Summary: A closer look at the 7 Churches found in the Book of Revelation and what it means for the church today.
The Suffering Church
The 7 Churches of Revelation
January 22nd & 23rd
Today we continue our series on the 7 Churches of Revelation. Let’s look at Christ’s message to the church at Smyrna.
The Smyrna church was 40 miles north of Ephesus. It was called a city of rare beauty located on a bay. It was on the direct trade route from India to Rome. It was known for its schools of science and medicine. The Church in Smyrna would be found in modern day Izmir, Turkey. Current population is 2.5 million.
No one knows for sure how Christianity spread to Smyrna but it is believed it was through the teaching of the Apostle Paul.
This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord. Acts 19:10
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.
Verse 8 is again talking about Jesus. Revelation 1:17-18
Verses 9 & 10
I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.
I. JESUS ENCOURAGES THE CHURCH IN SMYRNA
A. Jesus praises the Church of Smyrna for enduring poverty for his sake.
- Many had been rich at one time but had lost their wealth when they became Christians and were cast out.
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. Matthew 6:20
Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. 2 Corinthians 6:10
-They were financially poor but spiritually rich. We know they endured poverty.
B. The Church in Smyrna suffered persecution
I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Verse 9
-Smyrna means “suffering”
- Jesus is referring to a group of Jews who have gone astray and follow after Satan and not after the ways of their spiritual father Abraham.
-Satan means accuser and Devil means slanderer- we see both happening here
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. Revelation 12:10
-What happens when Satan works his way into the church? He accuses and he slanders and it tears a church down.
-We must understand that part of being a Christian is that we will suffer.
For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” Philippians 1:29
-Jesus sees how they are suffering and offers them comfort.
Illustration: John Wesley Story on Persecution
John Wesley was riding along a road one day when it dawned on him that three days had passed in which he had suffered without persecution. Not a brick or an egg had been thrown at him for three days.
Alarmed, he stopped his horse, and said, “Can it be that I have sinned, and am backslidden?”
Jumping off his horse, Wesley went down on his knees and began begging God to show him where, if any, there had been a fault.
A rough fellow, on the other side of the hedge, hearing the prayer, looked across and recognized the preacher. “I’ll fix that Methodist preacher,” he said, picking up a brick and tossing it over at him. It missed its mark, and fell harmlessly beside John. John Wesley jumped to his feet joyfully exclaiming, “Thank God, it’s all right. I still have His presence.”
- The church in America, Peters Creek Church has never really experienced persecution like churches around the world we suffer from: apathy, busyness…
II. JESUS CHALLENGES THE CHURCH
A. Jesus challenges the church to be fearless
-Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer
- Things are going to get worse but don’t give up he will not win
B. Jesus challenges the church to be faithful
Be faithful even to the point of death Verse 10
- Even if it costs you your life