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To the Church in Thyatira December 4, 2015

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Revelation 2:18-29.

Summary: In this passage, Jesus Christ commands John to write to the minister of the church in Thyatira. In particular, He commends them for their good deeds. Yet He rebukes them for condoning the actions of those who are idolatrous and sexually immoral; moreover, He states that He will punish those who commit those sins. Indeed, He promises that those who do not condone idolatry and sexual immorality will:

  • be able to rule over the nations
  • receive assistance from Christ in this regard.

Thoughts: I certainly hope to meet the believers from the church in Thyatira in the next life and learn how they responded to this letter. I hope to ply them with queries such as:

  • who was Jezebel?
  • were any members of their church idolatrous and/or sexually immoral?
  • was it difficult for them to take a stand against idolatry and sexual immorality?

We see some interesting parallels between this letter and the letter to the church in Pergamum. In particular, both churches are commended by Christ:

  • He praises the deeds of the believers in Thyatira
  • He praises the believers in Pergamum for refusing to commit apostasy.

Yet both churches are rebuked by Christ for their tolerance of idolatry and sexual immorality. We can infer that Christ wants believers to take a stand against the sins that are inherent to their zeitgeist; He demands more from believers who merely do good deeds and refuse to renounce their faith. This is a challenging point for me, as I prefer to avoid “ruffling feathers” by condemning the sins of my peers. When I have an impulse to take a stand against the sins of others, I consider my shortcomings; those thoughts cause me to remain silent – lest I be characterized as a hypocrite. Thus, I need to pray for God’s wisdom and strength so that I can be obedient in this regard; I need to know how to properly condemn the sins of my peers, even if my words and deeds along these lines incur their wrath.

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To the Church in Pergamum December 1, 2015

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Revelation 2:12-17.

Summary: In this passage, Jesus Christ commands John to write to the minister of the church in Pergamum. In particular, He commends them for their refusal to commit apostasy – even though they could be killed for their faith. Yet He rebukes them for condoning the actions of those who are idolatrous and sexually immoral; moreover, He states that if they do not repent of this sin, then He will judge them with His Word. Indeed, He promises that those who do not condone idolatry and sexual immorality will:

  • be found righteous in His eyes
  • enjoy fellowship with Him.

Thoughts: I certainly hope to meet the believers from the church in Pergamum in the next life and learn how they responded to this letter. I hope to ply them with queries such as:

  • who was Antipas?
  • how did the teaching of Balaam spread to their city?
  • how did the teaching of the Nicolaitans spread to their city?

I am also curious as to how these believers maintained their faith in the face of intense persecution – especially since Antipas became a martyr in their city. Many believers never experience intense persecution; they never need to make life-or-death decisions regarding their faith. While I do not know what the future holds, I pray that God will give me the strength to maintain my faith in Him in all circumstances; I know that I need His strength in this regard, as I would certainly commit apostasy without His guidance.

Sexual Immorality July 20, 2011

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on 1 Corinthians 6:12-20.

Summary: Paul begins by noting that although he has great freedom as a believer – in reference to the Jewish law – he will not exercise his freedom in a way that 1) injures himself or others and/or 2) causes him to be enslaved to anything besides God Himself. As an example of this freedom, Paul notes that the stomach and food are designed for each other – yet this is a temporary arrangement; also, the body and Christ are designed for each other. Sexual immorality, though, destroys the connection between the body and Christ; this should not be taken lightly, since just as Christ has been raised from the dead, our bodies will be raised from the dead – showing that the (intimate) connection between the body and Christ is meant to be permanent. The Corinthians need to remember that they belong to Christ and are in close union with Him; given this awesome reality, it should be clear that sexual immorality severs this union by introducing “sinful life” into the body of the believer in question. All believers have this close union with Christ since they have the Holy Spirit – who has been initially given to Christ. In light of this, Paul commands the Corinthians to avoid sexual immorality at all costs, as it is in opposition to the body’s eternal destiny and the purpose for which it has been created. Moreover, since the Holy Spirit dwells in each believer’s body, the body cannot be profaned without divine repercussions. Paul concludes by noting that Christ has purchased the Corinthians with His blood; given this awesome fact, they need to use their bodies as instruments of worship and service to God.

Thoughts: This passage illustrates the important point that as believers, the manner in which we use our bodies has eternal consequences. Hodge offers some useful insights in his commentary on verse 13:

The body is designed to be a part of Christ and is the place where his Spirit lives. And Christ regards it as such, redeeming it with his blood, uniting it to himself as a part of his mystical body, making it an instrument of righteousness for holiness.

If we stop and think about this reality, it is disturbingly easy for us to remember at least some of the instances when we acted in ways that belied it. Clearly Christ Himself was aware of this reality during His time on earth, as He neither committed sexual sins, got drunk with wine nor physically/verbally attacked others. We need to continually remind ourselves of this truth and be circumspect as to how we use our bodies. If we strive to emulate the earthly life of Christ, we will inevitably use our bodies with eternity in mind (e.g. offering encouraging words to downtrodden strangers, giving college students rides to/from church, and cooking/serving meals at homeless shelters).