We will look at two churches that have a common problem; they tolerate sin. In a day when being tolerate is seen as a virtue, Jesus calls for repentance. There comes a time when the church must take a stand, even if society calls us intolerant.
A. I read an illustration that really connected to what I want to share today. Frank was a postman in Kentucky who didn’t want to deliver some of this mail. Why? Maybe he wanted to quit his route early or maybe it was just hot in the summertime. Nonetheless, he simply didn’t deliver all the mail. After complaints were filed, they traced the problem back to Frank and when they searched his home they found the undelivered mail in his attic. For six years he stashed mail there that he didn’t deliver. Here is my question: A mail carrier is supposed to… (the answer: deliver mail).
B. The truth is, a mail carrier that doesn’t deliver all the mail, hasn’t done the job he was supposed to do. Now here is another question: A Christian is supposed to… (the answer could be given in many ways, but a Christian is supposed to faithful to Jesus and his teachings.)
C. But that is not always easy, is it? Let’s be honest, most of us have failed at being a faithful servant of Jesus Christ. There are times that showing the love of Jesus is not what we want to do. There are times when forgiving others the way we have been forgiven is not what we want to do. There are times when we are tempted to be a part time Christian. Just like Frank didn’t deliver all his mail, we want to give to Jesus just the parts of us that are easy to give.
D. Jesus told the church in Smyrna to be “faithful unto death.” Jesus complimented the church in Ephesus for their doctrinal purity. But today we look at two congregations that simply wanted to be a part time Christian with full time spiritual benefits.
I. Polluted Society
A. Jesus opens his words to the church in Pergamum with these words (Rev. 2:12-13). It’s important to understand the city of Pergamum at the end of the first century. This is a “city where Satan dwells.”
B. Pergamum was the Roman capital of the province of Asia. It was the site of a great library with over 200,000 parchment scrolls. But probably more significant was that Pergamum was the seat of emperor worship. The first temple to a living emperor was built here in 29 BC to Caesar Augustus. It was also home to many temples, but centered around the four greatest gods of the Greeks (Zeus, Dionysius, Athena and Aesculapius).
C. Here is my point, it was a city that honored everything BUT Jesus. It was a city where sin was not only prevalent, but pushed. Today, our society is one that teaches and pushes an agenda of sexuality that is counter to Jesus. We are told that not accepting anyone for how they view themselves, who they want to live with or marry, and even how we define male and female is evil. Isaiah 5:20 begins with, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil.”
D. We live in a fallen world and while many around us cry for tolerance, Jesus cries out for repentance. The problem is the world had influence the church in the days of John more than church had influenced the world.
II. Polluted Churches
A. Jesus calls out the church in Pergamum for tolerating sinful teachings within the church (Rev. 2:14-16). Thyatira was no different than Pergamum (Rev. 2:20-21).
B. Immorality was rampant in the OT, rampant in the days of Jesus, rampant in days when Paul was out preaching, rampant when Jesus spoke through John to these churches and rampant in our society today.
C. Living together outside of the bonds of marriage is so common place that we don’t think about it as immoral. When we think about immorality we have to make it acts of violence against another or possibly adultery. While we don’t get a full understanding of what the Nicolaitans taught, it seems to be connect to the idea of special knowledge that made some feel superior to others. They were more enlightened, more in touch with the spirit world. And Jesus hated their doctrine.
D. There is a calling to us as a church today, it a calling to keep true to the teachings of Jesus in spite of what the world or others think is good. When the church accepts open and ongoing sinful behavior within the church family, then we need to face that fact that Jesus will war against us. Let me be clear, when Jesus comes as judge, our enlightened and tolerant acceptance of what he calls sin, will be met with condemnation and eternal punishment.
E. There are some Christians today that so desire to show “the love of Jesus” that they accept the open sin of another and believe they are kinder and more gracious because of it. While I am all for kindness and gentleness, I know that calling good evil and evil good will only cause Jesus remove me from his grace.
A. I wonder what it will take for Christians to realize the unsaved do not dictate what is “right.” They simply reflect the depravity of self-indulgence. I want the church to grow, but not to compromise what God has taught. I will love every sinner – no matter what their sin may be.
B. But as they come into my life, I want them to know that the love I have for Jesus compels me to live in a covenant relationship with him. I know that what Jesus has to offer me in this life, and more importantly, eternal life, is far greater than just going along to get along with a sinful society.
C. My judgement is not over the unsaved. That falls solely with Jesus. We are called to make some judgement upon the saved. Jesus commended Ephesus for calling out those who said they were apostles but were not. Jesus taught that we need to inspect the fruit of those who say they are of God but are really wolves in sheep’s clothing. While I love you, part of the role of preaching is that of rebuke when it is needed. It is not casting the first stone, but is reaching out a hand to help a Christian repent.
D. When you sit with these two churches, like we did today, you must decide how this church will deal with issues society says we must change and accept. Pray that we will always stand with Jesus and teach only truth.