PERGAMOS // THE MARK OF A CHAMPION
We looked at the Persecuted Church
We learned about persecution here in the US.
We learned that the Church of Smyrna had a lot going for it, but there was a lot of opposition.
It was the only Church that Jesus did not rebuke.
We are going to look at the Church of Pergamos
A Church that was known as the Compromising Church
A Church that had allowed it’s surroundings to penetrate the core values of the church.
LETS THINK ABOUT SOMETHING FOR A SECOND
“WHAT MAKES A GREAT CHAMPION?”
THE GREAT EARVIN MAGIC JOHNSON
Isn’t just my favorite basketball player of all time.
He has impacted my life in so many ways
Pat Riley, his coach,
The Showtime Lakers would enter a contest with a strategy
To draw in the opposition in order to open up opportunities for others to shine.
They would pass the ball around until they found a weakness
If they didn’t find a weakness, they penetrated the defense until there was a weakness.
Magic would drive to the basket,
Draw in a couple of defenders
Only to give a behind the back pass to Kareem who would be trailing behind him for the dunk
In times that they needed a big 3
They would swing the ball around in hopes of finding Byron Scott
If that didn’t work, Magic would drive to the basket
Again drawing in defenders
Thus creating open spaces for others to shine
What made the Showtime Lakers Great
Is that they exposed the weaknesses of their opponent and took advantage of their mistakes.
NOW HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO THE CHURCH?
WHAT DOES CHURCH HAVE TO DO WITH THE LAKERS OF THE 80’S?
12 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, ‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword: 13 “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. 15 Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. 16 Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth. 17 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” ’
PRAY THAT WE WOULD CONFESS THE AREAS IN WHICH WE ARE WEAK
PRAY THAT WE WOULD ADMIT THAT THERE ARE AREAS IN OUR LIVES THAT NEED REVIVAL
PRAY THAT WE WOULD CHAMPION THE CAUSE OF JESUS CHRIST
12 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, ‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword:
TO THE ANGEL
Who is the Angel?
The Messenger of the Church
To its overseer
To its Pastor
OF THE CHURCH IN PERGAMOS
Where is Pargamos? or Pergamum?
Pergamos is the most northern church in the postal route that John was writing to
It was a city located on a Hill, rendering the name Pergamum which means Elevated
It was known for its advanced civilization and education.
This City was known for its worship of the Sun God
It was home to pagan cults:
Zeus // God of the Sky, Thunder
Athena // Goddess of Wisdom
Dionysus // God of Wine
Asclepius // God of Healing
During some recent excavations
Archaeologists found two temples, a theatre, and a Medical Library
Remnants of a Serpent wrapped around a pole
Which was reminiscent of the time Moses held up the serpent that was wrapped around a pole to heal the people of Israel in .
Which, interestingly enough, is the world renown symbol for medicine.
“THESE THINGS SAYS HE WHO HAS THE SHARP TWO-EDGED SWORD”
WHO IS THIS PERSON AND WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE DOUBLE EDGED SWORD?
This is Jesus
To the Pergamese People, The Double Edged Sword would be representative of Roman Authority
But in this case, Christ is the one holding authority
Since Pergamum was the capital of the Roman Province
This would speak volumes to the audience.
The Doubled Edged Sword is unequivocally representative of the Word of God
A Text that not only provides grace
But presents the solution for the salvific need of humanity.
It is the very word that proceeded from the mouth of God.
12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
16 He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.
13 “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.
JESUS GIVES THEM THE STATE OF THE UNION
I know your works
ERGON // Work, Deeds
I know where you dwell
Where you Live and Reside
The exact spot where Satan’s Throne is
This is most likely in reference to the throne of Zeus that was located in the acropolis of Pergamum.
It was an altar dedicated to Zeus that proclaimed him as Savior.
EVEN THOUGH THE CHURCH WAS SURROUNDED BY A PAGAN ETHOS
EVEN THOUGH THE CHURCH WAS SURROUNDED BY A PAGAN CULTURE, THEY CONTINUED TO PROCLAIM WHO JESUS WAS.
They continued to Hold Fast the name of Jesus
They never denied the Faith that they had in Christ
Even when faced with persecution
Even when people were being martyred for the Faith
People like Antipas
Who was one of the first martyrs of the Church
THIS CHURCH CONTINUE TO PROCLAIM WHAT JESUS HAD DONE FOR THEM
SO FAR SO GOOD RIGHT?
IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT:
TO BE SPEAKING OF THE NAME OF JESUS WHEN YOUR NEIGHBOR IS SATANS THRONE
THATS PRETTY GOOD
TO CONTINUE TO BE FAITHFUL TO THE NAME OF JESUS, WHEN YOUR SURROUNDINGS SPEAK TO THE ARCHNEMESIS
YOU WOULD THINK JESUS WOULD BE STOKED.
14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.
NOPE. JESUS HAS A FEW THINGS AGAINST THEM:
Even though this church held fast the name of Jesus
Even though they didn’t deny the faith that they had in Jesus
Even though they said the right things
They were living into a very hypocritical lifestyle
Where their words didn’t match their actions
Not by what they did, but by what they allowed
THIS CHURCH ALLOWED PEOPLE TO HOLD ON TO DOCTRINES THAT WERE NOT ALIGNED WITH SCRIPTURE
Doctrines that spoke to a different narrative
The Doctrine of Balaam
Was led by Balaam who was a prototypical Unethical leader who led the people of Israel into compromise right before they were to enter into the promise land.
1 Now Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab. 2 They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods.
1 Now Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab. 2 They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. 3 So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel.
One thing that stood out to me is that Balaam led the people of Israel into idolatry after he had been faithful to speak the Oracles of God to Balaak
Almost identical to what was happening here in Pergamum
The Church was speaking of God prophetically
While allowing idolatry to creep into the Church.
It was in that we find out what Balaam had done
Allowing the women to encourage the Israelites to commit sexual immorality and eat food sacrificed to idols.
NOT ONLY WAS THIS CONTINUING WITHIN THE CHURCH AT PERGAMOS
CHECK OUT WHAT ELSE WAS HAPPENING
15 Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
THERE WERE THOSE IN THE CHURCH WHO HELD ON TO THE DOCTRINE OF THE NICOLAITANS
WHO WERE THE NICOLAITANS?
Little is known about them
But what is known is that they were a heretical sect who compromised with the pagan cults, had been rejected by the Ephesian church but were courted by the church of Pergamos.
What we also know about them is that the Lord hated their doctrine and their practice
SO WHAT IS THE BIBLICAL SOLUTION FOR SPIRITUAL COMPROMISE?
16 Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.
Stop compromising your testimony of faith in Christ
Stop preaching one thing and doing another
Stop the hypocritical practices
That when Jesus comes back
We would be fully aligned with His word
Both believing and doing
Both knowing and practicing
That our beliefs and our actions would parallel each other
Because Jesus himself gives us a strict warning
If we don’t
If we continue living a spiritually compromised lifestyle
If we don’t change our practicum
His word, that is meant to reconcile us to Him
Will preach against our spiritual state
His Word that is meant to appease us
Will condemn us
17 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” ’
FOR THOSE OF US THAT ACCEPT THIS WORD
FOR THOSE OF US WHO WANT CHANGE
FOR THOSE OF US WHO DESIRE A DIFFERENT RESULT
FOR THOSE OF US WHO WELCOME THE PROCESS OF REPENTANCE
WILL RECEIVE STRENGTH TO OVERCOME
HE WILL GIVE SOME OF THE HIDEEN MANNA TO EAT
TO THEM HE WILL GIVE A WHITE STONE
WITH A NEW NAME WHICH IS UNKNOWN TO EVERYONE EXCEPT HIM WHO RECEIVES IT
NOTICE HOW JESUS CONTRASTS THE BENEFITS OF REPENTANCE WITH THE TEMPORAL PRACTICES THAT HE CALLS THEM OUT ON
Instead of eating food sacrificed to Idols
Come feast on the Hidden Manna that He provides
Instead of identifying with your sexual promiscuity
Come receive a new name that only you know
JESUS DESIRES THE CHURCH TO BE THE CATALYST OF CHANGE
HE WANTS THE CHURCH TO CHAMPION LOVE, FORGIVENESS, AND FAITH
BUT IN ORDER FOR US TO BE CHAMPIONS
We must learn to impose our will on the common enemy
We must learn to fight against the proclivities of the flesh
We must learn to run game on everything that exalts itself against the knowledge of God
We must learn everything about our strengths and weaknesses
We must learn to wait on the Lord instead of making rash decisions
CHAMPIONS KNOW THEIR WEAKNESSES AND PROHIBIT THE ENEMY FROM USING THEM AGAINST THEM.
CHAMPIONS WORK HARD
CHAMPIONS DO WHAT NO ONE ELSE IS DOING AT A TIME WHEN EVERY ONE ELSE IS SLEEPING
Are we going to champion the cause of Jesus Christ?
Are we going to admit our weaknesses and work hard to protect ourselves from our own vices?