Revelation 2:8-11One-week ago we saw in the first letter,
Jesus said: Write to the announcer for the church in the city named SMYRNA:
I am First and I am Last. I died [finish!] and I became alive again [pah-succeed!]. I tell you:
9 I know your troubles. I know you are poor. But really you are rich! I know the bad things some people say about you. They name themselves Jews, but they are not true Jews. They are the devil's church.
10Soon you will suffer. But don't fear. I tell you: the devil will put some of you in prison to[for] test you. You will suffer for ten days. But stay strong in faith, no-matter if you must die. I will give you the crown of life.
11My Holy Spirit now speaks to your churches. Every person must pay-attention. Every person that wins, the 2nd death can't hurt you.
Jesus praised the church in EPHESUS.
Then He criticized and warned that church.
Then He encouraged that church.
We see that same again and again through all 7 letters.
PraiseBut two churches Jesus gave
We want our church same-as that,
We wish our church can become a church that Jesus can only praise. Good goal, yes. But is that really possible?
Well, two churches in western
Why can't we?
But wait and see if we really want to become as those two churches.
The first church that gets only praise is named SMYRNA, in today's lesson.
This letter to SMYRNA begins:
"I am First!"
Who is first? ADAM? No! God alone lives from the past forever, to the future forever. He said,
"I am Last!"
God alone reigns [manages] all history.
But He also says:
the church in Smyrna announced.
Then what happened?
The Christians got heavy
The city of Smyrna had strong
People living there must worship the Roman emperor as god.
But Christians can't do that. So they got persecuted
Jesus told them:
Christians there are poor... why?
The Bible doesn't say.
We can guess serious discrimination against Christians happened in Smyrna.
But notice, Jesus tells the Christians people:
But rich, meaning... What?
They are rich in their faith
and their connection with Christ.
Remember Jesus said,
SMYRNA Christians had no wealth
but they had much wealth in heaven.
Their bodies were poor,
but their spirits were rich.
The Christians in SMYRNA had another big problem. People gossiped about them, saying things that were-not true.
People who hated Christ, they spread lies about people who follow Christ, and discriminators believed those lies.
People persecuting Christians in
First, people in the city that worship Roman gods.
Second, people that say they
Israel's true God.
Yes, people that have God's Word, the Bible,
Yes, people that should [must] know better,
they persecuted Christians!
The father of the Jewish people is who? Abraham.
Abraham has two different kinds
One group comes from Abraham's body.
The other group share's Abraham's trust in God.
They are the spiritual children of Abraham.
The Bible often says,
which group are true children of Abraham?
The second - the spiritual children
that believe God's promise.
God promised Abraham that
He [God] will bless the world through him [Abraham].
God's promised succeeded when
Jesus was born, crucified, died and resurrected.
we share God's promise and God's blessing.
Christian people in SMYRNA
believed God's promise,
and they received God's blessing.
And for that reason,
the physical [body] children from Abraham
persecuted the spiritual children of Abraham.
But if our words we spread about
other people hurt them,
we are acting the same-as persecutors in Smyrna, right?
We name ourselves [Christ] Lutheran Church of the Deaf.
But if we act that way, can we really use His name?
If we act that way, we must change our name,
Our new name is "The Devil's Lutheran Church of the Deaf,"
as Jesus' letter explains.
We should[must] know better.
Now back to the Christians in Smyrna, and their suffering:
In His letter, Jesus tells them wonderful news! Their persecution will become worse.
If the Christians all go to jail for only ten days, that's not a big problem, right?
Remember, the Book of Revelation is filled with SYMBOLS - picture words.
"Prison" can mean that Christians
see their freedom cut.
The government will make strict limits on Christian people,
same-as Communist countries and Moslem countries
have strict rules and limits against Christians.
"Ten Days" can mean
Persecution will a time limit.
Persecution can go for long time,
but the persecution will end.
For some Christian people, their persecution will end in death!
Don't fear people who can kill your body.
They can't kill your soul. [Matthew 10:28]
All our bodies will die, anyway.
But if we trust God's promise in Jesus Christ,
we will live forever with Him.
Now Jesus closes His letter:
The Bible says clearly,
no-matter that our body dies, our soul lives forever.
Our soul will continue living, either in heaven, or in hell.
Remember Jesus said about Himself:
I died [finish!] and I became alive again [pah-succeed!].Every person united [belong] with Christ in His death
enjoys His forgiveness.
Every person united with Christ
enjoys life with Him forever,
and hell can't touch you any more.
A few years ago, a Christian reporter visited one African country, and he saw the church there is same-as the SMYRNA church.
The reporter was really impressed
the Christians were really excited for Christ.
They were eager to share their faith.
They all gave wonderful loving service for each-other.
That reporter told a pastor there,
"I wish our church in America could become
more like[as] your church.
Our churches are comfortable, but not eager.
Your church has life! We need that!"
The pastor answered,
"Persecution made us this way.
Is that what you want?"
? ? ?
Father in heaven,
Forgive us that we fear the world
more than we honor You.
Forgive us that we pay-attention more to our riches here on earth,
instead-of investing our lives in heaven.
Forgive us that when people do bad things to us,
Increase our faith,
Increase our joy,
Increase our zeal [eager].