*Below is Pastor Andrew’s preaching outline from Sunday’s sermon, not a word for word manuscript. This is meant as aid in seeing the thought and direction of the sermon.

This is the third city on our journey and is the first of the three compromised churches

The First and Last churches (Ephesus & Laodicea) are in grave danger and at risk of losing their existence as a church

The Second & Sixth churches (Smyrna & Philadelphia) are praised for their endurance and faithfulness

The middle Three (Pergamum, Thyatira, & Sardis) are each falling into varying degrees of compromise with the world.

Pergamum: Major roman city most noted for its large open plain leading to a large hill

Like the other Cities the Lord is writing to they are located in Asia minor or modern-day turkey

I. Christ’s Word

Revelation 2:12 ESV

“And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.

Christ in this letter Encourages & Convicts the church with the description of the two-edged sword that comes from His mouth:

Hebrews 4:11–13 ESV

Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

-Their encouragement:

Ultimately, He is the only true judge over them not Rome

His Word will be the final Say in their lives

-Our Encouragement:

-The Word of God is the final say and judge of our lives (the World doesn’t get to define our faith)

-The Word of God will be our Judge and arbiter not the world (we may lose much here, but in Christ we have gained so much more)

-Their Conviction

-His Word is the judge; therefore, it is his Word that sets forth who He is and how we respond to Him not what we are purely taught…… The word is central not the teachers who can lead us a stray for their own fortune and for our destruction

-Our Conviction

-His Word is the judge; We need to examine all things according to the Word of God not our emotions or how we want God to act in any given situation. God’s word is the final arbiter of truth.

So, this is the imagery that Jesus choose to reveal himself as to the Church in Pergamum. It is an image that will both strengthens and humbles.

So, the First thing Christ speaks after announcing his presence is to Commend the Persecuted

II. Commends the Persecuted (13)

Revelation 2:13 ESV

“‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.

A. The Lord Knows their situation

-Center of Pagan Worship

The New International Greek Testament Commentary: The Book of Revelation Christ Commends the Church in Pergamum for Its Persevering Witness in the Midst of Persecution, Condemns It for Its Permissive Spirit of Idolatrous Compromise, and Exhorts It to Overcome (2:12–17)

Pergamum was also a center of pagan cults of various deities. For example, the cult of Asclepius, the serpent god of healing, was prominent in Pergamum; the serpent symbol of Asclepius also became one of the emblems of the city and may have facilitated John’s reference to “the throne of Satan” (cf. 12:9; 20:2!). Zeus, Athene, Demeter, and Dionysus were also gods receiving significant cultic attention.

-Throne of Satan

The New International Greek Testament Commentary: The Book of Revelation Christ Commends the Church in Pergamum for Its Persevering Witness in the Midst of Persecution, Condemns It for Its Permissive Spirit of Idolatrous Compromise, and Exhorts It to Overcome (2:12–17)

“The throne of Satan” in Pergamum is a way of referring to that city as a center of Roman government and pagan religion in the Asia Minor region. It was the first city in Asia Minor to build a temple to a Roman ruler (Augustus) and the capital of the whole area for the cult of the emperor. The city proudly referred to itself as the “temple warden” (νεωκόρος) of a temple dedicated to Caesar worship. Life in such a politico-religious center put all the more pressure on the church to pay public homage to Caesar as a deity, refusal of which meant high treason to the state

 

The New International Greek Testament Commentary: The Book of Revelation Christ Commends the Church in Pergamum for Its Persevering Witness in the Midst of Persecution, Condemns It for Its Permissive Spirit of Idolatrous Compromise, and Exhorts It to Overcome (2:12–17)

The reference to “Satan’s throne” may also have been brought to mind because of the conical hill behind Pergamum, which was the site of many temples, prominent among which was the throne-like altar of Zeus, which itself would have been sufficient to arouse the thought of the devil’s throne

-We know the Lord is not oblivious to our situations or the trials we face. He is well aware and sovereign over all that we experience.

-Here is reminds them that he is well aware of their surroundings

 

B. The Lord Commends their Faithfulness

-They Hold fast His Name (they will receive a new name later)

-They do not shrink back in light of death

-Antipas in church history is described as the bishop in Pergamum ordained by John himself believed to have been burned alive inside a brazen Bull alter

C. This Church is not afraid or in danger by external pressures

-People fear that persecution coming from outside the church will weaken the true church, and the reality is that that is not the case, at least not seen here in Pergamum. External pressures didn’t drive them out or away

It’s Important for us to see in each of these cases that the Lord begins with words of commendation and encouragement. Before the Lord calls them to repentance or correction, He focuses on the work that they have done that is worthy of the cause of Christ.

Jesus in these Letters models for us an important aspect of ministry and life in the faith and that is seeing the aspects of our brothers and sisters that are striving hard for the gospel and preserving. He’s about to hit them with their error, but before that he shows them the reality of their faith and commends them.

In English this is-

603 characters

115 Words

It is really easy to gloss over the good and jump right to the bad. We don’t want to skip the faults, but we must also praise the good.

Now the word of God though does move from the praise of their faithfulness to strike at the areas where they have become lax.

His Word Condemns the heretics.

III. Condemns the Heretics

Revelation 2:14–15 ESV

But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. So also, you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.

A. Heresy is not to be tolerated

When speaking to the people The Lord reference the OT book of Numbers 22-25 (And 31:6)

Balaam is a gentile prophet in the days leading up to Israel entering the Land. He is commissioned by Balak to curse Israel

-He at first refuse because God won’t let him Go (Even though the pay day was going to be great)

-He eventually Goes the Lord is angered by this and sends an Angel with a sword to Kill Him (But his donkey saves him)

-Eventually he gets there blesses the people of Israel and the story seems to come to an end (Moab’s women then begin to seduce the men of Israel and judgement comes against the people of Israel as they begin to worship the Moabite Gods

-In Chapter 31 We learn that Balaam is killed in the conquest of Israel, and he fell by the sword because he instructed the Balak how to lead Israel astray.

-So, this is a pretty serious charge to level against the church. (As we can imagine they probably didn’t take it that seriously, I mean they were being persecuted……

(Very reverse Ephesus they didn’t have persecution and lost their love but had their doctrine. Here they have Persecution and hold fast their love but lost their doctrine)

-Remember a little leaven spreads through the whole of the church and as such the Lord is not interested in allowing it to simmer any longer

-So, what is the Heresy they fell into…. Well that is a little harder to decipher

-The clear teaching is that it involved sexual immortality and to a degree Idolatry, but we also know this teaching was not a means to avoid persecution or to deny the faith….so what was it

-One it was a clear distortion of the Gospel (Perhaps by false teachers wishing to gain prosperity like Balaam)

-Balaam spoke blessings over God’s people as the Lord commanded him to do, yet then went and taught the Midianites how to lead Israel astray instead. He played both sides to a degree, yet clearly knew God and his power, yet was swayed by evil.

-It sought to allow sexual and cultic practices from the city into the faith (it mingled the two and in so doing ate away at the truth of the Gospel)

  • Bachelorette illustration
  • Our society expressly loves parts of Christ’s teaching, but not all of it. We have adopted a framework where we can have our cake and eat it too, even though it is expressly the opposite of Christ’s teaching.
  • This doesn’t seem like a means to get the world to like them or capitulate with their demands, but rather to accommodate their own sinful desires and flesh into the faith.

B. Heresy will destroy the church more than persecution

-This is where the rubber meets the road as it were. The church isn’t going to be destroyed from without it is from within….

-They need to stay vigilant to the faith in word and deed.

-they need to be focused on the truth of the Gospel in every season

-It is their responsibility for their faith and their church

-Ephesus is not to be judged for Pergamum’s sins, nor Pergamum for theirs. They answer to Christ for their own failings.  They both struggle differently. Ephesus had no problem ridding the church of its false teachers. they boldly did so, and lost something along the way, yet Pergamum can’t seem to practice the same faithfulness in the church that they express outside

They’ll face death before they offend false teachers in their midst…….

The Lord here then Counsels those who are righteous in the church

IV. Counsels the Righteous

Revelation 2:16–17 ESV

Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’

  1. Repent:

-Those who love the Lord and know the truth know the only option is to repent of this falsely and return to a faithful church inside as well as out.

-Those who don’t will be judged by God.

-Ultimately the Lord is asking the church at Pergamum to deal with these false teachers before he has to…. It’s a very “don’t make me come down there.”

  1. Listen

-The second thing he does is reiterate the parable nature of his words (He who has ears let them hear)

-We must listen well to the instruction of the Lord. While this letter is to Pergamum any church can fall into the sins found here. so, while the letter is to them, the parable is to all the churches. It is locally universal

-So, listen well to the Word of God that you might properly be prepared to answer him. And so that you may be well equipped to see error when it comes.

  1. Respond

-Thus, we must conquer the sins here that have entangled and for those who do the Lord gives 2 things:

  1. Hidden Manna (the true meal of God that will Satisfy Christ Himself)

John 6:47–51 ESV

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

  1. A White Stone with a new name

(Multiple Options exist for what this means)

Revelation: Verse by Verse Call to Listen and Challenge to Overcome (2:17)

  1. the jewels in the breastplate of the high priest;
    2.      the white and black stones placed in an urn during a trial to vote for guilt/acquittal;
    3.      the white stones with names on them as a kind of ticket given to guild members or victors at the games for admission to feasts;
    4.      secret amulets with the names of gods on them; or
    5.      a token signifying a gladiator was freed from the arena.

Based on the context the 2nd or 3rd option see, the most reasonable. However, the use of the name being written and hidden seems to make the 3rd the best

-Those who overcome are satisfied by the bread of life and given entrance into His feast. they do not eat at the tables of Idols, but rather the table of the most High God.  Here just as we are a new creation, we receive a new name (representative of a new character)

Applications:

Overall there are several things we need to remember and see in the text:

The Word of Christ will strengthen is to preserver and convict us of our laxity towards false teaching.

  1. We must Listen to the Word of Christ
  2. We must examine what is taught in light of the Word of Christ

iii.  We must be willing and active in putting the Word into practice

  1. We must repent when we fail to adhere to the truth of the Word
  2. We can find comfort in the truth that His Word will satisfy our longings
  3. We can find comfort that it is by His Word working with the Spirt that we have taste the bread of life

vii.  We can find comfort in knowing there is a future for us beyond our current trials

 

 

 

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