“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.
Many people say that they know God, and that they believe in God.
But even if they say they know God and believe in God, not all of them can be saved.
John 3:36 says, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
Likewise, only when they believe in Jesus, the Son of God as their Savior, can they be promised eternal life.
But again, even if they confess that they believe in Jesus, not all of them can be saved.
Their belief should be true belief.
In order to show their belief is the true belief, they must obey the Son, just as the Lord says.
He says, ‘. . .he who does not obey the Son will not see life.’ Obeying the Son means living by the Word that Jesus teaches.
Therefore, if they confess that they believe in Jesus with their lips, but don’t obey His word, their belief is not true, and they cannot have eternal life.
The Lord says in tonight’s scripture, “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.”
The expression “Him who overcomes” refers to the one who defeats the evil of the world and achieves victory by obeying what the Lord says.
Only when a person overcomes like this can he receive the promise of salvation through Jesus Christ.
And it is only the person who knows the name, the name of Jesus Christ.
If he is only able to say from his side alone, “I know the Lord. I believe in Him,” he is not the one who truly knows the Lord.
Rather, the important thing is that he should hear the Lord say “I know you, too.”
John 10:25-27 clearly shows to whom the Lord says “I know you.”
He says, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me. But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”
Only when a person becomes one who believes in Jesus, hears His voice, and follows Him, will Jesus say to him, “I know you.”
1 John 1:6-7 says, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 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.”
The one who walks in the light, who acts in the truth, and has the fellowship with God he is the one.
A man such as this is the one who truly knows God and the Lord, and he can be cleansed from all his sin through Jesus Christ.
Dear brothers and sisters.
Jesus talked only about the truth and goodness, and He manifested many miracles and wonders in the name of Father God. But in His days, there were people who didn’t believe.
Our Jesus said to them, “You do not believe because you are not of My sheep.”
If they are true sheep of the Lord, they will believe in the Lord by His word and His deeds. If they believe in Him, they will hear His voice and follow Him.
Such sheep are the sheep of the Lord, and the Lord says, “You are my sheep. I know you.”
May all of you know the Lord, and may the Lord say that He knows you, so that you can become His loving sheep having true fellowship with Him, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I pray!
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ.
In the word that the Lord gave to the church in Pergamum, besides just the general meaning that we have examined so far, there is also a special meaning.
The words given to the seven churches can be applied to any church in any time, but there is something that is specifically for those who live in the last days of the world.
The word given to the church in Ephesus was actually to the churches of today that grew up to a certain point with the fervor and passion of their first love, but then they stopped growing and lost the deeds they first had. They even became arrogant enough to think that they have done enough, and now they try to protect and enjoy what they have achieved instead of following the will of God.
And the word given to the church in Smyrna was to the churches of today that suffer various forms of tribulation and suffer the persecution of those who called themselves Jews since they proclaim the gospel of the Lord and manifest the power of God.
The Lord wants them to hold on to His promise of hope, “Be faithful, and I’ll give you the crown of life,” even though they are put in such a situation.
Also in tonight’s scripture, the word that the Lord gave to the church in Pergamum has something that is applicable to a certain situation.
That is to give the word to some churches of today that are tainted with cultic ideology.
Outwardly they set forth the name of God, but inwardly they don’t have the name of Jesus Christ, or even worse they deny the name of Jesus Christ or shrewdly manipulate and change the word of God and the word of the Lord.
They tempt not only themselves but also cause others to be deluded and tainted by heretical teaching that is heretical ideology.
But among those who go to church and say that they believe in the Lord, there are some who don’t discern the truth well, they become infected by such heretical teachings.
To the people like this, the Lord calls Himself the One who has the sharp two-edged sword. It is to penetrate their wrong teaching with the sharp two-edged sword so that there can be some of them who repent and come to salvation.
Even if they make excuses saying, “I didn’t know. I thought that was right,” on the Final Judgment Day, when the word of God that is so precise without error enlightens their words and deeds, they will clearly see how far they were from the truth.
Dear brothers and sisters.
Just as the Lord says, “I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is,” the cult is the work of Satan.
They outwardly insist on the word of God, and have the form of the church, but they craftily deteriorate the core of God’s word.
Then, what is the exact Biblical standard for us to recognize and discern heretical teaching?
You should discern it not by the standard of men but by the word of God.
However, among those who profess they believe in the Lord, there are people who assert that others are wrong or heretical if they are not in accordance with their teaching or theory that they set as a standard.
So then what is the Bible say about the standard for of heresy?
It can be found in 2 Peter 2:1-3.
It 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. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”
The clearest standard to discern the cult is that they deny the Lord who bought them.
The one who can save us from the eternal punishment of death is only Jesus Christ.
Since Jesus cleansed us from our sin and led us to salvation, all the saved children of God are those the Lord bought with His blood.
The cultic teaching that denies the Lord who bought us with His blood is heretical.
Therefore, before Jesus accomplished His work by being crucified on the cross and resurrected, there was no need for the use of the word ‘cult.’
Jesus means ‘He will save His people from their sins,’ and Christ means ‘the One who is anointed.’ Only after Jesus was crucified on the cross and resurrected did He accomplished His work and became our Savior. Therefore denying the Lord started after this.
The people who denied Jesus Christ and hence the idea of heretical teaching appeared only after Jesus accomplished the word as Christ by His resurrection.
This is the reason why there is nothing about heresy in the Old Testament and the 4 Gospels of the New Testament.
The Jews called Apostle Paul a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. But they used the word ‘sect’ not because they denied the Lord who bought them, but because Christianity was not what they believed from the perspective of Judaism.
A dictionary defines that a sect (or cult) as a religious group with ideology and practices that are at variance or different. According to this definition, groups with religious thought that varies from what that group believes would all be ‘sects’ and ‘cults’. From the view point of Christianity, Buddhism , Hinduism, and Islam are all cults, but from the view point of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam become the cults.
But the definition of the cult that we are talking about now concerns the cult defined within the boundary of Christianity. Ifpeople want to say that someone is a cultist within the boundary of Christianity, they must examine by the standard of the Bible whether or not someone is denying the Lord who bought him.
However, the closer we come to the end days, the more the numbers of the teachings of the cult will increase.
They set themselves up as if they were the savior and they teach people that they can reach salvation through them. They reveal, teach, tempt and delude others into thinking that people are able to reach salvation, not by the name of Jesus Christ, but by some other name.
But as time passes by, they reveal their true identity.
They follow immorality and hinder the teaching of the truth. Out of their greed, they try to take advantage of their followers by acquiring fortunes from them.
Additionally, they practice many lawless things against the word of God.
However, here is one thing that you must remember; even if they do many lawless things, you should not judge them as being cults and cultists.
Of course it’s necessary to rebuke and admonish them so that they can repent, turn back from the lawlessness, and come back to the truth.
But even if they practice lawlessness against the truth, as long as they don’t deny Jesus Christ, the Lord who bought us by His blood, then you must never judge them as heretics or a heretical group.
In Acts 5:35-39, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by the people said to those who judged and condemned Christianity.
He said, “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.”
Therefore, you should remember that it is Only God who can judge.
Dear brothers and sisters.
Let’s look into 2 Peter 2:1 again. It 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.”It says that it is false prophets and false teachers who secretly introduce destructive heresies.
Here, ‘false’ is not something to deceive others; it is to deny Jesus Christ who is the truth.
1 John 2:22 says, “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.” It says that those who deny that Jesus is the Christ are the liars, and those who deny the Father and the Son are the antichrists.
False prophets and false teachers are also the cults that deny Jesus Christ who bought them.
1 John 4:1-3 says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist.”
Those who receive the spirit of God are those who accept Jesus Christ who came in flesh; they are those who believe in God the Trinity; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
When they receive the spirit of God and accept Jesus Christ, they are sealed as children of God, and by the help of the Holy Spirit, they come to know the truth and live by the truth.
On the other hand, the antichrists are those who stand against Jesus Christ with the word of God; they deny the salvation through Jesus Christ.
The fact that they don’t accept Jesus Christ is nothing more than being in opposition to God who sent Jesus Christ to this earth.
You must be able to discern what the cult is, who the false prophet is, who the false teacher is, and who the antichrist is, based upon the Bible. You must not be tempted by the teaching of the cult, and at the same time you must be able to teach those who follow the teaching of a cult using the sharp two-edged sword that is the word of God.
But it doesn’t mean that you have to argue with them.
Just as Titus 3:10 says, “Reject a factious man after a first and second warning,” instead of quarreling with them, all you have to do is giving them warnings once or twice with the word of truth.
If they listen, realize, and turn back, then it’s good. But if they don’t, then it tells you to stay away from them.
It’s not because you dislike or hate them. It’s rather because you may tainted with their teaching while debating with them if you don’t stand firm in the truth.
They craftily manipulate the truth and attack other’s weak points; you must not argue with them with a poor knowledge of the word.
The one who has the authority of the word must point the precise truth out to them with spiritual authority.
However, once tainted in the teaching of the cult, it’s not easy for them to realize it and turn back. It’s a waste of time to argue with them. That’s why God tells you to avoid and stay away from them.
But the Lord wants to give such people who have fallen into the teachings of the cult an opportunity to repent and turn back.
That’s why He talked about the lessons of Balaam and the Nicolaitans, and rebuked those who followed their teachings.
What is it that you can learn from the case of Balaam?
The first thing is a warning against nominal faith that compromises with the world. The Lord teaches us that inside such a faith, there is an attribute of the flesh that wants to cause a person to do as they please even though they know the will of God.
Also a person may say that they follow the will of God, but because of the attribute in their heart, they may go the exactly opposite to the way that is the will of God.
Furthermore, they may be instigated by Satan, tempt others to leave the truth, and then they all go the way of death together.
This itself may seem quite different from a cult. But once it’s allowed even a little bit, it will eventually shrewdly deteriorate and alter the truth, and that willlead to the cult; that’s why the Lord strictly warns against it.
And at the same time, the Lord mentions about the Nicolaitans who were the example of deteriorating the truth and tempting people.
I’ve already explained about the teaching of the Nicolaitans in this lecture on Revelation. They tempted people to believe that no matter how much they commit sin, they could still be saved.
Their teaching completely denies the blood of Jesus Christ who took our sins and died for us. It is clearly against the truth, but the people who loved the world and befriended the world were tempted into accepting this teaching.
And the number of such people will increase much more in the last days.
However, they still believe that they believe in the Lord; that’s why it’s not easy for them to realize their wrongdoings.
In order to teach them and make them realize the truth, the word of life that can penetrate spirit and soul, and divide every joint and pierce the marrow is necessary.
It must clearly show the will of God; what it is to believe in the Lord, and what it is to love the Lord.
Also it has to prove the word is true with the works of God’s power.
Only then can those who were tainted in the teaching of the cult will be able to repent, turn back, and reach salvation.
Of course, there won’t be many of them.
However, just as 1 Timothy 2:4 says, “[God] who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,” even though they were following the teaching of the cult, God wants them to repent, turn back, and reach salvation.
Father God doesn’t want them to go on their way to destruction; He wants to give them an opportunity by any means so that they can find a way to live.
Therefore, He gives them an opportunity through the fiery works of the Holy Spirit in these last days.
If there are people who listen to the word of truth and realize it, they will become the ones who overcome, and they can reach salvation.
For such a case, the Lord says, “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.”
Like this, in the word given to the church in Pergamum, there is the meaning that even to those who find it difficult to reach salvation because they had fallen into the teachings of a cult, by the grace of the Lord and the help of the Holy Spirit, an opportunity for salvation will be given so that they can receive grace to reach salvation.
From the next lecture, we will take a look into the fourth church, the church in Thyatira.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ.
I and the mission team of this church has been courageously proclaiming the gospel in Muslim countries, Hindu countries, and Catholic countries.
There were works that were manifested and countless people accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, and converted to Christianity.
And the time will come to spread the seed of gospel to Jewish people.
However, while evangelizing people, we can find it more difficult to evangelize those who say they know Christianity even though they actually don’t know, or they are tainted in the teaching of cults, than it is to evangelize those who don’t know it at all.
Wasn’t it Jews who said they knew and believed God, but didn’t recognize the Son of God, Jesus, and crucified Him on the cross?
Therefore, in order to show the truth to those who are influenced by the form of Christianity that has changed and degenerated or have been tainted and perverted by the teaching of a cult, like the church in Pergamum, it’s necessary to have such power and authority.
We must show them the proof that they can never deny, but acknowledge, and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and heaven.
If we don’t, not matter how much effort we make with time and money, we can never yield true fruit.
Therefore, how many works are out there for us to do?
In these last days, we must feel the heart of Father God who wants to save even at least one more soul, and we must spread this gospel of holiness and God’s power to the souls all over the world.
In order to participate in this blessed ministry, you must stand firm in the word of truth.
Just as Ephesians 6:13-17 says, “Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” you must spiritually arm yourself.
May many of you emerge like this in the authority of the word and the power, become spiritual warriors who accomplish the kingdom of God, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I pray!