Messages to the church 3
12 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: The One who has the sharp two-edged sword says this:
two edge sword = word of God
Hebrews 4:12 (NASB95)
12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword
Ephesians 6 says take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
This is a true word, coming from Jesus, against a false word, as we will see
13 ‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.
standing strong in an area with a lot of satanic influence
even though you were persecuted, you did not deny me
Antipas, one of your fellow church members was killed for standing strong
Antipas means “against all” . . . . and he indeed stood against all for the cause of Christ
a good report . . . .I would think that the next verse would be nothing but pats on the back . . .
14 ‘But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality.
But I have a few things against you = With God even 99 1/2 won’t do.
This church has been faithful in the face of intense persecution, but they have some flaws, and Jesus points them out
Don’t be satisfied with anything less than 100 because God is not satisfied
if you are a so-so Christian, become a good Christian
good Christian, become a better Christian
if you’ve gotten better, become the best Christian you’ve ever been
not only is there room to grow, but you are expected to grow, 99 1/2 won’t do!
So what’s the issue?
Jesus points out that there are some folks in the church who are holding to some bad teaching, and it involves the story of Balaam and Balak
Tell Story (Numbers 22-24)
King Balak, king of Moab wanted to get Balaam (spiritist, sorcerer, soothsayer) to curse Israel, and offered him a lot of money
but God would not allow it (every power is subject to God), in fact he made Balaam prophecy blessings for Israel instead
as a result, King Balak of Moab was furious, and of course Balaam didn’t get that money.
Yet in the very next chapter, we see the people of Israel in serious trouble. Apparently, Balaam still wanted that money, and suggested a plan to Balak.
We can’t get past God’s protection, so let’s convince them to move away from God’s protection
We can’t get GOO turn on them, so let’s get THEM to turn on God
WE can’t mess them up, so let’s get them to mess themselves up
The Bible says that the devil is like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour . . . but because of God’s protection, the devil is like a lion at the zoo
fierce, strong, deadly . . . but in a cage
roaring and stalking around . . . but in a cage
in other words, he can’t do as much harm as he wants to because he is in a cage, and God will only give him so much room
so since he cannot get out, his main weapon is to trick us into climbing into the cage with him
it’s raining in your life, climb over the fence and join me in the cage (overhang)
you are looking for satisfaction, and you are so thirsty, climb over the fence and join me in the cage (you can drink my water)
making it in life is such hard work, but if you join me in the cage, we can just lay around together and life will be easy
don’t believe what they say about me, wouldn’t you love to rub my fur, I am not dangerous, I am fun, climb over the fence and join me in the cage
and if we fall for his lies/tricks, we end up in the cage, with the devil
That’s why the book of Ephesians tells us to put the the whole armor of God, not so that you will be able to stand against the power of the devil, but against the wiles of the devil (schemes, strategies, tricks)
Satan did not overpower Adam and Eve, he tricked Adam and Eve
And the teaching of Balaam will result with you getting into the cage with satan
result with you getting in the bed with the devil
result with you letting the devil ride, and eventually let him drive
this verse calls it a stumbling block
In the book of Numbers, this teaching of Balaam caused the men of Israel to eat things sacrificed to idols and commit acts of immorality
idolatry = showing allegiance to another god
Immorality = doing stuff you ain’t supposed to do, ain’t right
How did it work? How did it go down?
Balak, the king of Moab, got some of his Moabite women to entice the Israelite men . . .let’s have a good time . . . we can worship together . . and you know . . .
and they convinced many of the men of Israel that it would be ok, that joining with them wasn’t going to be a problem
worshipping another god would be ok
hooking up with them would be ok
though God plainly and repeatedly prohibited such acts
not only did some of the men of Israel go along with it, they did it blatantly
one guy paraded his new Midianite girlfriend, and brought her back to his tent, right in front of Moses, and the people, while they were weeping in front of the tabernacle (because of this sin)
and this didn’t turn out well for the Israelites (24,000 died of plague)
didn’t turn out well for the people of Moab (got destroyed in battle)
nor for Balaam (got killed in a battle against the Israelites)
What is at the heart of this stumbling block? What’s the basis for this false teaching?
Here is the false teaching: You are God’s child, and you can do whatever you want . . . even if their are clear restrictions against it . . . it’s not a big deal
15 ‘So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.
Jesus is saying to this church that the same teaching is going on now, under a different name, the Nicolaitans: You are God’s people . . . but can still do your thing, even to the point that you are brazen about it
there is nothing new under the sun, and in today’s world, we are surrounded by the teaching of Balaam/Nicolaitans
let me phrase it in today’s words
Since you go to church, and are basically a good person, outside of church, you can do what you want
Since you serve God, help others, you have a hall pass for your sins, do what you want
I know what the Bible says, but I gotta be real (no you better get right)
Make a couple of changes in your life, and then for the rest, do what you want
we live under grace, so you’re covered, just praise Him, and do what you want
In other words, we are talking about a Christianity of Compromise
don’t really have to love every neighbor
besides, I just can’t stand those people
don’t really have to follow what the Bible says about physical intimacy
you can do whoever/whenever
don’t really have to follow what the Bible teaches about role of husband and wife
ain’t no man gonna . . .
ain’t no woman worth all that . . .
you don’t really have to go by what the Bible says about how to raise kids (that’s old fashioned, my kids are my friends)
you don’t really have to really be a part of the church, the body of Christ - I can have church all by myself
you really don’t have to get married - just a piece of paper
you don’t have to be super serious about Christ, that’s just for preachers
in other words, Just say you believe in Jesus, and then do what you want
that’s bad teaching
16 ‘Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth.
and the word is repent - stop it, turn around, and do right
learn to live right
strive to live right
make some changes
set godly boundaries
ask God to help you live right
take God’s commands as commands
remember that Jesus is not only your Savior, but your Lord
say, Yes, Lord . . . and mean it
or I will show up quickly and unexpectedly, and make war against those who hold to that teaching/that thought process/live that way
I don’t want to fight Jesus, at it says with the sword of his mouth, Part of the Word is judgment
God judges his own people
17 ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.’
you better hear this . . . this is a message to the church
again, Christianity is an overcoming religion
here we must overcome this bad teaching, overcome culture of do what you want, overcome the desire of your flesh
and there is a promise, that if you overcome, he will give you some hidden manna
manna - bread from heaven - God’s word, bread of life
I’ll give you some real teaching, divine revelation, spiritual understanding . . . that others can’t get
and in glory, I will give a you a new Name . . .. just for you personally
After accepting Christ - gospel story
now live the life . . . fully
don’t fall for this false Christianity that is alway accomodating sin
if you sin, it’s not ok, you need to repent
it’s easy, but we are called to overcome
he that hath an ear let him hear