Lessons From the Churches in Revelation: Thyatira

“Almost 60 percent of those in American evangelical churches believe that many religions can lead to eternal life. But if Jesus is to be trusted when he says that no one comes to the Father except through him, the church is failing in its mission. And it’s not hard to guess why. An exclusive Jesus just isn’t popular in our inclusive world.” This is a quote from Dr. Robert Jeffress’s book Not All Roads Lead to Heaven. It is only within the last five years that preachers in the denominational world have begun to hold and preach this belief. However, within the Lord’s body, this message has been preached for years. Unfortunately, tolerance still becomes a practice in the church. If we are going to stick to examples of the church in the first century, then we need to see what scripture says about tolerance. The church in Thyatira, found in Revelation 2:18-29, is an example of a congregation who practiced tolerance.

This congregation did have some positive qualities we should imitate. Jesus, when He addresses the church in Thyatira, says in Revelation 2:19, “I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first.” Just like those in the first century, we likewise should be full of love towards everyone; we should be driven by our faith; we have to learn to be longsuffering. But most of all, we have to continue to grow in our faith. Peter makes this point in 2 Peter 1:5-8, “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” If we stagnate, then there is an issue with the heart, and we stray from God.

Unfortunately, the church in Thyatira did stray from God. Despite the good that had been done, the church allowed a woman to teach and encourage sexual immorality within the church. Not only did she practice immorality, but she was given the chance to repent and refused. Because of this, Christ had to judge her, those who followed what she taught, and those who allowed her to spread this teaching. Christ makes a point to show that there can be no other doctrine taught other than the message He preached to the world. This message applies to us as well, we are likewise responsible to follow only what Christ taught. Paul talks about this when he says in Ephesians 5:11, “… have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.”

Therefore, we need to examine ourselves; compare our spiritual lives to the scriptures to ensure that we are not living in some form of false teaching. If we have a faith that is founded in truth, then it needs to grow continually. It cannot be allowed to stand still, for it will eventually deteriorate. However, if we have a false faith, or if we will tolerate false teaching whether in the church or in the world, then we need to repent of our sins and turn back to God. Not only do we need to examine ourselves, but we also need to “… exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13). If we will do so, then we will never have to worry and be confident that heaven will be our home.

Oren Caskey