Welcome to The Encouraging Word with Dr. Don Wilton. We're going to take things to extremes today. The message is all about extreme faithfulness. This is The Encouraging Word with Dr. Don Wilton, well-known author and evangelist, and today as he takes us to the extremes. What's going on in your life that needs to be amped up? You realize that there is commitment there, but is it an extreme commitment?
And I think we think about that in the sense of extreme sports or over-the-top living. The reality is the faithfulness is a bedrock of who we are, to be truly faithful. Faithful first and foremost to God, and then faithful to His command to love those around us, to love our neighbor. We'll dive into this extreme faithfulness in just a moment, but know this. We stand ready to connect with you 24 hours a day at 866-899-WORD and online at theencouragingword.org.
Now today's teaching with Dr. Wilton. I want you to open your Bibles to Revelation chapter 2. And I'm about to show you that God wants us to know something. He wants us to know that if you want to know if the Lord Jesus is about to come again, just take a look at what's happening to the church and in the church.
There are two things, gonna be very quick here. Signs of the times, everybody listening? In the Olivet Discourse, when Jesus spoke about the signs of the times, let us know, nobody knows. He talked about the signs of the times. And when He does, and we'll get to that at some time, there are a lot of signs.
The economy, countries, earthquakes, wars, rumors of wars, one could go on. These signs continue all the way through the seven-year tribulation. The signs of the times precede the second coming of Jesus. The second coming of Jesus is when Jesus comes from heaven and lands back on earth. That's the second coming of Jesus. The signs of the times continue right through the tribulation.
All the things that God speaks about concerning signs of the times, earthquakes, catastrophes, His creation that groans. Those things continue right through the book of Revelation, right up until the end of chapter 19. And Jesus comes, heaven opens. Jesus comes accompanied by all believers back to this earth and He never leaves again.
Battle of Armageddon follows that. Then He goes back to Jerusalem, sets up the thousand-year reign, followed by the great white throne judgment, Revelation chapter 21. Then the new heaven and the new earth where God Himself comes down out of heaven to join Jesus Christ the Son and says from now on, I'm going to make my dwelling place among men, among mankind on the earth. But 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 and 1 Corinthians 15 and Revelation chapter 4 speaks about the time when Jesus will come in the clouds.
He's not coming back to this earth. Those who are alive and remain will be caught up. We'll join all those whom we love who are already in the presence of the Lord and that might include all of us because we don't know exactly when that time is. So what precedes the coming of Jesus in the clouds?
The church, the condition of the church, what's going on in the church, what's being done against the church. That's the letters to the seven churches which are in Asia. And I say all of this to say that there is extreme faithfulness and what Jesus wants us to know is that if you want to understand the times in which we live, just take a good look at the, among many other things, the extreme faithfulness of many people who love the Lord, who comprise the church, who even in the middle of persecution and suffering remain true to Him. And God gives to us a picture in Revelation chapter 2 and I want to read to you just a few verses beginning at verse 8 of Revelation chapter 2.
And I want to say to you again that this is a great, great prophecy that comes from the heart of the Lord Jesus Christ. We've got a picture here of this church, the church at Smyrna. By the way, the word there is literally borrowed from a sweet-smelling fragrance.
A sweet-smelling fragrance, that's the word Smyrna. And it's by no accident that Smyrna was a church evidently in Asia Minor that found itself in the midst of greater and greater persecution and suffering. This was a church that was situated in the middle of massive emperor and pagan worship. They were surrounded by a people that had absolutely no time for God. These people found themselves in a situation where the crush was intense. They found themselves in a world in which political correctness was far more important than biblical authority and bowing down before the one true God.
They found themselves in a situation here where accommodation of the world was the order of the day. And in the midst of them, the Lord Jesus says, I want you to know that just before I come back in the clouds, you are going to discover that the church will find itself in a situation not unlike the church at Smyrna. Let's read this, verse 8, and to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, the words of the first and the last who died and who came to life.
So, I'm going to just ask a question. So, who do you suppose is saying these things? Who alone is the first and the last? How sovereign is God? To what extent, beloved congregation, is God our only authority? Who has the final word about life, about death, about where we came from, about where we're going, and above all, how we come to know Him?
The angel of the church in Smyrna write the words of the first and the last who died and who came to life. I, said the Lord your God, I know your tribulation and your poverty, but in your poverty you are rich. And I also know the slander. By the way, that word there is blasphemy. I know God says, I know the blasphemy of those who surround you who say they are Jews, but in reality are members of the synagogue of Satan.
I know that you claim to be a Christian people living in a Christian country, but I don't believe you. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison that you may be tested and for 10 days you will have tribulation.
Let me just pass a comment. I'm not trying to give you a great expose on eschatology here, but the word 10 days there, there are many different opinions on it. The bottom line, what you need to know is that what Jesus wants us to know is that these things will only last for a short while. He says here, be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the spirit is saying to the churches.
Stop looking to the White House for your answers. Just look at the church. If you want to know what I think, if you want to know where you are, if you want to know if I'm about to come back, just look at yourselves. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death. And if you want to read about the second death, you have to go to Revelation chapter 20 because the second death is that from which all believers are exempt. You can never suffer the second death because if you've given your life to Christ, you are born twice and you're only going to die once.
Forgive the interruption. We'll be back in just a moment with the conclusion of today's message, Extreme Faithfulness. But as Doc was talking about the sense of knowing that once you've given your life to Christ, even as we face the judgment seats, the end of time, we don't do that in fear because that's taken care of. I pray that you understand and have a sense of peace about that in your life.
If you don't, let's talk about it. Let's put some resources in your hands. Some of us are studiers. We have some questions, so we've got answers that we can develop in everything from books to messages. Just know that we stand ready with resources both online at theencouragingword.org. That's theencouragingword.org. And also connecting right now at 866-899-WORD. We've had a resurgence of folks that, you know, I'm tired of texting and typing and emailing. Let's talk.
We can do that. We can talk and pray with you right now at 866-899-9673 and also connect with great resources like this. Even though the world is becoming an increasingly challenging place to live in as a Christian, Jesus' ultimate sacrifice on the cross remains a message of hope for everyone. Discover a deep understanding and appreciation for our Savior's death on the cross in Dr. Wilton's powerful sermon, The Cross, along with the bonus book, The Cross of Jesus, by Warren W. Wiersbe, which explores the entire crucifixion in detail. These powerful resources are yours to have with your gift of support to the Encouraging Word. Thank you for listening today. If you have not already gotten your copy of The Spirit of God within you devotional, now is your chance to do so before they sell out. You will find blessings upon blessings as you read uplifting scripture verses, daily devotions, and prayers. Order yours today.
Visit www.tewonline.org or call our toll-free number at 866-899-WORD. The Encouraging Word is a viewer and listener supported ministry. Thank you for listening today.
Now back to today's message with Dr. Don Wilton. You can never suffer the second death because if you've given your life to Christ, you are born twice and you're only going to die once. You're born of your mother, number one. You're born of the Spirit, number two, and you're only going to suffer the physical death, but you can never die a second time, which is the spiritual death. But if you don't know Jesus Christ, you will suffer the second death because all unbelievers are born only once, but they're going to die twice. Born to their mother and father, all unbelievers will die physically, but the Bible says that the wages of sin is death.
They will suffer the second death, which is spiritual death. And so it is that right here in this picture, we've got a picture of a persecuted and a suffering church. And by the way, the same happens to the church at Philadelphia later on in chapter three. And out of the seven churches, there are two churches that Jesus singles out and commends them for their faithfulness.
Only two of them, the church at Smyrna and the church at Philadelphia. Our personnel on the field in the Middle East sent reports back to the United States about the onslaught of ISIS. All of us know what's going on with ISIS. They recently murdered another young Croatian man, and the tactics that they are using are horrendous, horrendous. And we have a government that has no strategy whatsoever, that thinks that you deal with the horrendous barbarism of people like this by parlaying at a table somehow, and this evil that is beginning to grip the world. And in the midst of all of this, the people who are at the focal point of the persecution of ISIS are Christians.
And we are getting reports back, and all of us are familiar, of what happened in Kobani in northern Syria on the border of Turkey as ISIS troops began to approach and the Christians knew that they were going to lose their lives. And there were occasions and one particular occasion where a father gathered his sons and his daughters, his children together in their home, and he said, my little children and my wife, I want you to know that in just a moment that door is going to be broken down and a group of men are going to walk in here. They're going to be carrying black flags.
They're going to be carrying instruments of war and swords and weapons. And my little children, they're going to look at you and they're going to say to you, do you believe in Jesus Christ? Here's what I want you to say to them.
I want you to tell them the truth, and then it'll hurt a little bit. And then we're all going to be in heaven together. There's somewhat of a picture. Yes, I know that that's radical. I understand that.
And I know that that's happening over there and it'll never happen here. But Jesus had something to say. You know, as I began to study this passage, I just asked myself a very simple question. I said, Lord, help me to understand this. And what the Lord spoke to me about by His Spirit was if you want to understand this, just take a hard look at how Jesus spoke to this church. So I did.
Here it is. So how did Jesus spoke, speak to this church? Number one, He spoke to them authoritatively. He said, I am exactly who I say that I am. These are the words of the first and the last, the only one who died and who came to life.
You see, the problem we face today in America today is very simple. From whence cometh our authority? Who is truth? What is truth?
Is it relative? Do you know that there are denominations of churches in America splitting left and right? And the issue is over the question of the authority of God and His word. Do we believe what God has to say because He's God? Is He, in fact, the great I am? Is Jesus Christ the Son of God? Is He God? Did He, in fact, give His life?
Did He mean what He said? And in fact, do we need to believe this word from Genesis to Revelation? I want you to know as your pastor today, I affirm God's word as the only authority for everything in life. From Genesis to Revelation. So what did Jesus have to say to this church?
He spoke to them authoritatively. And by the way, I love this because this speaks to me of prayer. Listen, folks, when you talk about what happened at Smyrna, we've got a picture here of the way in which God speaks to us. Prayer is not just about our speaking to our Heavenly Father. It's more about how He speaks to us.
It's a conversation. He spoke to them authoritatively, but He also spoke to them knowingly. Look at verse 9. The Bible here says this, I know your tribulation and your poverty. Did you know, by the way, that the Lord Jesus loves you so much that He knows everything about you? You see, when we go through difficult times, and particularly suffering and persecution, sometimes you feel very isolated and alone.
I want to say a word to someone today listening, and you're hurting right now, but you're not alone. God knows. I've always loved that statement, you know, that He knows us so well that even the very hairs upon our heads are numbered in His presence. Now, with some of you men, that's not very impressive, I know. But He knows even the root of every one of those wherever it is they went.
Some of you are looking at me shining like the sun right now. He spoke to them knowingly. Here was a group of believers who were afflicted because of emperor worship. These were a people who increasingly, if they did not toe the line, they were ostracized. If they didn't begin to agree with the company policy of their nation, if they didn't begin to withdraw stuff from their stores, if they didn't agree that they would no longer do things that weren't in line with whatever it is that the emperor out there had to say to them that they would lose their businesses. They knew that they would face boycotts.
They knew that the bottom line would be ripped from under their feet. And yet, the Bible tells us that Jesus spoke to them knowingly. He said, I know these were a people who faced the slander of wolves in sheep's clothing. Here in Smyrna, we have the classic case of the synagogue being infiltrated by a group of people who claimed that they were of the Jewish religion and yet, as Jesus said, they were members of the synagogue of Satan. I sound a warning to the church in America today. I believe that increasingly during these days, wolves in sheep's clothing are going to penetrate the church of the living God. Are you kidding me, folks? Do you really think the downfall of America is taking place from outside in or from inside out?
Do you really think Russia is our biggest threat or China or ISIS? When our people from within the heart of our great republic are defying the very heart and name and the holiness and the righteousness of Almighty God in heaven, from within, we begun to police each other to make certain that we do not carry our Christian faith too far. And all across America today, there are churches who claim that the greatest means by which they will reach the outside is that the inside increasingly would look more and more like the outside. He spoke to them knowingly, but he also spoke to them instructively in verse 10. If he spoke to them authoritatively as Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, the son of the living God, the one who by the power of God was raised from the dead, he spoke to them knowingly because he knows everything. And he also spoke to them instructively in verse 10. He said, do not fear the things that you face. Oh yeah, these people at Smyrna, if you go back and do your studies in history, they refused to bow down to the emperor of worship.
They refused to participate in the paganism that so easily beset them. They refused to back down and water down the basic tenets and foundations of their Christian faith. And so he spoke to them instructively. He said, you are a precious faithful people.
I'm with you. Do not fear. But then he spoke to them encouragingly.
I love this. In the second part of verse 10, he said, I want you to know that you must just be faithful because that's who you are. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you in prison so that you may be tested. By the way, the testing of your faith strengthens your faith. That's what he's saying, and it will be short lived. Be faithful unto death even.
I want to encourage you. Where would we be without knowing Christ? He spoke to them encouragingly, but finally he spoke to them redemptively. He said, the one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death. He pointed to his sacrifice on the cross. He said, excuse me, believers, all of this.
It's just about me because I am who I am and I gave my life for you. I went to the cross for you. When I went to the cross, I took upon myself the sin of the world. My dear friend Emily, who's from China, and Karen and I were sitting with her yesterday talking to her about believers baptism. Didn't we have a wonderful time, Emily?
And I was explaining things to her. And one of the things that I was explaining to Emily was how that when Jesus went to the cross, that he took upon himself the sin of the world and he died. He's the first and the last. He's the beginning and the end.
He's the great I am. And with him died all our sin. It was put to death. Jesus put to death our sin.
He paid the penalty for us, but he didn't stay there. God, by his power, raised Jesus from the dead. And when he was raised, he didn't come back to life bringing with him all our sin.
So that now when you and I put our faith and trust in Jesus, we accept and receive what Jesus Christ has done for us on the cross. The wage of our sin has been put to death. And when we put our faith and trust in Jesus, that's how we are forgiven completely. Some of you are spending a lot of time wondering about what you're going to do about all those sins. If you've given your life to Christ, they've been put to death in Christ.
They are no more. That's the gospel. He spoke to them redemptively. He said to them, listen, I want you to know you've received life because I am life.
And no matter what, no matter where, no matter who, I just want to remind you that you belong to me. So my question to you today, do you know Jesus? Have you given your life to him?
Do you know him? Have you trusted the Lord Jesus? If you've not given your life to him, you can do it right now. Just by opening your heart and saying, yes, Jesus, I realize that my sin has separated me from you. And so I confess my sins and I ask for your forgiveness. Lord, I believe you died on the cross of Calvary for my sins. Save me. In Jesus' name I pray. We would love to speak more with you, put some great free resources in your hands, whether it be this unique first-time decision or perhaps it's the time for you to come home to Christ. Know that we're ready to meet you 866-899-WORD or online at theencouragingword.org.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-12 23:05:40 / 2023-03-12 23:14:48 / 9