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REVELATION 2:8-11 // STICK TO YOUR GUNS

Visions of an Exile  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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HAVE YOU EVER FEARED SUFFERING? Does fear overwhelm us when we know we are entering a season of suffering? What would Jesus say to the suffering Saints? When Satan hates your guts, how does Jesus comfort us? Check out this weeks podcast as we look at what it means to suffer well.

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LAST WEEK

We looked at the Church that had forgotten their first Love.
We saw the importance of returning to our first love.
We realized that all of our works could never supplement our love for Jesus.

THIS WEEK

We are going to look at the Persecuted Church
We are going to see how Jesus encourages and prepares this Church to face persecution.
BEFORE WE GET INTO IT, WE NEED TO ASK OURSELVES:
HOW IS THE CHURCH PERSECUTED TODAY?
RIGHT NOW:
THERE ARE AT LEAST ONE HUNDRED CHRISTIAN LEADERS WHO HAVE BEEN ARRESTED AND PLACED IN JAIL FOR THEIR FAITH
CHECK THIS OUT

In more than 40 nations around the world today Christians are being persecuted for their faith. In some of these nations it is illegal to own a Bible, to share your faith Christ, change your faith or teach your children about Jesus.

IN CHINA
The Government has imposed their will on everything that is faith based
They have what is called the Chinese Christian Council which used to be called the Three-Self Patriotic Movement
If you and your church want to worship publicly you must abide by their governance
You must abide in their theology
Not only are they Communist
You must support their Global Vision, which is inherently Communist
Many churches, have chosen to opt out from being governed by the State
They lean their biblical understanding
And they now practice privately in what is called the House Church Movement
The Church meets collectively in a home
A Pastor shares a Bible Study
The Congregation shares a meal
They collect a tithe
The money goes to meet the needs of the Church
Francis Chan, who wrote Crazy Love
Left his Mega Church in Simi Valley
Started over
And now has hundreds of House Churches throughout all of San Francisco.
HERE IN AMERICA
We don’t really face persecution from the government
Although the Left is trying to do what the Chinese Government has done to the Church in China.
The Church in America has been graced with favor from the Government
The ability to obtain a non-profit 501c3 status
The ability to write off everything that one contributes to the church
Our nations fathers knew the benefit of the church, and set it up to succeed.
Though there are some rumors about the government taking away some rights from the Church
If Jesus is who we say He is
We don’t have anything to worry about.
He will continue leading the Church
If our methods have to change, so be it.
If how we do things needs to change, so be it.
If Jesus is Lord, if He is Sovereign, what do we have to worry about?
That we can’t get a tax break anymore?
That we can’t meet publicly anymore?
That Mega Churches can’t abuse the financial side of things anymore?
Maybe these changes need to happen.
Maybe it would realign us with what Church is really about.
I’ll tell you what though, the American Church is being persecuted Socially
There are groups of people that don’t like what the Church stands for
They don’t like our tax exempt status
They don’t like our views of marriage
They don’t like our views on abortion & euthanasia.
They don’t like that we use the states schools to worship Jesus
They don’t like Chik Fil A, In N Out, Hobby Lobby, or any entity that Honors Jesus as Lord
We are also persecuted in our workplaces
People talk about us behind our backs
They point out every area where we have misrepresented Jesus
They gossip about the things that are questionable
They don’t give you Sundays off so that you can go to Church
Even the Christians at your work have stuff to say about you.
So how do we handle persecution?
How can we see persecution as an experience to glorify the Lord with?
TURN TO
Revelation 2:8–11 NKJV
8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, ‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: 9 “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” ’
PRAY THAT GOD WOULD GIVE US A HEART FOR THE PERSECUTED CHURCH
PRAY THAT WE WOULD OPEN UP OUR EYES TO SEE PERSECUTION AS A WAY TO SHARE JESUS
Revelation 2:8 NKJV
8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, ‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life:
REV 2:8
TO THE ANGEL OF THE CHURCH
TO THE ANGEL OF THE CHURCH IN SMYRNA
To the Messenger
To the Pastor
IN SMYRNA
The Seaport Village that had been destroyed and rebuilt several times over
To the Church that was located by the protected Harbor of the Aegean Sea
The Church that was the home of the Temple dedicated to the Roman Emperor Tiberius
THESE THINGS SAYS
The First and the Last
Who was dead
And Came to Life
These are the titles that should speak to who Jesus is and what He has accomplished
To know that Jesus is preeminent is crucial
It should humble us to know that He WAS before everything WAS
As a Pastor
This should show us our place and His place in the Church
It should show us that before we even had the thought of being a Pastor
Before we even came into the Ministry
Before someone said “Good Sermon”
Before the Youtube Channel
Before the Podcast
Before the Church
Before the 400 years of Silence
JESUS WAS AND JESUS WILL BE
Before we had a following
Before we had a Social expectation
Before you thought about posting stuff
JESUS DIED FOR YOUR SINS
AND CAME TO LIFE
Church, we serve an everlasting God
We serve a Death Defying God
We serve a Conquering God
We serve a Loving God
We must never forget who and why we do what we do.
Revelation 2:9 NKJV
9 “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
JESUS KNEW WHAT THIS CHURCH WAS UP TO:
He knew their works
ERGON // Works, deeds, pain, affliction
ERGON // Works, deeds, pain, affliction
He knew their tribulation
THLIPSIS // Pressure, trouble, hardship, affliction
He knew their Poverty
PTOCHEIA // Beggary, Mendicity, Poverty

When cities had large concentrations of artisans and craftsmen, trade guilds or unions were established. These guilds often required their members to participate in certain pagan activities. The believers’ unwillingness to participate in these activities resulted in exclusion from the guilds and financial hardship.

THOUGH THIS CHURCH WAS GOING THROUGH IT
Though Jesus knew everything about them
How the Church saw themselves wasn’t how Jesus saw the Church
He says, “I know your Poverty”
“But I also know that you are rich”
I know that your spiritual wealth is greater than your financial wealth
I know that when it comes to Faith and the Gospel, you are Rich
CHURCH, WHAT WE ACCUMULATE BY FAITH, IS GREATER THAN ANY FINANCIAL RICHES WE COULD EVER HAVE
Our trust in Jesus
Our devotion to Him
Our decisions made by Faith
Everything we do for Christ may deplete our bank accounts here on earth
But in Heaven
Our Net Worth is innumerable.
JESUS ALSO KNEW WHAT THE JEWS WERE UP TO IN SMYRNA
He knew that though they had been nourished with the Word of God throughout their upbringing
When the Messiah came on the scene
They rejected Him, just as the scriptures said they would.
Remember how Jesus knew the poverty of the Church at Smyrna, but He considered them rich?
Here we see Jesus take those who had a supposed Faith Based LIfestyle
And He associates them with the extreme opposite of that
He calls the so-called people of God members of the Synagogue of Satan.
Its not that John is being anti-semetic
It is that Jesus is exposing their unequivocal hypocrisy.
CHURCH
And the people who knew not the Lord, had become his people.
Rev 2:10
WE CAN GO FROM BEING THE IMAGE BEARERS OF GOD, TO ALIGNING OURSELVES WITH ALL THINGS UNGODLY.
Revelation 2:10 NKJV
10 Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
WE CAN BE SWAYED BY WHAT OTHER CHRISTIANS FIND PERMISSIBLE.
WE CAN BE INFLUENCED BY WHAT OTHER PEOPLE ALLOW IN THEIR HOMES.
WHEN WE ARE GOING THROUGH IT, IT IS ALWAYS EASIER TO THROW IN THE TOWEL.
SO THE QUESTION IS:
WILL SUFFERING EVER STOP?
IS THERE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL?
IS SUFFERING A REASON TO CALL IT QUITS?
DOES SUFFERING CAUSE US TO FEAR?
Revelation 2:10 NKJV
10 Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
TO THAT QUESTION, JESUS WOULD SAY:
“Do not fear the things that you are about to suffer”
If I was part of this Church, and the Lord spoke to me this way
I would probably respond
“About to suffer?”
We have been suffering!
Are you saying their is more?
INDEED THE DEVIL HATES YOUR GUTS
CHURCH, IF YOU LOVE JESUS, SATAN HATES YOUR GUTS
JESUS WARNS THEM
He is going to throw you into prison
NOTICE: How Jesus doesn’t prevent Satan from doing so
WHY? Jesus is ok with testing
Jesus wants us to show Satan, and Your Audience who our trust is in
Jesus knows that in testing, our faith comes alive
JESUS ALLOWS SATAN TO THROW THEM INTO PRISON
But He does put a limit on the time frame that they are in prison
This could be 10 literal days or a period of time.
DURING THIS TIME OF TESTING, JESUS DESIRES ONE THING
Be Faithful until Death
PISTOS // Be Faithful, Be reliable, Be believing
UNTIL YOU DIE
Don’t stop beliveing
Don’t stop being Faithful
Don’t stop being reliable
Don’t compromise.
AND YOU WILL RECEIVE THE CROWN OF LIFE
This is like what James said
James 1:12 NKJV
12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
For John, this was like a shot to the heart
Polycarp, one of John’s disciples was martyred in Smyrna in the Mid-100’s AD
If John was still alive, He would be able to recall this letter and be comforted
That Polycarp had recieved the Crown of Life
Revelation 2:11 NKJV
11 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” ’
HE WHO HAS AN EAR LET HIM HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT SAYS TO THE CHURCHES
This stuff isn’t for everyone
In fact, it seems as though the church sometimes doesn’t want to hear what the Spirit has to say
Suffering
Persecution
Hardship
Poverty
Will often distort the trust of God in our lives
We will be tempted to throw it all away
To walk away and just deal with life godlessly.
Though this is a very tempting reality
We must remember that this life is but a vapor
WHEN ITS EASIER TO GIVE UP, OVERCOME
WHEN ITS EASIER TO CURSE GOD AND DIE, REMEMBER JOB
WHEN ITS EASIER TO BAIL, THINK ABOUT THE SECOND DEATH.
What is the First Death?
The First Death is the death we experience here on earth as a Human
The Second Death is the the Ultimate Result of not following Jesus
For those who are listening
For those who are trusting
For those who overcome
The Second Death will have nothing on them
As Jesus was victorious over the first and second death
So will those who trust in the Lord.
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