Message to Smyrna

“Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10)

We must remember that we are in the world and that this world is filled with sorrow and suffering, that there will always be trials and tribulations until the end of time when the Lord returns. With this fact the Lord tells the Church of Smyrna, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer.” The Lord did not tell them that He would take away their suffering. The Lord only tells them to be not afraid. They are not to fear the trials that lay ahead of them. The only fear that the Christian should have is a reverent fear of the Lord. “Only fear the LORD and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.” (1 Samuel 12:24)

These hard times that come upon us serve to prove our belief in Him and strengthen our faith to trust Him in these times of trial. Our fear is not of Satan but of God for the unbelieving heart will not prevail in the times of storm. We must be strong in our faith that He will strengthen us and guide us to the far side of the tossing sea. “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)

What our text is describing to us for the most part is foreign to us. But there are many in the world who are facing tribulation and time is soon coming when all of God’s people will suffer for their faith in Him. The Apostle Peter in his first Epistle clearly warns that the Christian will be persecuted and if we are watching the events of the world we should not be surprised. “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12) Our Lord suffered greatly and as one who claims His name we will suffer with Him as well. The Apostle Paul told his son in the faith Timothy that he should not be surprised when persecution comes. “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12)

The Apostle John wrote in his gospel, “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (John 1:5) Those who live in the dark do not want the light, as it reveals their evil ways. They love the desires of the flesh and live in its sinful influences. They hated Jesus because He revealed them for who they were and they will hate the Christian because righteous living reveals the darkness. “You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.” (Matthew 10:22)

It is within the walls of religion that the Satan establishes his greatest treachery. Satan is a master of deception and will twist the truths of God’s Word just as he did when he tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden. Where else would Satan attack than in the Church he so much desires to destroy? There are those within the Church that will attack their Christian brothers thinking that they are doing a good service to God. “They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God.” (John16:2) Jesus cautioned us that in this world we will have tribulation but that we are not to fear these things, we are to rejoice in our tribulation because in the end we will have the victory that our Lord has won for us. “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

God allows Satan to do his work as a test of faith for the Christian. This is so that the Christian and God know where their convictions stand. When the trials of life come will we stand firm on that which we believe to be God’s truth or will we compromise our principles to ease our pain. It is in the tough times that we need to trust God that our faith may be strengthened for the tougher battles that lie ahead. It is during these times of trial that we build a stronger character and prove our testimony of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our God is faithful and Satan can go so far and no more. Satan is limited as even he is bound by the Word of God. Our God is faithful and true and His promises are sure and we can fall back on them and take comfort. “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) Just as God limited the power of Satan against Job He will do the same for you and me. (Job 2:6)

Jesus closes these verses with an exhortation, “Be faithful until death.” The Life of a Christian is not a life here that is restful. Our rest in the eternal life that follows after we leave our bodies. We may live a long and fruitful life as the Apostles John and die of natural cause. Or, we could have a short time as Stephen who shortly after his conversion was martyred. However much the length of time that the Lord has given us we are to remain faithful until death. We should too desire to say with the Apostle Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

When we remain faithful to the end we receive the promise that Jesus has given, “I will give you the crown of life.” Jesus made a similar reference to the Church of Philadelphia when He said, “Hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.” (Revelation 3:11) Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthians that the crown is an imperishable crown. (I Corinthians 9:25) In 2 Timothy we just read that the crown is a crown of righteousness. (2 Timothy 4:7-8) James the half-brother of Jesus gives us this verses to hold onto in our times of trial. “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:12)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, March 24, 2016

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