Quarter’s Theme: DIVINE DISPLAY OF THE WORD OF KNOWLEDGE
Unit 2 – I Know Thy Works-Time For Critical Self-Examination (Lessons 4-11)
LESSON 5 5/7/2015
SMYRNA: THE PERSECUTED CHURCH
Suggested Hymns: G.H.B. 222, 226
Devotional Reading: MATT. 10:16-22
Topic For Adults
LOOKING BEYOND SUFFERINGS
Topic For Youths
WHAT REALLY MATTERS?
Topic For Intermediates
MORE TO BEING A CHRISTIAN
Memory Verse: Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3:12) NKJV
DAILY DEVOTIONAL READING
Reward For The Faithfuls
The writer of Revelation says that those who are going through suffering should endure to the end because Jesus will give them a crown of life. The Greek word used for “crown of life” is ‘stephanon’ which means the ‘wreath’ or ‘victor’s’ crown originally made of palm leaves placed on the head of a winning athlete. The same word is used of the crown of thorns brutally placed on Jesus (Mk. 15:17). This is also used for the crown of gold placed on the 24 Elders in Rev. 4:4. Faithful believers are promised eternal life as their crown of reward. Ask yourself, are you among the faithful believers. Know that the secret of your success overcomers is Christ’s atoning death, your faithful testimony and perseverance in love for Christ unto death.
Point of Emphasis: “Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a “crown of life”.
Prayer Point: Make me faithful to the end so that I will be given a crown of life, O Lord.
Smyrna was one of the most beautiful cities of its day. Some historians even debated
that Smyrna was the most elegant city that the Grecians ever built. The city sloped down toward the sea and along the sides of the hill was a very large amphitheatre where over twenty-thousand people could sit. It was there that worship to Caesar was granted. ‘Kaiser Curios’ … Caesar is Lord!
Those who refused to embrace this total act of allegiance became marked men and were noted as traitors of the government. To be a Christian in the Roman Empire during that bloody era of history was to live in jeopardy every single day. The tortures that were inflicted on Christians are almost unspeakable.
NOTES ON THE LESSON
(1) COMFORT TO THE PERSECUTED (REV. 2:8-9)
Jesus was reminding the Pastor and the church in Smyrna, that He is the First and Last. Jesus was assuring the church that He was the one that spoke the world into creation and that He will still be their God after Satan is thrown into the burning lake of fire. Jesus was also assuring them that He died on the cross for their sins, but He also rose on the third day and He sits at the right hand of God the Father. This is not only a message of comfort to the Church in Smyrna, but also to us. God is in control then and He remains in control today and will be in control tomorrow and always.
The church at Smyrna was hit by pressure, poverty and persecution. Yet, Jesus brought no condemnation; the Lord has no complaint to speak. The character and conduct of the church at Smyrna was such that it was above reproach.
The pressure that this church was made under terrible demands upon them. However, their spirit enabled them to pass through such without complaint. There is no greater work of grace than for someone to suffer wrongfully and yet show through it all a gracious spirit.
The Lord watched these saints at Smyrna. Their spirit under affliction was an incredible example. Our true walk with God will only be revealed through bruising and pressure – unfortunate but true, as we see with the prophets of old and the early church.
(2) ENJOYING TRUE RICHES (REV. 2:9)
Christ was telling them that He knew that they were being persecuted and that they were very poor. The Christians were being thrown into prison and even killed because they refused to worship Caesar. Because of their refusal to obey the Roman laws, they were not allowed to belong to the labour unions of that day, thus they were not able to obtain decent paying jobs to support their families. They were in extreme poverty. Wealth and fame are good indeed but they are not our ultimate success. God has promise that He would provide for our needs; food, clothing and shelter. Even though they were in poverty, Christ said they were rich! You can have all the money in the world and be the most liked and famous person in the world, but without Christ you are nothing, you are dead. Having Christ as our Savior and Lord is greater than any riches that we could ever hope for. If you have Christ in your heart and are living a true Christian life, then you are the richest person in the world.
Christ knew that the Romans were not only persecuting the Christians of Smyrna, but the non-believing Jews were also persecuting the Christians. The apostate Jews would instigated lies concerning the Christians and have them killed or thrown into prison. These Jews of Smyrna were not practising the true Jewish faith, because they were also worshipping Caesar. This is why Christ called them a synagogue of Satan. These Christians had persecution from all sides, yet they did not turn away from their faith.
(3) A CROWN TO THE FAITHFULS (REV. 2:10-11)
Christ told them that the devil would put some of them into prison to test them. They would suffer persecution for a short period of time. Satan wants, more than anything, to have a Christian turn away from God. He thinks that Christian will blame God and turn from the faith, if they are persecuted and imprisoned for false reasons. Many Christians have turned from the faith when this has happened to them. Similar things are happing even today. The Christians in Smyrna stood firm no matter what Satan threw at them.
Jesus told these Christians to be faithful even to the point of death and He would reward then with the crown of life. (James 1:12) Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
God promises the crown of life for all that persevere under trial. We are to take up our cross and follow Christ and in doing so, we will (not may) be persecuted. If you don’t have trials in your life, then maybe your faith isn’t as strong as those in Smyrna. Maybe your faith isn’t active enough for Satan to be concerned about.
Christ is telling us that we had better listen to what He is saying to the churches of Revelation. His message is just as relevant today as it was in the time of the Smyrna believers. Jesus claimed victory over death and we too can by accepting Christ as our Savior.
The promise that comes to the church at Smyrna is to, “Be faithful unto death and I will give you a crown.” The crown is more than just a crown of royalty. It is a crown of victory, a crown of added wealth. It is even more. It is the very crown of eternal life.
Jesus told these Christians to be faithful even to the point of death and He would reward then with the crown of life.
Out of sufferings comes victory, out of darkness comes light. -That is the whole philosophy of suffering. This is the principle gained from pressure. This is the mark of the church at Smyrna.
Did you notice that Jesus did not have any condemnation for the Church in Smyrna? They willingly endured all kinds of persecution because they loved Christ more than the world around them. Can we say that of your church? Paul rejoiced when he was persecuted and thrown into prison. What should we do? Should we rejoice in the Lord if we lose our job? They did things right even in their trials and tribulation. Is our church like this one or would Jesus have some condemnations for us?
(1) What did Jesus mean when He said He was the first and the last and what message did this connote to the church of Smyrna and us?
(2) How do people of the world measure riches or wealth and what should be our measure as Christians as shown in this lesson?
(3) Why are Christians persecuted and why do we see less of persecutions today in the church?
(4) Who can be described as faithful and what will be the reward for faithfulness?
DIMANCHE 05 /07/2015
LA RECOMPENSE DES FIDELES
APOCALYPSE 2 : 8-11
L’auteur du livre d’Apocalypse affirme que ceux qui traversent la souffrance doivent endurer jusqu’à la fin car Jésus leur donnera la couronne de vie. Le mot grec usité pour ‘couronne de vie’ est ‘stephanon’ qui veut dire ‘couronne’ ou ‘couronne du vainqueur’ faite au départ de feuilles de palmier et placée sur la tête d’un athlète gagnant. Le même mot est usité pour la couronne d’épines brutalement placée sur Jésus. (Marc 15 : 17). Il est aussi usité pour la couronne d’or placée sur les 24 Anciens dans Apocalypse 4: 4. La promesse de la vie éternelle est faite aux fidèles croyants comme leur couronne de récompense. Pose-toi la question de savoir si tu fais partie des fidèles croyants. Sache que le secret de ton succès en tant que vainqueur est la mort expiatoire de Christ, ton témoignage fidèle et ta persévérance dans l’amour de Christ jusqu’à la mort.
Point essentiel : Sois fidèle jusqu’à la mort et je te donnerai la couronne de vie.
Axe de prière : Seigneur, rends-moi fidèle jusqu’à la fin afin qu’il me soit donné la couronne de vie.