February 20 – 26, 2022
Pergamos – Elevation, Exaltation (A.D. 323–538)
“For the mystery of iniquity doth already work.” 2 Thessalonians 2:7, first part
Study Help: The Great Controversy, 49–60; Maranatha, 161
“What was the origin of the great apostasy? How did the church first depart from the simplicity of the gospel?” The Great Controversy, 384
1 THE TWO-EDGED SWORD
1.a. How did Jesus introduce Himself to the church at Pergamos? Revelation 2:12
1.b. What should the Christian use, and what is it able to accomplish? Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12
Note: “Let the truth do the cutting; the word of God is as a sharp, two-edged sword and will cut its way to the heart. Those who know that they have the truth should not, by the use of harsh and severe expressions, give Satan one chance to misinterpret their spirit.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 239
1.c. What was the condition of the church during the period of Pergamos? Revelation 2:13–15
Note: “Little by little, at first in stealth and silence, and then more openly as it increased in strength and gained control of the minds of men, ‘the mystery of iniquity’ carried forward its deceptive and blasphemous work. Almost imperceptibly the customs of heathenism found their way into the Christian church. The spirit of compromise and conformity was restrained for a time by the fierce persecutions which the church endured under paganism.” The Great Controversy, 49
2 SATAN’S SEAT
2.a. What desire was developed by Lucifer? Isaiah 14:13, 14. What would be the ultimate result of such a desire? Proverbs 16:18; Isaiah 14:15
Note: “Lucifer had said, ‘I will be like the Most High.’ Isaiah 14:12, 14; and the desire for self-exaltation had brought strife into the heavenly courts, and had banished a multitude of the hosts of God. Had Lucifer really desired to be like the Most High, he would never have deserted his appointed place in heaven; for the spirit of the Most High is manifested in unselfish ministry. Lucifer desired God’s power, but not His character. He sought for himself the highest place, and every being who is actuated by his spirit will do the same. Thus alienation, discord, and strife will be inevitable. Dominion becomes the prize of the strongest. The kingdom of Satan is a kingdom of force; every individual regards every other as an obstacle in the way of his own advancement, or a steppingstone on which he himself may climb to a higher place.” The Desire of Ages, 435, 436
2.b. When tempting Jesus, what position did Satan claim as legitimately belonging to him? Luke 4:5, 6; John 12:31
Note: “Satan, in his pride and arrogance, had declared himself to be the rightful and permanent ruler of the world, the possessor of all its riches and glory, claiming homage of all who lived in it, as though he had created the world and all things that were therein. … He endeavored to make a special contract with Christ, to make over to Him at once the whole of his claim, if He would worship him. …
“Satan had flattered himself in his first temptation that he had so well concealed his true character and purposes that Christ did not recognize him as the fallen rebel chief whom He had conquered and expelled from heaven. … Satan knew that if Jesus should die to redeem man, his power must end after a season, and he would be destroyed. Therefore, it was his studied plan to prevent, if possible, the completion of the great work which had been commenced by the Son of God. If the plan of man’s redemption should fail, he would retain the kingdom which he then claimed. And if he should succeed, he flattered himself that he would reign in opposition to the God of heaven.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 286, 287
3 GOD’S FAITHFUL SERVANTS
3.a. How zealous were the early Christians in proclaiming the gospel? What was the fate of God’s faithful servant Antipas? Revelation 2:13
Note: “I was carried forward to the time when heathen idolaters cruelly persecuted and killed the Christians. Blood flowed in torrents. The noble, the learned, and the common people were alike slain without mercy. Wealthy families were reduced to poverty, because they would not yield their religion. Notwithstanding the persecution and sufferings which these Christians endured, they would not lower the standard. They kept their religion pure. I saw that Satan exulted and triumphed over their sufferings. But God looked upon His faithful martyrs with great approbation.” Early Writings, 210
“Looking upward by faith, they [the early Christians] saw Christ and angels leaning over the battlements of heaven, gazing upon them with the deepest interest and regarding their steadfastness with approval. …
“In vain were Satan’s efforts to destroy the church of Christ by violence. The great controversy in which the disciples of Jesus yielded up their lives did not cease when these faithful standard-bearers fell at their post. By defeat they conquered. God’s workmen were slain, but His work went steadily forward. The gospel continued to spread and the number of its adherents to increase.” The Great Controversy, 41
3.b. What was foretold by the apostle Paul about those who will serve the Lord with a godly life? 2 Timothy 3:12. Why is persecution against Christians not so strong today?
Note: “There is another and more important question that should engage the attention of the churches of today. The apostle Paul declares that ‘all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.’ 2 Timothy 3:12. Why is it, then, that persecution seems in a great degree to slumber? The only reason is that the church has conformed to the world’s standard and therefore awakens no opposition. The religion which is current in our day is not of the pure and holy character that marked the Christian faith in the days of Christ and His apostles. It is only because of the spirit of compromise with sin, because the great truths of the word of God are so indifferently regarded, because there is so little vital godliness in the church, that Christianity is apparently so popular with the world.” The Great Controversy, 48
4 THE DOCTRINE OF BALAAM
4.a. What was Balaam’s suggestion to Balak, King of Moab, about the children of Israel? Numbers 25:1–3; 31:16
Note: “At first there was little intercourse between the Israelites and their heathen neighbors, but after a time Midianitish women began to steal into the camp. Their appearance excited no alarm, and so quietly were their plans conducted that the attention of Moses was not called to the matter. It was the object of these women, in their association with the Hebrews, to seduce them into transgression of the law of God, to draw their attention to heathen rites and customs, and lead them into idolatry. These motives were studiously concealed under the garb of friendship, so that they were not suspected, even by the guardians of the people.
“At Balaam’s suggestion, a grand festival in honor of their gods was appointed by the king of Moab, and it was secretly arranged that Balaam should induce the Israelites to attend. He was regarded by them as a prophet of God, and hence had little difficulty in accomplishing his purpose. Great numbers of the people joined him in witnessing the festivities. They ventured upon the forbidden ground, and were entangled in the snare of Satan. Beguiled with music and dancing, and allured by the beauty of heathen vestals, they cast off their fealty to Jehovah.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 454
4.b. What sins were present in the Christian church during the period of Pergamos? Revelation 2:14, 15; 2 Corinthians 6:14–16, first part; Ephesians 5:3
Note: “Most of the Christians at last consented to lower their standard, and a union was formed between Christianity and paganism. Although the worshipers of idols professed to be converted, and united with the church, they still clung to their idolatry, only changing the objects of their worship to images of Jesus, and even of Mary and the saints. The foul leaven of idolatry, thus brought into the church, continued its baleful work. Unsound doctrines, superstitious rites, and idolatrous ceremonies were incorporated into her faith and worship.” The Great Controversy, 43
5 PROMISE TO THE OVERCOMER
5.a. What will be the inevitable result if we do not heed the warning of Jesus and repent? Revelation 2:16
Note: “The truth is the truth. It is not to be wrapped up in beautiful adornings, that the outside appearance may be admired. The teacher is to make the truth clear and forcible to the understanding and to the conscience. The word is a two-edged sword, that cuts both ways. It does not tread as with soft, slippered feet.” The Review and Herald, April 20, 1897
5.b. What wonderful promises were given the church at Pergamos and also to us if we overcome? Revelation 2:17; Isaiah 56:4, 5
Note: “Upon what ground may we claim the full and rich promises of God? We can claim them only when we have fulfilled the conditions prescribed in His word. The Lord is constantly giving. He pours down the rain and the sunshine. He promises to give to His people the privilege of eating of the tree of life, and the hidden manna. He holds forth the crown of life, the white stone with the new name written therein.” The Review and Herald, December 17, 1889
“Immortal glory and eternal life is the reward that our Redeemer offers to those who will be obedient to Him. He has made it possible for them to perfect Christian character through His name and to overcome on their own account as He overcame in their behalf. He has given them an example in His own life, showing them how they may overcome.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 365
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1 What position should the word of God have in our lives?
2 What does Satan claim as his own?
3 What will happen to those who oppose Satan’s claim?
4 What did compromise bring to the church?
5 What is the promise to those who overcome worldly compromise?
Copytight 2000, Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia 24019-5048, U.S.A.