The Pergamum Revelation
Revelation 2:13 ‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. 15 So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war 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, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.’
Who were the Nicolaitans, and what do they have to do with us today? These are the questions that this scripture brings to mind. How can something written to a church over a thousand years ago have any true relevance to us today? That's what we're going to look at today.
The Nicolaitans were a splinter group of believers who had attempted to blend the Christian faith with the polytheistic culture around them and the hedonistic behaviors of their society. According to Irenaeus and Hippolytus, they were founded by Nicolaus who was one of the original seven Deacons. He had accepted Gnostic teachings, and was leading believers astray by playing on their fleshly desires and their lust to fit in with society around them.
Hmm, does that sound like anything going on today?
You see many churches today are so desperate to fill the seats, and to spread the word (lower case because it's really their word not God's), that they will twist the message or avoid it altogether in order to fill the pews. Yet what good is filling the pews if the message given doesn't lead to a true repentance and therefore a true salvation? Is it not worse to give someone a false hope than an unpalatable truth?
Churches today are all too happy to reject God's message of healthy sexuality for messages that condone (sometimes tacitly and sometimes overtly) cohabitation, sexual pluralism, adultery, polygamy, lustful living, and just about any other sexual gratification that makes them happy. They have surrendered to the hedonistic society around them. They have taken "truth" and "righteousness" into their own hands, just as the Nicolaitans did.
Another false message that we see in the church today also goes along with the letter to the Church in Pergamum, and that is one of polytheism. There are many Gods, they say, or sometimes they try to veil it as many different "paths" to God. The issue is that this is simply and bluntly in contradiction to scripture. Even "Red Letter" Christians have to admit that the scripture makes it clear that there is one way to the Father, and that it is through the Son.
The Church today is fighting the same battle as the Church in Pergamum did so many years ago. The question is, will we stay faithful or will we surrender? The scripture in Revelation makes it clear that God will not absolve us of the responsibility to confront this heresy. In fact it says that He will actively oppose those who accept it. Churches today are struggling to find relevance, but part of that fight is that God is not fighting with us. Some have walked away from His truths to fuel the faith in their own strength, just as the Nicolaitans did. They have forgotten that it is God who brings the increase, not the work of our hands.
Let us never forget it, and as Paul admonished us, let us never grow weary of doing good.
Blessings in Yeshua!