Jan 07, 2018 | Lee Becknell
The Crown of Life
Text: Revelations 2:8-11
Sermon Series on Promises!
Title: “To the ‘Victorious’ is given the Crown of Life.”
A father's advice: “Just go for it and give it a try! You don’t have to be a professional to build a successful product. Amateurs started Google and Apple. Professionals built the Titanic.”
Theme: “Jesus knows every detail and situation of His church, individually and corporately. He knows all about the society in which we live and how it affects our testimony and us. He comes and lovingly speaks to us where we live and calls us to find our source of happiness and strength and life in Him. If we are ‘Victorious’, He himself will handout the Crowns of Life.”
* This is the second sermon in our series of “Promises”.
* Last week, we looked at the church in Ephesus and we considered the importance of our first love for God and how that affects our future.
* In fact, we saw that the first promise was the right to eat of the Tree of life. This privilege has been removed from humankind ever since the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.
* Today, we will look at the promise given to the Church of Smyrna.
* Smyrna and Philadelphia are the only two churches that receive no criticism or call to repentance.
* Smyrna lay just 35 miles north of Ephesus on the west coast of Asia on the Aegean Sea. It was the loveliest of all the cities and was sometimes called “the Ornament of Asia,” “the Crown of Asia,” or sometimes “the Flower of Asia.”
* It was beautifully situated. It stood at the end of a road that journeyed westward across the lands of Lydia (western Asia Minor) and Phrygia (a land in the center of Asia Minor, our modern Turkey) and traveled out to the east.
* This morning I would like to share with you the following lessons from this text.
- Jesus is aware of our current circumstances.
Revelation 2:8-9, “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 about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.”
* The Church of Smyrna was also referred to as the persecuted Church.
* I don’t know about you but I’m not that excited about attending a persecuted church. Don’t think many people would be lining up to attend such a church.
* Literally, the Greek says, “He came to be dead and began to live or came to life again,” an obvious reference to the cross and the resurrection. He passed into death, through death and out of death, and came to life in a triumphant event, the resurrection.
* The risen Christ is one who has experienced the worst that life could do to Him. He is one who feels for us in our suffering with special love and compassion.
Hebrews 2:18, “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
* He knows your tribulation (2:9). The word “tribulation” (NIV affliction) means “pressure, a literal crushing beneath a weight.” “The pressure of events is on the Church at Smyrna, and the force of circumstances is trying to crush the Christianity out of them.”
* He knows your poverty (2:9). The word “poverty” describes absolute poverty or complete destitution. Christ offers no criticism of this church. The saints were faithful in spite of suffering at the hands of their persecutors.
* Our Lord is so faithful to know and observe our lives and needs.
- Jesus desires the ‘Victorious’ to be faithful to the end.
Revelation 2:10, “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 unto death.”
* “Do not fear” is literally “fear nothing.” No matter how small or how severe, the One who has overcome death says, “fear nothing.”
* Some would face prison and severe testing, even death.
* I’m not sure what the ten days are all about. Some commentaries thought it might refer to a 10-day period of intense persecution to come or rather short period, of ten principle persecutions under the Roman emperors from Nero to Diocletian.
* But note the connection of this with Satan. This persecution is attributed to the Devil. This struggle between Christ and Satan is a long running feud. It puts the Hatfield and McCoy feud to shame.
* Beloved, don’t be naive there is a church of Satan. In our text this morning, John calls it the ‘Synagogue of Satan’.
* Concerning faithfulness and rewards. Be faithful until death. This means, be faithful to the point of martyrdom. Continue to trust the Lord, be faithful to Him and the truth of His Word even in the face of death.
- Jesus will reward the ‘Victorious’ with a Crown of life.
Revelation 2:10b-11, “…Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.”
* To overcome means here to remain faithful to the Lord even if it meant death. Here our Lord was simply reminding them that though some would die for Him, the second death could never touch them. The use of this negative promise “will not be hurt …”
* In a gigantic understatement, the Lord Jesus says in effect: “The first death may ‘hurt’ you briefly, the second not at all!”
* The promise: “I will give you the crown of life.” The reward here is not eternal life. Eternal life is a gift through faith or personal belief in Jesus Christ. This is a special reward for endurance under persecution.
James 1:12, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”
1 Corinthians 3:12-14, “If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.”
1 Cor. 9:24, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”
* Beloved, let me encourage you to live in such a way to win crowns not for our glory but for Gods.
* One of my favorite verses in the bible show the real purpose for owning these crowns. Please turn with me to Revelation 4:9-11.
* “Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: 11“You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.”
* The promise to the overcomer is that they shall not be hurt by the second death. The second death is eternal separation from God in the lake of fire.
Revelation 20:12-15, “And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”
* Believers may face physical death, but because they have had a second birth, no believer will ever face the second death.
John 5:24, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”
* Some in Smyrna, as Polycarp, would die a martyr’s death, so the Lord is reminding them of this fact.
* 60 Years after John writes this letter, at 86 years old, the leader of the church at Smyrna is the bishop Polycarp, a man who was trained by John years earlier.
* It was the time of the public games; the city was crowded and excited. Part of the festivities was the worship of the emperor, and the killing of those who would not participate in the service.
* When the Roman Proconsul or Governor was confronted with this old man Polycarp, he wasn’t sure what to do with the 86-year-old bishop; it hardly seemed sporting to feed him to the lions and so he offered him a chance to recant. “Deny Christ,” he said “And I’ll let you go free.” Polycarp just looked at him, “Deny Christ” he replied, “Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?”
* The Bishop was led to the platform where the execution was to take place. The crowd proceeded to bring wood and Polycarp was martyred for his faith in Christ.
* The Christians at Smyrna did face persecution, even death, but Christ rewarded them with the eternal crown of life. And so He is still rewarding those who are Victorious today.
* Just a thought. You don’t have to die to be “Victorious.”
A look at the promises that were spoken to the churches of Revelation.