Summary: The message to the church at Smyrna. This church had a constant threat of death, but they remained faithful.

I. Introduction

A. The city of Smyrna was about 35 miles north of Ephesus

1. It was and still is an important sea port

a. The city's name is now Ismir

2. It was the site of the temple to Emperor Tiberious

B. As a representative church, Smyrna pictures the time from about 100 AD to 314 AD

1. This church age begins with the death of the Apostle John

2. And it ends when Constantine ascended the throne of Rome

a. Constantine issue the Edict of Toleration

b. And himself embraced Christianity

3. However, the age of the church at Smyrna is characterized by sever persecution

C. The name Smyrna means Myrrh

1. We know that Myrrh was used in preparation of the body for burial

2. Myrrh was a spice which had to be crushed to release its sweet fragrance

3. This was providential because the church suffered persecution and death for her stand for Christ

D. In our examination of this church we shall see

1. The Commendable

2. The warning

3. The Promise

4. There is no condemnation for this church

a. But, there is condemnation for the persecutors of the church

b. Turn to Revelation 2:8

II. Body

A. The preamble to Christ's message to the church at Smyrna also sheds some light on the character of the church and its represented age

1. Christ was addressing Himself to a church and a church age who were under constant threat of death and torture.

2. Being a Christian was a very dangerous thing to be

a. Not something to chose unless you were very sure of your faith

b. One didn't go to church on Sunday because it was the socially acceptable thing to do

c. Why, to identify one's self with any Christian activity was to be labeled as a Christian and marked for execution

Revelation 2:8

To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again.

3. Christ is saying, I am the first and the last

a. You are suffering because of Me, just as I promised

(1) Last week we read John 15:18 - 20, where Jesus promises persecution - well, that promise applies to the church at Ephesus and the church at Smyrna

(a) And it still applies today

(b) Just because we have experienced a couple hundred years of peace does not mean it will continue - More persecution is coming - and we have only begun to see the tip of the ice burg. The people who are running things in our country, in our society, are people who still respect the church; BUT, this unchurched generation will soon be in charge. We shall see them assume the reigns of government and industry, if the Lord tarries. Then we shall see a real beginning of persecution of the church, again.

b. Christ is telling the church, You are suffering because of Me, just as I promised

(1) BUT, I am the first, there was none before me

(a) Not in time

(b) Not in superiority

(2) AND, I am the last, after me, no other will come

(a) I am the ultimate

(b) Your stand for my name is justified, because of who I am

(c) Turn to 1 Corinthians 15:12 ff

c. I am the one who died and came to life again

1 Corinthians 15:12-19

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? (13) If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. (14) And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. (15) More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. (16) For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. (17) And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. (18) Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. (19) If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

(1) That last verse in the King James says,

1 Corinthians 15:19

If in this life ONLY we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable

(2) BUT, Christ is saying that He died the death they faced

(3) AND He prevailed

(4) He rose again

(5) And since He did rise from the dead, the power of the resurrection was His to give to the church at Smyrna

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