THE PERGAMEAN CHURCH AGE
And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith He Which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
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.
But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock 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.
Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.
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.
Pergamum (ancient name) was situated in Mysia, in a district watered by three rivers, by one of which it communicated to the sea. It was described as the most illustrious city in Asia. It was a city of culture with a library second only to that in Alexandria. Yet it was a city of great sin, given over to licentious rites of the worship of Aesculapius, whom they worshipped in the form of a living serpent which was housed and fed in the temple. In this beautiful city of irrigated groves, public walks and parks lived a small group of dedicated believers who were not fooled by the veneer of beauty, and abhorred the Satanic worship that filled the place.
THE AGEThe Pergamean Age lasted about three hundred years, from 312 to 606 A.D.
Using our God-given rule for choosing the messenger to each age, that is, we choose the one whose ministry most closely approximates that of the first messenger, Paul, we unhesitatingly declare the Pergamean messenger to be Martin. Martin was born in 315 in Hungary. However, his life work was in France where he labored in and around Tours as a bishop. He died in 399. This great saint was the uncle of another wonderful Christian, St. Patrick of Ireland.
Martin was converted to Christ while he was following a career as a professional soldier. It was while he was still engaged in this occupation that a most remarkable miracle occurred. It is recorded that a beggar lay sick in the streets of the town where Martin was posted. The winter cold was more than he could bear for he was poorly clad. No one paid any attention to his needs until Martin came by. Seeing this poor man's plight, but not having an extra garment, he took off his outer cloak, cut it in two with his sword, and wrapped the cloth around the freezing man. He attended him the best he could and went on his way. That night the Lord Jesus appeared unto him in a vision. There He stood, like a beggar, wrapped in the half of Martin's garment. He spoke to him and said, "Martin, though he is only a catechumen has clothed Me with this garment." From that time on Martin sought to serve the Lord with all his heart. His life became a series of miracles manifesting the power of God.
After having left the army and having become a leader in the church, he took a very militant stand against idolatry. He cut down the groves, broke up the images and pulled down the altars. When confronted by the pagans for his deeds he challenged them in much the same manner that Elijah did the prophets of Baal. He offered to be tied to a tree on its underside so that when it was cut down it would crush him unless God intervened and turned the tree around while it fell. The wiley heathen tied him to a tree that was growing on the side of a hill, assured that the natural pull of gravity would cause the tree to so fall as to crush him. Just as the tree began to fall, God swung it around and uphill, contrary to all natural laws. The fleeing heathen were crushed as the tree fell on several of them.
Historians acknowledged that on at least three occasions he raised the dead by faith in Jesus' Name. In one instance he prayed for a dead baby. Like Elisha, he stretched himself upon the babe and prayed. It came back to life and health. On another occasion he was called to help deliver a brother who was being carried away to his death in a time of great persecution. By the time he arrived the poor man was already dead. They had hanged him upon a tree. His body was lifeless and his eyes protruded from the sockets. But Martin took him down, and when he had prayed the man was restored to life and to his rejoicing family.
Martin never did fear the enemy regardless of who it was. Thus he went to personally face a wicked emperor who was responsible for the death of many Spirit-filled saints. The emperor would not grant an audience, so Martin went to see a friend of the emperor, one Damasus, a cruel bishop of Rome. But the bishop, being a nominal Christian of the false vine would not intercede. Martin went back to the palace, but by now the gates had been locked and they would not allow him to enter. He lay down on his face before the Lord and prayed that he be able to get into the palace. He heard a voice bidding him arise. When he did so, he saw the gates open of their own accord. He walked into the court. But the arrogant ruler would not turn his head and speak to him. Martin again prayed. Suddenly a fire came spontaneously from the seat of the throne and the unhappy emperor vacated speedily. Surely the Lord humbles the proud and exalts the lowly.
Such was his ardour in serving the Lord that the devil was mightily aroused. The enemies of truth hired assassins to kill Martin. They came by stealth to his home and as they were about to kill him, he stood erect and bared his throat to the sword. As they leaped forward, the power of God suddenly hurled them back across the room. So overcome were they in that holy and fearful atmosphere that they crawled upon their hands and knees and begged forgiveness for the attempt upon his life.
Too often when men are signally used of the Lord they become lifted up with pride. But not so with Martin. He ever remained the humble servant of God. One night as he was preparing himself to enter the pulpit, a beggar came to his study and asked for some clothing. Martin referred the beggar to his head deacon. The haughty deacon commanded him to leave. Thereupon he went back to see Martin. Martin arose and gave the beggar his own fine robe, and bade the deacon bring him another robe which was of lesser quality. That night as Martin preached the Word, the flock of God saw a soft white glow of light around his person.
Surely this was a great man, a true messenger to that age. Never desirous of aught but to please God he lived a most consecrated life. Never could he be induced to preach until he had first prayed and was in such spiritual frame as to know and deliver the full counsel of God by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. Often he would keep the people waiting while he prayed for full assurance.
Just to know about Martin and his mighty ministry might make one think that the persecution of the saints had abated. Not so. They were still being destroyed by the devil through the instrumentality of the wicked. They were burned at the stake. They were nailed to logs face down and wild dogs were turned loose upon them, so that the dogs would tear away the flesh and bowels, leaving the victims to die in terrible torture. Babes were ripped from expectant mothers and thrown to the hogs. Women's breasts were cut away, and they were forced to stand erect while each heart throb poured out the blood until they crumpled in death. And the tragedy was even greater to think about when one realizes that this was not solely the work of the heathen, but many times it was caused by so- called Christians who felt that they did God a favor in exterminating these loyal soldiers of the cross who stood for the Word and obedience to the Holy Spirit.John 16:2, "They shall put you out of the synagogues; yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God a service." Matthew 24:9, "Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you; and ye shall be hated of all nations for My Name's sake."
By signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit, Martin was truly vindicated as the messenger to that age. But not only was he gifted by a great ministry, he himself was forever true to the Word of God. He fought organization. He withstood sin in high places. He championed the truth in word and deed and lived out a full life of Christian victory.
A biographer wrote of him on this wise. "No one ever saw him angry, or disturbed, or grieving, or laughing. He was always one and the same, and seemed something beyond mortal, wearing on his countenance a sort of celestial joy. Never was anything on his lips but Christ, never anything in his heart but piety, peace and pity. Often did he weep for the sins even of those his detractors, who when he was quiet and absent attacked him with viperous lips and poisoned tongues. Many hated him for virtues they themselves did not possess and could not imitate; and alas! his bitterest assailants were bishops." 7ch020.htm
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