Thursday, January 11, 2007

Jesus' bold church (part 5)

As I said in my second post of this year, I had not planned on doing more than one post on Jesus’ bold church. The original post was on December 16, 2006 ending my posts for that year. Late in December, I decided to do the three additional ones that I just completed. Then Sunday morning before going to corporate worship, I was watching a TV program that I watch every Sunday before worship. I thought what was being said was a good parallel to what I had been writing. I decided to include that material in the series as Jesus’ bold church (part 5).
     However, when I went onto the website early Monday morning to download a copy of the program, I discovered that they were not current. The last posted program was from Sunday morning December 24, 2006. I wasn’t certain how I wanted to proceed. I did not post Monday night and I went to bed not yet knowing what to do. I was stuck between posting other material on other topics and then posting part 5 when I could finally get a copy of the program or not posting anything until I could do part 5 to keep the continuity.
     Then, it hit me. Tuesday morning after waking up, the solution just popped into my head. I have been reading a book about the book of Revelation. There is material in Revelation that fits well with the concept of Jesus’ bold church. Therefore, I’m expanding this series once again.
     I realize that Revelation is probably the most “controversial” book in the New Testament. It seems that almost everyone has a different understanding of it. Certainly, the symbolism has caused problems in understanding the book. Nevertheless, I believe there are basic concepts that most everyone agrees to, to one extent or another. An obvious example is the ultimate victory of GOD over the forces of evil. In the same vein, I think most of those who adequately study Revelation would agree that chapters 2 and 3 provide some insight into Jesus’ church. They may not agree on the time period in relation to the comments about the seven churches; but they do agree that the book provides some negative comments about certain churches and some positive comments about the same churches.
     Consequently, the next couple of posts will deal with Jesus’ church as revealed in Revelation. As I read the two chapters, it seems that five of the seven churches are condemned to some extent while two of the seven do not receive any condemnation. The next two posts will first deal with the two churches that are not condemned in the book.
     The first church which receives no condemnation is the second church of the seven listed—the church in Smyrna. The information given is short. It declares:
     “’These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. 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. 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.
     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: 8b-11 (NIV)
     I am not going to analyze this passage but will point out the following:
1) GOD and JESUS know our (the church and the Spiritually true members of it) afflictions.
2) The church seemed to be in poverty by world standards but it was actually rich.
3) There were individuals, who claimed to believe, who slanderously spoke against the church because they really belonged to Satan.
4) The church should not have fear even though it will suffer by the hands of a disobedient world.
5) The church will suffer persecution but, in the scheme of things, it will only be for a short time.
6) If the church remains faithful, it will receive a crown of life.
7) The church is to hear what the Spirit says to the churches and the church is to overcome. If it does, it will not be hurt by the second death—there is a second death that all must face.      


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