Summary: Sermon dealing primarily with worldliness in the church we read about the church of Pergamum: that Christ brings a word of Consideration followed by words of confrontation, and finally words of Consolation.
Confronting the Compromising: The Church of Pergamum
Introduction: Last week we talked about comforting the suffering church, this week we talk about confronting the compromising church. Spurgeon once said that “it is no trifling thing to be a church member. I could earnestly wish that certain professors (of Christ) had never been members of a church at all.” Their conduct outside the church may be tolerated because they don't know any better, but once they learn that “faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of God.” and yet they still do not abide by his word or his spirit, this is the state of those who are not Christians but say they are.
In 1978 Jim Jones, an ordained minister took his congregation from California to Jonestown, Guyana. When U.S. Congressman, Leo Ryan heard about the suspicious activities of Jim Jones he flew out to Guyana and tried to leave with four members who wanted to defect but Jones learned about it and sent people to kill them and as they were trying to leave the airport they were shot dead. Jones realizing the gravity of murdering a U.S. Congressman implemented a per-rehearsed death pact. He laced fruit punch with cyanide and 914 people were killed.
A movie was made about the events that took place surrounding Jim Jones but there was one horrifying scene that re-enacted something that happened way before Jim Jones left to go to Africa. He stood before a congregation in Indianapolis and held up a Bible and said “Is this the word that you listen to? Is this the word you obey?” the congregation said “yes, it is we listen to God's word.” He then threw the Bible down and stepped on it and shouted “From this day forth you listen to this mouth and what Jim Jones says, and not that book!”
We hear that and it makes us mad and it makes us confused. It makes us mad that anyone would do such a thing, but it's confusing how anyone after seeing such blatant blasphemy would say “Okay, I will obey Jim Jones and not the Holy Bible from now on.” I'm sure you would walk out and take as many with you, that you could. And rightfully so, because once you forsake the word, you forsake the one who gave it. Today we look at a church that had to be confronted because of their compromise with the world
Transition: Jesus comes to the church of Pergamum bringing three types of words: first, words of consideration, followed by words of confrontation, and finally he brings words of consolation
I. Jesus comes with words of Consideration
“To the angel of the church of Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp, double- edged sword.” v. 12
Pergamum was the opposite of Ephesus. Ephesus did not tolerate wicked men, but they lost their love for Jesus. Pergamum tolerated wicked men, but never lost their love for Jesus. Unfortunately they didn't lose their love for anything else either. They were like the seed planted in the thorns, their inability to weed out the 'desire for other things' like false teaching and immorality from their own garden was choking out the light of Christ. And Christ greets them with the most deadly weapon there is- the Lords' sword, what better sickle than the word of God to cut away what hinders our growth?
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates it to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
The word of God is the double edged sword. It is so sharp it can divide your sin away from you and force you to look at it. And since it has two edges you can not escape it. Left or right it gets you. If you hear it with a hard heart it condemns you, If you listen with an open heart, it convicts you. If you listen with a submissive heart it convinces you. But he does not bear the sword in vain. Christ doesn't carry it for no reason. He takes all things into consideration, and then says: “I know where you live-where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city- where Satan lives.” v.13
You heard that right, Satan lived in Pergamum. As far as sin goes, Pergamum had to be the worst city for a Christian to live in. Because wherever Satan lives there will be sin, there will be temptation, and there will be persecution. Jesus takes into consideration where they lived. If he notices all the advantages in where we live, He will also notice all the disadvantages we have in where we live as well. We don't have to say “Look at what I have to work with.” “Look at where I am” He knows it already and considers what your up against. He considers the fact that Pergamum is sharing space with the devil and commends their loyalty, in spite of it. They weren't ashamed to be called Christians. Just as a wife is not ashamed to carry her husbands name. The church wasn't ashamed to carry the name of her Bridegroom, Jesus. Considering the circumstances it was pretty amazing they didn't renounce his name. They were loyal even when Antipas, their fellow Christian was martyred, who tradition says was roasted alive in giant bronze kettle.