Third in a series
I’m blessed. At least that’s what I was told growing up in the South. I was raised in the country, where my dad worked hard, my mom cooked every night for our family, and we loved America and Jesus. I was taught to work hard and never compromise your word. You say what you mean, and you mean what you say.
As I grew older, I faced opportunities to compromise not only my word, but also my life, and I realized not compromising was difficult. Now, as a Christian husband, father and pastor, compromising my life could bring a world of disaster for me, my family and my church.
In Revelation 2, the Lord warns the church of Pergamum against tolerating those who compromise their faith for worldly gain. The church had been faithful through major persecution, but now they were tolerating those who “hold to the teaching of Balaam” and others who “hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.”
The teaching of Balaam led people to compromise their faith for worldly pleasure. In Numbers 22-25, we see God’s people being seduced by this teaching into eating pagan food and participating in sexual immorality. These same sins were leading some in the church at Pergamum astray, seducing them into folly.
The sin of the Nicolaitans was similar, leading people to compromise their faith in Christ for worldly pleasure and worldly gain. In Ephesians 2:6, we see the church in Ephesus rejecting the teaching of the Nicolaitans, but here in Revelation 2, we are met with a church that embraced them. They sold out their faith for immorality and idolatry.
The Lord calls the church at Pergamum to repent of their idolatry and promises to meet their needs in Christ in two specific ways. First, he will give them “hidden manna,” an eternal nourishment that satisfies their deepest longings. In Christ, all our needs are met, and all our longings are fulfilled.
Second, he will give them “a white stone, and on the stone a new name is inscribed that no one knows except the one who receives it.” Debate exists over what this white stone represents, but I believe it refers to the righteousness we have in Christ and the redeemed relationship we share with God. We need not seek satisfaction in idols or sexual immorality. True satisfaction is found in a deep, intimate relationship with God. He has a new name for us, and He knows what we need.
1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (CSB).
We are God’s people, a royal people, a holy people, a people belonging to him and no one else. The same idols call out to God’s people today. Let’s not be seduced by Satan. Let’s guard our churches. That’s worth our hard work and firm conviction.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – This article is part of a series on the theme of the 2018 North Carolina Pastors’ Conference, “7 Churches of Revelation.” This year’s event will occur Nov. 4-5 in conjunction with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s annual meeting. Visit ncpastorsconference.org for more information. Ronnie Parrott is lead pastor of Christ Community Church in Huntersville. Each column in the series will be written by a different N.C. leader and refer to one of the seven churches in Revelation.)