Bryan Jones |

Jesus commends the church in Pergamum for their boldness and faithfulness and confronts them on their compromise.

Jesus At The Center Of The Church
Compromise • Message 3
Bryan Jones
August 27, 2023

A. Introduction

As we look at the church of Pergamum, the thing that seems to be at the center of this church, let me go ahead and give you a spoiler alert, is compromise.

Now compromise doesn’t always have to be an awful thing… Sometimes it can help you find the middle ground, or work out a solution…

Like the other day, I wanted BBQ and my wife wanted Mexican food, so we compromised and ate Mexican food because women always get what they want.

I did give her a hard time when I came across this meme… [Show meme - women have a hard time choosing where to eat.]

But if you compromise on building materials, or you compromise on safety features in a car… the effects can be disastrous…

As kids, we are told to compromise on certain things, or find a middle ground… Compromise can be good for certain things… but I want you to get right off the bat that spiritual compromise for the church and our faith is always costly. Compromise in keeping Jesus at the center… is always deadly, and always detrimental to our faith… and this is the issue going on with the church in Pergamum…

Revelation 2:12 (NIV)

“To the angel of the church in Pergamumwrite: These are the words of Him Who has the sharp, double-edged sword.”

  • Angel means pastor or leader, or an overseer… the pastor would stand in front of the congregation and read this letter…
  • Notice phrase words of Him with double-edged sword. There was a Roman term, jus gladii, which meant the right of the sword. The governor of each city had the right to give capital punishment, they had the power of Rome, and a symbol of their authority was a medium-sized double-edged sword they would carry around with them.

Jesus is saying right off the bat, Caesar doesn’t have all the power. Rome doesn’t have all the power. Your leaders don’t have all the power. I HAVE ALL THE POWER. I am the Alpha and Omega… I’m the center.

Now Pergamum was an important city. Next to Ephesus, it was one of the most important and powerful cities in the ancient world. It was a large and wealthy city, and it was known for 3 things its politics, hospital and really cult worship, in fact, that’s why Jesus says in verse 13,

Revelation 2:13 (NIV)

“I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. …”

Notice the phrase where Satan has his throne. There were so many temples there it’s hard to list them all but let me show you a few… It was one of the dark eerie cities of that day predominately due to its cult worship.

Temple of Athena (pic)

Found a statue that was 10ft tall. Athena was the goddess of war and wisdom. The second largest library in the ancient world behind Alexandria was here because she is the goddess of wisdom.

Do you know what people would say about Athena? That she was the way, the TRUTH and the life…because she was the goddess of wisdom… yet Jesus said,

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

John 14:6 (NIV)

Zeus Altar (pic)

4 stories tall...huge, huge, altar…  It’s in Berlin. When Hitler was in Germany it would have been there… Actually, what’s interesting is the scene is of Zeus and God fighting the Titans…

And it shows Zeus is the king of Kings, god of gods and Lord of Lords. The same imagery and words were used by Jesus.

“… but the Lamb will triumph over them because He is the Lord of lords and King of kings…”

Revelation 17:14b (NIV)

Temple of Caesar (pic)

They were very serious about emperor worship.

Remember what was said of Augustus Caesar… He was referred to as the son of God. And people would say there is no other name under heaven and earth that man can be saved… sound familiar…  

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

Acts 4:12 (NIV)

Temple of Demeter (pic)

Goddess of agriculture and grain. They would say...she is the one who gives daily bread. In Matthew chapter 6,

To get into her sanctuary, you had to sprinkle the blood of an animal on you so that you could enter into holiness and purity… she was the goddess of daily bread…

when Jesus is teaching the disciples to pray… He says,

“This, then, is how you should pray: … Give us today our daily bread.”

Matthew 6:9,11 (NIV)

As I’ve been going to the different Community Groups, I’ve heard many people say that prayer is tough… and I want to give you some tools that will help with your batting average…

Temple of Asclepius (pic)

How many of you hate snakes? There are only 3 things I’m confident will not be in heaven…

Snakes, shots, and the DMV…

And if you don’t like snakes, you wouldn’t like this place…

Asclepius was the god of medicine and healing. His image was that of a serpent wrapped around a staff. This was the most complete clinic. When you showed up and would take a tonic that would knock you out and you would be put in a room with snakes(non-lethal), and they would slither around if they slithered over you, it was a sign of healing. You would then go to a doctor and discuss your dream with healthcare workers, and they would prescribe a remedy.

To get into the temple you had to declare Asclepius the savior and healer.

Seems like the whole place is Satan’s throne… Cults everywhere. It was a dark-eerie city. Most of the tension the followers of Jesus felt was that these things that were said of Jesus were said of other gods.

B. Commends…

1. Bold

Revelation 2:13b (NIV)

“… 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.”

They were being told not to be silent, they were called to religious….

See in this culture there was arguably even more pressure than you and I face today… because we live in a secular culture, where people don’t take faith seriously… but in Jesus’ day, it was very religious, and they believed that if there was a famine or a sickness it was because you had offended the god. So, they had pressure to worship and honor the gods, and yet Jesus said some of you have remained faithful…

2. Faithful

This is the only time the name Antipas, the first mentioned is Herod Antipas in the Bible, with this mention the word witness means martyr. We know he was killed; some think he was put in a bronze animal like a bull and burned alive. Others think that the double-edged sword mentioned could have been a reference to the fact that he was executed. But this is encouraging that God knows.

I want to encourage some of you this morning…

There is no mention of title, position or platform… all it says is Antipas.

In this culture on earth, you are seen if you do something significant. You are noticed if you do something noteworthy… in the kingdom of heaven, you are seen because your Savior is significant. You are noticed because you are a son or daughter of a noteworthy God… so you are freed up from all this performance and striving…

In our American culture, we put far too much emphasis on titles, positions and success…  it doesn’t say, Antipas, the great leader, Antipas the CEO, or Antipas, president and founder, Antipas business owner, or a great man of faith… For all we know this man never preached, was an upfront leader, wrote a book, and led hundreds of people to Christ. He may have done nothing great by the world’s standards, but God calls him faithful. He was faithful to suffer and honor Christ. He was faithful because he kept Jesus at the center… God honors day-to-day faithfulness where we don’t compromise with whatever is happening around us… Stop worrying about being noticed, and being seen… what God seems to notice isn’t fame… it’s faithfulness… just be faithful… faithful with every opportunity in front of you…

I don’t know many of you who say you wouldn’t change 1 thing about yourself if you could… I don’t know many people that would go… I wouldn’t change one thing… like, I have the perfect marriage, I make way too much money… my kids listen to me all the time, I have far too much joy, everywhere I go I’m finding favor… and if that’s you, great, we love… but we also hate you… J

Long-standing volunteers in Brookwood serving behind the scenes. Nick Nalepa (Production, Traffic, Adult Discipleship)/James Seagraves (Traffic, Security, MRT)/ Kim Bragg (Children’s Ministry, Student Ministries, First Impressions, Women’s Ministry) … people who have been living and serving faithfulness... faithfulness is something that we minimize, we really matter…

Maybe God’s word is just to be faithful in the difficult or mundane times…

C. Confronts…

Revelation 2:14-15 (NIV)

“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 idolsand committed sexual immorality.Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.”

1. Compromise.

The word hold in Scripture means to grasp on tightly, hold on tightly. A few years ago, we had a carnival church parking lot… and my son wanted to ride one of those rides… and I guess somehow, he didn’t buckle up tight... so he started to literally slip out of the ride he was on… and he began to fall… and I held him with a superhuman strength against the ride… I thought, I don’t know how my son is going to go but he’s not going to go in the church parking lot on the tilt a whirl… and I held on with an iron-clad grasp…

Jesus is saying, some of you have latched on with a supernatural determination to Me… but others you’ve slipped and now you are latching onto Balaam’s way and the Nicolaitans’ way…

Balaam is a prophet of comprise. You can read more about Balaam in Numbers 22-25; 31.

He got them to compromise on God’s Word. Balaam is mentioned twice in the New Testament and never favorably. People in Pergamum who were compromising in their faith and eating food sacrificed to idols and sexual immorality, meaning they were engaging in these temples and this way of life.

Nicolaitans are in the same vein… but they are also adding in Gnosticism, which is about hearing special words from God that go against His words and commands… so they would probably have said things like, God told me it’s ok to go to these temples, or it’s ok, it gives to the culture.

Interestingly the word Balaam literally means devourer and the word Nicolaitans means conqueror.

What devours and conquers Christians… a spirit of compromise.

Tony Evans said:

Compromise is the cancer of the church, and we must rid Christ’s body of it. While Christians can compromise on preferences, they cannot compromise on principles. We can’t be one way on Sunday and another on Monday. This is a major problem among Christians in America today. We don’t take a stand. We don’t keep our standards. We merely shift to satisfy society.

Tony Evans

You want a little bit of Jesus, sprinkle a little Jesus on top… but this is in the world as well.

You are trying to live Jesus + culture. Compromise, it’s not ok. It must be Jesus alone at the center.

3 types of compromise

  1. Theological (sexual ethics that we’ve held for thousands of years)
  2. Moral (leave marriage)
  3. Leadership

Revelation 2:16 (NIV)

“Repenttherefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.”

He will come with His words and judge. He will speak truth and justice.

How do you live out faithfulness? Live it out day in and day out… because sometimes it isn’t the difficult things that cause us to drift away… It’s the drudgery or the mundane things in life.

Revelation 2:17 (NIV)

“Whoever has ears, let them hearwhat 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 namewritten on it, known only to the one who receives it.”

The way to faithfulness is to know what awaits us… Notice the phrase white stone… if you were invited into an important event, you were given a white stone with your name on it… this was your ticket. It gave you access into the great party or event…

And there is a place no one could access, heaven, the presence of God… because our sin keeps us off the invitation list. But the Gospel is that Jesus wrote our names on the palms of His hands, and He died on the cross for us… and because of His sacrifice we are given access into the presence of God.

And so, we are faithful to God because He was first faithful to us. He gave His life, and now we are to give our lives to Him and let the Spirit of God awaken us to deeper life… and deeper faithfulness…

Where might God be calling you to be faithful?

Jesus at the center…

  1. Job – Idol and Idleness
  2. Money- no one thinks they’re greedy…
  3. Moral – Porn/same-sex…
  4. Marriage - Are you pursuing Jesus together? Is church a priority, praying together… According to Pew Research less than 1% of married couples who pray daily or regularly end up divorced. … intimacy and sex are different when Jesus is at the center.
  5. Family – leading family men/ busyness

You don’t try and do this in your strength… devotionals keep walking with them…

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