When the church goes the way of the world and accepts worldly things, practices, and situations as normal, we need to be like Antipas, the faithful witnesses for the Lord with the spirit of a martyr, standing against anything the world has to offer and bring into the church, so that we may keep the Lord’s name and His faith (Rev. 2:13).
The Lord spoke a very direct word to the church in Pergamos, which is the church in union with the world; He revealed Himself as the One who has a two-edged sword, and if they don’t repent and return, He will make war with them with the word of His mouth.
The word “Pergamos” in Greek means married (implying union) and fortified tower; the church in Pergamos was a sign prefiguring the church that entered into a marriage union with the world and became a high and fortified tower.
We see this prophesied by the Lord in Matt. 13 where He spoke in parables concerning the appearance of the kingdom of the heavens (not the manifestation or reality of the kingdom but its appearance), likening it to the mustard seed that grows to be a great tree (instead of being a small plant) and the woman who hides leaven in the bread to make it grow.
Christianity today is a big thing, a great and monstrous tree with many great works for God, great talented people who “serve God” by their ability, and a lot of evil and wicked things and people.
Even among us in the church life in the Lord’s recovery there may be some mixture with the world with its worldly ways, things, and thoughts; we need the Lord’s instant and present word to shine on us, expose any worldliness, and purify our heart so that we may love Him and live a life in union with Him.
Instead of living in union with the world – who today may not persecute us but rather welcome us, we should dwell in our spirit and in Christ, the One in whom Satan has no ground, no hope, no possibility in anything.
May we remain in the pure truth of God’s word, love the Lord with the best love, and be a chaste bride for Him, being one with Him and treasuring our organic union with Him in everything we say and do.
May we allow the water in the word spoken by the Lord to wash us and cleanse us, removing any impurities from us that we may be a chaste bride for Him.
Being God’s Pure Expression and Guarding Ourselves from Idols and Worldly Things
Today Satan may not persecute the church outwardly, trying to put the believers into prison or to death, but his strategy is to ensnare and enslave the believers with the things and activities in the world.
Worldly things are related to idol worship, for worldliness is always associated with idolatry; we may not have physical outward idols that we worship but we may have things or people that we love more than the Lord and who replace the Lord in our life.
Like the people of Israel, we may set up idols in our heart, and some things or people may take more of our time and love than the Lord (Ezek. 14:3). An idol in our heart is anything within us that we love more than we love the Lord, and that replaces the Lord in our life; we need to guard ourselves from idols (1 John 5:21).
It is easy to point out the idols in the degraded Christianity today, but what about us: is our work for the Lord an idol, something that replaces the Lord? What do we do the first thing in the morning, besides or before contacting the Lord? Do we spend more time on our phone, tablet, or computer than we spend to touch the Lord?
We need to pray concerning this, because worldly things are related to idol worship, and we need to be purified in our heart!
The Lord clearly said in Matt. 6:24 that we cannot serve both God and mammon – we either love the one and hate the other, or we hold on to the one and despise the other. Mammon stands in direct opposition to God, and money are what makes the world go around; we may not commit great sins such as murder or fornication, but the love of money is in us all.
Coveting money is connected with union with the world; if we love money and “want to make more money”, we actually love the world – no matter what “good reason” we have to make more money. For example, Balaam tried to serve both God and mammon, but he ended up loving money more.
We need to realize that we depend on the Lord for our living, He is the source of our sustenance, and He meets all our needs. We may work full-time, part-time, or we may serve the Lord with our full-time, but whenever we start thinking more about money and how to get more money, we worship mammon and the love of God is not in us (1 John 2:15).
As the church we need to be a golden lampstand, the pure expression of the Triune God, and we must have no connections with the world; we must reject the world’s enticing and ensnaring, and we must choose to spend time with the Lord in His living word to be purified and further attached to Him, faithful to Him.
Lord Jesus, we come to You in Your word: purify our heart and remove any idol from our being. Save us from loving anything or anyone more than You. May nothing replace You in our life. We give You the preeminence, and we return to You again and again. Lord, expose the enemy’s strategy to draw us away from You to love the world and the things of the world. Save us from the love of money. Keep us pure in heart, loving You supremely, intimately attached to You, so that we may be Your pure expression and testimony on earth!
Being the Lord’s Faithful Witnesses, His Martyrs, bearing the Lord’s Living Testimony
Even though the church in Pergamos was in such a union with the world, the Lord raised up an overcomer there: Antipas, His witness, His faithful one, who was killed among them, where Satan dwelled (Rev. 2:13).
Church history doesn’t have any record of someone called Antipas, but his name means “against all”.
This faithful witness of the Lord stood against all that the worldly church brought in and practiced. Hence, he became a martyr of the Lord. In Greek the word martyr is the same word as witness. As an anti-witness, Antipas bore an anti-testimony, a testimony against anything that deviated from the testimony of Jesus. It must have been through this anti-testimony that in his day the church in Pergamos still held fast the Lord’s name and did not deny the proper Christian faith. Antipas took the lead to fight against the worldly church, pioneering the way for us to fight against the worldly church today. Whatever the worldly church was, had, and did, Antipas fought against it. (Witness Lee, Life-Study of Revelation, p. 143)
We need to be the Lord’s faithful witnesses today, His martyrs, those who bear the Lord’s testimony and stand against the tide of the world coming into the church. We need to stand against the flood of worldliness coming into the church today.
Antipas was a faithful witness standing against all that the worldly church brought in and practiced, and therefore he became a martyr for the Lord. In order for us to stand against the tide we need to have the spirit of martyrdom.
The Lord’s witnesses are martyrs, those who bear a living testimony of the resurrected and ascended Christ in life (Acts 1:8). Our testimony is that we are the living out of this resurrected Christ, and this is an anti-testimony against anything brought in the church by the world.
We may not be martyred physically, but if we bear the Lord’s testimony and are His faithful witnesses, we will be martyred psychologically or spiritually (see 2 Tim. 4:6; Rev. 12:11; Matt. 10:36; cf. 1 Cor. 16:12).
Because of Antipas, the Lord’s faithful witness who stood against the tide of worldliness coming into the church, the church in Pergamos held fast the Lord’s name and did not deny His faith.
As the church becomes worldly, there’s the tendency to give up the reality of the Lord’s person and take doctrines, practices, and other “scriptural things” as their reality; in the Lord’s recovery we must fight against worldliness and we must hold fast the Lord’s name, the reality of His person, for eternity.
We need to hold the Lord’s faith, the objective faith in which we believe and which makes us one, so that we may be recovered back to the Lord’s original intention and be the pure church He requires.
May the Lord make us His faithful witnesses, the ones with the spirit of a martyr, who stand against the tide of worldliness and hold fast the Lord’s name and do not deny the proper Christian faith.
Today the Lord wants to spread His kingdom unto the uttermost part of the earth through His faithful witnesses, His martyrs, those who bear His living testimony.
May we be such ones who are not afraid to stand for the Lord and against the tide of worldliness, having the spirit of a martyr, to bear the Lord’s living testimony on earth as the church, the golden lampstand!
Lord Jesus, make us Your faithful witnesses, those who stand against the tide of worldliness in the church to bear Your living testimony as the church, the golden lampstand. Grant us to have the spirit of a martyr, being Your faithful witness to the end. We aspire to be those who are faithful to You, those who bear a living testimony of the resurrected and ascended Christ in life. Lord Jesus, strengthen us to hold fast Your name and not deny the proper Christian faith!
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, pp. 143-144 (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:
# From Pergamos we clearly see / The world has wed Christianity! / And faithful Antipas did fall— / He dared to stand against it all. (Hymns #1274)
# I saw great throngs—each was a brother dear, / Linked with each other in one Body here; / Each in close union with the living Head, / The witness-folk, by Jesus’ Spirit led. (Hymns #826)
# Will you be an overcomer? / On His life depend! / Dare to suffer persecution, / Faithful to the end. / Will you be an overcomer? / Testimony bear! / Keep away from false religion, / ”Hidden manna” share. (Hymns #894)
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