Every week, on Monday, we will have a blog for you with resources for diving deeper into the sermon.
In week four of our In the End sermon series, the campus pastors spoke on Revelation 2:8-11 and the questions of what makes faith genuine and how we can be assured that we are saved. Many times in the South, people will point to the past when they said a prayer or walked an aisle as proof of their salvation. Because salvation has been reduced to a formula like this, many people that shouldn’t have assurance of salvation do, and many that should have assurance don’t. The main idea we see in Jesus’ letter to Smyrna is that faithfulness proves salvation, not a formula.
In verse 9, Jesus says that the church in Smyrna is being slandered by Jews. At this time, the city of Smyrna had strong ties to Rome and a large Jewish population. It was likely that the Jews of the city were lying to Rome about the Christians being subversive. Perhaps, then, they were poor because they couldn’t find work. American Christians rarely see this type of persecution, but if we were to come into a time where we lost things that were valuable to us because of our beliefs, would our faith stand?
In verse 10, Jesus tells the church that persecution is coming, and he asks them to endure through it. He doesn’t tell them to run away and hide; rather, he says “Do not fear . . ..” We often can’t square Christianity with suffering, but there are many verses that speak to it (1 Peter 4:12, 2 Timothy 3:12).
In verse 11, we see our main application of this passage. Jesus is saying, “Be faithful in this life and you can have confidence about the next.” We may not be persecuted like Smyrna, but we will all have our faith tested, and it will reveal if our faith is authentic or not. We need to examine our faithfulness to see where we stand with Christ. We ought to consider carefully whether we believe our faith would endure suffering because if our faith cannot be tested it cannot be trusted. Here are three ways that we can be “full of faith” (faithful).
1) Saturate yourself in God’s word. We will grow in our faithfulness as we grow in our confidence of God’s word. 2) Trust in the gospel to produce faithfulness. We can’t produce faithfulness on our own; faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit. The Spirit is given through faith in the gospel; therefore, you have to believe before you are. And 3) gather with God’s people. Continue to seek out community for confession, accountability, and encouragement.
We have put together a 30-day prayer guide that acts as a devotional to guide your prayer times each day. The Scriptures were selected to follow the themes of the In the End series.
-Alex Nolette (Equip Coordinator/Community Groups)