Center of Devotion – September 14, 2020

Dear Friends,

As we look back at the letter to the church in Pergamum, we see Jesus addressing His second concern that He has with the church.

"To the angel of the church in Pergamum…” (Revelation 2:12).

Verse 15 says:

“Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans (2:15).

This could mean a couple things. One possibility: nico means power, laity means people. So Nicolaitans can mean power over the people. When church and state were joined, the church took on a structure that looked more like a government: pushing the leaders up and the people down. Common people had to go through priests and bishops and popes to reach God.

Irenaeus said that they were followers of Nicolaus of Antioch, a proselyte who was among the seven men chosen to serve the Jerusalem congregation, who had forsaken true Christian doctrine; he said they lived in unrestrained indulgence . Hippolytus confirmed this by noting that Nicolaus left correct doctrine and had the habit of indifference as to what a man ate and as to how he lived. The Apostolic Constitutions described them as “shameless in uncleanness.”

According to the writings of the Early Church leaders, Nicolas taught a doctrine of compromise, implying that total separation between Christianity and the practice of occult paganism was not essential. From Early Church records, it seems apparent that this Nicolas of Antioch was so immersed in occultism, Judaism, and Christianity that he had a stomach for all of it. He had no problem intermingling these belief systems in various concoctions and saw no reason why believers couldn’t continue to fellowship with those still immersed in the black magic of the Roman empire and its countless mystery cults.

In verse 16, Jesus says:

“Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth” (2:16).

So how does Jesus fight against all this compromise and corruption in the church? With the sword. That’s the Word, the Bible.

The Word of God pierces – it checks our motives. And it separates – so we know what is from God and what is of the world. The Bible reminds us there is one mediator between God and man. You don’t have to go through priests, popes, or saints. You go straight to Jesus. God’s word sanctifies – makes us holy – and washes away the world’s corruption.

And for you who want to see Christianity get more political power, learn a lesson from church history. Power corrupts. And enforcing Christian values on non-Christians often backfires.