Summary: Fifth in a series from Revelation dealing with Smyrna the suffering Church
The Revelation of Jesus Christ
“Suffering for Jesus - 1”
John wrote this book under direct orders from Jesus. Jesus appeared to him and commissioned him to write what he saw, what was and what was about to take place. This forms the outline of the book. John wrote during a time of severe tribulation and testing among those who chose to follow Christ and His teaching.
I. Prologue 1:1-20 (Things which you have seen)
The Prologue in chapter one records what John the aged Apostle saw (and heard) including a manifestation of Jesus far different that what John had known previously. The theme of the book describes the coming of Jesus and the events leading up to that return.
II. Messages to the Seven churches 2-3 (Things with are)
John wrote about the current condition of the church and Jesus’ message to seven specific churches in Asia that represent issues and struggles applicable to all churches in every age up till the return of Jesus. Jesus followed a similar pattern in all seven messages.
A. The Message to the church in Ephesus 2:1-7
Church of solid doctrine without serious devotion
Church of perseverance without passion
Forty years of Christianity diminished their enthusiastic devotion to Christ. Jesus lamented the loss of their first love for Him and warned them to repent and go back to serving Him the way they did when they first embraced Him. Failure to comply would revoke their privilege of bearing effective witness for Him in the world. Remember – Repent – Return
Be with, do for, give to, sacrifice for and talk about the one you love.
B. The Message to the church in Smyrna 2:8-11
The Suffering Church
Jesus spoke to this church as the Ever Present One; the beginning and the end. He spoke as one who Himself had proven faithful to the end in the face of unspeakable suffering. He had no correction but urged them to stop fearing what might take place and to stay faithful even unto death which He warned would actually happen to some of them. His admonition to stop fearing was not based on rescue from danger but relationship with deity. No matter where one’s view of the 7 year Great Tribulation and the timing of the rapture of the church, tribulation and suffering and trials have been connected to faithful followers of Jesus from the beginning. Jesus assured His followers that as long as they were in the world they would experience tribulation. Anyone who tells you differently misrepresents the teaching of Jesus and the Bible.
I made a few observations last time we were together from this passage.
• Everyone must endure storms.
• Storms will not last forever.
• Some will not survive the storm. (Christians die.)
• Although people perpetuate evil, Satan is the driving force behind the persecuted church.
Since the Bible has a great deal to say about tribulation and suffering, I chose to take the time at this point to try to give an overview of the Biblical principles regarding suffering.
What the Bible Teaches Regarding Suffering
Not only is suffering to be expected, but Paul actually called it a gift from God.
For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have. Phi 1:30
Suffering is not only a gift, it is a calling.
To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 1Pe 2:21
I. THE SOURCE OF SUFFERING
Suffering from slight to severe is a part of living in a fallen world. We have all encountered or heard about terrible suffering. As individuals contemplate the problem of evil and suffering in our world they make some basic conclusions drawn from an inadequate understanding of the character of God and God’s plan to restore a fallen world. Why does God allow suffering and pain in His world? How can a loving God stand by and let such horrible tragedy happen?
Abused and battered little children. Aborted babies. Disease, war, famine, hunger?
God simply cannot be a loving and all powerful God and allow evil to continue in our world.
The only conclusion concerning the fact that evil still exists in our world is that God is not powerful enough or not loving enough to do something about our pain and suffering.
There are three factors we must balance in order to understand the problem of evil.
A. God's Initial Design
God planned a perfect environment. Evil did not originate with God. He did not plan it, although He planned for it.
B. Man's Intentional Default