13 “‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith[b] even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14 But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. 15 So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. 17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it (Revelation 2:12-17 ESV).’
You wept for Antipas because the wound was still fresh. Syntyche latched onto your arm to comfort you. She spoke softly in your ear, but you couldn’t hear what she said, nor did it calm you down.
The speaker paused knowing that many needed to hear what came next. Even though John is addressing Pergamum, we needed this message. You see Ephesus and Pergamum have similar problems. They are the political center, we are a trade center. Both cities are melting pot cities. Early on we were bold, and we loved to be bold and different. As time went by and the Gospel spread we may have become a little soft. Society knows who we are and we don’t have to be as aggressive any more. But, we may also give into some social pressures. We do fear for our lives and the lives of our wives and daughters, but Christ is clear. We can’t love our life or our family more than Him. Our Messiah is a conquering one, and He will do it through sacrifice. He was the sacrifice and so are we, his is a sacrifice of redemption, ours is one of witness to His. We may be asked to give our life like Antipas, Paul or Peter. You thought to yourself, “I know all three of them, how am I still here? You looked at your wife and daughter and you knew why. You just knew.
Pergamum has a problem with the Nicolaitans. They base their theology off of Nicolaus who was one of the first deacons along with Stephen. Nicolaus adopted some scary beliefs to blend in with the culture. He felt you could worship God and still participate in pagan idolatrous practices. He basically took what he liked of Christianity and adopted the worship of pagan gods as well.
You remembered how it was just mentioned when the speaker read Christ’s words to Ephesus that one of the things we did right here was we hate the works of the Nicolaitans. In Pergamum some in the church have adopted these ideas. Once you start to adopt ideas like this you begin to mix pagan worship with sexual perversions. Now Pergamum is trying to be like the people God has sent them there to reach. That method never works. The people of Pergamum do not need another candle to light to yet another false god. They need Jesus, and that is why my friend Antipas is dead. They didn’t want Antipas and they didn’t want Jesus. But, God is faithful. I am so glad that we haven’t mixed these beliefs into our thinking like they did. But, someone must be bold there, or else Antipas died for nothing it seems. Deep down you know that isn’t true, but it is just so emotional for you, to have so many shrinking back. I miss the apostles. We need John!
We must pray for them and for us that we stay faithful. Many try to enter the Kingdom of God through the back doors or the windows. We need Christ. We need Christ only. He is Lord. We must preach against all of this falseness. Anytime a saint is tempted we must remember Antipas, Paul and Peter. Did my friends die for nothing?
But then you thought, many in our city are under the constant curse of worshipping Artemis and the perversions that follow. Many pray to Athena. In all of the this time while we have given into fear have I lost my compassion for these cultist that I rub shoulders with everyday. Do I not even remember to witness and pray for the travelers rushing in from the coast to get to the Artemis’s temple.? Oh, Jesus help me to have a fire that burns for the lost here. The truth is, I know deep down just like in Paul’s letter to us, I know that I know that I know that we are the ones who are rich and have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Lord, Help us break for the people around us, we believe you have many more in this city. Lord, help our brothers and sisters in Pergamum to out worship those who worship the emperor, Zeus and Satan.
God, help me to live and if asked, to die for you too. Help me not to be this selfish in the face of trial. Amen.
Thanks for returning! Tune in Next Week!
foot note: Luke Mentions Nicolaus in Acts 6
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