This week we come to the Lord’s speaking to the church in Pergamos; as a sign, this church prefigures the church that entered into a marriage union with the world and became a fortified tower, having its nature changed and being full of mixture.
We today need to be guarded against the degradation that is not only outside of us in the degraded Christianity and in the world, but also the degradation inside of us. We need to look to the Lord to apply His word to our being and our situation.
To the church in Pergamos the Lord presents Himself as the One with a sharp two-edged sword, and at the end He said He will use this sword to war with those who hold the teaching of Balaam and the teaching of the Nicolaitans.
The Lord’s word is living and operative, sharper than any two-edged sword, able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart and divide the soul from the spirit (Heb. 4:12). We need to have this kind of division, separation, and sanctification through the Lord’s word today.
We need to look to the Lord in a fresh way that He may shine on us and evaluate our condition according to His word.
The main problem we see in Pergamos is mixture; historically, this mixture happened in the beginning of the third century when Constantine the great adopted Christianity as the “state religion”, with himself as the “head of the church” and his employees as the “priests”. Anyone who would join this religion would be given money and clothing.
In this way a great leavening and many tares were brought into the church, the church as the appearance of the kingdom of the heavens (spoken of by the Lord in parables in Matt. 13) became a great mixture of believers and unbelievers, a mixture of divine things and many worldly things.
The consummation of this mixture will be the Great Babylon, a woman who is a harlot with a golden cup filled with many abominations.
We need to allow the Lord as the Spirit to speak to us today to expose and remove any mixture in our being and in the church.
The only church in the New Testament that didn’t succumb to this problem is Philadelphia; the initial church in Acts 2 was good, pure, and holy, but shortly after in Acts 5 degradation came in, and later this degradation worsened. May the Lord deliver us from all mixture, even from the subtle mixture we are not even aware of!
The Church in Pergamos Prefigures the Church that Entered into a Marriage Union with the World
In Greek Pergamos means “marriage” (implying union), and “fortified tower” (Rev. 2:12). As a sign, the church in Pergamos prefigures the church that entered into a marriage union with the world and became a fortified tower.
These two meanings – marriage and fortified tower – correspond to two of the parables in Matt. 13, the parable of the great tree (vv. 31-32) and the parable of the leaven (v. 33). These parables point to some kind of mixture that affects the nature and expression of the church.
The mustard seed, for example, should produce a small herb good for food; instead, as per the Lord’s parable, it became a great tree with all kinds of birds – something evil, great, contrary to the nature of the mustard seed.
The leaven brought in by a woman and put into the dough to make it more “palatable” destroyed the nature of the bread; no leaven is allowed in the meal offering, which is the church.
Some of these mixtures are very subtle, for there can be the mixture with worldly and evil elements in the gospel work, the young people’s work, the children’s work, in songs, teaching, or writing. We need the Lord’s light to show us the mixture in our own being, life, church life, practice, and service, and we need the Lord’s solution!
The great tree in Matt. 13 is equivalent to the “high tower”, and the woman with the leaven is equivalent to the apostate church – which is married to the world. The high tower is the great tree – when we attempt to do something great, there’s a great danger; we may want bigger numbers and a higher success in our work, but this is a dangerous matter.
Babylon is great, but the lampstands are not, and the mustard seed is small, nourishing, and life-giving.
When Satan failed to destroy the church through the persecution of the Roman Empire in the first three centuries, he changed his strategy. He sought instead to corrupt her through Constantine’s welcoming her as the state religion in the first part of the fourth century. Through Constantine’s encouragement and political influence, multitudes of unbelieving ones were baptized into the “church,” and the “church” became monstrously great. Since the church is a spouse to Christ as a chaste bride, her union with the world is considered spiritual fornication in the eyes of God. (Life-study of Revelation, p. 139, by W. Lee)
In the eyes of God, degraded Christendom is an evil woman who has mixed worldly, demonic, pagan, and devilish things with the good things of Christ to produce an abominable mixture (Rev. 17:1-6). This mixture began with Pergamos, continued with Thyatira, and consummates with Babylon the great.
Instead of being small and life-giving, Christianity today is a monstrous great tree where all kinds of evil persons and things take place and make their home.
Furthermore, there are many wicked, sinful, devilish, and pagan things in the fallen Christendom today – there were so many wicked and evil things added to the pure word of God that, instead of the church being something pure and life-giving, it is now big, “palatable”, and full of wicked things. Oh Lord Jesus!
We must absolutely abandon degraded Christianity as the great tree, escape from this how tower, get out of the evil system, and be separated unto God. We need to return to God’s original intention that the church would be a pure golden lampstand, having nothing to do with worldliness, idolatry, or Satan’s saturation!
May Satan’s thoughts, which are behind the teachings of Nicolaitans and the teaching of Balaam, be removed from our being through the Lord’s living and abiding word!
Lord Jesus, we need Your light to show any mixture in our being, our life, our church life, our practice, and our service. May Your living word shine on us, divide the soul from the spirit, and remove any mixture so that we may be a pure, life-giving, and light emanating church! Amen, Lord, remove any worldly, demonic, pagan, or devilish things from our being and from the church life! May the church life be a pure meal offering and a shining lampstand, the pure and living testimony of Jesus Christ on earth!
Completely Coming out of the Degraded Christianity and Not Fearing its Persecution
The church in Smyrna was under the persecution of the Roman Empire; the more it was persecuted, the more it prevailed and increased. So Satan changed his strategy: instead of attacking the church through persecution, he now welcomed the church, brought in a mixture – which is now even more damaging to the church than his persecution.
Persecution always helps the church, but mixture always damages the church. When we are attacked and are undergoing persecution, we should not be discouraged, for it is a strong sign that we are on the right track and that we have not been distracted from following the Lord’s steps (see Heb. 6:19; 13:13).
Persecution is always good: it shows us we’re on the right track; we should welcome persecution, and we should fear the people’s welcome – welcome is a much more subtle attack from the enemy.
We need to be careful: after the enemy has persecuted us for a while, his strategy may change; instead of persecution, there might be a welcome. We shouldn’t regard the world’s welcome as a good thing; we are not seeking to have persecution, but the persecution and opposition is a good sign.
It is better to suffer persecution than to receive a warm welcome. The church in Pergamos signifies the church in union with the world to the extent that there were many evil, wicked, and pagan things in the church.
There’s a war raging on earth all the time: Satan persecutes the church – which is the Body of Christ, an entity in resurrection; when he realizes that persecution only makes the church stronger and better, Satan changes his strategy to welcoming the church and mixing his evil thoughts and things with the church to make it a corrupted and mixed entity.
Throughout the years we in the Lord’s recovery have been preserved by being persecuted; we have never received a good name because Satan will not allow us to have a good name unless we enter into union with him.
The history among us has been one of completely coming out of Christianity without compromise. It is a shame that some so-called co-workers among us have tried their best to compromise. They say that between the denominations and the local churches there is a gap, and they consider themselves as the bridge to bridge the gap. This was a suffering to Brother Nee, and today this is a suffering to me. (The History of the Church and the Local Churches, pp. 112-113, by W. Lee)
This is our history: we are always under persecution and attacks and suffering from fallen Christianity, and this is a great confirmation to the Lord’s recovery.
We need to know the history of the Lord’s recovery so that we may not repeat the failures, and we need to NOT seek to “bridge the gap” between Christianity and the church but completely come out of Christianity and never fear its persecution.
Watchman Nee took the lead and pioneered the way to get completely out of the degraded Christianity, and it cost him everything to do that. May the Lord save us from the enemy’s subtlety to “bridge the gap” between us and Christianity; we should not be afraid to have this gap – the wider the gap, the better it is, for this gap is between us and the present evil age!
Lord Jesus, strengthen us into our inner man and cause us to realize that persecution is a good sign that we are on the right track and we have not been distracted from following the Lord’s steps! Save us from trying to “bridge the gap” between the church life in the Lord’s recovery and fallen Christianity. Keep us in the truth, in fellowship, and in life, and keep us pure and single for You and for Your purpose, Your economy. Expose Satan’s strategy to us, and keep us shining for You as Your living testimony on earth!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by brother Mark R. for this week, and portions from, Life-study of Revelation, msg. 12 (by Witness Lee), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Returning to the Orthodoxy of the Church (2016 fall ITERO), msg. 4 (week 4), The Church in Pergamos.
- Hymns on this topic:
# To wed the world we all must fear: / His spoken word will save us here— / If to His speaking we give heed, / We’ll separated be indeed. (Hymns #1274)
# It’s by our mingled spirit, Lord, / That we can shine with Thee, / And be a golden lampstand now / For all the world to see. / It’s not by forms or rituals, / Mere Christianity; / It’s by our Christ enjoyed as life / We all can shine with Thee. (Hymns #1262)
# Christ has called us once to Him, / But He calls us once again. / To His call we say Amen! / Overcome! / For the church has fallen low, / Thinking everything they know, / But the life is missing; so, / Overcome! / Overcome! Overcome! / Overcome degraded Christianity! / All your working lay aside, / All the teachings that divide; / Eat the Lord whate’er betide— / Overcome! (Hymns #1273)
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