Summary: Seven Letters to Seven Churches (3rd in series).
PERGAMOS: SATAN’S THRONE
INTRO: Pergamos was a religious city. What distinguished Pergamos was that religion seemed to thrive there. There was an ancient saying that whenever any weird idea was expelled from one place, it would always end up in Pergamos.
Pergamos just seemed to thrive on religious ideas. It had many religious institutions. The church at Pergamos was one that lived and served in the shadow of Satan’s headquarters. I wonder where his headquarters are today? Probably somewhere in the United States. In that day Jesus said that Satan set up headquarters in Pergamos.
Jesus introduced himself to Pergamos as the one “which has the sharp double-edged sword” (v. 12). In ancient times, the highest symbol of authority was the sword. It represented the greatest authority that people knew. It represented absolute authority.
I. DEDICATION (v. 13).
Notice the dedication of this church. Here was a church in the shadow of Satan’s throne and Jesus noted their dedication. Imagine their struggle. The headquarters of Satan is a strategic place where he can best use his influence.
“You remain true to my name” (v. 13). To remain true to the name of Jesus means they were loyal to the person of Jesus. The name is a symbol of the Person.
“You did not renounce your faith in me” (v. 13). That means they had not denied the purpose for which Jesus came. They had not turned their backs on the gospel.
II. DETENTE (vv. 14-15).
There was a problem in Pergamos. It is a problem that exists today, perhaps more strongly than ever in history. Notice their detente. Detente means: an easing of friction between two parties. It means compromising so as not to muddy the waters.
The church was faithful; it believed in Jesus. It was a strong church, an orthodox church. They had not denied his faith, but they were tolerating false views. They tolerated what should have been expelled from the church. The church didn’t hold false doctrine. It was a proper, orthodox, fundamental church. But it held fellowship with those who did. That was the thing Jesus attacked.
What did they allow in their fellowship? First of all, they allowed the doctrine of Balaam. Balaam was called by a king to curse Israel (Num. 22-23).
Balaam did not try to change their theology or to curse the nation. He just encouraged them to compromise the purposes of God. He polluted the people socially and spiritually.
The end result is seen in v. 14, a stumbling block before the children of Israel, and it resulted in the eating things sacrificed to idols and committing of immorality. They taught that orthodoxy gave license to sin. Believe the right things and you can do anything you want to do.
Notice the problem: the church believed the right things, but they tolerated those who had the doctrines of Balaam and false teachings. God never intended a church to tolerate error. We have a similar situation in our churches today.
III. DIRECTION (v. 16).
Notice the direction he gave. “Repent.” He was not talking to the people who held the doctrine of Balaam. He was speaking to the church. He was telling the church to repent. How could the church repent? They were not guilty of believing those things?