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Truth Matters / Dr. Cheryl Davis
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September 4, 2021 6:20 am


Truth Matters / Dr. Cheryl Davis

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On this edition of Truth Matters with Dr. Cheryl Davis, she continues her teaching of the seven churches of Revelation. Today the Truth Train takes us to the third church, the Church of Pergamum, also known as the Church of Pergamos. Being a Christian in Pergamum was not easy. Believers were often under great pressure to compromise their principles and convictions of faith and live as pagans. Pergamum was a city where widespread Satan and idol worship occurred frequently. Primarily because Satan's throne was located in the city. It was a city saturated with demonic activity and wicked behavior.

Pergamum was also the seat of the Temple of Athena, where the Greek goddess of Athena was erected and exalted by idol worshipers. Many in the church in Pergamum were faithful, yet Jesus writes a letter to the congregation warning them not to compromise the faith by accepting doctrines of devils or living unholy lifestyles. Here's Dr. Davis, the consequences of compromising faith. Hi, I'm Dr. Cheryl Davis, and we continue in our survey of Revelation with the letters to the seven churches. Last time we talked about the church at Smyrna as it was a church that suffered intense persecution.

But there were no negative things, no opportunities for improvement found by Christ for them. Christ knew their tribulation, their poverty, their persecution, but he told them to be fearless and faithful and that those that overcome would receive a crown of life. The next church that we plan to survey is the church at Pergamos in verses 12 through 17. In reading verses 12 through 17, and to the angel of the church in Pergamos writes, These things, says he who has the sharp two-edged sword, I know your works and where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. And you hold fast to my name and did not deny my faith even in the days in which Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was killed among you where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolations, which thing I hate. Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with a sword of my mouth.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him whoever comes, I will give some of the hidden manna to eat, and I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written, which no one knows except him who receives it. Each time as we survey these letters, we talk about the destination. The destination of this letter is to Pergamos. Pergamos was the most northern of the seven cities. It's the capital of the Roman government in Asia. It's the greatest city in Asia. It had been the capital for 400 years when the letter was written. It was known for the production of parchment, and parchment was a historical paper. Because it was the capital, it had the authority to carry out capital punishment, and it was licensed to have the Roman sword to take life. A historian, Sir William Ramsay, says, Pergamos gives the traveler the impression of a royal city. It's the home of authority. It's the intellectual center.

It had the second largest library in the world at the time, but the largest happened to be in Alexandria, Egypt. As each letter has a designation of the Lord or a characteristic of the Lord, it says, These things says he, in verse 12, who has the sharp two-edged sword, and verse 16, with the sword of my mouth. The sword represents judgment and the authority to judge. Christ is prepared to use it in Pergamos if the church does not repent, which Pergamos is the capital of Rome in Asia, which it does have the authority to then use the sword to take Roman life. I'm going to read Hebrews 4, verse 12, as it describes the word of God as a sword. For the word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

And there is no creature hidden from his sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of him, to whom we must give an account. As Jesus continues, he gets into the diagnosis of the church. In this case, the church of Pergamos has a fourfold diagnosis, three good things and one bad. And when you think about it, three out of four are not bad, right? I mean, if you were to go to the doctor and he says, Well, you got three things that are good, and then the fourth one you need to improve upon, you're, you know, you're going to go out and pat yourself on the back, at least I got three out of four.

Except in this case where the fourth diagnosis was fatal. Let's get into the letter. In verse 13, he says, I know, which he says to each church, I know. He knows where they dwell. He knows where Satan's throne is. He knows where Satan dwells. He's really just giving context to his judgment, but he knew the circumstances of their faith because of the city in which they lived in. How do you think having a church where Satan dwelt and where his throne was worked for them? I mean, how do you think it works for the modern day church today?

It's a struggle. Pergamos held an ancient wonder of the world, the altar to Zeus. It was 90 square feet, but it was 40 feet high. The altar looked like a throne. Many evil sacrifices were offered on this altar. As Cleopas, the God of healing was known as the Pergamos God. He was known as his Cleopas, the savior. This was the root of a fence that the church had with the city.

This is the image of a snake coiled around a rod was the emblem of the goddess Cleopas. Another tradition from history says that when Babylon fell, the center of Satan's pagan activity on earth moved its operations from Babylon to Pergamos. Christ understood the darkness in which the Christians at Pergamos lived in. So he knew the circumstances of their faith. Next, he knew the conviction of their faith.

He says in these verses that he knew the believers were trying to hold fast to his name. They were trying to hold fast to their faith. So he knew the conviction of their faith. Jesus Christ also knew the courage of their faith. They had been courageous to the point of death.

Antipas died as a martyr. Christ called him his faithful martyr. He knew the courage of their faith. He also knew the compromise of their faith. Which is where he gets into the fourth diagnosis in which this diagnosis was fatal. He knew the compromise of their faith.

What I'm here to say today is that compromising will cost you your life. The problem with Ephesus is that they had lost their first love. The persecution by the Roman Empire with Smyrna really made them stronger because of persecution. But in this case, the church was weakened by compromise. The same strategy Balaam used against Israel is the same strategy that Satan brought against the church at Pergamos. In order to understand Pergamos, we must understand Balaam in the Old Testament.

So I would like to just turn to Numbers 22-25. We are not going to read all of these chapters, however, but if you read through them, this is basically the doctrine of Balaam. Balaam was a pagan prophet in the Old Testament who ran a business of getting the gods to grant favors.

He would intercede with any god as long as the price was right. So just to summarize the story of Balak, the king of Moab tried to petition Balaam to curse Israel so that he could conquer Israel. But ultimately, Balaam taught Balak how to put a stumbling block in the path of Israel in the form of enticements of the Moabite women.

I'm going to read Numbers 25 verses 1-3. Now Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab. They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel. In response, God killed 24 Israelites for compromising their faith because Balaam taught Balak how to make the Israelites stumble. The doctrine of Balaam is that if you cannot curse them, you corrupt them. And in this case, by intermarrying with the Moabite women, their faith was diluted by intermarriage. The people of Pergamos thought they could indulge in the pagan practices around them without harm to their spirituality. But really, by adding the practices of the pagans of Pergamos, they were compromising their faith. So you basically corrupt yourself from within, and therefore you lose power, and you curse your own self by weakening and compromising. Also, they had the doctrine of the Nicolations in addition to the doctrine of Balaam.

We encountered them at the church at Ephesus in Revelation chapter 2 verse 6. They wanted to divide the church into two classes, basically priests and laity, just like the pagan temples. Really, what this did, it destroyed the unity of the body of Christ. A pattern of compromise can become a practice of compromise.

Pretty soon after you compromised, then you began practicing it, and you have diluted your faith. So just like when Christ gives a diagnosis, he often offers a remedy for their sin, and this is demands that he places on the church. Basically, he says, Repent, or else I will come quickly and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

He says, Clean up the mess, or I will come and fight against the guilty ones with the sword of my mouth. In verse 17, he delivers promises, and really promises to deliver the church. He gives them two promises to them that overcome. The first one is hidden manna. Heavenly food God gave the Israelites to keep them alive in the wilderness is known as manna, and we've seen that in Exodus chapter 16 verses 11 through 15.

God has food for them to sustain them that they cannot partake at the table that is sacrificed to idols. It's the hidden manna that he's offering to them to help really stop them from compromising, get them to turn away from compromising. And the last promise is a stone with a new name, a white stone, that has a name written on it which no one knows.

This is really hard symbol to interpret, but some think the white stone is innocence, but we will be given a new name. But really, the main message here is that you don't have to compromise your faith to get what you need. All we have to do is believe the promises of God.

His promises are yes and amen. Really, the problems of Pergamos have been lived out in history. Pergamos was the church that was married to the world. After Diocletian, the evil Roman emperor, died, Constantine won control of the empire. He decided that the whole empire should become Christian and declared it to be so. This was really an unholy marriage of church and state that resulted in Christianity being forced on people, much like emperor worship.

There's no evidence that Constantine was a born-again Christian. When you think about this, pagan temples became churches, pagan holidays became Christian holidays, pagan statues became Christian icons, and pagan priests slipped into positions of Christian influence. The world entered the church with the blessings of the emperor.

There are two warnings here. Never to bow to anyone but Christ, and never compromise your faith. We can do a lot of good things for Christ, but bringing the world into the church can signal the end. We can do a lot of good things for Christ, but bringing the world into the church can signal the end. Now, as each time as we finish these letters, I'd like us to just really reflect on our church and our relationship with God, and in particular here. What part does the world have in our lives?

What part does the world have in our church? And would God be pleased with that? And are we compromising? Are we committing that fatal mistake of compromising? Until next time, I'm Dr. Cheryl Davis. We hope you'll join us again for our next edition of Truth Matters with Dr. Cheryl Davis. Dr. Davis will continue the Revelation series over the next several weeks, helping each of us to better understand the importance of this intriguing and time-sensitive book, especially sensitive for those alive during the last days of the church era and for those who will endure the great tribulation years. Truly, as we see the global events happening around us today, one can sense that what the apostle John wrote in the book of Revelation is unfolding before our eyes. Dr. Davis will continue this journey through the book as we study next week the church of Thyatira. If you would like to contact Dr. Davis, you can email her at or by mail at P.O. Box 159, St. Paul's, North Carolina, 28384. Listen to a podcast of today's message on or listen to this station for the next broadcast of Truth Matters with Dr. Cheryl Davis. Truth Matters is a production of The Truth Project.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-08 11:47:00 / 2023-09-08 11:52:55 / 6

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