Summary: This is the 4th sermon in the series "Are You Prepared".
Series: Are You Prepared? (Revelation) [#4]
The church in Pergamum is the 3rd of the 7 Churches. By now you have probably noticed the pattern repeated in each of these 7 letters. First, Jesus identifies and says some things about Himself. Then He says something positive about the Church (except 1 church). Then He points out problems in the Church and tells them what to do about it (except 2 churches). Then every letter ends with an invitation and a promise for those who overcome.
I. The City
Pergamum was known for 2 things:
1.It was a place of great learning. Pergamum had the 2nd largest library in the world at the time. Pergamum also had a great university. Pergamum was a center of learning and is where people came to study.
2.Pergamum was also a religious center. The Romans were pantheistic–they believed god was everywhere in everything and everything or anything could be a god. They were also polytheistic–they believed there were many gods. They did not have a problem with adding Jesus to their list until the Christians claimed that there is only 1 God. One of their prominent gods was Asclepius, the god of healing. No wonder Jesus says this was where Satan’s throne was.
II. The Communicator
Jesus presents Himself to this church as the One “who has the sharp, double-edged sword.” This description tells us at least two things:
1.The sword of His mouth is the Word of God.
2.The sword of His mouth tells us about the power and judgment of His Word. The believers in Pergamum were being persecuted and some were even being martyred for their faith. Some government officials were misusing the power of the sword or execution. They were slaying innocent people, in particular believers who refused to deny Christ. Jesus Christ is proclaiming that the power of His sword—the power of His Word—is far greater. He holds the power of life and death over all men. Verse 16 warns the enemies of Christ.
III. The Commendations
The church is commended for 2 things:
1.They remained true to Jesus’ name. In a religious environment where there was numerous gods, these Christians continued to lift up the name of Jesus. Never let us forget that Bel Aire Baptist Church is not about who the staff is, what our building looks like, etc…; it is about Jesus.
2.They did not renounce their faith in Jesus. As I told you last week, once a year every resident of the Roman Empire was required to burn incense to Caesar and to say, “Caesar is Lord.” If they did not they were killed.” Jesus said to this church. “I commend you because you are not denying the faith.”
IV. The Complaint
Jesus tells this church that He has 2 complaints:
1.“You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam.” We can find the story of Balaam in Numbers 22-25. Balak the king of Moab had heard what the Israelites had done to some of the other nations so in order to protect his kingdom, he sought the services of Balaam, a prophet of Israel, to curse Israel. When the king first approached Balaam, Balaam refused; but he accepted the second offer. Three times Balaam was going to curse Israel, but it always came out as a blessing. Balaam then came up with a plan that would work. He suggested that Moabite girls seduce Israel’s men to intermarry and lead them to worship their gods. That is what the Moabites did and it worked. Balaam tried to stand with one foot in the world and one foot in obedience to God. Balaam’s doctrine was one of worldliness.
2.“You also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.” This teaching was one that said that there were two kinds of people in the church. There were the clergy and there were the people and the clergy had special rights and authorities that the others in the church did not have. These people who had been ordained were the only ones who could forgive sin, collect indulgences or pray someone out of purgatory. This type of teaching still exist today; but we believe in what we call the “priesthood of the believers,” meaning the foot of the cross is level. We are all equal in God’s eyes. God has gifted each one of us differently.
V. The Counsel
The counsel is simple. Repent or be destroyed!
VI. The Conquerors
For those who are overcomers, there are 2 promises given. Please recall from the last 2 weeks who the overcomers are.
1.The overcomer shall receive some of the hidden manna. The same Word of God that is a double-edged sword is also our spiritual food. This food is only hidden to the non-believer. Once a person is saved, God opens His Word to us and sustains and nourishes us with the Word.