Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pergamum: No Compromise Allowed


We've been looking off and on at the Lord Jesus' messages to the seven churches in Revelation. Today, a brief look at His message through the Apostle John to the church at Pergamum.

Christ's message begins with some praise and recognition of the church's particular circumstances. He knows where they dwell, and it's amid much evil - the center of emperor worship in Asia. Thus far, the church as a whole had held fast to Christ’s name and did not deny Him even in the face of death.

Then the tone changes, with the Lord noting that He “has a few things against you.” There are some in their midst (in the church) who follow false teachers. These masqueraders are deceiving believers into compromise with worldliness. Even if there are those in the church who aren’t following the false teachers, they are rebuked for tolerating it in their midst. I see that as a warning to those who de-emphasize church discipline in order to "not make waves."

As an aside or supplement to what the Lord says to the Pergamum believers, take a look at 1 Corinthians 5:9-13, and then 2 Corinthians 2:6-8. Repentance and restoration is always the goal of church discipline, not self-righteous judging.

The Lord's warning is stark. Repent, or judgment will come and war will be made with the sword of Christ’s mouth. The sword symbolizes Christ's judgment, which begins in the household of God. However, to those who overcome, hidden manna and a white stone with new name. Hidden manna is the heavenly food available to those who overcome, as compared to the unclean food of the Balaamites. The earlier reference to Balaam should have been sobering, because Baalam had advised the Mideanite women on ways to lead the people of Israel astray and away from God. The Pergamum church also had a few that were antinomian in behavior (Nicolaitans).

It is interesting to me in this study that each church has its own set of circumstances, but the ones who are in error seem to stumble in many of the same ways.

And it hasn't changed in 2,000 years.

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