No other church in history had to rise from death like Smyrna. Even the name of their city was associated with death. The original origins of their name comes from the the word myrrh. This commodity made them famous and rich as a city. But also ironically is what they are know for as a church that suffered.
In the natural referred to as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, today it is the 3rd largest city in Turkey called Izmir a beautiful port city, in the days that it was Smyrna it provided the most direct route from Asia to Europe by ship it was directly across the sea from Athens which was the gateway to Europe in those days.
As a church they suffered worse than any other it is said between Christ resurrection and 300 AD that 6 Million Christians were killed here.
Polycarp being the most famous of those who were martyred. Polycarp was their pastor He was referred to as the Bishop of Smyrna His last words have been words of faith and courage that have been famous for nearly 2000 years.
“86 years have I have served him, and he has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King and my Savior?”
He was to burned at the stake but the fire would not burn him so they had to run a spear through him to kill him.
Polycarp was the last living man to be personally discipled by the Apostle John who wrote the book of Revelation. He would be one of 6 million to be killed by the Roman emperors over the next 200 plus years. This gives us context and why we used Marshall as our video today in the face of death they rose together and together they won.
“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: “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. 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. “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.”’
The first words and the last words that Jesus speaks to Smyrna are the hope that we must identify with as a body if we are to rise in the hour.
Our King, our Lord, our Coach is the First and the Last
He has the first words to say and He has the last words to say
Because He is the first and the last.
Then He says, “who was dead, and came to life”
Then the final words of this passage
He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death
There is so much life in these words that puts us in our Identity with Christ
For we live in the resurrection of Jesus Christ as individuals and also as the Body of Christ our Identity as a body is the Light of the World
The first Words that God spoke
“Let there be light!”
His Last Words
“Surely I am coming quickly”
To put it into context
Lets look at Revelation 22:16-17
“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the Lord will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you.
The things we have to rise above
“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. 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.
Lets take all the religious words out of this and just hear it the way that it was meant to be heard in the Greek.
There are 3 things we have to rise above
1. I know about the painful difficulties you have passed through
2. Your financial hardships
3. And I am aware of the slander that has come against you.
How do we rise above it?
1. Do not yield to fear
2. Be aware (the devil is going to test your faith)
3. Remain faithful
Together we rise
Together we win
Here is the win
I will give you the crown of Life
Also referred to as the victors crown of life
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.
James 1:12 the passion translation
If your faith remains strong, even while surrounded by life’s difficulties, you will continue to experience the untold blessings of God! True happiness comes as you pass the test with faith, and receive the victorious crown of life promised to every lover of God!
Not a kings crown but a victors crown a wreath of branches and flowers
We live because of the tree
“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.”’
Revelation 2:11 the Passion translation
The one whose heart is open let him listen carefully to what the Spirit is presently saying to all the churches. The one who conquers will not be harmed by the second death.
Instead of telling people they are going to hell
Tell them you know the way out of hell
Many of them are already living in hells influence what they need to know is how to get out of hell
Arise shine church
For you are the light of the World
Shine the love of Jesus in the dark pits of hell that are all around you
Provide the hope
Provide the way
Be the Light