AGCC Sun. a.m. 10/27/91
#4 (Book of Revelation Series-Addition messages on the 7 Churches)
"FRENZY OF FEELINGS!"
TEXT:  Rev. 2:18-29
INTRO: Psychologists tell us that human personality is said to consist of roughly 4/5ths emotions and 1/5 intellect. This means that when we make decisions they are based on 80% emotional content and only 20% intellectual.
Advertisers recognize this well known fact by appealing strongly to our emotional nature ... and giving us little intellectual information.
Those who will be successful in dealing with others will take into account the powerful dynamics of "feelings" if they hope to work with others.
This doesn't make "feelings" evil, but it does demand that we try and balance better the dynamics of "feelings" and "fact"!
The same gifts of emotions that God has given us can become a vehicle of misguided power in our lives. We need the balance and checks of both.
The Church that ministers to the mind but not the heart will fail to move people to be passionate in their faith.
The Church that ministers to the heart but not the mind will drive the flock of God toward misguided and frenzied emotions, where they end up may be anyone's' guess!
PROP. SENT: The Bible clearly teaches that an over reliance on emotions can be dangerous and can create a cloud that obscures the paths that are clearly marked out for us to walk in God's Word.
I. CONCERNS 2:18-29
A. Setting 2:18a
1. Thyatira was a small rural blue collar town ... very different from Ephesus, Smyrna and Pergamum which were huge cities full of universities and powerful commercial centers.
2. Ironically, this the smallest of the 7 cities commands the largest letter … shows God's value of something as being very different from that of man's!
3. Many small trade guilds existed in this town … a town well known for it's textile and dye industry.
a. Acts 16:14 tells us that Paul's first convert in Europe, a woman named Lydia came from this town, she was a dealer of purple cloth.
b. it is quite probable that Lydia had been the pioneer in planting this Church, and possibly acted as it's first Pastor, at the least she was a leader within this Church.
c. This may help explain the reference to another woman who later claimed the role within the Church as the "PROPHETESS," by this point in time Lydia would have been dead already.
4. This Church had exactly the opposite problem from the first Church Ephesus:
a. Ephesus had great teaching but had little to no passion ... cold emotionless doctrine.
b. Thyatira had great passion, but was weak on the doctrinal & teaching end.
c. Like the other churches, this one was at an important crossroad ... their passions were driving them into ungodliness, they were about to lose the good and many years of service to moral collapse.
d. In the absence of some of the great leaders like Paul, Lydia, and other well-grounded teachers, other misguided teachers were attempting to redirect the passions of the Church people toward immorality while comforting the people with falsehoods:
(1. "that they could and should experience Satan's temptations so that they will be wise as to how Satan operates!"
(2. "That as long as they keep their spirit pure, it didn't matter what they did with their bodies!"
5. The essence of the creeping errors: "God's wants you to have fun, He doesn't want us to be boring, so go to the temples of idols and party with the worshippers there ... as long as you know they are only idols it won't hurt!"
6. the emphasis was on pleasure ... not on truth!
a. Our society is a good mirror of this blue collar Church of the first century!
b. It is almost portrayed in everything we see on TV and print: It is our RIGHT to have fun ... the "pursuit of happiness."
c. all too often however, this is at the expense of character and unselfishness.
d. Motto goes like this: "YOU ONLY GO AROUND ONCE SO REACH FOR ALL THE GUSTO YOU CAN"
7. In the path of this pleasure seeking there are a host of broken hearted people left behind:
a. husbands and wives who are victimized by unfaithful spouses!
b. children who are ignored so the parents can have more fun, and get more!
c. neighbors who are ignored unless there is some benefit to you.
d. people dying in sin because we need our recreation more than they need our witness!
8. Thyatira like many blue collar workers worked hard and played hard!
B. Serious! 2:18b
1. Jesus' introduction demonstrates the serious junction they were at as a Church:
a. "These are the words of the Son of God..." they had to be reminded of who God was!
b. "...whose eyes are like blazing fire..." He is watching, penetrating through their pretenses!
c. "...whose feet are like burnished bronze." often a symbol of judgement! They will be held accountable for their actions!
2. the introduction is sobering and serious, perhaps severe enough to arouse their passions back to God. God knows the kind of language to use to get our attention, they needed their emotions stirred, God accommodates them with moving language!
3. the point Jesus is trying to make is that their condition has become serious enough to warrant a warning!
II. COMMENDATION 2:19
A. Service 2:19a
1. God however is sensitive to not overwhelm them with correction, so He begins with praise in order to arouse their passions to want to do right first!
2. He begins with their strong points:
a. Their deeds: they were well known for their passion in service!
b. these were not cold hearted people, they could and were easily moved emotionally to feel the needs of others.
c. they were not indifferent to other people, as is true with many blue collar people!
d. They had a string of wonderful responses to difficult circumstances and a reputation as caring and loving people!
3. their "deeds" were not lacking because their motivation and passion were not lacking!
a. Show me people who are passionate about anything and I will show you a successful cause!
b. Motivated people are the ones who change the world (note* -- good or bad!)
B. Sincerity 2:19b
1. Their love, faith, service, and perseverance is highly praised!
a. this is their passion!
b. they get high marks for the intensity of their sincere passion!
2. They were quite the opposite of Ephesus in their passions!
3. God clearly states that their record indicates an INCREASING of works through the years unlike Ephesus whose works had decreased from lack of passion.
4. This was very much a PENTECOSTAL Church with passionate worship and
a. their latter works greater than the first.
b. more now that at the beginning!
c. their passions had not waned, they had grown!
5. Being a blue collar town it was a passionate community. If the Church hadn't been they would have found it hard to reach their community!
III. CONDEMNATION 2:20-23
A. Seduction! 2:20
a. All was not well! Passion needs careful monitoring to keep it moving in the right direction.
b. Their passion for people had actually created a interesting problem, loving sinners created a toleration toward sinners who were bent on their destruction!
2. They had come to tolerate a woman leader here called symbolically "Jezebel"
a. it is unlikely that this was the woman's real name, not many Jews would have honored the birth of a daughter with a name like this!
b. It was not so much that this leader was a woman, Lydia had played a similar role in this Church's establishing, it was the direction this woman had taken them in her leadership!
a. In the Old Testament: She was Ahab's wife who encouraged Israel to be passionate followers of Baal and to be passionate against the True God!
b. She took whatever pleased her, even killing a man named Naboth just to give his vineyard to her whiney husband Ahab.
c. Her passion was pleasure, her own!!! A high price would be exacted on anyone that took away her pleasure.
4. The teaching this woman had started in this Church was very simple:
a. To learn the limits of Satan's powers they were suppose to go out and experience as much sin as possible, unhealthy knowledge was the goal, but through undisciplined passion!
b. She encouraged the Christians to participate at the local temples with the feasts celebrating demons so the people in town would identify with them, and by this build relationships with them.
c she told them not to worry what they do with their bodies as long as they keep their heart right, thus entrapping many of them to wicked habits that they later couldn't break!
5. Satan still uses this lie today:
a. you can drink as much as you want, you won't become an alcoholic!
b. you can break God's laws of morality by sleeping around and it won't hurt you as long as you really love the person! (what a joke!)
c. First seek your own happiness then you can help others be happy!
d. this stuff is from the PIT OF HELL! SATAN IS A LIAR!
e. you can't live on both sides!
ILLUS:At the outbreak of the Civil war, a Tennessee cotton-planter could not decide which side to support, the North or the South. He had friends on both sides, so he decided to be absolutely neutral. He wore a gray jacket for the South, and a pair of blue pants for the North. One day his property became the center ground for a battle, He took center stage and stood up between both armies and shouted he was neutral in this fight and expected to be allowed to leave the field before they opened fire. Union sharpshooters however, seeing the gray jacket fired assuming he was really an enemy spy, at the same time confederate marksmen seeing his blue pants assumed the same conclusion and they opened fire on him too! You cannot serve 2 masters and you won't be considered neutral if you try and wear a garment of righteousness and one of immorality!
6. It is never safe to let Satan "on board in your life"… slowly his "gnawing" away at our lives will bring us down to destruction!
ILLUS:Handley Page was a pioneer in aviation. Once he was forced down in an isolated area during a flight. Alone, he made some repairs and took off again, quite relieved. Unknown to him, a rat got aboard the plane on the ground, soon he heard the sounds of gnawing and he figured out what must have happened. His heart be-gan to pound as he knew what would happen if the rat continued to gnaw away at the lines of his controls. He didn't know where the rat was, nor could he leave the controls. He remembered hearing that rats cannot survive at high altitudes, so he pulled back on the stick and climbed higher and higher until he himself found it difficult to breathe. He listened intently and soon the gnawing stopped. When he arrived at his destination (with a sigh of relief!) he found the dead rat laying behind the cockpit! *When Satan is allowed to gnaw away at the controls of your life certain destruction is assured, what do you do? LIFT YOURSELF UPWARD TO HEAVEN, Like a dirty rat, Satan can't survive that close to God and you will arrive at your destination and drive Satan out of your life!
7. This "Jezebel" and her teaching is very much alive today!
a. Today we have teaching that all "normal" people have sex outside of marriage, that it is o.k.
b. that we need to have "fun" in life, i.e. throw aside God's laws in the process!
c. Christians are falling for this mentality ... ignoring sin in their lives!
d. We excuse sin by telling ourselves, "these passions are normal.. we can't help it!"
e. Passion directed properly is wonderful, it is a gift from God, but used against God's teaching it is a death trap! Watch out for Satan's seductions!
B. Sensationalism 2:21-23
1. When passion becomes more important than what's right, we are on dangerous ground!
2. When the Church cannot grow without entertainment that tickles the passions in us, we are running close to sensationalism!
3. Don't get me wrong, I couldn't worship in a passionless Church, but when I can't feel good about God or myself without an emotional high, I am in trouble!
a. when I judge others based on emotions or myself I'm heading for trouble!
b. when I judge God on the basis of what I feel or don't feel I'm in trouble!
4. When passion becomes too important instability can result, we will only do what we are moved to do, not do what we know is right to do!
5. the bed of suffering mentioned here is simply the consequences of living by emotions alone with no thought about consequences of right and wrong, this will lead to severe consequences in this life! WE CANNOT AFFORD TO LIVE BY EMOTIONS ALONE!
6. sensationalism will not build the Kingdom of God ... spirituality will!
7. it is easier to live by feelings than by faith but not wiser!
ILLUS:Ever see a straight river? (not likely). Rivers are usually twisting and turning every which direction, why? They follow the path of least resistance, all downhill! Canals however, are usually straight, made by man to help get from point A to B faster. A straight way is safer and better! Anyone can be a river, just follow the easiest route and paths of least resistance. Rather, be a canal, they are more useful for time and safety!
IV. CALLING 2:24-29
A. Stability 2:24-27
1. "Hold on!" This was the message to those who were not just driven emotionally! they were asked to keep on the right path where they were at, God asked no greater burden from them!
2. God was asking them to NOT SELL OUT!
ILLUS:Many years ago in London, England a rugged unkempt man stumbled into a music store. He had an old violin he hoped to sell. The owner was a man by the name of Mr. Butts, a well known musician. The unkempt man pleaded, "Sir, I'm starving, please buy this violin from me so I can feed my passion for hunger!" The music store owner responded, "I don't need a violin" but to help this poor man out he offered him less than $5.00 for the old violin. When the hungry man left, he picked up the violin and stroked the strings and a most unusual melodious sound came from the old violin. Taking it over to a lit candle he turned it over and to his amazement he read the inscription year dated 1704, and the craftsman "ANTONIO STRADIVARIUS." This violin had been missing for over 100 years, every attic in London had been searched in vain, this same violin not long ago sold for well over $1,000,000.00! A man's passion for the moment cost him a great treasure, blinded by an immediate need he gave up a fortune! HOW LIKE MANY IN THE WORLD TODAY, THEY SELL THEIR BODIES AND THEIR SOULS FOR SOME IMMEDIATE PLEASURE and lose out on a precious gift called SALVATION and eternal life!
3. These saints were not unemotional, but they had their emotions guided by the clear teaching of God's Word, to them God asks nothing more!
a. thus, God is not against emotions, but they must be wedded to truth!
b. In fact, God adds nothing to them because they had both!
B. "Star" 2:25b-29
1. They were to hold on "until He comes" a promise of something better to come!
2. the idea here is endurance: "does my will until the end"
3. the promise is that they will RULE!
a. those whose emotions serve them will rule.
b. those who are slaves to their emotions will be ruled over!
4. then an interesting promise by God is made: "I will also give him the morning star"
a. This is an obvious reference to Jesus!
b. This is Jesus the Sovereign ruler of all!
c. The promise is to receive Christ for all eternity, a great reward for keeping in check their emotions now!
5. They would not always understand everything in their life and they would FEEL discouraged at times, etc. but the results of staying true to God would prove in the end most rewarding!
ILLUS:An old Persian legend tells this story: a King needed a faithful servant and he had 2 men who seemed promising. He took both at fixed wages and told them to fill a basket with water from a nearby well, saying he would come in the evening and inspect their work. After dumping one or two buckets of water into the basket, one of the men noticed the water just ran through the weaves in the basket! It didn't hold water! He said to the other, "What is the good of doing this useless work? AS soon as I pour water in it runs out again, we'll never get anywhere!" The other man answered him, "But we have been paid to do this haven't we? If He chooses to pay us for this it is his business isn't it!? The other man responded, "I'm not going to do such foolish work! and he threw his bucket down and left. The other man continued until the well was nearly dry, it was close to evening too. As he went to draw the last of the water out of the well just before the master came he noticed something on the bottom of the well shimmering. Drawing the last water out he saw it was a huge diamond! Suddenly he realized what his master was doing, it wasn't useless work, he wanted the valuable diamond, not buckets of water! The master came and this faithful servant was amply rewarded for what seemed for some time to be useless labor!
6. And so it will be for those in Thyatira who stay faithful, their work may have seemed useless against the immoral society they lived in but oh the reward coming! Their work was uncovering the KINGDOM OF GOD!
7. "He that has an ear.. let him hear what the Spirit says!"
CONCLUSION: This Church had passion, but lacked direction! Zeal without proper knowledge can lead into emotional frenzy. God asked nothing more to those in this Church that had wedded zeal to proper teaching, but warned those who were misguided emotionally! Are your passions correctly focused by the Word of God?