More Than Conquerors | Romans 8:31-39

More Than Conquerors Study Guide

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who diedmore than that, who was raisedwho is at the right hand of God. (Romans 8:34)

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)

OPENING THOUGHT

Paul’s letter to the Romans is a tremendous work of theology, and it centers entirely around the gospel of Jesus Christ. The first three chapters of Romans present the bad news that sin has utterly invaded humanity, meaning that there is not even one righteous person and that everyone is deserving of God’s wrath. Fortunately, chapters four through seven reveal the good news that Jesus lived a sinless life and died and undeserved death in our place.

Romans 8 then explains the significance of believing the gospel. In verse one, Paul claims that because we have been justified before God in Christ, we no longer have any condemnation for our sin. Yet we are not only without condemnation, but the Holy Spirit now dwells within each follower of Christ, enabling us to cry out to God as our Father. Then because of the Spirit, we also have hope that we will one day be glorified in Christ, forever living with Him and without sin.

In many ways, the final verses of Romans 8 serve as an epilogue to the first eight chapters, but for us, they also form a beneficial closing to the Seven Letters. In light of the gospel, Paul asks a series of questions that culminate is whether anything can separate us from the love of Christ. His answer is nothing at all. With each of the seven letters ending with a promise “to the one who conquers”, Romans 8 is a fitting reminder that in Christ we are more than conquerors.

Read verses 31-34 and discuss the following.

  1. In verse 32, Paul claims that because God did not spare His own Son, He will also give us all things. What does Paul mean to be given all things?
  2. Verse 34 displays that we are able to be without condemnation because Jesus died, rose back to life, and is now interceding for us. What does it mean for Jesus to intercede on our behalf?

Read verses 35-37 and discuss the following.

  1. Paul provides a list of things that cause severe suffering while asking whether or not they are able to separate us from the love of Christ. His answer is that even in those things we are more than conquerors. How are we able to conquerors in the midst of hardship and suffering?

Read verses 38-39 and discuss the following.

  1. The apostle’s aim with these final verses is to provide a wide, sweeping claim that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. In what ways does this verse speak to the security of salvation for a follower of Christ?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • Consider statements of verses 33-34. Have you been justified by God with Christ interceding for you? If not, repent of sin to Jesus and begin following Him. If so, take time to thank God again for the good news.
  • Pray for the grace to know that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ and the longing to live accordingly.
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To Laodicea: Be Zealous & Repent | Revelation 3:14-22

Seven Letters Week 8

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

I know your works: you are night cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:15-16)

I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. (Revelation 3:17)

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)

OPENING THOUGHT

Jesus’ letters to the seven churches of Revelation were essentially report cards on the health of each church. Ephesus had great works and doctrine but had forgotten their first love. Pergamum was conforming to the society around them, while Thyatira allowed false doctrine into the church. Sardis was a church that appeared to be healthy but was actually dead. Smyrna and Philadelphia were beacons of good news in the midst of the rebukes. Jesus urged Smyrna to remain faithful until death and Philadelphia to patiently endure by holding fast to Him.

We conclude the series this week with the final church: Laodicea. Similar to the church of Sardis, Jesus has only rebukes for the Laodicea church. Located near the Colossians, Laodicea was a prosperous city with little need for aid from the Roman Empire or its neighboring cities. Apparently, the church developed a similar mentality.

Laodicea did not suffer from the kind of poverty or persecution that other churches were facing; instead, they were wealthy and prosperous. Yet because they only considered themselves to be materially rich, Jesus concludes that they are actually poor. Due to their prosperity, they thought they were in need of nothing, yet they were lacking Jesus. Therefore, Christ urges Laodicea to buy gold from Him in order to be truly rich and to open the door at which He is knocking. As Laodicea was essentially a church without Jesus, we must strive to not follow in their footsteps.

Read verses 14-16 and discuss the following.

  1. Jesus opens His letter to Laodicea by stating that they are neither cold nor hot, and because they are lukewarm, He will spit them out of His mouth. What does Jesus mean by calling them lukewarm?
  2. Why does He threaten such a negative reaction as spitting them out of His mouth?

Read verses 17-18 and discuss the following.

  1. Here Christ lists how the church of Laodicea saw itself (rich, prosperous, and in need of nothing), but then He offers His view of them (wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked). What problem caused the church to see itself differently than how Jesus saw them?

Read verses 19-22 and discuss the following.

  1. What actions does Jesus command the church to take in response to the rebukes given?
  2. What promises does Christ give to those who repent?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • Living in a prosperous society always leads to the possibility of developing the same sinful independence as the church in Laodicea. After all, it is difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of God precisely because materially wealth often masks spiritual need. Therefore, consider whether you are rich with gold that comes from Christ.
  • Prayerfully reflect upon the message to Laodicea, considering any areas of your life where repentance is needed.

To Philadelphia: Patiently Endure | Revelation 3:7-13

Seven Letters Week 7

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have kept my word and have not denied my name. (Revelation 3:8)

Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. (Revelation 3:10)

I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. (Revelation 3:11)

OPENING THOUGHT

With the exception of the faithful sufferers in Smyrna, each church appears to be the downward progression from the previous one. Ephesus had good doctrine but not love. Pergamum had good works, but they were conforming to the world around them. Thyatira had love and good works, but they allowed false teaching to enter the church. Sardis received no encouraging commendation; they looked alive but were dead.

Like Smyrna, the church of Philadelphia disrupts this pattern, as both are the only churches to not be rebuked at all by Jesus. Philadelphia was apparently a fairly small church in an environment that was hostile to Christianity. This persecution seems to have come from the Jewish population of the city attempting to stir up conflict between the Roman government and the Christians.

But even though Philadelphia was constantly threatened and had little power, Jesus gives them a flurry of encouragements. First, after being dispelled from the Jewish synagogue, Jesus promises that He has opened a door to His Kingdom for them, and no one can shut it. Second, He promises to one day reveal before all that the church of Philadelphia is loved by Him. Third, because of their patient endurance, Jesus promises to keep them from the hour of trial yet to come. Finally, Christ promises to establish those who finish their race faithfully within the New Jerusalem, which is an assurance that He will love them for all eternity.

Read verses 7-8 and discuss the following.

  1. Jesus introduces Himself as having “the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.” He then states to have placed an open door before them that no one is able to shut. What is the open door to which Jesus refers?
  2. Jesus knows that the Philadelphians have little power, but they faithfully keep His word and do not deny His name. What encouragement can smaller churches gain from these words?

Read verses 9-11 and discuss the following.

  1. As in Smyrna, we see that the Philadelphians were coming under persecution from the Jews of the city. Why did the hostility exist? Why does Jesus claim that the Jews are not really Jews?
  2. Because the Philadelphians were faithful to keep Jesus’ word, He promises to keep them from the hour of trial that is coming. What does Jesus mean by this promise?

Read verses 12-13 and discuss the following.

  1. To the one who conquers, Jesus lists a staggering series of promises. What is New Jerusalem, and what is the significance of these promises?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • Though the world might have considered the church of Philadelphia to be weak, Jesus knows that in Him they are strong. Consider your areas of weakness and how God might be glorified by working through them.
  • Philadelphia was built around a major trading road, meaning that traffic between Rome and Asia constantly poured through the city. This placed in Philadelphia a uniquely opened door for sending the gospel to places further to the east, like India and China. As in Colossian 4:3-4, pray also for open doors to declare the mystery of Christ in your own life.

To Sardis: Wake Up! | Revelation 3:1-6

Seven Letters Week 6

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

I know your works. You have a reputation for being alive, but you are dead. (Revelation 3:1)

Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. (Revelation 3:2)

Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. (Revelation 3:3)

OPENING THOUGHT

Our study of the Seven Letters of Revelation now officially begins to wind down as we approach the fifth church: Sardis. Though Jesus gave these letters for the particular churches in Asia Minor, their messages are applicable to all churches throughout history, including us today. Jesus’ warnings to Ephesus and Thyatira remind us that we must have both love and sound doctrine. Pergamum emphasized the importance of conforming to Christ rather than culture. The church of Smyrna was a model of how to suffer well for Jesus’ sake.

If Thyatira’s inward false teaching was a downward progression from Pergamum’s outward conformity, then Sardis continues the spiraling trend. Unlike the previous churches, Christ does not have much good to applaud in Sardis; He primarily has stern rebukes for them instead. Sardis was a church with a good reputation. From most noticeable outward signs, they appeared to successfully doing the work that Jesus commanded them to do. But Jesus’ gaze goes past the skin into the heart.

Despite their reputation, Christ knew that the Sardis was a dead church. Jesus found their works to be lacking, so He urged them to wake up and strengthen what little bit was still alive. It is a terrifying thing to hear Jesus say that a church can appear to be alive while really being dead. Fortunately, Jesus alone is able to bring dead hearts back to life, and as with the other churches, Jesus calls the church of Sardis to repent and keep His commandments.

Read verse 1 and discuss the following.

  1. Jesus states that the church in Sardis had a reputation for being alive, but, in reality, they were dead. What are some marks or signs of a dead church that might seem alive?
  2. How might Sardis’ problem relate to Matthew 7:21-23?

Read verses 2-3 and discuss the following.

  1. Christ urges those in Sardis to wake up and strengthen what remains and is about to die. In what ways might a dead church wake up and strengthen itself?
  2. What specific actions does Jesus desire the church of Sardis to take?

Read verses 4-6 and discuss the following.

  1. The only good news given to Sardis is that there are still some in the church with unstained garments. Who is Jesus referring to, and what is the significance of saying that their garments are unsoiled?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • Consider if Jesus’ message to Sardis applies to you. Do you have a reputation for being alive while actually being dead? Are you like the people in Matthew 7:21-23? If so, wake up, remember the gospel, and repent.
  • Pray specifically for your church and other churches in the community that we would never be dead like the church of Sardis.

As we steadily approach the finish line of our present sermon series through the seven letters of Revelation, the third to the last message has hit me full force. Jesus gives to the Apostle John a letter for the church of Sardis, and His words for it are terrifying. We’ve already heard Jesus rebuke the Ephesian church for having solid doctrine but no love and the Thyatiran church for having love but poor doctrine. We’ve already read Jesus threaten to war against the church of Pergamum if they did not repent of their conformity to society rather than the Scriptures.

But His message to Sardis takes everything to a new level.

To Sardis, Jesus claims that they have a reputation for being alive, but they are, in fact, dead. This means that by human standards Sardis appeared to be in decent shape. They were probably growing numerically as a church. The Scriptures were likely taught with a great degree of orthodoxy. They may have even been known for their love of the community around them. We simply don’t know what things they were doing well, but we do know that Jesus calls their bluff. Where men might have considered the church of Sardis to be growing and faithful, Jesus knew that they were flat lining.

The notion of a church appearing to be alive while, in reality, being dead ought to send shivers down our spine. This is the sort of church and the kind of members that we never want to be. So let’s take a moment to consider ways that a church might be dead with the appearance of life.

1. Prayerlessness

I don’t believe it’s possible to overemphasize the value and necessity of prayer. Because of Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection, we are able to approach God’s “throne of grace” with confidence, knowing “that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” from our Father (Heb. 4:16). What a privilege that we are able to speak to the Almighty God as His children with Him as our Father!

Yet it is not only a privilege but also a joy, an expression of having finally found a treasure that it worth losing everything else to possess (Matt. 13:44). Our hearts ought to be constantly (1 Thess. 5:17) in prayerful communion with God because all else is rubbish (Phil. 3:7) by comparison to His value.

In short, we pray because our hearts will be with our treasure (Matt. 6:21).

A prayerless Christian is no Christian, and a prayerless church is no church.

The lack of prayer indicates that God is not treasured. If God is not treasured, then He is not truly worshiped as God.

In fact, God opposes the prayerless. Both Peter and James tell us that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5; James 4:6).” There is no greater expression of pride than prayerlessness. The act of prayer is humbling. It approaches God in His sovereignty, understanding our desperate need for His intervention, guidance, and love. A lack of prayer speaks that we do need God’s grace or aid. Prayer asserts our dependence, while prayerlessness proclaims our independence.

A church that is independent of God is a dead church. Jesus explicitly states that He will build His church (Matt. 16:18). Christ’s church is entirely reliant upon Him as the builder. With an utter independence from Jesus, the church is dead, even while it seems to live.

Jesus urges Sardis to wake up, to be watchful. This idea of wakefulness, watchfulness, and sobriety is at times used in relation to prayer.

“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” – Mark 14:38

“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” – Colossians 4:2

Isaiah 62:6-7 also describes those in prayer as watchmen on a city’s walls. We ought to pray with all the wakefulness and sobriety of watchmen who were able to glimpse an enemy in the distance and prepare the city accordingly. We must keep alert, “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication (Eph. 6:18).”

A church can do any number of things and have any measure of growth, but without prayer, it is dead with only the semblance of life.

2. Lack of Discipleship

The primary mission that Jesus gave to His disciples was to make more disciples (Matt. 28:19). A church is composed of Christians (disciples of Jesus), and if those Christians do not seek to fulfill Jesus’ great objective, they are outside of His will.

Each of us are called to disciple others and be disciple by others. The church is a perpetual factory of passing on knowledge, skills, and ministries. The goal of every believer ought to be toward making the road a little easier for the next workers to expand the kingdom of God.

A lack of discipleship is evident in a number of ways.

First, the youth are neglected by the older men and women. The primary fashion that Paul seems to envision discipleship within a regular church congregation is older men and women training younger men and women. He tells Timothy to take what he learned from Paul and entrust it “to faithful men who will be able to teach others also (2 Tim. 2:2).” And he urges Titus to have older women train “young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled (Titus 2:4-5).” Negligence to raise up the next generation is a failure to disciple.

Second, resisting to train others in ministry is a failure to disciple. Each ministry of the church must be for the benefit of the church and the service of Jesus; therefore, a resistance toward training others in a particular ministry is a sign of selfishness. It is selfish because it places our desire to be needed above the betterment of the body of Christ. Our identity becomes entangled in our ministry rather than to Christ, so we refuse to let others into our work. The impact is only felt fully by the congregation whenever the person either leaves or dies without warning. The church is left trying to pick up the fragmented pieces because no one else was ever discipled on how to accomplish the work.

A lack of discipleship often results from an unhealthy fixation on the past. When in a perpetual state of remembrance of the good ol’ days, the congregation is not able to sufficiently invest in the future.

A mental resolution that the better days are behind us will ensure that they are.

Jesus made disciples so that they would expand the work of the kingdom of God beyond His ascension into heaven. The disciples made disciples so that the work would continue beyond their lives. Discipleship is about living for something bigger than ourselves. It is about living for Someone bigger than ourselves. It is about aiming to ensure that the message of the gospel goes on long after we have passed from this world. If we fail to do so, our church will die with us.

3. Lack of Evangelism

When Jesus looked upon the crowds of people that came to hear Him teach and be healed, “He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matt. 9:36).” Jesus did not gaze at the world going to hell in a handbasket with distain; He saw them with tender love and compassion. Being God, Jesus does not wish “that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance (2 Peter 3:9).”

The Great Commission’s call to make disciples is Jesus’ answer to this love of the lost. Christ commands us to go into all nations, making disciples by baptizing them and teaching them everything that He commanded us. In many ways, evangelism is the first stage of discipleship. Both are two sides of the same coin. Evangelism is bringing the gospel to non-Christians, and discipleship is applying the gospel to Christians. Discipleship begins with evangelism, and evangelism goes into discipleship.

A church without a love for evangelism is a church without a love for people and the gospel.

If we truly love people, we will desire to bring them the true of the gospel, regardless of the awkwardness of it. A doctor who refuses to inform his patient of cancer because it’s uncomfortable is a failed doctor. Likewise, we cannot claim to love others while letting them go uninformed and without Christ to hell. Or else, we cannot claim to truly believe the gospel as truth, while failing to proclaim it to others.

In this way, without evangelism, the church is either unloving or heretical. It either lacks love along with the church of Ephesus or lacks the understanding of truth like the church of Thyatira. Without a love to share the gospel with others, a church finds itself in clear danger of having its lampstand removed (Rev. 2:5) or being made into an example of Christ’s judgment for all churches to see (Rev. 2:22-23).

4. Toleration of Sin

In many ways, a toleration of sin is the only way to kill a church. Prayerlessness and lack of discipleship and evangelism are sinful behaviors. They are sins of omission rather than commission. James 4:17 puts it plainly:

“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”

Repeatedly the Bible associates sin with death—after all, sin brought death into creation to begin with.

“But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” – Romans 8:10

“But God being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” – Ephesians 2:4-5

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses.” – Colossians 2:13

Sin kills. And tolerated sin kills fully. We, naturally, do not enjoy being rebuked for sin. It is never pleasant to be told that we are in the wrong; however, it is necessary. A kind admonishment is one of the most loving acts of kindness. Look at the Bible’s alternative to tolerating sin:

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” – Galatians 6:1

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” – Colossians 3:16

“My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” – James 5:19-20

“This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith.” – Titus 1:13

“Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.” – Titus 2:15

Pointing out sin is never easy. In the Old Testament, the prophets were primarily used of God to rebuke the sins of Israel, and their lives were marked by suffering because of their message. When the sin that we love is attacked, the typical response is to retaliate against the messenger.

Yet we must understand that rebuking sin is the most loving action we can take toward our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Regardless of what sin (omission or commission) that Sardis found itself in, it died as a church because it did not “put to death” sin (Rom. 8:13).

And like Sardis, there are only two options for every church and its members: either let sin kill us by tolerating it, or put to death sin through repentance.

To Thyatira: Repent of False Teaching | Revelation 2:18-29

Seven Letters Week 5

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. (Revelation 2:19)

Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. (Revelation 2:16)

Only hold fast to what you have until I come. (Revelation 2:25)

OPENING THOUGHT

Having discussed the churches of Ephesus, Smyrna, and Pergamum, we now come to the center of the seven letters of Revelation. To the Ephesians, Christ applauded their works and theology, but He condemned their lack of love. For the church in Smyrna, Jesus had nothing to say against them; with the world attacking them, He encouraged them to persevere throughout hardship. The church in Pergamum was a mixed bag: some were holding firm during persecution, but others were conforming themselves to the society around them.

The church in Thyatira is essentially the foil of the Ephesians. Jesus begins by commending the works and love of the Christians there. They were succeeding where the Christians in Ephesus were failing. However, Jesus then rebukes them for tolerating false teachings in their midst. So the success of the Ephesians was Thyatira’s failure. Thyatira and Ephesus were in this way mirror opposites of one another.

It could also be said that Thyatira was the unfortunate progression of Pergamum. Both churches were guilty of the sin of comprising with the society around them and tolerating the false teaching within the church. The letter to Pergamum focused more on former, while Thyatira exemplifies the latter. It is too true that compromise with the world is a stepping stone toward the blatant accepting of false teaching within the church.

Read verses 18-19 and discuss the following.

  1. Christ begins His message to the church of Thyatira by commending their love, faith, service, and works. They were triumphing in the areas that the Christians in Ephesus were failing. Could Jesus’ say of you His words in verse 19?
  2. Like those in Thyatira, are you continuing to grow in good works?

Read verses 20-23 and discuss the following.

  1. In the Old Testament, Jezebel was a wife to the king of Israel, who incited Israel to worship the false god, Baal. Jesus is likely using this as a symbolic name for one or more false teachers within the church of Thyatira who were leading the believers away from the truth. What sorts of heresies might have been taught to Thyatira?
  2. What are some false teachings that are prevalent within our culture?

Read verses 24-29 and discuss the following.

  1. Like the church of Pergamum, Jesus urges the Christians within Thyatira to hold fast until He comes. In what ways can we hold fast and guard ourselves against false teaching?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • Take time this week to pray specifically for people being deceived by false teachings and for those who are holding fast to Christ in the midst of false teaching.
  • Prayerfully reflect upon your works, love, faith, service, and patient endurance for Christ, and consider how you might continue to grow in weaker areas.

To Pergamum: Hold Fast to Christ | Revelation 2:12-17

Seven Letters Week 4

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

I know where you dwell, where Satans throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. (Revelation 2:13)

Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. (Revelation 2:16)

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promising is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23)

OPENING THOUGHT

We have now explored two of the seven letters that Jesus gave to the churches in Asia. The church of Ephesus was strong in action and doctrine but lacking of love. The Christians in Smyrna were facing near constant persecution for their faith in Jesus as lord, yet they remained faithful, even though some of them were killed. Over the years, Christ removed the church from Ephesus and city fell into ruin, but the church in Smyrna persevered and is still striving for the faith today.

We travel now to the third church, located in Pergamum. The Christians of Pergamum receive a message of great encouragement and severe warning. Like their brothers in Smyrna, Pergamum’s church suffered greatly for following Christ as lord. Jesus even goes so far as to say that they dwell where Satan’s throne is; no doubt this is a reference to the great idolatry that existed in Pergamum. They were Christians in a culture that was very much anti-Christian. They were living behind enemy lines.

Though many in Pergamum remained faithful throughout their hardships, Jesus does not withhold His rebuke from them. The Christians of Pergamum appeared to have the opposite problem of those in Ephesus. While the Ephesians held tight to right doctrine but lost their love, the Pergamum church became accepting to the point that some of them were being swept away into false teachings and sinful living. We must avoid both extremes. We can neither separate entirely from the culture around us, nor can we submit to it. Instead, we are not of this world, but we have been sent into the world to expand the kingdom of God.

Read verses 12-13 and discuss the following.

  1. Though the Christians in Pergamum dwelled where Satan’s throne is, Jesus commends that they have held fast to Him and did not deny the faith. How does the Bible instruct us to hold fast to Christ?

Read verses 14-15 and discuss the following.

  1. In His rebuke against the church of Pergamum, Christ states that some of them were deviating into false teachings and sinful behavior of the culture around them. What are some false teachings and sinful behaviors of today’s culture?

Read verses 16-17 and discuss the following.

  1. Christ claims that unless the church at Pergamum repents it will find itself at war against Jesus Himself. Why is repentance so significant in the life of a follower of Christ and to the church community?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • Just as some in Pergamum were being swept away by the sins and false teachings of the society among them, consider areas of your life in which you may be doing the same thing, and repent of them.