We have begun a new series entitled: “What Would Jesus Say?” It’s a study of Jesus’ words to the seven churches in Asia in the first 3 chapters of Revelation. Are these words just for the benefit of the churches as they were 2000 years ago? Of course not, they have universal application, not only to the condition of the churches then, but to us today as well.
Last week we considered the church in Ephesus…the church that had left its first love. This week we are moving north to the church in Smyrna. Smyrna is not a wealthy city by any means. It's not like Ephesus who had lost its first love.
Ephesus in my mind is like the North American Church who had not known severe persecution and because of the status quo got cold in its experience with God. Smyrna on the other hand is a poor city, it has no means, it was impoverished and destitute and yet it had a fire and passion for Christ. Ephesus had at all but had no love for Christ. Smyrna has nothing but they possessed everything in Christ Jesus.
And so, Smyrna is the persecuted Church. The devil is trying to discourage them and destroy their faith through tribulation and through persecution. Our enemy, the devil has been permitted to roam about, prowl and prey on believers and to sift you and I. He is like a sieve, a flour sifter, strainer, a colander who wants to break us down and grind us into powder, and destroy our faith.
Revelation 2:8“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, ‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: 9 “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Our Savior wants to tell the people of Smyrna that they’re going to walk through the fiery furnace. He wants to tell them that, so that they don't get discouraged in the middle of it and turn back. He wants them to know that if they overcome the flames that there is an eternal reward waiting for them. He wants to encourage them that though they walk through the fire as it says in Isaiah 43; He will be with them.
Jesus is telling these people of Smyrna that the devil has got designs on them, he wants to sift them, he wants to imprison some of them in order to test all of them, he wants to crank up the persecution on them and he wants to make them fear death so that they will renounce their faith.
Jesus tells them plainly that they need to be faithful unto death. He says: “If you remain faithful to Me, even in the face of this severe persecution that is about to come upon you, will receive a Crown of Life.” No one can predict the circumstances that the future church may have to endure in the days to come. But understand that come what may, if we keep on believing in Him and don't deny Him, He will walk with us through the fire.
Join us in person on Sunday at 10:00 a.m. or via livestream by going to https://www.firstbaptistsudbury.com and clicking on livestream for “Walking Through Fire.”