Counterfeits are Counterproductive

counterfeits

FVC-Counterfeits are Counterproductive – Revelation 2:12-17

Lords Prayer

Before we begin today’s sermon would you join me in praying the words our Lord taught us to pray?

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done
in earth, as it is in heaven. 
Give us this day our daily bread. 
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: Amen

Dismiss Children

Introduction

Please stand for the reading of God’s Word.

Revelation 2:12-17 ESV  “And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.  (13)  “‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s 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.  (14)  But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality.  (15)  So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.  (16)  Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth.  (17)  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’

You may be seated

  • Last week we talked about the church of Smyrna and we focused on this particular verse written to the church there:

Revelation 2:10 ESV  Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.

  • “Be faithful unto death”, do y’all remember the title of last weeks message?
    • I SIGNED UP TO DIE.
  • The church in Smyrna was facing persecution, and Jesus’ encouragement was “Persevere, even if they KILL you, persevere”.
    • And I hope that some of y’all walked away with a new attitude… I signed up to die! Death don’t have a hold of me so death don’t put any fear in me! I SIGNED UP TO DIE!
  • So that was the church of Smyrna, but today we are looking at the church of Pergamum… and the church of Pergamum is a step further in their persecution than last weeks church, Smyrna.
    • Smyrna was about to face persecution, but Pergamum has already faced it… they done did it y’all… They done been persecuted, and you know what, they persevered!

Revelation 2:13 ESV  “‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s 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.

  • Man at some point this man Antipas was snatched up, beaten, and tourtured… and to borrow from the poem we read last week…
    • “His killer walked up on him, looked him in the eye, he said “Are you going to convert”… Antipas said “NO! I signed up to die!”
      • What else is there to say about Antipas other than “He won!”…
        • You know I was talking to Pastor Cary Gordon, and incredibly wise and learned theologian, about Jan Hus…
        • I said “Pastor, you know church history way better than anyone I know, is it a good idea to keep honoring Jan Hus in our church when we buy this building, or is there some secret heresy he taught that I don’t know about?”
          • And listen, Pastor Cary is putting out a documentary called Enemies in the Church all about heritichs in church leadership… he is very happy to call it like it is…
          • So I was expecting him to just blow Jan Hus up…
        • But that is not what pastor Cary did… pastor Cary instead said “Christian, Jan Hus gave his life for the gospel? What else could I say about him? He died for Christ! Honor him!”.
        • That stuck with me, and that’s how I feel about Antipas, nothing else is ever said about him in scripture… but what else is needed to be said? He signed up to die! And die he did! Antipas won!
  • So, this is the setting, we have a church that is facing and has faced sever persecution, even unto death, and Jesus says “Yet you hold fast to my name and do not deny my faith”… they have been victorious in THIS battle, but the war is not over, because they are still having issues.
  • Now… there are some similarities between this church and the church in Ephesus, the first of the seven church’s we preached on…
    • Because like the church in Ephesus there is this mention to this group of people called the Nicolaitans.
      • Now remember, the Nicolaitans were a group of people who claimed to be Christians, but tried to mix worldly culture with Christianity…
        • Idol worship, sexual sin, political worship… all of it.
        • And adding to this problem is a group of people who “hold to the teaching of Balaam.

Revelation 2:14-15 ESV  But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality.  (15)  So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.

  • Now a short history lesson on who Balaam was.
    • Balaam was an Old Testament prophet. King Balak at the time wanted Balaam to curse the people of Israel, but Balaam refused.
      • Instead what Balaam did was teach king Balak who to entice the Israeli people into sin… and sin the did… and so God ended up sending a plague on the people of Israel.

Numbers 31:16 ESV  Behold, these, on Balaam’s advice, caused the people of Israel to act treacherously against the LORD in the incident of Peor, and so the plague came among the congregation of the LORD.

  • Ok, you guys following so far? Pergamum was a church persevering through persecution… but they were letting in false teaching and false prophets… people who claimed to be Christians but brought in all kinds of bad teaching…
    • And Jesus said “Remove these false teachers, or I will war against you.

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

  • Pretty harsh words from Jesus… but I want to focus on something a little different in these scriptures, because I think through the last few messages we have this part covered… instead I want to focus on food.

Show Title Slide

  • Counterfeits are counterproductive… When you eat fake food, you get fake results!
    • You see I find it astonishing that there are two references to food in the letter to the church in Pergamum…
    • The first is in the end of verse 14…

(Please make bold the part I made bold in this verse when displaying it)
Revelation 2:14 ESV 
But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality.

  • Now that is a negative food reference… it is bad food… forbidden food… food offered falsely to false gods with false teachings… it is a counterfeit food.
  • The second reference to food is in the conclusion of the letter…

(Please make bold the part I made bold in this verse when displaying it)
Revelation 2:17 ESV 
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’

  • The Manna is food from God, it nourishes, it is sweet like honey, it is all you need.
    • It is real… from a real good… it is the original… not the counterfeit.
      • But unlike the food sacrificed to idols, which is very present and surrounding them, the manna is hidden, it requires a measure of faith to receive… to trust that God will provide.
  • So we have these two foods, and we have a choice on which we eat… if we eat one then Christ will war against us, if we chose the other, God grant’s us a white stone, a symbol of victory…
  • And that brings us to point one, our only point this morning… You have a choice, chose wisely.

Point One – You have a choice, choose wisely.

Revelation 2:17 ESV  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’

  • He who has an ear…
    • Raise your hand this morning if you have at least one ear…
  • He who has an ear… that’s you… He who has an ear, let him hear…
    • In other words, you have everything you need to listen to, to hear, to obey what Christ is telling you today… you have a choice to make are you going to hear or not?
  • I have a story I want to tell you…

Show Title Slide

  • It is a story about counterfeit foods, a story I learned when studying the psychology behind pornography addiction and one that I use when helping people recover from addictions… it’s all about counterfeits…
    • Imagine for a moment that you have been working outside in the heat all day.
      • You are covered in sticky sweat, dirt and grime…
      • Your body is pumping out heat like an overworked radiator…
      • Your legs and arms are all wobbly like wet noodles because they have been so over exerted all day.
      • But you are finally done with the day’s labor. With your last bit of strength you clean up your tools, take off your work boots, and walk into the house.
      • You collapse into the chair at the dinning room table…
      • On the table your spouse has prepared you a cool glass of water and a choice of snacks.
        • There is on one side a plate of beautiful, glistening strawberries. They are ripe, they are cold, they are plump… and they have been freshly washed so they have little beads of water dotting them… how fresh, how delicious, how refreshingly cool.
        • But on the other side of the table is a snickers bar… chocolate, caramel, peanuts, nougat… and let’s not forget, a whole lot of High-Fructose-Corn-Syrup…
      • You have a choice, what are you going to eat?
        • Now if you decide to bite into a big plump strawberry…
          • Oh the bliss, the sweetness and juice, the cool flavor… it is like a bite of heaven on that hot hot day.
          • So incredibly refreshing, so incredibly sweet, so incredibly everything you ever wanted in that moment.
        • BUT… if you chose the Snickers bar…
          • Sure it is sweet, so sweet! And in the moment it taste good…
          • But after eating it, you decide you want a strawberry…
            • But what’s this, the strawberry taste bitter, bland even… you can’t taste the sweetness of it, you body doesn’t want it any more…
            • It’s a real phenomenon that happens, your body after tasting the hyper sweetness of the snickers now believes that this is what you really want… and it tells your brain that the strawberry isn’t sweet at all… YOUR BRAIN LIES TO YOU to keep you eating more and more snickers.
        • But the snickers isn’t cold… and it has very little good nutritional value…
          • What it has is a ton of calories that just turn to fat…
          • It clogs your arteries and confuses your body’s insulin production.
        • The snickers is a counterfeit… it feels so good in the moment… but really it is doing the opposite of what your body thinks it is doing…
          • You need food to nourish you, refresh you, and keep you strong.
            • But the snickers fattens you, exhausts you, and tricks you into wanting more and more and more.
      • You have a choice, and if you chose the snickers, you have chosen poorly.
  • Church you have a choice when it comes to worship…
    • There are counterfeit churches out there… with huge followings and massive sanctuaries that seat 10,000’s of thousands…
    • They even meet every Sunday, and people stand and cheer to praise their false idols.
      • It’s called the church of FootBaal.
        • Some worship the Packers, some worship the Vikings, other wiser more handsome people worship the Seahawks… BUT IT’S ALL FALSE…
        • It is a counterfeit religion… it does what Jesus does, but in a false way to try to trick you into getting what only Jesus truly offers.
          • It builds false comradery around a team you have nothing to do with.
          • It allows you to be vocal, to sing praises, to get excited.
          • It allows you to meet with other like minded people and get excited about it all.
    • Now I am not saying you can’t like football, I love watching football… but if you replace Jesus with football then you have made your choice.
      • If you miss church… you know, gathering together weekly to worship the God who made you, who died for you, who rose for you, who saved you…
        • If you miss that, to watch some random people throw around a pigskin… then you have made your choice.
      • Man I love football, but I wont miss a minute of church to watch it.
    • Maybe football is not your false idol of choice… maybe it is hunting…
      • I know people who are in church every Sunday, they show up early to serve even…
        • Then hunting season comes around and I don’t see them for a few months.
        • You have made your choice.
    • Maybe your false idol is your kids…
      • You would love to make it to church… but little Timmy has tball games on Sundays.
      • And little Jimmy has basketbaal on Sundays.
      • And little Tammy has volleybaal on Sundays.
      • And it’t not my fault that little Hammy has recitals every Sunday, I don’t make the schedule… But I mean, it’s my kids… I can’t miss that…
    • Y’all who are you teaching your kids to serve? God or Baal?
      • Who are YOU teaching your kids to worship, God or basebaal, voleybaal, basketbaal?
        • Don’t be shocked when your kid grows up and leaves Jesus behind because YOU taught them Christ wasn’t a priority.
  • What counterfeits are you choosing that are taking away from God?
    • Sports?
    • Hobbies?
    • Money?
    • Un Godly relationships?
    • Addictions?
    • Your spouse?
    • Your kids?
    • Yourself?
  • You have a choice, chose wisely.
    • You have a choice of weather you are going to be fat or fit…
      • And you chose by what you eat and how much you exercise.
    • You have a choice of whether you are going to be poor or well off…
      • And you chose by how hard you work and how you spend money.
    • You have a choice of whether you are going to be holy or wicked…
      • And you chose by how you live your life DAILY. It starts with salvation, absolutely, but it doesn’t end there, we have to DAILY take up our crosses and follow Christ.

Revelation 2:17 ESV  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’

  • Listen you have a choice… who will you serve?
  • If you seek the counterfeits, it will be fun for a while, like the sugar rush that you get from a snickers… BUT THERE WILL BE CONSEQUENCES… counterfeits are counterproductive! And the end result is that Jesus will come and war with you… he will take away everything you thought you had…
    • But if you chose Christ and Christ alone, then He will provide you with the manna your Soul needs to thrive… and he will provide you with a white stone…
      • In ancient Rome when you won a major sporting event you would be given a white stone with SP carved into it… it was a trophy.
      • In ancient Judaism a white stone was pulled out of a bag to proclaim innocence or victory in a court case.
    • If you worship CHRIST alone then you get the food your soul needs and you get the VICTORY your soul seeks.

Conclusion

Turn On Children’s Blessings Lamp

  • We started by talking about Balaam and the evil King Balak… you know we read a little more about that in the book of Joshua… let’s close by reading the powerful words God through the prophet Joshua.

(DO NOT make bold the part I made bold in this verse when displaying it)
Joshua 24:9-15 ESV  Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and fought against Israel. And he sent and invited Balaam the son of Beor to curse you,  (10)  but I would not listen to Balaam. Indeed, he blessed you. So I delivered you out of his hand.  (11)  And you went over the Jordan and came to Jericho, and the leaders of Jericho fought against you, and also the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And I gave them into your hand.  (12)  And I sent the hornet before you, which drove them out before you, the two kings of the Amorites; it was not by your sword or by your bow.  (13)  I gave you a land on which you had not labored and cities that you had not built, and you dwell in them. You eat the fruit of vineyards and olive orchards that you did not plant.’  (14)  “Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.  (15)  And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

  • Gospel Call

Aaronic Blessing


יאר יהוה פניו אליך ויחנך
ישא יהוה פניו אליך וישם לך שׁלום

“May the LORD bless you and keep you;
May the LORD shine his face upon you and be gracious to you;
May the LORD lift up his face upon you and give you his peace.”

You are dismissed from this place but not from His Presence

ye·va·re’·khe·kha’ · Adonai · ve·yeesh’·me·re’·kha

ya·eir · Adonai · pa·nav · e·ley’·kha · vee·khoon·ne’·kah

ees·sa · Adonai · pa·nav · e·ley’·kha · ve·ya·seim · le·kha · sha·lom


“May the LORD bless you and keep you;
May the LORD shine his face upon you and be gracious to you;
May the LORD lift up his face upon you and give you his peace.”

You are dismissed from this place but not from His Presence

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