Revelations 2:18-20 – Fire or Ashes: The Fuel that Keeps the Church Alive

Jeff Lynn


In a few weeks, football teams and fans are preparing for football season. We spend hours and attention focused on football. It would be amazing if we all came together with a sense of expectation as we prepare for Sunday mornings. Use your time as you prepare on Sunday mornings to invite God to speak to your heart.

At one time, these seven churches in Revelation were on fire. Jesus writes to encourage them and to correct them before they are removed and rendered ineffective without reach or relevance to the culture when it comes to sharing the gospel.

Revelations 2:18-20

18 “To the angel of the church in Thyatira write:

These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze.19I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. 20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.

A couple of years ago, I read a book entitled The Gathering Storm: Secularism, Culture, and the Church. The author, Albert Mohler is considered one of the great critical thinkers of our time when it comes to how Christians are to engage with the culture, the ever-shifting culture against Christianity.

Albert Mohler is comparing or paralleling the gathering storm of Nazi Germany upon Europe to the gathering storm of secularism upon the United States. Secularism is basically the removal of God from every aspect of life, from government, education, the home, and even the church,

“Active secularism directly confronts the authority of the church and explicitly demands theological capitulation. The secular elites have a singular devotion toward the unconditional surrender of divergent theistic worldviews, especially toward the Christian worldview.” – Albert Mohler

There is an increasing expectation in the secular worldview that Christians should be tolerant of other worldviews, no longer enjoying religious freedom but surrendering to the secular revolution.

On the one hand, there’s this growing intolerance in the world of all things Christian and Biblical, and a growing tolerance in the Church of Jesus Christ at large of things unbiblical and anti-Christian.

This is what was happening in Thyatira. They were tolerating false teaching by a self-proclaimed leader, a prophetess, and were being seduced to compromise on these two core issues of their faith. Even 2000 years ago, these issues were at the forefront to threaten Christianity.

Thyatira was known for its trade industry and labor unions. However, the labor unions each had their own deity, in whose honor certain feasts were held to honor those deities through food and sexual acts. Christians faced the dilemma of participating in these feasts or losing their job. Today, we might find ourselves being alienated, rejected, and persecuted because of our beliefs, both political and religious. Certainly, if one can be unbelievably maligned for endorsement of a political candidate, being aligned with Jesus is going to become even more difficult.

  1. The Praise

Revelations 2:19 I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.

They were showing love, faithfulness, service and endurance. They were getting better at these deeds. Jesus praises them and commends them. But then, he gives rebuke.

  1. The Rebuke

There was a woman who claimed to be a spokesperson for God but she was leading people to idolatry and sexual immorality. The church of Thyatira was tolerating this woman. This is what we’re experiencing today when we try to stand on God’s Word in today’s culture. We must take a stand for truth regardless of how intolerant secular society may be towards the truth.

Only 44% of born-again adults are certain that absolute moral truth exists. Only 9% of born-again students and teenagers believe in absolute moral truth. We’ve got to take a stand for truth and not open ourselves to be tolerant of compromising biblical truths that are immutable.

It may be that we were afraid we might lose some friends, or we might even lose the argument. So we sit and allow ignorance and even heresy to infiltrate the church. I believe that we live in a day when some of the church at large are tolerating Jezebel. May we boldly stand for truth, absolute truth, even when it comes at the risk of being canceled.

When you’re on your race, consider him who has endured such hostility against himself so that you don’t lose heart. When someone referees on a football field, if someone commits a violation or infraction, they throw a flag and penalize them, say ten yards or so for holding. Likewise, there are real consequences for compromise. We must uphold the truth and teach our children to uphold the truth. Doctrine neglected in one generation is doctrine rejected in the next generation.

What are we teaching our children in our homes? Children should sense the aroma of Jesus Christ in their homes. We must uphold standards that will continue to be shared even until the next generation.

In light of this gospel, we must repent for any tolerance we may have for sexual immorality or compromise of God’s Word. Idolatry is a cheap substitute for God’s presence. Consider: what are you giving your mind, will, and emotions to? Are your affections totally towards Christ? Anything that takes our affection away from Christ is equivalent to an idol. Those are the things from which we need to repent. It’s important for us to now hold on until Christ comes.

  1. The Promise

God promises us we will reign with Jesus and have rule over the nations. The righteous will rule over the wicked.

We have to say no. We can’t be tolerant and open to sin infiltrating the church. How secure is your family? Are you building your home on the Word of God? Build your lives upon the rock of Jesus Christ.