Scripture Focus- Revelation 2:8-11
“The persecution and genocide of Christians across the world are worse today than at any time in history.” (Newsweek Magazine- Christina Maza)
The persecution of followers of Jesus is real, intense, and increasing.
The Church at Smyrna represents every church in every age in every setting.
Jesus identifies with the suffering church.
Jesus is the first and the last, he was dead and came to life. This tells of his eternality, identity, suffering, and victory.
Jesus understands the conflict that takes place when light encounters darkness.
Affliction/Tribulation- intense, constant pressure
If we follow Jesus we can expect to suffer.
Levels of Persecution:
Marginalization (faith at a personal level)
Restriction (faith in the public square)
Aggression (faith among the people of God)
Jesus challenges the suffering church.
Do not be afraid- Fear can cause anxiety, cowardice, and even denial.
Matthew 10:24-33 Expect trouble from the devil.
Consider the plight of the disciples according to the narrative of church history.
What is the worst that could happen to you as a professing believer? To be killed? No, the worst that could happen to you is to suffer and deny Jesus because of fear.
Expect it. Endure it. Exalt God through it.
Jesus encourages the suffering church.
Crown of life- the victor’s crown
There are 5 crowns mentioned in the New Testament. Imperishable Crown (1 Corinthians 9:24-25); Crown of Rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2:19); Crown of Righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8); Crown of Glory (1 Peter 5:4); Crown of Life (Revelation 2:10)
The crown of life is not given because we earn salvation but as evidence of it.
The Promise- v11 Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will never be harmed by the second death.