Classic Friday this week is an excerpt from the sermon library of the late W. A. Criswell. The title of the sermon is “The Thyatiran Jezebel” from the Revelation chapter 2 verses 18-29.
“And a woman took leaven and put it in the fine flour, the teaching and the revelation and the doctrine and the preaching of Christ, put it in His church. Leaven—leaven is always a picture of evil. The doctrine, the evil apostasy doctrine. Our Lord will speak of the leaven of the Sadducees, the leaven of the Pharisees, the leaven of the Herodians. And He explains He was teaching of the doctrine, the aberration, the wrong, the evil, the apostasy.
“Leaven:” Words have meaning everywhere and you have to be true to them. And leaven to the people who heard them tell that parable, was without exception a picture of evil, and to this day, those Jewish people scour their houses before the Passover. They scrub them. Then, when they get through, they call upon God in prayer that they have done their best and if there is any leaven in their houses, they do not know where it is. To them, it was evil. And you use language like that. We do all the time. For example, if I were to say to somebody I loved: “Oh, my honey, my sweet, my, my angel heart,” oh, she knows exactly what I’m meaning. But if I say to somebody I love: “Oh, my arsenic, my strychnine, my pet rattlesnake,”—you just don’t do things like that. You just don’t!
For words have meaning. And leaven to a Jew connoted corruption—it connoted evil. And this woman took the truth of God, the Word of heaven and she leavened it with her own prophetic oracular utterances. And she set herself forth as being the oracle of God Himself, speaking authoritatively and infallibly. And she changed the true doctrine, the meal offering, she leavened it, as God hath given it unto us.
Oh, it’s a remarkable thing what happens to God’s people. One of the most significant of all of the things that you can find in the Old Testament is this: When Israel went out of Egypt, God’s taking His people out of the world, from Egypt, when Israel went out of Egypt, there was a mixed multitude, a conglomerate that went along with her. And out there in the wilderness on the journey to Canaan’s promised land, that mixed multitude that was among them, fell a lusting. And the children of Israel wept also and they said, “Our soul is dried away. There is nothing at all to eat besides this manna before our eyes.”
That mixed multitude and they led Israel into a lusting because they were weary of the bread of heaven, of the manna from above. There is nothing to eat but this manna before our eyes. When the church was established in the world, and when Constantine became a Christian, and when all of the priests of the idol temples became servants of the so-called Jesus, the new god, and when their idol temples were made over into churches, and when the church was dressed in silk and in satin, and when she began to speak oracularly and infallibly, that mixed multitude on the inside of the church was pleased by the new way, and the new presentation and the new doctrine. They liked it. For the less spiritual people are, the more they are anxious to leave their spiritual destiny in the hands of others.
And the more people are given to the things of this life and this world, the more people dislike searching the Word of God for themselves. They like for somebody else to tell them. They like for somebody else to make up the rules for them. And if those rules can be made light, and if those rules can be enmeshed in the life of the world, they are delighted. And they will stay with it to the end, because this is the way for me to be saved. “That’s what He says. This is how I’m going to heaven. Obeying what He says:” They never seek for themselves. They never read for themselves. They never study for themselves. But they turn their spiritual destiny over to somebody else.
Even to this woman Jezebel, who says that she speaks oracularly—infallibly as the true prophetess of God. Now, she speaks, she teaches them the deep things of God. And the Lord calls it the deep things of Satan. You couldn’t—according to them and this woman Jezebel and this oracular infallible prophetess—you couldn’t read the Book for yourself. And you can’t search the Scriptures for yourself. And the plain, simple gospel of how a man is to be saved could not be found by the man himself. You see, they must teach you the deep things of God. So they have classes, and they have lectures, and they invite us to come and there will we be instructed in the deep things of God—which the Lord says here are the deep things of Satan himself.
No such a thing as the deep things of God: Any man can read for himself. Any man can believe for himself. Any man can trust God for himself. Any man can go to God for himself. The Lord wrote it large on the sacred page. And the only reason to have a minister in the church at all is that he might give himself wholly to the Word, that he might give himself to the direction of the church. But the preacher hath no more of the Spirit of God in him than any other man can have for himself. In fact, there are a whole lot of men in this church that are twice as filled with the Spirit of God as I am. And there are many, many, many godly people in this church that before whom I feel like taking off my shoes and standing with bared head. They love God. And they know the Lord. And they have given themselves to the service and ministry of Christ. And they have the Spirit of Jesus in them beyond what I have. And I can just pray, Lord, that I might be endowed, that I might be blessed like some of the people over whom God hath made me an under shepherd.
But we are all alike before the Lord. You can have the Spirit of God without measure. And you can read that Book to the content and the edification of your soul, in the day and in the night. And the wide open door is to us all. There is no such thing as the deep things of God. As though somebody had the mystery and somebody had the keys and somebody had the way and somebody had the wide open door, these things are all open to all of us. And all of us can share them fully and preciously and marvelously and richly and deeply as God shall bid us and bless us in the coming.”
Be blessed in the reading, and if you like you may go to W.A. Criswell and read the whole message.
Remember to go and worship with brothers and sisters in Christ on Sunday in your local church.
-Tim A. Blankenship