June 2, 2024 | Brandon Cooper

Brandon Cooper preached on Jesus’ letter to the church in Pergamum in Revelation 2, emphasizing the temptation to compromise values for acceptance or influence. The church in Pergamum remained faithful to Jesus despite persecution, but some were compromising by following the false teachings of the Nicolaitans. Jesus warned the church to repent and hold fast to the truth in order to receive eternal blessings like hidden manna and a new name, rather than making false promises through sin and compromise.


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Good morning church. Go ahead, grab your Bibles open up to Revelation chapter two, we’ll be starting in verse 12. This morning, Revelation two, starting in verse 12. As you’re turning there, I’m willing to bet that at some point in your life, you faced a moment of compromise. A moment, you know, whether you gave in or not, where you were asked to compromise your values, your ethics, for the sake of some sort of advancement, joining a club, whatever it may be, you know that that sense of look, all you have to do is fill in the blank. And you can be one of us, the kind of stereotypical example here would be like joining a frat, or a sorority, I was not a part of a frat. So I don’t know if this is true or not, but that’s what it looks like in the movies, right, you want to join, you got to jump through a couple of very, you know, morally dubious hoops or something like that. Or this happens in business, you know, that first time where you’re asked to round up your billable hours or something like that, or in relationships, when you’re thinking of dating someone, you know, you shouldn’t date or going farther with them than you should, could be in politics. Of course, politics is kind of the art of compromise in so many ways. But we’re going well, I’m willing to put up with x, so that I can get why this moment of compromise is the situation facing the church in Pergamum. So this is the third letter, if you’re joining us for the first time. Today, the first of these seven are the third of these seven letters, which is kind of important. I mentioned in week one that you know, number seven really important and Revelation and in the Bible as a whole. And so probably not a coincidence, probably not just because there were only seven towns, but probably symbolic. And we see that somewhat in the structure here, there’s actually a little bit of, if you can picture like a picture and a picture frame, you know, the first and last letters are like the wooden frame. And they have some things in common in particular, people losing their love their love growing cold. And then the second and the second to last letters are like the mat that’s inside that picture frame. And what’s interesting about those two, the connection that they have is those are the two where Jesus doesn’t say anything against the church, they are only commended, they are not rebuked. And then the middle three letters are like the picture itself. So it kind of the centerpiece of what we’re talking about. And what’s interesting here is that there’s actually some development in the letters themselves, these three, which we’ll talk about in the next couple of weeks, this this center piece, but here, we kind of get the start of it, the temptation to compromise. And what we’re going to see as we look at this letter, and again, maybe you’ve experienced this, even in your own life is when we face temptation to compromise, we want a hall pass, we want somebody to tell us, it’s okay that we bent the rules a little bit here, we want to be able to make excuses for ourselves and to rationalize our sin. So it’s difficult to hold the line, you can imagine how much more difficult it would be to hold the line. If you had someone in your ear telling you, it’s okay. It’s okay. It’s fine. If you cut corners here, you know, you can picture kind of two authority figures giving contrary advice. Let’s just give an example like giving or something like that. So you got you know, your one spiritual authority figure over here saying, you know, like, we’re called the sacrificial giving, like it should, it should hurt when you give to support the ministry of the church missions, compassion organizations, things like that, you should notice a change in your lifestyle as a result of your giving. And then you go on YouTube, and you find another pastor somewhere else who says, Let’s not be crazy here. Like, yeah, you should give. But you know what, we don’t need to be fanatics about this. Which one are you going to be tempted to listen to? Probably the one who’s making it a little bit easier for you. And so that’s kind of the question we want to have in our minds as we’re listening to this letter. Who are what are we listening to? I mean, I think it would be safe to say that people pick churches based on this kind of thing right here, right? And can I just tell you to if you’re coming to this church, you did not pick a pastor who’s gonna go easy on you. He all know that already. So like good on you. Like hopefully this is an encouragement to us today, in some ways, but who are what are we listening to? And why that’s kind of a question want to have in our mind as we go, same outline as the last two weeks he mentioned to have that for all seven weeks here, we’re going to look at what what Jesus says about himself. So Christ, what he says about the church, the charge that he gives the church and their context, and then ultimately, the cheer the promise that will speed them on their way. So let’s start With Christ and then from chapter two, verse 12, we’re gonna see that Christ is the true judge, the true judge. Let me read it for us chapter two, verse 12, to the angel of the church and Pergamum, right? These are the words of him who has the sharp, double edged sword. Just pause there. So this is to the angel, the church and Pergamum. Again, first time here, or something like that you missed last couple of weeks, we are in western Turkey, what was known as Asia Minor back then, and we’re following the route that a letter carrier would have taken. So this is just the male route, and they’re kind of going like this. Okay, so we started on the coast, we’re working our way north up the coast, we’re 65 miles northeast of Smyrna. Now, although we are actually inland a little bit, we’re no longer on the coast and we’re at this important city in Asia Minor. Pergamum was the capital at points of Asia Minor, especially after Alexander the Great. And who is speaking to the church and Pergamum. It is the one who has the sharp double edged sword. Now that phrase is taken from chapter one, I’ve mentioned that everything Christ says about himself in these letters, he’s already said about himself in chapter one. So chapter one, verse 16. In his right hand, he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double edged sword, same phrase, but it helps us out because it’s telling us it’s coming out of his mouth, to actually see later in this letter also. So it helps us understand the imagery because the sword then is His Word. We’re not talking about a literal sword, we are talking about the Word of God, often described as a sword, you may have learned your armor of God from Ephesians, six, and what is the sword of the spirit? It’s the word of the Lord. And here it is again. But what word exactly are we talking about? The pilgrim knights would have understood this image because of where they lived because the Roman Proconsul the governor lived in their town, the Roman emperor, and his pro consoles would carry a sword around with them all the time, as a symbol of their right to rule. They’re the ones who have the power of the sword, in particular, the right to mete out justice. And so whether that looks like a you know, defending borders more like an army or enforcing laws more like a police force. That’s what the sword means. Paul uses the word the same way speaking of worldly governments, and Romans 13. That’s it. The problem though, of course, with worldly governments is that they don’t always mete out justice. Sometimes they mete out injustice, and very intentionally, and that’s actually what we get here. The church and Pergamum had seen Rome’s right to rule kind of a might makes right to rule firsthand, which we’ll see in the very next verse. So they may have been scared, you know, they’re looking at the the sword of Rome going, like this is a problem. And so Jesus is almost saying, Are you? Are you scared of the mighty sword of Rome? Don’t worry, Jesus has a mightier sword. In fact, if we got to the end of the book of Revelation, chapter 19, Jesus actually defeats the nations who have risen up and rebellion against Him with a sharp sword coming out of his mouth. And so the point is very clear what Jesus is saying here, the sword represents his decisive and accurate words of judgment. They are true, they are right. So everything he does everything he you know, he sees perfectly understands perfectly and then administers justice, perfectly, righteously as well. And so what an encouragement this would be to those who are scared of the power of Rome’s sword. But it would also be a challenge to them. Because if this is the power of Jesus’s word, well, then we as the church should probably be listening. Also, we need to heed His words, and that’s where he goes next, our second section, then the church, what does Jesus have to say to the church, he’s going to really talk about them as being the fickle faithful, we will see the fickle faithful. That’s from verses 13 to 15. Let me read it for us now.
I know where you live, where Satan has his throne, you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me not even in the days of an tapas, my faithful witness who was put to death in your city, where satan lives. Nevertheless, I have a few things against you. There are some among you who hold the teaching of balem, who taught Bayla to entice the Israelites to sin, so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the nickel A pause there, it will be our longest section just so you know, because this is the longest chunk of text. So Jesus, who we saw in week one walks among the lampstands, he is present in the churches, Jesus knows their contexts. He knows that this church is living where Satan has his throne, meaning what exactly? I mean, it’s Pergamum, like the gate to hell, or something like that, I don’t think so we got a couple of options. One thing we’re gonna love about the book of Revelation, not only in this series, but in January, we go through the rest of the book of Revelation. Nobody has any idea what any of it means. So it’d be really fun for us among a bunch of places, we’re going to come in and be like, you know, it’s fun for me. Like I read the commentaries. And the first commentators like, well, we know it’s x because it couldn’t possibly be y. And the next guy is like, well, we know it’s y, because it couldn’t possibly be x. And the next guy is like, Have you considered z. So here’s XY and Z for you three options, what we could be talking about here, the throne of satan, the temple of Satan, it could be talking about the temple to Asclepius, who was the Greek god of a healing, and there is a prominent temple to escape Yes, in Pergamum. What makes this one interesting is Asclepius is pictured as a snake, a serpent, as Satan also has been since Genesis three. So that’s one possibility. Second, at the highest point of the city, on the Acropolis is a gigantic temple to Zeus. And so this temple is towering literally over every aspect of a city life. And of course, Zeus is the chief deity in the Greek pantheon. So maybe it would be that third possibility is Pergamum, was actually the first city in Asia Minor to have a temple to the Caesars. So we start claiming that the Caesars are gods with Julius Caesar, and then Caesar Augustus. And it kind of goes from there. So this is the first place where the cult of Imperial worship takes root in Asia Minor. And so it could be that I think that is the most likely just because of the context of Revelation, and even what we’ll see in the rest of this letter. But you can imagine if you’re living where Satan has his throne, and where Rome’s got this power, it would be so easy to keep your head down and compromise. Just like don’t make waves. Don’t draw attention to yourself so that you don’t lose your head in the process. But not this church. Right, but not Pergamum. Jesus says, You’ve remained faithful, you’re you remain true to my name, the word there is actually you hold fast to my name. Reminds me a little bit of the story that Kyle shared last week of Esther on Kim, you know, you’re talking about compromise, like he or she is that, you know, her country’s just been invaded, and the Japanese are really cracking down on Christians, it would be so easy to go. So I’m gonna hide my faith, so that I don’t go to prison. And instead, what Esther Kim Do, she said, well, since I’m going to prison for my faith, I better get ready for prison. And that’s what we’re seeing here in Pergamum, as well, this is a church that’s concerned about Jesus’s honor and glory, His reputation, even if it costs them. And I think it’s fair to ask at this point, would Jesus say the same about you mean, what is there in your life that indicates that you are passionate about the name of Christ, or that would indicate that you’re not that passionate, and committed to his reputation and honor? Well, Pergamum, a church program, they got clear proof. They didn’t deny Jesus, they did not renounce your faith in me, it says the word that’s used. They’re the same word that used a Peter when he denies Christ, and pretty much the same situation. Right? Here’s Rome, Jewish leaders, but then the Roman leaders who’ve got Jesus and they’re about to crucify him and Peter knows if he says I’m with him, his story might end the way Jesus’s story ends, as indeed it does later on in his life. And so he denies Jesus Pergamum the church apartment, exact same situation, but they don’t go Peter’s route. The tense of the verb indicates a definite moment. We don’t know what that moment was. But there was a moment where they could have said, Jesus never heard of him. And instead they said, Yeah, he’s my Lord. He’s my God, he’s my savior. It’s even more impressive, because whatever that definite moment was, it happened shortly after the martyrdom of and tapas. Now we don’t know anything about Antrobus don’t know this situation is not recorded in church history anywhere else, no concrete information other than the one thing that we do know, which is that antiquus followed his master. He followed his master because he’s described as Jesus is a faithful witness. And in chapter one, verse five, Jesus is described as the faithful witness And of course, his faithful witness led to his death, his execution. And same with Antipa. So this is someone who followed Jesus right up to the point of being put to death by Rome. Now, how did this happen to Antipholus? Again, don’t totally know there was no official persecution happening at this time, we’re talking early 90s, under Domitian, the emperor, so it could have been mob violence. Because Asia Minor in particular, they were used to deified monarchs in a way that like Greece and Rome were not. So they would have been ready to kind of stand up for this, you know, Emperor that they see as a god, it could be that, or it could have been a judicial sentence. For whatever reason, they just decided this was too much. And the courts there and Pergamum decided to execute him more likely the latter, I think, in context, again, I’ve just we keep talking about Rome’s power here and stuff. But regardless of how it happened, they just watched a guy die for his faith. And now they’re getting asked about their faith. And you kind of see how this would go you ever watched, you know, like an action thriller or something like that. And maybe the guy’s got some hostages, you know, they’re trying to get the nuclear codes or something like that. And the first guy’s like, do whatever you want, will never tell you and they shoot him in the head. And then the next person is usually like, hey, so I got the nuclear codes, like, let’s talk, I would like to be on your team, you have better uniforms, that kind of thing. That’s what we’re expecting to have happen here in Pergamum, that somebody is going to crack and go, you just killed him. I don’t want to be killed. I’ll tell you what you need our announcer Jesus, whatever it takes, but that’s not what happens. Instead, it actually increases their boldness, which is a pattern we see repeated in Scripture. Persecution usually does that to the church, ironically, reminds me of Paul writing to the church in Philippi, chapter one, verses 12 to 14, Paul, who’s in prison right now as a result of his faith right into the Philippians. He says, Now, I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me by being tossed into prison for the gospel has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace garden to everyone else, that I am in chains for Christ. Because you know what happens? Right? Every guard that’s assigned to Paul Paul’s like, Hey, nice to meet you, Tom. Tom, have you ever met Jesus? I’d like to tell you about him. And so everybody knows about Jesus now. But look what happens as a result again, Paul’s in prison. And he writes, because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear. It doesn’t say in spite of my chains, they become confident and bold in their evangelists. It says, because of my change, it almost defies understanding. Except that what’s happened is the church has faced the worst in the Philippians. They’re looking at Paul in prison, and they’re going okay, so we preach Christ, we get thrown in prison, that just means we have to preach Christ to some other people. So cool. I’m okay with that. And seeing the church faithful in persecution, should lead us to bold evangelism. Because what can they do to us? Well, they can kill us like antipasto, I guess, so. They can kill the physical body that cannot kill us eternally. We get to go and be with Jesus. You know, the fastest growing church in the world right now is in Iran. I don’t know Iran, not found a Christians in Iran. And yet, this is where the church is blowing up. And you think about it, because here in the States, you know, we worry about losing our tax status, or losing Twitter followers, because of our faith in Christ. They worry about what will happen when they meet as a church. They worry about whether they’ll be abducted, tortured, killed, have their kids killed in front of them, something like that. You think about how easy it is for us to miss church. The weather’s nice, we can play golf, I got a party in the afternoon, I should you know, stay home and prepare for it. Like they could die if they go to church.
Think about what that does to the church, though. Like you know that everyone in that room is all in for Jesus. And everyone in that room has got to depend on the spirit. Just lean entirely on the Spirit of God for every step of their lives. And go figure when you lean that heavily on the spirit. That’s when the spirit moves. That’s when revival comes. So we must hold fast to Jesus’s name to desire His glory even above our own comfort. That is what will steal us for what may Come. But that’s not all Jesus has to say to this church. Because some are holding fast, same word used there are holding fast to Baylands false teaching. You see what’s happening here a little bit like you saw Lord of the Rings, Return of the King, you know that that near the end of the movie, Frodo and Sam are trying to sneak the ring into Mordor so they can throw it into mountain Doom and all that stuff. And the rest of the crew, you know, Gandalf and Aragorn and whatnot, they know that they got to distract, sour on so that Sam and Frodo can can sneak in and out. So they attack the Black Gate, right? And then sour on dye turns and he’s focused there and boom, they get to slip in. So that’s exactly what just happened in Pergamum, except the reverse. It’s like the bad guys that are doing it. So we got the Enemy at the Gates, we’ve got persecution coming from Rome. And so the whole Church’s gaze is fixed on the front door, where they’re knocking and stuff, and they left the back door open. And evil Frodo and evil Sam, just you know, snuck in with false teaching. So that’s what’s happened here. What is the false teaching Exactly? balem. If you’re not familiar with this story, it’s numbers 22 to 24. He is hired by the Moabite King Belloc to curse the Israelites. Now he is a false prophet in that he does not follow God. But He also says what God tells him to say. So there’s like some truth is prophecy. So he’s hired to curse Israel, but he can’t, because God won’t let him curse Israel. So instead, what he does is he shows the Moabite King Belak, how to bring the Israelites under God’s curse. He says, here’s what you do. Bring your finest Moabite ladies into the camp, the single ones that let them mingle with the Israelite guys, and they will sleep with and eventually marry these Moabite ladies. And so they’ll be committing sexual immorality, and then that will lead to idolatry because now your wife’s Gods also. And sure enough, that’s what happens. Now this is serious that word they’re enticed, is kind of, you know, enticing the Israelites is shorthand for would read literally as they they threw a stumbling block before the sons of Israel. And that stumbling block word is really important. So actually, our word scandal is really important because that is a sin leading to apostasy. Like these are people who have abandoned the faith as a result leading to damnation. In other words, we’re dealing with eternally significant matters in this moment. So we need to take this seriously. Compromise costs more than persecution. That’s what we’re seeing right compromised costs more than persecution, because again, persecution, they might take your life. But compromise can take your spiritual life, your eternal life. So you perish eternally. Now, we’re not actually dealing with balem here, it’s not like they brought out numbers 22, and they’re like, let’s hear what balem had to say. We’re talking about the Nicolaitans. Interestingly, this is the kind of stuff that if you’re a word nerd is really exciting. That’s me. So you all get it now to balem and Nikolaus are actually the same words the same root word so in Hebrew Bale, you all know Bay All right, it just means the Lord or ruler or something like that. And ominous people. So ruler of the people. Well, Nico means conquer. Like every time Jesus says to the one who overcomes he’s saying to the Nikko guy, and Laos, his people, so the overcomer of the people. So there’s the connection, we’re talking about the same sin for sure. the Nicolaitans are acting the part of balem. They’re like his spiritual error. How? Well in this context, it’s very different from the Israelites wandering in the desert in this context. It has to do with participation in civic life. Because if you’re going to be an important part of the city of Pergamum, you are going to have to attend these Imperial cult feasts, these banquets in honor of the Emperor, where meat, for example, would be served that had been offered to the local false gods. And then the banquets would conclude almost always with girls being brought out, so that they end in debauchery. And the question is, will you participate? That’s what’s being asked at the church here. You want to be a part of the civic life, don’t you? We want that here. We marched in the Memorial Day Parade. Why? Because we want to, we’re part of the city. We love them. We’re Cityview we’re looking at the city. We want to reach the city. Are you going to participate in the civic life because keep in mind, they would have been social outcasts if they didn’t go to these feast. You would lose status, power influence contracts for your business money in other words and pleasure, because of course, it’s finishes with prostitutes. Now, it is not hard to contextualize that for the American in the 21st century. Because that’s politics for us in a nutshell, isn’t it? We have increasingly cultish parties, the left and the right, where we are asked to pay homage to our leaders, loyalty tests, in other words to our leaders, and that will lead to compromise. And especially when it comes to sexual immorality, again on the left and the right. So it may be part of the party’s platforms, on issues like LGBTQ stuff, or abortion, it may be the politicians themselves, we’re being asked to overlook gross immorality in their own lives. But you understand the draw of compromise? Like let me give you an extreme hypothetical here. If I could promise you that we would outlaw abortion in the state of Illinois, all you had to do to make that reality was sleep with a prostitute would you do it? Or to lift the poor and oppressed, the downtrodden in your community? All you had to do is, you know, worship a false god. Or even just pretend like you’re worshipping a false god would you do you can see how easy this would be? How easy it would be to justify bending the rules and even bending the knee, you know, the ends justify the means. We get what we want, we can get that influence that power, that status. And so I always feel like there’s a temptation for us to like sneer at the people in Scripture who aren’t doing what Jesus would have them do. Without realizing that would be us to like, like, I got news for you. We got more in common with Peter than Anthropos. Probably. And I think we probably would have a lot in common with a church of Pergamum. So what does Jesus say to the church then facing this compromise and allowing these false teachers to make it easy for us to compromise in the back door, this is the next section, the charge, Kyle kind of did this last week, and we realized the better structure. So from now on your charge is just gonna be your big idea for the week, because that’s it. This is the one where Jesus says something, I will get to it in a moment. Let me read verse 16. For us here is the charge. Repent, therefore, otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. So what Jesus is saying here, in other words, like I get it, I get the temptation to compromise. But that doesn’t make it right. So repent. That’s what you do when you’re doing something not right. You change direction, you go the other way. What’s interesting here and you don’t see it in English, because English is just not the greatest language. Repent is in the singular. It’s not in the plural here, like you as an individual repent. raises the question, okay, who is repenting of what exactly then, what group are we even talking to here? There is a hint and the rest of the verse because it says, or I will come to you singular. If you’re from the south, this is Y’all not all y’all. Okay. So I will come to you singular and fight against them, plural. So them seems to be the ones who are holding to nicolaysen teaching, they need to repent to of course, because they’re the ones holding the false teaching and making these compromises. But the command is issued, especially to those who don’t hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans, who are still holding fast to Jesus’s name. So why, why are they repenting?
Because they’re not addressing the sin in their midst. They’re letting people that persist and ultimately perish in error. That’s the problem. Jesus says, you know, if you don’t repent, I’m gonna come and fight against them. Well, what does that look like? I mean, look what happens after balem in numbers 25, after the you know, they fall into Baylands, error and sin, God comes in fights against them and 24,000 Israelites die in a plague. That’s what it looks like for God to fight against someone. Even see this in the New Testament, First Corinthians 11. Looking at the Lord’s Supper, people are coming to these feasts and getting drunk. They’re not sharing with the poor, you know, they’re there. They’re treating them like a civic banquet. And Paul says rich printings 1130 This is why so many among you are weak and sick and why some have even fallen asleep. Have even die. That’s God fighting against people in error. And some of them are perishing eternally, we saw that already. This is a stumbling block a sin that leads to apostasy. So if that’s the case, the most hateful thing we could do to someone who’s falling into error is nothing. There’s nothing. The most loving thing we could do is something like get in their face, we must practice church discipline, in other words, and loving rebuke. Paul gives us an example of this first Corinthians five, someone who is caught up in sexual immorality, in fact, and the church isn’t doing anything about it. He says this, as one who is present with you in this way, I’ve already passed judgment, in the name of our Lord Jesus, I’m the one who has been doing this. So when you are assembled, and I’m with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord. That’s what this looks like. So in this case, they’re excommunicated person. This is church discipline at the extreme right there. They’re kicking the person out of the assemblies, and we cannot pretend like you’re a Christian at this point. Why? It’s not punitive, it’s restorative. The goal is restoration. The goal is that as he’s handed over, gives himself over to sin and basically hits rock bottom. And as a result comes back and repent so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord. Right, so we don’t want them to experience eternal judgment. So we pass judgment now in the hope that pain will rouse them from their sinful slumber. And Paul says this elsewhere about false teachers in particular, as a second Timothy 225 26, he says opponents must be gently instructed in the hope that God will grant them repentance, leading them to a knowledge of the truth, they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil who has taken them captive to do His will. In other words, what’s happening here, Jesus is giving us a loving rebuke, encouraging us to give a loving rebuke. That’s what’s happening. So it’s a little bit this whole, which Am I talking to the individual? Am I talking to the church? You know what, what’s happening here? It’s a little bit like maybe you’ve had this experience, like when a coach chews out the whole team. You ever had that? You know, a coach, like afterwards is like, that was the worst game I’ve ever seen. Like, I have never seen such laziness. None of you were hustlin. You want to know why you lost it because they wanted it more. The ball was loose, they went for it, and you didn’t. I’m disgusted with that display. You guys are running laps for the rest of the week. And what happens is, inevitably there’s one kid there who goes home crying, probably the only one who goes home crying. And which kid is that? The one who hustled all game long, right? And goes home. And it’s like, Dad, I hustle. Like, why is the coach yelling at me? I was hustling. And dad has to say what? I know you were hustling. So if you were hustling, you know, he’s not talking to you that that’s fine. But what do you need to do? Now you need to be team leader, you need to step up. Next time you’re on the field, you need to be the one saying hustle, get to the ball next to my year, you got to the point here is that we’re all responsible for the health of the church. We don’t get to excuse ourselves by saying yeah, but I hustled, we’re responsible to make sure everybody is hustling. We’re all responsible for the health of the church. So what does that look like for you personally, individually, and false teaching is all around us. The digital age has not made it harder to find people who will tell you what you want to hear, even in the guise of Christianity. To as you talk to people, maybe in formal settings, like journal journey groups or community groups, or maybe just informal conversation before and after a service. As you scan people on social media, you know, we’re friends with on Facebook or something like that. You see what they’re posting is you see their behavior? Do you ever offer correction? Well, let me ask you this like this. When was the last time you rebuked someone in this congregation? And if you can’t think of a time, why not? It’s not because we’re perfect. I’m sure of that. Starting with me. So we have reason to offer correction. So why aren’t we like do you see people compromising to get ahead or to get what they want? It’s a little bit like New York Post 911 You know that the big tagline come out of there was if you see something, say something. Well, if you see something you don’t say something. What Jesus just said to you is repent I repent and speak up next time. And so our charge or our big idea, no surprise is hold fast to the truth. Hold fast to the truth. It’s hard to tell because it looks like a title right there. But the truth should be capitalized that is a capital T. Jesus, who is the truth, hold fast to the truth cling to Jesus, who is the truth, no matter the circumstances, we cling to the glory of his name. But here’s the thing when we get in the rest of the passage, part of holding fast to him his glory, His honor, his reputation is helping others hold fast to him too. We got to change people’s grips, so they’re clinging to the right thing. Every year when we go up to family camp in Lake Geneva, my girls do the rock climbing wall that’s there. And when they’re very small, you know, he pretty much just pulled them up kind of thing. It’s sort of fun. But you know, they’ll like get on the wall and when they’re still within, you know, my height kind of thing. They’ll be trying to grab something and you’ll you know, you got to physically like take their hand and go try that one. That’s the picture exactly. We got people clinging to false teaching making it easy. Making excuses for cinema go. No, try that one. Cling to Jesus and said hold fast to the truth. We are made to magnifies how we say it here. Right we’re made to magnify that means hold fast to his name, his honor, his glory, but then we’re sent to serve. And what that looks like in this moment, leases loving rebuke, so that others hold fast to and here’s why. Because it’s actually better to hold fast to the truth. It’s actually better to hold on to the truth because sin makes false promises, but Jesus never does. That’s the last section. So look, look at the cheer the promised provision. From chapter two, verse 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 manner, I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it known only to the one who receives it. So holding fast to the truth sounds good in principle, like we would all get this answer right on a multiple choice test. Yes, you should come to Jesus not false teaching. But what happens when the rubber meets the road when trials and temptations come? Like what will cheer us on our way? Is there any promise that will keep us steadfast and immovable in the face of temptation that would motivate us to choose obedience?
Only the gospel promises of God will do that. Why and journey groups every week, when we meditate on a passage of Scripture, we always end with the question how does the gospel motivate my obedience in this area? And is there a promise to cling to hold fast to that will help me going in this direction? That’s exactly what we see here. Because just think with me for a moment, what is it that the church and Pergamum is seeking? What is it that they really want that would make them willing to compromise? It’s not just to participate in civic life, that’s not nearly exciting enough. It’s what civic life claims to promise that participation will bring provision or protection, influence. And even the sexual immorality brings that sense of intimacy, even if it’s a false intimacy, it is the love that we all seek. Can we agree that those are all good things? Nothing I said, right, there is bad provision, protection, intimacy, love, yeah, even influence. We want to use our influence for the sake of the kingdom. These are good things were made to long for those we can understand why they’re doing what they’re doing. And that’s important for us, because if in rebuke, we only give the what without the why we’re not going to see sustain transformation. There’ll be no power to change. There is such an important lesson for parents, right? Like the whole because I said so thing doesn’t work. And ultimately, because God said so doesn’t work either. Because God never just says so God also gives the reasons why. As we seeing here, Jesus is better. Like we gotta give that part how is Jesus better? So Jesus is inviting us to think what happens if we go down these two roads? My girls and I were in Proverbs right now we’re just meditate on a verse of proverb. Each night we just this past week hit proverbs 1415, the simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps. And Jesus is saying, give thought to your steps. Which direction are you walking? Where did these paths lead? How sure are you that you’re going to get where you’re going? That the destination is actually at the end of the path, like the provision or the intimacy, because here’s the reality being in the Chamber of Commerce is no guarantee that your business will succeed. And false intimacy of whatever sort, whether it’s pornography or a hookup culture, whatever, it will never heal that love The ache in your heart. But notice what Jesus promises here, hidden manna, and a new name written on a white stone. Going to need some help unpacking these images, of course, so manna, manna is the bread from heaven that God provides when the Israelites are wandering around in the desert, right around the time balem is speaking to them, by the way, and Revelation pictures the church is being in the wilderness as we certainly are. So what is the manner that is provided for us we know it part of it is the word of God, which fits the context of this letter. I mean, when Jesus is in the wilderness, and Satan comes to him, Hey, you’re hungry, Turn these stones into bread, I’ll take care of that for you. Jesus says, Can’t live on bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of our God, so holding fast to the truth, but I think there is actual provision being pictured here as well. Now, it’s a hidden manner, because it is still future. But we are still waiting, the future consummation of this promise. But everything we need, we will be given us in glory for eternity. And that the future promise encourages perseverance in trials, because that’s certain provision, certain provision. The God who provided his son as a sacrificial lamb, for the forgiveness of our sins will not fail to meet our needs. If he met our deepest spiritual need, he’s not going to fail to meet our physical needs in eternity. There’s the hidden mana but what about this white stone with a new name, another one of these ones where it got a lot of guesses, and the commentators don’t agree a couple of options. One could be an amulet to ward off evil. We have these in archaeology in Pergamum, you know, Whitestone, with a name of a false god on it. So is this an amulet with Jesus’s name on it, by the way doesn’t mean that John buys into the pagan worldview here that amulets work or something like that. It’s just an illustration assuring us of the promised blessings that Jesus brings that security that we have. Second option would be acquittal by jury, because they would vote with white and black stones, you’ve got the expression blackballed somebody who’s kicked out of a group, that’s the same thing. Black men guilty, excluded, white means not guilty, accepted. So could be that we’re, we’re innocent in Christ. And so this is a symbol of our acceptance, our acquittal, the third and what I think is the most likely would be, they actually use these as tickets to public festivals. It fits the context the best if it is true, because here it is, again, there’s the participation in the life, here’s my ad mission, and then is that status and acceptance. It’s the invitation to not just a city feast, but the Messianic banquet. Like we have a welcome with Jesus and self. And of course, that’s the intimacy we most seek as well. Now the white stone includes a new name, and might be our new name. Oh, which would be pretty cool. Especially because we just talked about new Dame this week. Jimmy, read us the passage from Isaiah, you know, this fits scripture for sure, like we are given a new name, symbolic of our new identity in Christ. Do you see throughout Scripture used to be Abram, my father is great. Now your Abraham, father of many nations, used to be Simon, now you’re Peter, the rock on which I will build this church. So could be that, or it could be Jesus’s new name, do you think is more likely we’ll see that in chapter three, verse 12, as we finish this series out, but that would mean again, we’re entering in Jesus’s name, which is exactly right. And so here it is that assurance of our acceptance, bar provision of our protection of our intimacy, whatever the exact image is, the point is the same what we’re seeking. What we really want is found only in Jesus. Sin makes false promises. If you compromise, I’ll protect you. But Jesus keeps all his promises. So we don’t hold fast. Listen to those who preach compromise. Now we hold fast to the truth. Because he keeps all his promises. We fight for the truth, we lovingly rebuke those who are turning from it because we know it’s the most loving thing to do. A certain promises the deepest, most profound love, that’s what will keep us as faithful witnesses, no matter the cost, no matter the circumstances, because we know the coming blessing with Jesus hidden manna, white stone with Jesus’s name that ensures our entrance into the New Jerusalem, the city of God, were not Satan, but where God Himself has his throne. That’s where we will dwell together. Let’s pray now. Lord, would you help us even now to turn from to compromise, to turn from temptation, and to turn from teaching that would help us make excuses for our compromise and sin, and instead to hold fast to the truth. Lord, we pray this, we want to hold fast to the truth because we know that what you offer is better than everything the world has to offer us. We see the coming glory, we see the provision, the protection, the intimacy, the acceptance, all that we longed for, we see that it comes to us in Christ. So would you help us to claim help us to give thought to our steps? And would you help us to help others to to care for the health of the church as a whole, to be willing to speak loving, gentle words of instruction and rebuke to turn others from sin, snatching them from the fire, but they might also know the blessing of knowing you being known by you and dwelling in your city. It’s in Christ’s name that we pray, Amen.

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