All About GOD

All About GOD - Growing Relationships with Jesus and Others

WRITTEN AND PUBLISHED ON 5-16-2015

STEW SUTTON  ----  IRVINE, CALIFORNIA

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Let us examine the scripture together. This is from the book of Revelation Chapter 2. The particular passage is a message to the congregation in the metropolis called Pergamum.

Pergamum was an ancient Greek city in Aeolis, currently located 26 kilometers (16 mi) from the Aegean Sea on a promontory on the north side of the river Caicus (modern-day Bakırçay). Today, the main sites of ancient Pergamon are to the north and west of the modern city of Bergama in Turkey.

Pergamon was briefly the capital of the Roman province of Asia, before the capital was transferred to Ephesus.

Sometime after 130BC Pergamon was granted the title of metropolis and as a result of this an ambitious building program the city area incorporated massive temples, a stadium, a theatre, a huge forum and an amphitheatre. In addition, at the city limits the shrine to Asclepius (the snake god of healing) was expanded into a lavish spa.

The Sanctuary of the false god Asclepius grew in fame and was considered one of the most famous therapeutic and healing centers of the Roman world.

Pergamon reached the height of its greatness under Roman Imperial rule and was home to about 200,000 inhabitants.

The Library of Pergamon was renowned, and second only to the Library of Alexandria, although not approaching Alexandria in scholarship.

The city was an early seat of Christianity, although a location where the inhabitants that were followers of Jesus were constantly pressured to compromise. Pergamon is mentioned in the Book of Revelation, as a dwelling place of Satan and a location of his throne, and that an early church leader, appointed by St. Paul named Antipas was martyred there.

Let us read God's word in Revelation.

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Revelation 2:12-17 ESV

[12] And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: 'The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.

[13] "'I know where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith 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.'

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Let us pray for understanding as we examine the scripture.

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The first thing we notice is that the message to Pergamum is:

1. A letter to the congregation in Pergamum

2. A letter from the conquering judge (Jesus)

Let us look mere at the reference to the sharp two-edged sword!

Revelation 2:12 NIV

[12] "To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: 

These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword.

Swords are used to defend, divide, and to kill.  This is relevant. As we go deeper, we find reference and comparison of God's word to a double-edged sword.

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Hebrews 4:12-13 NIV

[12] For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. [13] Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

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While Yeshua (Jesus) is pleased with our faithfulness, He is displeased when we compromise.

Our LORD Yeshua is pleased when we are strong and faithful because Yeshua knows our struggles and temptation., and Yeshua is pleased when we endure by faith.

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Let us again examine the word of God:

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Revelation 2:12-13 NIV

[12] "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,

even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness,

who was put to death in your city---where Satan lives.

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STRUGGLING AGAINST COMPROMISE

WAS HARD TO DO WITHIN THIS 

CONGREGATION IN PERGAMUM

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BUT Antipas was a strong bold witness and leader that did not compromise. According to Christian tradition, John the Apostle ordained Antipas as bishop of Pergamon during the reign of the Roman emperor Domitian. The traditional account goes on to say Antipas was martyred in ca. 92 AD by burning in a brazen bull-shaped altar for casting out demons worshiped by the local population.

The local population worshipped the "snake god" Asclepius that was represented in the temple at Pergamum and they also worshiped Cesar as god. This was a most idolatrous place!  This was a place for great compromise for those who followed Jesus.

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Hebrews 4:14-16 NIV

[14] Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. [15] For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are---yet was without sin. [16] Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

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Our LORD Yeshua is displeased when we are weak and compromise since we are to oppose becoming like everyone else

What happens when God's children compromise and align themselves with the lost in this world?  God's word reveals.

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Revelation 2:14 NIV

[14] Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality.

Numbers 25:1-3 NIV

[1] While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, [2] who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate and bowed down before these gods. [3] So Israel joined in worshiping the Baal of Peor. And the Lord's anger burned against them.

Proverbs 7:6-13,16-18,21-23 NIV

[6] At the window of my house I looked out through the lattice. [7] I saw among the simple, I noticed among the young men, a youth who lacked judgment. [8] He was going down the street near her corner, walking along in the direction of her house [9] at twilight, as the day was fading, as the dark of night set in. [10] Then out came a woman to meet him, dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent. [11] (She is loud and defiant, her feet never stay at home; [12] now in the street, now in the squares, at every corner she lurks.) [13] She took hold of him and kissed him and with a brazen face she said: [16] I have covered my bed with colored linens from Egypt. [17] I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon. [18] Come, let's drink deep of love till morning; let's enjoy ourselves with love! [21] With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk. [22] All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose [23] till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life.

Numbers 25:16-18 NIV

[16] The Lord said to Moses, [17] "Treat the Midianites as enemies and kill them, [18] because they treated you as enemies when they deceived you in the affair of Peor and their sister Cozbi, the daughter of a Midianite leader, the woman who was killed when the plague came as a result of Peor."

Numbers 31:2,15-16 NIV

[2] "Take vengeance on the Midianites for the Israelites. After that, you will be gathered to your people. " [15] "Have you allowed all the women to live?" he asked them. [16] "They were the ones who followed Balaam's advice and were the means of turning the Israelites away from the Lord in what happened at Peor, so that a plague struck the Lord's people.

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COMPROMISE BRINGS DESTRUCTION 

TO GOD'S CHILDREN THROUGHOUT TIME

IS COMPROMISE ANY DIFFERENT TODAY?

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MODERN DAY COMPROMISE...

- Same sex marriage

- Abortion - killing babies

- Opposing Israel

- Pride in self

- Denying God is in control

- Living for pleasure

- Idols before God

- No passion for God's word

- No love for neighbors in need

- Being timid in sharing God's word

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We are to oppose immorality 

and spiritual control.

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Revelation 2:15 NIV

[15] Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.

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We are to turn back to God.

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Revelation 2:16 NIV

[16] Repent therefore! 

Otherwise, I will soon come to you 

and will fight against them 

with the sword of my mouth.

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WHAT DID COMPROMISE LOOK 

LIKE IN THE FIRST CENTURY?

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According to the writings of the Early Church leaders, Nicolas taught a doctrine of compromise, implying that total separation between Christianity and the practice of occult paganism was not essential.

From Early Church records, it seems apparent that this Nicolas of Antioch was so immersed in occultism, Judaism, and Christianity that he had a stomach for all of it. He had no problem intermingling these belief systems in various concoctions and saw no reason why believers couldn't continue to fellowship with those still immersed in the black magic of the Roman empire and its countless mystery cults.

Occultism was a major force that warred against the Early Church.

In Ephesus, the primary pagan religion was the worship of Diana (Artemis). There were many other forms of idolatry in Ephesus, but this was the primary object of occult worship in that city.

In the city of Pergamos, there were numerous dark and sinister forms of occultism, causing Pergamos to be one of the most wicked cities in the history of the ancient world. In both of these cities, believers were lambasted and persecuted fiercely by adherents of pagan religions, forced to contend with paganism on a level far beyond all other cities.

It was very hard for believers to live separately from all the activities of paganism because paganism and its religions were the center of life in these cities. Slipping in and out of paganism would have been very easy for young or weak believers to do since most of their families and friends were still pagans. A converted Gentile would have found it very difficult to stay away from all pagan influence.

It is significant that the "deeds" and "doctrines" of the Nicolaitans are only mentioned in connection with the churches in these two occultic and pagan cities. It seems that the "doctrine" of the Nicolaitans was that it was alright to have one foot in both worlds and that one needn't be so strict about separation from the world in order to be a Christian.

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This, in fact, was the "doctrine" of the Nicolaitans 

that Jesus "hated." It led to a weak version of 

Christianity that was without power and without 

conviction - a defeated, worldly type of Christianity.

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Nicolas' deep roots in paganism may have produced in him a tolerance for occultism and paganism. Growing up in this perverted spiritual environment may have caused him to view these belief systems as not so damaging or dangerous.

This wrong perception would have resulted in a very liberal viewpoint that encouraged people to stay connected to the world. This is what numerous Bible scholars believe about the Nicolaitans.

This kind of teaching would result in nothing but total defeat for its followers. When believers allow sin and compromise to be in their lives, it drains away the power in the work of the Cross and the power of the Spirit that is resident in a believer's life.

This is the reason the name Nicolas is so vital to this discussion. The evil fruit of Nicolas' "doctrine" encouraged worldly participation, leading people to indulge in sin and a lowered godly standard. In this way he literally conquered the people.

God wants to make sure we understand the doctrine the Nicolaitans taught, so Balaam's actions are given as an example of their doctrine and actions. Revelation 2:14,15 says, "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 stumbling-block 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."

When Balaam could not successfully curse the people of God (although with promise of great fortune he tried four times), he used another method to destroy them. He seduced them into unbridled, sensual living by dangling the prostitutes of Moab before the men of Israel.

Numbers 25:1-3 tells us, "And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. And they [the daughters of Moab] called the people [the men of Israel] unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people [the men of Israel] did eat, and bowed down to their gods. And Israel joined himself unto Baal-peor...."

Just as the men of Israel compromised themselves with the world and false religions, now the "doctrine" of the Nicolaitans was encouraging compromise. As we are well aware, compromise with the world always results in a weakened and powerless form of Christianity.

This was the reason Jesus "hated" the 

"doctrine" and the "deeds" of the Nicolaitans.

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Ephesians 5:18 NIV

[18] Do not get drunk on wine, 

which leads to debauchery. 

Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

1 John 1:9 NIV

[9] If we confess our sins, he is 

faithful and just and will forgive us 

our sins and purify us 

from all unrighteousness.

1 Thessalonians 5:18-19 NIV

[18] give thanks in all circumstances, 

for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 

[19] Do not put out the Spirit's fire;

Revelation 2:16 NIV

[16] Repent therefore! Otherwise, 

I will soon come to you and will 

fight against them with 

the sword of my mouth.

WHAT THEREFORE CAN WE CONCLUDE?

Revelation 2:17 NIV

[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.

I will also give him a white stone 

with a new name written on it, 

known only to him who receives it.

WE WILL HAVE A NEW NAME IN HEAVEN PROCLAIMED BY GOD

Genesis 32:28 NIV

[28] Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome."

2 Samuel 12:24-25 NIV

[24] Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and lay with her. She gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon. The Lord loved him; [25] and because the Lord loved him, he sent word through Nathan the prophet to name him Jedidiah.

Isaiah 62:1-2 NIV

[1] For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem's sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch. [2] The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow.

Because Yeshua promises us

1. HIMSELF

2. and RELATIONSHIP

We should BE FAITHFUL and not COMPROMISE.

CONCLUDING

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My Prayer Against Compromise

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Lord, after what I've read today, I don't want to allow any spirit of compromise in my life! I now understand that the doctrine of the Nicolaitans is compromise with the world. Lord, I don't want to live with one foot in the church and another foot in the world.

I want to break free completely from the world and its influence so I can give myself completely to Your cause!

I want to be holy, to live in a way that pleases You, and to experience Your power in my life.

Today I am renewing my commitment to You all over again! I turn from the world, and I am running to You!

I confess that I am free from the world! I do not walk in compromise! I am determined to live a committed and holy life before the Lord.

As a result of my firm determination to walk with God, I have power over sin, power over satan, and power when I pray.

God's Word promises that if I draw near to Him, He will draw near to me.

I am drawing nearer and nearer to God every day, so I am confident that His Presence in my life is getting stronger too!

I declare this by faith in Jesus' name!

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Replies to This Discussion

Thank You Stew for bringing this message.  I have only skimmed it, but will read in depth tomorrow.  

What I do know about the 7 churches is that the only one that wasn't complimented in any way was the Church of Laodicea, lukewarm, half hearted, sitting on the fence, partial christians, etc.  all negative.   Very eye opening and greatly encouraging. 

Yes, I agree. Our eyes are often opened by the Leodician church as the archetype for lukewarm noncommittal character that is so expansive across America it becomes a powerful comparison and wake-up call. Pergamum is a good comparison to our current times of persecution and suffering during a season of increasing conformance and politically correct speech and action.

Blessings!

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