After enduring horrific persecution, the Church at Pergamos is forced to contend with the temptation to compromise and split their devotion between Jesus and the world.
Have you heard the rumor there are those who are saying that the Book of Revelation is hard to understand, but baloney, say we for you see, the word revelation means that something has been revealed. If God wanted the meaning of this book to be hidden, he would have called it the consolation and not the revelation. And the first words of this book. Tell us exactly what or should I say whom is being revealed? It's the revelation of Jesus Christ.
This book is a revelation of Jesus. And God wanted us to read this book so much that he promised those who take the time to read and respond to it a special blessing. And that blessing is found in Revelation. Chapter one, verse three. Let me read it for you. It says, Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep those things which are written in it for the time is near. But God knew they would still be.
Those who would claim revelation is hard to understand. So to make this book easy to understand, he included an easy to follow outline. And that's found in Revelation chapter one, verse 19, where Jesus gives John these instructions. Write the things which you have seen. And up to that point, John had seen the resurrected and glorified Jesus in Chapter one. Then Jesus tells John Doe also write the things which are that refers to the church age, which began around 32 A.D. continues to the present day and is prophesied in chapters two and three, which we are studying today.
Then finally, Jesus tells John to write the things which will take place. After this, John is told to write about future events that will take place after the church age ends in the original Greek. The words used for after this are Meta Taruta. And that's significant because in order to help us find the place in Revelation where that third act begins after the church age ends, God marked it with the phrase Matya Taruta. So all you have to do is look for the next place in the book where that phrase shows up like a giant X on a treasure map and we find that giant X in Revelation.
Chapter four, verse one. Let me read it to you after these things. There it is. Meta Taruta. After the church age is over, John writes, I looked and behold a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard, which was the voice of Jesus in Chapter one, was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, Come up here and I will show you things which must take place after this. And there it is again.
Matter TARUTA to ensure we don't miss the X that marks the spot, the Holy Spirit begins Revelation, Chapter four, verse one with metadata and he ends Revelation, Chapter four, verse one with Meta Taruta. And despite appearing over 20 times in the first three chapters of Revelation, what word never again appears in the narrative after Revelation. Chapter four, verse one. It's the word church and we're going to learn. That's because the church will no longer be on the Earth after Revelation Chapter four, verse one, the church like John will go up and when the church goes up, what comes down?
The wrath of God. We find that in Revelation, chapter six, verse sixteen, where it's the time period known as the tribulation. We're told the response of those who are still on the earth at that time, it says they said to the mountains and rocks fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne. That's God, the father. And from the wrath of the lamb, who is the lamb? It's Jesus.
It goes on in verse seventeen of chapter six and says that the people will cry out. The great day of his wrath has come. And who is able to stand? There's going to be a progression. We will travel through two thousand years of church history and chapters two and three. Then the church goes up in chapter four, verse one, and Wrath comes down in chapter six, verse 16, then there will be seven years of the Great Tribulation that continue all the way up to Chapter 19 when Jesus returns to the earth with this church in what is known as the second coming.
And they'll be even more revealed later in our study through this incredible book. But here's what you need to know. If you love Jesus, then your story ends with the words and they lived happily ever after. We are in Revelation Chapter two, studying the second act of the book, which Jesus described to John as the things which are today. We will be studying the third of the seven letters written by Jesus to seven churches in the Roman province of Asia.
And we know that each of these seven letters contains four levels of application. Each letter applies to the local church around 96 A.D. when John was recording this. Each letter applies to all churches at all times. Each letter applies to all believers at all times, and each letter has a prophetic level to it. It lays out a section of the two thousand years of church history that have existed between 32 A.D. and today, and it prophesies that in advance with perfect precision and accuracy.
Regarding the prophetic layer of application, the first church, Ephesus, covered the Apostolic Church from around 32 A.D. to 100 A.D. The second church that we studied last time. Smyrna covered the suffering church from around 54 A.D. to around 313 A.D. and today will be studying the third church pajamas. When John recorded Revelation, Ephesus was the intellectual center of the province of Asia. Smyrna was its most beautiful city. But if you continued following the road system for about a hundred miles, you would reach Purger, Miss Asia's most important city.
It was the capital of the province, the region's political and religious hub, famed for being the epicenter of Zeus worship. Zeus is the Greek version of Almighty God, the big dog in the pantheon of gods. It was believed that Zeus was born in pajamas, and for that reason, the city boasted a great altar and temple where sacrifices were offered to him. The structure was 115 feet wide, one hundred and ten feet deep and fifty feet high, surrounded by colonnades.
It was the largest altar in the world. I recall from our previous study that at the time you could worship any God you wanted in exchange for an annual offering of a pinch of incense and a two word verbal acknowledgment of Caesar's deity, Kaiser Kuriakose in pajamas. You would do this at the Temple of Zeus, which the Caesar's loved, because the pinch offering looked spectacular as this long line of people formed and wound their way up the 60 foot wide stairs of the massive structure.
And were Caesar's love to hang out the upper class, love to hang out. And that's why Pergament was renowned for its wealth and fashion. It was the Paris or Milan of its day. Like almost every other church in the region at the time, the church in Pergament was under intense persecution. People were being tortured, imprisoned and murdered for following Jesus. And while the pinch offering would create an annual flare up of persecution for churches because they would refuse to participate, the continual presence of the imperial cult in pajamas created a daily danger of persecution for believers.
But as in Smyrna, faithful believers in pajamas refused to acquiesce to the demands of Rome, and many were martyred for their stand into this pressured environment. Cavemen, men preaching a seductive doctrine of compromise. They claim to appeal to reason, assuring believers that God wanted them to live in peace with the authorities. He didn't want them to suffer. Their appeal was give the pinch, offering God understands. And when facing the prospect of death by lions or fire.
It's an attractive message. As we've mentioned, prophetically speaking, the age of Smyrna came to an end around 313 A.D., and that's right around where Pajamas picks things up in the prophetic scheme of the church age. And sadly, polygamists will be best known for the season of history when the church marries the state. We're going to find that, though. It sounds wonderful, the reality is catastrophic. And for this reason, she'll be known as the compromising church and spanned the years from 313 A.D. to around 600 A.D..
But before we get into the story of Smyrna, I'm sorry, the story of polygamists, we need to remember the big picture of church history thus far. The church was birthed around 30 to A.D. in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. And it was it was amazing. But there was this little issue of the great commission. Jesus had commanded his disciples to go and make more disciples. But for the first couple of decades, the church remained relatively contained within Israel.
Their fellowship was just so sweet. Nobody wanted to leave. Nobody wanted to go on a mission trip. Then in 54 A.D., Caesar Nero began his horrific persecution of the church. And guess what happened? The church was forced to scatter. They fled across the empire and across the world, taking the gospel with them. And as a result, the church exploded over the next 250 years, despite Satan doing everything he could to destroy her through persecution.
As the early church writer Tertullian powerfully stated, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. The more Satan tried to kill the church, the more she grew. Killing Jesus didn't exactly work out for Satan either, so I'm kind of curious as to why he tried that same strategy again. During this season of persecution, the bishop of Carthage was forced to make an official announcement declaring that those who intentionally pursued martyrdom should not be revered as martyrs.
Some believers were so focused on heaven, they were so eager to be with the Lord that they were doing everything they could to get themselves martyred. So their bishop had to explain that they couldn't just knock on the door of the Coliseum and ask to be martyred. They had to at least make the soldiers come and get them if they wanted to be considered legitimate martyrs. Such was the intensity of the passion the early church had for Jesus. This persecution continued all the way up to the early three hundreds.
We talked about that last time and then the most amazing thing happened. In 311 A.D., the Roman Emperor Galleria's issued the edict of Sadika, which legally ended the state's great persecution, also known as the Diocletian Shinnick persecution, that final wave of persecution under Diocletian. And it ended this in the eastern part of the empire just a few months later, Galleria's died from disease, creating a power vacuum in the empire. The fight for the throne came down to two contenders, Constantine and Maxentius.
Having already secured Rome, Maxentius victory was considered a formality. Constantine, who was hundreds of miles away, took a quarter of his troops, around 40000, crossed the Alps and blitzed into Italy. And in the fall of 312 A.D. when everyone in Rome thought he was dead because that's what Maxentius was telling them. Constantine and the remaining around 25000 of his troops arrived just outside Rome at the Millennium Bridge, which spans the Tiber River. Maxentius heard this news that Constantine was out there waiting to meet him in battle.
And Maxentius consulted books full of a cultic prophecies that had been recorded over the years by various oracles. And he comes across a prophecy that had been recorded regarding that specific day in October three 12 A.D.. Even better, in his mind, it prophesied that an enemy of Rome was destined to die that day. Assuming that enemy to be Constantine and excited and passionate and optimistic, Maxentius left the security and fortifications of Rome to meet Constantine in battle. The historical accounts of what happened to Constantine on that same day are varied and possibly inflated by his own storytelling in the years that followed.
But what seems to be certain is that he had some type of dream or vision in which he saw a cross and immediately understood it to be the symbol of Christianity. In front of the cross, Constantine saw two letters from the Greek alphabet, Kai and Row stacked on top of each other. Constantine understood these letters to be significant because they are the first two letters of the Greek word for Christ Christoph's. You've probably seen the symbol before in some type of historical or religious setting.
The Chi is just a capital X and the row is just a capital P, and they're right on top of each other above this multilayered symbol. Constantine, in his dream or vision, also saw the phrase in this sign, Conker. The morning following his dream or vision, Constantine instructed his infantry to mark their shields with the Cairo symbol and create standards bearing the same symbol under which they could march. Konstantine informed his troops that he was now a Christian and proclaim that his dream or vision was undeniable.
Evidence that God was on his side and he had divine favor. He rallied his troops with the cry We will conquer in the name of Christ. On October 28th, 312 A.D., the battle at the Million Bridge took place, Maxentius forces were routed and he met his death when his panicked and fleeing troops were forced into the Tiber and drowned. His body was recovered and his head placed on a pike for all to see. As Constantine marched victoriously into Rome, where he would go on to become one of the most famous emperors in Roman history.
In 313 A.D., the very next year, Constantine met with emperor like Linnaeus', who was a friend and an ally who controlled the eastern part of the Empire, and they together issued the edict of Mulan, which fully legalized Christianity across the entire empire. Persecution after 257 years was over. As you can imagine, having an allegedly Christian emperor changed secular attitudes toward Christianity in dramatic fashion, being a Christian quickly became socially advantageous, and Christianity was soon considered to be superior to other religions.
This upward trend would culminate in three adad when Emperor Theodosius the first issued the edict of Thessalonika, which made Christianity the state church of the Roman Empire. But let's get back to Constantine, because in addition to leading the empire from the city of Rome, he also declared Rome to be the official center of Christianity in the Empire. And he created a new precedent in which the emperor was also responsible for the well being of the church, including issues like combating heresy and upholding theological positions.
History tells us that Constantine considered himself to be the 13th disciple of Christ. If you're not putting the pieces together yet. Maybe this will help. Constantine anointed himself with a classic and blasphemous title used by the Caesars that followed him and popes to this day he called himself Pontifex Maximus, which means greatest priest. The Roman Catholic Church claims that Peter was the first pope. The problem is that history, both church history and secular history, tells a very different story.
For all intents and purposes, the first pope. Was Konstanty. It's not hard to understand why many Christians at the time thought these things to be positive changes, but it's during the supposed golden age of Christianity when it seemed like the church's wildest dreams were coming true, that corruption began flooding into the church. As we mentioned, Christianity's profile continued to rise in the empire, culminating in it becoming the official state religion in 380 A.D.. Around this time, professional pagan priests saw the writing on the wall and began migrating to the state church, becoming Christian priests.
They brought with them vestiges of their previous jobs, coltish pointy hats, red robes, swinging incense, etc.. And very quickly, Christian ministers began dressing a lot like pagan priests and incorporating pagan practices into their worship. Some examples of these practices and teachings, which appear nowhere in scripture, include elevating Mary, the mother of Jesus, to divine status as a form of the feminine divine, which is present in practically all of paganism. Praying for the dead, praying to the dead, worshiping the dead, worshiping angels, worshiping relics, purgatory, mass, the infallibility of any teaching given by a priest or pope, meaning what the priesthood of the Church of Rome said was more important than what Scripture said.
The Bible declares that all believers are priests because Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament priesthood. That's why a leader in the church is called an elder or a pastor and not a priest. Jesus's work on the cross rent the curtain in the temple, affirming him as the only priest we need. But these pagan priests brought a human priesthood back into the church. Spectacular cathedrals, well, Jesus did away with those, too, he prophesied the destruction of the temple, which took place in 70 A.D. and didn't promise to rebuild it.
Instead, he spoke of a different temple that would be raised again in three days, even if it were destroyed. Was he talking about a building now? He was talking about himself. And when Jesus ascended back to heaven, he promised the Holy Spirit would transform you and me into his temple through his presence dwelling in us just as it used to dwell in the holy of holies in the Jerusalem temple, the church Jesus established didn't need ornate, expensive, spectacular buildings.
That was a pagan temple tradition. Gods trophies are not buildings there, you and me. If you've ever wondered why so many of our Christmas and Easter traditions seem to have nothing to do with Jesus, rabbits, eggs, trees in our living rooms, you log's. It's because of the pagan symbolism that got mixed in with the traditions of the church during this Pergament age. Churches had the cross on one side of their stages in the flag of Rome on the other side.
They were singing songs like I'm Proud to be a Roman and God Bless Rome in their church services. Very quickly loving Jesus became inextricably linked with loving the state. There was a marriage of sorts taking place between Christianity and paganism. The church in the state came together in an unholy union. I mean, can you imagine can you imagine being a Christian in this time, one day you're living under the constant threat of torture, imprisonment and death, and then suddenly your prayers are answered, but you get even more than you ever prayed for or ever even dared to hope for, because not only this persecution then, but suddenly the emperor is a Christian government and military leaders are being converted, allegedly pay in places of worship, are being converted into churches.
And then the state declares Christianity to be the official religion of the empire. When Constantine converted to Christianity in 312 A.D., around 10 percent of the empire was Christian. By the end of the fourth century, that number had swelled to 95 percent. 95 percent of people in the Roman Empire were identifying as Christian. No wonder Augustan records that believers were so euphoric at this time that they believed they were living in the millennium, the golden age of faith, when Jesus makes all things new, this was a special age.
The whole world had changed. It was a wonderful season for the church. Or was it? Behind the scenes, Satan had changed tactics, he hadn't been able to kill the church with persecution, so he joined the church instead and helped her marry the world system he got on the inside where it's always easier to commit sabotage. There are generally two interpretations of the name polygamists I favor the one that best fits with the big picture of scripture and the pattern we see throughout the seven letters.
Polygamists can mean height or elevation, but the more compelling interpretation is found by noting that it's a compound word made up of the Greek words pere and GMOs. Per means things like mixed, objectionable, unacceptable and inappropriate. It's the root of the word pervert, which we use to describe a person who engages in unacceptable and inappropriate behavior. Gamma's means marriage. If somebody is monogamous, they are mono Gamma's married to one. If they are bigamists, they are married to a second spouse and are also an idiot.
If they are polygamists, they are poly. Gamma's married to more than one, usually several. That's the idea behind the word Gamma's. So the compound word per gamma's means something along the lines of and you can make a note of this unacceptable marriage. It refers to two things that do not belong together, being joined together per GMOs, unacceptable marriage. Her name refers to her unholy marriage to the state and is why Pergament is best described as the compromising church.
So what message will Jesus have for the church at polygamists? They had faithfully endured persecution, but they were now the toast of the town, enjoying all the societal benefits of being part of the religion that had become married to the state. Let's read Revelation to verse 12 and to the Angel. Or we would say the pastor of the church in Miss Wright, Jesus now uses a title for himself from Chapter one that speaks specifically to something this church needs to be reminded of.
And he says these things, says he, who has and then underline this the sharp two edged sword. When a sharp two edged sword or something similar appears in the scriptures, it's pretty much always a reference to God's word. For example, in Hebrews four 12, Paul famously writes for the word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two edged sword piercing even to the division of soul and spirit and of joints and marrow, and is a destroyer of the thoughts and intense of the heart.
Jesus feels that this church needs to be reminded that he always has his word with him. Write this down because he and his word are one. He and his word are one. That means we cannot follow Jesus and simultaneously disregard his word. Around 96 A.D., the church at polygamists was facing pressure from without from the Roman authorities and within from false teachers to compromise and give the pinch offering to Caesar. The only way to convince believers to do that was to play down the importance of the word of God and get believers to instead trust the false teachers to interpret the scriptures on their behalf.
And as we get deeper into church history in the weeks to come, we're going to find that the Roman St. Church employed similar tactics, historically doing everything they could to keep Christians away from the Bible. The title Jesus uses for himself was and is intended to warn believers who are on a compromising path to repent and return to the word of God and what the word of God clearly says. But there's a second picture Jesus is painting here. He presents himself as the one who has the sharp two edged sword.
This church was facing persecution from the state who literally wielded the sword. Jesus is reminding them that they need to have greater reverence and fear for the sword their God wields rather than the sword their government wields, recall from last week's study how Polycarp responded when threatened with death by fire. He replied to the proconsul the fire. You threatened Burns for a time and is soon extinguished. There is a fire. You know nothing about the fire of judgment to come and of eternal punishment.
The fire reserved for the ungodly. You see, Polycarp said, I'm more concerned about avoiding the fire of eternal judgment than I am about avoiding the fire you're threatening me with. That's the picture Jesus is painting here by presenting himself as the one who has the sharp two edged sword. Jesus taught the same perspective in Matthew ten, twenty eight verse. That doesn't seem to come up in many sermons where he told his disciples do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul, rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
There's this side to this where Jesus is saying Don't fear the sword of man, have greater reverence, greater honor and even greater fear for the sword that your God wields and keep things in perspective. Verse thirteen. Jesus says I know your works and where you dwell where Satan's throne is now. There are multiple plausible historical possibilities as to the identity of this Satan's throne in Pergament. I'll just share my opinion as you dig into the Bible. Stranger books like Daniel, you'll find the Bible teaches there are demonic entities over specific geographic locations.
I think it's reasonable to assume that some of these demonic entities are the gods that are worshiped by various pagan religions. I suspect that in declaring polygamists to be a city where Satan's throne is, Jesus was revealing that the demonic force behind Zeus was Satan himself. If we could peek into the spiritual realm around 96 A.D., I believe we would have seen that the citizens of Pergament were in reality, worshiping Satan. You see, unlike God, Satan's not omnipresent, and it seems from the text that when Satan visited polygamists, he found a city so perverted that he pulled up a chair and made himself at home.
He said, these are my people. It was his favorite hangout spot at the time because it's where he felt most welcome. The city was Satan's spiritual throne and perhaps its famous giant altar to Zeus was his literal throne. Regardless of your view, I'm confident we're on solid theological ground in assuming that polygamists was a challenging spiritual environment in which to be a Christian. There are two different Greek words that get translated into English as well. One of them refers to a temporary state of dwelling and the other refers to a permanent state of dwelling.
Jesus uses the latter here, meaning he's giving the persecuted believers and polygamists a very difficult instruction. He's telling them don't leave. Don't flee. Stay in pajamas and be faithful to me, whatever it costs you. And then he gives them this commendation, he says, and you hold fast to my name no matter what it costs. They held firm to the truth that Jesus alone was Lord Savior and God. And then Jesus says, And you did not deny my faith.
That just means your faith in me. Even in the days in which Antipas was my faithful martyr who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. We don't know much from history about antipasti. In the third century, about a hundred years after his martyrdom, Tertullian wrote of him as a dentist who lived in pajamas during a season of particularly brutal persecution. Like all faithful believers, he refused to give the pinch, offering to Caesar. Tertullian writes that he was brought before the city leader, who said, And to pass everything is against you.
If you don't do this, you will die. To which, Antipas replied, Then, sir, I am against everything. In other words, it doesn't matter what happens to me. I'm not doing it. And there's some wordplay in there that we miss unless we understand what the name and to pass means. A. in Greek means against or opposite and pass means everything. When the town leaders said everything is against you and to pass literally replied then, sir, I am Antipas.
I am against everything. According to church tradition, the Romans martyred and to pass by roasting him alive in a bronze bowl. It was a slow, agonizing and painful death, and until his final breath, he refused to deny Jesus. They killed Antipas in such a horrific manner because they assumed it would terrify the rest of the Christians in pajamas into submission. It didn't they, too, stood firm and faithful to death. If your Bible says witness instead of martyr in verse 13, be aware that the accurate translation is Marter from the Greek word Martis, and to pass this witness was that he died being faithful to Jesus and he is eulogized here with the highest of compliments.
Jesus referring to him by a title he used for himself in Revelation one five. The faithful witness. Jesus called himself the faithful witness, and he says of Antipas he was a faithful witness to Jesus commands this church for hanging in there through brutal persecution because by 96 A.D. they had already been experiencing it for 40 years. Prophetically, the church in 313 A.D. was just coming out of persecution to the suffering church around 96 A.D. Jesus said. You've been doing a great job of being faithful to me in some very difficult circumstances to the church in 313 A.D., Jesus said.
I know it's been a brutal 257 years of persecution, but you've stood firm. Well done. Write that down. That's the commendation. You've you've stood firm. But there are also some other things that Jesus needs to discuss with the church at perkiness, and they're not as positive as his commendation in verse 14, he says, But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balam, who taught Baylock to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit sexual immorality.
Thus, you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolay Hatton's, which thing I hate. In our study of the first letter in chapter to the letter to the church at Ephesus, we looked at these verse is and talked about who Balam and Baylock were in the Old Testament and how it related to the Nicolay instance. I'm not going to rehash all of that again, but suffice to say the Nicolay returns were false teachers who were trying to infiltrate the church and these false teachers were promoting doctrines of compromise, mixing with the world, claiming that it was acceptable for Christians to participate in local pagan worship rituals and feasts, which included sexually immoral acts.
It also seems that these false teachers were trying to place themselves between the people and God, elevating their own importance above the people of the church and the term for such teachers. Was Nicolay atonce. Peter warned of these kinds of false teachers who would seek to infiltrate the church when he wrote They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balam, the son of Buhr, who. And then I underlined this in my own Bible in second Peter to 15, who loved the wages of unrighteousness.
Now, as we study this and the next letter, remember this detail because Peter says these false teachers loved the wages of unrighteousness. You see, there was a financial motivation present behind their false teaching, just as there was with Balam in the Old Testament. We'll talk more about that next time. Jesus commanded the Ephesians for not tolerating the Nicolay Tannen's. But sadly, the church at polygamists were and Jesus wanted them to know that they were putting themselves and each other in danger by putting up with this false teaching.
Many Christians in the Roman Empire understandably viewed the marriage of church and state as a practical solution to the problem of persecution, you know, when you're drawing up your list of pros and cons in the pros column is we're not being tortured, murdered and imprisoned anymore. Those are pretty compelling facts. But Jesus likened what was going on to adultery because while they used to love him with their whole heart, now the empire, now the state had half their heart.
They used to identify themselves as citizens of heaven. But now they were identifying first and foremost as citizens of Rome. And here's how it all ties together in referencing Balam and Baylock and the teaching of the Nicolay. Since Jesus was implying that around 96 A.D., those attempting to persuade the church and polygamists to compromise with the pinch offering were seeking to lead God's people into sin, just as Balam taught the Moabites to do prophetically in church history, those promoting the marriage of the church in the state in the early fourth century were seeking to lead God's people into spiritual adultery, just as Balam taught the Moabites to lead Israel into sexual and spiritual adultery.
Bailamos message to Baylock was this write this down. His message was, Here's what you got to do to get the world into the church. And soon you'll get the church to fall in love with the world, get the world into the church, and you'll soon get the church to fall in love with the world. It worked in Balam Day and with the children of Israel, it worked with the church in the fourth century. The church had been strong in the days of persecution when she had no political power or allegiance to Rome, but after marrying the state, the church weakened greatly.
Instead of singular devotion to Jesus, Blurred Lines were taking over the church's affections. When you examine church history in the early fourth century, you find men in the Roman Church embodying the teachings of the Nicolay by presenting themselves as mediators between God and men. Simply put, they were claiming that congregants had to go through them to get to God. Want your sins forgiven or you have to go through us. Want to pray to Jesus only when we give you permission and only in our pre-approved formats, want to gather to worship with other believers only at an official time and service location, want to know what the Bible says will tell you.
Want to own a Bible so you can read it for yourself. You can't you're not a professional. The Bible says in first Timothy two five, there is one God and one mediator between God and man the man Christ Jesus. From a prophetic perspective, Jesus was criticizing the compromising church for allowing men to occupy a position that belongs exclusively to Jesus, would you write that down? Jesus was criticizing the compromising church for allowing men to occupy a position that belongs exclusively to Jesus.
Jesus is the only mediator between God and men. From the perspective of church history, let's just be honest, this is an uncomfortably specific and strange picture being painted for us by Jesus. Jesus describes a church that has begun to embrace a pagan priesthood, where leaders rule over people with abuse of authority that they gained by presenting themselves as necessary mediators between God and man. Jesus describes a church that has embraced compromise and joined itself to the world system in the state in a perverted and unnatural marriage.
And then Jesus specifically points out that they've forgotten what his word says, in my humble opinion. That's a description that overwhelmingly speaks to a very specific part of church history. It's a time that saw a host of heretical firsts hit the church, such as leadership consisting of a state sponsored priesthood, the church exercising political authority, priests granting themselves special perks and a near total disregard of the scriptures. Jesus's review of this new church was, I hate this.
I hate this. Now, before we go further, I think I'd be remiss if I didn't at least acknowledge a million dollar historical question raised by this study was Konstantine really a Christian? To this day, historians are completely split and unsure about this. On the one hand, he ended persecution of the church and replaced it with favor. But on the other, he also ushered in the unbelievable spiritual corruption to the church. The likely answer is that there is no simple answer, Konstantine doesn't have to be either a sincere and devoted Christian or the spawn of Satan.
Perhaps he genuinely believed he was converted, but he wasn't. Or perhaps he was genuinely converted. But he also made some evil decisions because they were politically advantageous. An interesting comparison from our day that I have to mention is President Donald Trump. To this day, Christians are divided over the question, was he and is he an actual Christian? And whatever your view is, here's what I know. If I suggest that he's not a real Christian, some of you will say that's ridiculous.
How can you say that? And if I suggest that he is an actual Christian, others of you will say that's ridiculous. How can you say that? It's very Constantina esq? Because there are those who are convinced that he's faking his Christianity simply to get the Christian conservative vote. And then there are those who believe that he's even more than a Christian. He's basically a prophet sent by God. What's the truth? God knows that's all I'm going to say about that.
Now, here's the exhortation, here's what Jesus says this church needs to do. In verse 16, he says, repent, underline, repent and fill it in on your outlines. He says you need to repent or else it's never good when someone says repent or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them. Underlying them with the sword of my mouth, underline the sort of my mouth, repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
I had you underlined the word them because when you read the whole letter, it's clear that Jesus is specifically threatening the Nicolay returns and those who are embracing their teachings. He's not threatening this entire church. You have the church lower case C, which is the institution, and then you have the church uppercase C, which is the people of God. Hopefully we all understand that attending the institution of the church is not the same thing as being saved or being a Christian and being part of the Upper Kacie Church, which is the people of God.
Jesus is threatening those who are perverting the institution of the church. He's not threatening the people of the church. But notice how this is so fascinating. Notice how Jesus is going to make war with those who are mixing paganism with the church. He says he's going to make war with them with the sword of my mouth. Think back to the title Jesus used for himself in verse 12. Think back to chapter one. What is the sort of my mouth a reference to the word of God, the Bible, the scriptures.
So Jesus is saying that if the Nicolay returns, do not repent, he will attack their false teachings with his word. Now, let me tell you why that's so fascinating. Historically, when we get to the 15 hundreds, a group of people began to be deeply troubled by the theological, spiritual and moral corruption that had permeated the church for a thousand years. Inspired and convicted by the Holy Spirit, they rose up and began to protest, earning them name Protestants, literally those who protest.
And they began to use the phrase Sola Scriptura, Sola Scriptura, Latin for scripture alone. And their movement gained enough momentum to spark the revolution that goes down in history as the Reformation. And it was just that a movement whose goal was to reform the church by getting back to what the Bible teaches. But the Reformation wasn't an academic battle. It was a literal war. When Jesus warned this church, I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
He really did. He really did. And we'll talk about that more when we study the letter to the church at Sardis, Verse 8 17. He who has an ear. Let him hear what the spirit says to the churches. Remember, each of these letters has something to say to every believer and every church, including you and I and our church to him who overcomes to those who resist compromise and cling to God's word. I will give some of the hidden manna to eat.
As we mentioned early on, Revelation was written in such a way that if a Roman soldier found it, they'd think it harmless, apocalyptic fiction. But Jewish believers who were schooled in the Old Testament would understand exactly what was being discussed. And so there's two things we need to know to understand the hidden manor that Jesus is referring to. Firstly, Mannah was the bread like food that God miraculously provided the Israelites in the wilderness in Exodus. Sixteen thirty two.
God instructed Moses to put some of that manna inside the Ark of the Covenant to remind future generations of God's provision for his people. That was literally the hidden manna. Secondly, in John Chapter six verses thirty two to thirty five. Let me read this to you. Jesus says this. He says, most assuredly I say to you Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but my father gives you the true bread from heaven for the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.
Then they said to him, Lord, give us this bread always. And Jesus said to them, Here's the key. I am the bread of life here who comes to me shall never hunger. So when Jesus says to him, who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. He is using Old Testament imagery to promise the overcomer that if they will look to him instead of a human mediator, he himself will be everything they need their food, their sustenance, their provision practically and spiritually.
So write this down. Jesus promises the overcomer himself himself. And the ultimate fulfillment of this promise will be the marriage supper of the lamb, when we will feast in heaven with the Lord Jesus Tostin as the King of Kings and enjoy fellowship with him forever. Those who declined the opportunity to feast as pagans on the earth. Well, feast saints at the table of the lamb. Then Jesus says, and I will give him a white stone, a white stone, this is one of those places where we don't know exactly what is being referred to here.
I've encountered over ten unique explanations in my research, but here's what I think is most important to know and most credible in many legal settings at this time, including Jewish white stones were used to cast a vote of innocent as opposed to a black stone for guilty, as in the example above as well. White is repeatedly used in the Book of Revelation in association with righteousness. And so the overarching concept here is that the one who is rejected on Earth because they refuse to compromise with the world will be accepted, welcomed and vindicated, found innocent, found righteous by Jesus in heaven.
And then the Lord says, and on the stone, a new name written which no one knows except him, who receives it in the original Greek. The grammar makes it clear that the new name is spoken of here is collective. In other words, every overcomer is going to receive the same new name. And this reference seems to be a shortened version of Revelation. Chapter three, verse 12, where Jesus gives this promise to the overcomer. He says, I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the City of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God.
And I will write on him my new name. And then in Revelation 22, verse four, we learn that in the eternal paradise of heaven, those who belong to Jesus are promised they shall see his face and his name shall be upon their foreheads. These additional references seem to make it clear that the new name we will receive is symbolic of the new eternal identity that we will step into at the end of our earthly lives. Yes, those who love Jesus are already born again and have the spirit of God within them.
But when we cross over from this life into eternity, we are going to be translated into new eternal resurrected bodies and we're going to take on new roles as kings and priests. According to the Book of Revelation, as John scandalously ingloriously wrote in his first epistle and first John three to Beloved. Now we are children of God, and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be. But we know that when he Jesus is revealed to us, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
A quick note on Christians and politics, and I'll keep this brief and controversial when you look at the world political system. Whose system is it? According to the Bible, it's Satan's, whether you're a capitalist, a communist or a socialist, they're all part of Satan's world system. Yeah, but capitalism is the least satanic. Congratulations. Jesus is a king. He's the king of kings. And God is not planning on redeeming the Earth through political systems that ultimately originate from Satan.
God's plan is to have Jesus returned to the Earth with his church. That's you and me destroy Satan's political systems and reign as king. That's how God is going to redeem the world's political system, not by marrying the church to the state. While we should indeed pray for our politicians and work to accomplish as much good as possible through our political systems, we should always remember that our hope is Jesus, not politicians or elections or any earthly hall of power.
In this letter, Jesus makes it clear that he desires his church, keep his word central. He knows that if we will do that, we'll remember that we are citizens of heaven with one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. If he will keep his word central, we'll know him for ourselves. He will be our manna. If we will keep his word central, we won't be deceived into thinking that we can be married to Jesus and Mary to the world.
I encourage you to pray and reflect on what the Lord is saying to you through this letter to the church and polygamists, I personally cannot escape the sense that compromise is the elephant in the room for this church. They love Jesus, but they were also living in a place where there were a lot of enjoyable distractions. Some indulged in a little bit of compromise, and their faith quickly became reduced to an easily managed checklist of religious rituals that left plenty of room for their own selfish passions.
Around 96 A.D., a little bit of compromise would have meant getting a pass on torture, prison or death. Just a pinch offering, just listening to the preachers who were saying, God understands, he'll forgive you, he doesn't want you to suffer. This letter confronts me anew with the question, where am I taking shortcuts? Compromising what God's word says, ignoring certain parts of the scripture in order to make my faith a little less inconvenient. Are you in a place where you're craving the things of this world more than the things of God?
Are you in a place where you even find yourself praying for the things of this world more than you pray for God to give you more of yourself, more of himself? I know this is heavy, but back when I was first preparing to teach this, the Lord directed my attention to the letter of James and in James chapter for I'll start in verse one. I just want to read the first 10 verses to you of James, Chapter four, he says, Where two wars and fights come from among you, do they not come from your desires for pleasure?
That war in your members, in other words, that war in your body, in your flesh, in your own will you lost and you do not have you murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war, yet you do not have because you do not ask. And James knows that this is where we're going to say. But I have asked God for the things that I want. So he writes, here's the problem you ask and do not receive because you ask a miss that you may spend it on your pleasures.
In other words, the problem is that you're just asking God for fleshly earthly things, the things that your flesh craves. You're not asking God for good and holy and right things, adulterers and adulteresses. Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Our choice is friendship with the world or friendship with God. There is no both option. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain?
Do you think the Scripture says for no reason that the spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously? In other words, the Holy Spirit in us, the spirit of God wants all of us. He wants our undivided affections, our whole heart. He doesn't want half our devotion going to earthly things. He doesn't want our passion divided between him and anything else. So what do we do? James says. Thankfully, he gives us more grace. Therefore, for this reason, he says, God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.
Therefore, submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you, drawn nearer to God, and he will draw nearer to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts. You double minded, lament and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning in your joy to gloom. In other words, if you've been trying to satisfy yourself by pursuing the world instead of pursuing Jesus more and over that repent, take it seriously, because if you will, God gives us an incredible promise.
James says, humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and he will lift you up. A little bit of compromise, a few decisions here and there to make life a little bit easier, to make your faith a little less costly, if you turn a blind eye to those things, you will wake up one day thinking, how did I get here? How did I get here? Would you rather be Smyrna, living in difficulty, but clinging to Jesus, beautiful to him, or would you rather be perkiness, living the comfortable and compromised life, but cheating on Jesus?
We're so good at justifying our compromises, aren't we? That's why we need the word of God to confront us with reality on a regular basis. Would you buy your hat and close your eyes? Let's pray together. Lord, thank you so much for your word and thank you that that it truly is like a two edged sword. It just pierces us and it just cuts right to what's really going on in our hearts. And so, Lord, right now, if any of us have been double minded splitting our affections between you and the things of the world, would you just speak to us, Lord, by your spirit?
Would you just revealed to us what that thing is, what that compromise is that we've been making that we should not be? And then, Lord, would you just convict us and lead us to the place of repentance so that our whole hearts belong to you? Lord. And Father, I pray for anyone struggling with this, that that you would just bring us to the place of peace where we understand that friendship with you means we're going to be enemies of the world.
Sometimes the world is not going to love us and accept us and approve of us, help anyone who's wrestling with that to just come to terms with that, to just settle that issue and say if that's what it costs to follow Jesus, then that's what it costs. But compromising is not an option. Lord, we thank you for your promise to give us yourself. And we asked that you would give us even more of yourself, that we might know you more and experience you in a deeper, more intimate way.
And thank you for those of us that reject the opportunity to feast in the world right now on the things of the world right now, we will one day find ourselves seated at your table, feasting at the marriage supper of the lamb and enjoying you for all eternity. Thank you for that. Lord, help us to be faithful. And through our faithfulness, honor you the way that you deserve to be honored. We love you, Jesus. It's in your precious name.
We pray Amen.