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The Suffering Church (Revelation 2:8-11)

Sermon on 2 August 2020 by Ps Justin

Introduction

When we read the book of Revelation, may we always remember the 3 instructions for us:

1) The book is about the Revelation of Jesus Christ (Revelation 1:1). Only God can unveil His truth to us and not man.

2) This book is given to His servants (Revelation 1:1). It is meant only for servants of God, to the willing-hearted.

3) This book is given for us to obey (Revelation 1:3). Obedience is an act of humility. God will teach the humble (Psalm 25:9).

Message

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, ‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.’” – Revelation 2:8-11

1. Jesus, the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life.

Our Lord Jesus Christ described Himself as the first and the last, who was dead and came to life (Revelation 2:8). In Revelation 1:8, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Jesus is almighty from the beginning to the end of all creation.

We worship a true and living God. Jesus conquered physical death, spiritual death, and eternal death.

And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. - John 17:3

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen. – 1 Timothy 1:17

When we face hardship, sometimes we don’t understand why we are experiencing difficulties. We need to recognise that everything is happening according to His sovereign will. He guides us toward victory in Christ. Let us have faith in Him. Even as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil. His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts and higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). All things work together for good to those who love God and all things are called to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Believe in God’s love for us. God is love and whoever abides in love abides in God.

2. Jesus knows our works and tribulation.

The Church of Smyrna is a persecuted church.

I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. – Revelation 2:9

We know that this world has tribulations (John 16:33). Tribulations are part of God’s perfect will for servants of God. Therefore, when we face trials, we need not be bewildered (1 Peter 4:12). God allows His children to face tribulations. Often, it is those who are faithful to His calling who face tribulation. These are the overcomers, who will testify for God and stand up against the anti-Christ.

And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. – Revelation 12:17

We want to be faithful to Him at any cost. If we are willing, He will make us able. He will give us courage and strength through His grace, so that we can walk through the valley of the shadow of death. God is not looking for able Christians. He is looking for willing Christians. He will give us the boldness to withstand evil.

3. Jesus knows the Church at Smyrna was poor, but they are rich.

In the old testament, we can read about promises of wealth as reward for being obedient (Deuteronomy 28:1-14).

In the new testament, we have Jesus consecrated for us and we are in a new and living way (Hebrews 10:20). We are promised heavenly wealth through Jesus Christ.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, - Ephesians 1:3

To an inheritance incorruptible and undefined and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, – 1 Peter 1:4

We must live out Matthew 6:33 and the Lord will provide.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. – Matthew 6:33

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Jesus Christ. – Philippians 4:19

The Church at Smyrna was faithful to God and had eternal wealth.

As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, - 2 Peter 1:3

The Laodicean Church was lukewarm. It had material wealth but was spiritually dead.

So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth - Revelation 3:16

This is an important message from God.

Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? – James 2:5

But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are; that no flesh should glory in His presence. – 1 Corinthians 1:27-29

4. Jesus knows the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

The Church of Smyrna faced the slander of those who called themselves God’s people but were not (Revelation 2:9). Jesus called them the synagogue of Satan, because they were hypocrites.

Jesus has warned us.

They will put you out of the synagogue; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. - John 16:2

God-fearing disciples of Christ will be persecuted by so-called God’s people. We must not be afraid to be slandered by them. Remember Jesus rebuked the apostle Peter, saying, “Get behind me, Satan” when Peter did not want to accept Jesus’ prediction of His death (Matthew 16:21-23).

Let us remember and live out 1 Peter 2:12.

Having your conduct honourable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. – 1 Peter 2:12

“No weapon formed against you shall prosper. And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me,” says the Lord. – Isaiah 54:17

When we face slander, let us have peace.

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. – Romans 12:19

5. Jesus says do not fear.

The Lord tells the Church of Smyrna not to fear (Revelation 2:10). Jesus frequently spoke about not being afraid when He was on earth.

Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. – Luke 12:32

Remember – fear not. Let us not be affected by the spirit of fear.

Men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. – Luke 21:26

The spirit of fear prevents many believers from being bold witnesses of the Lord. It places our focus on the things of the world and keeps us away from the things of God.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. – Timothy 1:7

Be filled with the Holy Spirit, and the spirit of fear will be driven away.

And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. – Acts 4:31

Closing

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. – Matthew 5:10-12

Who has ears, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will eat from the tree of life in the paradise of God.

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