What Does That Mean for the Christian? (Revelation 2:12-17)

What Does Our Life Look Like When We Are Living For Christ?

Matt Stokes
Dec 6, 2020    47m
By exploring what your life will look like when you are faithfully living for Christ, you can watch for and avoid the pitfalls of making choices and decisions that will lead you far from Jesus and what he calls us to. Video recorded at Ocean City, New Jersey.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Matt Stokes: 00:02 As the Book of Genesis begins with the origins of the world, Revelation is a Book of the consummation of the world, the divine program of redemption is brought to fruition, Christ is shown as victor before all creation. In the Greek text, the title of this book is Apocalipsis, where we get our word apocalypse, which at its essential meaning actually means the unveiling, the disclosure, or revelation. So the book is a revealing of that which could not be known. And this book is a Book of prophecy, not unlike Daniel or Ezekiel, it is filled with visions, symbols, and imagery that simply need to be understood and put in their proper context. Written by the Apostle John on the Island of Patmos, there is a unifying theme. That's why we need to be careful not to call it Revelations, there is a single, critical, central, unifying theme upon which this book centers, and that is the unveiling, revealing of the victory of Christ. These are not the revelations of John, this is the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Matt Stokes: 01:16 So we want to welcome you back to the study of the Book of Revelation, and as you begin, I want to give an illustration that I think will make a proper correlation to the rest of the message. I don't often give illustrations like this from my personal testimony, if you notice in 17 years, I've really never given my testimony. I've never had like a testimony night, because so, and maybe this is something I've got to work on, but like I'm so ashamed of my testimony because there's so much failure involved. I never really tell it, it's not one of those Apostle Paul knocked off the horse, blinding light, total conversion stories. It's just a story of mountains and valleys, and stories of a child trying to become a man and put away childish things. But in the midst of one of those mountains, as I was heading to out of the valley, I had this experience where before I came on staff at my previous church, by the way, the previous church at which I worked had a no drinking policy, like absolutely not a drop. So for 16 years, I did not have one drop of alcohol because I made a commitment to that.

Matt Stokes: 02:25 But before that time that I was hired to work there I was in Philadelphia, and if most of you know, the area of Fox Chase, which is where I lived, there's Joseph's pizza. Which is like the local pizza restaurant, and, you know, place to hang out. And I always would get the same thing, I would get a pizza, a Caesar salad, which is so good there, and a mug of beer. And usually by the end of that meal, it ended up with two beers, which wasn't too big of a deal for me because I knew my limit and that was my limit. Right, I knew my weight, I knew what it was to drink two beers, and that was my limit. Well I was with a friend of mine on this particular day, and let's just say, his name is Craig. And I actually knew Craig from church, which is kind of ironic. And after we were finishing up the meal, the waitress comes by and she's like do you want another beer? And he looks at me and I looked at him, and there's that thing that happens in your heart. And I'm wondering if anybody else knows about this thing in your heart, that goes, well, do I want another or should I have another? Because there are two different things. Right? And so I said, yeah, no, I'm good. And he, and my friend Craig said, what, you're good? No, let's have another. I'm like, no, really I'm good, I I know my limit. Like I wasn't strong enough to tell him that this was a spiritual thing, I just said, I know my limit. So then he says to me, well, I thought we were friends. Yeah, so now we're going, now we just went to a new level, right? Like now, it's almost manipulative, like he's feeling guilty because he's getting another mug, but I'm not, and now there's that awkward moment. Have you ever been that awkward moment where you're actually finishing your meal, and now you've got more beer than you do food?

Matt Stokes: 04:19 And it's sort of like, hey I don't know who I'm talking to in this room, I'm just going to say this. When that moment comes, you're going somewhere, and you know, you're going somewhere in your head and in your heart. And you've got to make the decision, if you're going to move into compromise, and allow this deception of justifying yourself to get you to that place where you want to be wherever that is. So needless to say, the conversation got pretty hot and heated between us, and to the point where I had to like square off with this guy and say, Craig, I got to be just totally open with you and tell you that the reason I'm having this dinner with you tonight is to lead you back to Jesus Christ. And I can't say that that happened in that moment, but the reason that I just start with that illustration is to tell you that there's a limit, and there's this struggle that I believe we all have in different areas of life, where we allow deception to lead us into compromise. And I believe that's the situation that you're dealing with this church called Pergamum today, and I hope that you find it helpful as I try to unfold this small passage to you.

Matt Stokes: 05:30 So come with me in Revelation chapter 2, I want to welcome all of you who are watching online right now, and really appreciate the online presence and open up your app, hopefully you're all bringing your Bible and you'll take some notes on some of these things. Revelation chapter two, I'm going to pick up in verse 12, and it says this, God bless the reading of your word, “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Pergamum. This is the message from the one with the sharp two-edged sword." Let me give you a little bit of background on Pergamum, Pergamum was a jewel of a city, it was rich, it was affluent, the people there were decadent, and there's a few reasons why.

Matt Stokes: 06:19 One thing that you might find interesting is, it had the second largest library in the world. The largest library was actually in Egypt, the capital Alexandria, of Egypt. And this was the second largest, was in Pergamum. And what happened was, is it was getting so large that Egypt actually stopped sending papyrus over to Pergamum because they didn't want their library to be bigger than the Egyptian library. So Pergamum actually had to come up with a new way of writing, so they developed something called vellum, which actually is like animal skins. And they would write on the animal skins, and so that's how they began this new type of writing that they were trying to develop at the time. And [foreign language], [foreign language] means before, [foreign language} that means to write, right, writing grammar, so it means for writing. So they took this vellum and they actually turned it into parchments, sort of where we get the word Pergamos from, and they were known for their parchments, and it's just kind of remarkable.

Matt Stokes: 07:27 But the real reason that people were finding themselves in a place of affluence, and success, and decadence, is because there was so much temple worship. Beautiful temples, built to enormous, popular gods of Greek and Roman mythology. I mean, Dionysus was one. Zeus, they called him Sotiris Zeus, the saviors Zeus. Aphrodite, who was the goddess of love, but let's be honest, that's actually the goddess of fornication and adultery. That's where we get the word, Aphrodite's actually where we get the word, aphrodisiac from. Did you even know that interesting piece of information, right? But the greatest, most intense worship, what was called imperial cult worship, they actually worshiped the Caesar. So the Caesar of the Roman empire was worshiped, and there were great temples that were built to Cesar as well. And because Rome took care of its people, and Pergamum was so good to Rome in the way they held them in such high regard, Rome gave to Pergamum a gift. Something called [foreign language] it's where we get the word gladiator from, it literally means the right of the sword. Only the Roman empire had the right to execute people by the sword, and yet they gave that right to the city called Pergamum, because they both held each other in such high regard, isn't that remarkable? So they called themselves of course Pergamum, but they also had [foreign language] they had the right of the sword.

Matt Stokes: 09:03 Why is that interesting? It's interesting because Jesus then writes to them and he says, “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Pergamum. This is the message from the one with the sharp two-edged sword." See, when you do the research and you study the history, there's a meaning behind why he used that expression when he's writing to them. In other words, I'm the one who has the authority, I am the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, I am also the Warrior of Warriors, I am Jesus Christ, and I carry the two-edged-word. And what's interesting about the two-edged-sword, this sword right here has two edges. Usually they're thinner than a single edged sword, because you can't get the thickness of the blade, you have to thin it out on both sides. But what's fascinating about the two-edged-sword, is that it can cut in two directions, right? You don't have to flip it, switch it, you can cut in two directions. And I believe that's what every one of us has to do, we've got to make a decision. A decision is a di meaning two, cision, just like before I've explained this, an incision is a cut that goes in. A di-cision is when you make a di-cision, it's when you have an incision that cuts in two different directions. You cut off every other option, and opportunity, other than the one that you have chosen. That's when you make a decision, and I believe that Jesus coming with a two-edged sword is a very powerful metaphor, because every one of us is called to make a decision. We're called to make a decision between sin and righteousness, between light and darkness, between truth and error, between light and death. And here comes the one that writes to Pergamum and he says, I am the one. Tell them I'm the one with the true [foreign language], I'm the one who comes with the two edged sword.

Matt Stokes: 10:58 And I believe every one of us has to make a decision, even right now, today, being perfectly clear, and perfectly open with you. We need to make a decision between drunkenness, immorality, idolatry, or Jesus Christ, discipleship, the truth of the gospel, and the love of God. Where will you stand at the end of this message, as God presses the truth of this into your heart? Where will you stand as a disciple? Because that's the point of Jesus writing to this church, is that they were living in a deception just as I was telling you about myself living in a deception, and that deception eventually led to compromise. And I'm wondering how many of us allow ourselves to be deceived, and in that deception, we find ourselves being led into compromise as well.

Matt Stokes: 11:50 Watch and see. Next, he says, in verse 13, “I know that you live in the city where Satan has his throne, yet you have remained loyal to me. You refused to deny me even when Antipas, my faithful witness, was martyred among you there in Satan’s city." Powerful verse. One thing I want you to notice, and if you have a pen, maybe you want to draw a line from verse 13, back up to verse 9. Every time Jesus writes to the churches, he says, I know, he lets them know that he knows something about them. When he writes the church of Ephesus, he says, I know your works. When he writes to the church of Smyrna, he says, I know your suffering. Now, when he writes to Pergamum, he says, I know that you live in a city where Satan has his throne. I know where you're at, I know where you live, I know what you're going through, you're living in a city that's dark, you're living in an arena that's filled with wickedness, you're living in an atmosphere that's filled with sin and unrighteousness. I know where you live, I know what's going on, Satan actually has his throne there. .

Matt Stokes: 12:58 And of course, this is apocalyptic literature. this is a metaphor, Satan literally doesn't have a big throne there that he sits on, right? Bring me a goblet of something refreshing, right? Bring me the head of a pig, right? Like Satan is not there in Pergamum on a throne. What it's saying to us is this, it's saying that he has authority in this region, the people have submitted themselves to him, they've given their allegiance to him, they've given their loyalty to him. And he's saying, I'm speaking to you because I see that in the midst of that, you are not denying me, you're being loyal to me. Even to the point where Antipas was put to death, my faithful witness, and you still remained faithful to me. Antipas, the faithful witness. What a great name, right? I mean, if God had a name for me, what would he call me? Would I be the faithful witness? Would I be the one that God would actually write my name into his word for the world to see, for a thousand to two thousand years that says, Matt, old pastor, let's hope not. That says Matt, faithful witness, everything that Matt said was consistent with my reality, everything that Matt said was consistent with the truth of the gospel. Oh, how I long, and fall so short, but do long to be a faithful witness.

Matt Stokes: 14:33 And this man was, his name was Antipas. Anti, meaning against, pas, meaning everything, this guy was against everything. What do you mean? He was against anything, and everything, that was against God. He stood in the face of anything that was an affront to God, anything that stood in the face of God, he was against it, he rose up against it. And these cities, and these regions, particularly these temples and their vicinity, whether it was Dionysus, or Zeus, or Aphrodite, or the other guys, [inaudible], or whatever they might be. And even of course the Roman emperor, they rose up and I believe, they put him to death by the sword because of his testimony for Jesus Christ. And it sends a convicting message to me, particularly living in the US, and having all the luxuries that we have, how far will I go with the truth of the gospel, and the testimony of Jesus Christ? This man died for his faith, and these people that were living there that were genuine, authentic, sincere Christians, they were not denying Christ, they were remaining faithful to Christ as well, the remaining loyal to Christ as well, and he commends them for that.

Matt Stokes: 15:48 But something else happens here that you have to watch now, as we move into these next verses. And before I do, here's the crux of what I want to talk to you about today is this. They we're living in a land that was filled with paganism, living in a land that was filled with false gods, so much so that they had the most decadent and affluent temples built to them. And today in our region, today in our country, we don't have gods of wood, and gods of stone, but we certainly do have gods, false gods. And by the way, if you got a pen, let me just tell you when I say god, can I tell you what I mean by that? I'm talking about lowercase g, I'm talking about anything that takes first place in your life, other than all mighty God, that is a false God. Again, most of us don't have wood and stone god's on our mantles, and on our desktops, and on our kitchen tables. But how many of us have worshipped other gods, than the one true God?

Matt Stokes: 16:51 How many among us, or maybe you're even watching this from somewhere else, and you know what the truth is, your god is money, that your monetary, or that your financial goals, are more important than your godly goals. And if you're really honest with yourself, you know that that's true, you're spending more time checking your IRA, and your 401k, and your checkbook, than you are being in the word of God. And I'm not here to come down on anyone, we should be financially responsible and everything else that comes with that. And there's nothing wrong with having financial goals, unless they take the place of God, unless they're taking first place in your life. Then I'm saying that's something else we have to reevaluate, because I believe that the situation in Pergamum isn't too far away from what we're experiencing today.

Matt Stokes: 17:40 Let me talk about another one that's often not talked about, and that's pornography. Now, most of us in this room would be like pornography, I don't watch pornography. Okay, maybe you don't, but how many of us can be deceived and then end up in compromise? What do you mean? Well, let me give you an explanation of pornography. What if you have an understanding of pornography, but I'm not talking about triple X videos that you're watching on your devices. What if I said that pornography is any image that destroys God's image of sex? Pornography is any image that deconstructs God's view, and the beauty of what God made for sexuality. Now does that broaden the context just a little bit further? Because if you believe that that would be a definition for pornography, then pornography is everywhere. Pornography is on all the billboards that you see on the way to Atlantic City, and coming back. Pornography is on the front page of not just Playboy magazine, but Cosmopolitan and Vanity Fair, and every other magazine that promotes images that are destroying what God's vision, and the beauty of what God made sex for. All the sudden now, pornography may be one of your favorite shows that you watch on Netflix, and you call it a love scene, when really what it is a fornicatious, adulterous scene. But it's only on for a few minutes, but we deceive ourselves by saying, well, you know, they are in love, and that's part of the story. Oh, really? I'm just saying, this is what happens to all of us, the next thing you know, it's that scene in your favorite movie? And I'm saying we have a tendency, am I alone? Can anyone with me say, aye. Okay, thank you. Someone's like porn. No, take it easy. I'm just saying, look, I'm just saying, I'm not here to come down on everybody's movies and your favorite show and tell you that PG, okay, but 13, I don't know, and R definitely not, you shouldn't. That's not what I'm trying to do, I'm just trying to show you how, incrementally, we can lead ourselves from deception into compromise. And it's so easily happens to the Christian, just like it was happening to them in this particular situation.

Matt Stokes: 20:15 Let me talk about drunkenness again, oh my gosh, he's talking about drunkenness again. You're at a party and it's a dinner party, and there's nothing wrong with having wine, there's nothing wrong with having beer. If you think that's what I'm trying to say, you're missing the point. I'm just saying, hey, you know your limit. And it's that time where you feel like you've reached your limit, and your friend says, yo, you want to have another beer before you go? And you're like, I want to have another beer, but I shouldn't have another beer. And then this person says to you, hey man, just give your wife the keys. Do you see what just happened there? It's like give my wife the keys, that's a great idea. And so I think I've done the right thing by giving my wife the keys, but that just means that I deceived myself, so that I could cross the line and step into compromise. Ooh, it gets real quiet when we talk about pornography and booze, have you ever noticed that.

Matt Stokes: 21:22 But it's Coastal, and I'm saying, I think this is where we live. You know, right now we're reading somebody else's mail, right? This is Pergamum, but I feel like some of these letters are in your mailbox, you've got to open them up. What about selfish anger? There's a lot of anger out there today. People are angry about the things that are happening in their community. People are angry about things that are happening politically. And I'm just saying how much anger do I experience in the course of a week, that's rooted in my own selfishness? Or is my anger actually rooted in what makes God angry? You know, there are certain things that make God angry, and we should be angry about them, right? We should be angry about abortion, we should be angry about injustice, and we should be angry about inequality and others. But there are a certain measure of things that I'm angry about, that's just selfish, anger. You know what it is? A god. But I can stand up for it, and I can tell you that I can do the mental gymnastics that I need to do to get myself into a place of deception, where I then end up in compromise.

Matt Stokes: 22:26 And if I had the time I could go on and talk about the God of pride. I could talk about the God of unforgiveness, anybody have the God of unforgiveness, that's taking first place in your life. She did this to me, and he did that to me, and they did this other thing. And if he ever gets in my arena again, let me tell you what I'm going to do to him. Whoa. And it's like, obviously something is so consuming you, that it has, listen, it has your devotion, and it's called unforgiveness, and it's become your god.

Matt Stokes: 23:02 And so watch how that happened in this particular church, because he colors it now in the next verse. After he was acknowledging them, and he's saying I've got a two-edged sword, and my sword is going to be coming down against Satan, and against his throne, and against his city. But then he says this, watch, "But I have a few complaints against you." Again, the word complaints isn't in the original Greek, it just says, a few I have against you. "You tolerate..." Would you circle that word? "You tolerate some among you whose teaching is like that of Balaam, who showed Balak how to trip up the people of Israel. He taught them to sin by eating food offered to idols and by committing sexual sin." All right, so that might be a little bit confusing, so let me just give you the backstory. If you want to take a pen, you can write it in your Bible, it's Numbers chapter 22.

Matt Stokes: 24:00 In Numbers chapter 22, there's a king, his name is Balak, and he's the King of Edam. And he sees the children of Israel coming through his land, and there is so many it's actually a threat to him. So he gets this false prophet named Balaam. And Balak says to him, I want you to curse the children of Israel, because I've heard it said of you that whatever you bless is blessed, and whatever you curse is cursed. And he wouldn't do it, Balaam said, no, I'm not going to do it. But then Balak said, I will pay you handsomely, I will make you rich, I'll give you money. And all of the sudden he was deceived. Has the scriptures ever talked to you? Have you ever read the passage about the deceitfulness of riches? He was deceived into compromise, and he attempted, watch this. He attempted to curse the children of Israel, and he stood on a mountain above the children of Israel, and he attempted to curse them, and God would not let him. Every time his mouth open to curse them, Balaam's mouth pronounced, blessing over them. And Balak was getting so mad, he's like, why do you keep doing that? He's like, I can't stop doing it, God's doing it, I cannot curse the children of Israel.

Matt Stokes: 25:10 But he didn't want to lose the money, so he comes back to him later and he says, hey, Balak if you really want to do this, if you want to trip them up, let me tell you what to do. Get your Edimite women, and get them to get the Israelite men to go to the pagan worship festivals that you do. And when they eat and are filled with all of that pagan worship meat that we sacrificed up to the false gods, and they're full of all the drink, then they'll go and they'll worship with the temple prostitutes, the men with the women and the women with the men, by the way, there were male and female temple prostitutes. And that's exactly what they did, and the children of Israel fell into this worship and idolatry of eating these feasts in these idol worship celebrations, and then ending up in sexual sin.

Matt Stokes: 26:07 And then he goes on, did you see that? It says, "And in a similar way, 15, you have some Nicolaitans among you who follow the same teaching." So whoever these Nicolaitans are, we get little pieces of their history and who they are, and apparently they were also promoting this type of behavior. And it was crushing the loyalty and the faithfulness, at least it was tempting them to move from deception into compromise. Why? Did you circle that word? Because you were tolerating them. And I'm just asking, because I'm asking myself, how many things do I tolerate in my life that have the temptation to lead me to deception, which eventually leads me into compromise? Because you can be an authentic Christian and still fall into this temptation, If that wasn't true, then this letter wouldn't be here. He's writing to them saying, I love you, you're in a place of darkness and it's evil, but you're remaining loyal to me. But this is my one concern, you're tolerating people who allow deception to lead them into compromise.

Matt Stokes: 27:21 And it's okay, it's okay to have different views of scripture. There are many different people that are a part of the gatherings that we have here on a Sunday, and not everybody sees scripture the same way, but that's different than when we're talking about idolatry, and we're talking about immorality, and we're talking about drunkenness, and all the other things that the scriptures condemn, for the genuine, authentic, sincere Christian.

Matt Stokes: 27:52 So watch what happens in verse 16, Jesus says to them, "Repent of your sin, or I will come to you suddenly and fight against them with the sword of my mouth." Did you just hear that? I studied this verse, and I don't know why for how long, because sometimes I can get caught in one verse for a really long time. And sometimes they seem like verses that aren't that important, but he says, "Repent of your sin, or I will come to you suddenly and fight against them with the sword of my mouth." Did you see that, did you see the pronouns? So I'm looking at that and I'm thinking, well, who is the you, and who is the them? Of course we know who the my is, it's Jesus. What I'm saying to you, is I believe that there were people that were in the midst of this church that were not genuine Christians, they weren't authentic Christians, they weren't sincere Christians. Somehow they were getting involved by because of the Roman decadence, and because of the Roman favor, and the Roman respect for the city of Pergamum, they enjoyed, listen, they enjoyed going to the feast. Because if you lived in those days, it was hard to come by good meat, right? Like meat wasn't as prevalent as it is today, so if you wanted to eat meat, you would go to the feasts. Because the Romans would throw these great feasts for these empirical Caesar worship festivals, and if you went to it, you could have free meat. And by the way, when you ate all the free meat and you worshiped Dionysus, and you worshiped Aphrodite, what do you think happened next? According to the scriptures, after they ate the pagan meat, and worshipped the pagan idols, they then went to the pagan prostitutes, male and female, and they were falling into this sexual sin. And Jesus says, right here, I want you to repent of it, or I'm going to come with a sword in my hand and fight against them. I believe the them, are those that were in the church that were not genuinely following Christ.

Matt Stokes: 30:00 What am I saying? I'm saying it's possible for you to actually not be a genuine believer, although you're sitting here right now, although you may be watching this online, you would be watching for weeks, believe me, they're here. I know they're here, and so do you, because I've seen people come up and give their lives, surrender their lives, to Christ. And I'm like, what, you? I'm [inaudible] because they were here for like five years, but today was the day. And I'm saying, is today your day, where you're actually going to have the strength of nerve to admit the fact that I've been living in compromise, because I've been deceived. And I need to be saved by the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross, who died as an innocent sacrifice, so that I could have forever forgiveness and a home in heaven, because that's the gospel. Thank you, Rachel. Right? That's the gospel. And I have to say, that's the gospel, I don't have to, I also want to. Because I don't want anyone to escape this message, if you're watching online, or coming into these gatherings, without hearing the gospel. Because what we do is about the gospel. What we do is outreaching loss people, and it's also about making disciples. And some of you here needs to come to Christ and be saved, and surrender yourself to his love and his forgiveness. And there are some of us here that actually need to receive this warning and say, you know what? I need to get out of deception, and get out of compromise, and I need to get back into commitment to Christ.

Matt Stokes: 31:29 And if you do, here's what it says, “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it." The one who's victorious. Well, who is the one who's victorious? If you haven't realized it yet, by now, I'll just say it one more time. The one who's victorious, according to this church, the one who's victorious, is the one who is no longer going to tolerate compromise, the one who is no longer going to just recklessly abandoned themselves into their own willful deception. And the scriptures also speak about those who are willfully deceived, you allow yourself to be deceived, and then ended up in compromise. If you decide to fight against that, if you decide to be victorious, if you decide to wrestle and overcome, Jesus is like, I have something for you.

Matt Stokes: 32:43 This is what I have for you. Those pagan feasts that they go to, where they eat of all that meat, and then they go and they have that sex. I have a feast, and I want you to come to my feast, because I love you, and I died for you, and I rose again, to give you a seat at my table. And if you overcome, and if you don't tolerate that sin, and if you don't give into the deceit that leads to compromise, I'm going to give you the hidden manna. It's the bread from heaven that I've been holding on to, waiting for you to eat from. Now, most of you know that manna was a bread that God gave to the children of Israel when they were in the wilderness. When they were in the wilderness, most of us know, they did not work, they had no jobs. And yet God, for 40 years preserved them, strengthened them, prolonged their days, gave them endurance, is so that they could be sustained throughout that entire time. So manna becomes representative of strength, and endurance, and sustenance, and provision from God.

Matt Stokes: 33:56 And he says, if you overcome, and if you're victorious, if you wrestle and you find yourself walking in victory, then I'm going to actually give you this bread. John chapter 6, most of you may know it in the gospels, Jesus starts talking about the bread that they ate in the desert. He said, "Your fathers ate that bread in the desert and they died, but I have a bread, that if you eat of the bread that I give you, you'll never die." I've got this bread, okay, and I want to give it to you, and if I give it to you and you eat it, you'll never die. And the people said, "Evermore, give us the bread." I know it in the King James, literally, that means, well, then come on now, give us the bread. And Jesus said, I am the bread of heaven.

Matt Stokes: 34:35 Right here, he says, I have some hidden bread, I've kept some bread in heaven, that I long to give to you. Jesus says, I am the bread that's come down from heaven. In other words, the bread of heaven is Jesus himself, it's him longing for us to come to the feast and partake of him, intimacy with him, relationship with him, a closeness with him, a fondness with him. Why settle for the meat of men that's been sacrificed to idols, when you can receive the bread of heaven. And I guarantee to you that the meat of men is just a shadow, compared to the bread of heaven.

Matt Stokes: 35:18 And when it comes to the sensuality that you think you're finding on earth and all of the immorality, and the fornication, and adultery, I'm telling you, I don't know what kind of intimacy you think you're finding, I don't know what you think you have in those relationships and those friendships, but you are friendships on earth are but a mere shadow to the friendship that you have, or could have, with Jesus Christ. Your closest friend on the earth is but a shadow to the friendship you could have with Jesus Christ.

Matt Stokes: 35:49 And then lastly, he says, I've got this stone I want to give you. What's up with this stone, this white stone? Well see, in order to get into these feasts, you needed a ticket. But in those days they didn't have a ticket, they had something else, they had a white stone. And white stones were hard to find, and they weren't just any white stone, it was a polished white stone. And if you had that stone, that was your invitation to the feast. And when you come to the feast, you would give the stone at the door, and that would give you access to the pagan idols, and their meat, and to the sensuality.

Matt Stokes: 36:29 And Jesus says, I love you so much, I want you to become an overcomer. I want you to be victorious, don't tolerate sin, deception and compromise. And if you don't, I have a stone, and guess who he wants to give it to you? Himself, Jesus wants to give you the stone. He says, I have a stone that I want to give to you, it's my invitation to you. And when you have my stone, then you will come to my feast, and then you will eat of my bread. And who will give you that bread? Jesus. Jesus says, I want to give you of the bread, I want to give you of the manna that's hidden in heaven, I want to be the one to give you the stone. In Smyrna, he said, I'm the one who's going to give you the crown of life. In Ephesus, he said, I'm the one who's going to give you the fruit from the tree of life. All of this is symbolic, and typifies the mystery of the intimacy that Jesus Christ is longing to have with each one of us.

Matt Stokes: 37:26 And I'm going to put a name on that stone, and the name that I'm going to engrave on that stone is a name that's just for you that no one else will know, it's just for you. What do you think the name is that Jesus is going to write on your stone? What's the name going to be, ready, on my stone? Is it going to be faithful witness? See Jesus knows the very hairs upon our head, he knows the number of them. He knows something specific, unique, and individual about every person in this room. And I'm persuaded that what he's going to write on that stone is that unique, specific, individual character of you that glorified him. Oh, how I long to see that name on that stone that Jesus would write and hand to me, that gives me access to his table.

Matt Stokes: 38:20 So as we close, very quickly, you might say, listen, after everything you just said, like, okay, that's what I want. But there's a gap, okay, between, between where I am and where you're saying that I ought to be. I am being deceived, I've got to be honest, I allow myself to be deceived. I do watch that, I am going over my limit, I do let my anger get the best of me, I don't want to live in compromise, what do I do? I'm going to tell you, and would you please write it down? I'm going to give you some quick points, in quick succession. I encourage you to write them down because it's really simple, and it's also very elementary. And if you do this, you will not lose, you will be victorious.

Matt Stokes: 38:57 Number one, The Word. You've got to saturate yourself in the Word of God in order to be an overcomer. I've got a God, okay, it's called anger. And I need to so saturate myself in the Word of God, that I say to myself, the wrath of man does not necessitate, does not bring about, the righteousness of God. Let every man, be quick to hear and slow to speak, and slow to wrath. Proverbs says, where there is no wood on the fire, the fire goes out. And these are the verses to which I have to go, and grab, and just put them into my soul when I have the tendency to move in selfish anger, and take the god of selfish anger, and put it back on the throne of my heart. I need to be saturated so in the Word of God, that I'm able to reach in, pull out the verses that I need, and live the victorious life.

Matt Stokes: 39:57 Number two, after The Word, is worship. Worship. I know, I think I've used the word pornography about 26 times so far today, I'm just going to say it one more time. I would imagine it's hard to watch pornography while you've got your worship music playing in the background. I mean, maybe it's me, I haven't experimented with that, but I think that it would be such a tearing, such a ripping of the soul if you attempted that, that you can't do both. So I'm saying, do you know the song, This Is How I Fight My Battles? This is how I fight my battles, with worship, with worship. There's something about worshiping God, hearing from God in his word, and then giving to God back in praise, that keeps you from putting these false gods back on the throne.

Matt Stokes: 40:49 Number three, prayer. Prayer. Jesus Christ died on the cross, and he shed his blood, to open up access to his father's throne room. How many of us in the Coastal Community are actually taking advantage of that? You're living in that? Did you ever hear that expression, we're talking about a battle here. Did you ever hear that expression, Get on your knees and fight like a man? How many of us are actually getting on our knees? Getting on your knees is a very good thing, because when you get on your knees, you kind of insulate yourself from going anywhere, you're kind of like immobilized. And in that sense, you just close your eyes, and you step into God's presence because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross. It says in the Book of Hebrews, we now have, by a new and living way...By the way, the new and living way is the shed of Jesus Christ on the cross. By a new and living way, we now have access to the Father, that we might boldly approach his throne of grace in time of need. Hello? Who does not want to boldly approach the throne of God. And by the way, the throne that God sits on, it's called... God could have said, I want to call it the throne of my power, the throne of wisdom, the throne of authority...He said, no, I want them to boldly approach my throne, let's call it the throne of grace. Let me let that sink in, and pray, pray. I don't know, I'm going to just talk about this one more time, just about lust. It's hard for a man to lust after a woman that he's praying for. He's praying for her to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. He's praying that the fountain and the waterfall of God's grace would flow over her, so that she might be saved, and find a home in heaven and find forgiveness. It's hard to lust after someone, when you're praying fervently for their soul, when you're praying fervently for them to go deeper in Jesus Christ. And the same is true for women towards men, forgive me for making the generalities, but I'm just saying it makes the point, prayer is essential.

Matt Stokes: 42:48 The Word, worship, prayer, and then lastly, as we close, other believers. You've got to surround yourself with other believers, you weren't meant to do this alone. John chapter 6 says, "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness." And all these things that you think you're looking for in the drunkenness, you think you're looking for in the immorality and the sensuality, what you think you're looking for. "All the things you're looking for, they'll be added onto you." You'll find that all your fountains are in me, all of your satisfaction, strength, and sustenance is in me. It's hard to do that alone, but when you surround yourself with other Christ committed, Holy Spirit submitted believers, there's an exponential strength that comes from people that are actually loving you, and praying with you, and praying for you, and worshiping with you. I was standing over here worshiping by myself, and then I said to myself at first gathering, I'm like, no, I want to go stand next to my friend Rob, because I just want to hear his voice in my ear, and I want him to hear mine, because there's something about worshiping together. And I'll say that to everyone who's watching on YouTube at home, if you're immunocompromised, stay home and be safe and healthy, God bless you, please don't misunderstand what I'm saying. But there's also something about corporate worship, that when we come into this place, and we strengthen each other, and we help each other live another day in Christ, and we encourage each other. And it says in the scriptures that we should not forsake the gathering together, for as long as it's still called today, we need to come together and encourage each other. And if you're with me on that, please say, amen.

Matt Stokes: 44:28 So I'll close just by saying, you know that we are citizens of another kingdom. Not the kingdom of Pergamum with false gods, and temples, and immorality, but a kingdom with a King who's also your friend, and the lover of your soul. And he's saying to you today, follow me, don't tolerate deception and compromise, overcome and be victorious, and I will give you a stone with a special name, and I will invite you to my table, and you will sit at my table, and you will eat the bread of heaven.

Matt Stokes: 45:21 Let's pray. Father, as we look into your word and see the intensity of your heart towards this church of Pergamum, we pray that we too would take to heart where we might be tolerating in some way, deception, compromise, sin. We pray, Lord, that with the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon us, we would rise up and we would not tolerate, not within this fellowship, not within this community. We would challenge one another, pray for one another, love one another, and help each other, be overcomers and victorious. That we might sit at your table and eat the feast of our Father, and the supper of the lamb. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Recorded in Ocean City, New Jersey.
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Coastal Christian Ocean City
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Ocean City, New Jersey 08226