Quarter’s Theme: DIVINE DISPLAY OF THE WORD OF KNOWLEDGE
Unit 2 – I Know Thy Works-Time For Critical Self-Examination (Lessons 4-11)
LESSON 6 12/7/2015
PERGAMOS: THE COMPROMISING CHURCH
Suggested Hymns: G.H.B. 154, 158
Devotional Reading: REV. 2:12-17
Topic For Adults
THE CHURCH THAT MARRIED THE WORLD
Topic For Youths
WHY SET A DIFFERENT STANDARD FOR YOURSELF?
Topic For Intermediates
REJECT FALSE TEACHING
Memory verse: “Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth” (Rev. 2:16) NKJV
DAILY DEVOTIONAL READING
Challenge And Rewards For Overcomers
Jesus doesn’t like anyone within the church who promotes a tolerant attitude toward sin. In view of this, He promised to wage war against such. The only remedy in respect of this is ‘repentance’. If you overcome sin, you will receive the hidden manna of spiritual life and a “white stone” that signifies the triumph over all our stumbling blocks.
Point of Emphasis: Overcomers will be rewarded adequately.
Prayer Point: I will overcome and receive my reward in the name of Jesus.
When the Book of Revelation was written, Pergamos had been Asia’s capital for
almost 400 years. It was a pagan city. It was acclaimed a cultural centre and was famous for its library which contained 200,000 volumes. Christ said that Satan’s seat or throne was there. Smyrna had a synagogue of Satan but Pergamos had the very seat or throne of Satan. Compromise therefore became a great problem. As a result, it was difficult, for this church located “where Satan’s seat is… where Satan dwells” –to remain focused and undiluted because it was operating right in the middle of a city chosen by Satan as his headquarters on earth.
NOTES ON THE LESSON
(1) THE CHURCH WITH THE RIGHT BEGINNING (REV. 2:12-13)
Pergamos obviously was a church made up primarily of Gentiles who had been converted out of paganism. They had, no doubt experienced genuine conversion and there was some great transformation in their lives. This church refused to worship Caesar at all. They worshipped Christ and Him alone and refused to bow to other gods.
Jesus Christ commended this church by saying they held fast to His name and did not deny the faith. In other words, they were faithful to Him. He was talking about personal faithfulness to Him. And then He said they did not deny the faith, the truth, the gospel, the message of salvation by faith. They never denied who Jesus Christ is and what He said in the gospel. They never deviated in their theology and fidelity. They believed the truth and sustained that belief faithfully, staying true to the word of God..
The courage of their faith is evident. They stood boldly for Christ in the face of severe persecution when Antipas was martyred. They weren’t ashamed of His testimony.
The secret of this performance was the right beginning they had with God, they were genuinely converted and transformed. They were able to resist sin, Satan and the world because they were really on the Lord’s side.
Can we say the same thing about ourselves and our church today? Is our standing right with God? Can He commend us as He did to this church that we are holding fast to His name, the truth and the faith? Let us examine our lives. With a wrong foundation, no structure will endure. Let us look back and see if we have a right (correct) beginning with the Lord through genuine salvation.
(2) THE CHURCH THAT SLIPPED INTO COMPROMISE (REV. 2:14-15)
It was unfortunate that this church that started on a very good note slipped into apostasy within a few years by going back and picking up some of their pagan habits. The name Pergamos means “married”. As we look at what Jesus points out about this church, we are given a glimpse of a church that has fallen into a state of compromise with the world. This church held onto pure doctrine with one hand and with the other, they embraced the world. They were literally in an unequal yoke with unbelievers and Jesus confronted them about it.
This same problem that Pergamos church faced is rampant in the modern church today. There are so many today who believe that since you are saved by grace and kept by grace, you can live any way you please. It is no wonder that society has no respect for the church! It is no wonder that there is no power in the church. We live our lives anyhow without regard for the clear commands of the Lord.
Jesus Christ accused some of the members of “holding the doctrine of Balaam”. Balaam was one of the strangest characters on the pages of the Bible. He was an enigma, a real mystery. On the one hand, he was a man intimately acquainted with God. He knew about God, about God’s character and he even talked with God. On the other hand, he was motivated by greed and he was guilty of leading the people of God into immorality and idolatry. His story can be found in Numbers 22-25. When Balaam could not curse the people of God, he decided to corrupt them. This he accomplished by leading them off into immorality and idolatry and thus bringing the wrath of God down upon them, (Num. 25:1; 31:16).
Basically, the “doctrine of Balaam” is wickedness and worldliness. The church at Pergamos was tolerating people in their midst who claimed to be Christians, but who also lived like the world around them. Some of their membership were living immoral lives and participating in worldly contests and worships. Jesus is not at all pleased with these things.
There was also confusion in the leadership where others held “the doctrine of the Nicolaitans”. The word “Nicolaitans” means “to conquer the people” and probably refers to a priestly class that had developed within the church. It had started out with the leadership in the church elevating themselves above everyone else and it has turned into a doctrine in that fellowship.
If we ever were in such a time, we are in such a time again today. The church, of course, has become worldly. The liberal or dead church, as we would perhaps want to call it today like the Nicolaitans doctrine, those who have departed from the true faith and embraced the world are all around us. Those denominations, for the most part, died in terms of spiritual life and live on only in name. The church was impure. The church was sold out to Satan; it has wedded the world and has long since been judged by Christ and stripped of any power or any spiritual influence. That’s where Pergamos was and that’s why the Lord identifies Himself as the one with the sword to judge them.
(3) A CHURCH WAITING FOR JUDGMENT (REV. 2:16-17)
Jesus Christ asked this church to “repent”. This word means “to change the mind.” Repentance is really “a change of mind that results in a change of direction.” If they refused to repent and deal with the corruption and confusion in their midst, He is going to come to His church and fight against those who troubled it. Notice the change of pronouns in verse 16: “thee” to “them”. The Lord knows who belongs to Him and who doesn’t. He will come to His church and afflict those who are not really His people, but who would bring trouble into the church. Those who will not repent are going to face the Lord in judgment.
It is a fearful thing to be found on the wrong side of the Lord. It is a dangerous business to be found fighting against and causing trouble in the church. The Lord loves His church. He loves her so much that He died to redeem her. He will not stand idle while she is attacked and undermined either. What man would stand by while his wife is being attacked, either verbally or physically? Any man worthy of the name would take his wife’s part and defend her. Jesus Christ will not tolerate those who attack His Bride too.
If they repent and are victorious, the Lord promised them some special blessings viz:
He promised them “hidden manna”, ‘a white stone’ which represents a special privilege to gain access, “a new name which no man knoweth except he that receiveth it.” This is a promise of intimacy.
As individuals and as a church, we need to repent of our evil ways, our compromise and it doesn’t matter syndrome to escape the fierce judgment of God.
We need to take our stand on these precious truths. Far too many groups are turning away from the fundamental doctrines, beliefs and faith of the church and are swiftly sliding into apostasy. Regardless of what anyone else does, or even what our denomination does, we must take our stand on the fundamental doctrines on the Word of God. Wherever you are and whatever you do for the Lord, always maintain your stand and one thing is sure – you make God happy at least about you and your commitments to Him and His church.
- What made the church in Pergamos to have the capacity to resist Satan?
- Evaluate the level of your standing with God. Can God commend you?
- Mention the characters of Balaam. Which ones are commendable and condemnable?
- Describe how Pergamos’ church compromised their stand?
- How is repentance, being a change of mind leads to change of direction?
LE DEFI ET LES RECOMPENSES DES VAINQUEURS
APO. 2 :16-17
Jésus n’aime pas quiconque dans l’église promeut une attitude tolérante à l’égard du péché. Compte tenu de cela, il promit de faire la guerre à de telles personnes. Le seul remède à ce sujet est la repentance. Si tu vaincs le péché, tu recevras la manne cachée de la vie spirituelle et un ‘caillou blanc’ qui signifie la triomphe sur toutes nos pierres d’achoppement.
Point essentiel : Les vainqueurs seront suffisamment récompensés.
Axe de prière : Je vaincrai et recevrai ma récompense au nom de Jésus.