Pastor Tom Sawhook
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Fellowship Bible Church
“THE DANGER OF COMPROMISE”
(The Church at Pergamum)
This morning we want to continue in Revelation Chapter 2.
Webster's Dictionary definies the word "COMPROMISE" AS FOLLOWS:
1) To make concessions in order to get along
2) To weaken or to give us one's principles and agrees in order to get along
As we approach the next church, we're going to find they have a similar problem.
Seven Features Centered Around This Theme
I. THE CHIEF INSPECTOR: The Lord Jesus
Rev. 2:12 "And to the angel of the church of Pergamos write: These things
saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges."
1. Refers to Jesus:
Rev. 1:16 "and out of the mouth went a sharp-twoedged sword
and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength."
2. The sword mentioned here is a long spear-like sword and it refers to
the Word of God.
Heb. 4:12 "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper
than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of
soul and spirt, and of the joints and marrow, is a discerner of the
thoughts and intents of the heart."
3. It's a two edged sword
a) The one edge cuts into the heart of the Christian
- Freeing him from guilt and condemnation
- Blessing him with eternal principles to live by
- Promising him everlasting life which no one can take away
- Convicting his heart when out of fellowship
b) But the other edge of this sword cuts into the heart of the
sinner or unbeliever
- Bringing condemnation of those who reject God's message of
salvation through His Son
- Bringing eternal damnation forever in the lake of fire
4. And so on the one hand the Word is an instrument of salvation and on
the other an instrument of condemnation.
5. The Lord Jesus is thus pictured as a symbol of the Word of God, who
is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the hearts of all those who
are in the church.
II. THE CHURCH: The Church of Pergamum
Rev. 2:12 "And to the angel of the church in Pergamom (Pergamum)"
1. Like that of the church of Smyrna, there is no Biblical record as to how the
2. Most likely, the church at Pergamum was founded during Paul's ministry
in Ephesus, when the gospel went out from there to be preached throughout the province
Acts 19:10 "And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia
heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks."
III. THE CITY: Pergamum
1. Pergamum was about one hundred miles north of Ephesus, with Smyrna located in between.
2. Unlike Ephesus and Smyrna, Pergamum was not a port city and thus not a major trade route.
3. It was located about 15 miles inland from the Aegean Sea.
4. It was the capitol city of all Asia and considered Asia's greatest city.
5. The Roman writer Pliny called it "by far the most disttinguished city in Asia"
6. By the time John penned Revelation, Pergamum had been Asia's capital for almost 250 years
And it's last king turned his kingdom over to Rome
7. Much of Pergamum was built on a large, cone shaped hill towering some one thousand feet above the plain.
8. The site was so impressive that the famed nineteenth century archaelogist Sir William
Ramsay commented, "Beyond all other sites in Asia Minor it gives the treaveler the impression
of a royal city, the home of authority; the rocky hill on which it stands is so huge, and
dominates the broad plain of the Caicus (River Valley) so proudly and boldly.
9. Pergamum had a huge library of some 200,000 handwritten volumes and was second only to that
10. So impressive was Pergamum's library that Mark Antony later sent it to his lover, Queen
Cleopatra of Egypt.
11. Pergamum came up with it's own type of parchment or paper in which the library volumes
were written on. It was called "Pergamena"
12. Due to the library in Pergamum it became an important center of culture and learning.
13. The physician Galen, second only in prominence to Hippocrates, was born and studied in
14. The city saw itself as the defender of Greek culture in Asia Minor.
15. There was a large display around the base of the altar of Zeus commemorating the victory
of the people of Pergamum over the invading barbarian Gauls.
16. Pergamum was an important center of worship for four of the main deities of the Greco-
Roman world, and temples were built to worship them.
17. The four pagan gos or godesses were:
18. But overshadowing the worship of all those deities was Pergamum's devotion to the cult of
19. Pergamum built the first temple devoted to emperor worship in Asia (29 B.C) in honor of
20. Later, the city built two more such temples, honoring the emperors Trajan and Septimus
21. Pergamum became more involved in Emperor worship than any other city in Asia.
22. And so this is the setting in which the believer of Pergamum existed.
IV. THE COMMENDATION: He commends them for standing for Him in light of satanic influence.
Rev. 2:13 "I know thy works, and where thou sdwellest, 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."
DON'T FORGET THAT THE LORD IS TOTALLY AWARE OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES YOU
PRESENTLY ARE FACING.
1. We know that the Lord is in heaven right now.
Heb. 1:3 "when he had purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high."
2. But even though He is in heaven, He was still aware of the circumstances the believers of
Pergamum were facing.
3. The passage tell us they were where satan's throne was or where satan dwelleth.
4. That doesn't mean that's where satan himself dwells or that some how he rules from that throne.
5. But what does it mean?
1 - there are 3 possibilities of what satan's throne refers to:
a. Refers to the magnificent altar of Zeus that dominated Pergamum's acropolis.
1) It was one of the largest and most famour wonders of the ancient
b. It was built on the side of a hill and protruded about 40 feet over the edge,
giving the appearance as of a giant throne.
c. Of course, to worship Zeus, instead of the true God, would delight satan.
2 - The Temple of Askepios
a. Askepios was the god of healing and people came from all over the ancient world
to Pergamum, seeking to be healed at his shrine.
b. Asklepios was depicted as a snake, and nonpoisonous snakes roamed freely in his
c. Those seeking healing either slept or laid down on the temple's floor, hoping to ber
touched by one of the snakes which represented Asklepios and thereby be healed.
d. Such symbolism would undoubtedly remind Christians of satan.
Rev. 12:9 "And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the devil, and
satan, which deceiveth the whole world."
e. During the reign of Emperor Diocletian, some Christian stonecutters were
executed for refusing to carve an image of Asklepios.
3 - Emperor Worship
a. As I mentioned earlier, Pergamum was the leading center of emperor worship
in the province of Asia.
b. If believers refused to worship the emperor, they faced execution.
c. So satan's throne could easily be understood as a reference tothe might of Rome
under the "god of this world" (2 Cor.4:4) blaspeming the true God by the emperor
So the Lord WAS aware of their circumstances.
Making this principle personal:
1. Just as He was aware of their circumstances back then. He is aware of your circumstances
2. For some --- your circumstances might be centered around:
*Legal matter that needs to get settled
*Tension at work
*A mate that has given up in the marriage
*Trying to catch up with past due bills
*Wanting to be a starter on your team
*Feelings of being taken advantage of
*Uncertainty of finding more work in your company
*Ungrateful child, whose refusal to cooperate makes family
life almost unbearable
*Stress and tension and deadlines
*Possiblility of having to move
*An impatient husband or wife
Regardless of what it is you are facing, the Lord, is totally aware of it.
SINCE THE LORD IS AWARE OF OUR CIRCUMSTANCES, HE IS ABLE TO:
1) Calm us by His presence
Matt. 11:28 "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give
Matt. 28:28 "Lo I am with you always."
2) Comfort us by His precepts
Rom. 15:4 "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning,
that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope."
3) Conquers for us by His power
Jer. 32:27 "Behold I am the Lord the God of all flesh; is there anything too hard
Rev. 2:13 "... 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
1. In modern terms, they 'hung in there.'
2. Despite the persecution and suffering they endured, the believers at Pergamum continued to
hold fast the name of Christ as they showed fidelity to Him and did not deny the faith (as
they held fast) to the central truths of the Christian faith.
3. The faithful believers at Pergamum exemplified the truth of Christ's words in Matt. 16:18,
"I wil build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it."
4. No amount of satanic opposition can destroy genuine saving faith such as those
5. One of the believers there paid the ultimate price for his stand for Christ.
Rev. 2:13 "even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain
6. According to tradition, he was roasted to death inside a brass bull during the persecution
instigated by Emperor Domitian.
BE CAREFUL OF LETTING YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES DETERMINE YOUR FAITHFULNESS TO
1. I'm afraid that too often in our lives, we let our circumstances determine whether we're
going to be faithful or not.
2. When things are going fine: "Hallelujah" "Praise the Lord" "Jesus is Great" "He's so
wonderful" "Great is His faithfulness"
3. But as soon as the circumstances change and aren't so good:
*He doesn't really care
*He's not helping me any
*Why doesn't He do something?
*Where are you God?
*Why are you doing this to me?
4. They bark back at other believers justifying their bad attitudes with words like:
*You wouldn't feel spiritual either, if ou knew my circumstances
*If you knew what I've been going through then you would understand why I
have not been in church
*Oh sure, stand for Jesus if you're predicament was like mine, you sure would
change your tune quick.
5. When we respond like that, it means our faithfulness and devotion to Christ is only
a. When we're on Sunshine Street, we will be loyal and faithful to Him.
b. But when the rains of adversity come, we bail out on Him
For example, the real test in a marriage is not during the good times, but in the
V. THE CONCERN: Centered around compromise by tolerating false doctrine
Rev. 2:14, 15 "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. So hast thou also them that hold
the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
1. The Lord points out the 2 false doctrines - Doctrine of Balaam and Doctrine of the
2. First of all let's consider the doctrine of Balaam
a. The King of Moab by the name of Balak was afraid of the Israelites because of what they
had done to the Amorites. So he hired Balaam to curse them
b. But after trying unsuccessfully three times to curse Israel, Balaam came up with another
c. Since he was unable to curse the Israelites, he decided to corrupt them and gave
Balak advice in how to do it.
Rev. 2:14 "who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel,
to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication."
d. In other words he taught them to use Moabite women to lure the Israelites
into sexual immorality and idolatry and it worked.
Num. 25:1, 2 "and the people began to commit whoredcom with the daughters of Moab.
And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods; and the people did
eat, and bowed down to their gods.
e. God was ticked off and sent a plague which killed 24,000 of the Israelites.
f. They had compromised the truth for error and lost their testimony and Spiritual
power with the Lord.
g. They become like the world around them, under the influence of satan's control.
h. That's why we are exhorted to be different than and separate from the world.
James 4:4 "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the
of the world, the love of the Father is not in him, For all that is in the world, the
lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father
but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that
doeth the will of God abideth forever."
3) The second false doctrine is that of the Nicolaitans
---Some hold that it deals with the abusive control of the clergy over the people.
That, later would become a problem in the church, but not in John's day
1. We mentioned the Nicolaitans before when dealing with the church of Ephesus
2. It dealt primarly with telling people that since they had Christian liberty, they
were free to indulge themselves in anything their heart desired.
3. As a matter of fact they taught that Christians were permitted to engage in the
sexual orgies of the pagan society they lived in.
4. The problem in the church at Pergamum was that you had true believers who the
5. But at the same time you had these ones propagating these false doctrines of
Balaam and the Nicolaitans.
6. And the true believers instead of removing these false teachers, simply tolerated them
and allowed them to spew their satanic inspired teaching.... thus drawing some into sinful
behavior and disappointing the Lord.
PRINCIPLE # 3
REMEMBER SOUND DOCTRINE IS NEVER DESIGNED TO COMPROMISE WITH FALSE TEACHING.
In the context, they were compromising
1. Be careful when you hear things such as:
*In our church we don't care about doctrine, we just want to love
2. Over and over again, the apostle Paul spoke about the importance of sound
Rom. 16:16 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and
offences contrary to the doctrine which you have learned and avoid them.
Eph. 4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and from, and caried about
with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby
they lie in wait to deceive.
2 Tim 4:2-3 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort
with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure
Titus 2:1 But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:
So sound teaching is essential to combat false teaching.
3. In our church we will not tolerate false doctrine or teaching, because it can
lead people astray and into sinful behavior.
4. Paul reminds us in I Thess. 4:3
I Thess. 4:3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should
abstain from fornication. (That's sound and true doctrine)
5. But if someone else teaches it--doesn't matter how you live because we have
Christian liberty (That's false doctrine)
6. The false must not be tolerated with the true.... that's compromise
VI. THE COMMAND: Repent or Face Chastening
Rev. 2:16 "Repent or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them
with the sword of my mouth."
RELISH THE FACT THAT THE LORD ALWAYS GIVES US A CHANCE TO GET THINGS RIGHT WITH HIM.
1. Repent = Change of mind which leads to a change in action
2. Whatever you might be involved in which displeases the Lord, He gives you a chance to
get it right with Him
You might be involved in:
*Cheating in school
*Horrible attitudes on the team
*Refusing to forgive someone
*Jealousy, which seeks to put down the person you're jealous about
*Lying as a habit in order to get your own way
*Disobedience to the marital roles
*Disobedience to your parents
Or whatever it might be----If you are smart, you will confess the situation as sin
and repent of it.
3. In other words, He gives you a chance to get it right with Him
I John 1:9 If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and
to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. THAT SETTLES IT.
4. But if we ignore Him over and over again---then we become candidates for His
chastening, which is not pleasant, but designed to get a hold of your attention and
correct the problem at hand.
5. So we ought to thank God daily for His patience and mercy to give us the chance
to get right with Him
VII. THE CHALLENGE
Rev. 2:17 He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; to hiim
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.
Challenge centered around:
1) Listening to the Spirit's message
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches
2) Looking forward to the Son's promise
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.
1. To him that overcometh= believers
I John 5:5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus
is the Son of God?
It's a promise marked by:
1) Spiritual sustenance
To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna
1. Manna was honey-flavored bread with which God fed the Israelites during their
years of wandering in the wilderness
2. They were to memorialize that divine provision by keeping a pot of manna inside
the Ark of the Covenant during their travels
3. The hidden manna represents Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life who came down
John 6:33-35 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life
unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them,
I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on
me shall never thirst.
4. He provides spiritual sustenance for those who put their faith in Him.
5. The hidden manna symbolizes all the blessings and benefits of knowing Christ.
Eph. 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed
us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.
2) Stone of Privilege
and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth
saving he that receiveth.
1. There are various thoughts concerning what this white stone might be.
2. No one knows for sure, but you try to interpret it in light of John's day.
3. Some suggest it might signify that we have een forever forgiven.
a. In John's day in a court of law, if the judge handed the accused a white
stone, meant he was acquitted.
b. If the judge handed him a black stone, it meant he was condemned to
c. Since the believer receives a white stone, it means he has been
acquitted of all charges of sin against him, never again to be accused. We
would say forgiven forever.
4. Others identify the white stone as a diamond, the most precious of stones,
symbolizing God's precious gift of eternal life to believers.
5. A third suggestion is that it deals with a special award.
6. It was a Roman custom of awarding white stones to the victors in athletic
7. A white stone, inscribed with the athlete's name, served as his ticket to a
special awards banquet. So in this view, Christ promises the overcomers entrance to
the eternal victory celebration in heaven.
8. Somebody always asks "What is the new name?" The passage tells us no man knows
and so it would only be speculation if we guessed.
But it seems as though it will uniquely reflect God's special love to every true
child of His. This definitely is somehting to look forward to.
So this morning we've looked at the church of Pergamum and we're reminded of the danger of compromise
with false teaching. May we stand strong on God's Word and let our lives count for Him.
I went to a Bible conference at Moody Bible Institute many years ago. They honored a lady who had
attended that school a long time before. She had been involved in mission work all her life. Her
name was Avis B. Christiansen. She penned these words to a song we sing today.
Only one life to offer, Jesus my Lord and King
Only one tongue to praise Thee, and of thy mercies sing
Only one heart's devotion, Savior o may it be
Consecrated alone to Thy matchless glory
Yielded fully to Thee.
May that be our prayer this morning as we say to our Lord,
"Out of devotion to You, I consecrate myself alone to Thy matchless glory, yielded fully to Thee."