Monday, June 16, 2008

Episcopal Pergamos?

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 Nicolaitans, 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].

As is the model with some of the other churches, we now move from a commendation, to a rebuke from the Master. Here Jesus confronts those who hold and teach the doctrine of Balaam. In order to learn about Balaam, we must go back to the book of Numbers. In my opinion, this also underscores the need for studying the Old Testament. So many Christians feel that the Old Testament is just peripheral material that can be ignored. While we must understand the bible (and Christianity) through the paradigm of the cross and the resurrection, we still cannot ignore the Old Testament scriptures. Paul says they were written for our examples and that ALL scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for doctrine and reproof....etc.

we see the "doctrine of Balaam" strictly condemned by Christ. It is important that we understand what Balaam's "doctrine" was, so that we may steer clear of it today. What the Old Testament alludes to- Jesus makes very plain - the doctrine of Balaam involved idolatry and sexual immorality. I'm not going to post the whole story of Balaam for the sake of time and space. I encourage you to read about him in Numbers chapters 22-24. To make a long story short, Balak hired Balaam (a prophet of sorts who is called a "southsayer" in Joshua 13:22 KJV) to curse Israel. After numerous attempts at bribing him by Balak, Balaam finally comes to the conclusion that he cannot curse what God has blessed (I could really preach here, but I'm going to resist the urge so that we can stay on track). It's going to take more than some verbal curse to make Israel vulnerable to her enemies. So he comes up with a strategy. This strategy is later revealed in Numbers 31:8,16. What becomes obvious is that Balaam's strategy included getting the children of Israel to commit sexual immorality with the Midianite women. In committing this trespass, the men of Israel were also mingling with the pagan gods worshipped by these women. This a perfect example of religion getting mixed with worldly practices. What makes it so deadly is that it gives the outward appearance of piety and reverence for God, all the while tolerating the things that He has so clearly designated as an abomination to Him. We must beware of this even today-now more than ever!

The Doctrine of the Nicolaitans

Jesus Christ says that he hates their doctrine. I think that we can probably form a very good hypothesis as to what the tenets of their doctrine were by looking at some other clues from the time period. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the doctrine of the Nicolaitans exists still to this day...only under another name

We also see the doctrine of this group condemned along with Balaam. This group apparently believed that sexual immorality and ungodly behavior would not affect one's standing in Christ (i.e. his/her salvation). We know this to be a false doctrine because God says we are to follow after holiness, without which "no man shall see the Lord." (Heb 12:14).

There is an amazing resemblance to the Pergumian doctrine that has invaded our Episcopal Church today .... Which of the Churches in Revelation Chapter Two do you attend?

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