Summary: Fear cripples and paralyzes. Sometimes it is the fear of being rejected by someone else, or it could be the fear of not having some material thing. It can also be the fear of pain or even death. But fear of the future or the fear of man is a sin. So, how
Freedom from Fear
Purpose: To encourage persecuted believers.
Aim: I want the listener to accept persecution as a gift.
INTRODUCTION: Fear cripples and paralyzes. Fear blocks us from doing what we know to be right. Sometimes it is the fear of being rejected by someone else, or it could be the fear of not having some material thing. It can also be the fear of pain or even death. The Christians living in Smyrna were in danger of being in fear because they were being lied about, forced to be poor, and some were about to suffer imprisonment and death.
This letter was written over 2,000 years ago, but it is as current as the daily paper. In recent times many Christians have been martyred throughout Turkey in general and Izmir (Smyrna) in particular. Just last year three believers from the local evangelical Baptist church were brutally murdered by Islamic extremists in the city.
Fear is a normal reaction to persecution. If anyone had a right to be afraid, it would have been the members of this church in Smyrna.
But fear of the future or the fear of man is a sin. So, how can we go though big problems, or trials, or even the threat of death without fear? This letter to Smyrna shows us how.
1:1-20 I. John’s Vision of the Past “the things which you have seen”
2:1-5:14II. Christ’s Vision of the Present “the things which are”
2:1-3:22 A. The testimony of the church on earth
Vs.1-7 1. Ephesus: the loveless church
➽Vs.8-11 2. Smyrna: the hurting church
“Smyrna is a beautiful city today (modern Izmir) on the western shore of Turkey. In ancient times it was known as the ’Beauty of Asia’ and the ’City of Life and Strength.’ It is located some thirty-five miles north of Ephesus and was also a seaport city like Ephesus.
“Its loyalty to Rome was well known. In 195 B.C. (before the days of the Empire), Smyrna had erected a temple to the goddess of Rome during the days of the Roman Republic. The city became the seat of emperor worship, and in A.D. 26, when several cities were competing for the privilege of erecting a temple in honor of Emperor Tiberius, Smyrna was granted the honor.
“According to various ancient sources, it appears that a large colony of Jews lived there with considerable influence upon the civil and political authorities." ["The Coming World Leader" by David Hocking pp.51-52]
Smyrna was only one of two churches, out of the seven here in Revelation, that the Lord had nothing bad to say about them. Smyrna was the persecuted church.
When you are headed into a trial, the person who can be the greatest help to you is someone who has already experienced what you are about to go through. There is nothing more annoying than having someone say, “I know what you are going through” when they have never experienced what you are struggling with. The good news is that there is Someone who is uniquely qualified to help us.
➽Vs.8 a. Christ’s ability to help
Jesus is our example. We may face seemingly insurmountable problems, but Jesus has already been there and He has been victorious.
The first key to overcoming fear is to focus on the greatness of Jesus Christ.
➽(1) Christ is eternal “The first and the last”
Notice that this truth has already been emphasized. Revelation 1:8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (NAU)
God is the only one who sees the big picture. King David, for example, may have wondered why God allowed him to suffer so much persecution, but without it we would not have the Psalms that have been a great blessing to so many people for so many years.
➽(2) Christ conquered death “has come to life”
Jesus comforted John’s fears the same way He is comforting the church of Smyrna. Revelation 1:17-18 17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, 18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades. (NAU)
Jesus can comfort us best because of who He is and because of what He has experienced. Hebrews 2:14-15 14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. (NAU)