Summary: How do we keep from drowning in the pagan culture around us? By following the guidelines Jesus set in His letter to the church at Pergamos
1. Illus. of wrong way on freeway
As a man was driving down the freeway, his car phone rang. When he answered, he heard his wife warn him urgently, "George, I just heard on the news that there’s a car going the wrong way on 280. Please be careful coming home!" "I’m there right now," said George, "and it’s not just one car. It’s hundreds of them!"
2. It would be easy for us as Christians to become morally and spiritually confused. Like the man on highway 280, it would be easy for us to believe that we are heading in the right direction, when in reality we have made a wrong turn.
3. We live in confusing times. There are a thousand voices telling us how to live.
The advocates of political correctness tell us, “what you think and say should meet our standard of political correctness.” Folks, quite frankly, evangelical Christianity is not going to meet that standard.
Turn on television and are inundated with images of immorality, perversion, and profanity. The message is subtle but clear: “this is how you are supposed to live!”
Pick up the self-help best seller, and chances are you will find instruction that sounds good, but is in reality opposed to the teachings of scripture.
4. Text: Jesus writes to the Christians in Pergamos. They lived in a city that had a terrible moral and spiritual climate. This terrible climate had rubbed off on some of the Christians at Pergamos. They had begun to do things and believe things that simply were not right.
5. Today: If we are going keep the moral and spiritual confusion of our day from rubbing off on us, we need to hear what Jesus said to the church at Pergamos.
6. What does Jesus say about remaining unaffected by confusing times?
I. DON’T ABANDON GOD’S WORD
1. In each of the 7 letters, Jesus introduces Himself in a way that is particularly applicable to that church. How does Jesus introduce Himself to the church at Pergamos? See vss 12, 16. What is this mysterious sword in the mouth of Jesus? This figure of speech is used in other places in the scripture (Hebrews 4:12).
2. Why would Jesus so emphasize that He had the Word, and that He was going to judge them by the Word?” Read this letter carefully. Some of these Christians had started living lifestyles contrary to the scripture.
3. Principle: If we are to remain unaffected by the moral and spiritual confusion of our age, God’s Word must be the only standard for what we will believe, and how we will behave.
4. Illus. of fellow seminary student
• A seminary student pastored a small country church on a very part-time basis. The student pastor was threatening to resign because this little church wanted to ordain a practicing homosexual to the ministry.
• Kept saying, “folks, the Bible says…”
• Finally one man stood up and spoke for the group. “Pastor, we don’t really care what the Bible says. This man’s family has been the backbone of this church for years, so we’re going to ordain this man anyway!”
• “How does a group of Christian make a stupid decision like that?” That’s easy: they abandon God’s Word as the only standard for what they believe, and how they will behave.
6. Sometime this week you will have to make a moral/spiritual decision. How will you make your decision? Will you make decision based on public opinion? Will you make decision based on what others are doing? Will you make decision based on what seems right to you? Or, will you make this decision based on God’s Word?
II. DON’T GIVE IN TO PEER PRESSURE
1. See vs 13a- “where Satan’s throne is… where Satan dwells…” If we didn’t know anything else about Pergamos, we would know that it was a place where Satan held tremendous power and influence.
2. What gave Satan such power there? Several things. Pergamos was a major center for idol worship, a place where people would come in from surrounding areas to worship false gods. It had a major university there that taught the pagan, godless, Greek philosophy of the day. There were false teachers there who used the name of Jesus, but advocated a lifestyle Jesus would never have approved of.
3. Do you get the picture? These Christians were surrounded by people pushing a lifestyle and philosophy the exact opposite of what the scripture taught. This pushing wasn’t kind or lighthearted either- vs 13b.
4. Principle: If we are going to remain unaffected by the moral and spiritual confusion of our age, we must resist the pressure to conform to the godless standard of those around us!
5. Illus. of a just man in Sodom (Illus. of Preaching/Teaching #109)