“Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”
This is the promise given to the church of Smyrna. Words of comfort are also provided. Jesus knows. He sees. He instructs this church not to fear suffering, but to expect it, knowing that the end for those who do not deny the Lord, Jesus is eternal life.
This idea might seem strange and foreign to many Christians today. The thought that we must remain faithful to Jesus, even unto death, is replaced by false comforts through fables such as the rapture doctrine—a doctrine that is a spinoff from the teaching of the return of Jesus, the resurrection of the dead in Christ, and the transfiguration of those who are alive at His coming.
This idea might seem strange and foreign to Christians who suppose that Jesus only wants us to experience a life of ease and comfort, counting blessings of God in terms of worldly comforts only, not realizing that it is a blessing to be counted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus also.
However, let us not be as Satan who accused Job before God. Let us not say that our brethren are only faithful because God has put a hedge of protection about them, and if that protection is removed, they will curse God to His face.
Instead, let us encourage one another and rest on the promises of God in Jesus Christ for us. If His grace is for us, He will not let us fail.
However, it helps to consider our areas of weakness. In what ways might we deny Jesus? What do we truly worship? What do we place our trust in?
If we love riches and the things of this world and if we trust in them instead of Jesus, that is something to think about. If we love popularity and value being accepted by man rather than staying true to the teachings of Jesus, that is something to think about. We are not to be as God’s people of old who trusted in Egypt and not God, are we? Jesus came to free us from a land of slavery to this world, not to make us comfortable in our servitude.
What do we say about the exhortation to “remain faithful?”
As Christians, we trust in the blood of Jesus to cover our sins and we are passed from judgment to life by faith in His sacrifice. This is true. Is it possible to deny the faith and therefore lose our salvation?
The scriptures paint a picture of assuredness of salvation. The scriptures also provide stark warnings about denying Jesus and falling away from the faith. How should we reconcile this?
It is better to preach to the faithful and the faithful will hear because God Himself opens their ears. Therefore, let us trust. Trusting the Lord is always rewarded and so is honesty. I believe it is most profitable to trust in Jesus while considering our weakness at the same time.
We need to face the reality of our flesh. In our natural state, we would do as Peter. We would deny the Lord when faced with trying circumstances. It is good for us to consider this and be honest about our weakness so that we can turn to Jesus for strength.
We should not do as those who treat salvation as a free pass to deny the Lord. Such a mind reveals a wicked heart towards the sacrifice of the Son of God and the grace that was bought therewith. Many treat the grace of God with willful disregard, and these might find that the grace of God is not truly with them.
However, many do so unknowingly, and we can trust that the Lord will find a way to reach them. He sends faithful ministers of the gospel who are willing to combat the falsehoods of the failings within much of mainstream Christendom, and He will show mercy on who He will.
We should not overly despair about the unfaithful, but rather continue speaking to the faithful and those who want to be more faithful as those who trust the Lord to work all things according to His perfect will. However, His will is often shown through His servants, so to this end we work in faith, knowing that all things will be accomplished as God the Father has declared it.
When the grace of God is for us, He will work all things in us as necessary for His purposes which is to bring many sons of God to glory, as the scriptures say. As a son of God, we should expect to experience the same things that Jesus, the first begotten Son of God, experienced. Jesus said so Himself.
“If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world the world would love its own, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
If the world loves us, then something might be wrong. The world might love us because we love the world, and if we love the world how can we say that the love of Jesus is in us—He who died to save us from this world and bring us into His Kingdom?
The love of this world is something we might struggle with, but if we confess our shortcomings to Jesus, He will forgive us and strengthen us. We are His workmanship and we can have faith in this. We do not naturally possess the strength to remain faithful unto death. We need His Spirit to help us.
Peter is a great example of this also. He did not yet have the Spirit of God when He denied Jesus. The Spirit was with Peter, as seen by Peter’s ability to recognize Jesus as the Son of God (Matthew 16). However, the Spirit was not within Peter until the day of Pentecost. After denying Jesus and receiving the Spirit in power, Peter went on to live—and die—for Jesus.
If we are weak in the faith, then we need to seek more from the Spirit of God to help. I sincerely believe that we will see a revival of Spirit within the faithful remnant of God’s people before the time of great tribulation, because the Father will not leave us without hope or help.
Many Christians are like Peter before Pentecost. They hear the Spirt speak and they know that Jesus is the Son of God, but there is no power to keep His ways or to suffer for His sake. This is especially true among Western Christians, but I sincerely believe and hope in the mercy of God for us.
“He will repent himself for his servants when he sees that their power is gone and none is protected or left.” – from the Song of Moses.
We need a “latter rain,” and I believe this will happen; however, I can not say so with all certainty. In any case, let us keep seeking Jesus. Get to know His ways and His teachings—many of which are contrary to pop Christian culture and the failed fables of our worldly churches—churches that encourage us to be faithful to the world and to trust in riches instead of Jesus; churches that deny the suffering of the saints and the Spirit of God that makes enduring all things for His sake possible.
We will discuss the issue of the churches’ negligence of the Holy Spirit in greater detail when we get to the Church of Sardis. Meanwhile, let us consider in faith, trusting in Jesus to forgive us of our shortcomings and to strengthen us by His Spirit.
How can we be more like Sardis?
“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.”
I wrote in These Things Saith He: Contents that I will publish the drafts here first and offer opportunity for others to share their thoughts before the final work is completed.
I’m open to and greatly value the insight, experiences, and thoughts of my Christian brethren because we are a body knit together in Christ that is meant to work together without over reliance on our leaders. I am not your leader, but I do try to be faithful to what I have received to the best of my ability, and I look to Jesus for gracious judgment of my service and the service of all who truly love Him.
PREVEIOIUS CHAPTER: These Things Saith He – Smyrna Overview
All Chapter Drafts: These Things Saith He