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 Letter to the Church at Pergamos
Audio Version

Rev 2:12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;

Rev 2:13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.

Rev 2:14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.

Rev 2:15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.

Rev 2:16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

Rev 2:17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

Pergamous is the chief city of Mysia, in Asia Minor. It was noted for its wickedness, inasmuch that our Lord says “Satan's seat” was there. The church of Pergamos was rebuked for swerving from the truth and embracing the doctrines of Balaam and the Nicolaitanes. Antipas, Christ's faithful martyr, here sealed his testimony with his blood. This city stood on the banks of the river Caicus, about 20 miles from the sea. It is now called Bergama, and has a population of some twenty thousand, of whom about two thousand profess to be Christians.

Parchment was first made here, and was called by the Greeks pergamene, from the name of the city.

A reference to verse 12 about the sword with the double edges is:

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

The sword is the word of God. The power of life and death. We will be judged by the word. The sword pierces and discerns our thoughts and hearts. If it is so important that it will judge the world by its contents, don't you think it is our responsibility to read it diligently seeking the Holy Spirit for understanding and not leave the interpretation to someone else who may or may not care about our eternal souls?

The beginning of this church period was one of persecution. We see that from the words, “where Satan’s seat is.” This refers to the Satanic power resident in the evil religious character of the city. Through the doctrines of Balaam and the Nicolaitanes, Satan begins to invade the church itself. As with many churches though, some stay true to the word of God.

Jesus mentions the martyr, Antipas who was slain for His faith. This church was commended for holding fast the name of the Lord and not denying the faith. So we see from this that we can have a church that holds fast the name of the Lord, and not deny the truth faith but they did not remain separate from the world. Later they began to embrace false doctrines that can destroy the church. They held onto the name of the Lord. They would not deny the faith in God but other things crept in to destroy them in another way. A devout Christian will not deny Jesus Christ but he or she could compromise in other areas loving this present world and lose what they first had.

The Ephesus church had no false doctrines but had lost their first love for the Lord. The Smyrna church was the church heavily persecuted and had no words of criticism from the Lord. The Pergamos church was the first church to open its doors to compromise which later led to false teaching and in doing so ushered in apostasy which ruined the church for years.

Some believe in the theory that each church represents different periods in church history. The period they assign to this church is the period where Constantine ruled and stopped the persecution against the churches. This was about 312 AD to 590 AD. However, there are still many churches today that resemble this one. The name Pergamos is derived from two Greek words; "pergos" which means tower or elevation and "gamos" which means married. The words together mean married to the tower. In other words this church was married to the world.

This was the beginning of a long road to church and state working together into a great religious apostasy that still exists today. Pagan customs and idols entered the church at this period although I’m sure not all at once. Constantine wanted a united kingdom and a united church. We get our modern day Easter eggs and such from this time period. Fertility rituals entered the church at this period. Thus we celebrate even today rabbits and Easter bunnies which came down to us from this period in church history. This was not the origins of the customs but the beginning of those customs being brought into the church.

It is sad to say that this was the beginning of the church falling into apostasy and ushering in the dark ages when the bible was not read or kept. I hope it doesn't take a return of severe persecution to get the church to repent and do the first works. This church is like a divorce in a marriage. It resembles spiritual adultery in departing from the word and accepting man's teachings in place. This is the period that the old Pagan or Babylonian religion mixed with the church. Pagan holidays were made Christian.

Constantine desired to unite his kingdom. What better way would it be to stop the persecution and mix the pagan and Christians by keeping the pagan holidays but giving them a Christian name. Compromise seems to prevail here but it became a deadly apostasy that ushered in the dark ages where Christians were deprived of the written word for centuries. Constantine won victory over other rivals to the throne.

It is said that as he was in battle he saw a sign of the cross and became a Christian himself. However many artists depict the cross he saw differently than the cross Jesus died on. This cross looked more like an Egyptian fertility symbol. Constantine built the city of Constantinople and turned the pagan temples into Christian places of worship. This is when the church began to have large cathedrals and fancy church structures. The pagan idols were not torn down they just changed the names. Instead of Isis, it was changed to Mary. They began to rename other idols to the names of the saints that had died before. They most probably justified this by claiming to remember the dead who died as martyrs.

Satan will give us justification if we desire to do evil. He has a way to make things that are wrong look right and acceptable. By this time the church was tired of being persecuted and they quickly accepted this easy way out and began to compromise sound doctrine for doctrines of men.

Rev 2:13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.

Satan’s throne or dwelling place may have referred to a cluster of temples in Pergamos that had been erected in honor of the idol gods. They had corrupt morals which always accompany idols. It is part of their worship. They had a patron saint of medicine that was in the form of a serpent. Many thought touching snakes would bring healing.

Rev 2:14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.

This church had compromised their doctrine of holiness. They were mingling with the world around them. It could have been because they desired to win them to the church that they let down their standards in doctrine. We see the very opposite here as the Ephesians church. Balaam could not curse Israel as the king of Moab desired him to do by giving him a promise of a reward for doing so. Balaam then sought another way to curse Israel by tempting them with the daughters of Moab and enticing them into fornication. This would have caused God to curse them. Eating things sacrificed to idols is dangerous because it puts us in the place where idols are worshipped and our testimony for Christ would be ruined. If we ate food knowing that it was food sacrificed to idols, it would be telling those who saw us, that we were worshipping those idols instead of God. In other words, they were compromising their faith to please the crowds and make themselves more acceptable.

First they would compromise by eating things sacrificed to idols and that would be one step away from bowing down to the idols and using them to represent Christ or His mother, Mary. It puts another mediator between God and man. We see from this letter that idolatry is creeping into the church. I believe it is demeaning to God to turn Him into an image we can form and make with our own hands. The 1st chapter of Romans also deals with this. Do we not realize that demonic spirits are present in idol or image worship? That is why it gives a religious feeling. That feeling is a substitute for the real thing. It does not bring salvation.

Nothing can replace God or even represent God, we are to walk by faith not by sight.

Deuteronomy 4:15 Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the LORD spoke unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire:

Deu 4:16 Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female,

Deu 4:17 The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air,

Deu 4:18 The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth:

Deu 4:19 And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.

The key word, stumbling block is something that causes a person or group of people to sin. It leads to sin. Compromising the word of God will lead to sin eventually. These people began to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. They were tempting themselves to return to idolatry. Idolatry always is accompanied by fornication or sexual impurity. If one reads about false prophets and false religions they are always accompanied by fornication, sexual perversion and even adultery.

The Mormons may have started out adhering to the bible but eventually got into polygamy and adultery. For Joseph Smith married not only single women but married women as well. The married women's husbands were still living and they were still living with their husbands at the time Joseph married them. The worse thing about that lifestyle was that he even brought God into it and claimed he was doing his deeds by the commandment of God. Many popes, priests, and ministers of the present and the past indulged in sexual impurity, homosexuality, kept concubines, prostitutes and committed abominable things under the cloak of religion.

When we begin to compromise sound doctrine, we begin to open the door to evil. This is why I stress over and over to study the word ourselves. Many use the word to justify their evil by quoting only the part they want and leaving off the rest. We must study it for ourselves and ask God to teach us the meaning. Jim Jones started out preaching the gospel but left the simplicity of the gospel to draw followers after himself. When a man or woman places himself between us and Christ, it is a dangerous position to be in. The door of deception is wide open when we look to a man instead of Jesus Christ Himself or to an image that supposedly represents God.

A good minister will be humble and never claim to be a spokesman for God in place of our own privilege of seeking God for ourselves. He will help us pray, preach the word, help us understand but then he must step aside and allow us to see Christ, not himself. After the coming of Jesus Christ, we no longer need a mediator other than Jesus Christ. Looking too strongly to a man for answers is opening ourselves us to idolatry and deception. Jim Jones, Joseph Smith, and all others who claim to speak for God are just men. They are not God.

This doesn't mean we disrespect our pastors. We are to love them, support them and be kind for they preach the gospel. The minute they move away from the truth and try to draw us too much to themselves instead of Christ is the time we must flee or be deceived. We only follow men as they follow Christ. If they stop following the Christ of the word of God, we keep following Christ and not the false teachers. This is why we must study the bible for ourselves in spite of the modern move to lay aside the bible and trust spiritual leaders for the sake of unity.

Unity is good but only if it is in the bond of the Holy Spirit. Unity in evil is never good. Unity based on lies is an abomination. God broke up the unity at the tower of Babel. That was an evil unity. All unity is not good. The type of unity we strive for now is the unity of the spirit, love for one another and the unity for the truth of the word of God.

Balaam’s name is derived from the word Baal. It means, "to conquer the people". What is the doctrine of Balaam? The story of Balaam can be found in the Book of numbers starting in Chapter 22. The king of Moab, Balak, believed prophets had the power to curse or bless people. They didn't realize some prophets were false. Balak hired Balaam to curse Israel. Balaam I believe was one who may have started out as a true prophet even to the point of going out and seeking God's permission first before he cursed Israel.

Yet he may have been false from the beginning. Remember false prophets also many times will seek and pray to the same God that we seek. They just do not come the same way a true prophet does. A true prophet is out to obey God. He is out to represent the word of God. A true prophet of God would never curse people in order to gain financially.

In the day of grace, a true prophet would desire to save souls not destroy lives. They would be willing to speak the truth even if it caused a loss of tithes as opposed to those who tickle the ears and speak to please the crowds in order to rake in the money. Balaam asked permission of the Lord and the Lord told him not to go with the men who came to get him to curse Israel.

Balak then sent other men higher in importance. Again Balaam sought permission to go with the men and this time the Lord let him go but was very angry with him for going. Balaam was a man that did not take the Lord’s word but thought he could change God’s mind. This is where we go wrong. If we ask the Lord’s permission and He says no the first time, that should be final and the end of the matter. If we keep going back and asking the same thing, we are guilty of trying to get the Lord to change His mind. When the Lord speaks the first time, it is usually His divine will. The second time He spoke it was only His permissive will. Balaam should have heeded the first word of God.

God will allow us to do what we really want to do in our hearts but usually it will only get us in trouble if He spoke to our hearts at an earlier time differently. For instance we may be convicted of a besetting sin and we give up that sin. Later we are tempted again with the same sin and we ask God for permission. We may then deceive ourselves into thinking He said yes the second time. This is how the world creeps into the church. Since society changes all around us and we are sometimes fooled into thinking something that once was considered a sin is no longer a sin. We may change but God stays the same. If it was sin 100 years ago, it is still sin today.

Paul said for us not to eat things sacrificed to idols. These people for example may have thought that they could go and sit with those that eat such things in order to win them to Christ. They then started to compromise and eat things sacrificed to idols. They become unequally yoked with unbelievers. In latter times we see idolatry entering into the church.

Balaam was a covetous man who wanted the reward from Balak but he could not curse Israel so he devised a plan for the king to send women to lure the men of Israel into fornication. This would then lead them to spiritual fornication when they started worshipping the gods of Moab that their new wives worshipped. Like Balaam brought Israel into pagan worship, someone was bringing this pagan worship into the church. God’s people were learning to accept pagan rituals; masses, statues, idolatry, and the priesthood participating in them.

 (Deu 18:9-12 KJV) "When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee".

All false religion is traced back to tower of Babel later called Babylon. Idol worship had its origins at that place. When God put a stop to their unbiblical unity, they all separated to different lands and took their own religions with them.

Israel was forbidden to worship idols or make idols to worship. Later the church also was forbidden even to eat food that was sacrificed to idols. We cannot serve God and idols. One of the Grandsons of Noah was Cush. He plotted a one-world government and built a tower to heaven in rebellion to God. He was married to the most beautiful woman in the world or so the legend goes. Her name was Semiramis and she was the original mother of the fertility Goddesses. She is Isis, Diana, Artemis and all of the others throughout history. Cush and Semiramis had a son called Nimrod. Nimrod is the one who started the worship of Baal and was the inspiration for other pagan gods. He led the first rebellion against God after the flood. He revived the false religion that led to the destruction of the earth by the flood.

Building the tower might have been attempting to escape another flood if one came. If so, they sought to be saved by their own efforts instead of seeking God and doing things His way. They would never have to fear another flood if they didn’t sin against God. They did not want to seek God on His terms but created gods that allowed them to sin and still have a religion. Nimrod is an example of one who despised God’s government and authority to rule over their lives.

Romans 1: 21-25 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

(Rom 1:26-28 KJV) For this cause God gave them up to vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.

Worshipping other things besides the one true God will lead to sexual immorality because it is part of rebellion against the authority of God’s word that forbids such practices. False religion is rebellion against God. Some false religions will not openly claim to do these things and have creeds against them but will practice them in secret. Any rebellion against God’s word will eventually lead to these things.

Man was not created like cavemen. They were perfect but when they rebelled against God, then they could degenerate into men similar to what they call cave me. In the beginning they were brilliant. God doesn’t create junk. Many false religions are of course spiritual fornication or spiritual adultery. All idol worship is spiritual adultery against the true God. Most false religions especially those that use images and idols have literal fornication and rituals included in their worship. This is why many of the false gods were fertility gods and goddesses.

Baal worship came from this rebellion. Somehow it got into the Moabites. Moab was a descendant of Lot who was Abraham's nephew. Moab oppressed Israel on many occasions and sometimes with the help of God the Israelites defeated Moab. This king of Moab named Balak desired to curse them.

The devil tried to corrupt the seed of the woman from the very beginning. He used Cain to kill Abel. Idol worship that sacrifices virgins or take away the virginity of a virgin would help to keep the Christ child from being born of a virgin. God promised Adam and Eve that the seed of the woman would bruise the head of Satan. All attempts to cause sexual immorality in religion were an attempt to keep this from happening. After Christ came it stands to reason that Satan wants to destroy God’s new creation. (Those that have been made pure by the blood of the lamb).

Fornication and sexual immorality is a work of Satan to destroy the church. Firstborn children were sacrificed and virgins were defiled to prevent the coming of Christ. I will quote from a source from a book I have called the two Babylons and also can be found on many sources on the Internet one being Raymond Shockley's detailed description of this church on his site, "Moments in Bible Prophecy:

“Just in case Satan wasn’t successful in stopping the promised virgin from having the promised son, he would cause the people to practice sacrificing the firstborn. If he couldn’t stop the arrival of the Son of God, then he would create counterfeit gods, goddesses, divine children and new religious systems. Why did the devil do this? If he couldn’t stop the Savior from coming, he could try to confuse the people about which Messiah is the genuine Messiah. Which religion is the genuine religion? Some religious variations are so similar they sound almost like Christianity. This is how the devil works. He mixes just enough of the truth with a lie to lead people away from the true Christ. The cultic image of Mother and Child is present in many cultures. The statue of Mary and Baby Jesus was actually the Mother Goddess and the Divine Child. The corrupted church is responsible for the renaming of the statues. It was common to see the goddess with a tower shaped headdress. This was associated with the tower of Babel because mother-goddess originated in Babylon. When you see the goddess Diana you will see the tower on her head representing Babel. Also, you will see a gross exaggeration of multiple breasts representing fertility. The stag that you will see as well represents Nimrod.”

Here is another quote I found that was interesting from the research of Raymond Shockley: "The Nicolaitans instituted different dress for the clergy. They brought a pagan mass into worship and began to lord over and dominate the people. God hated this priesthood. When Jesus said "Who taught Balac before the children of Israel to eat things sacrificed to idols and commit fornication" He was referring to the style of mass used in this church. What is the one thing we eat as an act of worship? It is the Lord’s supper- the bread. How does it become a thing sacrificed unto idols? The Catholic and Greek Orthodox doctrine teaches when a priest prays the words "hocus es corpus menus" (this is where we get the catch phrase hocus pocus from) over the bread it actually becomes the body of the Lord Jesus Christ. It becomes therefore, a living God. The Greeks go behind a screen because your eyes are not to see Christ turn into the bread. The priest then takes the bread and prays over it. He tells the people the bread is alive. If something is alive and you eat it you kill it right? The Greek and the Catholic Churches sacrifice Christ over and over millions of times a day throughout the world. By doing this they are telling God Jesus dying on the cross was not good enough. God’s plan is not good enough. Catholic and Greek doctrine say the bread and the blood are the living Christ. Protestant faith says no. The bread is not alive. It’s only bread that symbolizes His sacrifice. Who is right? Christ said they were eating things sacrificed unto idols. The Catholic and Greek doctrines are not correct according to the Word of God."

I want to talk a little about actual fornication and how it harms us today. In this day of rampant sexual immorality, it is very hard for us to understand the danger of fornication and adultery and how it defiles us.

1Corinthians 6:15 Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of a harlot? God forbid.

1Co 6:16 What? know ye not that he which is joined to a harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.

1Co 6:17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. 1Co 6:18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.

1Co 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

1Co 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

We are temples of the Holy Ghost. To commit fornication is to defile that temple. To commit spiritual fornication is the same thing. When we serve idols, compromise with sin and allow ourselves to return to the things Christ delivered us from it is the same as a man or woman breaking their marriage vows and cheating on their spouses. We are breaking the covenant we made with God when we first were saved from sin by trusting in Jesus as our savior from sin.

As Satan used fornication to keep the Christ child from coming by way of a virgin to fulfill prophecy, he uses fornication to defile the temples of the Holy Ghost and make us unfit for the kingdom of God. Paul stressed many times for Gentile Christians to keep themselves from idolatry and fornication. These were serious sins that would destroy them as temples of the Holy Ghost. If any do these things there is a place for repentance but repentance means to change, return back to God’s way and sin no more. It doesn’t mean that we can go sin again and then confess to a priest and be okay. To be forgiven of sin is to forsake the sin. We see heroic figures on Television and in the movies commit fornication with different women and then go out and save a whole town or city from the “bad guys”. This puts the thought in our children that the fornication they did must be okay since they were what we consider the “good guys.”

Balaam taught Balak to cast a stumblingblook in the way of the children of Israel to cause them to sin. Then God Himself would curse them and Balaam would get his reward. He desired the wages of unrighteousness. The worship of idols brings with them a great deception.

When people began to setup statues in their temples and proclaimed them gods they are promised to receive great blessings and power here. The mind is a powerful thing. Under the power of suggestion a person can be told repeatedly that something is going to happen and the mind will begin to believe. When someone walked through the doors of one of those temples they got knocked off their feet by a mind miracle. They could feel a presence they mistakenly thought was God. If we insist on doing forbidden things, God will allow it but we will be deceived. If we desire to see great miracles and see great things happen without coming by way of the blood of Jesus, faith in Jesus alone and God's way, we can easily be deceived into believing a lie.

If we reject the word of truth contained in the bible, we open ourselves up to being a lie spoken of in the book of Thessalonians.

Here are five characteristics of the doctrine of Balaam This doctrine has five distinct qualities that should claim our attention.

1. It is fascinating

2. It despises government

3. It is a stumbling block

4. It teaches to eat things sacrificed to idols

5. It teaches to commit fornication

To fascinate means to bewitch, captivate or enchant. This is what false religion will do. It charms the deceived. They will still feel religious and think they are worshipping the real God. This doctrine pretends to be a doctrine from God.

According to Jude this is a doctrine that despises government.

Jude 1:8 Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.

Jude 1:9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.

Jud 1:10 But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.

Jud 1:11 Woe to them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and run greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.

Jud 1:12 These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about by winds; withered autumnal trees, without fruit, twice dead, plucked out by the roots;

Jud 1:13 Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.

Core was Korah in the Old Testament who rebelled against the authority of Moses. So part of the doctrine of Balaam is to refuse godly authority. Even though God forbade Balaam to curse the children of Israel, he tried to find a way around the word of God and do it anyway for reward or gain. Cain came to God with a sacrifice that was unacceptable. He was the first to practice false worship. His heart was not right and He was in rebellion against the authority of God. He wanted to come to God his way instead of God’s way. We see here a contrast. This church was beginning to depart from godly authority and allowed false religion to enter. At the same time they were coming under the authority of the Nicolaitanes which would rule them with a heavy hand and bring about doctrines of men instead of God.

There were some among them that were rebelling against godly authority and coming under a rebellious authority and false teaching. God's law is plain about idolatry, fornication and covetousness which are also idolatry without actual images. Any religion or church that practices these things are going against God’s word. Church members who refuse to hear the warnings of a good pastor, who preaches the truth from the bible, are guilty of despising government. When we disobey the law of the land it also falls into this category. If we have the attitude, "God told me it was okay so it doesn't matter what the bible says, I believe it is okay." That is despising government or godly authority.

For Stumbling Block. I will quote A J Tomlinson "That it is a “stumbling block” is plainly shown at Revelation 2:14. The doctrine is the cause, for Balaam taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before Israel. This signifies that Balak would not have been able to do what he did had it not been for the teaching (doctrine) of Balaam. Balak thought Balaam was the great power of God just like the people of Samaria thought Simon was the great power of God. Indeed Balaam recognized God in all of the delusive actions he performed before Balak. This is, no doubt, what caught Israel, because he always represented himself as being “led of the Lord.”

Having on the face of it the name of God, and its constituents claiming to be led of the Lord is what makes it such a dangerous stumbling block. That which is or looks to be the nearest right, and yet is not right, is the most apt to deceive those who want to be right. So these people followed the doctrine of Balaam who was pretending to be “led of the Lord” to entice the young men of Israel into fornication both physically and spiritually."

One that that I read in the “know your bible series” that concerned me is that when this church began to eat sacrifices to idols in order to have social favor and less persecution, it would lead to fornication. I quote: “The stumbling effect continued. It was an easy “blunder” from social fellowship to fornication, which was undoubtedly the design of the deceivers from the outset. The goal of these socialites was not just to eat food sacrificed to idols but to lead these people into fornication or sexual immorality."

If we read any church history or history of cults, when they depart from the truth they do get into fornication and adultery along with spiritual fornication and adultery. It happens over and over again. To depart from the truth and throw out the word of God will lead first to spiritual adultery and then to actually physical adultery even when the church teachings that are on the books still forbid it. Sometimes only a few partake of this but sometimes a whole church will partake of this.

How many stories do we hear on occasion of priests molesting children, big name evangelists committing adultery or getting involved in homosexuality? I mentioned Joseph Smith and the beginning of polygamy in the United States. Before anyone defends this remember he started out with married women first which is expressly forbidden by scriptures to have another man’s wife. If he had of just took single women like David did, we might be fooled into thinking he was okay but he did not do that if we read the actual accounts of his life. He did not just commit polygamy, he practiced adultery. The FDLS sect that we see existing today as I mentioned before did not just practice polygamy. If the prophet got angry with any head of the household, he would give his wives and all his children to another man more favored. That would certainly be adultery in the biblical sense. So it is not just polygamy those cults practice.

This stuff has been going on for centuries not long after the death of the apostles. What causes this is departing from the word and the authority of the scriptures and substituting doctrines of men. I hate to see churches become social clubs instead of places of worship and the teaching of God’s word. Something Tomlinson said in the tract on Balaam concerned me. He said that the Balaam doctrine is followed when men and women get to kissing each other in obedience, as they say, to Paul and Peter where they teach to greet each other with a kiss. It carries them on into more daring deeds of sin and vice and all the time declares “The Lord led me.”

Eating things sacrificed to idols.

2Corinthans 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

2Co 6:15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

2Co 6:16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

2Co 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you;

Fornication has increased in alarming numbers among the church. Divorce has increased. There is no fear of God. Again idolatry is spiritual fornication but literal fornication is common place in today's church. The doctrine of being saved and then living a life of holiness has virtually disappeared but it is still what the word of God teaches.

Balaam was a man people thought was spiritual, yet this man taught Balak to get the people to commit fornication which later led to idolatry. The king thought Balaam was a great man of God. A man who doesn’t claim to be a prophet cannot really deceive people as much as someone who people think has a direct pipeline to God. We must remember though that there is not prophet, priest or pastor who has anything from God that we also could not have if we came through the blood of Jesus Christ and are born again by His spirit. The gifts of God are not limited to the clergy.

Usually people who teach false doctrine will appear to be super spiritual, miracle workers and such. Later they may try to usurp the authority of the pastor. Of course there are cases that the pastor is a deceiver but sometimes someone who appears to be super spiritual will try to take over the church and lead people away from the pastor. People who follow them are deceived into thinking the new leaders are more spiritual than the pastor. I'm so glad God gave us the word in written form so that we can have something to compare what is going on in today's church world with what the word says.

 In contrast to the church of Ephesus who held to strict doctrine and did not allow false teachers, this church began to allow compromise, false teaching, and the beginning of what we can call the "sinning Christians", the sipping saints, and you can be saved and still sin as long as you believe in Jesus doctrine.

Rev 2:15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.

The Ephesians church reject the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes but this church embraced it. I will repeat the two meanings: Nicolaitanes” means “Victorious over the people; a follower of Nicolaus, a heretic” or “to conquer the laity” . nikos - to conquer, laos” - where our word “laity” comes from.

Jesus hates this doctrine because it takes away from trusting in Him alone for salvation. When we try to control other people's behavior by threats or suppression, we rob them of trusting and serving Christ because He died for their sins, forgave their sins and sent His Holy Spirit into them to conquer sin in the future. In other words we rob them of seeking God for themselves and developing a personal individual relationship with Jesus Christ. It is a great robbery in deed when we do that.

Another meaning that I use to believe but am now leaning toward my first meaning above is: Nicolaitanes: They were seemingly a class of professing Christians, who sought to introduce into the church a false freedom or licentiousness, thus abusing Paul's doctrine of grace. I will add here that this second meaning usually follows when one starts following a man instead of Christ.

Here I repeat another definition that I found on the Internet: It is said a man named Nicolas founded the Nicolaitans. He was a proselyte. This means that he was not Jewish by race but went through the process of becoming a Jew. Nicolas decided that he also wanted to be a Christian. He worked so diligently in the Christian church he became a deacon of the church body. He decided that he liked being a deacon but he thought that he should be completely in charge of things. He formed the Nicolaitans Their name was quite appropriate. Its meaning is to overthrow the laity or take over the church. He developed a religious party where the preachers dressed differently than the members. He began including Babylonian teachings in the doctrine of his church. These included idol worship, sexual rituals, and many others. He added a few opinions of his own as well. They taught separation of spirit and body. This meant the spirit and body are apart from each other. The spirit is pure, but the flesh is evil. What the body does has no effect on the spirit and vice versa.

I will mention the description of the Nicolaitanes in the book: “Putting it simply, “the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes was a love for “the world, and the things that are in the world.” To the extent that they tried to justify it by a false interpretation of grace. It was a misplaced love, and therefore hateful to God.

So we see that when the leadership teaches this doctrine it is truly suppression of the laity. When a leader like Nicholas teaches this to draw followers after himself and away from the true church it is also the same thing. To conquer the laity by claiming to be the great power of God and lead them into sin. Balaam did this.

Whether it comes in the leadership or in one who rebels against the leadership, when they depart from the sound teaching of the word, anything can happen. It has in the past, it is happening now and until the Lord returns it will happen in the future.

Rev 2:16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

Again the solution to the problems in that church and any church is to repent and return to the right way of doing things. Repent, turn around, go back, and contend for the original faith once given to the believers. That faith is described in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Act, Romans, Jude, Revelation, and the other writings of the New Testament. Not the book of Mormon, the creeds of any church, or any church teachings that may be substituted for the original gospel. The word, the word, the word cannot be stressed enough to keep us from error.

That is why many died that we might have it in our own language. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't possibly understand the bible. You can if you seek the help of the Holy Spirit who inspired the ones to write the bible for us to read. Each and every individual has a right and responsibility to read the word of God. Don't trust in man (woman). They could be getting it wrong. Some use the bible for material gain, some to deceive, and some to draw followers after themselves. Your salvation and where you spend eternity is too important to trust in man.

From Raymond Shockley's site:

"Concerning this particular church: God quite often uses the ungodly to teach His people a lesson. The place of this church geographically was Asia Minor. When this time period ended a sword of judgment conquered the whole area. In 622 A.D. a man named Mohammed proclaimed that his god "Allah" told him to rise and destroy the idols. From a small band of followers Islam became a nation. With swords they entered the country and destroyed most of the idols. The Muslims continued to conquer deeper and deeper into what was known as Byzantium, and Christians would not repent. The Muslims took a little more and still no repentance. Finally Islam sacked the heart of Byzantium, Constantinople. They turned "Saint Sophia" the prized cathedral of Constantinople into a mosque. Because of their compromise God withdrew His blessing and protection from the church of Pergamos. "

Rev 2:17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

He that has an ear to hear. That means everyone. We are to read, to listen and to understand. This bible is given to all of us; not just to the clergy. I believe Jesus is stressing the importance of being recognized as an individual believer. Each overcomer will receive a stone with a new name written that no one else has, no one know but the one receiving it. This hidden manna is the bread of life. It will be for the good of all who receive it, we can trust God for that. Whether it be supernatural food that will sustain us for eternity or something that is similar to the healing leaves of the trees growing in the New Jerusalem, it will be good. A white stone as opposed to a black stone represents being forgiven, pardoned and free from any condemnation. It used to be used in a court of law. If one received a black stone he was condemned. If one received a white stone, he was considered not guilty. In all seven churches there were most probably those individuals who didn’t go along with error and stayed true to God’s word. It is the overcomers that are promised the blessings of God.

Rev 22:1 And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.

Rev 22:2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

Isaiah 64:4 For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him. How can we think of serving anyone else?

Letter to the Church in Thyatira

 

 
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