“And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: The One who has the sharp two-edged sword says this:
 ‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.
 ‘But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality.
 ‘So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.
 ‘Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make 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 him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.’
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ.
The Pergamum Church was located in the city of Pergamum where Satan’s throne was located. Even though the city was full of idol-worshiping and sin, the Lord’s faithful witnesses who held fast to the Lord’s name were also there.
There were also people on the pathway to death who loved and had fallen in love with the world by living nominal Christian lives as they saw fit.
The Lord gave them a warning message that they were following the teaching of Balaam so that they could repent and turn back.
But the fact is that these words [of warning] apply equally well today.
Today, there are many Christians who have a tendency to live Christian lives as they see fit, live that compromise with the world even though they say they love God.
They know what the will of God is, but they forsake it because of their greed for money, honor, and fame.
It is to alter what they originally decided in their heart.
You should not change your heart once decided; this is the second lesson that you have to learn from the example of Balaam.
For instance, in gratitude after they receiving God’s grace some people profess, “I’ll devote my life to God. I’ll give my life to God and I’ll live for God,”
But some time later when they encounter a difficulty in their life, they and change their mind and say, “Why should I have to live like this? Why can’t I just live an easy Christian life like others?”
It’s just like Balaam knew the will of God, but when he was faced with the temptation of money and honor, his heart was seduced.
But the true people of God never change their hearts even if time passes by or situations change.
Such people can be found in the Bible. Among them, there was a gentile woman who was greatly loved by God since in her goodness she didn’t change her heart.
She is Ruth in the Old Testament.
Ruth was a Moabite who married an Israelite who had fled from a famine. Her husband died without leaving her with children.
She had a sister-in-law, Orpah who was in the same situation.
Her mother-in-law, Naomi, tried to return to the land of Judah, her home town. And Naomi advised her two daughters-in-law to go back to their mother’s homes.
It was a generous offer from Naomi, otherwise they would have had to leave their hometown Moab, and go to the unfamiliar land of Judah without husbands or children.
At first, both of them said that they would follow their mother-in-law till the end. But when Naomi asked again, Ruth’s sister-in-law, Orpah kissed Naomi, and left her.
But Ruth was different.
Ruth 1:16-17 says, “But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.”
It clearly shows Ruth’s heart that never changes in any given situation or circumstance.
If she had such a heart for people, can you imagine what kind of heart she had for God?
How many people with this heart do you think we can find today?
The spirit is unchangeable.
If you did this yesterday, but do that today, it never means that you are of the truth or of the spirit.
Changing in later days proves that what was done before is also untruth.
If Balaam had had a true heart of the spirit that never changes, he would not have disobeyed the will of God in the face of any temptation or test.
But in his changing heart, his greed for money and honor was stimulated, and he eventually helped Balak, the king of Moab, and caused the Israelites to eat the food sacrificed to idols and commit adultery with gentile women.
It was not just he who strayed from the right path, but he also caused others to go the way of death as well
You must remember that this lesson of Balaam is a must-know lesson for today’s Christians who live during the last days when sin and evil are so rampant.
I urge you in the name of the Lord to stand against living a Christian life as you see fit that compromises with the world as it suits you, but to live with unchanging heart in any situation.
Dear brothers and sisters.
In the Pergamum Church, there were not only people who followed the teaching of Balaam, but also people who followed the teaching of Nicolaitans.
In the verse 15, the Lord says, “So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.”
As I already explained when I talked about the church in Ephesus, the Nicolaitans said that the flesh is perishable, but the spirit is clean and sanctified. They believe that no matter how much sin you commit, you can go to heaven since the spirit is clean and sanctified.
As explained earlier, when people follow the teaching of Balaam, and live a Christian life as they fit, and they compromise with the world, they will fall deeper into the world, and eventually they will follow the teaching of the Nicolaitans.
We can see how seriously the teaching of Nicolaitans is standing against the truth that is throughout the Bible.
1 John 1:7 says, “But if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
Only when we walk in the light can we be cleansed from all sin by the blood of Jesus Christ.
How can we say that we are saved even though we commit sin in deeds and live in the sin of darkness?
You must know that following the teaching of Nicolaitans will lead you to the teaching of cults that are in opposition to the word of God.
Even today, when living a Christian life that suits you goes to an extreme, eventually it lead to following the cultic teaching that they can be saved even if they commit sin.
Some believers love the world too much and find living by the word too difficult. They take an interest in the teaching that says they can willfully commit sin and still be saved. Eventually they will follow the teaching.
These days when finding and living a Christian life that suits your lifestyle is so rampant, you must exercise extra caution not to follow such teachings of the Nicolaitans.
If you pray without fervor, offer services as you think are acceptable, interpret the word and obey it as you think appropriate, and say, “This is enough. I don’t need to do that.” Then it’s no different from following the teaching of the Nicolaitans.
Dear brothers and sisters.
The teaching of Balaam and the teaching of Nicolaitans are both living Christian lives as each person sees fit, but there are also differences in each of the teachings as well.
The teaching of Balaam is serving God with two hearts.
It is to love money and material things. It is compromising for the authority and honor of the world while [professing] to love and serve God.
It is to change the heart that was set on God in the beginning, but then to long for the world.
It is fortunate if they can repent and turn back even at this point. But if it goes deeper, they will be captivated by Satan, and they will think that they can be saved even after committing sin.
Eventually they will commit various sins by the enticement of the devil.
I’m not saying that committing sin is always an act of Nicolaitans or following the teaching of cult.
In the early stages of faith, they commit sin even though they know it’s sin, but they later come to repent and turn back. Going through this process, they cast off sins one by one.
But the act of Nicolaitans is very different from this.
While committing sins, they teach others that the commission of the sin has nothing to do with salvation so that they tempt others to go to the way of death together.
2 Peter 2:1 says, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.”
The standard to discern whether it is a cult or not is whether or not it denies Jesus Christ who came as Messiah.
In other words, if it denies God the Trinity, and the fact that Jesus came into flesh to this earth to save us, and that He became the Messiah by being crucified on the cross for us, then it is a cult.
The teaching of Nicolaitans questions the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on the cross on our behalf.
Jesus was nailed through His feet and hands in order to redeem us from our sins that we committed by deeds. But they say we will be saved even if we continue to sin. That is to deny the Lord who bought us with the price of His blood.
Just as Galatians 5:13 says, “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another,” you are set free from sin and acquired freedom because of Jesus Christ, and you must not exchange that freedom for the opportunities of the flesh.
I urge you to discern well by God’s word, which is always the truth, so that you will not be tempted by any cultic teaching or any word of untruth.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ.
The Lord says to those who follow the teaching of Balaam and the teaching of Nicolaitans in the verse 16, “Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth.”
And the Bible clearly explains how Balaam died.
Joshua 13:22 says, “The sons of Israel also killed Balaam the son of Beor, the diviner, with the sword among the rest of their slain.” The Israelites killed Balaam who led them into the way of unrighteousness.
Likewise, if those who follow the teachings of Balaam and the Nicolaitans don’t repent and turn back, even though they are rebuked and warned, trials and punishments will surely come on them in justice.
The Lord mentions ‘the sword of My mouth,’ and it means the Word of God.
Therefore ‘I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth’ means that the Lord will stick them with the Word of God as if it were a sword so that they can turn back.
If still they don’t turn back, the God of justice cannot protect them any more, and they will be accused by Satan.
Then they will face trials and persecutions, and suffer from diseases and accidents.
If still they don’t turn back, they will eventually go the way of death.
These people are the people who can’t listen even though they have ears; they are spiritually deaf.
Just as Proverbs 22:17 says, “Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, And apply your mind to my knowledge,” if you are true children of God, you must be able to turn your ears to the word of God which is the truth.
Even if the word appears to be a rod to you, you must pay more attention to it, find your true self, and change. Then the word will be a good medicine to you and be a very deep benefit to remove sin.
But those who are arrogant and full of evil in the heart will not listen to the word of God which is reproof and rebuke. Their ears will rather want to hear evil things.
Jeremiah 7:24 says, “Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and in the stubbornness of their evil heart, and went backward and not forward.”
Proverbs also says in 17:4, “An evildoer listens to wicked lips; A liar pays attention to a destructive tongue.”
Even 2 Timothy 4:3-4 says about the last days, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”
(Here, ‘wanting to have their ears tickled’ means that they are so eager to hear the word of untruth and the word that benefits them that they listen to it intently.
But I hope that you will realize the end of all things is at hand; be of sound judgment and sober for the purpose of prayer, and pay attention only to the truth.
Only the word of God can be a lamp to your feet and a light to your path. It can lead you to the path of life.
Now, the Lord says to those who have spiritual ears to listen to such a word of God.
He says in the verse 17, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.”
Here, ‘him who overcomes’ is the one who used to follow the teachings of Balaam and Nicolaitans, but completely repented and turned back from it.
The Lord says He will give some of the hidden manna to him. The hidden manna refers to our Lord, Jesus Christ.
John 6:49-51 says, “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”
The manna that was given to the Israelites in the wilderness was for them to maintain their fleshly lives, but even though they ate it they eventually died.
But, the spiritual manna is the flesh of the Lord, who is the Word that became flesh. In other words, it is the Word of God, whoever eats it will gain eternal life.
John 6:54 says, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
It follows that anyone who eats of this flesh of the Lord, which is spiritual manna given to them, is able to gain eternal life by it; one should realize that this means salvation can be achieved through Jesus Christ.
Even for those who lived a Christian life as they thought fit and those who followed the teaching of cults, the promise of eternal life can only be given if they repent and turn back.
Then why did the Lord say that this manna was hidden?
1 Corinthians 2:7-8 says, “But we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
The fact that Jesus came to this earth in flesh and died on the cross so that He would redeem human beings from their sins was God’s providence that was planned before the ages, but the secret could not be revealed to anyone until the time came, so it had to be concealed.
That’s why Jesus Christ is called “manna”; a hidden manna.
Now, the Lord says He will give a white stone. What is this white stone?
Just as 1 Corinthians 10:4 says, “And all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ,” the rock refers to our Lord Jesus Christ.
And the color ‘white’ means there is no sin and evil.
So the white stone here indicates the unblemished and spotless Jesus Christ who doesn’t have any sin that belongs to darkness..
‘Giving the white stone’ means that our faith grows and we stand on the rock of faith by eating the manna, the spiritual food and by acting upon the word.
It is just like what the Lord says in Matthew 7:24-27, which reads, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell and great was its fall.”
Now our Lord says that there is a new name written on the white stone.
He says in the verse 17, “And a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.”
Then what is the new name written on the stone?
Just as Acts 4:11-12 says, “He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved,” the name is Jesus Christ.
And only those who listen to the word of truth, put it into action, and stand on it by faith can recognize this name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
But, don’t the people out there in the world also know Jesus Christ? NO, THEY DON’T!
They just know the fleshly meaning. They just know Jesus Christ as one of the 4 Saints.
They don’t know the fact that Jesus Christ is our savior.
So they cannot say that they “know” Jesus Christ.
But what I’m sorry about is this; even among believers there are people who don’t know the name of the Lord.
Even though they go to church, even though they confess they believe the Lord, it doesn’t mean that they know the Lord.
In order to receive hidden manna and the white stone, they must be the one who overcomes.
And to overcome is to live in the truth, by resisting the sins of darkness, and to march on with unchanging faith.
Only those who overcome can receive the manna and the white stone on which the Lord’s name is written so that they can understand who Jesus Christ is, believe it, put hope in heaven, and live in joy and thanksgiving.
Mere knowledge without actions cannot make them to grow in faith. They cannot truly believe in who Jesus Christ is. They cannot put that name in their hearts.
Therefore, you must receive the manna that the Lord gives you with longing heart, diligently eat it, and make bread out of it in your heart.
So, the name of the Lord must be perfectly put into your heart, and you must know the Lord correctly.
In the next lecture, we will look into a deeper spiritual meaning of the word that the Lord gave to the church in Pergamum.
Dear brothers and sisters.
There are words that people, those people who don’t live by the word of God, interpret as they please; they are in the saying, ‘the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’
Then, is it really true that the action doesn’t follow even if the heart wants it?
It is just an excuse.
You just want it in our mind, but you don’t want to do it from the depth of your heart.
If something is decided from the depth of the heart, there is action that will surely follow.
Just as Romans 10;10 says, “for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation,” there must be faith in the heart and the action to confess with mouth at the same time.
Faith without deeds is dead. With such a “dead faith”, there is no salvation.
James 2:14 says, “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?”
The one who received the manna from the Lord, and the name of Jesus Christ, who was the secret hidden before ages, that was written on the white stone, knows the name and believes it in the heart so that the deeds to live by the word will follow.
To such people, the Lord says, “I know you,” and gives the word of promise just as John 10:28 says, “And I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.”
Like this, may all of you truly know Jesus Christ, and become the lovely sheep of the Lord to hear and follow only His voice, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I pray!