What Christ Considers ‘Rich’: Smyrna

Just as we read Colossians or Romans as if it is speaking to the ‘Universal Church’ we read this part of revelation cultural standards for the universal church

We are looking at the entire book of Revelation and making personal application

All of that application has to do with our role as a member of the Body of Christ

Who we are as individuals is fully realized as part of a whole: ‘The Church’

So we are going to keep looking at everything we can about ‘The Church:

  • What is ‘The Church’?
  • By who’s authority does the Church Exist?
  • Why is the Church to be Set Apart?
  • Who is a part of the Church? Who makes them part of The Church?
  • What are Standards for ‘Church Body-Life’?
  • How does the Church Operate?
  • Who sets direction in The Church?
  • How does accountability and enforcement of standards work in The Church?

Messages to the 7 churches reveal aspects of what ‘The Church’ should be

No just in this set of messages but throughout the whole New Testament we learn Standards and values and focuses of ‘The Church’

This message is without criticism or rebuke… the church in Smyrna is an example

Revelation 2:8-11

Write this letter to the angel of the church in Smyrna.

  • 35 miles NW of Ephesus…No record of how church started there
  • Smyrna is greek for the spice Myrrh, key product, resin from indigenous trees
  • Beautiful city: ‘Crown of Asia’

This is the message from the one who is the First and the Last, who was dead but is now alive:

  • Jesus says: I am God, All Powerful, Self Existent, Sovereign Lord of all creation
  • Jesus says: I was bodily incarnated (God among us) I died and rose again
  • Jesus says: I not only made YOU I experienced life like YOU do!

I know about your suffering and your poverty—but you are rich!

  • The pressure of events is on the Church at Smyrna, and the force of circumstances is trying to crush the Christianity out of them.” ~ William Barclay
  • Tribulation, stress, pressure…this is what this refers to
  • Poverty because they were ‘Called Out’, not part of trade guilds, satanic jews
  • Treasure was in Heaven: Matthew 6:20
  • Christ says: Don’t measure what most valuable with the scales of this world
  • Christ Says: Obeying my will is what ‘Rich’ is (He has No criticism of Smyrna)

I know the blasphemy of those opposing you. They say they are Jews, but they are not, because their synagogue belongs to Satan.

  • Opposition to Christ’s Church, in God’s name, is of Satan (Heretic Church)
  • Satan is a LIAR! He teaches those opposed to God how to lie & deceive
  • Every DAY there is evil done that blasphemously uses the name of God

Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The devil will throw some of you into prison to test you. You will suffer for ten days.

  • Our Lord says we can be ‘Without Fear’ regarding any earthly sufferings
  • God allows Satan to test us
  • These test have finite periods defined by God for OUR benefit
  • Surrendered to Christ: Satan can cause suffering here but cannot effect eternity
  • Ten Days used as period of testing in O.T

1st Samuel 25:38 Ten days later the Lord struck Nabal and he died.

Jeremiah 42:7 Now at the end of ten days the Word of the Lord came to Jer

Daniel 1:14 So he listened to them in this manner & tested them for 10 days

But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life.

  • What does it mean to remain faithful?
  • Nothing will compromise someone like the threat of death…
  • The Crown of Life is an ‘extra reward’ not the reward of Eternal life itself
  • Judgement #1: Did you give your life to Christ? If you did = Eternal Life
  • Judgement #2: What did you do with God’s Spirit in you? (Rewards & Jobs)

Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.

  • If God has placed His Spirit in you then you MUST listen…
  • But those without the Spirit can ignore, pay lip service or even mock this Word
  • We must apply it to our lives: Relationships, Careers, Finances, Goals, Dreams

Whoever is victorious will not be harmed by the second death.

  • Commitment to Christ’s Discipleship as a way of life is what He called us to
  • He gives us the victory of eternity with Him when we give Him our lives
  • The second death…is for everything in this ‘world’ except Christ’s Disciples
  • Lake of Fire = Eternal Tormenting of the souls who reject God’s Christ

Revelation 20:12-15

I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds. Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.

Application Questions:

What is significant about Christ declaring himself as: First / Last AND Dead / Alive?

What pressure are you under and what do you do without to be Christ’s Church?

How aware are you of historical heresies in Christianity that are believed now?

How might you live ‘Without Fear’ regarding any earthly suffering?

Christ declares He allows Satan to test His true church, how well are you prepared?

If you are going to heaven what’s the point of getting special rewards there?

How can you be sure that you will not be harmed by ‘The Second Death’?

Biblical Standards of Christ’s Church: Ephesus

  • Standards and values are expressed in the culture of a community of people

Dominant Church Culture USA AD 2018

  • Personal relationship with Jesus emphasized over relationship with Church
  • You don’t have to join the Church to accept Jesus as your personal Savior
  • Focus on fast growth in numbers instead of slow growth in Grace

Dominant Church Culture AD 100

  • Described themselves as ‘Called Out Ones’
  • Commitment that was even more strident than family
  • Unity of purpose, activity, values, standards and lifestyle

Messages to the 7 churches reveal aspects of what ‘The Church’ should be

  • What is ‘The Church’?
  • Kingdom VS Club & Citizenship VS Membership
  • How Jesus created the Church
  • By who’s authority does the Church Exist?
  • Why the Church is Set Apart or ‘The Called Out Ones’?
  • How does the Church Operate?
  • Who makes up the Church (Membership)
  • What are Standards for ‘Body-Life’?
  • Who sets direction in the Church?
  • How Accountability in The Church works

Revelation 2:1-7

Write this letter to the angel of the church in Ephesus.

  • 2nd to Rome at the time
  • Temple of Artemis (fertility) one of 7 wonders of the Ancient World
  • Paul had spent a lot of time in Ephesus (wrote letters / Scripture from there)
  • John had been there with Mary and wrote this from there
  • Who is the ‘Angel’ of the church?

This is the message from the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, the one who walks among the seven gold lampstands:

  • Christ affirms this is direct from Him to His Body
  • ‘In their Midst’

I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people.

  • Your life as a Follower of Christ is done as part of a ‘Body / Community / Family
  • Unity is not an option, it is the only way we glorify Jesus. WE not me ethos

You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars.

  • Christ directly says HIS church is to examine those who claim to be His voice
  • And when they are wrong we are to be aware of the falsehood they propagate

You have patiently suffered for me without quitting.

  • Trusting He is working
  • To ‘SHOW UP’ when His church is acting and meeting and worshiping
  • Doing what is right without needing to rewarded
  • Suffering for HIM…important distinction (you could be suffering because of SIN)

But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen!

  • It’s not OK to settle into a comfortable, complacent ‘Christian Life’…
  • ‘LOOK’ means do a little comparison, some self examination, be honest
  • This is not an original problem for followers of Jesus (slippery slope / danger)
  • But it is not without a CURE…

Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches.

  • Repentance has two critical parts: Sorrow AND doing different things
  • Their are consequences for ‘Consistently Unrepentant Sin’
  • Refusal to do what Christ says means you are not His church (lampstand gone)
  • Could be like Sampson…

But this is in your favor: You hate the evil deeds of the Nicolaitans, just as I do.

  • These are the people who hedonistically abused Grace
  • Started by one of the original Deacons of the Jerusalem church
  • Ritual Orgies that they claimed to be the true meaning of the ‘Love Feast’
  • They claimed to be following Jesus saying obedience to Scripture didn’t matter

Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.

  • What gives us ‘Ears to Hear’? God’s indwelling Holy Spirit (facilitates it)
  • But we all can choose to listen to what we hear
  • We also have to strive to understand what we are listening to (intentionality)

To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God.

  • What constitutes being ‘Victorious’?
  • It means being with God as His child for all eternity (heaven)
  • But if someone can be victorious then also some will not be (Hell)
  • Biblical Salvation defines ‘Victorious’

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Application Questions:

In what ways do YOU participate in ‘What The Church Does’?

How should The Church act in unity against evil & counterfeit Christianity?

What can suffering and not quitting for Jesus Christ look like for US?

What are symptoms of lesser love for Christ & ‘The Body’ in YOUR life?

How can YOU hear and understand what The Spirit is saying to US?

What role does YOUR life in the body play in eternity?

How YOU get to The Point of Revelation

Revelation 1:9-20

I, John, am your brother and your partner in suffering and in God’s Kingdom and in the patient endurance to which Jesus calls us. I was exiled to the island of Patmos for preaching the word of God and for my testimony about Jesus.

  • Siblings and Partner share the same values & Priorities
  • The uniting force is what they believe about the Kingdom of God & Jesus Christ
  • Submission to the call Christ places on His followers & surrendered endurance
  • All of this landed Him on Patmos
  • It is what brought him totally into God will and the Revelation

It was the Lord’s Day, and I was worshiping in the Spirit. Suddenly, I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet blast. It said, “Write in a book everything you see, and send it to the seven churches in the cities of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.”

  • Practice of intentional Spiritual Focus on Sunday (Ancient Practice 4 A Reason)
  • Worshiping in the Spirit: what does it look like Biblically?
  • You cannot worship ‘In The Spirit’ unless you are ‘Indwelt With The Spirit’
  • Supernatural voice
  • Specific initial instructions
  • He was wired for ‘Spirit Reception’ He had been shaped by God to do this
  • These are people John knows and cares about.
  • He has desired and lived out the practice of seeing them as God does

When I turned to see who was speaking to me, I saw seven gold lamp-stands. And standing in the middle of the lamp-stands was someone like the Son of Man.

  • Who is meant to be at the Center of God’s Redeemed?
  • Central but not detached, ‘In The Midst’ (When 2 or more gather in my name…)
  • Someone… John knew who that was, but had not seen Him quite like this
  • He got a preview on the Mount of Transfiguration

He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves.

  • Length of Robe (Isaiah 6:1 I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple.)
  • Gold Sash (High Priest; Exodus 39:5 / Seven Angels from Temple in Heaven; Rev 15:6)
  • White Head & Hair (What The Lord Makes Sin; Psalm 147:16 / ‘The Ancient One or ‘The Ancient of days’; Daniel 7:9)
  • Feet Like Polished Bronze & Voice (Messenger from Daniel 10:6)

He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth. And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance.

  • ‘In His right Hand’ (17 references to the ‘Right Hand of God in Scripture) Honor
  • Two Edged Sword from Mouth (Word of God; Hebrews 4:12)
  • Face Like The Sun ( Mount of Transfiguration Matthew 17:2)

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.

  • To see Jesus Christ as He is in reality should overwhelm us
  • He is intent on letting John, and US know EXACTLY Who He is
  • Knowing exactly who Jesus Christ is matters…ALOT

Write down what you have seen—both the things that are now happening and the things that will happen.

  • Repetition always has significance in Scripture… PAY ATTENTION!
  • Prophecy is current revelation of God’s point of view
  • Prophecy is insight into things that will happen in the future

This is the meaning of the mystery of the seven stars you saw in my right hand and the seven gold lamp-stands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lamp-stands are the seven churches.

  • Revelation IS Spiritual Reality Revealed
  • Use of ‘Seven’ in Apocalyptic Literature

Personal Application Questions:

How can YOU be a Brother / Sister suffering & enduring for Christ’s Kingdom?

How can YOU make the Word of God & who Christ is more central in your daily life?

In honest evaluation of yourself, how committed are YOU to living like John did?

What does it mean to YOU to be ‘In The Spirit’?

Why do YOU think God / Christ picked John to deliver messages to these churches?

Why might revelation of God be connected to what YOU believe about Christ?

How can YOU play a role in something that is represented by ‘Stars’ & Lampstands?

Intro to The Book of Revelation

The Author:

Brother of James, Son of Zabedee, Disciple of John the Baptist

Youngest disciple of Jesus’ Twelve 

The Disciple Jesus Loved 

Surrogate Son to Mary Jesus’ Mother 

One of the three ‘Pillar’s of the Jerusalem Church 

John the Church Planter 

John post Patmos 

Iconic John The Revealer 

Wrote This Book, His Gospel & 3 Epistles AFTER Patmos

The Book:

It is a Revelation of who God is.

‘Prophetic’ in multiple ways…true prophecy reveals reality about God

This will be our focus, not how the ‘End Times’ will play out.

Personal Application is the challenge with much of Revelation

Look for what you can see that is clear about God & about yourself…

Incorporate the knowledge and wisdom into your daily life (character)

Opening Passage:

It states the purpose of the writing by John

Deals with just exactly who God is / Who Jesus Christ is

Revelation 1:1-8

This is a revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants the events that must soon take place.

  • If you consider yourself a ‘Servant’ of Jesus Christ, then this MUST matter
  • This is what we say we always want: ‘A Word from God’

He sent an angel to present this revelation to his servant John, who faithfully reported everything he saw. This is his report of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

  • Angels are literally ‘Messengers’ of God’s: Word, Will and Way
  • Jesus is speaking through His servant (John) to His servants (US)
  • This is how we know God’s will (General will for every Believer)

God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near.

  • I will be honest; I want God’s blessings
  • I want you all to be blessed as well
  • Two steps: Listen (really understand) & Obey

This letter is from John to the seven churches in the province of Asia.

  • Who John is matters, he has spent a lifetime learning about God 1st hand
  • The ‘Seven’ speaking of Totality
  • This can be interpreted to be written to the ‘Total’ Church
  • There is something in this message for all who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord

Grace and peace to you from the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come; from the sevenfold Spirit before his throne; and from Jesus Christ.

  • Trinity
  • Sevenfold Spirit (Totality of God’s Spirit)

He is the faithful witness to these things, the first to rise from the dead, and the ruler of all the kings of the world.

  • Jesus Christ is the ‘Truth’ = Faithful Witness
  • This is not of John’s mind…’Divine Inspiration’
  • He leads the rest of us who will rise
  • Christ ultimately has all authority

All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us. He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

  • This is the Revelation of exactly who Jesus Christ IS!
  • This is Revelation about who we are ‘IN HIM’
  • This is how we can reverence and ‘Position’ him in our lives
  • Are you in on the ‘AMEN’?

Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven. And everyone will see him—even those who pierced him. And all the nations of the world will mourn for him. Yes! Amen!

  • There is a time coming when Jesus Christ will return
  • EVERYONE will truly know who He is
  • The ‘Second Coming’ is a crucial part of the Gospel

I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.”

  • This is Jesus Christ
  • He is God
  • This is the Revelation of That Reality (Doctrine of Trinity)

Application Questions:

How can YOU in every day life, take on the role of Christ’s servant?

Why is it important to know the message of Christ to YOU, as His servant?

If blessings come from listening to & obeying this message, how do WE pursue that?

What truths are expressed in these ‘self descriptive’ statements by God / Christ?

Why is it crucial to believe what Christ has done & who WE are because of Him?

How does the reality of Christ coming back impact the way YOU live?

Why is it important for YOU to recognize Christ as God Himself?