Revelation 2.17-3.22

Contemporary evangelicalism approaches the Gospel from a place of power, of autonomy, and of entitlement.  This impacts the way we understand the Gospel more than we realize.  We ask questions of it that would be unusual to say the least to first century Christians.  We want to know things like “how do I get saved?” and “how do I get God to answer my prayers.”  The first Christians were powerless, weak, and marginalized.  They were kept from the power centers of their society and so heard the Gospel as a call to be faithful and to endure in a world in rebellion to their God, and therefore potentially hostile to them.  They had to navigate a culture in which idolatry was obvious but also powerful enough to ruin or possibly eliminate one’s life.  In our day the idols are powerful but less obvious and, for now at least, lack the power to eliminate our lives.  In this study of Revelation 2.18-3.22 we look at the last four churches in Asia: Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.  Each one of them developed a different answer to the dilemma of how much of the prevailing culture should be assimilated and how much should be avoided.  It is helpful to examine their experiences and answers to this dilemma to be able to respond to the idols of our age.

About bob

I am a Vineyard pastor and a passionate student of the Bible with an instinctive distrust of "business as usual" when it comes to the story of the Bible. Gratefully I have the opportunity to dig a little deeper and my purpose with this blog is to share what I discover.

3 thoughts on “Revelation 2.17-3.22

  1. Bob- the church at Thyatira was called out for tolerating the prophetess Jezebel. She was condemned with her followers, but to those who did not overtly join her, Jesus instructs them to perserve. Does this imply that Jesus would say that they should have separated rather than tolerated that faction in the church? Since the church was not condemned for toleration, but told to perservere, does this imply we should acknowledge that toleration is preferred over separation? I am putting this in the context of the plague of a church splits we have seen in American churches.

    1. Good questions you are asnikg Martin. I often marvelled at the preaching of Jeremiah. People hated him because he preached the judgments of God and yet he persisted. It’s not easy to share the judgments of God. People enjoy hearing those sweet-sounding messages and when we try to please people we would want to steer away from preaching judgment. But how is a cure even welcomed if no one knows they have a disease? The message of the Gospel would make no sense if people didn’t understand what danger they were in. This is an important reminder to give people the whole picture and not only the part that would please them. Thanks for another great post

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  2. Great post Craig! I fully agree. Some peoples whole mrnistiy is based on pointing out the hole in the donut rather than celebrating the actual donut! You look over those people’s shoulder to see what they’ve done and you often just see a spirit of offense and a spirit of independence. These days I’m just listening less and less to those who don’t value or help build the local church, no matter how ‘wise’ and ‘authoritive’ they sound or how many hits they have on their websites, and listening more and more to those who know how to honor and love and build up the local church, even with all her imperfections. I love the church I’m in and the people in the church and what God is doing with us. And there are so many other churches with great leaders doing great things and I celebrate that! I thank Jesus that HE instituted the local church with elders who govern, that gathers corporately and privately and grows to great multitudes, that preaches the gospel, heals the sick, cares for the needy, lays money at the apostles feet, doesn’t consider any of their possessions their own, is committed to fellowships, prayer and enjoys God and each other! Why on earth would anyone attack that? Much grace and loveRyan Rufus

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