Monday, July 29, 2019

“Thyatira: The Corrupt Church” (Pt. 2) (July 29, 2019)

Allen Raynor Weblog: “Thyatira: The Corrupt Church” (Pt. 2)

(July 29, 2019)


          There is always hope with the Lord if people will only repent.  But, stubborn human pride works so hard to keep people from doing so.  Satan deceives people into thinking they do not need to repent.  In Asia Minor, there was considerable satanic influence going on.  Satan was not only wishing the church to fail, he was actively working to cause it to fail. 

          In 1 Corinthians 2:10 we read about “The deep things of God.”  Contrast that with the phrase “The depths of Satan” found here in this address to Thyatira.  The issues with the wicked woman Jesus calls “Jezebel” is not a minor thing.  It was utterly Satanic in nature.  In some twisted delusion they evidently thought they could be free to explore the Satanic realm and then come and worship God!  It was an ugly tragic attempt at synchronizing two things which were totally incompatible.  Jesus tells them simply to “hold fast” to what they have and what they know to be right until He comes.  This is His message for every church in every age, to “hold fast” to what is right until He comes.

          In verses 26-29 there is a promise to overcomers as opposed to those who were falling prey to immorality.  The promise is to give them great power.  True believers will exercise authority over the nations, ruling with a rod of iron.  This authority comes from the Father.  The value of this privilege is inestimable. 

          The “Morning Star” refers to Christ Himself.  For the overcoming believer, Christ’s presence is the light in the dark and difficult times before the Son’s coming.  Things may seem bad now, in this world and in terms of persecution, but it will be ramped up even more on the church with each day that draws closer to the end of time and Christ’s return.  It is impossible to know just how bad things might get before the rapture takes place.  But, we do know that the Lord will rescue us out of this world and we will not perish with it.  God is never early and never late.  He is always on time.  He is perfect in all things.  To those who “have ears to hear” let us/them hear what the Lord is saying to the churches and to us today.

          As we move closer and closer to that day, more and more people, churches, and denominations are compromising on issues to which the Bible speaks clearly.  Growing number of Christians, for the first time in the history of the church, are becoming accepting of premarital and extramarital sex, homosexuality, cohabitation, recreational drug use, abortion, obscene language, and subtle, yet very real, forms of idolatry such as the worship of sports, possessions, careers, social status, money, and a variety of things money can buy.  Many social ills can be linked back to corruption and compromise within the church with full understanding the church is made up of people who have sinful natures and often engage in sinful behavior.

          At a time when the need is greater for biblical truth, fewer churches are preaching it without compromise and even in the places where it is being faithfully proclaimed, vast numbers of people are absent in their attendance, hearing only a message here and there with no consistency.  We live in a day and time where the majority of people on the church rolls break the first four of The Ten Commandments on a regular basis with little concern about doing so.  It is little wonder the church is viewed as increasingly impotent in public discourse.  Our doctrine says God is important, but our behavior says He is not important.  Nothing distinguishes a corrupt church any more than behaviorally choosing the world over and above God with little or no shame in doing so.  The portrait of God shown to the world by the modern church is often a false one but it is the perfect depiction Satan wants on display.

          Satan, and the world will lose in the end, but right now they are growing stronger and stronger with a lot of help from the modern church.  Satan is empowered by corruption and compromise within the church.  Every church member must decide who they are going to put first.  It is not only awkward to try and put God and Satan first, but it is impossible.  You must love the one and hate the other or hate the one and love the other.


In Christ,


Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

"Thyatira: The Corrupt Church" (Part 1) (July 24, 2019)

Allen Raynor Weblog: “Thyatira: The Corrupt Church” (Pt. 1)

(July 24, 2019)


          Many problems get kicked down the road like the proverbial can because they are not easy to correct.  Many of those same problems are destructive and cost more in the end when it is determined they must be fixed.  The strange noise your car is making can be ignored, but it should not be.  Evidence of termite infestation can be ignored but should not be.  Dizzy spells and headaches can be ignored but should not be.  The rising national debt can be ignored but should not be.

          Sin is caustic and it eats away at people’s lives and it eats away at churches.  Just like with many problems in our own lives, it never seems like the most urgent matter to deal with at the moment.  We feel like we can always deal with it on another day; at another time.  When it comes to compromising with sin, the devil will tell us anything we want to hear.  This was exactly what was going on at the church at Thyatira.  They had a long series of compromises that had ultimately led them to the place of corruption.

          In Revelation 2:18-29 Jesus addresses the church of Thyatira.  It is unknown when this church was founded, but many believe it was when Lydia was converted under Paul’s ministry (Acts 16) and went back to her home city.  She may have spread the word and the church was somehow founded through her witness.  From Pergamos, the northernmost of the 7 cities, the Roman Road curved east and then southeast in Thyatira, approximately 40 miles away.  Thyatira was the most insignificant city among the 7 churches addressed by the Lord.  It was basically a place of industry and production, mainly wool and dyed goods especially purple goods dyed with purple extracted from a certain type of root called “madder.”

          In addressing the church at Thyatira, John writes, pointing them back to the vision of the Son of Man in Chapter 1.  Jesus is described to them as having “eyes like a flame of fire” and “feet like fine brass.”  This description is virtually word for word the description given in Daniel 10:6.  The “eyes of fire” or “eyes aflame” referred to piercing, penetrating, and burning through everything and seeing with total clarity.  “Feet like brass” refers to Jesus running through the church rapidly with judgment.  God’s judgment is never a long, drawn out process like an earthly courtroom trial.  It is swift, penetrating, accurate, and perfect!

          Everyone appreciates a compliment and Jesus was always fair in His assessments of the churches.  He gives credit where credit is due, but above all else, Jesus was honest and straightforward.  I once had a man in my congregation tell me about how he liked his new doctor because he would “look him in the eye and tell him how it was.”  No matter whether good news or bad news, many appreciate honesty.  Jesus compliments works they have done which were done for all the right reasons.  Those works were done because of love, a spirit of service, true faith, and patient expectations.  In fact, Thyatira is the only one of the 7 churches to be complimented for its love.  Not only did this church possess these qualities, but their “deeds of late” or “most recent works” were greater in number than what they were doing earlier on.  In that sense, they seemed to be growing and moving in the right direction.

          In verses 20-23 Jesus rebukes them for the sinfulness in their congregation.  Despite the compliments given to the church by the Lord, things were far from being well.  This church was guilty of serious compromise.  So severe, in fact, they were corrupted!  The indictment was, first of all, that they were “tolerating the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess.”  She was teaching and seducing people.  What was she teaching?  Apparently she was teaching that engaging in sexual immorality was ok and eating things sacrificed to idols was fine also.  “Jezebel” was probably not her real name, but the Lord referred to her as “Jezebel” because she brought to mind the Old Testament Jezebel, wo was a vile woman.  She was so wicked, in fact, that 1 Kings 16:30-31 tells us that the most wicked thing Ahab ever did was marry her!  This woman that Jesus calls “Jezebel” at Thyatira had self-proclaimed herself as a “prophetess.”  Clearly Jesus is implying she is not a prophetess at all.  Saddest of all is that the church was allowing it to go on!

          The Bible teaches that true Christians can fall into sexual immorality (1 Cor. 6:15-20) and idolatry (1 Cor. 10:21); but to lead other Christians into false doctrine or immoral living is a more serious sin which calls for the most severe punishment.  God is a God of grace and vs. 21 says she was given time/opportunity to repent of her wickedness and immorality, but she refused.  Her punishment was to be cast onto a “sickbed,” most likely referring to death and hell – the ultimate resting place for those who refuse to repent.  Further, those who also commit adultery with her also will suffer great tribulation/pressure.  This is unless they repent and turn from their wickedness.

          The “children” mentioned in vs. 23 are not biological children, but spiritual children/descendants.  The severe punishment promised to the false prophets and her followers reveals Christ’s passion for the doctrinal soundness of the church and the pure behavior of its members.  In Acts 5 we have the account of Ananias and his wife Sapphira lying to the Holy Spirit and both being struck down dead.  Sometimes judgment for sin comes swiftly.  We can rest assured however, God is a righteous judge.  God is never fooled about motives.  His penetrating eyes see right into the heart of a person.  Here it says “He searches the minds and hearts” and He will distribute justice fairly according to the deeds done in the flesh.  Works cannot save a person but our works can certainly condemn us.  Christ knows all our works!


In Christ,

Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor


Tuesday, July 16, 2019

“Pergamos: The Compromising Church” (Pt. 2) (July 16, 2019)

Allen Raynor Weblog: “Pergamos: The Compromising Church” (Pt. 2)

(July 16, 2019)


          The Apostle Paul gave strong warnings about mixing the Word of God with error and entanglement with non-believers.  In 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 he writes “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.  For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?  And what communion has light with darkness?  And what accord has Christ with Belial?  Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?  And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?  For ‘you’ are the temple of the living God.  As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them.  I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’  Therefore ‘Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord.  Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.’”

          Sadly, some at the Pergamos church believed a person could attend pagan feasts, engage in debauchery and sexual immorality and still be a part of Christ’s church and worship!  But, as James 4:4 puts it “Friendship with the world is hostility toward God.  Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

          The second heresy at Pergamos, the Nicolaitans, were already mentioned when He addressed the church at Ephesus.  Nicolaitans taught that Christians could participate in pagan rituals, particularly sexual ones.  The majority of the church as Pergamos remained faithful, but still many were seduced into compromise and error.

          Jesus offers corrections by pointing them toward the one and only remedy for their condition – repentance.  The word “repent,” as it is used in Scripture, describes a change of mind that results in a change of behavior.  In our culture, compromise, tolerance, etc. is celebrated; however compromising the eternal truths and principles of God is not cause for celebration!  John MacArthur writes “Error will never be suppressed by compromising with it.  Today’s non-confrontive church is largely repeating the error of the Pergamos church on a grand scale, and faces the judgment of the Lord of the church (John MacArthur; New Testament Commentary; Revelation Vol. 1; 90)  For the unrepentant, Jesus will use His power for the purpose of judgment.

          The Lord concludes by offering encouragement to the congregation.  To overcomers He will give to eat of “the hidden manna.”  “Manna” was the honey-flavored bread God fed the Israelites with during their years of wilderness wanderings.  This was so important in Israel’s history that a jar of it was to be kept inside the ark of the Covenant as they traveled.  The “hidden manna” represents Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life who came down from Heaven (John 6:48-51).  The “white stones” Jesus spoke of refer to the Roman custom of awarding white stones to victors in athletic contests.  A white stone, inscribed with the athlete’s name served as his ticket to a special awards banquet.  So, by saying this, Christ is promising these “overcomers” entrance into the eternal victory celebration in Heaven.  The question each person must answer for themselves its “Will I be handed one of these white stones by Jesus or be given of the hidden manna to eat?”  If you truly know Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, then the answer if yes, but if you do not know Him as personal Lord and Savior, then the answer is no.

          The dangerous compromises of the modern church are almost incalculable.  While the church has been arguing over minutia like paint and carpet colors, worship styles, and programs Satan has moved in and started fooling people.  When people are fooled they start compromising on the wrong things.  Not all compromise is good.  In fact, much of it is bad.  We cannot compromise on essential doctrine or we are right there with the church at Pergamos and the hard words of Jesus apply to us as well.


In Christ,


Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor 

Thursday, July 11, 2019

“Pergamos: The Compromising Church” (July 11, 2019)

Allen Raynor Weblog: “Pergamos: The Compromising Church”

(July 11, 2019)


          Compromise can both be positive and negative.  It is positive when we think of two people each giving up a little of what they want in order to come together for a peaceful solution.  It is negative when pure and absolute truth is given away in order to achieve harmony.  In our culture, peace/harmony/tolerance is seen as the highest good.  However, Christians hold as the highest good, the truth of God.  Many Christians, many churches, and many denominations have laid aside the explicit truths of God’s Word in favor of achieving harmony with the world around them.  Over the past few decades, we have seen churches, denominations, pastors, and other influential leaders compromising on, for instance, the issue of homosexuality.  Well known pastors such as T. D. Jakes is just the latest in a long string of those who have done so.  Compromises like this may make the world happy, and they certainly cause Satan to cheer, but they grieve the heart of God.  Some denominations have reasoned that the way to reach the world is to become more like the world and the results have been devastating.  The Episcopal church, the United Methodist church, and others have experienced sharp decline and church closures since compromising on many controversial issues of which the Scripture speaks clearly.  Unfortunately, the one word that apparently most characterized/described the church at Pergamos (Rev. 2:12-17) was “compromise.”  Of all the things a church could or should be known for, compromise is not one of them.  Sadly, as we look around, in this generation, we have to conclude that the church of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century is a church of compromise.

          “Pergamos” was the ancient capital of the province of Asia.  By the time John wrote Revelation, Pergamos had been Asia’s capital for almost 250 years.  The name “Pergamos” means “citadel” in the Greek language.  It was located about 50 miles north of Smyrna, situated on a high hill overlooking the valley below.  One of the things the city was known for was its huge library, containing about 200 thousand handwritten volumes.  It was second only to the great Library of Alexandria, Egypt.  Because of its library, Pergamos was an important center for culture and learning.  The city was also the seat/center for Emperor worship, and more so than any other city in Asia, Christians were in danger from the emperor worship cult.  Therefore, in the last part of Rev. 2:12 Jesus described the church as being the one “Who has the sharp two-edged sword.”  This phrase is a reference to the Word of God.  In Eph. 6:17, Paul also uses this metaphor describing a sword as the Word.  The writer of Hebrews, in 4:12 says “Now the Word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword.”  In Rev. 1:16 The Apostle John recorded seeing a vision of the “Son of Man” and writes “Out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword.”  “Two-edged” pictures the potency and power of the Word.  The might and strength of Jesus is strongly reiterated to this church.

          Despite their difficult circumstances, the believers at Pergamos maintained their faith with courage.  He commends/compliments them for “holding fast” to His name, in spite of the fact they lived “where Satan’s throne is; where Satan dwells.”  The possibilities of meaning here are that 1) There was a magnificent alter in Pergamos to Zeus.  2) The Emperor cult was really big in this city.  3) Another possibility has to do with Asklepios, the god of healing.  People in the ancient world would come to Pergamos seeking healing at his shrine.  Asklepios was depicted as a snake, and non-poisonous snakes roamed freely in his temple.  Persons seeking healing would lay down on the temple floor, hoping to be touched by one of the snakes, thereby being healed.  Such symbolism, would no doubt, remind Christians of Satan.  Perhaps the combination of all 3 of these things were in view by Jesus when He gave the description. 

          Nothing is really known about “Antipas” mentioned in the text, but he was likely one of the leaders of the church at Pergamos, perhaps even the pastor.  According to tradition, he was roasted to death inside a brass bull during the persecution started by Emperor Domitian.  Antipas made the ultimate sacrifice for refusing to compromise.  He is commended by the Lord and lifted up as a good example.

          Jesus’ rebuke of the congregation comes in verses 14-15.  Some in the church were holding to what He calls “The doctrine of Balaam.”  The account of Balaam is recorded in Numbers 22-25.  He was basically a “prophet for hire” without core convictions of his own.  He performed duties based on whoever paid him the most.  Fearful of the Israelites because of what they had done to their enemies, the Amorites, Balak King of Moab hired Balaam to curse Israel.  After trying unsuccessfully 3 times to curse Israel.  Balaam came up with another plan.  His new plan was to corrupt them by teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the men.  He would try to get them to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of sexual immorality.  He plotted to use Moabite women to lure these men into ungodly behavior.  The theory was that this sinfulness would destroy Israel’s spiritual power.  His plan succeeded to a certain extent, but God intervened and stopped it and severely chastened Israel for falling into temptation by executing 24,000 people (Num. 25:9).

          Like the Israelites who were seduced by Balaam’s false teaching, some in the church at Pergamos were lured to mix Christianity with an ungodly pagan system.  Peter wrote rebuking the Balaamites in 2 Pet. 2:15-16 saying “They have forsaken the right way and gone astray; following the way of Balaam the son of Beor; who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but he was rebuked for his iniquity; a dumb donkey speaking with a man’s voice restrained the madness of the prophet.”  Jude, in verses 10-11 of his epistle, rebukes all who follow this error.


In Christ,


Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor