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To the Church in Pergamum

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
November 9, 2020 7:00 am

To the Church in Pergamum

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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November 9, 2020 7:00 am

It was a good church in a bad place, and it was in danger. The third letter in Revelation is to the church in Pergamumthe hottest city for emperor worship in all of Asia. The believers had been true to their faith even under persecution, but they were in danger of blending into secular culture.

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Welcome to the Bible study reviewing Internet ministry of confessing Evangelicals featuring the Bible teaching of Dr. James boards more information, please contact us by calling toll-free one 804 88 18 and now the alliance is pleased to present the Bible study hours preparing you to think and act biblically very long ago I was reading a book edited by Oz Dennis and David Shields titled no God but God and I came across very interesting sentence the authors were writing about the difficulty Christians have tried to live as Christians in the secular society like ours and agonistic to the gospel and experiencing all extensions when suddenly they suggested is an obvious solution but with a great deal of humor certainly we need only to lose our first love or compromise his authority for the tension disappear, struck me at once, having abandoned the believers first love was a great failure of the church in Ephesus. The danger of compromising the authority of Jesus Christ and his gospel was a danger faced the church in Pergamum. So those are two essential elements, love and truth.

Both are necessary in the loss of either one of them is very quickly disastrous for the church.

I was looking at the letter to Pergamum. Pergamum play about 65 miles north of Smyrna along the valley of the Caicos River in about 15 miles in land would've been next place for a postal clerk would visit if he was making a circuit of the seven Asian cities. Pergamum was a very old city's receipt of the Roman government in Asia and it had the second largest library in the world's largest library in the world was at Alexandria in Egypt.

This was the second largest it had about 200,000 volumes very interesting story connected with this library about 400 years before John wrote this letter to the church. They are the king of Pergamum and tried to entice the famous library of Alexandria to leave Egypt and come to Pergamum to work on his library wanted to make his library more important of the true king of Egypt heard about it and he was so offended by this attempt to seduce his chief scholar and that he imprisoned them but him in jail.

His name is Aristophanes not the same. Aristophanes was a great Greek dramatist, and moreover he placed an embargo on the export of papyrus to Pergamum papyrus is what you wrote your books on it was a great setback this upstart city, but the scholars of Pergamum figured out something else that would work. They figured that they could use animal skin or parchment instead of papyrus to write their books. I didn't catch on for a long long time hundreds of years, but in the end papyrus proved to be the least valuable material in the parchment was actually blasting so it took over.

Now is the interesting thing it's Pergamum, the Davis word parchment because the new material is called in Greek hate Pergamum's Carta meant that Pergamum should each and that was contracted eventually. In English the word parchment meant he must've been a terrible place to try to be a Christian city had come to prominence after the death of Alexander the great.

When it became the capital of the Adelaide kingdom its last king was adolescent authority, guided 133 BC when he died in 133 BC leftist territory to wrong so Roman influence became very strong. The very first Temple to the imperial cult was built in Pergamum's 20 9B city in honor of the goddess of Rome.

Rome and then ruling Emperor was Augustine's by the time John wrote Revelation. There was no city in Asia in which the worship of Caesar was stronger, and therefore no place in Asia where Christians were more in danger for their refusal to bow down to the Emperor and say Caesar is Lord, and a bus first known martyr of the Asian churches was killed in Pergamum. Verse 13 we first would presumably for refusing to do exactly that is why they knew of many commentators. John refers to Pergamum as the place where Satan lives and has a strong be a reference to the imperial cult of Rome may be other reasons why John uses that phraseology for one thing, that city was concentrated on the rocky hill about a thousand feet high overlooking the valley on top of the cell. That was a magnificent altar to Zeus so terribly masseuse. The Savior's altar was 90 ft. surrounded by a 20 foot high freeze, which is now located in the Pergamum museum in Berlin. I saw that when I visited Berlin 66 of those days you had passed through the point checkpoint Charlie. All of the soldiers were there with the guns.

It was a very dangerous thing to do it.

It made one realize that that is what the Christians faced in Pergamum as the soldiers were there to enforce this kind of regulation that freeze commemorates the victory of adolescent first over the goals in 241 BC and it shows the gods of Greece, defeating a race of barbarians now the altar with this phrase protruded from the face of the hill high above the city stuck out almost like a gigantic throne. Sacrifices were burned there continuously 24 hours a day by a road hating order pagan priests so people who know that say well maybe that is why John calls Pergamum the place where Satan has his throne, but he was also filled with temples three to the Emperor or to die.

NEC instantly and in diameter. The other gods was a medical center doll and the second best known doctor or physician of the ancient world was a native of Pergamum he was second only to have proprieties God of healing with escalate the S&E at his temple there and it was always worshiped under the figure of the serpent the serpent is a well-known biblical image for Satan, so perhaps that's why John talks about this being a place where Satan dwells in a case where you put those features together a particular description becomes very meaningful, the bad, bad place here in this place. God established the church body of believers who had come to know and love the Lord Jesus Christ and were trying to live for him was a good church because the letter says it is not renounced his faith even in the days of persecution that verve renounce is in the air was tense and it points to a specific past crisis. Perhaps the very one in which Oedipus was killed in spite of the crisis, in spite of the death of Anna Pressler first martyr specifically identified with these Asian churches.

This church should remain firm but is that highlights the danger to which they were exposed all the time of Jesus introduces himself here is the one was the sharp, double-edged sword. Pergamum was ruled by a proconsul represented centered in Rome and this proconsul had the right of inflicting capital punishment, symbol of which was a sort presumably use that authority in the case of Anna Persaud. This is a way of saying that Jesus rather than some earthly ruler is the true determiner of the believer's life or death. Christians need to remember that they were arrested. It's Christ or determines our destiny, not the world around us is strikingly all of this image occurs later in revelation of Jesus judgment of the ungodly nations of the earth divided Revelation 1915 out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations in this letter letter to Pergamum.

It's referred to Jesus judgment on false teachers in the church. Text says were 16 repent therefore otherwise I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth was a vision of the sword is and to be taken lightly and occurs at the beginning of the letter and toward the end of verse 12 or 16 is the binding element. What Jesus is doing here is threatening the church with judgment of it continues its compromises with the culture.

This is what I referred to at the beginning of the starting love and truth. Truth has to do with compromise and that's what this church was doing the church in Ephesus was criticized because it forsaken its first law, but this church is criticized because was tolerating error so the concern here is with Christian doctrine. Specific errors are mentioned first bothers this teaching of Baylon. The story of Baylon was found in the book of numbers of the Old Testament. Chapters 22 to 24.

He was a pagan prophet was hired by a pagan king's name was Bay like king of Moab to curse Israel, Jews were advancing on their land. At that time in this king of Moab saw this great for the people out there.

He knew he didn't have sufficient military strength repulse them.

So we turned Baylon wanted to impress them about Baylon, although it was a pagan prophet is that is curses really seem to work.

So he sent messengers to him said the people has come out of Egypt that cover the face of the land they settle next debate now, and put a curse on these people because they're too powerful for me. Perhaps then I will be able to defeat them and drive them out of the country.

I know that those who bless or bless those who curse are cursed and you know the story and of the Baylon wanted to do it because a great deal of money was involved going to be paid well for his services tried to do it with the Lord would let them curses really stopped in the number of times every time he opened his mouth.

Blessings came out and said the curses that upset the king is better on having you all have you come here get blessings.

That's what he did or seven of these and all turn out quite remarkably as pagan prophet actually is prophesying about the Jewish Messiah, will that from his mouth medication will pity the poor king of Moab, one of the world is he going to do what you going to do now, specially when the people of been blessed that an answer probably was paid for it doesn't tell us about it there in the early chapters but it comes in again later numbers 31, report of the death of Baylon were told they are a city Council. They like to get the Midianite women to seduce the Jewish man and persuade them to join in the worship of their God bail PR Baylon did that Jews fell into idolatry before Jott's this diabolical counsel is referred to several times in the New Testament Peter calls Baylon 111. The wages of wickedness. June wrote those who rush for profit in the Baylon's error versa gives the fullest description of his error is our text here in Revelation 2 says that Baylon thought they like to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality of the Aaron Pergamum was to compromise with the debased standards of pagan Asia, particularly immorality and idolatry in the morning is that if there should be no repentance. Lord himself Lord of the church, and fight against the false teachers and secondly it speaks of the teaching of the Nicollet attendance.

I discussed that earlier we were looking at the letter Ephesus because the teaching of the Nicollet Evans is mentioned there as well, pointed out that is been taken in different ways. It could be what we would call clerical is based upon the meaning of the word Layton made up of two parts. The cost which means victory Laos, which means people we have in the world, laity, and it might mean victory over domination of the laity, the people of explained it that way, but historically that something that did not happen in the early church didn't happen until centuries later, was more likely that this was a variation of the error of Baylon because the two are mentioned side-by-side. These verses.

Verses 14 and 15 others that weren't also in verse 15. Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teachings of the Nicollet that might suggest that these are two separate heresies or errors, but not necessarily fact may mean exactly what Nicollet if it means William Barclay breaks it down that way the rights of Baylon which means to conquer, people of these errors are the same. The verse really might be translated something like this.

In fact, you also have people there who hold to the similar teachings of the Nicollet attendance more or less past history course question we want to ask this doesn't apply to our date of applied Austin lidar churches. We don't go to idle feasts. Of course there's a lot of paganism around some of it very open reason.

However, a great deal of immorality and anyone who observes the contemporary Christian church seems to be saying that the church from evangelicals in particular are compromising shamelessly with modernity for years I spoken openly about what I consider to be the worldliness of the mainline liberal churches recuse them pursuing the world's wisdom, embracing the world's ecology of following the world's agenda and employing the world's methods but what struck me in recent years is that everything that I had been saying about the liberal churches for years. I now find that I have to say honestly about the evangelical church a few years ago, Martin Varnado is a shrewd observer of the American church seems said in a magazine interview that in his judgment by the end of the century evangelicals would be the most worldly people in America is on target when he said that century presented my judgment.

We are about the world's wisdom evangelicals are heretics. Of course, at least not consciously aware.

Ask about the Bible we recognize that so that's the word of God. Evangelicals will even talk about inerrancy but many have abandoned the Bible all the same, simply because they don't think it's sufficient for dealing with the problems we face as we enter a new millennium. I don't think it's sufficient for winning people to Christ, so I turned to Philip need sermons or entertainment signs and wonders. Instead they don't think it's sufficient for achieving Christian growth slowly turned to therapy groups and counseling.

They don't think it's sufficient for finding out the will of God or impacting society or any of those things are is the world's wisdom is concerned that we've done what the liberals did before us.

They keep the Christian vocabulary, but they change it so it has no meaning, and we got exactly the same thing Sam many evangelical churches become dysfunctional behavior was nabbed to do with transgressing will involve a holy God salvation become self-esteem world wholeness. Jesus becomes more of an example for right living Savior from our sin by his death on the cross. People were told how to have happy marriages and raise nice children, but on how to get right with an offended God complete corruption of the gospel world's agenda. Well world's major agenda forget world hunger, racism, redistribution of wealth ecology.

All those things that politicians talk about basic agendas to be happy. Happiness being understood is the maximum amount of personal peace and money to enjoy it. Let the bottom line of much evangelical preaching today to be happy, to be content which satisfied far be it from us to preach the gospel that would expose people's sins and drive them to the Savior right about the world's methods well evangelicals will become like liberals in this area to have also way to explain the stress of money placed on numerical growth money that so many pastors tone down the hard edges of biblical truth in order to attract greater numbers of the services that we support a national Association for evangelicals lobbying in Washington DC that we created social action groups to advance legislation brought about evangelical rhetoric speak of taking back America fighting for the country's soul reclaiming the United States for Christ. How I liked and Christian presidents, congressmen and senators lobbying for conservative judges taking over the power structures imposing our Christian standard of morality on the rest of the nation by law, was married ever Christian nation was any nation you call the nation Christians. I got people were Christians.

And what about Augustine's doctrine of the two cities, each of which shall independent and supper origin.

Progress according to different rules and have a different history and have quite a diverse and about American soul was really an American soul to be redeemed or fought over evangelicals quite commonly criticized Pres. William Clinton because he seems to take political positions from the opinion polls leaving this truth, whatever is most useful to them at the moment but don't many preachers do the same recent column, the New Yorker magazine bemoan what it called the brave new audience driven preaching of our day, said the preacher, instead of looking out upon the world looks out on public opinion, trying to find out what the public would like to hear. Then he tries his best to duplicate that and brings his finish produce into a marketplace in which others are trying to do the same public turning from our culture to find out about the world discovers nothing but its own reflection. The unexamined world, meanwhile, drifts blindly into the future is a question David Wells ass is the antithesis against God, against the world evangelical church today imagines that this choice doesn't have to be made that it can be on friendly terms with both this attitude more than anything else accounts for the churches diminished spiritual stature. Ryan appears of the moral pygmy among the dilemmas of the modern world would seem to be giants amidst enormous pain and confusion. Evangelical faith seems by comparison to be trivial as it indulgence itself with clap happy.

Praise songs like Sunday morning dialogues, or worse yet drama in their place. The church needs is not more of these strategies put more faith, more confidence that God's word is sufficient for this time, more confidence in the power of the Holy Spirit apply at and more integrity proclaiming that we have the error in the church. How are we to defeated only one answer. It's by the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God is what John stop says as he picks up on the symbol in the letter God's way to overcome error is the proclamation of the gospel of Christ, which is God's power of salvation to everyone who believes falsehood will not be suppressed by the gruesome methods of the Inquisition, or by burning heretics at the stake, or by restrictive state legislation, or even by war or smartness Conquer ideas only truth can defeat error false ideologies of the world can be overthrown only by the superior ideology of Christ, we have no other weapons but this sword so as you then fearlessly and by the open manifestation of the truth storm.

The strongholds of Satan. Jesus gives a challenge to this church is a simple one challenged the church is to repent. Why because compromises of sin and repentance is the only way to deal with sin's command occurs throughout the letters you find. It's a letter to the church in Ephesus church in Pergamum, the church in Sardis and the church in Laodicea. Certainly, a reminder that Luther was right said in the first of the 95 thesis. When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ said repent event that all of life be characterized by repent one of those were compromising. Don't do it. In that case, Christ wields the sharp two-edged sword, against them fight against as it says with the sword of his mouth. It's not often that we think Lord Jesus Christ as a warrior we have different images on them but we don't think of him as a soldier still blessed one would fight against his own alleged people against parent believers, but that's the picture we have here is a picture of Jesus himself opposing the teachings of bailment of the Nicollet of because as he says he thinks their practices. Knowing the danger they pose.

There was church.

Jesus hates and opposes such things shouldn't we hate those dreadful errors to the contacts is dealing with war fighting is not unexpected at this point to read about rewards for those who are victors or who overcome challenged overcome is found in each of the letters in the earlier words were spoken to the church as a whole as they are in the other letters, but here this becomes very personal. Now Jesus speaks to individuals he speaking to those who do over, and is making great promises to them what he says to them individually as this, they will receive some of the hidden manna, and that we give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.

Important symbols that are hard to understand is been a lot of discussion about them. Easiest understands the hidden manna, manna is a clear reference. We know it's what God provided to feed the people of Israel and they were wandering in the desert for 40 years were fed with food from heaven, but it has multiple overtones of meaning in here Jesus speaks of the hidden manna significance of that thing to be a reference to the fact that Moses placed a jar of man within the most holy place of the tabernacle that is laid out before God, when was able to go in the most holy place of the tabernacle, so a person could eat all that hidden manna only if the waiver open course that is what Jesus is done by his death on the cross. That's why the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. When he died. Again Christians will remember that Jesus referred to himself as the manna comes down from heaven. John 633 and 35 Jesus is hidden to the world which doesn't believe on him is made known and invisible to all who do believers at Pergamum refused the food which is offered to idols will be given the food which, if a man eats a bit. He'll live forever in the final image. Is this a white stone with a new name written on it. There are many interpretations of an unusual reference all of them have to be taken seriously but here the most common ones. The stone is been understood as a to Sarah Latin word meaning ticket admits the possessor to the king's presence to a royal feast is been seen as a pebble used a registered abode of acquittal in some courts general and politician else of the audience set on one occasion if I should be accused in a capital case I wouldn't put my trust in anyone wouldn't put my trust even in my mother for fear the she might put a black stone into the art instead of a white one. So it could be that is been viewed as one of the stones of the breastplate of the Old Testament high priest, the names one of the tribes written monetarily or Roman Thummim, which they used to determine the will of God. It's been called an amulet to bring the possessor good luck symbol of a person or a symbol representing Christ bearing his name by need to choose. I choose the latter widened because this new name occurs later with clear reference to Jesus Christ. Commentators should hold this divide over whether the new name is a new name for the Christian signifying a new nature like the change of Abraham from a Brahm or Jacob will became Israel or Peter beating a rock or whether this is a name for Christ, but you really don't have to choose between the two because of that new name that we are given is the name of Christ what it means is that we are Christ ones are Christians. It signifies that we belong to him that we are his servants.

And we rejoice in his fellowship together, seek his kingdom and his glory reason that new name is known only to him who receives it is because the assurance that we belong to Jesus Christ as an individual matter. It's not corporate is what the Holy Spirit himself bears witness to your individual heart when the believer be assured of salvation in your stead something you must do so. The question is this, argue Christ do you belong to him.

Are you willing by his grace to stand against the corruption of our secular world.

So you need to live for him. You need to honor him, you need to keep yourself unspotted by the world, our father, we thank you for this letter as well is for all the letters that are written to the churches must office we ask for the grace to profit by it.

It's one thing to hear these things that other thing actually to be changed. We have grace to realize Christ to set his name upon us. We represent him. Wherever we go, be given grace to do that well to his honor and glory.

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