Summary: This about the letter to the Church in Pergamum.
We hear a lot in our day about pressure. We have pressure here. We have pressure there. Pressure, pressure, everywhere pressure. We talk about pressure with the weather. One thing I have noticed is that when we have low pressure, we get hurricanes. High pressure brings a clear, sunny day.
The third church of the seven that we are looking at was dealing with pressure. It was internal as well as external.
Read Revelation 2:12-17.
The external pressure was in the form of persecution. The internal pressure was from false teachers. Let’s look at their responses
I. Response to EXTERNAL pressure
Pergamum was a hotbed of emperor worship, more than any other in the area. There was pressure to worship the emperor and say, “Caesar is lord,” rather than, “Jesus is Lord.”
A. They were in SIN CITY
This was sin city. It was a place where pagan worship rituals were rampant. It was sex parties and so on. That’s why Jesus says, “I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is.”
We must be Christians where we live. This is one of the few times Christians are called dwellers.
B. They HELD ON
Through all of this cultural decay, they held fast to the name of Christ. They knew who they were. They kept his name on the door of the church. They didn’t run away from his name. They proudly wore the badge of the Christian.
C. They didn’t TURN AWAY
People told them to give up, but they didn’t. They didn’t repudiate the name of Christ. Even when one of their own was killed, they maintained their identity.
II. Response to INTERNAL pressure
They faced a far greater problem. When the enemy can’t get to us through overt persecution, we have to be careful of him sneaking in the back door.
One of the greatest dangers in wartime is not so much the enemy, as it is collaborators with the enemy. Battle of the Bulge. Infiltrators are harder to spot.
A. They allowed FALSE TEACHING
Like with the church at Ephesus, we are confronted with the Nicolaitans. Again, no one is sure about them. The difference, and it’s a big one, is that this church had some that held to their false teaching. Ephesus kicked them out, but these people embraced them.
This false teaching compromised them in two ways…
B. They compromised their BELIEFS
They embraced teaching that was contrary to the gospel. They thought they could expand their church by compromising their beliefs. Christians are called to be separate from the world. They sought to be cozy with the false teachers.
When the apostle Paul said, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some,” he wasn’t saying that he compromised. He was communicating in a way people could understand.
We have to be upfront about who we are and what we believe.
C. They compromised their ETHICS
This often follows the compromising of our beliefs. We embrace false teaching, and then we wind up rationalizing our behavior. We can twist the Bible.
In Numbers 22 we read of how Balak, the king of Moab’s son, summoned the prophet Balaam to curse Israel. Give brief history. The donkey and angel. Sent women to seduce the men of Israel.
The lesson here is that the world is not our friend. We cannot allow the philosophies of the world to infiltrate the church and cause us to compromise on our relationship with Christ.
Internal pressure is perhaps more dangerous than external pressures.
In verse 16, Jesus tells the church, “Therefore, repent.” That’s a short simple command. There is a huge “if-then” thing going on here.
Computer programming is based on “if-then” commands. If I press this key, then this or that will happen. When you do a search on the Internet it is all based on “if-then” commands. If this and that word is in the search, then this or that result will come back.
We have the “if-then” of repentance in vv. 16-17.
A. FAILURE to repent
If we fail to repent, then we will be repudiated. Churches have fallen because they failed to deal properly with false teaching. Jesus won’t tolerate false teaching in his church.
B. REWARDS for repentance
There are rewards for repentance and faithful service.
1. Heavenly FOOD
Instead of indulging in the things of this world, we should indulge in the things of God.
Judges used a white stone to demonstrate acquittal of someone on trial.
3. New NAME
In the OT Abram becomes Abraham, and Jacob becomes Israel. The faithful are called with the name of Christ. “Christian” means little Christ.
Are you a “little Christ”? Does you life display your beliefs? Are you faithful under external pressure? Internal pressure?