Wednesday, August 10, 2011

God’s Amazing Church - Standing Tall For Truth (Rev.2:12-17)



 Commitment to truth is a sure foundation for a Christian church. When the word is at its worst, God wants His church at its best. So, He stays on top of the situation in His churches. He knows His church. It was the best of times in Pergamum. The city was wealthy, cultured, and literate. Pergamum had the second largest library in the world at that time, having amassed a collection of 2000,000 volumes. The city of Pergamum had one of the greatest libraries of its day.

 In fact, the second largest in the world at that time, with 2000,000 volumes. And that number is all the more significant when we understand that all these volumes were scrolls. The city desired to make the library even greater, so it invited Aristophones, who was then director of the great library in Alexandria, to come head up the library in Pergamum. Aristophones responded positively and accepted the invitation.

But, when the leader of Egypt received the news that Aristophones planned to move to Pergamum, he arrested Aristophones and he put an embargo against Pergamum. And the result was that they could not attain the papyrus from Egypt that they needed for writing material.

However, this hardship produced something very good. It was then that the people of Pergamum developed what we came to know as parchment, or vellum. Eventually, this material would replace papyrus as the primary writing material all around the world. This is important because it tells us how cultured and highly educated city like Pergamum was as a setting in which God's church was challenged to stand tall for truth.

It was the worst of times from Christ’s perspective. Jesus looked at the moral tone of the city of Pergamum and called it the “place where Satan dwells.” That’s a good place for a church. Jesus said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick” (Matt.9:12). Where the night is darkest, the light must shine to its brightest. 


God knows where we dwell (Rev.2:13) and He knows our details, strengths, weaknesses and limitations. God challenges our Christian faith. Many Christians live in homes, work in shops, attend schools, live in neighborhoods or apartment complexes where it is difficult to be Christian, where temptation runs rampant, where faith is challenged day by day.

Jesus clearly understands this, “I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith, even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells” (Rev.2:13).

God knows our hearts, our deepest desired and even our secrets. He distinguished between spiritual shallowness and spiritual depth, as He did in Pergamum (vv.13-14). It is sobering to know that God searches His people. If I am not living where I should be, He knows. He calls me to a new level of commitment.

Light shines through devotion. As we heard, “action speaks louder than words”, we declare by our lives whether we believe “Jesus is Lord” or “Caesar is Lord” (Rom 5:8, 2Cor.6:14, John 12:35).


If the church is to “stand tall for truth”, it must speak out of a pure heart. (1). Truth will be challenged by society, “You dwell, where Satan’s throne is…where Satan dwells” (v.13). “You have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak” (v.14).

(2). False teaching existed. “The teaching of the Nicolaitans” (v.15). Alexander Maclaren said, “They wanted the best of two worlds so they ran with the hare and hunted with the hounds.” (3). They had an inappropriate tolerance. God reserves His greatest wrath for those who lead others astray.

Therefore, He desired that the Nicolaitans and those who allowed for the teaching of Balaam to be confronted, challenged and corrected severely. Someone challenged half-hearted Christianity with these words, “They’re praising God on Sunday; they will be all right on Monday. It’s just a little habit they’ve acquired. (4). Holiness or Purity is our choice. Christ strongly confronts His followers, calling them to repentance, and to be holy acceptable to God (v.16, Rom 12:1f).


The context suggests that God will supply the needed power, “To him who overcomes” (v.17). In the most difficult of circumstances the Christian will be given the power to stand firm. Jesus is pictured as sufficiently strong. He is “the One who has the sharp two-edged sword” (v.12). From the deepest heart, the songwriter says, 

                            “All that I need He will always be. 
                             All that I need till His face I see. 
                             All that I need through eternity, 
                            Jesus is all I need.”

Jesus promises ultimate victory. Jesus promises to the one who overcomes. “The hidden manna” (v.17, cf.Ex.16:23-24, Heb.9:4). While Old Testament references help us understand this “manna” we also understand that the manna itself is Jesus Christ. We will feast forever on Him in heaven. About “the white stone,” many interpretations are given to the “white stone”.

Some commentators suggest that these were the “jewels” that fell from the sky with the manna according to a Jewish rabbinical tradition. Others suggest the “white ballot pebble” thrown into a box by the judge when he acquitted a prisoner, white yet others remind us of the “tessara” given to the public entertainments.

But whatever the stone may be, the new name to be engraved on it is undoubtedly the name of Jesus Christ who says later in His letter to the Philadelphian church, “I will write upon him…my new name” (Rev.3:12). Whatever the meaning of the “white stone” we can be sure that the “new name” written on that stone is the name of Jesus Christ, the name that will be written upon all of us who know Christ the Lord (Rev.3:12).


Today, you may live in a community where life is at its worst. Society may appear to be a moral cesspool. But, do not forget, that’s a good place to have a church. And that’s a good place to have a Christian who stands tall for God’s truth.

Curtis Jones said, “Declared believers in Pergamum were too tolerant, permissive, lax, too closely identified with Satan’s legions to be effective servants and contagious Christians

                                        May the merciful God find us faithful today. 


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