Thesis: We need to receive a fresh revelation of Jesus Christ daily because it makes the difference whether you will decide to die for Christ daily or literally for Him in the end.
Key verse of Revelation: Text: Revelation 12:11: “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”
Text Rev. 1:3: "Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near."
Text: Rev. 14:13 "Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them."
"There are Heavenly blessing spoken of in Revelation and the New Testament for those who die in the Lord for Jesus Christ – in the above verse they are: first there is eternal rest and second their deeds will follow them to Heaven."
We have been exploring Revelation 2 looking at the 7 churches and the message of Jesus to these 7 churches in Asia. Let’s be reminded of what we have learned so far:
Summary of Ephesus: The Loveless Church
What was the message to this church and also to us? We need to stay awake and guard ourselves from anything (including ministry) that allows us to forsake our love for Christ personally. It screams at us that we need to keep our focus on Jesus Christ and His love, so that we will not leave love behind. Hear this message Christian Hills Church - Is your love for Jesus exclusive? Do you regularly take quality time to be with him? Or have other things crept into your heart, taking up your thoughts and affection? Jesus is asking you to repent and start over again if you have answered “yes” to any of the preceding questions. He wants you to stop and realize, ‘Wait a minute - I see how this lack of love has crept into your life. It's robbing me of time with you says Jesus!' Today is the day to go back to you first love. Ask him to renew your passion for Him and to keep Him in the number one spot of your heart so you can eat of the Tree of Life in Heaven.
Summary of Symrna: The Persecuted Church
Jesus is God who came in the flesh and experienced what it was like in this abusive world. He can relate to what injustice, persecution feels like. He experienced it so He knows what it feels like. Jesus knows their pain and suffering. He can also help you go through it and help you to overcome it with His touch and presence. What will the world and Heaven record of your life and death in the annuals of History? Will you be famous in Heaven – before the throne of God? Or famous in annuals of Hell? Will you stand faithful at the evil hands of persecution for Jesus and receive the Crown of Life and see how the second death will not hurt you?
Question: How could someone give up their life? Could you or would you? How is the life changing question right? I ask the Lord what was inside these men and women of faith’s heart, soul and mind to give them the courage to do this?
Answer: The how is that they had a revelation of who Jesus Christ was, is, and will be personally - intimately. We all need this today in our world!
Sermon 4: Rev’d Up part 4:
Thesis: We need to get Rev’d Up for Jesus’ Second Coming as we look at what is happening to our society and world. Many are saying the time is near and Revelation tells us to be ready at a moment’s notice. So, let’s get Rev’d up and be ready to meet Jesus! Let’s receive the spirit of wisdom and revelation so we know Him better. We all need to know that Jesus see’s and knows about all of us and our churches even today.
We read in the annuals of church history and in the Bible of people of faith who gave up their lives for the cause and message of Jesus Christ – they upheld his name even in the face of death. When Jesus appears to John and sends 7 messages to His churches He is telling them that He knows and sees their current situations. He sees the good and the bad and leaves instructions to each one to follow.
Once again, it’s important to remind you that Revelation is an unveiling of Jesus Christ to all His servants who are suffering for The Kingdom of Heaven. The book and it’s unveiling of Jesus is delivered to John in a supernatural way – to show who is in control – not Domitian or the Roman Empire – John is imprisoned on the Island of Patmos and Jesus shows up. How cool is that?
I want to highlight to you that there are various ways these 7 messages have been interpreted by theologians. Here are some of the theories on how to look at the messages to the 7 Churches in the book of Revelation. I gathered these from the book Revelation 4 Views by Steve Gregg pages 62-63.
1. Preterists schools, Spiritual schools and Futurist schools for the most part understand these letters to be addressed to the actual churches of the time frame – even though there were more than 7 churches the number 7 would be interpreted to represent the church as a complete whole.
2. However, the Historicist schools and even some of the Futurist schools (many dispensationalists but not all) have drawn attention to certain parallels between these individual messages to these churches and the church through historical periods of time. So, to them these messages have dual meanings to the current church of the day and a description of the type of churches which will develop through a historical period of time which eventually leads to Christ’s return:
a. Ephesus is said to describe the church during the apostolic age until about 100 AD.
b. Smyrna is said to be likened to the church from about 100 until 313AD – the persecuted church which suffered persecution under several Roman Emperors.
c. Pergamos is said to look like the church age of 313-500AD. When the church started compromising Biblical truth for the sake of tolerance.
d. Thyatira is seen as the papal church until the Reformation 500-1500AD.
e. Sardis is likened to the church of the Reformation 1500-1700AD.
f. Philadelphia is regarded as the age of the church which had a resurgence of missionary activity getting the Message of the Gospel spread throughout the world from 1700-1990. (I changed his thought and time frame here that this goes to the current day church – I disagree here with his time frame for US church – I believe we are in the lukewarm state of the church as a whole today in the western world).
g. Laodicean church which is called by Jesus as lukewarm parallels the current day church in western world (my view) we are filled with liberal churches, empathetic churches and apathy to the things of God’s Word which I see started occurring in around1990 and has accelerated to the present day.
T.S. – Let’s move from the persecuted church of Smyrna, which we covered last week to the compromising church of Pergamos.
I. The church in Pergamum found in Revelation 2:12-17:
a. Note: Rev. 16:15 "Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed."
i. This Scripture warning in the book of Revelation is for us today and for this church of Pergamum back then!
ii. Are you ready for Jesus to return? This question is posed to all churches today. Back in Rev. 2 & 3 the churches are asked the same question “Are you ready!” The sad fact is 5 out of the 7 churches were not ready for Christ's return.
1. Pergamum as a church as a Christian community had fallen asleep and was now taking breaks from Jesus Christ and His mission. They were not defending the truth of Scripture from false teachers who were distorting its message.
b. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND of the siesta – sleepy ridden church – the compromising Church.
i. The city of Pergamum.
1. Pergamum was the official Roman capital of Asia. It had been the capital for about 200 years. The city exerted authority over the entire area of Asia and it still was in control at the time of this writing in Revelation.
a. Pergamum used much of its wealth to build temples devoted to idol worship.
b. The city was littered with statues, altars and sacred groves honoring different god's.
c. In the midst of the city was a 1,000 foot high hill covered with temples and altars.
2. A commentary I read authored by Thomas states, "The primary local deities to whom temples had been erected were Zeus, Athena, Dionysos, and Asklepios. Zeus, the savior-god, and Athena, the victory-bearing goddess, were all testimonials to the Greek spiritual influence. The other two, reflecting more of an Anatolian spirit, were more dominant in the religious life of the city. Dionysis, the god of the royal family, had a mystical name "Bull." Asklepios, like Dionysos more of an animal-god, was associated with serpent (snakes). The shrine of Asklepios, who was noted as a "god of healing," attracted people from all over the world. Feeding a living serpent in the temple was the manner of practicing this worship. The sick spent the night in the darkness of the temple where nonpoisonous snakes were allowed to roam. If a person was touched by one of these snakes (i.e., by god himself), he was cured of his illness (179).
3. But despite its noted temple worship it was the earliest city to also incorporate the worship of the Roman Emperor.
a. The first temple was erected in 29 B.C. a second temple was added later. This city was the most intense in demanding Caesar worship. Were in other cities you were faced once a year to burn incense to Caesar here it was a daily challenge (Thomas, pg. 180).
4. City was also noted for its 200,000 volume library and the birthplace of "parchment".
a. The city manufactured and produced this animal skin writing material.
c. The message to this church Rev. 2:12-17:
i. "To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword vs.12. I know where you live--where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city--where Satan lives vs. 13. Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality vs. 14. Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans vs.15. Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth vs. 16. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it vs. 17.
1. This church was also founded by the Apostle Paul in Acts 19:10
ii. Let’s look at this message verse by verse:
1. Verse 12 Jesus Christ is revealed again as the one with the double-edged sword.
a. The attribute of Christ here is reiterated from 1:16 where it denotes the judicial authority of Christ. The vision combines the force of a warrior defeating his enemies in battle and pronouncing judgment on them. This is also insinuated in our text and also in Rev. 19:15, 21. The key principle conveyed to the church was that Christ has the punishing power which comes from his word and His word will defeat the enemy (SATAN). Even at his home base and stronghold.
b. Jesus is the one with the power and authority! He will bring victory to a church that is pure in thought and attitude.
2. Verse 13-- He knows where they live and what they fight against!
a. He knows – “That Satan has his throne their” many scholars think that this refers to the great altar of Zeus which was on the hillside over looking the city. It was a great chair, or throne, forty feet high, and any citizen could look up there at any time and see what Jesus was referring to as "Satan's throne".
i. Remember this city was a center of much pagan ritual, idol worship and evil.
b. Interesting Note! "There is a fascinating footnote of history in connection with this. In 1880's, about 110 years ago, a German archaeologist working in the city of Pergamum removed that throne, that Satanic seat from the hillside and took it to Europe. Today it is visible yet in the Pergamum Museum in the city -- get this-- of East Berlin! For 110 years Satan’s throne had been in East Berlin. If it has any connection with the rise of Hitler, and the Nazis, I leave you to judge. But East Berlin is also where Hitler's headquarters was located (Discovery, pastor?)
c. Yet this church remained true to Christ, they did not renounce their faith in Christ even when Antipas was martyred.
i. Antipas name means "Against all"
1. He was one of the first martyrs in Asia under Roman persecution.
2. Tradition asserts that he was roasted alive in a Brazen bull that was heated up to glowing white.
3. He paid the price for being true to the doctrine of Jesus Christ.
iii. Verse 14-16 -- Now the one who sees all, states, but you have an unholy union in the church. The church had married into some of the world's pagan practices.
1. They had become tolerant of sin and false teachings in their church. Note -- not all believed it -- they just where indifferent to those who were preaching it. They were not dealing with the false beliefs. And they had too by Jesus direction.
a. Problem: This church was taking siesta's in the afternoon and letting the false teachers teach and promote their UNTRUE/FALSE teachings while they slept in the back room.
2. The teachings of Balaam -- from Numbers 25:
a. Balaam was a false prophet who had been hired by Balak, the King of Moab, to curse Israel, but when he tried to do so he found he could not. Every time he tried to curse them, words of blessing came out of his mouth. God would not let him curse his people. So, in order to achieve the end for which he had been hired, he paid beautiful maidens from Moab and Midian to parade before the young men of Israel, tempting them into sexual immorality. Since these women were idol worshipers, they introduced idol worship to Israel. Thus corruption seeped in and enticed Israel to sin.
b. The churches indifference opened the door for some of their own to teach that you can participate in paganism and still be Christian.
i. Participation in idol worship was in the church. They asserted that it would not affect them spiritually.
ii. They could also practice fornication and sexual immorality and it would not affect the church and their salvation. It's a private matter and will not impact your justification with the Lord.
iii. They taught that it was okay to live together and not be married because god did not care.
iv. It was okay to marry unbelievers who were not Christians and it would not affect your spirituality either.
3. The teachings of the Nicolaitans (verse 15)
a. These individuals appeared on the surface as having a special relationship with God - boasting of divine encounters. They were in a sense Gnostics and promoted their personal revelations above the word of God. They were more ambitious for power and prestige. They lifted themselves up above others. They were quick to tell you that they had an inside tract to God and you did not. They in their pride believed they were better than others yet gripped in sin.
4. Jesus handles both these types of so-called Christians –the ones who appeal to the flesh and its lusts -- and the ones that appeals to a superior haughty religious spirit.
a. The key here to learn for the church is how you handle these false teachings – you use the Word of God (the sword) and Jesus Word says, "REPENT!"(verse 16)
i. The command from Jesus Christ is clear. Jesus owns the church, and He disowns compromise!
ii. You cannot live in sin and hide in the church!
iii. Why? He will expose your nakedness if you do! BY the conviction of the Holy Spirit. He wants His church awakened not sleeping with the enemy.
iv. Verse 17 - What is going to transpire for those who are awake and remain awake.
1. They will receive hidden manna - He will feed his children with the bread of heaven. They will never go hungry.
a. Jesus said, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." See John 6:35
2. The white stones significance for them and us:
a. The most satisfactory understanding of the white stone derives significance from the free doles of bread and free admission to entertainments that the people of the Roman Empire received from time to time. These were in exchange for "tickets" which often took the form of white stones. Such a white stone with one's name on it was the basis for admission to a special feast. This practice coincides with the victor's participation in the feast of Rev. 3:20 and 19:9. (Thomas, 201).
3. The hidden manna along with the stone points to the Messianic feast. The white stone is then, a personalized tessara, which would serve as His token of admission to this great feast (Thomas, 201).
4. New name - Not a name for you, a name for Him that is special to you. It will represent your relationship with him. So, what will your stone say? What will the name say about your earthly legacy?
Summary of the message to Pergamos (The Compromising Church):
? What do we need to know about the message to Pergamum?
o Answer: Christians will suffer in this world for Jesus, you will have to be bold enough and courageous enough to stand for Him when pressured to turn on Him. You must stand against false teachings!
? Why do we need to know this message?
o Answer: So, we stay awake or even wake up from our apathy and understand that Jesus defeated the second death and so will we if we stand faithful to the end.
? What do we need to do about this message?
o Answer: Stay Awake - Don’t compromise the truth of God’s Word. Stand firm with Jesus even if it means persecution. The key to being able to overcome is to get a new fresh vision or a fresh revelation of Jesus Christ.
? Why do we need to do this?
o Answer: If we do we will receive an invitation to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb and a New Name reflecting our legacy which we left behind here on this earth. And the truth that more people will come to Jesus because of our story.
• What do you think your name will be?