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|SERMON TEXT: REVELATION 2:12-17|
Turn in your Bible to the second chapter of the book of Revelation, Revelation chapter 2 and we begin tonight with verse 12. Revelation chapter 2, verse 12...
We study tonight the letter of our Lord to the church in Pergamos. There are several things of interest about the church of Pergamos and the city there. We know that the city of Pergamos was a city that was famous for its political power, its intellectual sophistication, and its paganism. Pergamos was the capitol city of Asia Minor, it was a city that was given over to luxury and to fashion. When you study about this city there are two things that were very predominant and very important about the city. The first of these is the fact that there was a magnificent library there; this library was one of the most famous in all of antiquity, over 200 thousand volumes were in that library. Now that may not sound, by our standards today, like a lot of books but when you keep in mind that in those days they didn't have printing presses and that all of the books were written by hand then the library becomes very significant. They invented a kind of paper there which we called parchment. When these young people get ready to graduate they'll give them what they call their sheep skin, that means paper that's made out of animal skins. Well, parchment was invented in the city of Pergamos and it was invented in association with the library there.
The second thing that gives prominence and gives some notoriety to the city of Pergamos is the fact that the temple of Aculapeas the god of medicine was there. Here was a medical college in connection with that temple. It was this place, for instance, that modern doctors get the emblem that's on the back of their cards. The symbol of the temple of Aculapeas was a snake. Inside that temple at night people who had come from all over the world would sleep. If they had some particular sickness and they wanted healing they would pray to the god of medicine, Aculapeas, and then they would sleep that night upon the floor of the temple. All in that temple there were harmless snakes that crawled around and if one of those snakes happened to slither over them and touch them during the night they believed that it was the touch of the god of medicine and they would be healed. Well I don't know about you but if one of those slithered over me I would certainly have been instantaneously healed. So here was the city of Pergamos, where the temple of the god of medicine was, and its symbol was a serpent.
Now the Lord Jesus writes a letter to the church of Pergamos and it is a letter concerning the message of our Lord to the compromising church, the church that is dealing with the problem of compromise. The name Pergamos means "married" so here is a picture in Bible prophecy of the period of time when the church became married to the world. So the Lord Jesus addresses himself in verse 12 to this church and He describes himself as the one who has the sharp sword with two edges. Now we know when we see this picture it is always a picture of the Word of God. In Ephesians chapter 6 the Bible says, taking the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God; and in Hebrews 4:12 the Bible says the Word of God is alive and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword. So here is a church that is in need of the ministry of the Word of God. The problem of this particular church can be solved as the Lord Jesus Christ gives His Word to that congregation.
I want us to examine now the various parts of the letter of Jesus to the church of Pergamos, the church in compromise. I call your attention, first of all, in verse 13 to their testimony. There was a testimony which this church held and the Lord begins by giving them a word of commendation, He commends them for their testimony. Now we learn in this verse that their testimony was a difficult one. He says, I know thy works, where thou dwellest, even where Satan's throne is. They were bearing their testimony for Jesus in a most difficult place, they were giving their testimony for the Lord under circumstances that were very very serious. I think this verse right here first of all corrects a misapprehension some people have about the devil. Some people think that the devil is in hell and they have the concept that somehow, as the devil is down in hell, that he is in charge of hell, that he's running things down there. Well when you study the Scriptures you find out that the devil is not now in hell. Now the Bible, this book of Revelation that we're studying, says to us that one day the devil is going to be in hell, he is going to be cast in hell. And when the devil is in hell he will not be the head of hell, he will not be in charge, he will not be running hell, but he will be there as a victim. One day the devil is going to be cast in hell but right now he is not. In fact the Bible says in this age that the devil is the prince of the power of the air and the Bible says that also the devil as a roaring lion walketh about on this earth seeking whom he may devour. Jesus said about the devil, he is the prince of this world. The apostle Paul said about the devil that he is the god of this world. So the Scripture reminds us that we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and against powers and against the rulers of the darkness and wickedness in high places. The devil is operating in the air and on this earth. So the devil has a base of operations.
In the days when the Lord wrote this letter to Pergamos, Pergamos was the city where the devil had his headquarters. It was the base of the operations of the devil. Now I do not know where the devil's base of operation may be tonight, there are any number of cities in the world where he may be directing his campaign. It could be that his base of operation is in New York City, it is a terribly wicked, Satanic place. It may very well be that it's in Hollywood that the devil operates and carries on his activities. We do not know where his base of operation is but we do know that he is working in this world, that he is seeking to devour and destroy, that he is a very real personality, that he operates a whole chain of command of demonic spirits and his purpose is to wreck and ruin the lives of individuals. Well this is what we face now in the city of Pergamos, a church located at the very base of the operation of the devil.
Now notice what Jesus says about this difficult situation. He says, I know thy works and where thou dwellest. I call your attention to that word dwellest. There are two different words that are used translated "dwellest." One of the words is a word that is used of a temporary residence, it's the picture of a man who is just passing through a place and staying in a motel for a night. It's the picture of a man who is just sojourning through, he's not planning to stay there, he'll be there for just a little while. The other word which is used however is a word that means to be settled down, it means to be a permanent resident, it means that you are there, it's your home, it's where you live, there are no prospects of leaving that place. Well the latter word is the word that Jesus uses to the believers in Pergamos: I know where you are settled down to live, I know where your permanent residence is. There was no chance that they could pick up and move from this place, it's exactly where they were. What a picture this is of the position of the believer in this kind of world. In a world that is governed by its god, the devil, believers are called upon by Jesus Christ to live a victorious Christian life and to give forth a victorious testimony for Jesus in the midst of those circumstances.
Well Jesus says to you tonight, I understand. Sometimes people come to me, members of our church come to me, and they says to me, Preacher, pray for me, I've got a difficult time on the job, I'm working in a hard place, I'm one of the few Christians there, the atmosphere is not good, things are going on there that are very unpleasant and uncomfortable for me as a believer. And, of course, I tell them always that I'll pray for them. And then I always say this: It may be that the Lord has put you in that difficult, dark place in order to be a light for Jesus Christ. So Jesus says, I know exactly where you're working, I know where you go on the job every day; I know what you're going through, I know the persecution you're experiencing, I know the difficulties you're encountering on your job. The Lord says to these young people tonight, I know where you're going to school. You would say to me, Preacher, I've got a real tough time at my school, I'm going to a school where there aren't many who know Jesus, I'm trying to live for Jesus in my school. Jesus says to you tonight, young person, I know where you're living, I know just exactly where you're being a witness for Jesus. And you just keep it up, you just keep on being faithful to Christ, and you just keep on living for the Lord in the midst of that difficult school atmosphere and Jesus will bless you because of it. So the Lord says to those on a job situation, I know where thou dwellest; to those in tough school places, I know where thou dwellest.
Maybe some of you are in a bad home situation tonight, you're the only believer in your family, you're the only one who knows Jesus and are trying to serve Jesus. It may be your parents make fun of you because you're living for the Lord. Maybe there's a wayward son there and he mocks your faithfulness to Christ and your love for the Bible and your love for the things of God. Well Jesus says tonight, I know where you dwell, I know where you are living tonight. Their testimony was a difficult testimony.
But by the way, isn't this a great place for a church? Here was the devil's capitol and the Lord had planted a church in that place? You know that is exactly the way God works. A few years ago there was a trend in this country and churches were moving out of the cities. I mean just one after one they were vacating the downtown areas and the cities. I have never believed that this was the way to do it, I have never believed that this was the Lord's way for His church. It is my understanding as I study the New Testament that in the missionary journeys of Paul he went into the very population centers of the world in that day and confronted the devil on his own territory. I think that's exactly what God wants a church to do. A church for Jesus Christ in a city, a church bearing a faithful witness for the Lord in a downtown area is a mighty witness for Christ in that city.
Oh, don't you ever under estimate the spiritual power God gives First Baptist Church because we decided to stay right down here in the heat and in the heart of what's going on in this city. And don't you just take it for granted that things happen the way they do sometime in this city. The prayers of God's praying people in this congregation shake many a citadel of hell in the city of Jacksonville. Brother, don't you think for a moment that the powers of the devil in this city don't keep an eye on this church all the time wondering what we're thinking and what we're doing and what we're going to do next. And I've got news for you, we are planning and we are strategizing every day to defeat the devil on every corner in the city of Jacksonville. Praise God, we've got one lounge closed down right down the block from us. Now they think it was because of a violation of a code or something but what they really don't know is is that some of God's sweet, humble people have been praying for years and months and weeks and one day the Lord say, You know those folks really mean that, I'm just gonna go down there and I'm gonna lock her up. And every time I drive by now I say, Thank you, Jesus, glory to God. That's the power of the gospel of Jesus in a difficult situation. I believe that what we need to do in this 20th Century as we approach the end of the age is to get on the offensive for the Lord, quit being defensive about our faith, and just get on the battlefield for Jesus Christ and attack the devil right where he is. The Bible says greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. So Jesus said, I want you to know, I know where thou dwellest; their testimony was a difficult testimony.
But it was a very definite testimony. Notice how definite it was. He says in verse 13, thou holdest fast my name. In other words they had a testimony for the name of Jesus. Oh, this is a wonderful thing to say about a church isn't it? If you had gone to the services of the church of Pergamos the name of Jesus would not have been a strange name in those services, the name of Christ was preached in that church. I am sad to report to you tonight that this is not always true. Sometimes our folks on vacation go to other churches and, don't misunderstand, there are a lot of fine churches in this land where the name of Jesus is preached, but sometimes our people come back and they say, Preacher, I visited a church on vacation and, Preacher, from the beginning of the service to the end the name of Jesus was never mentioned. I want to tell you that is a sad situation when a church gets that way. Brother, I believer that we are to hold fast the name of Jesus. The only attraction to a church is Jesus Christ. Jesus said, If I be lifted up from the earth I will draw all men unto me. It's not the beauty of this building, as marvelous as it is, that draws people; it's not the magnificence of the singing, as magnificent as it really is; it's not the talent or the ability of whoever may be standing here to preach that's the secret of the drawing power of this church. The secret is is that the name of Jesus is lifted up and it starts in the first song and it goes right on through in the prayers, and in the testimonies, and in the preaching, and in the invitation, and right to the closing hymn. Brother, Jesus is lifted in this place. And I'll tell you what we're going to do. We're going to keep lifting up that name of Jesus. Amen and amen. And He said, you've held fast my name.
And then He says, you have not denied my faith. And literally He says, You have not denied the faith of mine. There's a definite article in front of the word "faith" there and when that occurs in the Bible the faith makes reference to a body of doctrine. Now the person of Jesus Christ and the work of Jesus Christ is expressed in a body of doctrine which is known as the faith. The faith. In other words the teachings of the Word about Christ and His church and His work. The faith of Jesus Christ. We call these the fundamentals of the faith. Now what are fundamentals? Well fundamentals are those things without which you cannot do and retain the entity of that which you discuss. For instance there are certain fundamentals of football: blocking and tackling and kicking and these things, you take those out and you do not have football any more. Well there are certain fundamentals of the faith and when you take those out then you don't have Christianity any more. For instance, the virgin birth of Jesus, that's a fundamental, you take that out and Christianity washes out. Or the blood atonement of Jesus at Calvary's cross, you take that out and you don't have Christianity any more. And the inspiration and the inerrancy and infallibility of the Word of God is a fundamental, you take that out and you can call it what you will, it is not Christian any more.
So here was a church that was faithful to the Word, they were faithful to the faith, the Lord says to them, You have not denied the faith of me. In fact they were so faithful that one of their members had been a martyr for Jesus. Do you see what it says in verse 13? He said, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwells. Antipas was evidently a member of the congregation of Pergamos and when the ceremony came when the citizens of that city were required to go into the temple of Caesar, take a pinch of incense and put it on the altar and say, "Caesar is Lord," Antipas refused to do that. No Christian could consistently do that without compromise because the Christian was taught that Jesus is Lord, the Christian bows the knee to only one Lord and that Lord is Jesus Christ. So it came time and Antipas said, "I'm sorry, I can't do that." And they said, "Well you've got to do it or we'll kill you." He said, "I'm sorry, I can't do that. Caesar is not Lord; he's the emperor but he's not Lord, Jesus is Lord." So tradition says that they took Antipas and they put him in a brass bull and they heated that bull with fire until he was literally roasted to death. So the Lord Jesus says, Antipas, my faithful martyr, my faithful witness. Do you remember back in the first chapter of Revelation that is a title that is ascribed to the Lord Jesus himself? Jesus is called "the faithful witness, the faithful martyr." Here was a man who was true to the Lord and so the Lord gave him His own name. The Bible says if we suffer with Him we shall also reign with Him.
Well I want to tell you something, folks, this was a wonderful church. Here was a church with a testimony that was a difficult one and yet a very definite one. But now then I want you to move down to verses 14 and 15 and 16 and the Lord now addresses himself to the problem in this church. And let's talk a little bit now about their tolerance. And I use the word "tolerance" here in a negative sense. There was an un-Christian, unnecessary tolerance going on in this church, they were tolerating some doctrine that they ought not to have tolerated in this church. In fact in verses 14 and 15 there are two doctrines they were tolerating that were displeasing to the Lord. In verse 14 they were tolerating the doctrine of Balaam. Do you see that? He said, You've got some folks there who hold the doctrine of Balaam. Now what's the doctrine of Balaam?
Well, the doctrine of Balaam is corruption in the membership. Do you remember the story of Balaam in the Old Testament? It's one of the most fascinating stories in the whole Bible. In fact it's very humorous story when you dig into it. Balaam, you remember, was a prophet in the Old Testament who was hired by the king of Moab, Balak, to curse the children of Israel. Now the children of Israel were travelling through the wilderness on the way to the promised land, they got to Moab and the king of Moab wanted them cursed. So he heard there was a preacher over the road named Balaam so he sent a pulpit committee over there. Now this is the King Jerry Version but it's pretty substantive, I can prove everything I'm fixing to say. They sent a pulpit committee over there and they said, "Now, Brother Balaam, the king wants you to come over to his church and preach for him and he wants you to preach a message cursing the children of Israel." Well, Balaam said, "I'll tell you what I better do, I better go pray about that." So he goes up and he says, "Lord, what am I to do?" and the Lord says, "Don't you do that. I've blessed the children of Israel. and you can't curse those I've blessed. I'm going to bless them, I've determined I'm going to bless my people Israel, so you can't do it."
So he goes down and says, "I'm sorry, boys, but the Lord won't let me do that." So they go back over to the king, say, "He won't do it." He says, "Well I'll just get a bigger committee, more well-to-do men, you go over there and tell him we'll build him a bigger pastorium and we'll pay him more money." That's the King Jerry Version but you read it, it's there. So they go back over there to him and they say, "All right now, Balaam, we're going to build you a bigger house, we're going to raise your salary. Come on over and curse Israel for the king." He said, "Well I know what the Lord said but I'll go check just in case I misunderstood." So he goes back up, he says to his wife, "Now you pack, I'm going to pray and then I'll come back in a little while." Now let me tell you something, when you make up your mind you're going to do something anyhow, do you know what the Lord will do? He'll let you do it. He'll let you do it. There's a verse in the Psalms says (what?) that He gave them their requests but sent leanness to their souls. God has given you the ability as a believer to choose, you can choose to do His will and when you do you'll be blessed. Or you can choose not to do His will but when you do you're going to get in bad trouble. So he went up there and prayed and the Lord said, "You just go right on."
Well Balaam gets on his donkey and he starts over there to do what God had told him not to do and so an angel stood there in the way. Now Balaam was so unspiritual he couldn't recognize the presence of the angel but the donkey could, the donkey had more sense than Balaam did. You know the story, you know the story. And finally Balaam gets real mad at his donkey and the Bible says the Lord opened up the mouth of that donkey and that donkey started talking to Balaam. Now you say, Preacher, do you really believe that that donkey talked? I most certainly do. In fact I'll tell you something else, I'd have a lot rather hear Balaam's donkey talk than some preachers I know preach. Amen? And amen. So you know what happened. Balaam went on over there and every time he opened his mouth he couldn't curse Israel, all he could do was just pronounce a blessing on them. God says, I bless them, no man can curse them.
Well, if he couldn't cause them to be cursed he decided what he would do is he would cause them to be corrupted. So you put some Scriptures together, Numbers 25:1 and then Numbers 31:16, when you put those together you discover that what Balaam did is that he taught the children of Israel the doctrine of compromise and he corrupted them, he caused them to enter in to immoral relationships with the women of Moab and what he could not do by cursing he did by the doctrine of compromise. Now let me show you something, this is a very important Bible truth and it is the balancing truth to what I was preaching this morning about our liberty, our freedom in Jesus. There is a doctrine which is taught by some which says that because you are saved and you're going to heaven when you die then you, as a believer, can sin and get by with it. It is the doctrine of compromise, it is corruption in the membership. So that's the doctrine that was being taught in Pergamos, the doctrine that just because you're saved you can live any way you want to live and God will let you get by with it. And I'm going to tell you something, that is a doctrine which has absolutely permeated the church of the Lord in this 20th Century and the reason there is so little respect for the church of the Lord in our society and the reason there is very little power in the average congregation is because of the teaching that just because I'm saved, I'm saved by grace, I can live any way I want to live and God will just kind of blink His eyes and look over it and everything will be all right.
Did you know this had a remarkable historical fulfillment? Now you remember we said that all of this has reference to certain stages of history, well this represents the period of compromise in the church. The word "Pergamos" and I said means married and it represents that period of time when the church and the world became married. In A.D. 313 Constantine, the Roman Emperor, was preparing for a battle at the Milvian Bridge. That night, supposedly, Constantine had a vision and he had a vision of a cross and he saw written around that cross, "In this sign conquer." So, supposedly, Constantine converted to Christianity, he issued the Edict of Toleration which declared Christianity the state religion and everybody says, Well isn't that wonderful, isn't that marvelous, the whole state, the whole Roman Empire officially became Christian. No, the truth of the matter is it's one of the worst things that ever happened to the church in the history of Christianity because here's what happened. Up until that time we were in the period of persecution, the church was underground in the catacombs, they were being burned at the stake and they were being torn to pieces in the Coliseum by wild beasts and there was a price to pay to be a Christian. But when the Edict of Toleration came the church came moving out of the catacombs up into the pagan temples and paganism and the church were married and the doctrine of compromise with the world began to be taught and to be preached. That's when the church was plunged into its Dark Ages historically.
Folks, that doctrine is still with us today, it is the doctrine of corruption in the membership. It is the doctrine that just because you're saved it really doesn't matter how you live. It's the doctrine that you can be a born-again child of God and drink liquor and still go to heaven, accept the sexual standards of this day and still be a child of God. It is the doctrine that you can go along with the music and go along with the habits and go along with all of the ideologies of this world and you can still be a child of God. Well now, folks, let me just simply say to you I personally have the idea in my own heart that those people who say, "I'm saved," and yet live like they're not saved are not saved. Jesus said by their fruits you shall know them. There may be some of you sitting right here tonight and you're living in sin, there is sin in your life and you have not repented of it and you have not been dealt with because of that sin. Listen, when I do wrong as a believer I immediately know I've done wrong and the Lord deals with my heart about it and I am not happy until I get it out of my heart. Now you tell me that you're saved and you can just keep on sinning and enjoying it and God never deals with you, let me tell you something, the Bible says if you are without chastisement you are an illegitimate and not a son. I do not believe you can just live any old way and then just say, "I'm a child of God." I just don't believe it. I'm not trying to be unkind, I'm trying to wake some of you up tonight to see that when you come to know Jesus, brother, there is a change in nature and you don't want to do those things that you used to do. Brother, I'll tell you it is a sad day in the life of a Christian when sin is minimized in his thinking to the point that it is serious no longer, he accepts the standards of this world for his conduct, it is a sad day.
Let me say something to our young people sitting here tonight. You're going to be under constant pressure all of your life as a believer to go by the standards of this world. Don't you do it. Just because everybody else is doing it, and just because this is the composite thinking of the intellectuals of this world, and just because folks will laugh at you if you dare to live a holy, dedicated life, don't you let the devil and the world talk you into compromising your high standards for the Lord Jesus Christ. Brother, you can call it old fogey if you want to, you can call it anything you want to call it, I believe that a Christian ought to live as holy and as dedicated to Jesus as he possibly can. Brother, I don't think there should be any compromise with the world. The doctrine of Baalism, corruption in the membership.
The second doctrine was the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. We've already seen that back in the first letter. The deeds had now become the doctrine. Well the doctrine of Nicolaitanism was confusion in the leadership. The word "Nicolaitan" means to conquer the people and it seems to have been that time when there came to be a distinction between what was called the clergy and the laity and there seemed to become a professional clergy, a professional ministry, and the leadership was separated from the congregation. And the idea arose that somehow, as you moved up in places of leadership in the church, you ascended to higher levels of power and it somehow made you different and separate from the ordinary people in the congregation. And, of course, we've seen this in our day haven't we? And we see this same confusion in leadership today. Now the Bible of course teaches leadership, the Bible teaches the role of pastor in a congregation and there are spiritual leaders such as deacons and these kinds of men, but the qualifications for leadership are always spiritual. Leadership in the house of God is never based upon prestige, prosperity, position in the community, they are always spiritual qualifications.
But, oh, this doctrine of confusion in leadership has permeated our churches until now there are people in key leadership positions in churches that absolutely determine the policy, the policy, of the churches are ungodly and unspiritual men. Let me tell you something, the Bible teaches that every believer in a congregation is just as important and just as precious to Jesus as any other member. Isn't that right? Let me tell you, that sweet little widow woman who came in here silently and unnoticed tonight and slipped into one of these pews, who drops in her faithful tithe out of her monthly pension is just as important and just as necessary to the work of the Lord at First Baptist Church of Jacksonville as the most prominent, well-known member in this congregation. Brother, there are no big I's and little you's in the church of Jesus, we're all the family of God. It's a beautiful thing, isn't it, to see God's people together. The Bible says in Proverbs the rich and the poor meet together, the Lord is the maker of them all. The ground, ladies and gentlemen, is level at the foot of the cross.
Well, Jesus says you've got some tolerance in your church. Well what's Jesus going to do with it? Look at verse 16. Repent. There's the Lord's message, Repent, or else I, this is Jesus talking, I will come unto thee, the church, quickly and will fight against them, the compromisers, with the sword of my mouth. In other words Jesus owns His church but He disowns the compromisers and He said, I want you to know I'll go to battle with you. Too many times those who compromise in their Christian life and begin to live according to the standards of the world and allow compromise and allow sin to come into their lives get the idea that they can hide in the church. Somehow they just feel like they can hide in the church; maybe hide in the choir, hide in the congregation, and somehow get by with their sin, and they look upon the church as a place of safety. Well Jesus says in verse 16 that He's going to come and He's going to fight against you with the sword of His mouth and if you've got unconfessed sin in your life and you're living a worldly life as a believer, the Lord Jesus says you're not in a place of safety, you're in a place of battle, you have just gotten yourself into an all-out war with me. Jesus said, I'm going to come and fight you, I'm going to come fight you. And there's some of you having trouble tonight and you didn't know why you were having trouble. This is exactly why. The Lord is fighting you right now. I mean, brother, you're in a battle with the Lord, He's not going to let you keep sin in your life as a believer, He'll fight you. And the reason you're having some problems is you've got some sin in your life and you haven't dealt with it and repented of it so the Lord said, I'll just fight with you with the sword of my mouth. Oh, listen, folks, it's a serious matter, it's a serious matter when a Christian gets worldliness in his life and doesn't repent.
So the Lord sets forth their testimony, He sets forth their tolerance, now then, verse 17, oh, listen, this is a great verse. I want you to see their triumph. Here is that great statement of the overcomer again: To him that overcometh. Now the word "overcomer" could mean conqueror, same word, conqueror, we are more than conquerors through Him. That word means conquest, conqueror, overcomers. In other words those who do repent, and those who do serve the Lord, and those who do keep the faith, and those who do lift up the name of Jesus. The Lord makes a beautiful 3-fold promise to God's faithful people. I want to just consider these, as we close, quickly. Tune in with me now for just a few moments.
To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna. In the Old Testament, you remember, in the Ark of the Covenant, among several articles, one of the things they put in was a golden pot of manna. Manna was the food that God gave the children of Israel as they journeyed through the wilderness, it was literally bread out of heaven. Every morning God rained down this manna out of heaven and they would go and they would gather that bread. So in that Ark of the Covenant was place a golden pot of that manna. It was believed by tradition that when Israel was carried away into captivity that Jeremiah hid this golden manna and that when Messiah comes He will recover this hidden pot of manna and feed His people. It is beautifully emblematic of the spiritual food which Jesus Christ provides in that hidden place of communion and fellowship with His own, His children of God. Have you ever noticed how stuff is better when it's hidden? Do you ever do this, do you ever take some food at home and hide it? Some sweets? You're on a diet so you decide that you'll take that chocolate and you'll hide it from yourself. The only problem is is that you still remember when you hid it. And then when the hunger pangs really hit you and when you cannot resist any longer you go to the hiding place and you get hold of some of that hidden food. Did you ever notice how much better it is?
Well, the Lord says, I've got some hidden manna for you, this old world doesn't know where it is, this world doesn't know anything about it, it is hidden manna, it's bread out of heaven. Oh, listen, this old world is going its way every day, God's people in that secret place of prayer, when they get hungry in their soul they steal away to the hiding place of prayer and they say, Lord, I'm hungry, I need some food. And the Lord just says, How would you like some of this hidden manna? He just breaks off a big old chunk of that glory chocolate and, boy, it's good, isn't it? And you know what? That's why the things of this world won't make you happy. Talk about chocolates, you know the best place in the world for chocolates is Switzerland? They make the greatest chocolates on the earth. I was over there, I just went to every chocolate place I could find, and once you have tasted their chocolate you've got to have some special chocolate to ever come up to it. And the reason the believer is not satisfied with the old leeks and garlic and onions and the crackers and the tidbits and the junk foods of this old world is that he has tasted that the Lord is good and that's the only thing that'll ever satisfy the child of God. The Lord said, I'm going to give you that hidden manna.
And then He said, I'll give you a white stone. A white stone. Oh, what a blessing this is, a white stone. That white stone was used for many things. It was used in court for instance and if the judge was going to hand down a sentence of condemnation he would take a black stone and he would put it in the urn, he would shake it up, and the black stone would roll out and they knew he was guilty. Or if the man was innocent the judge would place in the urn a white stone, he would shake it and the white stone would roll out and he would know that he was acquitted. I got to thinking about that white stone and I got to thinking about what sin has done in the life of a person. And those sins, just like old black stones put in the urn of life, every sin, those old black stones, and if the judge of all the earth should shake the vessel and let the black stones come out it would be condemnation. But, ah, one day the Lord Jesus Christ came and He dropped into the urn of life the white stone of grace and when we stand at the judgment bar of God there won't be all those black stones of condemnation but it will be the white stone of acquittal and forgiveness. I'll give you the white stone. It was a symbol of victory. When a man won one of the athletic games they gave him a white stone, a symbol of victory. It was a symbol of citizenship, when you've been a faithful citizen in your city they'd give you a white stone.
It was also a beautiful picture of friendship. Sometimes, when people were real good friends they would take those white stones and they would write their names on each end of that stone and then they would break that stone. One would take one part of the stone, the other friend would take the other part of the stone and they would go their ways and maybe it would be years, it might be years before they saw one another again. But perhaps after many many years, separated by many many miles they would meet up again and they'd reach and they'd pull out their half of the stone. You'd take out your half of the stone and your friend would take his half of the stone and you'd put them together and that old friendship was still there. I got to thinking about that. When the Lord saves you it's as if the Lord just cracks off a half of that white stone and says, Here, child of God, one of these days, though you don't see me now, one of these days I'll see you in glory. And one of these days we'll go up there to see our friend the Lord Jesus Christ and that old white stone will come together in its completeness. I'll give you a white stone, Jesus said.
And He said, I'll put a new name on it, a new name written which nobody will know except the one who got it. You ever seen lovers talk to one another? You ever notice how folks who're in love or engaged talk to one another? They don't do much talking out where everybody can hear it, they kind of whisper. You ever notice that? They're off in a corner somewhere and they're whispering, they're whispering little sweet intimacies.
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