The Church at the Mouth of Hell and Jesus’ Two-edged Sword, Part 1 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #313)
A homily is “a short talk on a religious or moral topic; a usually short sermon; a lecture or discourse on or of a biblical theme.”
In our series of homilies from the book of Ephesians, we focused on reviving Christian families. Now, I am sharing a verse-by-verse series of short messages from the book of Revelation, specifically targeted at reviving the church. If our country is to be awakened, the family and the church must be revived first.
TEXT: Revelation 2:12-17:
12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
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.
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.
15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.
16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
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.
St. Theophan and St. Nicholas wrote, “You must never be afraid that the enemy is too strong against you, that his attacks are never ending, that the war will last for your lifetime, and that you cannot avoid incessant downfalls of all kinds. Know that our enemies, with all their wiles, are in the hands of our divine Commander, our Lord Jesus Christ, for whose honour and glory you are waging war. Since He himself leads you into battle, He will certainly not suffer your enemies to use violence against you and overcome you, if you do not yourself cross over to their side with your will. ”
Leonard Ravenhill said, “Easy-going preachers produce easy-going believers. We have more star preachers than scarred preachers.”
In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “The Sunday school movement in particular gained tremendous momentum in the Second Great Awakening. Robert Raikes began the first Sunday school in Glouchester in 1780, and the movement spread like wildfire. When, four years later, John Wesley visited Leeds, England, he found twenty-six schools operating, with 2,000 scholars taught by forty-five teachers. In 1784, the Society for the Support and Encouragement of Sunday Schools throughout British Dominions was founded and reported that there were 250,000 registered in Sunday school. By 1830, the fiftieth anniversary of the Sunday school, 1,250,000 were registered in Sunday school-one-fourth of the English population. The regular teaching of the Bible became the foundation of revival.”
The third church which Jesus writes to at the beginning of Revelation is the church of Pergamos. This church was situated in the Roman capital of Asia Minor. It was a significant center for pagan worship and worship of the Roman emperors. It had temples built to four of the major Greek and Roman gods and three temples built to Roman emperors. The city was not just a place where these worship activities were facilitated, but it was a place where the government of the city actively promoted the worship of the Caesars.
John F. Walvoord and Roy Zuck write in their commentary about Pergamos, “The third church was in Pergamum or Pergamos, about 20 miles inland from Smyrna. Like Ephesus and Smyrna it was a wealthy city, but it was wicked. People in its pagan cults worshiped Athena, Asclepius, Dionysus, and Zeus. Pergamum was famous for its university with a library of about 200,000 volumes, and for manufacturing parchment resulting in a paper called pergamena. The atmosphere of this city was adverse to any effective Christian life and testimony.”
Dr. Warren Wiersbe said about Pergamos, “Called “the greatest city in Asia Minor,” Pergamos had the first temple dedicated to Caesar and was a rabid promoter of the imperial cult. The city also had a temple dedicated to Aesculapius (ay-sku-lay-pius), the god of healing, whose insignia was the entwined serpent on the staff. (This is still a medical symbol today.) Satan, of course, is likewise symbolized as the serpent.”
To the church in this city, Jesus presents Himself as “he which hath the sharp sword with two edges.” Warren Wiersbe said, “The Lord’s description of Himself, ‘He which hath the sharp sword,’ would surely encourage the people, for the sword was also the symbol of the Roman proconsul. It was more important that the church fear Christ’s sword than the Roman sword.”
Christ’s carrying of a double-edged sword bears a message of war and of judgment. As we look at this letter, the significance of the double-edged sword becomes clearer — it is a blade which cuts both ways.
Jesus’ stance is expressive of war against the world and against Satan’s kingdom. The church at Pergamos was situated “where Satan’s seat is.” In other words, this church was in the thick of the action; it sat in the mouth of hell. One of the cults that the city was known for was the worship of As-cle-pios, the Roman god of healing, who was symbolized by a serpent. Many sick people lay overnight in his temple waiting for serpents to slither over their bodies expecting to be healed. The church was a light in this pagan darkness. And Jesus lets the church know that He is fighting alongside them against the hold that Satan has on the people of this city.
But the war against Satan is not the only one that Jesus is fighting in Pergamos. His double-edged sword also cuts the church. As we look at this letter, we see that the church is tolerating two strains of false doctrine that Jesus wants them to eradicate. In fact, He says, “Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and I will fight against them [the false teachers] with the sword.”
While we ought to be engaged alongside Jesus in the fight against Satan, we must consider that there are churches today that Jesus would come and fight against as well. If we tolerate false teaching, if we tolerate sin, if we allow the Satanic influences around us to infect us, Christ will use His sword as a tool of judgment against us. It is only right that He do so, for we cannot be an effective church in this world if we are infected by Satan’s poison.
Roscoe G. Stott wrote:
There is warfare all around us;
There are foes who fain would wound us;
Yet what fear can e’er confound us,
If we trust the king we serve!
Satan’s forces march to meet us;
Satan, crafty foe, would cheat us;
Yet what power can e’er defeat us,
If we trust the king we serve!
Christ, our king, is ever near us;
Evermore His word will cheer us;
Call for strength and He will hear us,
If we trust the king we serve!
Now, if you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, please keep in mind that the Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” First, understand, that you are a sinner and that the wages of sin is death and Hell. But God sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for your sins. He was buried, and He rose from the dead by the power of God so that you can be saved from death and Hell. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. You have done the most important thing in life. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.