LETTER TO THE MESSENGER OF THE CHURCH OF PERGAMOS

Rev 2: 12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
13 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.
14 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.
15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
17 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. (KJV)

12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;

The sharp two edged sword is identified elsewhere in Scripture as the Word of God:

Heb 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. (KJV)

Rev 1:16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.(KJV)

Eph 6: 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: (KJV)

I believe the reason the letter begins to this messenger in this way, is to emphasize the problem at hand with this particular messenger.

We know that the Bible identifies Jesus as the WORD (Jn. 1:1,14). Jesus is the personification of the Word of God. We see that it is the Word of God that searches the heart, and the motives of the people that profess to follow Him.

I believe this messenger is guilty of not upholding the Word of Truth. I believe he is guilty of allowing compromise to slip into the Church. Jesus, when He was tempted in the wilderness overcame those temptations by an uncompromising stand with the Word of God. Every Christian who is actively engaged in warfare with the enemy of their souls must learn not to compromise the Word of God. We must heed the word of God which says:

Col 3: 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

The letter to this messenger continues:

13 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.

As usual, the Lord commends this messenger. He acknowledges the works that this messenger does to further the Kingdom of God. Despite the fact that he lives in an area where Satan and sin seem to have a free reign, he is still faithful to declare that he is a Christian, even if it means that he may die for his faith.

Others have died in this area, because of their faith, and it is a risk to live where he lives, and to profess Jesus Christ.

It is acknowledged that this messenger dwells where Satan's seat is.The word seat here actually means "throne". I believe that this means that this messenger lives in a place where the kingdom of Satan is firmly established and entrenched in the hearts and lives of the people.

We know that Satan is the god of this world (age), and that his kingdom has been widely established on this earth. But there are areas in this world where sin and wickedness are more widespread than in other areas.

The natural parallel are the kingdoms of this world. A king may have the rule over the people and the land area of thousands of miles. As long as he is the king, his authority and rule extends throughout his kingdom. But the weight of his rule and authority is strongest in the area where his Throne is.

There are geographical areas in this world where Christians are being slaughtered for their Christianity. These areas could be rightfully identified as where Satan's throne has been established.

This messenger lives in an area where Satan's throne is. This would be a place of exceeding wickedness, because this is an area where Satan inhabits. Yet the Lord commends this messenger for his determination not deny his faith despite the consequences.

Another good example and illustration of this are cities. There are areas in cities where people can feel relatively safe driving with their windows rolled down. But there are other areas where the crime rate and incidents of violence are so high, that discretion would dictate that they drive through these areas with their windows rolled up and their doors locked.

Although there is sin of some sort in the entire city, in these areas, it is more obvious. Satan's throne can be seen to reside in that part of the city.

Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but it is against spiritual wickedness in high places. The servant of God is to be actively engaged in warfare against Satan's Kingdom, and is to establish the Kingdom of God in the hearts and the lives of the people who are citizens of Satan's Kingdom.

Sometimes the Lord calls a servant to reside right in the heart of such a place, where Satan's throne is, whether it is a geographical area such as Sudan, Indonesia, or China, or whether it is in the section of a city where crime and drug use are mightily prevalent.

The Lord is mindful of this servant's faithfulness, and He commends him for it. But He has a few things against this messenger.

The weapons of our warfare are not carnal…are not material…they are spiritual. We are to be equipped with the Word of God to establish and to further the Kingdom of God.

2 Cor 10: 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (KJV)

By RIGHTFULLY DIVIDING THE WORD OF TRUTH, this is accomplished. If the Word is not being rightfully divided, then there is a real danger of errant doctrines slipping into the church, or into one's ministry.

14 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.

I believe it is important to see that the Lord is not accusing this messenger of teaching this "doctrine of Balaam". The Lord's complaint is that this messenger has those in his church who hold the doctrine of Balaam.

This messenger doesn't address the error that is creeping into the hearts and minds of those who are in the church.

There is a mentality that is creeping into the minds of the leaders of the churches today. Just as leaders in today's worldly society want to be seen as being "politically correct," many of the leaders in the church are wanting to be "religiously correct", and do not want to offend people, or to "scare them away" from Christianity.

In doing so, they don't address some errant doctrines that may be corrupting the hearts and the minds of the Church. An illustration of this is seen in the approach some churches have to evangelism.

There is a new classification of church today, which is called "seeker friendly". The logic is to get people to come, and to preach Jesus Christ to them in as non-threatening a way as possible, in order to win souls.

While it is true that Jesus will give us peace, and Jesus promises us many wonderful things, the gospel message of repentance and a turning away from our wickedness is being sugar coated and covered up, in order to win souls. Hell, the due penalty for our sins, is very rarely referred to.

A lot of these "seeker friendly" churches are filled to the brim. From the outward appearance, we could think that this ministry is very effective. But a lot of things concerning the Christian's walk and obligation are not addressed, because the leadership doesn't want (or is afraid) to offend.

The pastor's heart may be toward the things of God, and his desire may be to win souls to Christ. But he doesn't address relevant errors that are creeping into the church.

I am not denouncing "seeker friendly" churches, or their pastors. It is just an illustration of how this messenger conducts his ministry, and how the sheep may be led astray by the error that creeps in because of inadequate teaching of the Word. Jesus' words to His messengers is that we are to proclaim the gospel and to teach others to obey everything that He commanded us to obey. Obedience isn't being taught in many churches today.

There are two doctrinal errors that are addressed in this letter to the messenger of the church in Pergamos:

14 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.

The first doctrinal error that is being condoned by this messenger is the error of 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".

I believe that this "doctrine of Balaam" is largely (but not exclusively) epitomized today in the modern prosperity gospel, and it has taken root in many of the churches today.

I need to point out here that I sincerely believe that God can and does bless His children financially, when they are walking in obedience to His Will.

God doesn't bless us financially to fill our greeds. He blesses us to further the Kingdom of God. He promises that if we seek first the Kingdom of God AND His Righteousness, all that we need will be added unto us.

If we have really made the Kingdom of God our priority, the toys and materialism that this world has to offer will not have an allure for us. We won't want to waste money on ourselves, when we can further the Kingdom of God.

If we have made the Kingdom of God our priority, the resources the Lord blesses us with will be used to establish that Kingdom in our lives and in the lives of others.

The modern prosperity gospel teaches the church to embrace the covetousness that the world embraces. Rather than denial of self, Christians today are being taught and encouraged to live their lives in such a way as to fulfill their self-serving desires.

Balak wanted to defeat the Israelites. He enticed Balaam to curse them by offering him a reward. But Balaam couldn't curse these people who were under God's covenant.

In like manner, Satan wants to defeat God's children today. But he cannot destroy God's people through a curse. We are blessed to walk in the covenant and the promises of God. As such, God is our Protector and our Refuge. No weapon that is formed against us can prosper.

The only way that Balak (or Satan) could cause the fall of God's people, was to tempt them to stumble through disobedience to the Will of God in their lives:
"Start to think of yourself."
"Seek your own good before you look out for others". "You are a King's Kid. You deserve the best."

Satan cannot curse us. The only way that we can fall into error is through our willful disobedience and compromise of the Word of God. Throughout time, the Serpent has been constantly saying "yea, has God really said…", in an attempt to cause us to fall out of God's will, and taking us captive when we buy his lie, and embrace his will for our lives.

The messenger of God is to stand against these tactics, and to speak the uncompromised Word of Truth (2 Tim 2:24-26).

There will be many people that we minister to who prefer to follow their sin, rather than obey the Word of God. But as God's messengers, we are not in a popularity contest.

We who are put into the leadership, who have been appointed and entrusted with the priveldge of being messengers to the Body of Christ, need to be faithful to the True Word of God, and preach the Word, regardless of the "seeker's sensitivity".

But having said that, we are also to "speak the Truth in Love".

While the messenger to the Church in Ephesus fell into the error of forgetting to speak the Truth in Love, the messenger to the Church in Pergamos speaks in Love, but doesn't necessarily address the Truth.

Covetousness is identified as idolatry in the New Testament (Col 3:5). This doctrine of Baalam which has crept into the church today brings a lot of words with it to justify covetousness in a Christian's life.

A large part of Christians in America today are partaking of those things that are centered around greed instead of need.

Christians have received a green light from these false teachers to name whatever they want, and to claim it for themselves.

In contrast to what is being taught today, Paul said that he had learned to be content in whatsoever state he found himself in, whether he was abased or whether he abounded.

Through the false teachers that have crept into the church, Christians today are not learning to be content in their abasement. If they find themselves in a time of their life where they have little in the way of "things" or finances, instead of being content where they are and resting in the Lord, they have been taught to vigorously "claim" their prosperity and their things.

Matt 6: 19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (KJV)

If our treasures are on this earth, when we find things being repossessed, or being destroyed, or stolen, our attention will be more on these things than on God, Who is our Provider. Our happiness and joy is dependant on the well being of these treasures.

The Word of God promises us that God will be faithful to supply our needs. We can be assured of that, and rest in the absolute Knowledge that His Word is true. So when Satan tries to pinch us in the area of provision, we who have learned to be content with what we have will not be easily shaken in our faith.

Satan tempted Jesus in the area of power and possessions. Jesus resisted that temptation and said, in essence, "I could care less about what you have to offer me. I am going to worship the Lord my God, and ONLY the Lord my God."

The Word of God clearly defines these people who hold to the doctrine of Balaam:

2 Pet 2: 13 Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you;
14 Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:
15 Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;
16 But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbad the madness of the prophet.
17 These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.
18 For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.(KJV)

Verse 14 says these teachers have eyes full of adultery. While this can mean physical adultery, in being consumed with lust for another person, the Word of God also addresses a Spiritual adultery, which is identified as a desire to follow the ways of the world.

Speaking of Israel's tendency toward idolatry, the Lord identifies them as adulterers:

Jer 3: 9 And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks.(KJV)

The same is true with Christians who embrace the ways of the world; they are seen by God to be adulterers.

James 4: 2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

Most of the prominent preachers of the false prosperity gospel have an ability to give great speeches. They carry about themselves an air of pride and self-confidence. Their doctrine and their speech encourage Christians to forsake the Right Way, and to embrace the covetousness that they preach.

Read the description of these men again:

2 Pet 2: 13 ..Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you;
14 Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:
15 Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;
16 But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbad the madness of the prophet.
17 These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.
18 For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.(KJV)

"...who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication."

Another way this doctrine of Balaam affects the church is that it causes the children of God to think it is O.K. to commit fornication.

The statistics for the divorce rate in the church today in America are comparable to the divorce rate in the ranks of the unchurched. It has never been this way before. The Bible says that if a man divorces his wife, and she remarries, she is guilty of committing adultery, as well as the person she marries. So Christians throughout the America are embracing the error of Balaam, living in adultery, or other immorality, and the epidemic is going unchecked.

It isn't a popular subject today to address this error. And the messengers today who remain silent in this area are guilty of being like this messenger to the church of Pergamos.

But the messenger of the church of Pergamos isn't guilty of teaching this doctrinal error…he is guilty of allowing this error to exist in the church, and not addressing it. The messenger of Pergamos is sowing and cultivating his seed on thorny Ground.

Mark 4: 18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,
19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. (KJV)

As we have seen, the messenger to the Church of Ephesus would not hesitate to jump on a stage and point fingers and name names when addressing this error, while exhibiting a self righteous indignation. His zeal for the TRUTH would compel him to do this, although he was not motivated by love, but by a critical and argumentive spirit.

The messenger of Pergamos allows this error to be in his church because he doesn't want to make waves, or offend someone, and thus drive them away.

The proper way for a messenger to handle such false doctrine is not by pointing fingers, but by rightly dividing the Word of Truth, and seeing his flock restored to right doctrine.

2 Tim 2: 24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.(KJV)

The messenger of God is to instruct the people in meekness, but this doesn't mean not confronting false doctrine:

2 Tim 4:1-5 1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. (KJV)

Let's look briefly at the second doctrine that is addressed by the Lord. I say briefly, because it has been discussed in our study of the letter to the messenger of the church of Ephesus:

15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.

Another grievance the Lord has against this messenger is that, unlike the messenger of the Church of Ephesus, who hated the doctrine that endorses the elevating of the "clergy" over the laity, this doctrine is not discouraged in the Church of Pergamos.

These "great men of God" love to receive the place of honor and admiration of the "common people", and do not discourage this practice.

The Word to this messenger of Pergamos is to Repent:

16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

What a place of dishonor for a messenger of the Lord to have his error of not reproving these false practices exposed, and for the people who have been entrusted to his care to wonder why he never warned them about it!

The Word of God is Truth.

Lies beget lies.

Covetousness begets covetousness.

Christlikeness begets Christlikeness.

Seekers for the Truth want to find the Truth, not a beautiful package filled with lies. At stake is the fruit of our labor. Are we establishing a kingdom built on the wood hay or stubble of worldliness, or on the precious Truths of God?

Though this messenger lives where the throne of Satan is, and his desire is to see Satan's throne removed, and the Kingdom of God established, the faithful messenger cannot be effective in this endeavor unless he PREACHES THE TRUTH IN LOVE WITHOUT COMPROMISE.

17 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.

The reward for the messenger who preaches the unadulterated Word of God in Love, is that if those who have been entrusted to him overcome these errors, they will walk in the Truth of the Word of God, and those who have been taught by him will remain in the Truth of God.

This word translated as "stone" in the above passage, refers to a small stone that was used in the ancient courts of justice. The Guilty were condemned by a black stone, and those who were acquitted were acquitted by a white stone.

5586 psephos- 1) a small worn smooth stone, a pebble; in the ancient courts of justice the accused were condemned by black pebbles and the acquitted by white 2) a vote (on account of the use of pebbles in voting)

The messenger's duty is to see that the flock of God that has been entrusted to him is nourished and grounded in the Word of God, so their names can be written in heaven. As leaders of the church, our overwhelming desire should be to see the Body of Christ functioning as efficiently as Christ desires them to function.

A church filled with people who are pursing the things of the world is nothing compared to a church that is filled with people who sincerely desire to see the Kingdom of God established in their lives and the lives of those around them.

It is our duty to be uncompromising in God's Word, and to equip His flock to do the work the Lord has called them to do.

OVERCOMERS BEGET OVERCOMERS

Matt 13:23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. (KJV)

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