Revelation 009 – The Consequence of CompromiseRevelation 2:12-17 • Dr. Andy Woods • July 29, 2018 • Revelation
The Consequence of Compromise 7-29-18
Revelation 2:12-17 Lesson 9
Let’s take our Bibles, if we could, and open them to the Book of Revelation, chapter 2 and verse 12 looking this morning as God allows it, does a miracle and allows it, through verse 17. The title of our message this morning is The Consequence of Compromise. We’ve been studying the Book of Revelation as you know, sort of our first lesson orienting ourselves to who wrote the book, the date of the book, those kinds of background issues. We’ve traveled through the prologue which is the introduction to the book in the first eight verses. And then we’ve noted that the Book of Revelation has three major sections: number 1, write down the things that you have seen John, and he’s done that for us in chapter 1 through the vision of the glorified Christ.
We’re now in section two where he is told to write down the things that are and here John, through Christ as Christ is giving him the message on the island of Patmos, John is writing seven letters to seven churches. Here is sort of a list of the seven churches that we are beginning to look at, have been looking at, will continue to look at. There is sort of an eight pattern, or rubric if you will, if you like templates, there’s sort of an eight part templet or rubric that each letter seems to follow.
We’ve seen Christ’s word to Ephesus, chapter 2, verses1-7, a church that was busy for Christ, productive for Christ, but they lost sight of their first love to Jesus Christ. And then from there last week we took a look at the Lord’s word to the church at Smyrna, the persecuted church. And now today we begin looking at His words to the church at Pergamum, the compromised church. There is outline that we’re going to look at following those eight pieces of information.
And notice, if you will, verse 12 as we start today, the destination of this church. Take a look if you could at chapter 2, Revelation chapter 2 beginning at verse 12. “And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write:” “to the angel” as we have tried to argue would be the angelos or the messenger or the pastor of these churches, in this case the pastor of the church at Pergamum. Where is Pergamum? It’s further north, it’s about forty-five miles north of Smyrna. It was a fairly prominent church because it was the capital of the Roman province of Asia and it was the seat of what we call the Roman mystery religions. Strange pagan religions that were evident and apparent all over the Greco-Roman world that deified Caesar; they were polytheistic, sexual immorality, believe it or not, was part of this religious system. And Pergamum for whatever reason was almost the seat, the capital if you will, of these mystery religions. And that background will make sense based on some of the things that Christ will say to the church at Pergamum.
You’ll notice how Jesus describes Himself. Take a look at the second half of verse 12, “The One who has the sharp double-edged sword says this:” in this particular section Jesus usually gravitates toward imagery that’s already been revealed in chapter one. There’s a picture of what John saw back in the first century, in chapter one. I know that’s exactly what he saw because I found these pictures on the internet… [laughter] so it’s got to be accurate, right?
But he did see in one of those pictures, you’ll notice on the right there a sharp sword protruding from the mouth of Jesus Christ. It’s interesting to me that this is how the Book of Revelation ends. Revelation 19:15, Jesus coming back one day with a sharp sword coming out of His mouth, so the book begins that way and the book ends that way and Jesus is surfacing that imagery here in chapter 2. I believe that that sharp sword coming out of His mouth is none other than the Word of God because that is how the Word of God is described in Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
That is the work of the Word. What does Scripture do? It’s inspired by God, Paul writes to Timothy, and it’s profitable for what? Teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. [2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;”]
One of the reasons people don’t like to be around the Word of God and will gravitate toward churches that teach them psychological or motivational principles rather than the Word of God is because a sore can hurt, can’t it? In fact, the Apostle Peter preached a tremendous sermon in Acts 2 and when you read that sermon he is camping on the Word of God. He quotes Joel 2, Psalm 110, Psalm 16, and by the time he finished with all of this the crowd, when they heard this, Acts 2:37, they were “pierced to the heart,” and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” [Acts 2:37, “Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?”]
This is what the Word does, it lays bare, it exposes, and one of the reasons Christ reveals Himself this way to this church at Pergamum is there’s tremendous compromise taking place in this church that had to be exposed through the Word of God. More on that as we continue.
But we moved from the description of Christ to the commendation; Jesus, before criticizing any church tells them what they’re doing right. And this is where He says in verse 13, you’ll notice, “I know.” [Ephesians 2:13, ““I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is;”]
By the way, He said that to Ephesus, chapter 2, verse 2: Smyrna, chapter 2, verse 9, and now once again to Pergamum, “I know” verse 13. [Ephesians 2:2, “in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Ephesians 2:9, “not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”]
So He knows what is happening in the church, nobody is… there’s no board secretly meeting, pulling the wool over Jesus Christ’s eyes. He knows exactly what’s happening, He knows compromises that are taking place. He begins by saying “I know.” And notice how He commends this church, prior to criticism. Take a look, if you could, at verse 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.”
Look at how Christ acknowledges that they’re living in the belly of the beast. They’re living in the heart of these Roman mystery religions. He actually says Satan has his throne in your city. Isn’t that an amazing statement? At the end of the verse he says Satan is dwelling where you live. And that’s who the devil is. The devil runs the world system, all of these descriptors, prince of this world, god of this world, prince and power of the air, the roaring lion, the whole world lies in its power, I mean, the Bible is very up front about this, that this is Satan’s world we’re living on the devil’s turf.
And sort of what’s happening in the Book of Revelation as the details will unfold is the devil is being deposed. The kingdom of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ and by the time you get to the end of the book Satan is evicted from the earth, bound first and then later thrown into the lake of fire. [Revelation 11:15, “Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.”]
But you see, these end time events haven’t happened yet. So currently the devil runs the world system. And he apparently for whatever reason, had a tremendous foothold in Pergamum. And I believe even today that there are parts of the world that are just like this, where Satan runs everything but at the same time there are parts of the world where he seems to have a stronger influence than other parts. I could think of many, many modern day examples, you could too. Washington D.C. comes to mind but we won’t go there.
But Jesus is acknowledging that you are standing for Me on the devil’s turf in a part of the world that Satan seems to have an upward hand, more influence than in other parts of the world. And in this environment he commends the church at Pergamum because in spite of the satanic influence the church at Pergamum was doing three positive things. And what are those? Number 1, you have held fast to My name.” You see that in verse 13. [“13, “I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast My name….”] The Greek word for name is the noun onoma [ὄνομα]. I can’t think of a more important name than the name of Jesus Christ.
In fact, Acts 4:12 says, “… for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Philippians 2:9-10, says for what has been “bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,  so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” Notice the reference here to “the name of Jesus Christ.” Isn’t it interesting today how people will mention God, God talk, everybody is comfortable with that but mention the name Jesus, that’s very different, isn’t it. That’s a real line of demarcation.
So they had not denied the name of Christ. In fact, there’s a whole theological movement today, I believe within evangelical Christianity that denies the name of Christ. It’s called inclusivism; it’s the idea that you can be saved in the Islamic tradition, the Buddhist tradition, whatever tradition you find yourself in, as long as you’re seeking God with your whole heart. But you don’t really have to know the name of Jesus Christ…inclusivism! I say that such a teaching is false, it is wrong, it is an abomination to God because of the significance of the name Jesus Christ. If a person will not come to God the Father through the name Jesus Christ then they simply cannot come, it doesn’t matter how sincere they are.
So Pergamum had not capitulated on this, they had not compromised on this, they were still holding to the name of Jesus Christ. And consequently they had not denied Christ’s faith. You know, your Bible says that “without faith it is” what? “impossible to please God.” A person cannot come to God without faith. And it’s not my faith, or your faith that’s important, it’s His faith, His teachings, His rules, and our reliance upon them by way of faith. They had not denied His faith. You haven’t denied My name, you haven’t denied My faith.
You know, a lot of people today, I believe, are denying the faith because they insert human works as a prerequisite to be justified before God. A lot of people will tell you that well, you’re saved by faith alone in Christ alone as long as you walk the aisle, fill out the decision card, turn from your own personal sins, join a church, give money, raise a hand, pray a prayer, when in reality your Bible says you’re saved by faith by itself. Did you know that? Sola fide, the Protestant Reformers said. And the temptation is always, on the part of fallen man, to insert some kind of human work because if a work is inserted that appeals to my pride and I can say well God got me here to heaven but I did part of the job myself. The reality of the situation is no one can enter heaven strutting proud as a peacock because the only thing that got you there is the death and burial and resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ and your faith or trust alone in that.
So they had not gone down the road of works salvation, they had not denied His faith and if you look very carefully at verse 13 he even gives a positive example of somebody. He calls this person out by name, he says, “My faith, even in the days of Antipas My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.” He gives an example of someone that they all knew that he could point to as a positive example. This man’s name apparently was Antipas, he is called here Christ’s “witness,” My witness.”
It’s interesting that the Greek word translated “witness” here is marturs where we get the word what? Martyr, that’s what a witness is, martyr, someone who testifies to the things of Christ, sometimes at personal cost, sometimes at ultimate cost, being killed in the name of Christ. He makes a reference to this man, Antipas, who had paid the ultimate price with his own life. He says, Antipas, who you know, Antipas who was killed among you, and he calls Antipas here “My faithful one.” This is a man who was faithful to God to the point of death.
It’s interesting to me that when God evaluates people He doesn’t evaluate them based on how successful they are, how big their church is, how many books they’ve sold, how big is your out-reach ministry. He just acknowledges that this man, Antipas, as a saved Christian was faithful in his walk. He was faithful to the point where he actually ended up paying the ultimate price of martyrdom itself.
And isn’t it interesting that Jesus here calls out this man Antipas by name. Wouldn’t that be something if God called your name out, or my name out and put us in the Bible for every generation of Christians to see. That’s what He did with Antipas. Why did He do this with Antipas? Because Antipas did not deny Christ’s name and so Christ honored Antipas by name. It’s a repetition of this Greek word name or όνομα [ónoma], used of Christ; now we have Antipas, He didn’t deny my name and so now I’m going to publicly acknowledge His name. That’s what the sanctified life does. The sanctified life as a Christian doesn’t get you to heaven; you get to heaven by faith alone in Christ alone. But isn’t it interesting how God rewards people that will not compromise under His resources and His power. That’s who this man, Antipas, was.
He continues on here in verses 14 and 15 and now we get to the heavy section of the letter, as if this hasn’t been heavy already. And he moves into rebuke of this church, verses 14-15. They had compromised, not all but some, with number one, the teachings of Balaam, verse 14, and number two, the teachings of the Nicolaitans verse 15. And notice the words of Christ now as He begins to critique those in the assembly at Pergamum.
Look at verse 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.” Notice that not everyone in Pergamum had succumbed to this wrong way of teaching and believing and acting, but only “some.” When you poison somebody you don’t have to poison them, let’s say you want to poison them with a glass of water, the glass of water doesn’t have to have 100% poison in it to kill somebody; it just needs a drop or two of the wrong stuff and you can snuff out somebody’s life. This is how the life of the church works. It’s not really necessary that everyone succumb to a false doctrine within a church as long as some do.
The Book of Galatians, chapter 5 and verse 9 says, “A little leaven” not a lot, A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough.” Some of you have bought into the teachings of Balaam and notice this word “teaching.” That’s a very interesting word there, if the teaching isn’t from God where could this teaching have come from? I would call it this: doctrines of demons, 1 Timothy 4:1. [1 Timothy 4:1, “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.”] Satan has teachings. I would say the Book of Mormon, Islam, the Quran, any holy book of a false religion, humanism, I would say contained within it are doctrines. In fact, if you read the Humanist Manifesto, which I’ve done, it’s eerie how doctrinal it looks. I mean, it reads like something that you might find on the website of a church, posting our doctrines; in this case they are not the doctrines of God, these are the doctrines of the devil himself.
So there were some that fell into this false teaching. Well, what false teaching is it? He explains it; it’s related to the teachings of Balaam, who taught Balak how to put a stumbling block in front of the sons of Israel to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. Now this false teaching requires an understanding of the Old Testament. You might want to jot down Numbers chapters 22-25, is where this whole story takes place. And essentially what happened is the nation of Israel came out of Egypt after 400 years, they went down to the bottom of the map there to Mt. Sinai to receive the Law. We had a little casualty, did we not, in the wilderness that set them back for forty years. But after that forty years’ experience as the older Israelites were dying off the younger ones taking their place, you have God’s final judgment on that first generation, that simply would not believe God and trust Him in spite of all the miracles He had done on their behalf as recorded in the Book of Exodus and other places.
And this crowd was making its way into what is called the Transjordan, east of the Jordan River. You’ll see Canaan there at the top of the screen, and if you just go a little bit to the east that’s the general area that they were moving through in route to the Promised Land, through a territory called Moab. Now Balak, who is also mentioned here, the King of Moab, did not like the fact that these Hebrews had transgressed his territory. He did not like the fact that they had entered Moab in route to Canaan so Balak hired Balaam. Balaam, who was he? He was a prophet; he was from the land of Babylon which is further east. He was someone that was known as a prophet who was able to function under a cultic Satanic power. He had the reputation that preceded him and Balaam was one of these types of prophets that is what I like to call a prophet for profit. In other words, I’ll use my prophetic gift the way you want me to use it as long as the price is right. Balak, the King of Moab, paid the right price and he said here’s what I want you to do Balaam, I want you to curse the nation of Israel, because I don’t like the fact that these Hebrews have transgressed into my territory.
And Balaam said to Balak, you’ve got a deal. And he uttered against the nation of Israel seven oracles. Those oracles you’ll find in Numbers 23 and 24. Here are the first four:
- First oracle (23:1-12), Balaam explained that God’s blessings upon Israel were irrevocable.
- Second oracle (23:13-26), Balaam explained that the source of Israel’s blessing was her unique relationship to Yahweh
- Third oracle (23:27–24:14), Balaam extolled Israel’s beauty.
- Fourth oracle (24:15-19), Balaam explained that a future messianic deliverer (Gen 49:10) would spring forth and exercise dominion from Israel.
Here are the last three.
- Fifth oracle (Numbers 24:20) predicts Amalek’s destruction. Amalek was the first foe that Israel had to fight against after leaving Egypt (Exodus 17).
- Sixth oracle (24:21-22) predicts the destruction of the Midianite group known as the Kenites as well as Assyria.
- The nations of the seventh oracle are difficult to identify (24:23-24).
You know that there are seven here because there’s a literary clue in the text. It says, “He picked up his oracle and he said,” so every time that happened he’s given a new oracle speaking against the nation of Israel.
Now there’s a problem with that. What does God say concerning the nation of Israel? Whoever blesses you I will bless; whoever curses you I will curse. Israel has a covenant from God going all the way back to God’s covenant to Abraham and promises to Abraham, Genesis 12. So every time Balaam opened his mouth to curse Israel you know what came out instead? A blessing. Boy, I sure didn’t plan it that way. In fact, oracle four, you ought to study that sometime, particularly verse 17, oracle four is actually a Messianic prediction of the Messiah coming as a star who is going to come forth from the nation of Israel. Oh, that’s why the wise men in the New Testament, Matthew 2, are following a star; I believe that they had access to oracle four. That’s why they’re connecting the dots in a way that the nation of Israel themselves should have done but didn’t.
The Babylonians have it figured out but God’s chosen people do not. Early Matthew, then, is a rebuke to the nation of Israel for their unbelief. So Balak hires Balaam to curse Israel, the problem is every time this prophet for profit opens his mouth he ends up blessing and not cursing the nation of Israel. So Balak, who paid the price to get Balaam to give these oracles is displeased because it’s certainly not the outcome that he intended.
So Balaam takes Balak aside and says what we’re doing here is not working, here’s what you need to do. You can’t defeat Israel by coming out overtly and cursing Israel. What you have to do is you have to create a situation where the Hebrews themselves, the Israelis themselves are living in contradiction to God’s eternal Word, the Mosaic Covenant, which has built within it blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. If you get them through compromise to violate their own covenant then it will no longer be us trying to curse Israel, God Himself will do it. And consequently Balaam presented this idea to Balak, they hatched this plan to get the nation of Israel, which seemed almost unstoppable as it was moving through Moab, to compromise.
So Balaam taught Balak to put, as it says right here in verse 14, “a stumbling block before the nation of Israel or within the nation of Israel. Now fascinating to learn this week as I studied this in the Greek, the word “stumbling block” is scandalon, where we get which English word? Scandal. Wow! And isn’t that what happens when God’s people compromise; it’s a scandal.
So what exactly was the compromise; it’s all right here. Number 1, you’ve got to get them to eat food sacrificed to idols, because God told them in Exodus 34:15 not to do that. [Exodus 34:15, “otherwise you might make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land and they would play the harlot with their gods and sacrifice to their gods, and someone might invite you to eat of his sacrifice,”]
The second thing you’ve got to do is you’ve got to get them involved in sexual immorality. In fact, this word “immorality” translated “immorality” at the end of verse 14 is a verb but the noun is pornea, where we get the word pornography. What the game or the plan is you’ve got to get them to be unfaithful, not only in the food sacrifice to idols, but you’ve got to get them to violate God’s sexual standards. God has sexual standards, doesn’t He; one man for one woman for one life. Don’t get mad at me, I don’t invent the rules; I recognize that there are many, many people within the sound of my voice that may have violated that standard but that doesn’t change the fact that… and the grace of God is always available, but the standard is there. All these people today trying to redefine marriage and all these kind of things, as if marriage is something that we invented. And this is why they hate the Bible; they want to get the Bible thrown out of the schools because as long as people are reading and believing the Bible you can’t accommodate the same sex agenda marriage wise, it doesn’t matter how many times the Supreme Court rules on it, it’s not a matter for the Supreme Court. God is the one that set the rules.
So change the rules, compromise sexually, you can fill in the blank, there are all kinds of ways today to do that, isn’t there. And you’ll create a situation where God has to fight His own people and that’s exactly what’s going to be described for us in Pergamum; God through the sword of His own mouth, is going to go to war with His own church, just like the Israeli’s brought forth the divine discipline of God, I believe it’s Numbers 25, because they compromised sexually. They brought into the camp all of these sort of prostitutes, loose women, the Israeli men began to commit indecent immoral acts with these loose women and Balak’s strategy given to Balaam paid dividends because not only was it not Balak and Balaam fighting Israel, it was God.
And this is how God pulled the curtains on that first generation coming out of Egypt. In the Scripture this is referred to as “the way of Balaam,” 2 Peter 2:15, “the error of Balaam.” [2 Peter 2:15, “forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;”] The error of Balaam, Jude 11. [Jude 11, “Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.”]
And the whole thing is repeating itself right there in the letter that Christ addresses to the church at Pergamum. You’re compromised to the point where God has to fix the problem with the sword of His mouth. And you brought it on yourselves because you bought into this false teaching, not all of you but some of you.
If you drop down to verse 15 he makes a second point of what they were compromised with, verse 15, “So you have some who hold to the teachings” or “the teaching of the Nicolaitans,” you say that sounds familiar… that’s what was happening at Ephesus! So we have already explained who these Nicolaitans are, apparently what was happening at Ephesus made its way up north to Pergamum. I’ve given you this quote already when we were studying Ephesus by Grant Jeffrey.
[“There is a lot of disagreement about who these Nicolaitans were…Christ created a universal ‘holy priesthood’ (1 Peter 2:5) where every believer is a priest. The Nicolaitans attempted to re-create the hierarchy of the Old Testament priesthood. They sought to establish a priestly authority over laymen. The Greek word is derived from Nike meaning ‘victory’ and Laos meaning ‘people.’ It suggests a group of people who seek to elevate themselves into a special class of priesthood over other Christians. Jesus told us in 1 Timothy 2:5: ‘For there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.’ Such men sought the sole right to interpret the Scriptures for other Christians. Centuries later, after Emperor Constantine‘s conversion, this Nicolaitan heresy produced the Babylonian hierarchy of priests, leading to the spiritual “dark ages“ of the medieval period.” [Grant R. Jeffrey, Apocalypse: The Coming Judgment of the Nations, p. 72-73.]
It’s a good study on who the Nicolaitans were, if you actually examine the word, which is a compound word, you get an idea of what they were promoting. From “Nico” you get the word Nike, meaning conqueror, as in the shoe company. From the word “laitan” you get the word laity or people. These were people that asserted some kind of standard between themselves and God over the laity. That’s what Roman Catholicism has taught for I don’t know how many generations and continues to teach today; the way to God is through a man-made priesthood, Nico—over, laity—people, when in reality you are already a priest, Revelation 1:6. [Revelation 1:6, “and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father– to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”]
You already have direct access to God, Acts 4:12, John 14:6, 1 Timothy 2:5. [Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” 1 Timothy 2:5, “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”]
You don’t need a priest to get to God. What you need is Jesus; Jesus is your priest and once you’re “in Christ” you’re a priest, direct access to God. But what an unpopular teaching that is for people that want power over others because this doctrine empowers the people, the laity, not us super saints who want to be in control.
So this was bubbling to the surface in Ephesus, apparently it made its way into Pergamum and Pergamum has another problem, they had bought into the teachings of Balak and Balaam related to sexual immorality and related to food sacrificed to idols. And this was a strategy that was taking the church at Pergamum down the drain because now it’s God having to fight His own church. It’s not the educational system bringing down the church. It’s not the American Civil Liberties Union bringing down the church. It’s not George Soros bringing down the church. It’s God bringing down the church through compromise, the consequences of compromise.
You know, it’s interesting, I, a couple of years ago, sort of made a list, a mental list of all of the people in my life that I know or knew that were in ministry and are no longer in ministry because of compromise in the area of Biblical sexuality, whether it be adultery, whether it be pornography, whatever it is, and it was sort of startling to me to discover how many people I’ve known and respect, many of them make comebacks in the ministry but the comeback that they make never really gravitates toward the level of what their ministry once was. God forgives, God restores, but it’s almost like they never really regained the foothold that they once had in terms of influence for God.
This is a very delicate game, this ministry concept. You get pretty much one chance to get this right; you mess it up, God loves, God forgives, you’re still going to heaven, but the line is so thin and it gets snipped to fast because God Himself exposes His own people and that’s what you have happening in Israel, in the Transjordan; that’s what you have happening here in Pergamum.
So what do we have? We have an exhortation, look at verse 16, “Therefore” what’s the “R” word, “repent,” what does that mean? Well, as we have explained in prior sermons it means to change your mind. That’s what the word means. It’s a compound word, metanoeō, change your mind. It’s a synonym of believe when we’re talking about how to get saved. You switch your trust from works to Christ; you change your mind about that and you’re automatically believing and consequently you become justified before God. The first phase of salvation has been executed which cannot be taken away.
But then God moves you into the middle tense of salvation where He points out other things that are not right and so we are called to a perpetual life of repentance, changing our minds about things that the Holy Spirit surfaces. Well, if I’m saved and on my way to glory why should I have a lifestyle of repentance under God? Here’s the deal… because you can lose things that are of value, that may not necessarily relate to eternity and heaven with God; that’s a done deal. Nothing can subtract from that. But if you don’t repent, if you don’t change your mind about things that the Lord puts His finger on in your life through the Word of God, the sword, which is designed to pierce soul and spirit, bones and marrow, if you don’t change then you start losing things of value that may not necessarily relate to your arrival in heaven. And so consequently verse 16, we have a consequence.
Verse 16, “Therefore repent; or else” what? “…or else I am coming to you quickly,” and look at this here, “and I will make war against them” the polluters, “with the sword of My mouth.” You know, I’m a pretribulationalist, I believe that the church will escape the wrath of God. I believe that God is not going to beat up His bride before He marries her. I will preach that until my dying day. But I have to admit, that verse sort of caught me off guard this week because it’s describing Christ at war, the Greek word, the noun is polemēsō, where we get the word polemical, warlike. It’s the opposite of eirene in Greek which means peace.
It’s the opposite of Irene in Greek, which means peace. It’s the opposite of eirenic, such a person is eirenic, they’re [can’t understand word]. Such a person is polemical, they’re warlike in tone. That’s where the word war comes from, polemos, it’s a verb but the noun is polemos. Jesus is saying I’m going polemical with the polluters at My own church. They’re going to hell, right? It doesn’t say that because John wrote another book where he told us in John 10:27-29 you’re in the double grip of grace and nothing can take you out of His hand. [John 10:27, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;  and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. “]
In fact, the language there in Greek is so strong it’s a double negation and what doesn’t show up in most translations is the word aiōnios which means forever; you will never, never, never, never perish forever once you’re a Christian. You can’t get much stronger in terms of eternal security than that one. But let me tell you something, compromise gets into your walk, compromise gets into your life, there’s an awful lot of things that could be lost, not the least of which is the embarrassment of public disclosure.
And what does Jesus Christ say here to this crowd if they don’t change their minds about this? “…I am coming,” erchomai in the Greek, I don’t think that’s the second coming, Revelation 19 is the second coming, this is a private coming; this was a personal coming. It’s going to come upon you quickly, in other words, the word there, tachos, eminently, any moment, and when it happens it’s going to happen with complete swiftness and suddenness.
“I am coming quickly and I…” look at this, “I will make war against them.” Revelation 2:16, “’Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them…. “ Who’s the “them”? I think it’s not everybody in the church, it’s the compromisers. Well how are you going to make war with them exactly? He says, does he not, “with the sword of my mouth,” which I think is speaking of Hebrews 4:12, the Word of God because that’s what the Word of God does, it exposes. [Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”]
I’m going to bring the whole thing to light; you create a scandal then I’m going to create a scandal. It’s shocking to me how fast this can happen. I mean, we can see many examples, the one that comes to my mind is the televangelist scandals, Jimmy Swaggart, Baker all those guys. To be completely honest some may get mad at me for this; I don’t really question whether those people were saved; maybe they weren’t saved, I don’t know, I listen to them and they sound saved to me. But it’s amazing in the 1980’s how fast all that was exposed and how God used the secular world to do it. And then once the sexual scandals were unmasked you quickly learn well, if they’re compromised sexually, they’re not going to follow God’s sexual standards then they’re sure not going to follow his financial standards. And so the two sort of went together. And it’s amazing how fast, I believe, the Lord went to war with certain segments of Christendom, almost as s warning to the rest… don’t do this!
I was really stunned this week as I was studying this, I read this in Bollinger’s commentary on the Book of Revelation and he makes reference to how Baalim, the pregender of this, died. You want to know how Baalim died? Numbers 31:8, “…They also killed Baalim the son of Beor with the” what? “with the sword.” Joshua 13:22, “The sons of Israel also killed Balaam the son of Beor, the diviner, with the sword….” That’s why Jesus is making reference to the sword. I’m going to destroy this thing with a sword, just like I destroyed Baalim with a sword.
“With the sword of my mouth,” imagery that opens the Book of Revelation, imagery that closes the Book of Revelation. And so what does Jesus say with this word protruding out of His mouth, this imminent act of discipline that’s about to happen there in Pergamum, verse 17, “To him who has an ear, let him” what? “hear what the Spirit says to the churches,” right there at the beginning of verse 17. “Repent” and you’d better listen because if you don’t listen there’s going to be a rapid consequence. You notice here the grace of God; He’s giving them a way out.
There are all kinds of things that a sermon like this does for us, it makes us feel guilty about this part of our life, that part of our life, I’m not really here to pour all kinds of guilt on people; I’m just here to get us to understand that there is a consequence associated with sin. You can pick the sins, you can’t pick the consequences. The consequence is outside of your control. God picks the consequence. And you see, He loves us so much that He’s trying to get us to change our minds about what we’re doing less the consequence comes. The necessity to hear what he is saying, the necessity to hear the Word of God. James 1:21 says, “…in humility receive the word.”
It requires a certain amount of humility to listen to somebody else, doesn’t it? Because everybody wants to talk, Yours Truly included. That’s why we’re a dialogue society, a talk show society; we don’t want to listen, we want to talk. And what is God saying? He’s saying listen. Listen to the Word of God, listen to the man of God, listen to the exposition of the Word of God, and the teaching of the Word of God. To be completely honest with you, that is almost something that is being lost today in evangelicalism. People would rather do anything other than listen to the Word of God. And yet it’s the Word of God that puts us on the right path so that these consequences can be avoided.
I’m reminded of Nehemiah 8:2-3. It says, “Then Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men, women and all who could listen with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month.  He read from it before the square which was in front of the Water Gate” look at this, “from early morning until midday, [in the presence of men and women, those who could understand; and all the people were attentive to the book of the law.”] I mean, he didn’t even expound the Word of God, he just stood up from early morning until midday and just read from the Word of God and what were the people doing? They weren’t looking at their watches, they weren’t wondering are we going to be able to beat the Baptists to the cafeteria. The Bible says in the presence of men and women, those who could understand, and all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. [Nehemiah 8:3, “He read from it before the square which was in front of the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of men and women, those who could understand; and all the people were attentive to the book of the law.”]
You know, in Colonial America… people complain about the length of my sermons, you know in Colonial America your average sermon was two hours? I mean, you want to divide a church try that one. I practically divided Sugar Land Bible Church when I moved the service time from 12:15 to 12:30, what in the world is he doing? Because we’ve lost our appetite, we have to admit for the Word of God and yet it’s the Word of God; that will spare us from these sorts of things.
The letter concludes, and don’t get overjoyed yet because there’s a ton of stuff in verse 17, it concludes with a promise to the overcomers. Look at verse 17, look at the things that are mentioned here. “…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.’” Who are the overcomers? As we’ve tried to explain the overcomers are believers. That’s how John’s other book defines who these overcomers are.
He, as is typical in these letters, reminds these Christians that are struggling, even the ones that are compromised of their glorious future in God. Why is that? Because John’s other book, 1 John 3:2-3 says he who thinks often of His coming” does what? “purifies himself, even as He is pure.” [1 John 3:2, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.  And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”]
You want the remedy for compromise in your life? Think about the return of Christ. Think frequently about the return of Christ and I guarantee you that whatever you’re struggling with will get fixed mighty quick in your life this week. You know, there are times where I get home late, I’m by myself, turn the TV on, I see the same junk and garbage on television that you see. Now I’ve just got 200 channels to choose from, all garbage. And you know, you watch something and it’s kind of, you know, a little bit off. I’m not talking about hard core pornography, just things that wouldn’t be pleasing to God to see. Who’s going to know? My wife is asleep, my daughter is asleep, it’s late at night, what’s the big deal? I’ve had a hard day, don’t I get a chance to relax a little bit?
I can’t tell you, and I don’t always make the right decision, but I can’t tell you how many times I say to myself, you know what, if the Lord were to come back right now (which He could, right, the doctrine of imminency) if the Lord were to come back right now and saw me watching this what would He say? And I turn the channel, better yet, turn the whole thing off. Or you know, you get into a conversation with someone, it kind of moves in more of a gossipy direction, the flesh is always trying to pull us into those kinds of things, and then something inside of you says you know what, the Lord could come back, if He comes back right now what’s He going to see?
That’s [can’t understand word] the second coming, the doctrine of the second coming relates to personal holiness. I think that’s why He keeps referring over and over again to things related to His second coming. He knows the truth. You think about the second coming you start to think about being priorities of God. If you start to think about the priorities of God it changes our moral decisions, does it not, in the present. “And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” [1 John 3:3]
So what does He say related to their future. Number one, hidden manna, you have a right to hidden manna as a child of God, verse 17, “To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna.” [Revelation 2:17, “‘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.’”]
Manna, what is that? It’s provision from God. You know, the unbelievers, those in the satanic world system, they’re always taken care of financially; have you noticed that? They pick the right stocks, they’ve got the right retirement plan, in fact, it’s always been that way. 1 Kings 18:19, says the “prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” [1 Kings 18:19, “Now then send and gather to me all Israel at Mount Carmel, together with 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”]
They worked for Jezebel, Jezebel ran the country, they are always taken care of. What about the child of God. Who’s going to take care of the child of God in the satanically controlled system? The answer is right here, “hidden manna.” The miraculous provision of God, you can read about it yourself in Exodus 16:32-35.
[ Exodus 16:32, “Then Moses said, ‘This is what the LORD has commanded, ‘Let an omerful of it be kept throughout your generations, that they may see the bread that I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’”  Moses said to Aaron, ‘Take a jar and put an omerful of manna in it, and place it before the LORD to be kept throughout your generations.’  As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron placed it before the Testimony, to be kept.” [35 ] The sons of Israel ate the manna forty years, until they came to an inhabited land; they ate the manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan.”]
It was such a strange food the Jews said “what is it?” So that became its name, manna; every single day, without fail, no exception, the manna was there, only exception was the Sabbath, they weren’t supposed to work on the Sabbath, they weren’t supposed to gather on the Sabbath but they had extra that they could collect prior to the Sabbath, like clockwork, every day there it was.
In fact, Exodus 16:32-35 says that manna kept sustaining them in the Sinai Peninsula, think of that, until the day, forty years it was there, until the day they set foot in Canaan where the manna was no longer necessary because it was a land flowing with milk and honey.
[Exodus 16:32-35, “Then Moses said, ‘This is what the LORD has commanded, ‘Let an omerful of it be kept throughout your generations, that they may see the bread that I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.”  Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar and put an omerful of manna in it, and place it before the LORD to be kept throughout your generations.”  As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron placed it before the Testimony, to be kept.  The sons of Israel ate the manna forty years, until they came to an inhabited land; they ate the manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan.” ]
And the Jews criticized God for this. Psalm 78, one of the great Psalms of Asaph, verse 19 says, “Then they spoke against God; They said, ‘Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?’” I mean, we’re stuck out here in the desert, how is God going to provide now? And Psalm 78:24-25 says, “He rained down manna upon them to eat and gave them food from heaven.” And it says,  “Man did eat the bread of angels;” angel food, and “He sent them food in abundance.”
If God provides like that you can say no to the satanically controlled world system. Everybody is afraid to say no to it, what’s going to happen to my retirement plan? What’s going to happen to my financial security? What’s going to happen to the stock market? What about my 401K plan, I can’t speak up for God, I can’t stand up for God. You walk with God as God leads you but I’ll tell you this, hidden manna is available. It’s just amazing to me how God provides in the most peculiar of ways, things you never even thought possible. I mean, did Elijah really think that birds would bring him food? That’s very, very odd, we wouldn’t think about that. Is God limited by a 401K plan, an contract? A retirement plan?
And what does Jesus call Himself in John 6:35, “I am the” what? “the bread of life, he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” The provision of God is so extensive that it not only covers physical things, it covers spiritual things. I think of a retirement plan better than that. But Andy, what about the price of gold? What about the American economy? What about inflation? I don’t know! I don’t have answers there. I know this much, God does not need the American economy to provide for you. He doesn’t even need your job to provide for you. You could get laid off tomorrow and the hidden manna would keep on coming.
The second thing they’re told is you’re going to get a white stone. What is a white stone? It’s innocence. Isaiah 1:18 says, “Come, let us reason together, says the LORD, though your sins are as scarlet they will be made white as snow.” Imperfection exchange for perfection in a nanosecond at the point of faith. And that’s your forever destiny, and in fact that becomes your forever identity because the third thing that’s promised here is a new name. You know, the names and the naming in the Bible, right back to Adam naming the animals, I can’t describe to you the significance of names because names reveal destinies. Abraham’s name was changed to Abraham, the father of many nations, Genesis 17. Sarai’s name changed to Sarah, God over and over again, Isaiah 62:2, Isaiah 65:15, so many verses I can’t even get to them all promise the nation of Israel another name.
[Isaiah 62:2, “The nations will see your righteousness, And all kings your glory; And you will be called by a new name Which the mouth of the LORD will designate.” Isaiah 65:15, “You will leave your name for a curse to My chosen ones, And the Lord GOD will slay you. But My servants will be called by another name.”]
See what’s going on here? You haven’t denied My name, I’ve given you a new name. A name is a person’s identity. Why do they need a new name? Because when you trust Christ you get a new identity, don’t you? I think it was alluded to earlier.
2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature;” creation, “the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” Well, if you go through such a new revolution to the point where you have a new identity then my goodness, you must need a new name. What a revelation of who we are in God. In fact, if you look at this very carefully it says the new name that you will receive, if not already, which is on the stone, no one will know it but he who receives it. What does that mean? This is personal; this is not a crowd’s name, this is not a generic name, this is not a “one size fits all,” this is a special name designed for you because God loves you as a person. I mean doesn’t He say the very hairs on your head are numbered? The complete and total intimacy and care of the Lord for us, not as a group, although He loves us as a group, but as an individual. It’s one of the things about Christianity that I think is only found within Christianity.
I mean, think about this, it’s just mind blowing to me. The God of the universe who spoke and the heavens and the earth leapt into existence wants a relationship with me? He wants to hear prayers from me? I hope we don’t lose sometimes in our theology the intimacy of Christ. I don’t think you could find this in Buddhism or Islam, it’s all impersonal. This is something to my understanding that is unique to the God of the Bible.
And so what is our exhortation here at Sugar Land Bible Church? Take the gift and enter into a personal relationship with God if you have not already done so. Trust in Christ and Christ alone for salvation and understand that as you do so you’re not only getting your sins forgiven, you’re not only receiving the righteousness of Jesus Christ, you not only have your fire insurance paid up, not only will you not be hurt by the second death, that’s what He said to the church at Smyrna last week, but you walk in a personal relationship with God. That’s the Bible, that’s Christianity, that’s what offered. And if the Spirit of God is at work, convicting you of your need to receive by faith what Jesus has done I would encourage you to do it now as I’m speaking. You don’t have to walk an aisle to do it, join a church to do it, raise a hand to do it, pledge money to do it, do any man-made works to do it, it’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord where you trust in Him and Him alone for salvation. And the next time we are together we’ll be taking a look at Christ’s words to the church at Thyatira. Shall we pray.
Father, we’re grateful for Your Word, Your truth, the things that You have said here in this small set of verses to the church at Pergamum, help us to grow in these things as we seek out Your truth and apply it to our lives. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said… Amen.