Again this morning we look at another Church spoken of in Revelation. Pergamum was the capital city of Asia. It was a city given over to the worship of Greek idols. Two of these religious systems were the worship of Bacchus (the god of revelry) and the worship of Asclepius (the god of healing).
The Church of Pergamum was the period of time from A.D.312 to 606. Many of the heathen rites and ceremonies were at that time adopted into the church. There was a class of people that ere opposed to papal (father, pope) supremacy, for which caused they suffered martyrdom during the fifth century.
Let’s take a look at Revelation 2:12-17 …the message given to the Pergamum church for then and for this day and hour: Revelation 2:12 “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Pergamum. This is the message from the one who has a sharp two-edged sword:” (the power of His Word to save or slay).
Christ praise and approval as stated in verse 13 “I know that you live in the city where that great throne of Satan is located, and yet you have remained loyal to me. And you refused to deny me even when Antipas, my faithful witness, was martyred among you by Satan’s followers.”
Satan had learned during the first three centuries that attacking Christians would never conquer them; thus he changed his approach during the Pergamum period to one of indulgence and elevation. Church doctrine was true and pure during this period but they sinned by taking in the ceremonies of paganism which were supported by artificial doctrines thus polluting the true doctrines of the Church.
Christ disapproval as stated in verse 14-15: And yet I have a few complaints against you. You tolerate some among you who are like Balaam, who showed Balak how to trip up the people of Israel. He taught them to worship idols by eating food offered to idols and by committing sexual sin. In the same way, you have some Nicolaitans among you—people who follow the same teaching and commit the same sins.
This Doctrine of Balaam was similar to that in Numbers 22-31, the people were polluted socially and spiritually by committing sexual immorality; the only way to deal with paganism and false doctrine is to condemn them and root them out. Although their theological doctrine was correct, their practical doctrines were drastically evil.
Christ is calling the Church to be separated from the world’s ideas and life styles. The unlimited power of the Holy Spirit is at the disposal of the Church when they are obedient to the will of God. The Church is powerless when they are disobedient by making alliances and compromises with the world.
Another disapproval of the Pergamum Church was the doctrine of the Nicolaitans; that the lay people were given no voice in Church affairs, but were required to obey blindly the decrees of the clergy. Whenever the clergy lost contact with the people, they cease to be effective tools in the hand of God. The Lord Jesus gave His opinion of this system of Church government in Revelation 2:6, But there is this about you that is good: You hate the deeds of the immoral Nicolaitans, just as I do.
This doctrine of Nicolaitans has ruined more churches and denominations than any other. Never , ever forget…the Word of God is the authority. During this period the emperor of Rome Constantine, showered the Christian church with many favors. He was classified as a self-style “protector of the Christian faith.”
The government provided money for the operation of the church, and many of the pagan temples were taken over by the Christians. To please the emperor many leaders adopted customs that were parallel to pagan practices.
One compromise leads to another which seemed at the start to be a great blessing and ended up a great curse. It was at this time that many anti-Christian practices of pagan origin were adopted, which robbed the church of its fire and its evangelistic passion and zeal. Gradually these changes became more prominent than the original teachings of Christianity.
From A.D. 312 on, the Church became more Roman and less Christian. During this period a marriage of the church as a state religion came about under governmental authority to a place of acceptance and declining in spiritual blessing and power.
Let’s take a moment and look at a timetable that is worthy of taking notice. We can see today’s churches and their adoption of these practices which has come from previous pagan practices and their worship. It has become a form of doctrine and practice as worship in so many of today’s churches. The timetable below taken from Tim Lahaye’s book “Revelation Unveiled.”
- A.D. 300 – Prayers for the dead
- A.D. 300 – Making sign of the cross
- A.D. 375 – Worship of saints and angels
- A.D. 394 – Mass first instituted
- A.D. 431 – Worship of Mary began
- A.D. 500 – Priests began dressing differently than laypeople
- A.D. 526 – An extreme act of anointing as part of religious ceremonial or healing rituals
- A.D. 593 – Doctrine of purgatory introduced
- A.D. 600 – Worship services conducted in Latin
- A.D. 600 – Prayers directed to Mary As the Church became rich and powerful, it was suggested that the world was getting better and better. This was far from the truth.
Not until fourteen hundred years later was the coming of Jesus Christ reemphasized, and with it came a return of evangelistic zeal.
As an added note…We must never forget to keep “the rapture” and “the second coming of Christ” always on the forefront of our hearts…the very message for the church.
It is here when this doctrine has been neglected, that the church will become cold, uncaring, uninterested and worldly. It is time that the Church of TODAY preaches and applies the WORD OF GOD. Christ used the Word of God to:
- Sanctify His Church as stated in John 17:17, Make them pure and holy by teaching them your words of truth.
- Clean the Church as stated in John 15:3, You have already been pruned for greater fruitfulness by the message I have given you.
- To bring the Church joy as stated in John 15:11, I have told you this so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!
- To bring the Church peace as stated in John 16:33, I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.
Christ advice, warning and encouragement in Revelation 2:16 “Repent, or I will come to you suddenly and fight against them with the sword of my mouth.”
This is the same message and principle which has never changed, for it applies to both individuals and churches. Yes, unless we are willing to repent of our sins or our violations of the stated Word of God, and return in obedience to the Word, WE WILL BE JUDGED BY THE WORD, “the double-edged sword.”
Christ challenge to those who face up to the test in Revelation 2:17 “Anyone who is willing to hear should listen to the Spirit and understand what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Everyone who is victorious will eat of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.
This “hidden manna” symbolizes the spiritual food provided by God in His Word. This is an individual feeding and not a church function.
Just as the Israelites had to go individually and gather the manna in the desert, so the child of God is dependent on God for his or her individual spiritual supply.
“Hidden Manna “ is that of the person of Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection, as reveled in the Word of God. Jesus is the “BREAD” as He states in John 6:33-35 “The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day of our lives.” Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. No one who comes to me will ever be hungry again.” Those who believe in me will never thirst.”
No matter what life’s situation or problem, if God’s children will look to Him He will supply according to Philippians 4:19 “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” Revelation 2:17 b “And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.
White symbolizes – that of assurance. Paul speaks of the acquittal to the child of God who calls on Him for forgiveness and salvation…Romans 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.”
White in the Bible refers to the righteousness of God. In accordance with the Word, the white stone, stands as a beautiful symbol of the eternal acquittal we gain through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is COMING BACK…for the over come. Are you expecting HIS RETURN?
As always, Love in Christ Jesus,