II. TO OVERCOME WORLDLINESS
Now we come to the church in Pergamos (Rev. 2:12). History tells us that the church during the age of Pergamos became altogether worldly. The Greek word for Pergamos means marriage (implying union). This indicates that the church in Pergamos became one with the world as in the union of marriage. The church in Pergamos married herself to the world. This marriage took place when Constantine welcomed Christianity as the state religion in the first part of the fourth century. The Lord charged the saints to overcome in such a worldly situation. If they would overcome, He would give them to eat of the hidden manna (Rev. 2:17).
When the people of Israel were wandering in the wilderness, God fed them for forty years every morning with manna in a public way. But Moses was also told to take some manna, put it into a golden pot, and place this golden pot in the ark within the Holy of Holies for a memorial before God (Exo. 16:32-34). In Revelation the Lord promised the faithful saints in Pergamos that if they would remain faithful, He would give them to eat of the hidden manna, which signifies that Christ as the special portion allotted to the saints becomes a hidden portion to the faithful ones.
When we are being persecuted either by our parents, by our relatives, by the elders, by the co-workers, or by the dear saints, and we would not resist or resign but would remain with and in the Lord in this situation, the Lord Jesus will be the hidden manna to us. A particular portion of Christ, a special portion, will be our hidden manna. This special portion will become our support and our strength. How can we endure suffering and live in a situation in which no one else can live? We can endure because we daily enjoy the Lord Jesus as a special portion, the hidden manna.
The Lord also promised the faithful ones at Pergamos that He would give them a white stone on which a new name is written (Rev. 2:17). If we do not follow the worldly church but enjoy the Lord in the proper church life, we will be transformed into stones for the building of God. There are millions of Christians today, but it is difficult to see any one of them built up together with others. We are not built up with others because we all have our peculiar traits. This is why there are many separations and divorces among husbands and wives. The husband and wife cannot be built up together because of their peculiar traits.
In like manner, we cannot be built up together in the church life because of our peculiarities. We all have our particular, peculiar traits. This is why we need to be transformed. It would be helpful for us to sing the following hymn (Hymns, #750) on transformation with our heart and with our spirit.
God’s intention is to have us
All conformed to His dear Son;
Thus a work of transformation
By the Spirit must be done.
Lord, transform us to Thine image
In emotion, mind, and will;
Saturate us with Thy Spirit,
All our being wholly fill.
God hath us regenerated
In our spirit with His life;
But He must transform us further—
In our soul by His own life.
Spreading outward from our spirit
Doth the Lord transform our soul,
By the inward parts renewing,
Till within His full control.
By the power of His Spirit
In His pattern He transforms;
From His glory to His glory
To His image He conforms.
He transforms, all sanctifying,
Till like Him we are matured;
He transforms, our soul possessing,
Till His stature is secured.
We need such transformation. Then we will no longer be natural, and we will be able to be built up together. God desires a house, not individual pieces of material. God wants all the individual material to be built together to be His house, to be His Body. Therefore, today our urgent need is to be transformed.
The Lord promised the overcomers in Pergamos two things: first, the hidden manna for their support and supply and second, a white stone, indicating that they will be the material for God’s building. In our natural being we are not stones but clay. Because we received the divine life with its divine nature through regeneration, we can be transformed into stones, even precious stones (1 Cor. 3:12), by enjoying Christ as our life supply (2 Cor. 3:18).
When Simon came to the Lord, the Lord immediately changed his name to Peter, which means a stone (John 1:42). In the four Gospels, Peter was a difficult case among all the disciples. He was very peculiar, but the Lord dealt with him to get him transformed. In his old age he said in his first Epistle that we are called to be living stones to be built up into a corporate priesthood, that is, a corporate building as God’s spiritual house (1 Pet. 2:5). This is what God desires.
Today the Lord has put us in certain circumstances so that we can learn the lessons of transformation. In the church life, we should not have any choice nor should we try to initiate any change. We should remain where we are to suffer joyfully so that we can be transformed. Then we will no longer be men of clay but stones, even white stones. Being white indicates that we are justified by the Lord and approved by Him, that He is happy with us. When we are transformed, we can be properly and adequately built up with others. This is what the epistle to the church in Pergamos shows us.
The Lord’s word to Pergamos indicates that we need to overcome worldliness in a church that is married to the world, where Satan administrates on his throne and dwells for his possession (Rev. 2:13). To overcome such worldliness is to hold fast the name of the Lord and not deny the faith concerning the Lord (v. 13). If we are faithful to overcome, the Lord will give us to eat of the hidden manna (Christ for our particular nourishment), and He will give us a white stone (for the building in the Body of Christ), upon which a new name is written (according to our new experiences of the particular Christ), which no one knows except he who receives it (v. 17). God’s work of building the church depends on our transformation, and our transformation issues from the enjoyment of Christ as the hidden manna, our life supply.
(The Overcomers, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)