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.’ (Revelation 2:11, ESV)
I am often amazed at the level of detail that God puts into even the smallest of His creations. To engineer them so they can function is marvelous enough, but God gives many of them beauty and detail that they don’t need for survival or functionality. He just adds those things because He is a God Who pays attention to detail. It is a level of care that makes you consider: “If God pays so much attention to detail in these things? How much more is He involved in the details of my life?” (See Luke 12:27-28)
Our verse today was addressed to the church at Smyrna. It was one of only two churches in the book of Revelation that was not criticized by the Lord, the other being the church at Philadelphia. Both suffered severe persecution. What is striking about the message to Smyrna is how detailed it is. This was no mysterious revelation. This was the Lord letting these suffering Christians know that not only was He aware of their suffering and their faithfulness to Him, He was right there with them. In verse 10 the Lord says: “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.” (Revelation 2:10, ESV) With these words, He lets the church at Smyrna know that He is aware of everything they were and would be enduring, but He assures them there will be and end to it: “ten days you will have tribulation.” He also offers them hope: To those who endure, there is the Crown of Life, rescue from eternal death. (See Matthew 10:28) When He opened His message to these believers, the Lord introduced Himself as “the first and the last, who died and came to life.” That was no accident. Many of these believers were literally giving their lives for the cause of Christ. They needed assurance that their devotion to Christ was not in vain. Those specific words reminded them that they serve a risen Savior and that because He lives, they would live too. To further drive that point home, Jesus ended His message with the words: “the one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death,” the second death meaning eternity in Hell. It was a reiteration of Jesus’ promise of eternal life to those who put their trust in Him. The Lord told these believers exactly what they needed to hear because He cared for them down to the last detail.
A scorner seeketh wisdom, and findeth it not: but knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth. (Proverbs 14:6)
Because of his prejudices and preconceived notions, a scorner cannot know the truth. Like the Pharisees of the New Testament, he’s not really after it. Rather than looking for the Lord, he’s looking for loopholes and reasons to mock and to question the truth. However, that inability to see God’s truth is not limited to scorners. Many well-meaning truth-seekers have a similar problem because they too bring prejudices and preconceived notions to the table. They have too much junk in the way. Continue reading “Too Much Junk!”
Paul told the Philippian church: “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound” (Philippians 4:12). It might seem odd to hear Paul say that he had learned how to deal with plenty. We wouldn’t consider a place of blessing to be dangerous, and while no one wants to suffer need, being blessed with plenty is often the greatest danger of all.
That proved true for the church of Laodicea, because their blessings led to their downfall. Continue reading “Laodicea (Part 2) – Drowning in Blessings (Revelation 3:17-20)”
Living for Christ is not an event. It is a way of life — and it is a way of life with sure reward. All God requires of us is faithfulness founded in trust. Continue reading “Philadelphia: The little church that could…and did – Revelation 3:7-13 (Part 2)”
Living for Christ is not an event. It is a way of life. The church at Philadelphia understood this. Only this church and the church at Smyrna received no rebuke from the Lord – not because they were perfect, but because they were steadfast. These were not perfect Christians. They were faithful and growing ones. Continue reading “Philadelphia: The little church that could…and did – Revelation 3:7-13 (Part 1)”
Too many churches live in the brilliance of their past. Like dead stars light years away, their residual glory might still be visible to distant observers, but what made them truly shine died long ago. Continue reading “Sardis: Church of the Living Dead – Revelation 3:1-6”
Preaching against worldliness may be passé in the modern church, but with Christ it has never gone out of style. When He introduces Himself to the church at Pergamum, Jesus describes Himself as “He which hath the sharp sword with two edges.” He was not giving them a warm welcome. He was reminding them that He is Judge and Executioner, and that His judgment begins in His own house. Pergamum was a worldly church and Jesus was having no part of it because “the friendship of the world is enmity with God” (see Ephesians 2:16). Continue reading “Pergamum A Double-Minded Church”