Daily Spirit & Word 700: The Church Needs Jesus Christ.
Because Satan Has His Throne Amongst Us Today.
Good morning my friends, don’t you just love the book of Revelation? Some are frightened of reading it, primarily because of themes of the Second Death, like yesterday’s reading. Today we see Pergamum (Pergamos) a Church that tolerated gross error amongst it’s members.
The first letter to Ephesus addressed churches that forsake their first love, the second to Smyrna (Izmir) encouraged those who experienced severe persecution, today Pergamum represents churches that tolerates all kinds of immoral behaviour amongst its members. There are churches like these in every generation of Christianity.
Revelation 2:12-17 (NIV) Pergamum.
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.
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.
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 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.
The ancient city of Pergamos was about 700 miles north of Smyrna (present day Izmir) and 15 miles inland from the Aegean Sea. On the site of Pergamos today sits a town called Bergama, which has a population of about 61,400. However, it has been estimated that in its heyday Pergamos had a population of more than 160,000.
While Ephesus and Smyrna were commercial cities, Pergamos was a cultural and religious center. Four major pagan temples were located there: the temples to Athena, Asclepisus (the god of healing, whose insignia was the entwined serpent on a staff, which is still the medical symbol today), Dionysus (or Bacchus; the wine god. whose wine, music and ecstatic dance frees his followers from self-conscious fear and or care, and subverts the oppressive moral and civil restraints.), and Zeus (which had the largest altar in the world and was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World). Pergamos was an intellectual center with a university that had a library of about 200,000 volumes. That doesn’t seem to be such a large library by our standards today, but remember in John’s day there was no printing press—all books were written by hand and very few ordinary people could actually read.
Therefore we can see that Pergamos was an important city in John’s day because of its religious, cultural, and intellectual influence. However, Jesus has quite a few words to say about that great City and it’s Christians. We’ll delve into some of those things that were happening in Pergamum; first Jesus commends them and their faithfulness, being true to the name of Jesus Christ. You know how you feel when someone pays a genuine compliment, when they acknowledge your hard work and devotion? Well, they’d suffered a great deal for the Lord Jesus in Pergamum. Those early Christians suffered a lot for their faith. I’m often left wondering how I would cope under such circumstances, yet we are fast approaching a time when genuine faith and belief in Jesus is becoming very difficult indeed. Pergamum’s Christian Community is commended by Jesus.
Pergamum: The letter is written to specific Christians in time, yet it also applies to Christians and churches in every generation. Pergamum’s Christians tolerated IMMORALITY: Our own Church, the Church of England, has a large number of members who want to tolerate sexual perversion too, to support those who practice Homosexuality, to promote them to become Priests and Bishops. Whilst we must all love people and help them in their struggles with all kinds of temptations and fleshly pulls, I wonder what Christ would write to the Church in England today? Their argument is; the Bible was written in a time and context, a culture when these practices were not tolerated, but they are very wrong indeed, as we can see from our text today and the history of Pergamum. Sexual perversion was rife in the time of the Apostles, and they, inspired by God the Holy Spirit, condemned it as abhorrent to God. They didn’t mince their words either. There are some in Anglicanism today who also argue that the Bible doesn’t teach us homosexuality is wrong, how they come to that conclusion is bewildering, a twisting of the Word of God. Because any plain reading of Scripture clearly reveals God’s anger at this kind of perversion. God’s appeal is not to culture or tradition or even reason, but to His Creation Ordinance: i.e. His original intention for human beings. Man is not made (Created) to lie with another man as one lays with a woman. No wonder so many people today don’t like Genesis and the Creation account in Scripture. If we can discard God’s Creation and replace it with a Big Bang Theory, then everything is up for grabs. If God didn’t Create the Universe and it just happened by some kind of cosmic accident, then we’re our own masters of our destiny. The phrase “I am the master of my fate, I am the Captain of my soul” becomes the motto of our generation, and sadly it has become such. Just like the old crooner Frank Sinatra who boldly sang; “I did it my way”, so the world and many in our church today want to sing the same song; “I want to do it my way”… Let’s keep trying with all our might to do it Jesus way.
Pergamum wasn’t just rife with homosexuality, but all kinds of sexual immorality, just as the Church in the world is today.
Jesus didn’t say “I have this one thing against you Christians in Pergamum” No, He said, “I have a few things against you” then Jesus goes onto explain what they are and warns them, that if they don’t renounce and repent they’re going to experience His double-edged sword. (Remember that double-edged sword? It comes out of His mouth: that is a weird picture in my head, but John the Apostle saw it in his vision of Jesus). The Double-Edged Sword: can cut you to the bone. It judges the thoughts and inclinations of the heart.
Twice in Verse 13, Christ reveals that Satan dwells in Pergamos. He says this city is even where Satan’s seat is. Imagine that a City where Satan has his throne? There is no doubt this is referring to the fact that Pergamos was the center of Pagan worship and also promoted Emperor worship. Pergamos was a place where you could “take your pick” of the gods. Like Woolworths used to have all kinds of sweets and you just pic-n-mix what you fancy. Imagine then the offence Christians became in the nostrils of the people of Pergamos. They dared to declare that Jesus Christ was the ONE True God and the Only Saviour of mankind who demands total and exclusive obedience, that following Him would mean sexual and moral obedience in life, this would certainly provoke severe persecution in John’s day, just as is it beginning to do in our own time here in the UK. Satan wants to drive the followers of Jesus into hiding by bringing persecution: how’s he doing today?
Remember the Bible warns us that Satan is not in Hell yet, that will happen later as we shall see in Revelation. However what does it tell us about Satan? 1 Peter 5:8 (NIV) “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” He’s real, he’s around, he’s looking to pull you away from Jesus.
Tomorrow we’re going to go further with Pergamum: Their Holding to the Teaching of Balaam:
But today, think about your Church, what is Jesus telling us to be like today?
His desire has not changed, Jesus wants a PURE Bride ready for His return.
James 1:21-22 (NIV)“Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent, and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
How? Don’t tolerate moral filth in your own life. Don’t be tempted. Don’t give into your old sinful and fleshly nature and it’s evil desires for self-gratification.
How? Flee Sexual Immorality:
1 Corinthians 6:17-20 (NIV)“But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body.”
PRAYER: Oh Lord Jesus Christ, just like Isaiah, we live in a time when all kinds of immorality are accepted as ‘normal’ for human beings, yet You have called us to live such good lives among the people of this world. I’m praying today Lord for all who follow You, we need another mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We need a revival in our land. We need it personally and in our fellowships. Oh Lord bring your Church closer to You. Help us in our weakness. Give us the power to live every day for You Lord” Amen!
Great Is The Darkness: “A Darkness That Can Be Felt”
Good morning my friends, I was half-dreaming half-awake this morning at 4.30am and the Lord was speaking to me about the DARKNESS. I got up quickly and opened my Bible and the Software and began to study the ‘darkness’ in the Bible.
The Word the Lord gave me was; “A Darkness that may be felt.”
Exodus 10:21 (NIV) “Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand towards the sky so that darkness will spread over Egypt—darkness that can be felt.””
When Mankind walks away from God, they walk away from the light into a DARKNESS that can be felt.
A moral darkness covers the land.
To be in the darkness is to be without the light of Christ.
To be in the dark, is to be blind, blinded, can’t see.
They are blinded to their need of salvation. 2 Cor 4:4. They are blinded to their moral condition. (Call sin good). They are blinded to their destiny. (Don’t believe, choose not to accept, deny; Hell). They are robbed of a sense of fear of God (They are bold, brazen about sin). They are darkened in their understanding of anything good.
Great IS the Darkness.
Last night at the Monthly Prayer Meeting in Church, we touched upon the subject of the moral condition of those that don’t yet know Christ as Lord. A great discussion ensued about homosexuality being the NEW Schism in the church. How many who call themselves Christians are now saying that it’s OK to be homosexual, even so called Evangelicals are walking over to the dark side.
We got that from just re-reading Sunday’s lesson from 1 Corinthians 1:18-25.
Ten of the most well known Christian preachers / teachers were interviewed and asked their opinion on the subject of same-sex-marriage and homosexuality: You can watch their answers by clicking the link at the bottom.
Note: The one’s that gave the clearest answers were those who have the highest regard for the Word of the Lord. When the Bible says something, it’s as if God has said it. It’s true my friends, the Bible IS God’s WORD on any subject. Note those that gave the weakest answers were those who had a higher regard for what people feel. Joel Osteen, for instance, was determined that he didn’t want to upset anyone. Almost as soon as he acknowledged homosexuality was a sin, he immediately tried to cover-up that fact and that he believed it. So frightened is he of upsetting his ‘Positivity’ message.
DARKNESS: Is a kind of moral blindness in the Bible.
It’s an inability to see what sin is. It’s a failure to acknowledge sin as sin.
It’s an sensual-feeling darkness. A darkness that can be felt.
I’ve had one of those nights when the LORD was speaking to me about the DARKNESS and how great is that darkness. It wouldn’t go away. It came at me again and again in the night: Benighted.
We’ve also had that feeling of Darkness too; when out sharing the Gospel of Jesus. There are some individuals, that when you speak with them about Jesus, they give off a kind of darkness that can be felt. You can feel it in your soul the moment you begin speaking with them. More often than not this happens when people declare that they’ve rejected God or turned away from Him because of their lifestyle. Read Sarah’s Story (Link at bottom of page) and you’ll see that the Darkness is real.
However: BLIND people don’t need our condemnation.
They need to be brought into the light.
They need our LOVE no matter what it is they’ve done.
They need to be saved from the darkness.
Read Sarah’s Story of Deliverance from Sam-Sex-Attraction (Link at bottom).
Nor can we boast; (By ‘we’ I mean Christians).
We did not save ourselves.
We are not saved because of our own goodness. (Rom 3:20)
We are ALL sinners: Because we’ve ALL fallen short of God’s goodness (Rom 3:23).
We are SAVED by God’s GRACE not by our own good works. (Ephesians 2:8-9).
2 Corinthians 4:2-6 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age (Satan) has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
If a blind man was walking towards the edge of a cliff???? Surely LOVE would compel you to shout a warning.
Blind are they that walk in darkness.
If a blind man had tripped over something, you would not blame the Blind Man would you? No! You’d blame the person who put the obstacle in the Blind Man’s pathway.
Satan has blinded:
Our battle is NOT against flesh and blood.
Isaiah 5:20 “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”
The Darkness that can be felt: Is for those who are perishing, those on their way to death and destruction in Hell. Love, compassion and kindness compels us to share the good news of Jesus that we may save some from the darkness.
WHO IS IN THIS DARKNESS? (Don’t be Deceived).
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders,
10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
Those in Darkness: We don’t normally think that a ‘greedy’ person is wicked or in DARKNESS do we? Let us NOT be deceived.
The human tendency is to point the finger at something that we are not; thinking that we are ‘something’ when we are not. We didn’t save ourselves, Jesus did that. We are in Christ, because of Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:30).
1 Corinthians 1:29-31 “so that no-one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.””
PRAY: That the LORD will, by His Holy Spirit, lead our Nations out of this great darkness. That He’ll so fill His people with a deep compassion for those that have been blinded, who are in darkness, that we will do everything we can to bring others into the light of Jesus Christ, and that by His grace and kindness He’s given to each one of us, we’ll draw others to HIM.
FEAR OF THE DARKNESS:
Before I came to know the Lord Jesus, I was afraid of the DARKNESS. I hated being in dark places. I could feel the darkness. It was horrible. Once, when I was alone in bed in a darkened room, I could feel the presence of evil. I called out to the LORD Jesus Christ and asked Him to be with me, in the darkness. Since that night, I’ve NEVER been afraid of the DARKNESS again. I was set free from the fear of the darkness by Jesus. My friends, many who are walking in the darkness are afraid, they’re frightened of the light, they don’t want to come into the light for fear; fear that they are going to be exposed / reproved (John 3:20).
John 3:20 “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” KJV.
John 3:19-20 “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” NIV.
Finally, Jesus declared; John 8:12 “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.””
Everyone can be set free to walk in the light.
Everyone has a Conscience (they know what they are doing is wrong).
The Darkness can be felt.
Walk in the Light. (1 John 1:6-8)
1 John 1:6-8 “If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”
I’m praying that I can be walking in the light of the Lord Jesus Christ today.
Set me free from the DARKNESS Lord.
Keep me free from the DARKNESS Lord.
Help me to be an instrument for good Lord, to lead others into the Light. Amen.