The Church at Smyrna: No Rebuke, but Trouble Will Come, Part 6 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #308)
A homily is “a short talk on a religious or moral topic; a usually short sermon; a lecture or discourse on or of a biblical theme.”
In our series of homilies from the book of Ephesians, we focused on reviving Christian families. Now, I am sharing a verse-by-verse series of short messages from the book of Revelation, specifically targeted at reviving the church. If our country is to be awakened, the family and the church must be revived first.
TEXT: Revelation 2:8-11:
8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
Samuel Rutherford said, “Keep God’s covenant in your trials; hold you by His blessed word, and sin not; flee anger, wrath, grudging, envying, fretting; forgive a hundred pence to your fellow-servant, because your Lord hath forgiven you ten thousand talents: for, I assure you by the Lord, your adversaries shall get no advantage against you, except you sin, and offend your Lord, in your sufferings.”
Leonard Ravenhill said, “It seems to me we are advertising and advocating a Christianity that has the colour but not the character of the real thing. Anything in the spiritual life that savours of discipline or of really ‘taking up the cross’ is termed legalism and is despised.”
In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “The university faculty was disturbed by evangelist Robert Haldane’s interference in the education of ministerial candidates, but there was little they could do to stop it. Haldane wasn’t part of the faculty, so he couldn’t be dismissed. When the faculty of the university named him in their lectures and criticized his views, it often served only to alert to his presence more students who hadn’t yet heard of him, thus adding new members to his Bible study. When the faculty sought to discourage students on an individual basis from going to his home, many claimed they had learned so much from Haldane that, if forced, they would sooner withdraw from the divinity school than break with Haldane.”
In light of the suffering experienced by the Church at Smyrna, we turn our attention to the third reason for which God allows suffering into our lives. The first reason is for the purpose of chastisement; the second reason is for the purpose of testing our obedience. The third reason is for the prevention of sin in our lives.
Paul describes such an affliction in 2 Corinthians 12:7 where he writes: “Lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.” Paul had received wisdom, insight, and revelation directly from God that no one else had received. It would have been easy for him to become puffed up with pride because of the knowledge that he had gained and the level of spiritual maturity he had reached. In order to prevent this, God allowed him to have “a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet” him. Some believe that this was a literal demon that tormented Paul spiritually, but most scholars agree that it was a physical malady that affected him for the rest of his life — a chronic illness, if you will — one that likely affected his eyesight. In Galatians, Paul talks about “preaching through the infirmity of the flesh.” The Greek word for “thorn” means “something which frustrates and causes trouble.” The word translated as “buffet” means “to strike or to give one a blow with the fist; to treat someone with violence.” Whatever form this affliction took, it was very painful.
Back in 2 Corinthians, Paul says, “For this thing, I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me,” but God would not take it away. Why? Because God did not want Paul to become proud because of the knowledge that he had received. If Paul became proud, he would experience another form of suffering in the form of chastisement. You may wonder why you do not have a lot of money. It may be because God knows you won’t depend on Him as you should if you did and money would become your god instead. You may wonder why you have the affliction of constant health problems. God could be allowing that in your life because He knows that, if you had perfect health, you would not be as faithful in serving Him. You may be stuck with a run-down house and a beat-up car because God knows, if you had a nice house and a new car, you would take pride in your possessions rather than in Him.
Yes, God sometimes allows us to suffer in order to prevent us from sinning. He sees it as beneficial for us to go through pre-emptive pain in order that we might not have to go through the certain pain of chastisement. In light of this reality, we ought to adopt the attitude of Paul. When he realized that God would not remove his thorn in the flesh, he said, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weakness that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Paul was able to put his suffering in perspective. He chose to make it about God’s will not his personal comfort. He decided that, if this thorn in the flesh kept him from sinning and caused him to bring more glory to God through his life, he would gladly accept it and live with it. And that is what we should do as well.
Adoniram Judson said:
In spite of sorrow, loss, and pain,
our course be onward still;
we sow on this world’s barren plain,
we reap on Zion’s hill.
Now, if you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, please keep in mind that the Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” First, understand, that you are a sinner and that the wages of sin is death and Hell. But God sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for your sins. He was buried, and He rose from the dead by the power of God so that you can be saved from death and Hell. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. You have done the most important thing in life. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.