Summary: The third in a series of seven. This is an expository, alliterated sermon with practical application based on the letter to Pergamum in Revelation. PowerPoint is avialable if you e-mail me.
You’ve Got Mail: Pergamum
Scott Bayles, preacher
First Christian Church, Rosiclare, IL
For those of you just joining us, we’ve spent the past couple of weeks camped in the Book of Revelation. Rather than trudging through the more puzzling prophetic passages, though, we’ve been pouring over the more practical pages of John’s Revelation—specifically, we’ve been reading other churches’ mail. One envelope at a time, we’ve been unfolding the seven letters from the Son of God to the seven churches of Asia. Although these seven letters weren’t addressed to us, they do address the cares, concerns, and crises faced by ours and countless other churches throughout the centuries.
We’ve already investigated the letters to the churches in Ephesus and Smyrna. “After leaving Smyrna, a letter carrier traveled along the coast of the Aegean Sea for about forty miles. Then the road turned northeast along the Caicus River. About ten miles inland stood the impressive city of Pergamum, built on a hill one thousand feet above the surrounding countryside, creating a natural fortress. Rivaling Ephesus as the leading city in the region, Pergamum had become the capital of the province of Asia and the center of Asian culture. It was proud of its links with Rome.” Here’s what Jesus had to say to the Christians living in Pergamum:
“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Pergamum. This is the message from the one with the sharp two-edged sword: I know that you live in the city where Satan has his throne, yet you have remained loyal to me. You refused to deny me even when Antipas, my faithful witness, was martyred among you there in Satan’s city. But I have a few complaints against you. You tolerate some among you whose teaching is like that of Balaam, who showed Balak how to trip up the people of Israel. He taught them to sin by eating food offered to idols and by committing sexual sin. In a similar way, you have some Nicolaitans among you who follow the same teaching. Repent of your sin, or I will come to you suddenly and fight against them with the sword of my mouth. Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.” (Revelation 2:12-17 NLT)
Just like the first two letters, Jesus begins the letter to Pergamum by giving his credentials.
In the letter to the church in Ephesus, Jesus described himself as the one who holds the seven stars and walks among the seven gold lampstands—an encouraging image, reminding the church that he is with them. To Smyrna, he says that he if the First and the Last, the God of all creation who knows the beginning from the end. But to the church in Pergamum, Jesus provides a much more foreboding image. He describes himself as: “the one with the sharp two-edged sword” (vs. 12 NLT).