It has taken me three weeks to finish one sermon! I’m going to finish it, Lord willing, this coming Sunday, June 15, 2008. I’ve updated and expanded on the third and final point on the third sermon in the Sunday Morning series, “Covenant lessons.”
Here is the expanded third point for the upcoming sermon.
COVENANT LESSONS 3 UPDATE
When God changes your name
In this sermon, which has taken us 3 weeks now to finish, we have looked at Abraham and Paul and saw how God worked in their lives in relation to the covenant He made with them as it involved name change.
Now we are going to look at the name change of the New Covenant believer.
Now we are in our series entitled “Covenant Lessons;” Looking into both Abraham and Paul in this study, with application to ourselves.
I know a number of you are thinking, “Pastor is really taking a long time with one sermon, it’s been three weeks now.”
Well, this is true, and we will finish this sermon in this series this week. There was just so much I wanted to share as it involved name change. And truthfully, I haven’t even scratched the surface yet.
I’m sure many of you are feeling like this little boy in a story I heard.
This young boy after a church service asked his father what the highest number he had ever counted to was. The father didn’t know, but he asked his son about his highest number. It was 5,372. “Oh,” he said. “Why did you stop there?” “Church was over.”
I hope during this one sermon that has taken three weeks that you haven’t been spending your time, like this young boy, seeing how high you can count, but that you have received something from the Lord that has encouraged you, edified, you, and stirred you up to make your walk with Him more important.
Let’s look at our Scripture text for today, and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you as I expound upon 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.’
A. Just a little background information before we get into the heart of the sermon.
Jesus, dictating to the Apostle John, writes a letter to the church of Pergamum. Pergamum was a very wealthy city. It was known for a lot of things. They had a temple there for emperor worship. They had the largest library outside of Alexandria Egypt. It was the center of the healing arts religion of Asclepios. Their god they worshiped was a snake coiled around a pole, very similar looking to the symbol our hospitals and doctors use now.
B. Some things we know from Chapter 2 of the book of Revelation concerning Pergamum and the church listed there.
Jesus said Satan’s throne was located there.
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.
Satan’s throne could mean many things:
• Could be the temple of Zeus that was located in the city.
• Could be this worship of this healing serpent God.
• Could be the Emperor worship that took place there.
Whatever the case, this church was located right in the midst of this vile, pagan city.
There was some people within the church, false believers I believe, that brought with them false religion and the paganism of the culture into the church.
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.
What was some of the false doctrine that was allowed in the church?
• Teachings of Balaam – This was teaching them to take food that was sacrificed to idols, and in all probability, to be eaten in amongst their agape meals, our modern day Communion service. Remember, back then the Lord’s supper was a full blown meal. That is why another passage says, you cannot eat at the table of demons and the table of the Lord.
• Also, the teachings of Balaam allowed sexual immorality to be brought in the church. Sexual immorality back then was a part of the pagan worship. So when people became part of the church, a few of them brought this practice into the church, possibly more than just lustful sin, but an horrible act of worship toward God.
• Also, Balaam was a prophet for hire. Perhaps they had preachers for hire there. Preaching just for financial gain, but not the true doctrines of God. They might have been paying preachers to tickle their ears, to teach what they wanted to hear, not the true, whole counsel of the Word of God.
• The teachings of the Nicolaitans – Scholars debate what this is. In Greek the word means, “against laity.” So perhaps it was some type of spiritual abuse and lording the clergy as some type of papal, or emperor status.
Out of love for the church there, Jesus gives them a warning.
Revelation 2:16 ESV – Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth.
Now in order for Pergamum to repent, they had to expel the false believers and teachers from among their midst. If not, Jesus would remove them Himself.
C. What can we learn from this short history lesson into the church in Pergamum?
Christ loves His church, first and foremost. He wants His church to be pure, morally and well as doctrinally.
Satan longs to destroy the church and He will do that by bringing in false believers and teachers.
We must not allow false doctrine, or known sin to be practice amongst believers, especially leadership.
The false believers and teachers must be exposed and warned to repent.
If not, then Christ will do it Himself.
D. In the heart of the sermon this morning, I want to focus on three things from our Scripture text.
A white stone.
A new name written on the stone.
Let’s look at each one of these for a few moments.
E. The hidden manna.
Remember Moses and Aaron put manna in a jar and put it in the Ark of the Covenant. This is what Jesus is alluding too here. New Covenant believers are to avoid feasting on this world and the demonic food it possesses. Look at the context again of this writing to the Church in Pergamum. We are to feast on Christ in the secret, quite place of our lives. He is the hidden Manna. He can only be truly feasted on in the hidden place, or what Jesus calls, “our prayer closet.”
I can’t help but think of that song, “In the secret.” “In the secret, in the quiet place. In the stillness you are there. In the secret, in the quiet hour I wait, only for you. Cause I want to know you more. I want to know you, I want to hear your voice, I want to know you more. I want to touch you, I want to see your face, I want to know you more.”
F. The white stone.
In Roman courts, they would have 2 stones: black and white. If you received the black stone – that meant you were guilty of the charges brought against you. If you received the white stone – that meant you were either innocent, or pardoned and acquitted. We all stand before God guilty. There is nothing we can do in and of ourselves to change this position. But as New Covenant people, Christ Jesus has washed us, and declares us innocent, acquitted of all charges.
G. The new name.
The new name we receive represents our new character. Some scholars believe this new name may actually be the title or name of the Messiah – Jesus Christ Himself, sealed upon us. Whatever the case, I like to think the new name we receive is evidence of the fact that we are transferred from darkness to light, from sin to righteousness.
Allow me for a few moments to be like the Apostle Paul. Paul talked about in one of his epistles of, “talking out of his mind, or talking like a mad man.” Well, let me use my imagination and talk out of my mind for just a few moments.
H. What is the new name we receive?
I look at it as a first name, middle name and last name. You know how your parents would call you by your full name, you was always in trouble. Well, God in Christ calls you by your full name, not because you are in trouble, but because you are His chosen – you belong to Him. Let me quote the two Scriptures I playfully get this name from and then I will give you the complete name.
Jeremiah 23:6 ESV – And this is the name by which he will be called, “The LORD is our righteousness.”
Isaiah 56:5 ESV – I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.
First name – The Lord is my Righteousness.
Middle name – I shall never be cut off.
Last name – From everlasting to everlasting.
Full name – The Lord is my Righteousness, I shall never be cut off, From everlasting to everlasting.
There is an old hymn that says in its chorus, “There’s a new name written down in glory, and it’s mine.”
Can you say that this morning? If you are here this morning and do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ, you will die in your sins, unforgiven, and will experience the full wrath of God.
But Jesus came and in our place, experienced that full wrath of God on the Cross.
If you will repent of your sins, turn to Him and declare Him your Lord and trust in His finished work, He will save you, and give you a new name. He will declare you righteous and acquit you of all charges against you. He has paid the price.
Maybe you are here as a believer this morning and Satan is reminding you of your past. You are dealing with the hurts and stuff and has already been forgiven. Don’t give the enemy a foothold. Surrender to Him and remember, Jesus Christ has given you a new name. Your past does not dictate who you are, neither does your present afflictions, nor Satan’s lies. What dictates who you are is the cross of Christ and Him crucified. He has chose you, called you, the Holy Spirit indwells you. He has given you a new name. Learn to walk in this revelation this morning.