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The Church of Thyatira, Part 4



Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden. But hold fast what you have till I come. And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels—as I also have received 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. Revelation 2:24–29.


Apostasy has affected many movements in history


In our last look at the Church of Thyatira we considered the ongoing consequences of apostasy in the church. As far as some historical implications of those consequences, we considered a few of the more egregious teachings of Roman Catholicism that replaced some teachings of Scripture. There are some who teach on the Book of Revelation making it appear that Roman Catholicism is the only form of apostate Christianity, but that is far from the truth.

Every effort of reformation in the church throughout history experienced a cooling off and departure from the convictions of its initial reformers. If one would seriously look at the practices and actual beliefs of many persons in those denominations, churches, and movements, he would find their particular Thyatiran attributes to be as far removed from Scriptural truth as the few things we found in Roman Catholicism. And let us always keep in mind that as we consider errors of any church, movement, or denomination, we are not making personal attacks on the people as no doubt there is a host of God’s people in any or all those groups.


Not all at Thyatira were apostate


Jesus addressed a host of people in the Church of Thyatira that did not go along with these conditions of apostasy. In spite of apostate teaching and practice, there were some in the church that experienced real salvation and were living holy lives to the best of their ability under the conditions of that church. Jesus encourages them by laying no other burden on them other than to hold fast what they had experienced with Him. In acknowledging these saints He in no way approves of the church nor does He particularly want for these saints to have to remain there.

It may be asked, why did they not leave the church. The answer is that there was no other church to which they could go. There were no other denominations in those days, only the church of God. Why did they not break away and start a new church? At the time, division in the church was condemned as non-Christian.


Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. (1 Corinthians 1:10)


Also, it appears from the way Jesus addresses the angel of the church that the ministry as a whole were given over to apostasy suggesting that there were no ministers that could have ministered to a group of come-outers.

Even under the apostate conditions of that church is was possible for some to overcome those conditions in their personal lives. Christ says that they keep His works. What are those works?


Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (John 14:12–13)


What works did Jesus do? Certainly He performed miracles; and the early church experienced miracles, just look in the Book of Acts. But the work of the church is not to do miracles; it is to be witnesses to Christ, to preach the gospel. The promise here seems to be that as these saints lived a holy life and shared the gospel, they would have some influence on others in the church, and some people in Thyatira—or the community where there is only an apostate church—would accept the gospel and be saved from sin. Yes, those folks would see the corruption in the church, but they would be influenced more by the godly lives lived by these overcomers.

To reinforce what He tells these people, the Glorified Christ quotes from Psalm 2:9, “He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels”. The rod of iron is the word of God. These saints follow the word of God inasmuch as they are able. They might participate in some of the rituals of the church, but they will not submit to outright error. And it is their example that overrides the influence of the apostate church as they share the gospel with people.

There is an example in the Old Testament that somewhat applies in this kind of situation. Naaman was the commander of the army of the king of Syria and was an honorable man. 2 Kings 5:1 tells us that God had given victory to the Syrians because of him. Naaman had leprosy. When meeting with the prophet Elisha, he was told to wash himself in the Jordan River seven times. When he did this, he was instantly healed of the leprosy. Having come to believe in the true God, he tells Elisha in verse 17, “your servant will no longer offer either burnt offering or sacrifice to other gods, but to the LORD”. Being in service to the king of Syria, he was not free to leave and take up residence where the true God is worshipped. He had to go back to Syria and he had to attend church with his boss, the king of Syria.

He makes a special request for clemency in this situation in verse 18,


Yet in this thing may the LORD pardon your servant: when my master goes into the temple of Rimmon to worship there, and he leans on my hand, and I bow down in the temple of Rimmon—when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the LORD please pardon your servant in this thing.


In our time we might tell the man that he could not do that and be accepted by God; but Elisha, God’s prophet, simply told him “Go in peace”. I mention this to help us realize that some of God’s people are not in the best of spiritual circumstances, but they have a grace to live for God that perhaps we cannot comprehend.

On the other hand, if you find yourself in an apostate circumstance and the Holy Spirit leads you to come out, you cannot stay in that circumstance as your disobedience will take you down and you will no longer be an overcomer—you, too, will “be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels”. There can be no excuse for staying in a spiritual environment from which God is calling you out.


The Morning Star


The Glorified Christ has a special gift for those that have ears to hear what the Holy Spirit has to say to the churches. That gift is the morning star.

There is a literal morning star, the attributes of which might help us to understand and appreciate this gift from the Glorified Christ. Albert Barnes in his Notes on the New Testament writes:


The “morning star” is that bright planet—Venus—which at some seasons of the year appears so beautifully in the east, leading on the morning—the harbinger of the day. It is one of the most beautiful objects in nature, and is susceptible of a great variety of uses for illustration. It appears as the darkness passes away; it is an indication that the morning comes; it is intermingled with the first rays of the light of the sun; it seems to be a herald to announce the coming of that glorious luminary; it is a pledge of the faithfulness of God.


We also discover this morning star in Revelation 22:16, “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star”. As the Glorified Christ closes the Book of Revelation, He gives assurance to the churches, not just the seven churches of Asia, but the church throughout all future ages.

This assurance is founded on Himself; Who He is. That He is the Root of David is a reference to Isaiah 11:1, “There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots”. This is a promise of the coming Messiah; Jesus of Nazareth was born into this world in the royal family of King David. His legal lineage was to the Davidic family through Joseph, who was not His natural father but yet provided that essential legal link. This lineage is recorded in the gospel of Matthew. Luke gives the Davidic lineage of Jesus through the family of Mary His mother. This provides the required physical lineage. Jesus is not just a prophet or a religious leader, He is Messiah, He is God incarnate. This assurance helps God’s people to hold steady in any and all kinds of conditions.

Of the morning star Dr. Albert Barnes writes: “The reference here is to that star as the harbinger of day; and the meaning of the Saviour is, that he sustains a relation to a dark world similar to this beautiful star”. Adam Clarke suggests a similar meaning: “as the morning star ushers in the sun, so shall I usher in the unclouded and eternal glories of the everlasting kingdom”.

That the Glorified Christ is the morning star gives the church assurance that He is indeed the promised Messiah that gave His life to make atonement for the sin of the world. In so doing, He ushered in His kingdom and established His church.

In 2 Peter 1:19 we read more about the morning star, “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts”. Peter in writing to the church at large hearkens back to Messianic prophecy, which was confirmed or made sure in Christ. The light of Christ shines in a sin darkened world. Jesus said in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life”.

Following some of the imagery of Barnes, Adam Clarke relates the morning star to none other than Christ:


Christ is the morning-star. He brings day with him into the soul, the light of grace and of glory; and he will give his people that perfection of light and wisdom which is requisite to the state of dignity and dominion that they shall have in the morning of the resurrection.


Lessons to learn


From the letter to the church at Thyatira we learn some valuable lessons. Christ admonishes us to hear what the Holy Spirit has to say to us through this letter.

When a ministry apostatizes, it is certain that a church will apostatize with it. This produces the depths of Satan in which the fallen ministry replaces sound doctrine of salvation with empty, pagan-like or humanistic teachings and ritual that permit sin and give people a false sense of religious security. The children are killed with death, that is, apostasy continues unabated into future generations giving false hope of salvation when there is no reality of salvation.

But even in the clutches of an apostate church, there can be some people that have a genuine experience with God and live for Him in spite of the teaching, practice, and influence of that church.

So, in times and conditions of apostasy, if you have a real experience of salvation, hold on to that experience and do not give in to the seductive teachings and practices that surround you. If at all possible, come out of such a church to a church that believes, teaches and practices holy living.

Christ is your Morning Star; He is your Savior and He will keep you walking and living in the light of the gospel until He comes for you.