Summary: Adapted in part from Warren Wiersbe (and others)...a look at the letters Jesus dictated to specific churches...with the ensuing question, "what would He write to us?"
The Crowned Church
> For the one who has trusted Jesus Christ as their Personal Savior, been partakers of the heavenly gift, and are the receiver of eternal life; for all these people we have one huge and common desire. This desire is to hear our Lord say, “well done” when we see Him face to face. We don’t care to hear Him say, “You did okay” or “you did fine” or especially, “everything was pretty good except for one thing.” I am afraid of that “one thing” concept.
> Truth is, we should desire the same thing for the church. The question we are asking is this: what kind of church are we? In Revelation 2 & 3, the Lord Jesus dictates letters to the Apostle John. Now, these are not form letters although they seem to have a form. Each of these letters are written specifically to individual churches and speaking to their particular situation.
> Candidly, this section of scripture should remind us that our Lord does not judge us as compared to someone else, but rather His judgments are based on His truth, His commands and our obedience. It’s not about whether we are better than someone else, but about how closely we follow His mandate to us.
> Were Jesus to appear to Dr. Rick Lance and dictate a letter for HBC, wonder what it would actually say as compared to what we would want it to say? Hold on to that question until we arrive at the end of our study.
> Last week, we began with reading about the church at Ephesus. We called them the “Careless Church”. They had much going for them, but had simply and carelessly drifted away from their first love. No amount of good work or truth could make up for their carelessness.
> Tonight we pick up with the church at Smyrna in Revelation 2:8-11. Let’s read this together.
> Every four years the countries of the world come together in a series of athletic competitions called the Olympics. The athletes compete and the best are awarded Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals. They are arguable crowned to be the best in the world.
> The Smyrna church could be called the crowned church.
The Crowned Church – Pg 2
1) Their Approval- We begins with Jesus. When He speaks, He always speaks personally and practically. He says, “I am the first and last---also I am the one who was dead and am now alive.” How is this part of their approval? Jesus is saying because I am a proper perspective of both time and eternity, I understand your tribulation.
a) The believers at Smyrna were being persecuted because of their beliefs. They refused to compromise. In fact, when this letter was read to the church, tradition suggest that a member named Polycarp was in attendance. Among other notable things about Polycarp, know that His life ended in martyrdom. In 155, he was arrested by the government which represented Rome on the charge of being a Christian. The proconsul took pity on such a gentle old man and offered the escape of torture and death if he would but proclaim, “Caesar is Lord”. Polycarp responded, “Eighty-six years I have served Christ, and He never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?” And He was burned at the stake.
b) Jesus says, “I know.” I also know that you say you’re in poverty. The word in the Greek means “abject poverty.” Watch this, Kingdom Principles are always opposite of the worlds principles and standards. You think you’re poor---ah, but I say you’re rich.
c) What are these riches? I love this part, it bleeds directly into the next thought
2) Their Accusation – This is the church and the Christian that I desire to be. What is their accusation?
a) NONE. Nothing. Not one. He never mentions a thing.
3) The Admonition – Let me put this text into our vernacular; “I know the slander of those who say they are Christians and are not, but are lost people. They belong to Satan. These people are about to betray you. Satan is going to do His best to derail you.
a) Fear Not. Don’t be Afraid. Don’t let this shake your faith. Why? It’s only for “10 days” which is a symbol for a short period of time. Stay with it & get a crown.
b) This crown of life struck home with those people. Why? Sports. In Smyrna, Athletics were a big deal and the winner received a “Crown Of Life”.
If the Lord was writing a letter about us, would we be the church that would receive a Crown of Life and be considered by Him—the winner!?!