The Mystery of the Next Step of Faith

Wim Malgo (1922-1992)

An interpretation of the last book of the Bible. Part 23. Revelation 2:13.

The Lord can praise the church in Pergamos because they hold firmly to His name: “thou holdest fast my name” (v. 13). What name? The wonderful name that God gave us for salvation: the costly name of Jesus! Located at the center of Satan’s strategy, this church hasn’t let its gaze be obscured by pagan splendor, carnal lust, or the lust of the eyes. That would easily have been possible, since the entire population was enthusiastic about the snake cult and emperor worship.

The phrase that is used here, “holding fast,” is actually too weak and colorless. You could also phrase it as digging in and holding on for dear life. In Pergamos it truly was a matter of life and death, because something that belonged to the believers was being snatched at. That is always the enemy’s goal: He wants to snatch what we have from us. That’s why the letters repeat the admonition, “But that which ye have already hold fast till I come” (Rev 2:25). Or, “hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” (Rev 3:11).

So, it really is a matter of holding tight. Life in Pergamos demanded letting go of Jesus’ name, because Satan lived there. But Satan cannot withstand a confrontation with Jesus’ name. This is the tremendous struggle we’re facing.

“Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21b), the Scriptures say. As soon as the name of Jesus is mentioned in faith, the satanic darkness is shattered. Anyone who clings to this name can do no harm. Then, as overcomers we cry, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil 4:13).—Oh, that we would make more use of Jesus’ name!

In Antipas’ case, the struggle led to death. The Lord Himself says this: “…Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you…” (Rev 2:13). In our case, Satan’s attacks aren’t yet so severe. It’s more civilized. His methods are more subtle, but his goal remains the same. He wants us to deny the name of Jesus in everyday life, by asserting ourselves and being egoists, envious, and slanderers. He wants us to be silent when we should speak, so that our attitude corresponds to Peter’s: “I know not this man of whom ye speak” (Mark 14:71b).

The Lord continues to praise His church in Pergamos, because He never forgets anything. He says, “thou…hast not denied my faith” (Rev 2:13). This is significant because there is faith, and then there is faith. Jesus says, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life” (John 3:36a). This is the first step: faith in Jesus Christ as the personal Savior. But we shouldn’t stop at this first step. People who do remain stuck in spiritual infancy. They may believe in the Lord Jesus, but they don’t actually have faith in the Lord Jesus. And that’s precisely what the secret is. Paul understood this. He says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20). By “in the flesh” he means: I still live in my sinful flesh and “know that in me (that is, in my flesh), dwelleth no good thing” (Romans 7:18a).

In other words, “I live and believe just as Jesus lived and believed, and I keep denying the claims of the flesh like self-righteousness, impurity, and all sinful impulses. I offer myself up completely, as my Savior did. I’m following exactly the same path that my Lord took. I’m remaining on the cross as my Savior stayed on the Cross.” Living in the faith of the Son of God is an essential step beyond believing in Jesus.

The believers in Pergamos understood this, and they didn’t deny their faith. The faith of the Lord Jesus endures, even when everything collapses; when body and soul faint, and every circumstance seems to have conspired against you. To deny him is to refuse to confess Him, as Peter did. Denying one’s faith is sustaining oneself, at the expense of professing to belong to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Can the Lord say of you, “Thou hast not denied my faith”? Or have you denied it? It’s a wonderful testament to Pergamos when He adds, “thou…hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth” (Rev 2:13).

The name “Antipas” has several meanings. One of them is, “like his father.” As a faithful witness, he gave his life for Jesus. We haven’t had to pay for our testimony with our lives, as martyrs do. But there is already a spiritual martyrdom that consists of not forsaking the testimony of Jesus in our everyday lives, but dying to the self. Paul testifies, “I die daily” (1 Cor 15:31b).

Your martyrdom may consist of being connected with someone through marriage, family, or work, who has Satan’s throne in their heart. May we all strive to have Antipas’ attitude and not deny His faith—the faith of Jesus. So many are despondent in our day, even within the church of Jesus. They’re giving up and surrendering in the good fight of faith. But outside of the church, there will be despondent people, those who give in to the demands of a person or of the flesh (in whatever form). Peter was induced to deny the Lord Jesus and the Cross. But the Lord said to him, “Get thee behind me, Satan” (Mark 8:33).

Isn’t it moving that the exalted Lord gives Antipas the same title that He Himself bears? He calls him “Antipas, my faithful martyr.” This is how the Lord Jesus Himself is named: “Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness…” (Rev 1:5a). Faithful witnesses are those who endure to death.

Midnight Call - 09/2021

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