I began to notice that Nels was starting to grow scales. Yeah, scales. Like a reptile. It just looked like he had hives at first. But then it began to spread and grow. Then it looked greasy. It was gross. His nose grew into a snout.
He kept preaching at Pergamum. The strange thing was that the entire congregation started growing scales and snouts. It was bizarre. I was afraid to preach there but I started to realize that the physical manifestations were related to their doctrine.
They thought they were doing such great works, that they would be able to prove to God to that they were indeed “chosen.” However, the way I read the Scriptures, humility is always at the forefront of any spiritual progress. After all, Moses was the meekest man on the face of the earth. His face shined.** It was the serpent in Eden who had sprouted scales and was slimey.
Let me give you some background on the church in Pergamum.
I used to attend the church there at night when I was starting a church on Sunday mornings. One night I was heading for my car and I overheard a conversation of one young girl describing a phone call in which she was sharing her faith with a classmate. She told her friend, here’s the conversation, “God could save you. It doesn’t matter what you do, if God wants to save you, you’d be saved. If God doesn’t save you, you won’t go to Heaven.”
I thought that’s a wonderful prospect for young people to consider. In the Pergamum church, teenagers were telling other teenagers that whatever a person did, God was going to choose their fate for them. Nice. Who wouldn’t want to serve a god like that?
I wouldn’t. Of course, what I thought wasn’t important. Whatever anyone thinks isn’t important. What is important is what God thinks. And the Bible explains what God thinks. What God does say in the Bible is that He is love and loves everyone. God is very patient with all humanity.** There was time for the people in this church and I’d have to try to explain it to them.
Why would anyone want to have a belief system like that? I could only think of one reason. Pride.
If I thought that way, that I was “chosen,” I’d be very, very special. That explains the pride in people who believed that way. But why were they depressed? The reason for that is they couldn’t possibly know if they were chosen! How would they know? Maybe God had chosen them and maybe He hadn’t.
I guess they could do a lot of good works. But how many works would someone have to do to know how many was enough? That’s depressing! Perhaps that is why Nels was thinking of taking his own life. Perhaps, that and his complexion problem
They’d already thought they were “chosen.” But they are very confused because if they were God’s favorites, then what had happened to all the “lesser” Christians who were no longer around anymore?
A good friend of mine recently warned me not to write about Pergamum. He asked if the Holy Spirit had inspired me to write something negative about their dogma. I guess you have my answer.
Here is the background of this town and church. Pergamum comes from the root word that means “married.” What was Pergamum married to? It was married to the world. The worldly people believe they are all “chosen” and will go to Heaven, if it exists. They believe they are special, mainly because they are good people who do a lot of good things. Of course, God loves them because they deserve it!
Now, they may say just the opposite but in their hearts, they do believe that they are special and “chosen.” The Bible indicates that the best of men, except Jesus of course, are sinners in their heart.***
Pergamum was home to several seminaries. All hold basically the same doctrine. God chooses some but rejects others. It wasn’t surprising that most theological schools hold the same bad doctrine. Even before the Great Draft, Satan had a hold on the religious world and spread his evil poison. Now almost all churches hold to the same heresy. The devil had been circulating the idea throughout time that man could please God on his own. Even one of the most prevalent churches, whose head wears a funny pointed hat, threw out their ages-old dogma in favor of an extreme works-oriented theology. The leader, with the funny hat, said that even complete unbelievers who did good could gain entry to Paradise.
So these schools had been turning out some very powerful speakers in the past but in the recent years produced some very anemic preachers. They catered to the lowest denominator. Do good and please God. The ancient doctrines and hymns were all but forgotten. Churches had become social communities. Pergamum had retained their intellectual gloss but their belief system had rotted. It had so degenerated that it was almost indistinguishable from all the all the other churches during this time.
I was getting very concerned for Nels. He had bought a gun. But for what? I was about to find out. And I also noticed that the congregants began to start slithering around on the floor.
(To be continued . . . .)
*On Scriptures on Moses being humble and his face shining: Numbers 12:3 KJV (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.) Exodus 34:35 the sons of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone. So Moses would replace the veil over his face until he went in to speak with Him.
** You can check out Scripture on God loving everyone and not wanting to send any to Hell: 1John 4:8, “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” again see Num. 12:3 (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.) and 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” emphasis mine
*** To check out Scripture on the innate sinfulness of mankind, see Jer. 17:9 “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?”