Summer Series: The Seven Churches of Asia
The book of Revelation seems to have been written by an old man under extreme distress. We know this to be the case. It was written during the reign of the Roman Emperor, Domitian, who persecuted the church for 10 years, after Nero. His persecution included the slaughter of thousands of Christians, even including the boiling of the Apostle John himself. Who, after surviving his boiling in oil, was exiled to the Island of Patmos.
John, being on this Island, wrote: "I was in the spirit on the Lord's Day."
He saw some wonderful things, and he shares his vision with those being persecuted giving them hope.
The Hope of Eternal Life for The Church in Smyrna
"Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." --Revelation 2:10
The only church in Revelation that Jesus had nothing bad to say about the church in Smyrna. They were not rich folks. They were somewhat poverty stricken, thus, they more likely to give over to the gospel. Smyrna is a city that existed on the coast in what was Asia Minor and is now southern Turkey.
The Church in Smyrna were Suffering Christians
In the heat of the Domitian, second persecution of the church, thousands of people were killed just because they claimed to be Christians.
- Revelation 2:8-11
The message, don't fear, it will be alright.
Jesus uses geographical locations, and historical facts to bring into view what He he's trying to say. The book of Revelation was written in apocalyptic language. It was hidden from certain folks to be revealed to certain folks. A Roman, picking up the book of Revelation would not understand. Similar to Ezekiel and some other Minor Prophets, that uses apocalyptic language.
When Jesus says, he's the First and the Last, he's saying He's the beginning of all things and the end of all things.
- Isaiah 46:10
God sees the beginning from the end. God is sending this from God, through Jesus Christ who was, and is, and is to come. They knew what it meant, they knew that it meant He had died, but was now alive. They understood that some of them had already been persecuted to death. But that those who died are alive though the one who was dead and is alive.
To the Church in Smyrna He Stated, I Know Thy Works
This has got to be the most harrowing phrase in the Bible. We need to be fully aware that He can still say this to us today, "I Know Thy Works" today too.
- He Knows What You Think
- He Knows What You Do in the Dark
- He Knows What You Do Behind Closed Doors
We can't hide anything from him.
- References to Psalm 139, and Jonah.
To the Church in Smyrna He Stated, I Know Your Tribulations
He knows the feelings of our infirmities. He knows the trials we face. We can't experience anything from the hand of Satan himself, that He hasn't already experienced.
- Hebrews 4:15
Wherever you are, he's been there too.
To the Church in Smyrna He Stated, I Know Your Poverty
He says He knows their poverty, but that they are rich. He's saying that they are poor in material things, but they were rich in spirit. When we contrast that to what He said to the Ephesians, they were rich in material things, but poor in spirit, we can understand that it's far better to be poor in material things, and rich, than to be rich in material things and poor in the spirit.
To the Church in Smyrna He Stated, I Know the Works of the Judaizing Christians
The Judean religion was no longer active, yet some were trying to hold on to the old ways. They were trying to bring Christians back into the Judaen ways. But, Jesus stated that He knows the blasphemy of those who are not Jews but are the synagogue of Satan.
The Church in Smyrna was Suffering Saints, but They were also, Enduring Saints
Fear none of the tribulation, or the poverty, or the blasphemy of the Jews. There would be a time of trial, prison, where they would be tried for several days. This is apocryphal language. Ten, represents, completeness for man. They were going to be tried to the fullest extent, complete, suffering and pain. Some of them would die.
- Revelation 6:9
- Reference to Habakkuk
- Romans 12:19
He tells them to "be faithful unto death." And, He will give them, "a crown of life."
We need to recognize that while these letters weren't written specifically to us, but that we can apply these principles to our own life. Because, what happens if we aren't faithful unto death? There will not be a crown of life for us.
This crown of life, references the Crown of Life, the Stephanos Crown of Life, in Roman culture represented the Crown of Victory. They understood what He meant.
We have to be not only suffering saints, but enduring saints.
He gave them, hope.
He that overcomes shall not be hurt of the second death. Those who overcome, don't gain just a crown, but rather they get to go to heaven.
Two Stages of Christianity
- Those Who are Afraid to Go to Hell
- Those Who Just Love God
Whichever one is your guiding principle can start you on your road to victory. But, you must continue through being faithful unto death. Faithfulness, isn't just showing up and sitting in the pew on Sunday. Faithfulness is the idea that I'm going to do everything I can do to express faith to Christ.
- Romans 8:31
- Romans 6:1-4
We are baptized into his death. We repent of sins, we die to sins, but our dead body must be buried. He says, that we must be buried in water baptism, so that your soul can come into contact with Jesus. Obedience is required, by God, to save one from the death of sin.
Suffering Saints Who Endure, Win!
How do you endure? By having your sins washed away. He washes away the sin from our metaphysical body. He adds us to His church, and when we are faithful unto death, we overcome and receive a crown of life.
Guest Speaker: Tyler Jenkins, Redland Church of Christ, Valdosta Georgia