Summary: The Church at Pergamum was a church married to the world and risk losing her influence for the Kingdom.
The Bargaining Church
* Everybody loves to get a good deal because we are all ‘bargain’ hunters. Very few people desire to pay retail for anything. Yet at times, what begins to be a bargain turns out to cost too much. A lady was new in a community and was driving down the streets to get the lay of the land. She saw a beauty salon with $10 haircuts advertised. She mused to herself, “How can the other shops compete with a $10 haircut?” Down the block she saw another salon whose ad read, “We REPAIR $10 haircuts.” It seems that what started out as a deal, became a big deal, and then was an ordeal.
* Bargaining also has another meaning besides this thought of getting something at a low cost (or cheap), it carries the idea of ‘bartering’, negotiating, or haggling. In many foreign market places you can negotiate, barter, or ‘bargain’ the price of goods that you want to buy.
* It seems that the church at Pergamum was indeed a ‘bargaining’ type of church. While they were committed in some things, seemingly they were will to compromise or bargain in other areas. A bargaining church is like a bargaining believer who wants to bargain with God or the culture to lower the expected standards. Let’s read about this church.
* There are so many things which the church at Pergamum teaches us.
1. The Placement of the Church – Please remember that we are not talking about the ‘church building’ because, quite likely, they didn’t have a building. The church was not confined to a building until Constantine in the early 4th century. What is important is to notice that they are in the city of Pergamum. This city was known for its culture, for its education, and for its pagan worship. (The Library in Pergamum is said to have boasted of more than 200,000 books)
a. It is in this place that the Lord said, “I know where you live.” Most other translation says it this way, “I know where you dwell (not stay).” The word for ‘live’ or ‘dwell’ is one of permanence, not a temporary location. It says that you are there because I PUT you there. In God’s sovereignty, He places us where HE wants us to be, like it or not, because He is in control.
b. He also says, “Where you live is where Satan’s THRONE IS.” This church had a tough road because not only was evil present in this city, but Satan had a stronghold there. KJV translates this word as ‘seat’ (I.E. seat of power and authority). The Lord’s word makes it very plain that this church was sitting in a vial and wretched culture which was powered by Satan.
* History tells us that this church faced a community given to paganism, idolatry, and immorality. Reading a message by W.A. Criswell, he strongly preaches of the evil in the CITY. His words are, “Yes, there is evil in the open country, inside the city the evil seems to be more prevalent, more pervasive, and even stronger.” In Pergamum, prostitution was considered a way of life. In fact, this week I read some statement by leaders of that day which simply stated that they could imagine a society without the services of prostitutes. Know what else you discover? Observation tells us that the more ‘intellectual’ a culture becomes the more immoral and even unethical they seem to become. For me, America is exhibit A.
* And it is into such a culture as this that God placed and places His church. Don’t miss this truth. God places His church (not the church building, but His CHURCH) to be the light to the community. What better place for the church to be placed than in the midst of the darkness? God’s church is to be salt in the community. Since one quality of salt is to heal, what better place than a sick community to place a church? Let’s make this personal;
* God has placed this church here for a reason. We have talked much about our auspicious beginnings, we have also talked about our reputation, and there has been talk about the future of this body; but one thing is certain, in His sovereignty, God has a plan for this group of people. Candidly, God’s plan for us is not to only meet on Sundays and Wednesdays. It is not to ‘take care of our own’ (although when we get in on His plan, our own & personal needs will be taken care of, without our selfish demands). God’s plan is not for us to live with a sense of spite or unforgiveness about the past. Do I know the will of God for this church? Yes, in some measure. It is the same today as it was 5 ½ years ago when I came here. It is for us to be the salt and light in this community.