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February 17, 2012
By John Barnett
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As we open to Revelation 2:12-17 today, remember that Revelation 1-3 is all about:
*Slide-1: Seeing Jesus Gathering With His Local Churches*
Jesus wants us to know He is walking among us and watching our lives.
The simple message Jesus Christ gives us is that His Highest Priority right now is gathering with His local church.
Remember where John first saw Jesus in Revelation 1:12?
He was walking around His local churches (that is what v. 20 says that those lampstands represent: Christ’s local churches).
That means that He is right now watching us.
He is walking around His gathered Church looking to see if we are being and doing what He left for us to be and do.
Notice that Christ walks about His Local Churches, places when people gathered in a recognizable community.
Christ's Church is His priority, it is where He is spending His time.
The first message of the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ is that the local Church is His PRIORITY, it is where He goes, what He does, and where He is at work in the world today.
When Jesus toured His local churches He names seven of then, using seven local, geographic gatherings of believers.
He describes each assembly and uses His assessment of these local churches to challenge all of the churches.
Today we are going to learn about:
*Slide-2: When Jesus Visits His Church #3 at Pergamum*
Revelation 2:12-17 (NKJV) /“And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, ‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword: 13 “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.
14 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.
15 Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
16 Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight 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 him who overcomes 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.”’/
The letters Christ wrote to the seven churches are for us lessons in living for Him at the end of days.
What is the lesson Christ teaches us from this church at Pergamum?
It is simply:
*Slide-3: The Danger of The Compromised Christian*
The lesson for all of us living at the end of days is that there is a danger of becoming a compromised Christian.
What exactly is a compromised Christian?
God's Word teaches us that believers are compromised when they are no longer distinctively Christ-like.
Believers in Pergamum had gotten so comfortable around the deadly germs of worldliness that they began to exhibit the symptoms of friendship with the world.
They were no longer distinctively Christ-like.
Believers at Pergamum had blended right into the activities, entertainments, and habits of the lost world that displeased God.
They lived just like all the pagans around them and were no longer distinctively Christlike.
Jesus reports that what is needed is for them to repent of friendship with the world and draw near to God.
We find here in Rev. 2:12-17 Christ’s second expectation of His Church.
Jesus says to this church that to please God as His Children they must separate from sin.
Do you remember the common theme we see in five of the seven churches?
They were not being obedient to the clear commands Christ had already given them to stay away from sin, thus they were not pleasing Him.
*Slide-4: Pergamum’s Lesson: To Please God Separate From Sin*
What had Jesus already asked for them to do, and taught them through their pastor’s ministry of the Word to them?
Remember, God's Word is God speaking to us.
When we read the Word or hear it preached, taught, expounded upon and explained it is hearing God declare what His desires are for us as His people.
This leads us to Paul’s very clear teachings about:
*Slide-5: The Disobedience of the Compromised Christian*
2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1 (NKJV) /"And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?
For you are the temple of the living God.
As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them.
I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
17 Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” 18 “ I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty.”
7:1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."/
First note that Paul reminds us of six powerful truths about who we really are in Christ.
These are the reasons why we have such a high level of expectation placed upon us by the Lord.
First, as we look at v. 16 we can watch as Paul reminds them that: 1).
We are the “Temple of God”; and not just any God, but Paul reminds us that 2).
We are the “Temple of the Living God”.
Then Paul begins quoting rapid-fire and merging three separate verses [Lev.
26:12 Jeremiah 32:38 Ezekiel 37:27] into one verse (v.
17); and in that amazing verse reminds us that we are 3).
God’s dwelling place; and that 4).
He walks among us; and 5).
He is our God; and finally that 6).
We are His people.
Then comes His high calling and very life-transforming desire for each of us in v. 17 onward.
Listen again to those words again, only this time in light of who Paul has reminded us that we are:
v. 17 "/Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” 18 “ I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty.”
7:1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."/
Paul reminds us that God always desires that we constantly repent of contamination by the world; and draw near to God.
The only way to be fruitful in our lives is to please God by separating from personal sins that defile our hearts, minds, and spirits.
But now comes the most amazing truth, one that jumps from the pages of Scripture when we remind ourselves of the address of this letter.
Where was Christ’s letter sent?
To the city of: Pergamum.
What is the lesson we are to understand from that fact?
Here is the powerful truth:
*Slide-6: God Can Grow A Church Anywhere*
This letter was targeted to one group of people.
They lived in a specific historic, geographic, and cultural area.
Here is what a study Bible would tell you about Pergamum:
“Pergamum (modern Bergama) was built on a 1,000-foot hill in a broad, fertile plain about 20 miles inland from the Aegean Sea.
It had served as the capital of the Roman province of Asia Minor for over 250 years.
It was an important religious center for the pagan cults of Athena, Asklepios, Dionysius (or Bacchus, the god of drunkenness), and Zeus.
It was the first city in Asia to build a temple to Caesar (29 b.c.) and became the capital of the cult of Caesar worship.”
That short entry wouldn’t really get our attention until we unpack just exactly what it means.
There are three items in that description:
*Slide-7: Geography, History, Culture*
*Slide-8: Geography: Beautiful*
It’s Geography: Pergamum was a beautifully built city, about 80 miles north of Smyrna, about 20 miles inland from the Aegean Sea, and built on a hill 1000 feet above the lush green and very fertile valleys of Asia Minor.
*Slide-9: History: Ancient*
It’s History: Pergamum was an ancient city.
In 95 AD as John wrote it was an old city, it had been the capital of Asia Minor for almost 300 years.
*Slide-10: Culture: Academic*
It’s Culture: Pergamum was a university town (with the largest library in the ancient world rivaling with Alexandria), with about 200,000 volumes.
In fact, Pergamum was noted for the production and use of parchment (boiled animal skins) that books were written on.
Why was Pergamum such a difficult place to live for Christ?
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