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March 14, 2010
When Tolerance Becomes Intolerable – Part 7
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Time:
Revelation 2: 18-29
Scripture: 
Topics: 

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Transcript

(00:00):
Well, let’s take our Bibles and turn to Revelation Chapter 2. We come for a final look at the church at Thyatira. I believe this is Sermon number 7. And we are going to wrap up our look at this fourth letter in our series of studies in Revelation Chapter 1, 2 and 3.
(00:21):
Let’s take time this morning to read Revelation Chapter 2 in verse 18. “Unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things says the Son of God who has eyes like a flame of fire, and his feet like fine brass; I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first.
(00:48):
Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman, Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce my servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.
(01:22):
I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works. Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden.
(01:48):
But hold fast what you have till I come. And he who overcomes, and keeps my works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations. He shall rule them with a rod of iron. They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels as I also have received from my Father; and I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
(02:20):
The first edition of the King James’ version of the Bible was printed in 1611. Another edition followed in 1631. And in that second and later edition, probably and possibly the most scandalous mystique of the history of printing was made. I don’t know if you know this, but the word “not” was not printed in the seventh commandment so it read thou shalt commit adultery.
(02:52):
You can imagine the anger and the embarrassment of the church authorities who took it out by finding the printers 300 pounds, which was a small fortune then and indeed a lifetime’s wages. And from that moment on, the 1631 edition of the King James’ version of the Bible came to be known as the Wicked Bible.
(03:18):
Whether deliberately or by mistake, men and women have always sought to challenge God’s commandments. From time immemorial, they have sought to reverse and even perverse God’s sexual standards so that promiscuity becomes a virtue.
(03:39):
In fact, the Prophet Isaiah warns us of that possibility when he says that man will call good evil and evil good. And that was precisely the problem here at the church at Thyatira because as we have seen, a wicked gospel was being preached by woman by the name of Jezebel. She preached and encouraged this church to practice that which Christ find insufferable and intolerable.
(04:14):
We read in verse 20 that Jesus has this against the church at Thyatira, that they have allowed that woman Jezebel who calls herself a prophetess to teach and seduce my servants to commit sexual immorality. They were doing what God’s Word had forbidden. There was a wicked gospel being preached from a wicked Bible to the church at Thyatira.
(04:43):
Sexual sin was being excused, but that was inexcusable. Therefore, Christ addresses this church in this letter and He calls for repentance on the part of some, repentance on the part of those who had indeed been seduced into sexual sin. He not only calls for repentance on the part of some, He calls for resolve on the part of others.
(05:13):
This is where we’re at this morning in verse 24. “Now I say to you and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine,” that is those who had not fallen into the seduction of Jezebel’s false theology, He encourages them to resolve, to stay pure and to do this until He comes. And when He comes, He will indeed give them power over the nations and they will receive the morning star. “He who has an ear, let him hear then,” says Jesus, “what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”
(05:56):
Now, I want to get back into this section as we close out this series of sermons on this letter. We’ve been seeking to resolve, to pursue purity in perseverance. When Jesus says, “Hold fast till I come,” he’s saying, “Hold fast to your purity. Don’t fall into the sin that indeed others have fallen into.” And for a couple of studies, we’ve been seeking to give ourselves a number of lines of defense when it comes to protecting our purity.
(06:32):
We encouraged ourselves to be biblically balanced. We encouraged ourselves to love our spouses passionately. We encouraged ourselves, especially those of who of us who are single, to remember the wait is worth it. We encouraged ourselves to understand that sex is no small thing. We challenged ourselves to watch what we were, to create a control zone and to do the math, to count the cost of sexual compromise.
(07:01):
We also reminded ourselves to play for keeps, to take this issue seriously. Jesus told us if our eye offends, pluck it out, if our hand offends cut it off. He was speaking metaphorically. He was using hyperbole to say this, be serious about your sexual purity and piety.
(07:22):
So, I want to pick up where we left off. Couple of other things I want us to encourage us towards in terms of protecting our purity. Know yourself. That’s the next thing. Know yourself. When it comes to temptation in general and sexual temptation in particular, you and I need to consider ourselves and pay due regard to our own temptability.
(07:46):
Go back with me to the letter of Paul to the Galatians. He’s speaking of those who have fallen into sin and how they might be restored. But I think it’s interesting for us to note his words. “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.” Look at what he says. “Considering yourself lest you be also tempted.”
(08:16):
Considering yourself. The Greek here suggests a continual diligent attentiveness. We must watch out for ourselves. We must constantly be chaperoning ourselves. What’s the point Paul is making here? Simply this. In Galatians 6 verse 1, Paul teaches us that the practice of someone else’s sin is a reminder of the possibility of our own sin.
(08:49):
If someone falls into sin and you and I get involved in the restoration, we should do it with some humility, certainly with a great dollop of grace because you and I in considering ourselves no full well that it could have been us. George Whitefield, the famous evangelist reportedly watching a man walk to his own death by hanging said, There go I but for the grace of God.” He didn’t say like the Pharisee in Luke 18 verse 10, 11, “I thank God I’m not like any other man.” The Bible reminds us that pride comes before the fall.
(09:38):
When you and I begin to believe our own press clippings that we are beyond the draw and drag of sexual sin, we are painting an x on our own back. In God’s kingdom, weakness leads to strength, strength leads to weakness. Pride comes before the fall.
(10:08):
You and I need to strand ourselves on God, shipwreck ourselves on omnipotence. We need to put no confidence in ourselves. We need to get up every day conscious of the deceptive nature of our own hearts, conscious of the need of God’s grace, conscious of the strength of the Spirit of God. The humble know their sin and the humble seek God’s grace to cover and conquer that sin.
(10:43):
When I was in the police service in Northern Ireland when they were training us for anti-terrorist combat, we watched a video of all the different ways the IRA would try to kill us. It was a chilling video. It told the stories of officers who let their guard down, who showed no vigilance in the feast of the enemy.
(11:09):
And so, they warned us about our own personal protection and the things we needed to do to make it harder for them because they always had the element of surprise. As I watched that video, it finished with these words scrolling up on the screen in complete silence, you could be next. It’s pretty chilling. You could be next. And I think you and I need to remind ourselves of that fact more often than we do.
(11:43):
As we hear about others who have compromised, others who have collapsed in their moral resolve, you and I need to ask ourselves, “Could we be next?” Restore such a one and a spirit of gentleness considering yourself lest you be tempted. Know yourself.
(12:07):
Secondly, this morning, beyond what we’ve already said, think about what you think about. Think about what you think about. When it comes to sexual sin, you and I need to be aware of the fact that there is a direct path from the head to the bed, from the head to the bed.
(12:26):
Sexual sin begins in the mind. Jesus taught us that, didn’t he? Jesus taught us back in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew Chapter 5 verse 27 through 28 that before adultery is an act, it is a thought. You’ve heard it said, “By those of all, you shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
(12:58):
The Bible is clear that our minds are the command and control centers of our life. Proverbs 23:7 says that as a man thinks so is he. So high critical then folks this morning is the set of our mind when it comes to fighting the trap and temptation of sexual sin. The set of our mind determines the direction of our life because our thoughts lead to choices. Our choices lead to actions. Our actions form character. And our character determines the quality of our lives.
(13:41):
It goes without saying then that the believer must take charge of his mind. Doesn’t Paul say that? Second Corinthians 10 verse 5, “Bring every thought into captivity.” Like a maverick horse, our thoughts need to be lassoed and drawn in because what we think about all day long determines what we do on a given day. If we’re going to control our behavior, we’re going to have to control our minds. We need to renew our minds so that we’re not conformed to this world, a world that’s always badgering us with sensuality and sexuality.
(14:30):
Certainly, we want to express our sexuality and our sexual desires within God’s will. So, we don’t want to be conformed to the world. We want to be conformed to the Word and that will involve you and I setting our minds towards God’s Word and God’s will. And you and I will accomplish that by filling our mind with God’s mind.
(14:57):
Think about that. Even write that down. We need to fill our mind with God’s mind. That means we need to get into the Word. We need to think thoughts after God by dwelling on His Word and allowing His Word to dwell in us. In Psalm 119, we read these words about God’s Word where we’re encouraged to meditate upon God’s Word to memorize God’s Word.
(15:31):
Verse 9, Psalm 119, how can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your Word. In the same Psalm we read in verse 11, these words, “Your Word have I hidden in my heart that I may not sin against you.” Through the meditation of and the memorization of God’s Word, you and I will be helped to fight for purity and piety.
(16:12):
It’s interesting. In Proverbs Chapter 6 in verse 26, the man who gives in to the sexual trap or the sexual temptation, the Bible warns that he will be reduced to a crust of bread. It says in Proverbs 6 verse 26, “For by means of a harlot, a man is reduced to a crust of bread and an adulterous will prey upon his precious life.”
(16:39):
No good comes out of illicit sexual liaisons. Talk to people who have fallen there. It costs them physically. It costs them emotionally. It costs them spiritually. A man is reduced to a crust of bread. As I thought about that, I thought about the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 4 verse 4, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” And if you put those two thoughts together, am I not right in saying that if you and I will feed upon the bread of God’s Word, we will be better protected not to be reduced to a crust of bread through adultery?
(17:25):
Just this week, I finished up a great little biography on the life of John Bunyan, 17th century English Baptist nonconformist minister. He was imprisoned for 12 years of his life, separated from his wife, his kids, one of them blind. He was put in a cold damp cell, lay on a bed of straw. He had one table and one three-legged stool. He took one of the legs of the stool and carved it into a flute, would often sing to the praise of God and play to the praise of God.
(18:03):
And during those 12 years of imprisonment, due to the fact that he had preached without a license, he hadn’t been sanctioned by the Church of England. And back in the 17th century, you couldn’t preach outside the established church. That’s why he was called a nonconformist. If we were back in those days, we would be nonconformists also.
(18:25):
And they said, “You know what? If you promise not to preach, we’ll let you out.” He never did. I read his life story this week. While he was in prison, he wrote the first part of Pilgrim’s Progress. And then later on, he wrote the second part.
(18:43):
In fact, I’ve been rereading Pilgrim’s Progress recently. And John Bunyan was a tinker. He was in metalwork. He was a man of low education but he educated himself and yet … But his library was very limited, there were only a couple of books that he had inherited from his wife.
(19:00):
But he had so imbibed, so imbibed the English Bible that if you read Pilgrim’s Progress, that book is full of biblical inferences and illusions. Almost at every turn and every phrase, you can pick up a sentence somewhere in the Bible that he had turned into this allegory of the Christian’s life as a pilgrimage.
(19:26):
Here’s what one author said of that, the author J.R. Green echoed many commentators down through the years when he observed: “so completely did the Bible become Bunyan’s life that one feels its phrases as the natural expression of his thoughts. He lived in the Bible till its words became his own.” Isn’t that challenging? I find that challenging. Maybe it’s just me. But he lived so much in the Bible that the words of the Bible became his own words.
(20:01):
That’s what the Psalm is talking about here. “I have hidden Your Word in my heart. I can’t think without thinking thoughts after God. I can’t speak without speaking the words of God.” We need to be there so that when the world strikes up a conversation with us, we’ve got some arguments for saying no. Know yourself. And also think about what you think about.
(20:36):
Thirdly this morning, weigh your words. Here’s another line of defense. You need to be aware and I need to be aware that life and death is in the power of the tongue. You realize that? There are no throwaway words, no weightless words. The Bible says in Proverbs 18:21, “Life and death is in the power of the tongue.”
(21:02):
We can build people up with a healthy tongue. We can build a constructive life with a healthy and holy tongue or we can destroy and pull down and damage the work of God in us and around us through a tongue that’s not under the control of the Holy Spirit.
(21:21):
Proverbs 10:19, “In a multitude of words, sin is not lacking.” The more we talk, the more likely we are to sin. That’s what that verse seems to be saying. And that’s why we need to put a muzzle on our mouths. And you know what? As I thought about that in general, I think it has a particular reference to the whole issue of sexual seduction.
(21:49):
Because as you and I need to guard our mouths in general, that is particularly true when it comes to conversation with the opposite sex. Flirtatious and flattering words are a dangerous thing when you and I are interacting with the opposite sex.
(22:10):
Have you ever noticed in the book of Proverbs in that section where Solomon is talking to his son about the facts of life and the joy of sex within God’s will and the danger of illicit sex outside of God’s will? How often he connects spoken words with those who have become trapped in sexual immorality?
(22:37):
Go back to Proverbs. This is worth you turning back to. I’ll just give you a number of verses that show this. Look at Proverbs Chapter 2 in verse 16. “Wisdom will deliver you from the immoral woman, from the seductress.” And by the way, while the focus is on the immoral woman, it’s equally true of the immoral man. “Wisdom will deliver you from the immoral woman, from the seductress,” listen, “who flatters with her words.”
(23:10):
Look at Proverbs 5 verse 3. “For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey and her mouth is smoother than oil.” Chapter 7 in verse 5. “Wisdom indeed will keep you from the immoral woman, from the seductress who flatters with her words.” We read of this encounter with the simpleton who finds himself on the wrong side of time in the middle of the night, bumps in to the seductress. She entices him, look at verse 21, with her enticing speech. She caused him to yield with her flattering lips. She seduced him and immediately he went after her as an ox goes to the slaughter.
(24:10):
Sweet talk can lead to sour experiences. Empathetic exchanges can lead to erotic encounters. That’s the warning here. Listen to these words by Robert Jeffress in his book on Proverbs, “We are not advocating that we abstain from any conversation with members of the opposite sex, but we do need to realize how quickly an innocent discussion can turn into an intimate exchange forming an unbreakable emotional bond that eventually can lead to sexual expression.”
(24:50):
How many [inaudible 00:24:51] have begun in the office or even in a church with an intimate exchange, someone’s hurt and they begin to share their hurt or they begin to talk about their spouse which is something they shouldn’t be doing, not in that circumstances at least. And perhaps even out of a naivete or a desire to help, someone comes alongside and listens and an intimate exchange goes on which leads to an emotional bond which begins to dig a pit into which both will fall. We need to watch our words.
(25:36):
If you are a man and a woman is seeking empathy from you, encourage her to talk to your wife or another woman in the congregation. If you’re a woman, encourage that man to talk to your husband or another man in the congregation or vice versa.
(26:04):
President Calvin Coolidge, probably a very underrated president as presidents goes here in the United States, was a very deliberate man, always thought out his actions, always weighed his words. In fact, he would often take time to respond so much so that people tagged him as Silent Cal. That was so much the case that when he died and the word got out and there was a conversation between two people and one said, “Did you hear that Calvin Coolidge died?” The other person said, “How do they know?”
(26:44):
But he’s famous for this statement. “I have never been hurt by anything I didn’t say.” It’s good to weigh your words and guard your mouth. And certainly, that’s true when it comes to conversation with the opposite sex. In fact, I have a footnote to this whole thought of weighing your words.
(27:09):
I want to say this from my heart. There’s a disturbing trend downwards in the Christian community it seems to me. To entertain off-color jokes and humor centered on sex and sexual body parts, some of those jokes have been sent to me. And it’s unacceptable and it’s forbidden in God’s Word.
(27:34):
I’ll tell you where you’ll find that. Go to Ephesians Chapter 5, the Ephesians Chapter 5 in verses 3 and 4, what do we read? It’s one long sentence in the Greek which you want to burn mind, “But fornication, and all uncleanliness, or courageousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting.” That’s all one sentence in the Greek.
(28:06):
So, this sentence begins by talking about the danger of sexual sin in the church. There ought not to be immorality, fornication among God’s sins. And part of that equation is foolish talking and coarse joking. Paul seems to be saying here that smutty speech and vulgarity and crude sexual humor is inappropriate for the talk of a Christian.
(28:40):
The enemies of decency, do you know this? The purveyors of the new morality in Hollywood have stated plainly at their on record as saying that they intend to use media to cause us to laugh at sin. They’re on record saying that. In fact, if you look at your normal sitcom or some of the television shows that air on most weekday nights, the funny characters are often homosexual today. Why? It’s their on purpose because they want you to laugh with the homosexual so that you’ll sooner laugh at homosexuality.
(29:25):
That’s the whole intent, humor, degrading, desensitizing. And it seems to me there’s a rise of vulgarity. There’s a rise of inappropriate speech in the life of Christians that need to stop if we’re going to protect our piety and protect our purity. In fact, this kind of coarse joking and sexual humor is the stuff most PG13 romantic comedies are made of. And Christians are going in there thousands to be entertained by that stuff. And yet it’s forbidden in God’s Word.
(30:04):
Last thought here. Last thought here although not the last thought. Let theology conquer biology. This is a statement I got from John Piper. This is where we’re trying to build some lines of defense. And remember, although much of this is negative and prohibitive, we’ve said again and again and I want to say it again, this is not so that sex can be kept from us. This is so that sex can be kept for us to be enjoyed as a gift from God with the right person at the right time in the right place. But we’ve got to guard ourselves against that which is prohibited.
(30:48):
We don’t want to be reading from the Wicked Bible that encourages us to do what God says not to do. And as we fight that fight for purity, let theology conquer biology. What do I mean? Line at the bottom and beneath a life shattered by sexual sin is a flat out lack of love for Christ.
(31:09):
Why do teenagers fall into sexual sin? Why do men and women fall into adultery? I’ll tell you, when you get beyond it all and beneath it all, it’s a lack of love for the Lord Jesus. You can’t do that stuff and love the Lord Jesus. It’s just impossible.
(31:28):
And so, this is a Gospel issue because in the Gospel, we come to savor and see the love of Christ supremely, but sin has us always looking for a pleasure outside of God. That’s what sin is. Sin is dissatisfaction with God. Write it down. Every time we sin, it’s a dissatisfaction with God. We believe there’s something better than Him, something beyond what He has promised for us.
(32:01):
Therefore, when you and I act outside the boundaries of God’s law in illicit sexual encounter, it’s because we have been deceived into thinking or allowed ourselves to fall prey to the thought that there’s a greater love beyond God’s love. Because in sexual encounters, we’re seeking a false love that will never ultimately satisfy. Sin is nothing less than dissatisfaction with God. It is inevitable.
(32:31):
Listen to me, it is inevitable that the human heart, which was made to be staggered by the glory of God will apart from Him reach for the best buzz the world can offer in physical terms and not as sex. The more post-Christian our culture becomes, the greater will be the rising tide of sexual immorality. Because into that vacuum that only the glory of God can fill, man will stuff this and that and the other thing. That’s a fact. That’s why C.S. Lewis rightly said, “When a young man knocks in the door of a brothel, he’s actually unbeknownst to him seeking God.”
(33:26):
Therefore, if that’s true, and I believe it is true, Christ in the Gospel must be savored. We need to preach the Gospel to ourselves every day. That’s what Piper’s getting at. Theology must conquer biology. We must let our love for Christ and the treasure of the Gospel be stored up in our hearts so that indeed we will not settle for a passing pleasure but enjoy all the eternal pleasures that are to be found in Jesus Christ.
(34:00):
Listen to me, Christians, this morning. The Gospel is not just something the unbeliever is to hear. It is something the believer is to believe. Think about that. Work on the basis of that. That’s why Thomas Chalmers said that indeed you cannot simply say to yourself to stop sinning. You cannot fight the old man or the old nature with prohibition. Sin must be fought with the expulsive power of a new affection. We must fight seeming pleasure with real and lasting pleasure.
(34:43):
These are striking words, John Piper. “We must fight fire with fire. The fire of lust’s pleasures must be fought with the fire of God’s pleasures. If we try to fight the fire of lust with the prohibitions and threats alone, even the terrible warnings of Jesus, we will fail. We must fight it with a massive promise of superior happiness. We must swallow up the little flickers of lust’s pleasure into the conflagration of holy satisfaction.”
(35:20):
Did you get the point? Sin will come and offer us certain pleasures, tempt us to certain courses of action. But if you and I on a daily basis are preaching the Gospel to ourselves, reveling in God’s love, treasuring up all the promises of the Gospel, that flickering light of lust’s pleasure will indeed be incomparable to the blazing sun of holy satisfaction find in the Lord Jesus.
(36:01):
Well, in the last five minutes, let me just wrap up here where Jesus wraps up. He’s encouraged them to indeed persevere in purity. He tells them indeed to hold fast until He comes. He tells them they’re not to be ruled by the world because someday that world will be ruled by Christ. Therefore, they must now be ruled by Christ.
(36:42):
He’s saying, “Don’t tolerate now what I won’t tolerate then.” And what follows is a promise of His return as the bright and morning star, in verse 28, to set up His kingdom, His millennial kingdom where after His return, He will indeed reign on earth for a thousand years. And this was the motivation to pursue purity with perseverance.
(37:15):
To these beleaguered and besieged saints at Thyatira, Christ tossed before them a glorious vision of the church in ascendancy during the reign of Christ in the millennial kingdom. Look at verse 26. And he who overcomes, that’s who overcomes the world, stays pure, doesn’t buy into sexual immorality and keeps my works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations.
(37:43):
And then there’s a quote here from Psalm Chapter 2 verses 8 and 9 which is a messianic psalm, indeed the pointing forward to the return of Jesus Christ and the Messiah’s reign on planet earth. The millennial kingdom and the reign of Jesus Christ and the reign of the saints with Jesus Christ is set before them as a motivation to sexual purity and piety.
(38:12):
They must rule themselves in an unruly world because Jesus Christ will come someday to quell that rebellion and rule where His rule is rejected. And they want to be on the right side of that equation. There’s a day coming when the tables will be turned and those who are considered the off scarring of the world will by grace through Jesus Christ inherit the earth.
(38:46):
Jesus here is pointing to something beyond the gospel age. Jesus here is pointing to something at the end of history. Jesus here is pointing to a time when sinners will be subjugated and righteousness will reign. And to those in the church who deny the literal physical millennial reign of Jesus Christ, they need to take a look at these verses.
(39:12):
There’s nothing in these verses about the Gospel triumphing over the nations during the Church Age. This kingdom will come when? In the end. This kingdom will have Christ ruling the nations, destroying the rebel and rewarding the righteous. And you and I need to keep that in front of us. You and I need to live in the light of that.
(39:45):
And the church at Thyatira were reminded. There’s coming a day when they would be no longer molested, no longer mocked, no longer considered a minority to be ignored and kicked around like a football. Now, the prospect of a great reversal kept them swimming against the tide. There’s a great reversal coming.
(40:10):
And although you’re not doing now what everybody else is doing, what you’re doing now will be the mark of the world to come. And that’s why you need to persevere in purity. This was a huge boost to them. And the takeaway is that Christ encourages us in the fight with sexual temptation to keep an eternal perspective.
(40:38):
It’s so easy to give in. It’s hard to walk that narrow way which leads to life and go through the straight gate. It’s hard to keep a family together these days. It’s hard to love a spouse across a lifetime. It’s hard to fend off all the encroachments of the world, day in and day out. But while it’s hard, it’s not impossible.
(41:09):
As we preach the Gospel and treasure up Jesus Christ in our lives and meditate upon the Word and be in each other’s lives, we do it all with this perspective in mind. That that which they do Christ will stop them doing. And that which we do will become the lifestyle of a new world. That we’re going to enter upon a Jesus return. And we mustn’t live like the rest of the world without windows. You and I need to take the long view of things. We need to allow prophetic truth to provide for us a window into another day and into another kingdom.
(42:00):
Let me finish with this story as the team comes forward. I think we were all taken, weren’t we by the story of Cassie Bernall who was shot dead during the Columbine massacre. We know her story. Some of us have read her book. 17 years old, getting back on track with Jesus Christ. She was confronted by one of the shooters, a gun was put to her head and she was asked the question, “Do you believe in God?”
(42:32):
Imagine that moment, that split second. Do you believe in God? If you read her journals of the days prior to the shooting, she talks about how she wanted to live her life for Jesus Christ even at a cost. And that day, she looked straight into the eyes of one of those shooters and said, “I believe.” And her body was riddled with bullets and she slumped to the ground, a martyr for Jesus Christ.
(43:07):
Sometime shortly after that, there was an article in the Chicago Sun-Times by Richard Roeper. And while he commended the girl’s bravery, he was concerned about two things. Was she better than some of the other people that died? Would she go to heaven and they wouldn’t? Big misunderstanding of the Gospel I think on his part.
(43:32):
But the other issue for him was do you think God would’ve minded if she had have said no just to save her life and live another day? Listen to these words of his, “Admirable, wonderful, incredibly brave but let’s not for a moment believe that any of the victims who didn’t respond to the God question or perhaps were not asked about their faith were somehow less deserving of a place in heaven.”
(43:57):
What if Cassie had said no? Would that have made her less of a person? I don’t think so. And much more to the point, I’d like to believe God wouldn’t think so. If a girl just beginning her adult life as a chance to survive by lying to a twisted sicko pointing a gun at her, if she could only win her own future and spare anguish to those who would lose her, maybe she should take that chance.
(44:26):
Call me blasphemous for saying so and quote scripture to me until you’re blue in the face. But I ask you, if it were your son or daughter on the wrong end of that gun and a simple no could make a difference, what would you hope your child would say?
(44:48):
I think we’ve got to be honest. That is a striking question. It’s easy this morning to say, “Oh, I want them to say yes.” What if a simple no would spare their life? Well, I think this question raises this question. It all depends on how much you believe in eternity. That’s the question.
(45:17):
The martyrs of the past answered those kind of questions when posed to them with these words of Jesus in Revelation 2:10. “Be faithful even unto the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Jesus says, “Hey, to those who have not yet given into this doctrine, hold fast till I come and I will cause you to rule over the nations and I will give you the morning star. I will return with, for you and you will indeed reign with me.” Live today in the light of that tomorrow.
(46:02):
Let’s pray. Oh God, we thank you for these weeks in the letter of Thyatira. Lord, we’ve been challenged and chastised greatly by this letter. But it has cut to heal. It has been good for us. Oh God, we live in a culture where the open sewer of sexual immorality and impurity pours into our streets day by day. And Lord, we want to remain clean and blameless until the coming of our Lord Jesus. Help us indeed to hear these admonitions this morning.
(46:52):
Oh God, help us to know ourselves. Help none of us to have a sense of spiritual superiority. Help us to warn ourselves today that indeed, pride comes before the fall. Help us to think about what we think about on a continual basis. Oh God, help us to think more about you than we think about anything else? May your word be hidden in our hearts.
(47:20):
Oh God, help us to guard our conversation especially with those of the opposite sex. We pray that no smutty or vulgar language will pass our lips. And we pray that we will preach the Gospel of Christ to ourselves every day and find in Him a holy satisfaction. And oh God, help us indeed to be braver for five minutes more because the kingdom is coming. That eternal kingdom where righteousness will reign and obedience will be rewarded.
(47:59):
Lord, may the spirit of Cassie Bernall and the martyrs of the church we sang about earlier, may they seize us. May there be an everyday martyrdom in each of our lives where we die to self and take up our cross and follow you. And these things we ask and pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.