Some Among You

Sunday, June 15, 2014, 5:55 a.m. – the Lord Jesus put in mind the song “He Lifted our Burdens.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Revelation 2:12-17 (NIV).

Double-edged Sword

“To the angel of the church in Pergamum write:

These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. ~ v. 12

This brings to mind this passage in Hebrews 4:12-13:

For the word of God is alive 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. 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.

The purpose of these letters to the churches is that Jesus Christ, the living Word, is judging the deeds, thoughts and attitudes of the heart of these churches, he is letting them know that he sees what is going on, and he, as well, is letting them know they must give account.

For and Against

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, not even in the days of Antipas, 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 to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak 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 Nicolaitans. ~ Vv. 13-15

It appears to me that this church was divided. There were those within the church who were the true followers of Jesus Christ, who remained true to his name. Yet, there were also those among them who compromised the faith, who taught what was in error, and who encouraged sinful behavioral practices, all in the name of “God’s grace.” So, while Jesus was able to commend some in the church for their faithfulness to Christ and to the gospel, there were others among them for whom he had only words of rebuke and correction.

His charge was that some among them held to the teaching of Balaam, and that others held to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Balaam and the Nicolaitans shared a common thematic element, which was “compromise”. They either compromised with pagan (non-Christian) society or they compromised with worldliness, which are essentially the same thing. They blended their Christian faith and practice in with worldliness and with worldly patterns of behavior. This “compromise” set the stage for “spiritual” liberty that gave them permission to practice idolatry and immorality. And, they taught others to do the same.

Where You Live

I see the church in America in pretty much the same situation as the church in Pergamum. We have people in the church in America who are true followers of Jesus Christ, and who are faithful to him, even in the face of severe persecution. They remain strong in their faith, committed to the Word of God, and to the gospel of salvation. They don’t compromise with the world, but they commit their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ to follow him in obedience and in surrender to his will for their lives. They are grieved over the state of spiritual adultery in much of the church in America, and they are in much prayer for revival. They have not forsaken their first love, but choose to follow him wherever he leads them.

Yet, there are many within America’s churches who are Christians in name only, or who have fallen back into following after the ways of the world, and after the flesh, after having made commitments to follow Christ with their lives. Many of these are in leadership positions within the church, and they are definitely following the way of Balaam and that of the Nicolaitans. They compromise their faith and practice with worldliness and with paganistic society, trying to become more like the culture around them in order to “reach” the people of the society in which they live. They have turned the church into Big Business, adopting worldly means and practices, marketing schemes and gimmicks, in order to draw in large crowds of worldly people into the church, but not through salvation.

As well, they have diluted the gospel of Jesus Christ to make it more pleasing to the senses, and more palatable to its listeners, and more acceptable to the world, so that many more will “get saved.” - Or, so that many more will join their churches. But, are they really saved? If all we do is teach people that praying a prayer gets them the hope of heaven, but we don’t teach them that Jesus died to free us from the control of sin over our lives day by day, and that he died so that we would no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us, we have sold the gospel short. Many of these leaders cheapen the gospel in order to make people feel better about themselves, which also gives them the impression that they have the freedom to continue in sin, because of God’s grace.

Yet, we need to teach people that coming to Christ means death to sin, it means being transformed of the Spirit of God away from sin to God, and it means we now walk in the Spirit, in Christ’s righteousness and holiness, set apart from the world of sin, and set apart to God and to his service (See Ac. 26:1-18; Ro. 6-8; 2 Co. 5:15; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14 & 1 Jn. 1-5, et al). For to me to live is Christ.

The Sword of His Mouth

Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. ~ V. 16

The church collectively must repent of the sins of some who have a strong and powerful influence within the church in teaching and practicing what is in error. This means that the church, as a whole, must turn from permitting and allowing these things to go on, or else they must turn from following after the flesh, to following after the Spirit. If they do not, Jesus Christ will come in judgment and he will fight against those rebellious ones.

The Hidden Manna

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 manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it. ~ V. 17

We need to listen up to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. If we are victorious over sin and Satan, by the blood of Christ, and by our testimony for Christ and his gospel, all in the power and working of the Spirit within us, we will be blessed with eternal life with God.

He Lifted Our Burdens / An Original Work / February 15, 2014

Based off Isaiah 9:2-7

People walk in darkness.
They abide in their sin.
It has power o’er them.
True belief escapes them.

Jesus Christ came to save them.
He gave His life up for them;
Crucified; died for our sin,
So we might be forgiven,
And have life up in heaven.

Many come to know Him.
God’s love now o’erflows them.
They rejoice in vict’ry.
Their sin is but hist’ry.

We were once bound in slav’ry.
Jesus lifted our burdens;
Set us now free from Satan,
So we now walk in freedom.
Sin has no more dominion.

Praise be to our Savior!
He showed us His favor.
He took all our burdens;
Cast them all upon Him.

He is our mediator;
The Light which shines in darkness.
Counselor in our troubles;
He gives peace now in our hearts;
Joy which is everlasting.