This week in our prayerful study of how to return to the orthodoxy of the church we come to the Lord’s word to the church in Thyatira, which is a sign prefiguring the Roman Catholic Church which was formed as the apostate church.
Even though we are not here to make an exposition of Revelation 2-3 or to interpret prophecies, we need to take heed to the Lord’s word and apply it to ourselves individually and to the church corporately, so that we may return to the orthodoxy of the church.
In the beginning of each of the seven epistles, after unveiling what He is and who He is according to the situation in that church, He spoke to the messengers of the churches, and at the end He said, He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit speaks to the churches.
We need to aspire to be the messengers in the churches, those who have the Lord’s fresh message and instant speaking, having an ear to hear what He speaks today. Then, as we hear the Lord’s speaking, we need to convey it to the saints and bring the living word of God to the church of the living God.
The church in Thyatira is the church in its lowest and worst degradation; it is a continuation of the degradation in Pergamos and it is its consummation. The church in Pergamos had the teaching of Balaam (teaching false doctrines for gain) and the teaching of the Nicolaitans (the clergy-laity system); Thyatira is the consummation of the fall of the church that began with the apostolic churches.
The Roman Catholic Church continues the teachings from Pergamos and has all kinds of heretical and idolatrous things, with fornication and hierarchy, consummating the degradation of the church in the worst possible way.
Pergamos was the church united with the world; she was like a wife who had a husband – the Lord Himself – and she committed adultery with the world, thus being unfaithful and losing her chastity. Pergamos was the church committing adultery with the world, the things in the world, sin, and religion; she was unfaithful to the Lord and joined herself to another husband.
Thyatira is not a case of typical adultery: she is a woman who no longer had a husband but rejected Him completely; she is a whore, a prostitute,a harlot, a wholesale descent into fornication for gain and profit – this is the Roman Catholic Church.
The church in Thyatira is the apostate church, deviating completely from the fundamental truth or belief; though the Roman Catholic Church talks about the Bible, it is an utter mixture of the divine and pagan things.
The Church in Thyatira Prefigures the Roman Catholic Church, the Apostate Church
As a sign, the church in Thyatira prefigures the Roman Catholic Church, which was fully formed as the apostate church by the establishing of the universal papal system in the latter part of the sixth century (Rev. 2:18).
The word Thyatira in Greek means sacrifice, perfume, even unceasing sacrifice; when you enter into a Catholic church all you see is unceasing sacrifice, perfume of candles, smoke, and you can almost feel the demons lodging in such a place.
The Roman Catholic Church evolved from the previous centuries, as the church was marrying the world and accepting the teaching of Balaam and of the Nicolaitans. In the Roman Catholic Church there’s a lot of teaching of wrong doctrines for gains, and there’s a system of hierarchy that annuls the organic function of the believers in Christ.
Through Ignatius’ teaching, bishops were established, who were overseeing certain districts of churches, then there were archbishops, and later there’s the highest among them all, in Rome, the Pope, who claims to be the successor of Peter – who, in their teaching, was the “first Pope”.
The unceasing mass in the Roman Catholic Church is the continual sacrifices, which are not to God but to demons and evil authorities.
To such a church the Lord introduced Himself as the One who has eyes like a flame of fire and feet like shining bronze (Rev. 2:18). Nothing can hide from the Lord’s eyes: His eyes are like burning fire, and He can see everything – He Himself is light, and He shines on the real situation of the Roman Catholic Church.
His eyes are shining and exposing, and His feet are judging; we need to allow the Lord to judge anything in us that doesn’t meet His standard, and we need to let Him shine through His word to reveal to us what the church in Thyatira represents.
Because the church in Pergamos didn’t repent and return to the Lord – even though, as history shows, there were some overcomers in this church – the degradation of the church continued to the point that the church in Thyatira was fully formed as the apostate church.
In the Roman Catholic Church we can see a mixture of the divine and pagan things; yes, they do have the Bible, and yes, they speak some of the words in the Bible, but there are many pagan, evil, and devilish things and practices in the Roman Catholic church.
Lord Jesus, we love You and we love Your word, the divine and unadulterated truth in the Bible. Shine on us, Lord, with Your eyes of burning fire, and judge in us anything that doesn’t meet Your standard. Bring us up to the standard of the absoluteness of the truth in Your word, and cause us to return to the orthodoxy of the church so that we may be the shining and living church You desire. Amen, Lord, expose the evil and devilish nature of the Roman Catholic Church, which You hate and will judge, so that we may also hate what You hate!
The Roman Catholic Church adds Leaven to fine Flour, is a Harlot, and is the real Jezebel
The Lord hates that the church in Thyatira tolerates the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess (Rev. 2:20); degradation comes in when the church tolerates something or someone who is intolerable to God.
Jezebel, the pagan wife of Ahab, is a type of the apostate church; the Roman Catholic Church became the same as this woman, bringing many heathen practices into the church.
If we read the history of Jezebel in 1 Kings 16:31; 19:1-2; 21:23, 25-26; 2 Kings 9:7 we will see that Ahab, the king of Israel, married a foreign wife, and she brought in her foreign gods such as Baal and Asherah.
Each of these foreign gods had their own prophets, and Jezebel brought the whole nation of Israel into idolatry and apostasy, and through that brought in all manner of heathen practices into God’s people. She is a full type of what the Roman Catholic church is and did.
The three women in Matt. 13:33, Rev. 17, and Rev. 2:20-23 are all referring to the same person, who is the Roman Catholic Church.
In Matt. 13:33 a woman takes leaven and hides it in three measures of meal, causing it to rise and become leavened; leaven signifies evil, heretical, and pagan things, and the meal signifies Christ as the meal offering for the satisfaction of God and man.
It is most evil in God’s sight to bring in evil, heretical, and pagan things in the pure church life as the meal offering to make it leavened and more “palatable” and easier to eat for people. The source of the fall is bringing in heretical and pagan things and mixing them with the things of Christ, making them easier to take.
The Roman Catholic Church dilutes the word of God, compromises the truth, and tries to make things easier to take in by mixing evil and pagan things with God’s word, taking out things from God’s word, and twisting the Scriptures.
In Rev. 17 there is the great harlot who mixes abominations with the divine things; she herself is gilded with gold and has a golden cup filled with the abominations of her fornication. Outwardly the Roman Catholic Church looks pretty and even divine, having the name of God, Christ, jesus, the Bible, but inside there’s something else: there’s many abominations and fornication, both spiritual and physical.
These three women – in Matt. 13, Rev. 2, and Rev. 17 – all refer to the Roman Catholic Church, which adds leaven to the fine flour, which is the harlot riding on the beast, and which is Jezebel corrupting Christianity.
The apostate church is a harlot filled with all manner of fornication and apostasy; she is filled with idol worship and fornication – both spiritual and physical idols and fornication.
Lighting the candles in the church, burning the incense, the unceasing mass, the confession, the infant baptism, the purchasing of prayers for the past or for the dead, and the papal system with the cardinals, bishops, and priests, is all hated by the Lord, making the Roman Catholic Church an apostate church. Oh Lord Jesus!
Lord Jesus, save us from diluting the truth of God so as to make it easier to understand for others. Save us from bringing into the church any evil practices, compromise, or leaven. May the church life be a pure meal offering for God’s satisfaction. Keep us enjoying You, Lord, as the One with a perfect humanity and conduct, so that we may be the reproduction and multiplication of Christ in this dark world. Lord Jesus, cause us to see how much You hate leaven, spiritual fornication, and worshipping of idols.
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by brother Minoru C. for this week, and portions from, Collected Works of Witness Lee, 1964, vol. 2, “A General Sketch of the New Testament in the Light of Christ and the Church, Part 4: Revelation,” pp. 458-459, as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Returning to the Orthodoxy of the Church (2016 fall ITERO), msg. 5 (week 5), The Church in Thyatira.
- Hymns on this topic:
# Then Thyatira comes at length: / Her mixture with the world her strength. / Fine flour leavened by the yeast, / A harlot riding on a beast. (Hymns #1274)
# A great religion of the world / Its outward form to us reveals. / Including pagan, evil things, / As leaven mingled with the meal. / A system of the world as such, / It thus has changed in outward form; / By evil things which it imbibes, / Corruption inwardly doth swarm. (Hymns #945)
# Satan has also used the fallen “church” / Evil and heathen practice to include, / As leaven mingled with the meal of wheat, / Thus to corrupt its purity as food. / But Christ as life would so transform the saints / That they may be as pearl and precious stone, / As the materials suitable to build / Into His Church to make His Kingdom known. (Hymns #829)
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