A Church Tolerant of False Doctrine
Text: Rev. 2: 12-17
Thesis: To prove that one must not be tolerant of false doctrine.
1. The church at Pergamos was addressed by Christ.
a. Note that He is said to hold the sharp sword with two edges (2 purposes and 2 effects).
b. The sword is the Word of God (Eph. 6:17).
(1) The Word is shaper than any two-edged sword (Heb. 4:12).
(2) It will prick the heart (Acts 2:37), but it will also cut to the heart of one (Acts 7:54).
c. To the Romans, the sword was a symbol of authority and judgment. This authority belongs to Christ and not to Rome (cf. Mat. 28:18).
2. The brethren were reminded of the fact that Christ and His word are inseparable.
3. This church claimed to be followers of Christ, but they were disregarding His word.
4. The text will be examined in these 3 areas:
a. The commendation of the church (vv. 12, 13).
b. The condemnation of the church (vv. 14, 15).
c. The choice that needed to be made by the church
(vv. 16, 17).
I. The commendation of the church.
A. The Lord knew the oppressive conditions under which the church had to live and the obstacles it faced.
B. “Satan’s seat” is better understood when one considers that Pergamum was the political capital of the province and the seat of pagan deities and emperor worship.
C. The church was facing opposition from without, but they were being faithful in this persecution.
1. They held fast to the name of Christ and refused not to confess “Lord Caesar.”
2. They had not denied the faith.
3. Some such as Antipas had been killed for holding true to Christ.
II. The condemnation of the church.
A. The true danger was coming from within.
1. The church was tolerating false doctrine and the teachers of it.
2. This was in clear violation of the Word of God.
a. They were not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers
(II Cor. 6:14-17).
b. They were to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness (Eph. 5:11).
c. They were not to bid the false teachers God speed (II John 9-11).
3. The church should have been standing up for the truth.
a. One is to be set for the defense of the gospel (Phi. 1:17).
b. One is earnestly to contend for the faith (Jude 3).
c. One is to reprove the unfruitful works of darkness (Eph. 5:11).
d. One is to mark those who cause division
e. The leadership was under obligation to stop the false teacher’s mouths and to rebuke them sharply (Titus 1:10-13).
B. They tolerated the doctrine of Balaam (cf. Num. 22-24).
1. He taught Balak to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel.
2. He taught others to eat things sacrificed to idols (includes the participation in idolatrous worship itself).
3. He taught others to commit fornication.
[Compromise for hire – II Pet. 2:15; Jude 6]
C. They tolerated the teaching of the Nicolaitans.
1. A sensual group who believed, taught, and practiced a licentious lifestyle.
2. They advocated that gospel liberty freed them to practice permissively such things and that fleshy desires could be fulfilled with no effect on the spirit.
III. The choice that needed to be made by the church.
A. They were told to repent!
1. Many churches today need to take heed to this admonition given by the Lord.
2. The church of Christ that tolerates what the Lord cannot tolerate ceases to be a church of Christ.
3. One is to hate every false way (Psa. 119:104).
B. Two different possible results are mentioned that are pending their decision to repent.
1. If they did not repent, then the Lord would be against them (Rev. 2:16).
a. One is judged by the words of Christ (John 12:48).
b. The same word that told them how to be saved would be the same one that would destroy them.
2. If they would repent, then they would be forgiven (Rev. 2:17).
a. They would be able to eat once again of the hidden manna.
(1) Jesus is the true manna from Heaven, and to eat of that bread is to live (John 6:33-35, 50-59).
(2) “Hidden” in the sense that one had to have eyes to see it.
b. They would be given a white stone.
(1) In ancient times those acquitted in a trial were informed of it by a white pebble dropped into an ure; the guilty had a black pebble.
(2) These people would be acquitted.
c. They would be given a new name; i.e., the new relationship to Christ.
C. They needed to hear what the Spirit said unto them by making the proper application (cf. James 1:22).
1. We’ve looked at the commendation of the church, the condemnation of the church, and the choice that needed to be made.
2. Could Christ commend you for your faithfulness in the face of persecution?
3. Would Christ condemn you for your tolerating false doctrines?
4. What is the choice that you will make?