Every week, on Monday, we will have a blog for you with resources for diving deeper into the sermon.
In week two of the In the End series, Pastor Andrew taught through Jesus’ letter to the church at Pergamum in Revelation 2:12-17. The congregation in Pergamum stood in faith through intense persecution, but they had some members who were pursuing idolatry, and the other members had not said anything to them about it. The main idea that we gather from this letter is that idolatry from the inside of the church is as dangerous as persecution from the outside.
In verse 12-13, Jesus identifies himself as the one who has the two-edged sword. In times of persecution (like the church at Pergamum had gone through), it is good to remember that Jesus wields the ultimate sword. While in America we may think that persecution is a thing of the past, Christianity remains the most persecuted religion on the planet. All over the world people are dying for their faith in Jesus. While we may not be violently persecuted for our faith here, many are slandered, ostracized, and ignored for their beliefs. We must be faithful witnesses, enduring the persecution we face.
In verses 14-15, Jesus reprimands them because, even though they had withstood persecution, they allowed people to pursue idolatry in their midst. The two great assaults on the Christian life are persecution and idolatry. Withstanding persecution doesn’t matter if we are OK with idolatry. Just like the story of Balaam and Balak, some of the members of the church had been led astray by outsiders to worship other gods. And we are not free from this ourselves as our hearts are prone to worship anything that makes us feel happiness or fulfillment.
Verses 16-17 are a call to repentance. The church had allowed this idolatry to go on in the church, and they hadn’t said a thing. Jesus was saying that they needed to correct their straying brothers and sisters and return to the faithfulness of serving him alone. The message for us today is that we need to repent of the idolatry in our lives and the church. We need to do some heart searching and prayer and truly discover what we have the tendency to love over God. And when we find it, there is only one remedy for idolatry: repentance. Biblical repentance is recognizing our wrong, deciding to not pursue that wrong anymore, and working to pursue what’s right—in this case, it’s whole hearted devotion to Jesus, and a willingness to confront our brothers and sisters in Christ when they have strayed off the path. In verse 17, Jesus gives us hope so that we can press on. He gives himself as the “hidden manna” that satisfies us eternally. And he gives us a white stone of victory, on which is written a new name—a new, unique identity, known only to God.
We have put together a 30-day prayer guide that acts as a devotional to guide your prayer times each day. The Scriptures were selected to follow the themes of the In the End series.
This is the modern-day manual for putting our finger on our idols. It’s short and inexpensive. Here is what amazon says:
“Success, true love, and the life you’ve always wanted. Many of us placed our faith in these things, believing they held the key to happiness, but with a sneaking suspicion they might not deliver. No wonder we feel lost, alone, disenchanted, and resentful. There is only one God who can wholly satisfy our cravings—and now is the perfect time to meet Him again, or for the first time. In Counterfeit Gods, Timothy Keller shows how a proper understanding of the Bible reveals the unvarnished truth about societal ideals and our own hearts. This powerful message cements Keller’s reputation as a critical thinker and pastor, and comes at a crucial time—for both the faithful and the skeptical.”
-Alex Nolette (Equip Coordinator/Community Groups)