Summary: A study on the 7 model churches as described by Jesus in the book of Revelation. Learn why the church is so important, and your part in what He’s up to in these last days.
How to Be a Solid Church
Series: Will the Real Church Please Stand Up?
Sept. 24, 2006 Rev. 2:12-17
If you’ve been with us the past couple of weeks, you know that we’re studying 7 churches in the book of Revelation. As Jesus inspects the church in Rev.2,3 (walking among the lampstands that represent it). He sees the incredibly positive characteristics of the bride He loves. But His love isn’t blind, because He also sees her flaws. In the church of Ephesus, He points out that His church is so busy serving Him, that they forgot to love Him! In fact He says, “You’ve lost your 1st love”. If you’ve ever had someone say to you, “You don’t love me anymore!”… you know the impact of those words. So He encourages us to fall in love with Him again! To serve Him not out of duty, but out of delight!
As Jesus moves on to inspect the church at Smyrna, He doesn’t point out any flaws. Instead He encourages them to stay the course, even though He’s knows it’ll mean a great deal of suffering and persecution. Smyrna is the “Persecuted Church”. We need to realize that if we’re really serious about following Christ, we’re going to suffer some persecution at some point along the way. There are churches around the world who are experiencing it right now! You might be experiencing it right now! I know I have! And so, we talked about how to have a victorious faith in the face of opposition.
This week Jesus continues His inspection of the churches He died for, and comes to the “Church of Pergamum”. READ Rev. 2:12-17. The city where this church was located, “Pergamos” was a tough city, located about 60 miles N. of Smyrna. It was the center of the worship of Zeus, who was the greatest of all the Greek deities. In fact, they built a huge altar to Zeus in the shape of a throne.
Some commentators believe that the ‘throne of Satan’ mentioned in verse 13 is a reference to this altar. Pergamos also had its own god…”As-clepius”. An ancient coin depicts the Emperor rendering honor to Asclepius, raising his right arm in an exact gesture of the Nazi salute. He was considered to be “the god of healing” and has always been associated with snakes. You know that twisted serpent symbol the medical profession uses? Well, it comes from the god ‘Asclepius’. (All you snake lovers will appreciate this…) In the temple dedicated to this god, there was a school of medicine, where nonpoisonous snakes crawled all over the floor. The sick person would lay on the floor so the snakes could crawl on them. Wherever the snakes touched them, is where they would supposedly be healed. Those of you who have ‘Kaiser’ health coverage, might actually prefer that compared to your regular visits!
Many have described this church at Pergamum, as “The Compromised Church”. All through the history of the church, there’s been a temptation to want to water down the message as a way of being accepted by the culture we live in. The same is true today. Last week we looked at Satan’s frontal attack on the church, but today we’re going to see how Satan can be just as effective, with a more subtle, back door approach. The Church at Pergamum was a prime example of that. Satan was able to infiltrate the church and pollute it’s teaching and witness, to the point that it didn’t have anything to offer a hurting world.
The same thing can happen to this church and to you as an individual, so I want to talk to you this morning about, “How to (successfully) Be a Christian in a Non-Christian World”. How you can have an impact for Christ, without caving into the culture. Now, as I was preparing for this message, I thought, “What’s the best way to communicate the point Jesus was trying to make in this passage?”. As I thought about it, the subject of food kept coming across in my mind. (the subject of food is never to far from my mind, and maybe I was hungry… I don’t know)… So, this morning, I want to use a number of food items to illustrate Jesus’ message to the church.
First of all, we have to understand that He never meant for His church to be separate from the world. In the past, certain sects of Christianity have tried that…monasteries have attempted to create a heaven here on earth, apart from the world. Certain groups like the Mennonites have tried to totally separate themselves from the influence of the world by eliminating all modern appliances and machinery from their lives. Today if you’re a Christian parent, you’re tempted to totally insulate your kids from the bad aspects of our society.