to victory. He wants every believer, spiritual leader, and family to live clean lives. “Whoever has ears, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (2:29 NIV). God bless you this morning.