Friday, August 29, 2014

Message to Pergamos

Revelation 2:12-17

“And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; I know thy works and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.” (Revelation 2:12-13)

To the pastor of the church in Pergamos the Lord announced himself as the avenging king with the double edged sword.  He stresses that he knew where they lived, surrounded by evil, and that they had not forgotten or denied the Lord, even when some of their own people were killed by those around them for their faith.   Clearly they had a very strong love for the Lord. 

“But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.” (Revelation 2:14)

Despite their very strong love for the Lord, there were people among them who had adopted the doctrine of Balaam, whose teaching resulted is Balac setting temptation before Israel that resulted in their worshipping idols and engage in sexual sin.   When Balaam was asked by Balac to go and curse the Israel the second time, god told Balaam he could only go if Balac’s men came and asked him again.  Balaam didn’t wait for them, rushing to tell them he could go.
Later after being rebuked by his donkey for ignoring what God had said, the angel told him to say nothing but what God told him to say.   In Exodus 24:1, we are told, “And when Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he went not, as at other times, to seek for enchantments, but he set his face toward the wilderness.”  Deciding he knew what God wanted, Balaam ignored the command to say nothing except what God told him to say.  As a result he reinforced the Moabite determination to destroy Israel, and made it clear God would not curse them because he found no evil in them.  It was all Balac needed, but if Balaam had done as God commanded, he wouldn’t have known it.  Basically Balaam’s doctrine was that it doesn’t matter whether we follow God’s word exactly or not.    

Traditionally, Baptists believed the bible was the final authority on all matters of doctrine and practice.  The Catholic Church and most Protestant groups believe the church governing body is the final authority.  Balaam was like the Interdenominational, who say it really doesn’t matter which we believe.  God rebuked the church in Pergamos because they had members who felt that scriptural doctrine didn’t really matter very much.   

“So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.” (Revelation 2:15)

In addition to the willingness to accept other doctrine, they were adopting the doctrine of the Nicolatanes, that the clergy are the head of the church and can set the doctrines and standards for the church.  In I Corinthians 11, Paul enumerates various arguments as to why men should keep their hair short and women should have long hair.  In verse 16, he states emphatically, “But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.”  Despite all the arguments, God’s apostles and churches do not set their own standards.  In verse 19, he makes the point that these kind of things show who is actually serving God.  “For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.”  

In Revelation 2:6, God commended the church at Ephesus for hating the actions of the Nicolatanes because he hated it as well.  “But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.”   Here God makes it clear he hates the teaching that people are to accept their doctrine and standards without question as if they were God’s word. 

“Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.” (Revelation 2:16)

The church at Pergamos was very much like the modern husband or wife who “loves” their mate but still wants to flirt with or even go out with other men or women.  God warned them to repent or face his judgment and possible destruction.  It doesn’t really matter what name you are known by, (how you are denominated or named), but it does matter that your doctrine is what God has said rather than what somebody else teaches.

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” (Revelation 2:17)

This is the third time that God has stressed that anyone capable of hearing and understanding needs to heed the warnings the Holy Spirit has given to the churches.   Clearly the Lord considers them very important.    

Those who have fulfilled these are assured of a place at the banquet in heaven with a white stone marking their place engraved with their new name, almost like a secret password to keep anybody who might get there before him from accessing his place.  


  1. We definitely need to strive to avoid the error of Balaam; too many Christians are all too willing to jettison doctrine to better establish fruitful communication between denominations or even religions outside the Christian pale. What madness. Without doctrine, what would we know regarding Christianity? It's basically admitting that we hate being taught and would rather decide for ourselves what God approves. Great post, thank you.

  2. So often those little changes seem so minor as to be unimportant, but everything God says is important and has a reason for being there.