Pergamum: The Compromising Church
One of biggest questions that I have struggled with since becoming a minister, and even before, is how wrong can a church be, and still be right? Some would say that is a simple question to answer, a church cannot be wrong at all!
This week I got a bulletin from a church talking about what it meant to ?come out of the world?. The minister said the obvious meaning of this was that the ?true church? could have nothing to do with denominations in any form. That Christians couldn?t participate in National Day of Prayer, Ministerial Alliances, humanitarian help or anything else with any other religious group but ours. Considering that there were no other Christian churches besides the true church at the time Corinthians was written, I have a real hard time believing that was what Paul meant.
Other ministers say that nothing really matter past loving Jesus. Yet, the bible clearly had issues with those who taught false doctrine and claimed to be apostles of Jesus. They would have said they loved Jesus, yet were wrong and opposed by the writers of the New Testament.
So the truth is somewhere between those two extremes and quite frankly, I don?t know the answer to the question that has dogged me all these year. What I do know, is that when a church or individual was shown to be accepting false teaching, they were expected to do something about it. That is what was happing in this letter to Pergamum.
I. Continuing Pictures of Jesus
1. Throughout these letters we have seen various pictures of Jesus.
2. Controls the future of the congregations
3. Resurrected and eternal
4. Now the Lord of judgment
B. Double edged sword
1. To those who lived under Roman rule the reference to the double-edged sword obvious to them.
2. Roman law dictated only Rome could decide someone?s death sentence
3. The governor was given ?the right of the sword?
4. When these people hear of Jesus as the one who has the sword, they realize that Jesus is the Lord of Judgment.
II. A Difficult Place
A. A place where Satan has his throne
1. There are hard places to live as a Christian
2. In some places Christian beliefs are almost non-existent.
a) In many of the areas of the Northeast and West Coast, people simply have no Christian belief.
b) They don?t need God. Man is God.
c) In Great Britain this year, more children were born to non married people than married people for the first time.
3. To be a Christian in areas like that are so difficult for several reasons
a) No one really wants to hear the gospel, and it gets very discouraging.
b) Others openly mock you for holding to such archaic and ?unenlightened? ideals as Christianity.
4. Other areas that Christians live in will kill someone simply for being a Christian
a) In most middle east countries it is a capital crime to teach Christianity.
b) People are regularly killed for profession a faith in Christ.
B. Terrible Persecution
1. This was what Pergamum was like.
2. It was dominated by the same Emperor worship as Smyrna was.