September 18: Enduring Faithfulness (Revelation 2:8-11)
Prepare for Sunday morning worship using the guide below.
This Sunday Josh Herring will continue a series called Christians Creating Culture: An Examination of Gospel Identity, True Community, and Cultural Flourishing at 9:00am in the youth room. D. G. will be in the Adult 1 classroom continuing through The Gospel Project (currently going through the Old Testament).
New Worship Song
We will be singing a new song together this week. LISTEN HERE.
 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.
 “‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.  Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’
After seeing a vision of the cosmic Christ, John is told to write to the seven churches on the basis of that vision. At the beginning of each letter, Jesus is identified by some aspect of the vision from chapter one. What this means is that the letters teach the followers of Jesus how they should respond to seeing Jesus as John saw him in that vision. The letters are like personal application of the vision of Jesus.
The church of Smyrna is the recipient of the second letter in Revelation. The church is one of the two churches that does not receive a rebuke from Jesus. Smyrna is reminded that Christ is the one who died and who lives again. His victory over death is why he can award them with a crown of life. These truths will be critical for the church in Smyrna to cling to as a source of hope because Jesus informs them that their current suffering is about to increase. Their faithfulness to him will be tested by the upcoming persecution and affliction from Satan. Their persecution steadily increases from poverty and market place persecution into physical affliction. For some, this will even lead to their death. Jesus commands them to “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” He does not promise an end to their suffering, but he does promise something far greater; victory over death. This command can only be an anchor to the soul because of who Christ is and what He has accomplished for His people by defeating our ancient foe and conquering sin!
Review and Apply
Do I have situations in my life where persecution or affliction is occurring? If not, how do I reflect upon that? Have I lacked outspokenness about my faith? Or is the Lord providing me with a season of peace?
In a season of relative peace, as a church and individual, how do I prepare for persecution or affliction? What steps do I have in place to take care of my brother or sister if persecution were to occur?
What should my reaction to tribulation be? What should we preach to ourselves concerning Christ and John’s cosmic vision of who he is?
In our time of testing, how have I responded in the past?
John’s disposition and tone in Revelation is a model for us believers to cling to in regards to our present circumstances. What is his tone towards God’s omnipotence? Satan’s reign? Believer’s hope? How can these truths’ serve us during affliction?