Summary: This sermon is about living in mainstream society without compromising our faith and values.
"I Know Where You Live" (Revelation 2:13-17)
-Rev. A. L. Torrence,
Pastor of Cross of Life Lutheran Church
The Revelation of John, or the Apocalypse as it is called in Greek unveils to God’s people the hidden things only known to God. It depicts the end of our present age and beginning of a new age in Christ’s kingdom. Through symbols, images, and numbers we get a glimpse of ancient Christendom, the great tribulation, and the promised kingdom. Many have used this book to clock Christ’s return. They have tried to predict the destruction of the world. Some have used it to warn against the antichrist. Others have used it to support their false identity as the Christ. The symbols, images, and numbers have tendency to overwhelm the common reader and confuse the average believer. But the message of this book is clear. God is all-powerful (omnipotent). No matter how Satan tries to frustrate God’s people, no matter how much he tries to mislead the saints, no matter how difficult he makes our life, there is one true fact that will always exist – He has already been defeated. God has the eternal victory. The battle has already been won. That’s why we faithfully sing ‘victory is mine’, victory is mine. Victory today is mine.’ You can tell Satan – get thee behind. Victory today is mine.
In times like these, we need to know that victory is ours. If we were to judge tomorrow’s destiny based on today’s difficulties, many of us would throw in the towel. We would simply give up. Aids, cancer, and MS are eating away at our bodies. People are dying of hunger and over exposure due to the lack of shelter. Earthquakes, mudslides, hurricanes, and tornadoes are killing thousands. Hundreds are being slain by wars within and wars without. Teenagers killing other teenagers because of peer pressure. Children being shot and wounded by the very police who are sworn to protect them. Planes falling out of the sky like flies. These are dark and evil days and we are challenge to make wise and effective decisions during these tough times. We are challenged to live in the world but be not of the world. We are to walk hand in hand with unbelievers but not be unequally yoked. We must work side by side with the children of darkness while so letting our little light shine. We are to hold on to the name of Christ and his values while our unsaved neighbors who never call on his name seem to have less problems and be more blessed. Bad boys are hot. Good guys finish last. This seems to be a world of contradictions, paradoxes, and puzzles with missing pieces. What’s going on? What’s up with the climate today? Nothing seems clear. Our visual perception can lead to our soul’s deception. What seems right to a man may lead to his utter destruction.
That is the message of our text. Brother John is telling the church at Pergamos not to judge a book by its cover. Just because it seems right does not mean that it is right. Deception is an instrument of the enemy. And in the city of Pergamos – many things appeared to be acceptable. Pergamos was regarded as a noble city located in Northwest Asia Minor in what we know today as modern Turkey. It was a great city of commerce, culture, and politics. The people there were literate, established, and affluent. It was regarded as a sister city of Rome because of its grand buildings, amphitheaters, aqueducts, and temples. Pergamos was a city of many religions of which the prominently was “imperial worship” where the subjects literally regarded the emperor of Rome as a demi-god and worship him. Because of this belief many Christians where persecuted because they would not forsake the name of Christ for Caesar. They were tortured and pressure to denounce their faith in God. Children were thrown into fires. Women were torn into pieces by lions. Men were beheaded by gladiators. They knew persecution and never forsook a meeting of the saints.
You see we don’t know persecution. We have so much but do so little. We think persecution is our boss asking us to work over time. We think suffering is not being able to have our choice of food for dinner or people talking about us behind our backs. We have yet to see real persecution.
But the church as Pergamos endured persecutions. During those days of tribulations they held fast to the faith. John is told to commend them on that achievement but equally he must chastise them for some mistakes they are currently making. Christ knows that they are living during dangerous times. He knows the suffering they must endure. He tells them -