“And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword. I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’” – Revelation 2:12-17
Even though the church at Pergamos was commended for holding fast, there was a serious problem. There is no perfect church, but that does not mean we should not strive to be more than we presently are. There were within the congregation those holding to the doctrine (false) of Balaam. Many of you know the story of Balaam and even his famous talking donkey. Balaam was offered money by Balak to curse the covenant community. When that didn’t work, he devised a plot to have Moabite women seduce Israelite men into intermarriage. There are still so-called Balaams around today peddling their version of the gospel (false) in exchange for riches and fame.
To belong to a faithful church is an incredible blessing. But such a church should never rest on her laurels. The temptation to be sidetracked by way of compromise needs to be fought against continually. As is clear in this letter, the church of Pergamos did not discipline where discipline was sorely needed. A church that does not turn the key of discipline (cf. Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 85) does not really love her members as she ought. Discipline is to be an exercise of loving discipleship.
Christ’s disciples listen to the voice of the loving Shepherd. He knows what is best for His church—after all, He is the Head and we are to serve Him as His body. A listening ear must be an obeying heart. May God grant us grace to be found faithful!
Suggestions for prayer
Pray that the Holy Spirit, by means of the Word and Sacrament, would keep us close to the voice of Jesus. Pray that the church to which you belong would remain faithful.
Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional.