7 Letters of Revelation: Holiness, Look Like the One You Love

pureandholyRevelation 2:18-29 NIV
The Risen Christ says, “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. I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets (I will not impose any other burden on you): Only hold on to what you have until I come. To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations– ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery — just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

The first four letters of Christ in Revelation remind us:

  • God is to be our first love. At it’s heart and at it’s start, faith is about relationship. Being precedes doing.
  • We are willing to suffer and sacrifice for who and what we love. This is the depth of God’s love for us. Let us strive to love God this deeply in return.
  • We remain true to who and what we love. As Christ followers, we remain true to His Name. The most ancient confession of faith is the simplest: Jesus Christ is Lord. Jesus is our Lord and Savior, our Leader and Forgiver. No person or thing can take the place of Christ.
  • This relationship, this level of love, trust and devotion transforms how we think and how we live. Over time, we look more and more like the One we love, more and more like Jesus Christ. This is what it means to be holy. – Lisa Degrenia <><

Ephesians 5:25-27 NRSV
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish.

Titus 2:11-14 NRSV
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

Jesus Christ speaks of [the Christians in Thyatira] in words of warmest commendation. I know your deeds, he writes, your love and faith, your service and perseverance (v 19). Here are four sterling Christian qualities indeed. Thyatira not only rivaled Ephesus in busy Christian service, but exhibited the love which Ephesus lacked, preserved the faith which was imperiled at Pergamum, and shared with Smyrna the virtue of patient endurance in tribulation. … But Thyatira’s catalog of virtues is not exhausted yet. I know your deeds, Christ says, and adds: and that you are now doing more than you did at first. The church of Thyatira understood that the Christian life is a life of growth, of progress, of development… The church of Thyatira displayed love and faith, service and endurance, but holiness is not included among its qualities….Holiness of life and character is then another indispensable mark of the real Christian and true church.
– John Stott, What Christ Thinks of the Church: an Exposition of Revelation 1-3

Matthew 23:25-28 NRSV
Jesus says, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth. So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

The world is attracted by lived theology and incarnated truth. Brennan Manning believed that the main reason the church does not grow is that Christians do not live, enact, behave, incarnate the Gospel—leaving people to say, “There’s nothing to it.” I completely agree. We do not need another “church growth” conference to assess our situation and propose strategies for increase as much as we need “let’s get serious Sundays” —weekly opportunities to confess that we have failed to turn word into flesh, and to make new commitments to do so. Our hearts will not feel so phony if we do this, and the world will not think we are selling them a bill of goods. Ironic, isn’t it that a pre-school activity— “show and tell” —could turn out to be what we need most. – Steve Harper reflecting on John 13:31-35 in The Holy Gospel: April 28, 2013 (Year C)

The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable. – Brennan Manning

Revive my heart renew my soul
In You O Lord I am made whole
No more in fear will I wander
‘Cause You’re my God, my Lord and Lover
Like a burning fire, be my one desire
I want to be holy just like You
I want to go where You lead me to
With reckless abandon to Your truth
I want to fall deeper in love with You
And deeper and deeper and deeper
And deeper in love with You
– from Just Like You by Matt Maher, (CCLI Song #4510938)

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This is the fourth of seven posts based on themes from Revelation chapters 2-3. In these scriptures, Jesus reveals the timeless message of what His church should look like.

For more information on use of the scripture, art and this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page

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