2. The Smyrna Church
“8 To the angel of the church in Smyrna write:
These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. 9 I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of 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 will not be hurt at all by the second death.” (Revelation 2:8-11)
This is basically an afflicted and poor church. This is a Church that does not look like much; perhaps a small congregation with not many resources. This kind of Christian will be placed in prison because of his/her faith. The world will attempt to terrorize them and test them. Nevertheless, in the midst of all, they are called to be faithful even at the point of death. Many of us probably will never experience such level of hatred against us because of our faith.
The Bible tells us about this church that even as they are poor and afflicted they are rich. This individual is walking in love, is working hard for the Lord, has intimacy with the Lord and has all that the other kinds of Christians are lacking. The sad reality is that this kind of church is not even preached these days. This church is experiencing great anonymity. They are not the majority; not what sells, not what gets on TV, not popular and they do not have many following. However, it is one of only two churches that received no negative reviews from the Lord.
They are going through hell and back on this earth; their faith is constantly challenged, but they are promised the crown of life. I see the Smyrna Christian really shining during the millennium and really shining when we get to the New Jerusalem.
TO BE CONTINUED…
The Ephesus Church
“I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5 Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” (Revelation 2:2-6)
The Ephesus Christian is a hardworking church; however this is also a Church that has lost her intimacy with Christ. This kind of Christian has the following positive characteristics:
1) Works hard: These are not brothers and sisters that only come to church, but they also participate in ministry and use their talents for the service of the church.
2) Longevity: they don’t quit: These are people that remain faithful to their ministry; they are not there today and gone tomorrow.
3) Confrontational: These brothers and sisters have no tolerance for people that bring false doctrines to the church; they truly study the Word. They have particularly gone against the Nicolaitans. Strong Lexicon tells us about the Nicolaitans. They: “…were charged with holding the error of Balaam, casting a stumbling block before the church of God by upholding the liberty of eating things sacrificed to idols as well as committing fornication.”
So far, these are three very powerful positive characteristics. Any pastor will be very happy to have people in their congregation that will work hard, never quit and come against false doctrines and sexual immorality. You would think that these should be enough for a man and women of God, but is it really? With all of that hard work, faithfulness and zeal against sexual immorality, the Bible tells us that the Lord holds the following against them:
1) This kind of Christian has forgotten his/her first love: They are doing all of these wonderful things (Working hard, being faithful, coming against false doctrine and confronting sexual immorality) without love. They are missing the most important thing; they have lost their passion for Christ and their intimacy with the Lord. They have gotten so focused in the work of the ministry that they have forgotten who they work for.
2) This church works hard, stays in the word, does great works, but there is not much worship taking place. During the service, it is rare to see tears or brokenness. It is all about winning souls, it is all about works, works and more works. It is all about doing!
3) This kind of Christian approaches Christianity in a “Martha” manner, who is Lazarus’ sister; it is all about doing. Not doing anything is seen as lazy. Just sitting at Jesus’ feet is a waste of time, because they view the Father’s approval based on works. They believe in the old saying of “staying busy.” They resist those that believe in sitting at the feet of Jesus for hours at a time.
4) This kind of Christians is not too happy or joyful; they are missing much, but they don’t know it because they are blinded by their great works and knowledge of the Word.
5) This kind of Christian is not even pursuing the first commandment of loving God above all things because they hide behind the walls of works.
6) This kind of Christian is a fallen Christian, but doesn’t even know it: Verse five tells us: “Remember the height from which you have fallen!” They are going against false teachers and sexual immorality, and that is good, but they are not realizing that they have actually fallen from grace themselves.
“…Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”
The warning for the Ephesus Church is severe; it speaks about removal. God is not going to put up with this kind of Church or Christian for too long. Without intimacy we have nothing! I believe that many of us have fallen at one point or another in this category; we are busy in the things of God while ignoring HIM. Ephesus is a call for intimacy!
TO BE CONTINUED…
As we end 2011 and at the end of every year, I have been experiencing a special sensitivity that accommodates in my spirit: a reflection of the year that is departing and an excitement and word of direction for the year that is arriving. This time, for me, is a time of taking inventory of where I am, what has happened, where I am going and what I need to do.
I am not a writer that has to write a certain amount of articles a weeks, a month, etc. I write only when I feel in my spirit a prompt requirement to do so. The last couple of days, guided by the Holy Spirit, I have been studying the seven churches given to us in Revelation, chapter two and three.
I have no doubt that the descriptions given to us in Revelation are not only of seven kinds of churches, but also a personality profile of the seven kinds of Christians out there. As we take a closer look at these seven churches I hope that we all can take an inventory of the kind of Christians that we are and the kind of local churches we are a part of. I hope that this series will challenge us to strive to be what the Lord wants us to be and I hope that we will be willing to question what we are a part of and what we so commonly accept as the truth.
TO BE CONTINUED…