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Keeping the faith

To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it. Revelation 2.17

The church at Pergamum, which receives the 3rd letter in Revelation, is commended for its faithfulness in a hostile environment (it was the centre for emperor worship in the Roman province of Asia). Yet its record is compromised by the presence of heretics who follow the teachings/ example of Balaam and Nicolaitus. These two influences are related and both have to do with accommodating pagan practices. To this day, the Church is challenged by our desire to reach out to non-believers while seeking to be true to our calling to remain holy: a fine line!

The Lord is anxious to encourage believers in Pergamum that the struggle is worthwhile. It may seem like the rewards are intangible and far away but they are real and they are enduring. Of course neither they, nor we, recognise a faith that is followed merely for the benefits it offers; Christian faith stands or falls on its truth and the Lord requires our obedience not that we "make a deal". That should not prevent encouragement where it is due, however - and it is surely not wrong to augment that encouragement by drawing attention to the positive consequences of our obedience?



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