Tony Evans — A Challenge to Greater Convictions
A lot of Christians who love the Lord on Sunday and compromise on Monday, who love Jesus in the praise service, but love the world in their weekly activity, who, if they were accused of being a Christian on their job, there would not be enough evidence to convict them.
Welcome, we are so glad to have you with us today, and I am delighted to be with you as we continue our series on "The Jesus Challenge." 'Cause today, he's gonna challenge you about your convictions.
Because, you know, we live in a mamby-pamby kinda age where people are either not convicted about anything or they're convicted about the wrong things. And Jesus wants you to have the right kind of conviction, and he's gonna challenge you to that today, and he's gonna use his Word to do it through my voice.
And so, I want you to join me as we listen to what he has to say that he begs his people to hear about their convictions. Let's go, and we'll see what the Lord has to say to us today.
Let me tell you a little bit about Pergamum. Pergamum was a city some miles north of Ephesus, and then Smyrna, the two churches we've already seen, a very wealthy city, but a city controlled by the devil. We'll talk about that in a moment. A very progressive city, a very noted city, but it was a city run by hell.
Jesus starts and he speaks: "The First and the Last," which he said about himself in Smyrna, now says in verse 12: "'The one who has the sharp two-edged sword says this.'" So Jesus Christ is talking, but he describes himself as the possessor of the two-edged sword. This is not the first time we've seen that phrase.
Chapter 1, verse 16 of Revelation: "In his right hand he held the seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword."
In chapter 19 of Revelation, verse 15: "From his mouth came a sharp sword."
Verse 21: "And the rest were killed with the sword which came from his mouth."
It says, "Out of the Lord Jesus Christ's mouth comes a very sharp two-edged sword." So, when you read about Jesus having the sword, he is speaking about the authority.
Matthew 28, verses 19 and 20, Jesus says: "All authority belongs to me in heaven and on earth." Translation, "I'm in charge now."
So, Jesus Christ sits as the risen Lord ascended on the right hand of the Father, speaking to his people, the church, at Pergamum, and he says, "I'm in charge here, and I have a sword." Where is the sword? "It's coming out of my mouth."
Hebrews 4:12 says that: "The Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword." It is piercing and penetrating in its ability and power to effect change for good or for judgment. We have lost faith in the power of the Word. He says, "The sword from my mouth is sharp. And if you're uncut, it can't be coming from my mouth."
You follow the logic? If you are unaffected, unchanged--because the way you know you're affected is you're changing. So if there's no change, you've not been affected, no matter how much you enjoyed the Word you heard. 'Cause if you cut, you bleed.
He says to the church at Pergamum, "The sword that comes out of my mouth, my Word, is sharp, it cuts. It has authority."
Having said that, he now commends them in verse 14: "'I know where you dwell.'" "I know where you live. I know where you have church. I know the community you're in."
He says that to Pergamum Bible Fellowship. "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." Pergamum was the Washington, D.C. of Satanism.
He says, "Where the throne of Satan is." "The throne of Satan," he says, "is in Pergamum." So the devil's headquarters was in Pergamum. In Pergamum was Pergamum Bible Fellowship. It was the church there. And it was sittin' right in the midst of hell 'cause Satan was owning the location.
When they walked through those doors of wherever they met, they were walkin' into hell's territory 'cause Satan was runnin' the show. And he compliments them and he says, "But you have kept my name, and you kept it so much, it cost one of your members," or it could've even been the pastor of the church.
It doesn't say who it was, but, "One of your members was killed because he would not compromise my name." He compliments them that, in hell, they still held on to their Christian faith. You can appreciate that today if you're a Christian living in Syria or Aleppo, where to walk out and to declare the name of Jesus Christ is to put your life on the line. 'Cause they're livin' in the midst of hell.
We have not yet reached that point in America, but I can assure you, that's the direction we are heading, that you are now living in a world and a society that now is antagonistic to the claims of Christ, where it's not some easy thing anymore in increasingly large places to be identified with the second member of the Trinity, the Lord Jesus Christ.
But he wants you to know, before he gets any deeper into this, "I got the sword in my mouth, and it's sharp." The temptation will be, to all of us, at varying levels, to dumb down a commitment to Christ because of the influence of Satan or his surrogates.
And so, he writes this church, telling them, "I recognize what you're going through and that you are seeking to be Christian in a realm of Caesar worship, of Zeus worship," because they had temples to all these false gods as well as the government, Caesar, Caesar worship.