Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: A brief study of the church in Pergamum in which believers are commended for serving even where Satan dwells. However, toleration of evil people was already contaminating the congregation.

“To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.

“‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. So also, you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’” [1]

Some who listen will have read the book, “Satan Is Alive and Well on Planet Earth.” [2] The book, authored by Hal Lindsey during the 1970s, was part of a literary genre popularised during that era. Lindsey’s book was sensationalistic, to be certain; however, because it was sensationalistic should not mean that the general premise of the book should be ignored. Lindsey was correct in asserting that Satan is alive and well on planet earth! For those individuals who argue that Satan is an imagination born in the fevered mind of Christians, come with me on some of the forays into satanic territory. If there is no devil, who is this malevolent creature that continually assaults the people of God? Who is this who exalts himself and opposes everything that is good and godly?

The comforting rejoinder to this knowledge, especially for followers of the Risen Son of God, is that the Lord will, and does, appoint churches to minister where Satan dwells. These churches are meant to be lighthouses, rescue centres for those who are lost and under condemnation. These churches are meant to withstand wickedness and shine the light of Christ the Lord into the darkened corners of this fallen world. Churches are meant to serve as hospitals for the wounded and dying, resisting evil and promoting righteousness. C. T. Studd assuredly displayed the Spirit of the Master with his justly famous quote, “Some wish to live within the sound of a chapel bell; I wish to run a rescue mission within a yard of hell.” [3]

Nevertheless, we must never lose sight of the truth that Satan is a powerful being. Neither may we become casual about his malevolence, his hatred of all things good and godly. Satan intends to kill you, if you are a child of the Living God. Jesus identified Satan as “the ruler of this world” [see JOHN 12:31]. Added to this designation is the fact that Paul identified Satan as “the god of this world” [2 CORINTHIANS 4:4]. Until the Lord binds Satan and casts him into “the bottomless pit,” [see REVELATION 20:1-3], our ancient foe will seek to destroy and injure God’s holy people, halting the advance of the Faith, if possible. God, for reasons of His own, allows the evil one to roam the earth, tormenting saints and opposing righteousness.

Addressing the Church in Pergamum, the Risen Son of God says, “I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is.” This was a congregation situated in a critical location, though we must wonder whether they truly realised how essential their presence was. Similarly, I am convinced that we don’t always recognise the vital position we occupy in this place where the Son of God has situated us. I wonder whether any congregation can, during the days of their service before the Master, realise the impact they are exerting. Likely, it will only be in eternity that any of us will be able to recognise the impact of our service in the Master’s cause. Now, join me in an exploration of the life of the Church of Pergamum and what the Lord said about their life as a community of faith. Join me so that we may draw rich encouragement of what the Master is doing through our lives now.

THE COMMENDATION — “I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells” [REVELATION 2:13]. Whenever possible, the Risen Son of God commends His people for their righteous acts and for their courageous stand in the face of demonic opposition. Of the messages to the churches in the Roman Province of Asia, only one church receives no commendation, and that is the Laodicean assembly; all other churches addressed are commended for those acts that the Saviour recognises as laudable.

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