Part 3 "Jesus Seven Messages To Us Today"
Pergamos: The Church That Married The World
(12) And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
(13) I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
(14) But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
(15) So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
(16) Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
(17) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
The quick points of this message:
1. You can make it in the worst places (satan’s seat/throne where he dwells)
2. They were in it for the long run (dwellest meant permanently)
3. Believers must not tolerate sin
a. Doctrine of Balaam (idolatry and fornication)
b. Doctrine of the Nicolaitans (who believed the flesh was evil and the spirit was pure and whatever your flesh did, your spirit was not going to be judged for)
4. Repent: Change!
a. Good results if you do:
i. I will feed you with the hidden manna
ii. I will give you a white stone
b. Bad results if you don’t
i. I will fight against you with the sword (Word of God) of my mouth.
Intro: About Pergamos
Pergamos was the political capital of Asia the less and was a very religious city. It had temples to Greek gods, Roman gods and three temples built to Roman Emperors.
It had a huge library with over 200,000 books in it and was known for the healing temple of Asclupious. The symbol of that god was a snake, and in that temple they would keep live snakes. A person who wanted to be healed could go and lay in the temple and sleep there that night. If during that night a snake slithered across your body, you were considered touched by their god and healed!
When Jesus speaks to the church there, He says “I know thy works and where thou dwellest, even where satan’s seat (Grk: thronos) is”
When we studied Smyrna, we found out there were those of the synagogue of satan, here we find he has a throne, and dwells here.
Question: What made it a stronghold for satan? What was his throne here?
We don’t really know, it could be the altar of zeus that was 100 feet by 40 feet and some say it was in the shape of a throne.
It could be that they were so given to emperor worship that it was a stronghold for the devil.
It could be the temple of Asclupious where travelers would come from everywhere to be healed by a snake.
In 2 Corinthians we read:
(4) (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
(5) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
And after the word strong holds, we hear him saying: imaginations, things against the knowledge of God, and thoughts.
It shows us that strongholds are built in our mind through our thinking.
When your parents told you “You will always be that way! You will never change!” that built a stronghold.
When your teacher said “You are hopeless! You just don’t get it do you?” that was building a stronghold.
When you were betrayed and the thought entered into your mind “You are just unlovable, there is something wrong with you that no one will commit to you and be faithful” that built a stronghold in your mind.
From these thoughts, which are all against what God said about us, the devil endeavors to build a throne, a place where he could reign from. This is why it is critical to tear down those strongholds, and to not give place (don’t give him a spot to work from) to the devil. (Ephesians 4:27)
He prompts the ideas “If I will never be able to change, why try? Why go to church or pray?”
He prompts the thought “If I am hopeless, there is just no use, I might as well medicate that with another drink, another hit, another drug.”
If it is too late for me, I may as well take my life, whether directly through a bullet, or indirectly by drinking and drugging myself to death.
He puts the thought in “If no one will be faithful to me, and they will betray me, I might as well live a promiscuous (player) lifestyle and stop expecting to be respected”
But the good news is the Word of God can pull down those strongholds! Jesus described Himself as He that hath the two edged sword. In Hebrews the Word of God is described as sharper than any two edged sword, (Heb 4:12) able to pierce to the dividing of soul and spirit, and is a discerner of the THOUGHTS AND INTENTS OF THE HEART. By reading, meditating and applying the Word of God to our lives, we tear down the strongholds of the enemy!
Unbelief is another stronghold that we must deal with. Worldly wisdom can war against spiritual truth. Reason always attacks faith.
Reason can’t figure out a resurrected Savior!
Reason can’t understand a God who loved us so much He would send His son and die for us!
Reason will never be able to comprehend a man repenting and calling on God and having his heart changed in a spiritual way to where he is never the same again!
When the doctors say there is no cure, but God heals them, reason scoffs “Impossible” but faith receives the healing and praises God!
Strongholds are built by feeding the carnal man with worldly wisdom and starving the spiritual man from faith building food for his soul!
Here is the truth. In the middle of all of this, where satan’s throne was, where he dwelled, the church hadn’t denied Jesus, they hadn’t given in on the doctrine, they hadn’t surrendered and moved out!
Jesus said “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it…” we could rephrase that and say “I will build my church and the throne of satan shall not prevail against it…”
Dwellest (V. 13): Greek word meant permanently! They were there to stay! The believers were not going to leave just because it was hard and there were many enemies. They understood that God had put His most valiant soldiers in the hottest battle and that was all the more reason to stay and fight!
Antipas was my faithful martyr. The word martyr in the Greek meant witness. He witnessed or bore witness to the truth by dying for it. This is another reason we can stake our faith on the Word of God and its truth, because men and women would not die for something that was phony or make believe. They believed and knew it to be true! Antipas believed, he didn’t sprinkle the incense on the fire, he refused to worship the false gods, and he witnessed his faith, with his life! Martyr didn’t mean what we understand it to be today, until years after, until the many who “Witnessed” with their life, changed the meaning to mean dying for what you believe.
While the church watched all of this, they refused to leave, or give up Jesus.
If the devil couldn’t destroy them by persecution, he would change tactics and undermine them through corruption.
Doctrine of Balaam:
He taught Balak how to have the destruction of God upon the children of Israel. If he couldn’t curse them, he would corrupt them! Get their young boys sleeping with the Moabite women, then the women will turn their hearts to the idols, it worked!
We see how fornication is a powerful force to destroy people’s purity, and to keep them enslaved. Once someone gets involved, they are influenced by their partner, and their desires, adapting so as not to lose the relationship. How many give up Jesus, or ruin their testimony, because of illicit sexual relationships?
This church had been so intermingled with the world it was rebuked by Jesus.
In Constantine’s time, there was a change, the heathen temples became Christian temples, the heathen priests became Christian priests, it wasn’t so much a change of the heart as it was a changing of the times and the people adapted to survive economically and to stay in the good graces of the emperor, but not repent to have a relationship with Jesus!
They believed that your body was inherently evil and your soul was inherently good and so nothing that your body did could affect your soul’s wellbeing. They thought it was separate and therefore you could do whatever your body wanted!
Jesus stern words indicates otherwise…REPENT!
He finishes the message to them with a promise: If you repent, I will feed you with the hidden manna. I will give you a white stone. If you don’t repent, I will fight against you with the sword of my mouth (The Word of God)
1. What similarities do you see between the city of Pergamos and the city in which you live?
2. What good traits were evidenced in the church of Pergamos? And how would this show in our church today?
3. What strongholds does the devil try to build in our lives today? Are there some strongholds that God has helped you break free from that you care to share? How did you break free?
4. In what way might a church today be guilty of “holding to the doctrine of Balaam”?
5. What stands out to you as the main moral or message of this text?
6. Are there any surprises found in this text that came as a shock to you? i.e. that Jesus would say to a Christian “repent or else”…