(A Licentious Church.)
2. THE COMMENDATION--"I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where SATAN'S SEAT IS: and thou holdest fast My Name, and hast not denied My Faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
3. THE COMPLAINT--"But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the DOCTRINE p. 22 OF BALAAM, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before the Children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the DOCTRINE OF THE NICOLAITANES, which thing I hate.
4. THE WARNING--"Repent! or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the SWORD OF MY MOUTH.
5. THE PROMISE--"He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the HIDDEN MANNA, and will give him a WHITE STONE, and in the stone a NEW NAME written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it."
In this Message Pergamos is spoken of as "Satan's Seat." When Attalus III, the Priest-King of the Chaldean Hierarchy, fled before the conquering Persians to Pergamos, and settled there, Satan shifted his capital from Babylon to Pergamos. At first he persecuted the followers of Christ, and Antipas was one of the martyrs. But soon he changed his tactics and began to exalt the Church, and through Constantine united the Church and State, and offered all kinds of inducements for worldly people to come into the Church. Constantine's motive was more political than religious. He. wished to weld his Christian and Pagan subjects into one people, and so consolidate his Empire. The result of this union was that two false and pernicious doctrines crept into the Church. The first was the "Doctrine of Balaam," and the second the "Doctrine of the Nicolaitanes." The latter we have already considered under the Message to the Church at Ephesus. And the foothold it had secured in the Church was seen in the First Great Council of the Church held at Nicaea, in A. D. 325. The Council was composed of about 1500 delegates, the laymen out-numbering the Bishops 5 to 1. It was a stormy council, full of intrigue and political methods, and from the supremacy of the "Clergy" over the "Laity" it was evident that the "Doctrine of the Nicolaitanes" had secured a strong and permanent foothold.
The "Doctrine of Balaam" is disclosed in the story of Balaam found in the Book of Numbers, chapters 22 to 25 inclusive. When the Children of Israel on their way to Canaan had reached the land of Moab, Balak the king of Moab sent for Balaam the Son of Beor, who lived at Pethor on the river Euphrates, to come and curse them. When the Lord would not permit Balaam to curse Israel, he suggested to Balak that he invite them to the licentious feasts of "Baal-Peor," and thus cause Israel to fall into a snare that would so anger the Lord that he would Himself destroy them. This Balak did, and the result was that when the men of Israel went to those sensual feasts and saw the "daughters of Moab" they committed whoredoms with them, which so kindled God's anger that He sent a plague that destroyed 42,000 of them. Now the word "Pergamos" means "Marriage," and when the Church entered into a union with the State it was guilty of "Spiritual Fornication" or "Balaamism."
The "Balaam Method" that Constantine employed was to give to the Bishops of the Church a number of imposing buildings called Basilicas for conversion into churches, for whose decoration he was lavish in the gift of money. He also supplied superb vestments for
the clergy, and soon the Bishop found himself clad in costly vestments, seated on a lofty throne in the apse of the Basilica, with a marble altar, adorned with gold and gems, on a lower level in front of him. A sensuous form of worship was introduced, the character of the preaching was changed, and the great "Pagan Festivals" were adopted, with but little alteration, to please the Pagan members of the church, and attract Pagans to the church. For illustration, as the Winter Solstice falls on the 21st day of December, which is the shortest day in the year, and it is not until the 25th that the day begins to lengthen, which day was regarded throughout the Heathen world as the "birthday" of the "Sun-God," and was a high festival, which was celebrated at Rome by the "Great Games" of the Circus, it was found advisable to change the Birthday of the Son of God, from April, at which time He was probably born, to December 25th, because as He was the "Sun of Righteousness," what more appropriate birth-day could He have than the birthday of the Pagan "Sun-God"?
It was at this time that
had their origin. As the Church had become rich and powerful, it was suggested that by the union of Church and State a condition of affairs would develop that would usher in the Millennium without the return of Christ, and since some scriptural support was needed for such a doctrine, it was claimed that the Jews had been cast off "forever," and that all the prophecies of Israel's future glory were intended for the Church. This "Period" extends from the accession of Constantine A. D. 312 to A. D. 606, when Boniface III was crowned "Universal Bishop."