If Jesus Passed a Note in Church, What Would It Say? (Part 3 of 7)
(Series of sermon content original to W. Herschel Ford)
To the Church That Was Next Door to Satan’s Throne
Oct. 22, 2006 FBC, Chester Mike Fogerson, Pastor
B Pergamum is called "the greatest city in Asia Minor" (65 miles north of Smyrna).
1 The 1st temple to Caesar was dedicated there in AD 23.
a Population 120,000-200,000 (noted for beauty, wealth, library with nearly 200,000 volumes).
b The people joined forces with Rome to defeat the kings of the eastern Mediterranean, which gave Pergamum special favor with Rome.
c Rome granted Pergamum the right to execute capital punishment.
aa Symbol was a "sword"
bb Jesus reminds Christians in v. 12 that His sword, not Rome’s, was the more powerful.
2 "And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: The One who has the sharp two-edged sword says this: 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. 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. 15 ’So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 ’Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war 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, 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.’ Rev 2:12-17 (NASB)
a Jesus warned the church in Pergamum against trading His approval for the world’s acceptance (essence of the text in a sentence).
b The compromises we make with the world today are not worth risking the better world God has in store for us someday (essence of the sermon in a sentence).
C I pray you’ll take steps to be overcomers in a world that wants to overcome you (objective).
1 What steps do you need to take to be overcomers in Satan’s neighborhood? (Probing question)
2 Let’s look at two steps that we can take to be overcomers in a world that wants to overcome us (transitional sentence).
I Keep your faith in the Lord. ’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.
A Jesus affirmed the church at Pergamum for boldly holding onto their witness.
1 That poor little church was next door to Satan’s home office.
a Pergamum was where the crazy heathens/pagans went if they got kicked out of Babylon. (IL) Billy Idol getting kicked out of Bangkok.
b The city was the center of worship of Dionysus, Athena, Asclepius (snake god of healing), Demeter, Zeus, emporers...idol supercenter.
aa Being a Christian (worshiping the one true Savior, Jesus) would provoke hostility.
bb Pergamum was a city to which Rome had given the rare power of capital punishment, which was symbolized by the sword (pro-consul).
cc Antipas (possibly 1st Christian martyr in Asia, possibly a pastor) was killed.
c Satan was at the beginning & end of this verse (13), & the believer (Antipas) was in the middle! Squeezed
2 This little church stood its ground, won people to Christ in a city where the devil was working overtime.
a They were outnumbered, but did not back down.
b Jesus applauded them!
B Satan is NOT in hell/locked in a bottomless pit this morning.
1 He’s the prince of this world, god of this age, working up & down the world, seeking to drag people down & away from Christ.
a He’s working overtime, busy, developing new strategies...not in hell, but in Chester, our nation.
b If he’s busy, we’ve got to be busier; he makes a new strategy, we’ve got to develop a better one.
2 Sometimes we may feel like Antipas, squeezed from top & bottom by the enemy (we are!).
a The only way you can make a lost person know that you are a Christian is to live differently from his life.
b We spend so much time persuading the world that we’re acceptable because we’re just like them (indistinguishable).
c If we believe in/affirm the same things, love the world, live like the world...what do we offer the lost in conversion that differs from what they already have?
d Stay true to His name!
C In older days, if a Christian didn’t say "Caesar is Lord", they’d put him on trial.
1 The emperor would say, "The whole world is against you."
a "Then," said the Christian, "I am against the world."
b Sometimes when we stand up for Christ it seems like the whole world is against us.
2 When we stand up for Jesus, we may be the only one standing, we are in the majority.
a God + you=majority
b "Greater is He that is in you..." "If God be for us, who can be against?"
The devil couldn’t use the sword of persecution to get the church at Pergamum to give up their faith so he took another route (transitional sentence).
II Keep your distance from the devil. 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. 15 ’So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 ’Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth.
A Some of the Pergamum church held fast to their faith, some did not. (Pergamum was a church divided. It only takes a few).
1 Pergamum (Pergamos means "married"), reminds us that Jesus wanted (wants) His church/people pure.
2 The church at Pergamum had wed some doctrines/practices that were wrong (Balaam & Nicolatians).
a The teaching of Balaam (Num. 22:22-40) was an Old Testament prophet who prostituted his gifts in order to earn money from King Balak, who hired him to curse the people of Israel.
aa God wouldn’t put a curse in Balaam’s mouth-only blessings.
bb He enticed some of the men of Israel to go to the pagan temples, sleep with temple prostitutes & in religious orgies...brought the curse on Israel.
cc Pergamum believers weren’t cursing God, but were asking for it.
dd Some said, "We’re Christians now, on our way to heaven, saved by grace, once saved always saved, so we can live as we please." (One hand on God, the other on the world).
b We can’t mix Christianity with worldliness.
aa Satan couldn’t destroy the power of Christianity with sword of persecution (roaring lion), so he snuck in like a snake instead (still does).
bb Sounds like, "Oh, there’s no harm in that. Everyone’s doing it."-lost our Christian influence.
cc A ship in the water is a thing of power/beauty, but when the water gets in the ship there are tragic consequences.
dd In the world, not of the world, when we let it in we’re sunk.
c The teaching of the Nicolaitans (also heard about them at Ephesus).
aa From two words: 1) to rule 2) the people. Greek for conqueror of the people.
bb There were some people with some selfish ambitions who wanted to set up a hierarchy so they could rule the church.
cc Today, the Roman Catholic Church is run by such a hierachy.
• Pope, cardinals, bishops, priests...people have no "say-so" in matters of doctrine/preaching.
• He takes what’s handed down & likes it. Rebels? He’s a heretic & is cast out.
dd Christ should be head of the church, the Bible all the rules necessary for the Church, the Holy Spirit should be our guiding principle & power in the church.
• Pastor & deacons are servants of the church
• Every individual Christian has direct access to God without any church official in between.
• Jesus did not want his church divided into "priests" & "people".
3 Jesus told (& is telling) the church that these two teachings must be cast out.
a Balaam: one hand on the world & the other on God.
b Nicolaitians: No hierarchy (priests vs. people, spiritual elite vs. commoners).
A Jesus warned the church in Pergamum against trading His approval for the world’s acceptance (essence of the text in a sentence).
1 The compromises we make with the world today are not worth risking the better world God has in store for us someday (essence of the sermon in a sentence).
2 We’ve look at two steps that we can take to be overcomers in a world that wants to overcome us.
a Keep your faith in the Lord
b Keep your distance from the devil
B I pray you’ll take steps to be overcomers in a world that wants to overcome you (objective).
1 Option #1: Faith is developing, or underdeveloped
2 Option #2: Where you put your hands is your decision
C What steps do you need to take to be overcomers in Satan’s neighborhood? (Probing question) ’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.’
1 In this last word of encouragement Jesus promises to give 3 things to those who overcome:
a Manna (Ex. 16:33-34, Heb. 9:4) was the food sent daily from heaven when they were in the wilderness (holy, Ark of Covenant, provision).
aa David called manna "angels’ food" And had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven. 25 Man did eat angels’ food: Psalms 78:24-25a (KJV)
bb To those at Pergamum who refused the banquets of the pagan gods (v. 14), Christ will give the manna of His great banquet of eternal life.
b White stone (3 possible meanings):
aa Courts: a juror was given a black stone (guilty) and a white stone (innocent).
bb Friendship: a white piece of marble was broken in two, these stones were passed down father to son. In the future, if these two people found each other they found shelter/protection.
cc Invitation: Inscribed on the stone was an invite to a banquet, & the white stone would get you into the banquet (Pergamum pagan banquet).
c New name (Is. 56:5; 62:2,4). In Israel’s history, a change of name was often associated with a promise (Gen. 17:5, 15; 17:4, 9, 20)
aa New name removed their shame, new start.
bb New name was through the name of Jesus.
2 I want the promise!
a Manna: the joy/sweetness of Christ is ours to feast on & enjoy.
b White stone: Invites/calls us to the banquet table (also, you’re no longer guilty. Sins are gone, been forgiven).
c New name: We’ve went from "the children of wrath" Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. Eph 2:3 (NASB) into "the sons of God" But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name John 1:12 (NASB)
3 (IL by Dr. E. J. Daniels) There was a little boy who came up to the preacher after a service & said, "Preacher, do you know me? You wiped mud off of me one day."
a Then the preacher remembered how the boy passed by the parsonage one rainy day & the boy got mud all over himself on the way to school.
aa Preacher took him in the backyard & scraped the mud off his clothes, cleaned him up, & sent him on his way.
bb Now the boy was asking, "Preacher, do you remember me? You wiped mud off of me one day."
b Once we were like that little boy (covered with the sins/stains of the world).
aa Jesus came, cleansed us from sin, & sent us on our way rejoicing.
bb One day when we look into His lovely face we can say, "Dear Jesus, I am the one who was all covered with sin. One day You came & washed it all away & brought me home to heaven. Thank You, Jesus!"
c Are you living for Jesus?
aa Not? Repent, repent, repent
bb Whether you’re a saint or a sinner, repent & follow Jesus.
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