Summary: Inductive Sermon combining Rev 2:12-17 (Pergamum) and Rev 3:1-6 (Sardis). Live with Godly honor and persevere through struggles and stumbles in our faith, wear the name of Jesus well in front of others, live out living in white.
HONOR IN THE CHURCH
REVELATION 2:12-17 and 3:1-6
For the past few weeks, we have been intently looking at the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3. In Revelation 1:19, Jesus Christ commands the Apostle John, "Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.” The letters to the seven churches form a unit at the beginning of Revelation as to “what is now” and the rest of Revelation concerns “what will take place later.” These letters inform us what was going in the churches as the first century of Christianity was coming to a close.
The letters follow a general sevenfold pattern which can easily be seen as we read through each of these letters. The letters to Pergamum and Sardis, our letters for today, follow this same pattern:
#1 A greeting
#2 A reference to Christ's self designation or title and authority
#3 A commendation
#4 A rebuke
#5 A charge to repent or a warning
#6 A call to hear
#7 A promise
As we look at these letters to these seven chosen churches, we see a description of what life was like for early Christians. We also clearly see that what these early Christians experienced, what they found as obstacles, what they dealt with on a daily basis, we also deal with. This is extremely important! God’s Word to them then in their daily lives is the same as it is for us today! That is why we have been spending so much time these last weeks on these letters to these churches half-a-world away and two millennia removed from us.
THREAD: What they dealt with we deal with.
We will eventually read the letter to the church in Pergamum and the letter to the church in Sardis, but before we get there, we need to talk about a few elements we will find in these two letters. We need to talk about struggle, we need to talk about names, and we need to talk about the color white. These three elements: struggle, name, and white… bind these two letters together for us this morning and lead us to the applicable points of these letters for us.
The first element of these letters we need to discuss is “struggle.” The word “struggle” is an English word that has a German root (straucheln) from a word that means “to stumble along” (www.etymonline.com). I think back on what life was like for Christians in the Apostle John’s day… around 100AD… and it seems to me they dealt with some pretty good obstacles as they stumbled along through life. When we read about the churches in Pergamum and Sardis in Revelation, we will find that they struggled and stumbled through three very large obstacles.
First, they dealt with False Teaching. In one of the churches, there was a false teaching which led people to worship idols through sexual immorality. Jesus specifically names them as following false teaching like Balaam in the Old Testament and points out a group called the “Nicolaitans.” Somehow the Christians of that church had given excuses and rationalized what they wanted to do so they could follow this false path and allowed themselves to be trapped by false teaching and sexual immorality.
Jesus says in Matthew 7:15, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” The Apostle Peter reminds us in 2 Peter 2:1-2 tells us, “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them-- bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.”
Jesus says that they were failing to hold on to the Truth and keep their faith pure. I see in these churches the same struggle that you and I face today. We live in a world where information is easily accessed through the internet and in the palm of our hands. Books and ideas are viral and can be seen by millions in mere moments. Movies and TV shows often peddle half-truths or full-lies and we take them in like drinking from a fire hydrant.
Some false things we might believe…
* You can get to Heaven without Jesus, all roads lead to God
* It doesn’t matter what you do in your bedroom
* It doesn’t matter what you do on the internet as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone
* You can be a Christian apart from a local body of believers
* Hell isn’t real
The list goes on and on ad nauseam because Satan is alive and well and wanting to tempt as many away from the Truth of God as possible. The part is that some come in the name of the Lord and peddle things that simply are not in accordance with the Truth in God’s Word.