What’s Wrong with the Church?
A Small Compromise Always Becomes Bigger Compromises!
ICompromise is not a bad thing when you’re trying to reach an agreement but comprise cannot be the principle by which we live our lives for Jesus! In the words of Jesus to the church at Pergamum this idea of compromise rises as their biggest trait. They call themselves Christians, but their lives look nothing like Christ. It’s all because they chose to compromise instead of stand firm!
“To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. 13 I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives. 14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. 15 Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. 17 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.
What does it feel like to be lied to and know that you are being lied to, even as the lie is spoken? What does it feel like to discover that something you believed to be true is actually false?
What are some of the most dangerous lies we might believe about the Christian faith? About our lifestyle choices?
What did Jesus commend about the church’s behavior? What did He call out as wrong in their behavior?
What are some of the ways in our culture that we might be tempted to tolerate false teaching in the church?
Why does God take false teachings so seriously? Why should we?
The church at Pergamum was guilty of religious tolerance, and Jesus was aware of it. How might our church be pressured to participate in the kind of tolerance that Jesus corrected here?
Thank you, Jesus, that you can be trusted. Thank you, that are greater than anything and anyone in this world. Keep us from compromising our standards and keep our eyes focused on you. Amen.
What do we, as a church, stand to lose if we choose to tolerate false teaching? Why is it important that we “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15) as we seek to correct false teaching?
How might we, as a group, help one another recognize and be on guard against the influences of false teaching? How might we help one another hold fast to the gospel of Jesus Christ?
2:12-13. In the first century A.D., the city of Pergamum, 50 miles north of Smyrna, was the leading religious center of Asia Minor. Like Smyrna, Pergamum was a center of emperor worship, and Christians were persecuted harshly for their refusal to engage in such worship. This refusal was deemed disloyal and unpa- triotic by non-Christians. This is why Jesus called Pergamum the place where Satan’s throne is. The situation for Christians in Pergamum was even worse than at Smyrna. A faithful man named Antipas had already been killed. The sharp double-edged sword that came from Jesus’ mouth symbolizes the power of the Word of God to judge (Heb. 4:12).
2:14-15. A viewpoint resembling the teaching of Balaam in the Old Testament (Num. 22-25), which is probably linked to the teaching of the Nicolaitans, had a strong foothold in the church.
2:16. The sword of My mouth is the sword of verse 12. The clear-cut duty of the church at Pergamum was to combat the false viewpoints in their midst (vv. 14-15) or else they would be judged by the Lord Jesus.
2:17. The reference to the victor receiving hidden manna is intended to remind readers that Israel’s sin in eating food sacri- ficed to idols in Numbers 25 was that much worse because God was still giving them manna, even as He was still caring for His church in Pergamum. The white stone and new name may be related to (1) victory in the ancient Greek athletic games, which allowed an athlete to retire permanently, or (2) entrance to a community feast.