Summary: Like Pergamos, today’s church seems to keep only a moderate distance from the world, but both the world AND the church are moving downhill in tandem, and further away from Jesus. Link inc. to formatted text, audio/video, PowerPoint.
Pergamos: The Compromising Church
Before 1974, there was a huge portion of land in the northern part of Australia that belonged to the superstitious Aborigines. That land was covered w/ green ants. The Aborigines believed that those green ants were sacred / descendants of their pagan gods.
A mining company discovered huge deposits of uranium in that land. So they approached the Aborigines about purchasing that land and mining the uranium…but they would not budge: “If you destroy the land of our sacred green ants, our gods will pronounce a curse upon us, and we will have years of drought and famine.
Well, in 1974, they sold that land to the mining companies. Do you know what changed their minds? 8.3 million dollars! “They may be gods, but for 8.3 million they can find another place to live!”
Are your convictions for sale? I know a lot of Christians who have sold out for a lot less than 8 million dollars.
We’ve looked at Ephesus / careless Smyrna / crushed now…
Pergamos: The Compromising Church
(It was real in John’s day, & there are many like it today, and it represents the church at large in history between the years of 300-500 A.D.)
In 313 A.D., the emperor Constantine declared Christianity to be the official religion of the Roman Empire, and the church moved out of the catacombs, and into the Cathedrals!
Strength of this church / Subtle Seduction / Standard
v. 12-13a I know where you’re at, and where you live. I know what conditions you serve me under (where Satan’s seat [throne] is).
The Lord says, “I know you’re serving me in the very place where Satan’s throne is located.” Satan operated his demonic, unseen underworld in the spirit realm from the city of Pergamos. Pergamos was Satan’s ancient headquarters…he had office space there…in other words, it was like the Washington D.C. of Asia Minor!
The city of Pergamos was known for its political power, and for emperor worship. It was the first city ever to have a temple dedicated to Caesar. And once a year the residents of Pergamos were forced to enter the temple of Caesar...forced to burn incense upon the altar of Caesar, and to say out loud, “Caesar is God.”
Pergamos was also known for its pagan worship…it was filled with altars and temples to pagan gods. The altar of Zeus (chief of gods in Greek mythology) was located in Pergamos. The huge imposing temple of the goddess Athena was there. The temple of the Roman Emperor Hadrian was in Pergamos, as was the temple of the goat god Bacchus, whose upper body was depicted as a man w/ horns, and lower body as a goat w/ cloven feet and a tail.
Also in Pergamos was the greatest hospital in the ancient world, the ‘Mayo clinic’ of that day. They practiced a combination of medicine and idol worship. The hospital was first and foremost a temple to the Greek god Asclepius, the god of healing. And in this hospital / temple, they used every means of healing imaginable, including a therapy in which you would sleep alone in a dark room at night. Non-poisonous snakes were placed in the room to crawl all over you all night…they believed it to be somehow therapeutic…we still have this today and call it “shock treatment”!
But, for 700 years people came from all over the ancient world for healing to this place. Certainly there were reputable doctors there, practicing medicine current to that date, but overall, the hospital was Satanic, and idolatry was everywhere.
Now, like their brothers and sisters in Smyrna, the Christians at the church in Pergamos were suffering terrible persecutions at the time of this writing. Some of them were dying for the cause of Christ, and Jesus calls one of them by name in v. 13…Antipas
v. 13b Secular history tells us more about this man Antipas, whose name, by the way, means “against all”. Antipas was brought to the temple of Caesar, and commanded to swear out loud that Caesar is God. Antipas cried boldly, “Jesus alone is God!” A Roman official said, “Antipas, don’t you know that the whole world is against you?” He replied, “Then Antipas is against the whole world!” Antipas was put into a large, hollow, brass bull, and a fire was built under it, creating an oven where they roasted Antipas to death.
You’ll remember from our message on Smyrna two weeks ago, that Satan attacked the early church like a roaring lion, but when he found that he could not destroy it, and could not get the people to curse God, he shifted his battle plan!
We move now from the strength of this church to the seduction of this church.