Summary: Second in my series of the churches of Revelation 2-3, looking at the church in Pergammum. The best way to keep bad doctrine out of the church is to focus on the essentials: the Word of God, the Cross and Jesus as Saviour and Lord.
Keeping the grit out - Revelation 2:12-17
By James Galbraith
September 20, 2009
First Baptist Church, Port Alberni
- beautifully built burger - “Whimpy” from Clancy’s
- 12 ounce patty, onions, mushrooms, two cheeses, trimmings, even an egg!
- makes Big Mac look like hours’deurve
- imagine biting into it and getting a piece of sand
- one bite can turn work of culinary art into mouthful of expectorant
- too many bites can lead us to toss the burger out!
- little grain of sand can spoil colossal work of art
- fly in ointment idea
With that concept in mind, let us turn our attention to the ancient church in Pergamum:
- capital city of region, built on a hill overlooking the Sea
- political centre, as opposed to commercial centre like Ephesus
- Victoria, as opposed to Vancouver
- origin of the worship of the emperor as God – first temple to emperor built there in 29 BC to Augustus (Satan has his throne, where satan lives)
- assumed that Paul had visited, if not planted this church
- only mentioned here in Rev., although map of Paul’s third journey shows him stopping here
- undergoing trials, including leaders who have been martyred
- tradition tells us that Antipas killed by “being slowly roasted to death in a bronze kettle”
They see like a pretty tough and committed group, so what’s wrong?
Grit has snuck into the work of art.
“teachings of Balaam”
- in history, Balaam encouraged the Midianites to lead Israel astray by encouraging them to participate in idol worship that included temple prostitution
- Balaam’s donkey (Numbers 22:21 ff)
- stood for deviance from purity of worship and sexual immorality
- may have been led by Nicolas, one of the first seven deacons chosen by the church in Jerusalem (Acts 6:5), although evidence is sketchy and Nicolas very common name
- much like Balaam’s teaching, this group within the church taught spiritual liberty allowed idolatry and immorality
- being “free in Christ” meant being free to do what we want, as opposed to what we ought, to do
- while Paul tells us that we are “free from the law of sin and death” in Romans 8:1, 2.
1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
he also said
21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.
- balance of holding to the true and narrow and dispensing with the outdated
These teachings were the sand in the burger, the fly in the ointment
Those in the church in Pergamum who lived this way were in danger of facing Christ himself as an opponent
- “sword of my mouth” = judgment
Are we in the same danger today?
Any time we let in teachings that take away from the supremacy and completeness of Jesus Christ, we let grit get into the mix.
Any teaching that sets aside the authority of the word of God, and replaces it with human wisdom, the grit is getting in.
We can, of course, learn and benefit from many disciplines, psychology, education, sociology – for all truth is God’s truth, after all,
But these things complement, and never supersede, the wisdom of God has given to us in the Bible, Old and New testaments.
You might like me to give you a list of “grit” floating around today,
but I don’t think that’s appropriate from here.
Better that you ask me in person, and we talk, then I make blanket statements about particular organizations.
That said, I think the fellows selling us miracle prayer cloths for 10-15 dollars, and anointed healing oils for more, are right up this alley.
I don’t remember Jesus calling us to sell his love, just to share it.
How can we keep the grit out?
Bank tellers train with real money over and over and over,
so that when a counterfeit bill comes there way,
they can tell just by touching it that it’s fake.
In that same vein, we keep the girt out by holding to what is true!
1. Word of God
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.