Summary: We want our church to become a 'good church' = an overcoming church in this fallen world. Let's listen to what the Spirit is saying to these churches and maybe we will overhear what He wants to say to our church today.
THE LETTERS: Jesus’ Message To The Church In These Last Days
Part 1: What Does It Take to Be A Good Church: Smyrna
Have you ever watched the commentary portion of a DVD? Where the producer or actor actually speaks to you while the movie is going on so you can understand a bit more about what is happening, why they chose the angle or lighting the way they did, how many takes or cuts they had to make for that one scene.
It helps me when I look at Revelation this way—Jesus is the Director and actor so he can’t always come to John and tell him what’s going on so he uses an angel to do it. But there are those special moments when just like an actor who gets a moment off the set and get a drink of Dasani, steps close and whispers about what is taking place—even taking you back to the previous scene and explaining why and then where things are going from here. WE WANT TO KNOW WHAT THE SPIRIT IS SAYING TO US!
Revelation speaks to the churches and tells them that they have indeed GONE back and become a part of the fallen world again—they can do so if they want to—all that Jesus’ needs to do is to take a lampstand (their church) away from His presence.
1. The Revelation is given in panoramic imagery—IMAX EARTH
2. It is written from a Jewish mindset = imagery is primarily Jewish
3. Greek word ‘angelos’ can mean angel or messenger
4. Numbers ARE SYMBOLIC AND have Jewish relevance. E.g. “7” “10” = complete
THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY: To the Church in Smyrna
TWO GOOD CHURCHES (Smyrna & Philadelphia)
2: 8 “To the [messenger] of the [assembling] church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again.
9 I know your tribulations [not waiting for a ‘greater moment in history, but they exp. It now] and your poverty—yet you are rich! [how?]
I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. [those who pull away and align with gov’t—Jews didn’t want to assoc. with Christian sect b/c it would look they were the ones causing trouble and they would lose good graces. So they slander them but stay on the same side as the power group]
10 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.
[what does it take to test you? Is your job place a prison? School? Family? Where does your faith seem to be tested most?
Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.
[Jesus can do this b/c He has conquered death! Stephen! Paul!]
11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the [called out ones] churches. [Not just to Smyrna, but ALL of the churches—historical as well as today!]
[The one] who is overcoming will not be hurt at all by the second death. [Overcoming is an active, daily activity; what is this 2nd death? CH 20:6, 11-15 “Lake of Fire”]
WHAT IS THE SPIRIT SAYING? (TO THE CHURCH IN SMYRNA)
1. ABOUT WHO JESUS CHRIST IS? (Biblical Truth)
2. ABOUT THE WORLD? (Observations)
3. ABOUT WHAT I NEED TO DO? (Application)
4. THE SPIRIT IS SAYING TO MY SPIRIT—WHAT DO I HOPE FOR?
a. Will you allow the things that come your way to shape you more and more into the person GOD wants you to be, or will remain looking like the world?
b. Have you given up the things that look good to those who don’t know God and Jesus for those things that look good in God’s eyes?
c. Will you keep your assurance in God, no matter what happens, and follow His truth, His word, His will against the advice of unbelievers?
d. Will you let God be your comfort and your defense when the world causes you suffering and pain?
e. Will you stand against the fears that others follow just to make themselves look good to everyone else?
f. Will you let yourself be made more into who GOD wants you to be?
5. HOLY SPIRIT, HELP ME TO PRAY:
- Forgive me for not being a part of Your church and for turning it into something it was never meant to be.
-I turn away from the pattern of living like the world:
- I want to live for You
- I am Yours; I will be faithful and I will overcome.