In reading the letters to the churches in Revelation, I’ve focused on marks of a living and thriving church. Here’s the first two:
Love: See the letter to Ephesus
Suffering: See the letter to Smyrna
In this post we add another. Orthodoxy: See the letter to Pergamum.
Orthodoxy is right thinking, proper belief. We’ve discussed it already in this series and we’ll discuss it again this morning. A living and thriving church has right thinking, proper belief. A living and thriving church remains faithful to the truth of the Bible.
Yet, the church in Pergamum was faced with a challenge. Jesus states, I “know where you live – where Satan has his throne.” Many reasons have been offered for such a statement: Pergamum was home to an altar to Zeus, home to the temple and cult of Asclepius, home to the Roman imperial cult, and more.
While that may have been the case for Pergamum, for us this morning: The church is in constant contact with spiritual forces of evil. The church must remain faithful in the crises of compromise.
There were some in Pergamum who remained faithful in the crises of compromise. Some did not renounce the name of Jesus. Antipas was put to death while remaining faithful to the name of Jesus. Yet, others failed. Two specific false teachings are mentioned: Balaam & Nicolaitans.
We want to get it right. We want to be a church, a group of gathered people known for orthodoxy. How does this happen?
Well, Jesus in verse 12 mentions that he is the one with a “sharp, double-edged sword.” Jesus in verse 16 mentions he will come and fight against false teaching with the sword in his mouth. In Revelation 1:16 it is mentioned that coming out of Jesus’ mouth is a “sharp, double-edged sword.”
We have other Scriptures that reference a sword:
- For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12
- Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. – Ephesians 6:17
How do we develop orthodoxy and fight off false teaching? Through the word of God found in the Bible.
Truth of the Bible
Truth through prayer
Pray the scriptures
Truth in community
Surround yourself with faithful people
Talk about the Scriptures
Open yourself up to accountability
As with each of the letters to the churches in Revelation, this letter to the church in Pergamum ends with a promise to the faithful.
Hidden manna: God’s supernatural and eternal provision that stands in contrast to the idol food offered at the pagan feasts. An obvious reference to the exodus of the Old Testament.
White stone with a new name written on it: White stones were used in the first century as entrance tickets to plays or banquets. They were also used by jurors to vote for acquittal of an accused person. The reward of a white stone is the entrance ticket to feast with God himself or a positive vote of acquittal from God himself. The new name written on the stone is an intimate secret known only to the believer and God himself.
Let us be a church that stands on orthodoxy and let us reap the rewards.