Summary: This sermon encourages Christians who are suffering to endure.
Revelation 2:8-11 – Dear Church, p.2
And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.
I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation.
Be faithful unto 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. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’
The Bible, God’s revelation of Himself to man, is a collection of 66 books written by 40 different authors over the course of 1500 years - with ONE basic theme – Redemption. From first to last, God’s plan of salvation frames every precept and principle in the Bible.
Each book reveals some aspect of the character of God.
Each chapter dissects human personality and delves human need.
We learn WHO Jesus IS and WHY it is important He came through the Bible; We see WHAT He accomplished through His death and resurrection, and how WE are impacted by those things.
God’s love for us is the motivation behind ALL the things he reveals to us in His Word. Which is why God EVEN tells us about our enemy - Satan.
WHO is “Satan” and why do we need to know about him?
Though there are numerous passages that describe Satan, there remains woeful ignorance in the church concerning him. Pollster, George Barna, conducted a survey several years ago in which he asked ‘who’ Satan was. Of those surveyed, 48% said they believe Satan to be a symbol of evil – NOT a real person. 48%!
Whatever ELSE you may do… PLEASE - PLEASE don’t base your theological views on opinion-polls!!
What does the Bible teach regarding Satan???
Both the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel tell us that Satan was ONCE an Angel of God, created in beauty and perfection – the leader of worship in heaven. Over time, he grew jealous of the glory of God and sought that glory for himself. In pride he exalted himself, and led a rebellion in heaven against God.
The Book of Revelation describes that fall from heaven and tells us that 1/3 of the Angels joined him. These angels, rejected by God and cast from heaven, are now called demons, and Satan is their chief. Though powerful, his fall from heaven demonstrates - he is NOT all-powerful. With no room in heaven for him, Earth became the temporary seat of his dominion.
We first find him in the book of Genesis, disguised as a serpent, tempting Adam and Eve to rebel against God… and throughout the Bible, he is engaged in battle against God and God’s people.
In Matthew 4, he is described as ‘the tempter,’ appealing to the desires of the flesh, leading men to rebel against God.
1 Timothy 4 tells us that he labors to infiltrate the church, attempting to contaminate God’s truth, to fabricate a false gospel, and to corrupt the church through false doctrine.
John 13 shows us how Judas, moved by Satan, betrayed Jesus – revealing Satan’s power to deceive even our Lord’s personal friends.
In Acts 5, we find the devil corrupting the worship of the church, successfully tempting Ananias and Sapphira to lie to God and seek honor for themselves.
1 Peter 5 describes him as “a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.”
Jesus called Satan ‘a liar and the father of lies’ in John chapter 8
Paul tells us that he can even fabricate miracles in order to deceive people
According to Jesus in Matthew 13, Satan is to blame for all the hypocrites in Church.
In dealing with unbelievers, Satan attempts:
to blind their minds so that they will not believe the Gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4)
to snatch away the seed of the Word of God before it can take root in the hearts of men (Matthew 13:19)
To lull the unbeliever into a false sense of security (Luke 11:21)
to lay snares for them, trapping them in sin (2 Timothy 2:25-26)
and to mix just enough error with truth so that he can convince people to be “religious” without being born-again (Matthew 13)
But don’t think his work is solely among unbelievers. He has strategies for destroying churches too… they are:
to neutralize our witness by causing controversy, discord, and division in the church