Summary: Number 2 in series: Smyrna "The Letters to the Seven Churches"
# 2 in Series: The Letters of Christ to the Seven Churches.
From the pulpit of Bayview Baptist Church, May 6, 2001
“Is Bayview Baptist Church Similar to Smyrna Baptist Church?”
Then name Smyrna means “myrrh” or “an offering of sacrifice.”
Smyrna is the church that suffered martyrdom for Christ.
Smyrna is located approximately 35 miles north of Ephesus, the church we studied 2 weeks ago on Sunday night, April 22.
This is a city that is still in existence today, the Turkish city of Izmir, which is in modern day Turkey.
It’s a beautiful commercial center with a beautiful harbor, a crown jewel of Asia with a tremendous population even today.
Even though there are few Christians today in Smyrna because Christians are persecuted today in modern Turkey, when our Lord Jesus Christ addressed His letter to the church at Smyrna, everything He has to say to them is praise.
Remember that these are the letters written by the Apostle John, the same writer of the Gospel of John, who is being directed and inspired by the Holy Spirit of God.
So these letters are in fact written by Christ Himself and are complete letters, meaning that they are the only letters needed for the spiritual matters of all the churches in existence today.
Smyrna and Philadelphia were the only two churches that receive no criticism or call to repentance.
To the wonderful church in Smyrna, Christ describes Himself as “the first and the last, who became dead and lived again” (verse 8).
The first and the last teach us that there was nothing before Christ and there will be nothing to follow Him.
Christ was there at the beginning of creation, and He will preside over the very end of time.
He “who became dead and lived again” speaks of the cross, His burial and His resurrection.
It’s a real message for martyrs.
It’s been estimated that there were approximately 5 million Christians martyred from before the time of the Apostle John’s death about ad 100, actually about ad 64 when Paul was beheaded by Nero, until the Edict of Toleration by Constantine, which was given in ad 313 and ended the persecution of Christians all over the Roman Empire.
The fact that Christ was triumphant over death is the single factor of our faith that gives us hope.
Christ conquered the worst that life could hand Him.
He even defeated the enemy of all enemies, the final enemy of death.
There are seven things in the Smyrna Baptist Church that our Lord praised.
Let’s look briefly at each one:
1. Tribulation: the early church suffered much affliction for the Lord Jesus Christ, but that was not the Great Tribulation, for the Great Tribulation is yet to come.
2. The second item of praise is poverty: The early churches were largely made up of poor people and even slaves and ex-slaves.
Smyrna Baptist Church was a poor church when it came to possessions, but it was a rich church when it came to spiritual matters.
The world sees only one dimension when it talks about riches, the physical dimension, but when the Lord Jesus Christ looks at your life, he sees another dimension, the spiritual.
Certainly by the standards of the world, Bayview Baptist Chruch is a rich church, but what about the dimension that Christ sees?
Are we rich in spiritual matters?
Do we abound in grace and truth?
3. The third item of praise for the Smyrna Baptist Church was the railing of the ones calling themselves Jews, but instead were a synagogue of Satan.
This I believe needs some explaining: The implication here is that the Jews in Smyrna who had come to Christ were Jews inwardly and outwardly.
Paul said that not all Israel is Israel, and it’s a person’s religion that identifies the person.
So the point here is that the slanderous activity of the Jews is the cause of the persecution of the Christians that is about to break out in Smyrna.
The Jews were using the Roman authorities as the power source to get to the Christians and persecute them, even unto death.
4. The fourth item of praise is “do not fear the things you are about to suffer” (verse 10).
History tells us that millions have gone to their death singing praises to God.
Sometime between ad 150 and 167, a great bishop and member of the Smyrna Baptist Chruch, Polycarp was burned alive for his stand for Christ.
Even today, Christians are the most persecuted major religion in the world.
Have you ever stopped to consider what you personally may be called upon to suffer in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ?
5. The fifth item of praise is, “the devil is about to cast some of you into prison so that you may be tried” (verse 10).