Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Revelation Chapter Two, Part 6 of 9

2:12-13 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
The church of Pergamos dwelt in a city that the Lord calls Satan’s throne, NKJV. It was a spiritual epicenter of demonic influence, and in the midst of this there was a godly congregation preaching Christ, doing His works, holding fast His name, and suffering for it. Jesus wanted to remind this burgeoned church that He is the One who holds the sharp two-edged sword. He is the most skillful at employing it, since the sword is the word of God. In the days of His humility Jesus used the sword of the Spirit to deal Satan a terrible blow, when the tempter came to tempt Him with the kingdoms of the world, Matthew 4:3, 9.

Every Christian today sits in a place where Satan’s seat is, for he is the god of this world, 2nd Corinthians 4:4. “The whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one,” 1st John 5:19. If you know someone who is unsaved, they are followers of the god of this world, and they lie in his sway. I am not insinuating that the unsaved are all Satan worshipers; but anything that replaces God in the seat of our affections is from the wicked one, and therefore you are worshiping a created thing rather than your Creator. To comfort the distraught Christians in a world (and especially in places where Satan seems to have an indomitable hold) that is given to our enemy, Jesus reminds us that He knows our works done in Him, and furthermore, He is not negligent or forgetful that we are in enemy territory.

But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end,” Hebrews 6:9-11.

Though we as Christians dwell, like those in Pergamos, where Satan’s throne resides we are exhorted by Him who has the sharp, two-edged sword to persevere. Christ leads the way, and our Lord has already conquered our foe. He, like Joshua, calls us to come and stand on the neck of our enemy that He has already defeated, Joshua 10:24; Romans 16:20. Our Lord in His humanity struggled against sin unto blood, and He calls to us that we be equally willing to achieve this victory over sin, even though it means suffering for the cause of righteousness. “Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach,” Hebrews 13:12-13.

Antipas, Jesus’ faithful martyr who was apparently slain due to persecution, went on into glory and received the crown of life, verse 10.

2:14-16 thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam… So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans… Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
Balaam was the false prophet who taught Balak of Moab how to entice Israel to sin by worshiping idols with ritual harlots. Baal cults had temple harlots, and part of their “worship” was prostitution with suppliants. There was apparently a lax in morality amidst those in Pergamos caused by false teachers. This is the first time that Jesus refers to these teachers as “them.” There is a group He addresses as “thou” a personal application of association, as Christ is their Shepherd and they are His flock; and then there is “them,” a group of false teachers who are bringing in “damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of,” 2nd Peter 2:1-2.

The deeds of the Nicolaitans have progressed and become doctrine. The false “overcomers” of the people are teaching heresies within the professing church for gain, popularity and pride. They care nothing for Christ; His name is a means to an end to achieve their own personal ambition. Such a man was Diotrephes: “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church,” 3rd John 1:9-10. Diotrephes had become his own god at this point, lording over the flock. The man of sin, the Antichrist, will be the ultimate Nicolaitan.

Jesus offers warning. Repent, He tells them. To make a conscious choice to turn from the sin that grieves their Lord. This sin was an indulgence of false teachers that was corrupting their doctrinal purity and making them morally lax. “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself,” Titus 3:10-11. Our Lord wanted them to silence the false teachers and remove the old leaven. Or else what? “I will come unto thee quickly and fight against them.” Christ will come to His church, His people, and will fight against these false teachers described over and again as “them.” Clearly they are unsaved, as our Lord takes pains to differentiate between “thee” and “them.” Paul suffered similar hardships amidst the Corinthian church when he wrote, “For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults: And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed,” 2nd Corinthians 12:20-21. In both cases the sword of the Spirit, the sword of Christ’s mouth, was going to perform its task, and divide. Paul was already grieving for the saints who did not repent of their sins; while Jesus warned that wrath was being incurred by the unsaved who misused His name and His people.

Brethren, when we are tempted to compromise our Christian walk, remember Pergamos.

2:17 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.
Jesus Himself is the hidden manna, John 6:32-35. The new name implies a new creation, which every believer partakes in the moment one believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, 2nd Corinthians 5:17. When God enters our lives and grants us new life, our interests, desires, goals and pleasures should transform. It is not unlike a wholly new creature; and to that end a new name only seems fitting. Abram became Abraham. Jacob became Israel. Simon became Peter. Saul became Paul. This new name we receive isn’t necessarily secret; it may imply an intimate name shared between the individual and God; it may also serve to remind us that though we are in the flesh, we are not to be known as such any longer, 2nd Corinthians 5:16; 1st Corinthians 2:15. God has come, and He has made all things new. All glory to my God and Savior Jesus Christ who loved me and gave Himself for me!

No comments:

Post a Comment

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness," 2nd Timothy 3:16.

My wife and I welcome comments to our Blog. We believe that everyone deserves to voice their insight or opinion on a topic. Vulgar commentary will not be posted.

Thank you and God bless!

Joshua 24:15

All Scripture is taken from the King James Bible (KJV) or New King James Bible (NKJV). Copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.