The Church in Pergamos, Life-Study of Revelation, Message Twelve, pp. 140-143
II. THE CHURCH'S MARRIAGE
TO THE WORLD
Scripture Reading: Rev. 2:12-13; Matt. 13:31-33
In the epistle to the first church, the Lord advised the church in Ephesus to repent and to recover her first love. We must believe that His advice was heeded, for the second church, the church in Smyrna, truly loved the Lord and suffered persecution and became a suffering church. According to the facts of history, during the first three centuries, the church suffered a great deal as the Roman government tried its best to damage her. Eventually, the enemy, Satan, realized that persecution did not work very well. Therefore, being the subtle one, he changed his strategy from persecuting the church to welcoming her. In the early part of the fourth century, Constantine the Great accepted Christianity and made it a state religion. From that time onward, Christianity became a type of Roman state church. This welcoming of the church by the Roman Empire ruined her, because it caused the church to become worldly. As we all know, the church has been called out of the world and has been separated from the world to God. However, by being welcomed by the Roman Empire, the church went back to the world and, in the eyes of God, even married the world. God considers this type of worldly union to be spiritual fornication.
Due to this marriage, the church lost her purity and became worldly. Because the church had entered into union with the world, many worldly things came into the church. Worldly things are related to idol worship, for worldliness is always associated with idolatry. The church in Pergamos firstly became worldly and then idolatrous. Satan saturated her with the world and with idols. As a result, the church became absolutely different from what God intended her to be. God desires a church which is outside of the world, having nothing to do with the world. The church must be a golden lampstand, the pure expression of the Triune God, and must have no connections with the world. But after the Roman Empire had made the church a worldly religion, she became altogether impure, worldly, and idolatrous.
A. Where Satan Dwells
In verse 13 the Lord said of the church in Pergamos, "I know where you dwell, where Satan's throne is." Satan's dwelling place is the world. Since the church has entered into union with the world and has become worldly herself, she now dwells where Satan dwells—in the world.
B. Where Satan's Throne Is
The church in Pergamos also dwells where Satan's throne is. This also refers to the world. The world is not only Satan's dwelling place, but also the sphere wherein he rules. Now the church is not only one with the world but even one with Satan. This is dreadful! The worldly Christianity of today is still in union with the world and is still being saturated with the thoughts, concepts, theories, and even the practices of Satan. We must see the seriousness of this.
The enemy, Satan, is subtle. His welcome is more serious than his persecution. Firstly, Satan stirs up persecution, and then, when this fails, he changes his tactics and welcomes us instead. We have seen this very thing in the past. Firstly, religion persecuted us, and then, changing its strategy, tried to lure us into compromising with it. This is Satan's subtlety. If we are snared by it, we shall eventually become worldly and not only be in union with Satan, but also one with him. The Lord has included the seven epistles in the book of Revelation that we may see the true situation of so-called Christianity and also see where and what the church should be. The church should be a pure golden lampstand outside of the world. The church must have nothing to do with the world and must not yield an inch to Satan's evil and subtle saturation. The church must constantly stand against this.
The two meanings of the word Pergamos—marriage and fortified tower—correspond to two of the parables in Matthew 13, the parable of the great tree (Mat. 13:31-32) and the parable of the leaven (Matt. 13:33). In the parable of the great tree, a tiny mustard seed became a tree. This undoubtedly signifies monstrous Christianity, for Christianity has certainly become a great tree. In the parable of the leaven, we read of a woman who put leaven into three measures of fine flour. Leaven signifies all the sinful, worldly, evil, satanic, demonic, and devilish things. All these wicked things were put into the fine flour. In the Bible, the fine flour used in the meal offering signifies Christ as food for God's people. The great tree is the equivalent of the high tower, and the woman with the leaven is the equivalent of the apostate church which has married the world. The meaning of the Bible in this matter should be very clear to us all. In the eyes of God, Christendom is a great whore, an evil woman who has mixed worldly, demonic, satanic, and devilish things with the good things of Christ to produce a hellish mixture. We must absolutely abandon this great tree, escape from this high tower, come out of this evil system, and be separated to God, returning to His original intention that the church be a pure golden lampstand having nothing to do with worldliness, idolatry, or Satan's saturation. We are not in the place where Satan dwells, in the place where Satan sits on his throne. No, in the church there is no ground for Satan. Here there is no place for Satan to do anything.
In the first three epistles we see three churches—the desirable church, the persecuted church, and the worldly church. We certainly want to be a desirable church and a persecuted church, but we must refuse to be a worldly church. We must reject anything worldly. Be careful! After the enemy has persecuted you, his strategy may change. Instead of persecution, there might be a welcome. Do not regard this welcome as a good thing. Rather, you must fear being welcomed more than being stung by a scorpion. It is good for us to suffer persecution, opposition, and attack. But whenever people extend us a warm welcome, that is a most dangerous time. When you are attacked and are undergoing persecution, do not be discouraged, for that is a strong sign that you are on the right track and that you have not been distracted from following the Lord's steps. But beware of a warm welcome. It is better to suffer persecution than to receive a warm welcome. The epistle to the church in Pergamos teaches us that we should not be in union with the world in any way, sense, or aspect. We must have nothing to do with the world. During the past fifty years, a warm welcome was extended to us quite a number of times in a subtle way, but thank God that we rejected it every time. As a result, throughout the years we have been preserved by being persecuted. We have never received a good name, because Satan will not allow you to have a good name unless you enter into union with him. This is why we in the Lord's recovery are constantly involved in a battle and are continuously attacked. A war is raging all the time. The Lord's recovery is not carrying out a common Christian work. No, this testimony is a warfare.