Much of the following sermon was influenced by the work of Dustin Abbot's book Revelation Unveiled and F. J. Ellis' curriculum for Purpose Institute course on The Book of Revelation. So, please allow this disclaimer to serve as my citation for anything I failed to properly cite in the body of the text. Be well & maranatha!
"Pergamos, Christ, and You"
Stephen E. Kuntzman
“For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2).
The book of Revelation is probably one of the most misunderstood and discussed books in the Bible.
Many, including myself, often read its pages attempting to figure out answers to questions we describe as the end times, or eschatology (the study of the end times).
In those pages, written by the apostle John - John the beloved - students of the Word of God try to figure out future events coming to this world.
My interest today is not about when, where or how the catching away of the Church will take place.
Nor am I going to discuss seals, vials, elders, or the four beasts sitting around the throne.
I’m not even interested in who the beast, false prophet, or antichrist are, and if they are alive right now.
I know that rockets continue to drop all over Jerusalem and Israel even while I am in this podium, and that many are discussing the coming of the Lord for that very reason, but that is not why I have lifted this text to our attention today.
You see, according to Dustin Abbot (in his book Revelation Unveiled), the Book of Revelation is primarily written to reveal Jesus to us. It is a disclosure of the everlasting Truth of who Jesus Christ is yesterday, today, and forever. And along with this is the unveiling of the Church in its relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.
“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:” (Rev. 1:1).
It is a “Jesus” book, and in its pages we see Jesus Christ as:
1. Alpha and Omega - the Almighty.
2. One in the midst of the seven candlesticks.
3. One holding the seven stars of the seven churches.
4. The only One worthy to sit on the throne.
5. The Lion of the tribe of Judah.
6. The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
7. The King on a white horse.
8. The Judge of all.
It is also a book written to the church about the past, present, and future.
It is specifically addressed to seven churches: “What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.”
Seven Churches of Asia:
Some believe that these seven churches are symbolic of various ages that the Church will have gone through from Acts until today (source: Purpose Institute's notes on the Book of Revelation, lesson 1):
Church/Meaning of Name/Time Period:
Pergamos/Marriage or Elevation/300-500 A.D.
Thyatira/Continual Sacrifice/500-1500 A.D.
I also think it is referring to conditions evident in churches right now, spiritual conditions that exist in local assemblies and even in the lives of its individual members.
With that in mind, it is this third church I am interested in today: Pergamos.
(12) And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
Pergamos literally means “married with the world.”
It refers to a condition and time when satan changed tactics to attack the Church.
We all want to be accepted. So, satan stopped persecuting the church and began popularizing it. The church became the “in thing” to join. And so it became fashionable. But while fashionable it was impure. Those joining didn’t leave their sinful practices and those already in it became influenced by the world.
This led to a condition where the Church would become unfaithful to Christ and married to the world.
Jesus is stating here that He is coming with a two-edged to divide the true Church from the false church that is full of compromise and polluted works.
(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.
Even as popular culture tried to pervert, popularize, and convolute the name of Jesus, the Church held on to the truth of the mighty God in Christ. They still understood:
*Neither is there salvation in any other…
*In Him dwelleth all the fullness of the godhead bodily…
*Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name…
God has always had a True Church that has held onto His name.
Somewhere and somehow Truth has always been preserved.
Even when satan changes tactics, God is always steps ahead preserving and protecting the Church.
You see, Truth doesn’t need protecting. Truth is true whether all believe it, or none do.
It was Adrian Rodgers who said, “It is better to be divided by truth than to be united in error. It is better to speak the truth that hurts and then heals, than falsehood that comforts and then kills. Let me tell you something, friend, it is not love and it is not friendship if we fail to declare the whole counsel of God. It is better to be hated for telling the truth, than to be loved for telling a lie. It is impossible to find anyone in the Bible who was a power for God who did not have enemies and was not hated. It's better to stand alone with the truth, than to be wrong with a multitude. It is better to ultimately succeed with the truth than to temporarily succeed with a lie. There is only one Gospel and Paul said, "If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed".” -Adrian Rodgers, National Religious Broadcasters Convention in 1996
Pergamos had martyrs who’d died for Truth – Antipas (thought to be the pastor).
(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.
It was Balaam who couldn’t curse the Hebrews. So, he encouraged Balac to have his pagan people intermarry with the Hebrews.
Thus, the Hebrews brought a curse on themselves when their gentile wives brought false gods, heathen practices, and compromise into their homes.
The devil wants you to bring a curse on yourself by allowing a marriage of the holy with the profane in your life.
(15) So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
The doctrine (deeds) of the Nicolaitans: corrupted Paul’s teaching concerning grace, and made it a license to sin.
They were sensual and unrepentant.
They turned the grace of God into lasciviousness.
Paul wrote in response to them: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:1-2).
2 Corinthians 6:17, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.”
(16) Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
REPENT – Jesus here gives to John the very first word of the Gospel that He shared in the beginning – REPENT.
It is the only solution for your sin.
It is better to fall in humble repentance now than to be broken by God’s judgment.
Psalms 103:8-11, “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.”
(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.
Hidden manna = Divine provision both natural and spiritual.
The Bread of Life, the Lord Jesus Christ, is our sustenance.
White stone = a sign of purity and innocence.
Even in this wicked age of compromise God can keep you pure and declare you innocent.
Name recorded in stone = worthy of eternal life
God would not condemn the True Church to Hell because of the failures of their generation.
"Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation" (1 Peter 2:11-12).