Agonizomai: Rev 2:24-28a - Thyatira the Doctrinally Compromised Church<br>How God Knows and Rewards the Unsullied

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Rev 2:24-28a - Thyatira the Doctrinally Compromised Church
How God Knows and Rewards the Unsullied



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Rev 2:24:28a But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. 25 Only hold fast what you have until I come. 26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, 27 and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. 28 And I will give him the morning star.


There are "deep things of God." And then there are the teachings that pretend to offer deeper knowledge through special "revelation" and secret things. This is what the church calls “Gnosticism”. It is at the heart of much of the heresy that still exists in the church. The same heresies keep on coming around dressed in different garments. To the casual glance they look different, but on closer examination they are the same old decaying bodies underneath.

Anything that offers a secret knowledge that reveals understanding that is not plainly given in scripture, and that has not been clearly received by the orthodox understanding of believers down through the ages since the time of Christ and the Apostles is most likely gnostic heresy. This includes the teaching that believers need to be "delivered" from demons (whether the language is "hedged" to call it "oppression" or not - regardless of the catch-phrase that says, "Don’t ask if a Christian can have a demon - ask if a demon can have a Christian"). It includes the concept of generational curses and the inhabitation of objects by demons. This is all gnostic heresy that sets up the so-called "deliverers" as middle-men between God and the believer.

If a person has been born again of the Spirit of God he is a new creation and He that is in Him is able to bring him to completion unto the Day of Jesus Christ. It is by grace we are saved through faith. Faith in the finished work and the resurrection power of Jesus Christ at work within us. What people therefore need is not some incantation pronounced over them, but the Word of God plainly spoken and preached to them. A Word that exhorts, admonishes, reproves and rebukes them. The Word of the gospel that is the power of God unto salvation for them that believe. They need to be looking to Christ, to be looking at Christ - and not looking under every stone for a demon. Finding demons won’t help people - looking to Christ in faith will.


It seems to me that we now have a church in which there are larger and larger proportions of people who are not saved at all. And if there is any demonization and deliverance going on, it is in these "professors" that have been attracted to the church through the dilution of the gospel message and the corruption of the picture of true Christian life that is preached from the pulpit.

None of this is said in order to deny that we are all engaged in spiritual warfare. It is to deny the method by which warfare is waged. The Christian is given defensive armour in which to advance against the foe. This is consistent with the helplessness of our humanity and the harmlessness of our calling. Christ is our armour and we trust in Him. We advance not because we have the power to wield, but because we abide in Him who is the power in us. The Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare gurus get this entirely wrong and, through the invention of increasingly complex dominions and warfare rules, become virtual Nicolaitans themselves. And the sad part is that none of it is necessary.

So the "deep things of Satan" here are similar Gnostic heresies of John’s day. Secret knowledge claimed to have been discovered by a few - knowledge not taught by the Apostles - is propagated for the purpose of having power or dominion over the flock - or for garnering admiration or reputation. It may - it most likely is - knowledge that purports to be spiritual and that appears to the undiscerning glance to be helpful - even loving. Satan does not come with red skin, horns, scales and a forked tail to deceive. He comes as an angel of light. And there are many sweetmeats covering the hidden drop of poison.

But what does the Apostle record that Christ says? He commends those who are not taken in by the false teaching and exhorts them to do what? To hold fast to what they have until He comes. Plainly implied is that there is nothing new that is going to come along. What they have received is complete. It is the revelation of Jesus Christ. It is the plain Truth given by Christ and delivered to the church by the Apostles to which nothing - absolutely nothing - is to be added. There is no new teaching. No new revelation. No secret truth beyond what is contained in the gospel. Salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ and it is the work of God in the human heart.


Conquering, therefore, becomes not bossing demons around, but abiding in the words of Christ and doing them - faithfully. It is enduring to the end. It is taking what has been given and trusting in it regardless of what circumstance or feelings might say. And what has been given is the Truth, the Spirit, the Son - which are all the same God, for God is truth and the Lord is One. Jesus is therefore rightly called, "Wonderful Counselor (a title often referring to the Spirit), Mighty God (though God is One), Everlasting Father (yet He is the Son), Prince of Peace." {Isa 9:6} It is all about Him and not us. It is all about trusting in what He has done. It is about believing that He has done it all - that all things pertaining to life and godliness are (already) ours in Christ Jesus. It is about abiding in the truth in the face of the lie. It is holding fast to, defending and contending for the gospel in our own hearts and in the world wherever God puts or sends us. It is about tearing down strongholds that, by the propagation of the lie, oppose the truth.

The Spiritual Warfare Movement makes it all about "power encounters" with the forces of darkness. It is actually all about overcoming the darkness (lies) with truth, which is Christ and which is in Christ. That this is true is plain to any unbiased reading of the text here. Holding fast to what we (already) have - a defensive posture - and not receiving false and deceptive teachings - a battle for the truth about God as revealed in Christ - is the "conquering" of which Christ Himself speaks. It is a conquering by Christ in and through us - an application of His finished work - that takes place defensively, but not standing still.

The armour of Christ is all protecting the front of the saint because he is expected not only to face the enemy, but to advance against him. It is the advance of the powerless against the fierceness of the roaring lion while trusting that Christ in us, the hope of glory, has overcome for us what we cannot, and will grant to us out of His glorious riches of character the attributes and the power of life necessary to overcome in the face of evil - after the same manner that He Himself did. The most offensive weapon in the armoury is the sword, which is clearly said to be the Word of God. Jesus came and delivered the Word of Truth because He is the Word of Truth. This is what we also are to do.

The promise to us that we shall have authority over the nations and rule them with a rod of iron is to be seen in the context of Christ Himself. His incarnation was not about ruling with a rod of iron, but about seeking and saving that which was lost. It was about grace and mercy and the message of the gospel of peace and goodwill from God towards men. It was about living a life in the light of this - a life of submitted, non-dictatorial "weakness" - allowing the forces of evil to overcome Him and, by that very deed, using that destructive evil to accomplish the most amazing, glorious and wonderful work of God that we could ever begin to conceive - namely, the salvation of dead and lost souls.

And we ourselves are called to walk as He Himself walked. In meekness, humility and love. We are called to fill up the sufferings of Christ. We are called to be transformed into His image while being used to accomplish His work. We are held helpless in a hostile world so that our faith for eternity in the God of all power can be proven to us by Him. This is endurance - not that we of ourselves imitate God, but that He is in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure and we will endure because of Him - not because of us. All true Christians surely understand this. They are (saved and) kept by the power of God.
See a stone hang in air, see a spark in ocean live -
Kept alive with death so near. I to God the glory give.


John Wesley (An Arminian, but an old-style one)
But, just as the meek and lowly Christ Who came to suffer, to serve and to save will return in power to judge and to punish and to rule, so we who have died with Him will return with Him to participate in that process also. There will be a time for saints to display the ruling power of Christ overtly to the nations. It is not now. That belief belongs to the evil corruption and the false doctrine of Dominionism and the Latter Rain heresy. For now, we overcome after the nature of Christ’s overcoming - love and meekness in delivery of the gospel truth.

See that we just "hold fast until He comes." See that then and only then is the outward, visible, corporeal, physical manifestation of God’s sovereign power unleashed upon the world in such a way that all people can actually see it.


2 Comments:

Blogger Derek Ashton said...

Tony,

This is one of your best articles. Ever. If you don't mind, I'm going to steal some quotes from it and post them on a certain website that deals with paradoxes.

Derek

4:29 pm  
Blogger agonizomai said...

Derek,

Feel free. Just as long as you note that I never used the word "paradox" once in the entire post :o)

Blessings,


Tony

4:41 pm  

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