To the Church at Pergamos

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, January 19, 2018 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

[This blog post is part of a series. The previous post is here, and the next post is here.]

In this study of the letters to the churches found in Revelation 2-3, the letter to Pergamos is one of the three with the more dire warnings. Two weeks ago, I wrote about Ephesus and the importance of getting the love for God back in order. Here, the situation is much worse. Pergamos was a very idolatrous city. Ephesus was known for hosting the Temple of Diana, considered one of the wonders of the ancient world. Pergamos was an idolatry capital most noted for being the first city in Asia (Asia Minor and the Middle East) to emphasize Caesar worship. To the Romans, the Emperor himself was considered a god and was to be worshipped as such. Pergamos was the first of the cites in the region to not just embrace but enforce such idol worship. This is why Jesus describes Satan’s throne being at Pergamos. It was a center of great evil.

Jesus opens this letter by reminding them that he carries the double-edged sword, the weapon which pierces bone from marrow and discerns the hearts. The Christians in Pergamos were faithful to the name of Christ and would not deny him, even when Antipas was killed for it. But that is the only good thing Jesus had to say about them, because there were much bigger issues at hand.

The problem Pergamos had was compromise. They had false teachers in their midst whom they did not address nor kick out. The Ephesians stood firm against false teachers, but lost their love in doing so. Pergamos had the opposite problem: too much love and not enough guts to stand against false teachings.

This church did not renounce the name of Christ, but they allowed false teaching to come into their midst. In this case it had to do with the doctrine of Balaam who was cursed for continuing to get payment to curse Israel, yet could only preach blessings. Here, Balaam is accused of suggesting to Israel’s enemy, Balak, to entice them to eat meat sacrificed to idols, committing sexual immorality, and following the Nicolatians. Jesus told this church to repent of this sin quickly lest they fight against him and his sword.

Compromise is a major problem in the church today. I wrote a couple months ago about the dangers of Old Earth Creation behaving as a Pandora’s Box. It is the secular model of Evolution or parts of it, decorated in Christian language, with God’s name slapped onto the back of it in the end. Like the Old Earth crowd who believes in practice that it is just fine to worship God and secularism at the same time (ALL their methods for determining their models come not from Scripture, nor from quality science, but from the secular corruption of science), Pergamos seems to think it was fine for some to worship Caesar and the other gods as long as you didn’t deny Christ. Antipas was killed because he would not compromise and said Jesus was the ONLY God. It was the primary reason of the Roman persecution not directly ordered by the emperors. Not because Jesus was not another god to add to the collection, but because Jesus was the only God and all others were false. Paul is praised for standing up in Athens at the intellectual capital in Acts 17, but his message was not merely, “Here is the identity of the Unknown God.” It was also, “All other gods are false.” Many riots were started because he was taking away from the business of the idolaters around him.

It is not easy to stand for truth in the pit of hell. Many aspire to be a John the Baptist in their field or career, but unless they are built and prepared for crosses and prison, living on the outskirts of society, and very disliked by the established powers, it will be a very short time before the corrupted field influences that person before they ever start to change that field. You cannot go into academia and think you are going to change them to Bible believers easily. If you think you can go into the darkness and change the system, you are fooling yourself. No Christian is ever called to go save the system. We are actually called to rescue the lost FROM the system. And being a rescuer sent into enemy prison camps means there are guards looking for you.

Don’t forget about what the church of Smyrna had to prepare for. If you are not in position to prepare for this, be very watchful because compromise will come easy and you will start looking like the world. This world is going to burn and perish. If you stick with this world’s system, you will go down with it. If God pulls you away from it and you long to look back on it, remember the lesson of Lot’s wife.

Compromise with this world is very dangerous. There may be some areas where it does not affect you and your faith, but it most certainly affects anyone you listen to. When you compromise with any other pagan idea (New Age, Wicca, Islam, Hinduism, humanism, secularism, etc.) you are telling everyone else around you that not only do you really not believe anything, but it’s okay to be a Christian and believe nothing else. The real scary thing is most don’t realize they have compromised, because they have made the compromise their standard for truth instead of the Bible alone.

However, Jesus gave an encouraging word to those who had not bowed to this compromise. He will give them hidden manna to eat (vs 17). What is that hidden manna? There is no private interpretation of Scripture, so it’s not talking about a secret truth. What I believe this is talking about is real spiritual food that cannot nor will not be accessed by the compromisers. The fake Christians will be denied the real food, having to settle for the imitation brand, getting a chew toy instead of beef ribs, as a friend of mine one said. If you want real meat, you need to go to the real source, Jesus Christ and his Word, and leave aside all other worldly knowledge. Why eat good food and poison yourself alongside it?

But there is something else Jesus gives: a stone with a new name that only they will know what it is. I do believe this name is what is going to be written in the Book of Life. Abram, Sarai, Jacob, Simon, and Saul were each given new names after an encounter with God to Abraham, Sarah, Israel, Peter, and Paul. When someone is born again, they are born with a new nature and new identity and with that identity is a new name. We still retain the earthly names we are given, but this verse indicates each believer is given a new spiritual name at the point of salvation which is the identity to be used on Judgment Day. We’ll know for sure when we get there. Next week is perhaps the harshest of the letters: to Thyatira.

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