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Long-Suffering Community (Part 1 of 3)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
May 20, 2022 4:00 am

Long-Suffering Community (Part 1 of 3)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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May 20, 2022 4:00 am

The persecuted church in Smyrna was poor and faltering when they received an encouraging, comforting message from the risen Christ. Listen to Truth For Life as Alistair Begg considers how God produces usefulness out of weakness and riches out of poverty.


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The church in Smyrna. In the first century was extremely poor were also faltering in the face of persecution. That's when they received an encouraging and comforting letter from the risen Christ today on Truth for Life. Alistair Begg explores that letter to find out how God produces usefulness out of weakness and riches out of poverty to the angel of the church in Smyrna write.

These are the words of him who is the first and the last to die, and came to life again.

I know your afflictions and your poverty and yet you're 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're about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for 10 days 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, et al., by the second day and in verse seven of chapter 3 to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write these in the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David.

What he opens no one can shut what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds.

See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars. I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come up on the whole world to test those who live on our I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will you leave I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God and I will also write on him my new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches is hardly a week passes for me in the states when somebody doesn't come to me and say do you miss your whole and when I tell them that I do. They always want to know why. Sometimes I give them a sensible answer. Sometimes I'm tired of sensible answers on so I just play with her mind a little bit from time to time I tell them that I miss certain things.

For example, I miss dad's Army.

Now that I've been usually closes them down because not being willing to say what's dad's Army wanting to seem like they really are comprehensive in understanding the world is and then just move off down the line, but for those of you are of a similar vintage to myself. The younger people here have no clue what I'm talking about, but for those of you who were born a little earlier. You may miss dad's Army as well. I confess that whenever in some remote place in the colonial lands. I hear that familiar tonight die for the remote control button and bring it up just to see Capt. mentoring once again just to hear that fabulous. We saw as the program goes out you know I'd sing it together shall have gone okay well maybe another year but Mr. Brown goes off to town on the 51 and half class XXI scheduled.

You're very intelligent group 3:30 zone FTSE and ready with his gun something very endearing about our program is based, as opposed those who had lived through the difficult days. The war, the idea that somehow or another, a ragtag group of characters such as was assembled in the air could ever be responsible for giving a sense of confidence to the community that if ever there was an invasion they would be able to run to the south, towards the end with a variety of broomsticks in bits and pieces be able to withstand the advances of the evil one. We were supposed to go to bed at night feeling I suppose a little more confident that, if ever.

This was to happen again. At least we would have this group ready for action is a low so you finally decided one to dig your jacket off and then to to give up on Bible exposition. Now you're just going to date is on a tour of the BBC archives is either nicely know there is at least in my own strange mind a peculiar link between dad's Army in Smyrna and Philadelphia because when I read and reread the description of the people in Smyrna and Philadelphia. They look a lot like a kind of ragtag group by sort of dad's Army. If you see the factors that are described their poverty and their lack of strength, and there living is it where under the gun of persecution, we might be forgiven for thinking that I group like this sort. Places like this, presumably, have little prospect of doing anything significant for God in their day. But of course when were tempted to think that way it is because were thinking far too much of ourselves and far too little of God we fallen into the trap of thinking that God is is roaming the air looking for the strong in the powerful and the mighty who somehow he needs in order to set forward his purposes in the world and an actual fight that endorses the case for when you consider your calling, rather, not many were mighty, not many were noble, not many were of striking importance, we discover that with eyes as in Smyrna as in Philadelphia as in Corinth throughout the world. God has chosen to deliberately, purposefully the weak things of the world to confound the strong he has chosen the foolish things to confound the wise, and he has given us a message which in itself is apparently total foolishness so that when people are gripped and changed by their faith may rest not on the coercive arguments of the five fallibilities of a man or a woman's mind but may rest in the very power of God, and it is surely as strategic and good that we end here in these two churches before many of us returned to circumstances that we may feel are similar, not in terms of the extent of persecution. But in terms of looking around at our congregation and send yourselves you know look a lot like dad's Army here to tell you the truth if you consider the possibility that your personal weaknesses in the weaknesses of your congregation may be the very key to your usefulness in the hand of God. Then I thought about sin. Now I'm talking about our faltering's I'm talking about our personalities. I'm talking about our sense of weakness and poverty of spirit, and so on and were tempted all the time. You know, to try and make out what different from what we really are. Because if we can present a good friend. You know then maybe people will be impressed with that and drawing to listen to the message but the fact of the matter is we want them to be drawn to Christ and nothing exalts and magnifies Christ more than the awareness that came to the apostle Paul. Despite all that he known of the dramatic revelations of God, my strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, he says, more gladly, will I glory in my weakness that Christ's power may rest upon me for when I am weak, then I am strong.

I hope that will ring through as we consider these two churches if you know just as we read them. Jesus has no words of condemnation for them in identifying their circumstances see issues. No complaint, he confronts no problem. He's done that in each of the other messages. As we've seen, but even in his confrontation of problems and is issuance of warnings I hope we've understood that the Lord Jesus comes in his warnings as an expression of his grace is an expression of your likeliest pastoral care over the flock because we must keep in the forefront of our minds as we consider the things that Christ is saying to the churches that, as Paul tells the Ephesians Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the work to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

I'm reminded of a book by Michael Griffith some years ago that was caught entitled on the church entitled Cinderella with amnesia, fabulous title measure anybody had a clue what it was about when they looked at it, but it was still a great title and a wonderful book and the thesis was that the Lord Jesus comes to us as we feel ourselves to be like Cinderella. Sitting among the ashes and uninvited to the ball and inferior to the fancy sisters that are around us and he comes and picks as a fashion sense into the beautiful bride of his purposes. Now, as you look at the text.

Consider how he introduces himself, the Lord Jesus does this fellowship here in Smyrna. Once again the designation fits with the opening vision in chapter 1, what you have here is, essentially, in verse eight, a repetition of verse 17 in chapter 1. These are the words of him who is the first and the last one who died and came to life again. He introduces himself as the beginning and the end the Alpha and Omega, the one who is from everlasting to everlasting kingdom's rise and fall, Dennis.

These crumble rulers fade away from the stage of world history, the wind blows over their grave and remembers it no more of the Lord Jesus is without beginning and without an he was there before we were born before the hills in order stood, Iraq received its frame from everlasting, thou art God two endless years, the same and unnumbered blessings on my soul. Your tender care bestowed before my infant heart conceived from whom these blessings flow foot. He precedes us and will follow us when they walked through the graveyard of the local church and they see our names on a stone and they say I can really remember that person the Lord Jesus will be is real and is alive and vibrant and is committed to the ongoing of his kingdom, and the building up of his people as he was in the days when we had the privilege of trading.

These pathways one of the features of growing old is that we can become a little morose, you know, we can begin to starts singing abide with me and not just at the final of the FA cup. You know having our morning coffee and looking out. We just watch the news or read the paper and were starting to sing J&J on the and all around the wife say I'll shut it up. Would you place and we just become miserable and mournful and always looking over our shoulders. All it was terrific back then. You know it was those were the days you know Iran member when well memories. We said that Don like to be a chain because it is right for us to look around and say yes we do see change in the cave and find that I am is all that I would change is not you buying with me walk with me today. Talk with me today.

I want to live with you today.

I want to know your companionship and that of course is the promise that is here in this self designation, I am the first and the last I am the beginning and the end I was before.

You and I will come behind you.

The Samoset you hem me in behind them before you put your hand upon me. Psalm 121 you watch over my coming in my going from this time forth and even forevermore. And the reason that the Lord Jesus designates himself in this way, presumably to the beleaguered people in Smyrna is because this more than any other part of the designation from the opening vision is a truth of these dear folks in Smyrna needed a year.

This was something that they could if you like cozy up to and derive comfort from was an encouragement to them to know that he is the resurrection and the life faced with the prospect of suffering even to the point of death.

Smyrna's either an incident I just invented that word last night because I was thinking of the Smurfs when I was reading this and I said I want to call these people the Smyrna like Glaswegian's will from Glasgow's learners are people from Smyrna so the Smyrna as you heard it here first were strengthened, then by this great Easter truth, they would've been happy without him cannot keep its prey, Jesus my Savior.

He tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord and from the grave he arose with a mighty triumph, or his followers. They didn't appear to be triumphing indeed a kind of thing that was coming on to them and back to them. Even through their children.

As a result of the calumny is within the community was sides they felt themselves to be anything other than triumphant with a two guy that had different names on it. There would be many mornings are limited to the right and give me that happened as conqueror on the front of the Journal. I'm going to wear my conqueror today because most of the time that would be going around feeling much different from a conqueror or to know that they had been included in Christ to know that he was from the beginning to the end and all points in between, who had been dad was alive again that he was there Savior their companion and friend would make all the difference to their day and all the difference to the challenges they face, tempted, they may have been to St. nobody knows the trouble I've seen then they catch themselves and say yes. But Jesus knows all about my troubles and we will fight till the day is done. For those not a friend like the lowly. Jesus no not one. No, not one now. It is this Lord Jesus who identifies their afflictions. There I know your afflictions living in an environment of persecution. The enemies of their faith came not only from the Roman authorities but also from the Jewish community.

The daily lives would've been filled with little and large expressions of antagonism and antagonism that came their way. Primarily because they refused to bow the knee to Caesar they were living as aliens in a strange land and you will notice that he mentions four dimensions of the trials I just draw your attention to them first about poverty says I know your afflictions.

I know your poverty is quite striking because Smyrna was a very prosperous city. Its inhabitants were apparently proud of its abundance. Somehow or another. These believers were not sharing in the abundance of the commercial opportunities of their community. Presumably it was because given that they were prepared to take their stand for the Lord Jesus Christ. They would then be bypassed and some commercial ventures.

I remember my father when I was a very small boy having those conversations with my mother when they did the washing up the closer kitchen door so you can hear them and you always when a progressive kitchen door so you could hear them but I never really fully understood what it was about but it seemed to be a time of tension and of difficulty in his life. Even when you're a small child. You pick up on those things don't get later on when I was more mature and my father and I were communicated about everything. He was able to tell me that when he works in Ayrshire.

He found it impossible amongst the farming community to get any business or tall because he didn't shake hands.

The way the Ayrshire farmers shook hands, and his boss told him that if he would become a member of the secret society and learn the shake hands properly. It even get all the business that he ever wanted and he said give me another territory that is in inferior territory. I'll get more business out of the inferior territory shaking hands the way I shake hands than in this potentially vibrant territory shaking hands the way you want me to, and is quite interesting that the fella didn't just give him his books and send them up the street, but he thought my dad would fail.

My dad told me that he got on his knees and he said Lord Jesus Christ.

You are stronger than all of these forces. Therefore, if it please you and for your namesake.

Glorify yourself in the production of business in this territory that nobody's been able to make a go off before I let it be clear to me and to everybody else. Lord Jesus, you're able to produce riches even out of poverty, and God did God. Well, let's just notice that they were poor, particularly a word of caution for the American church.

I think the people from Smyrna. They were to come back in one of the Doctor Who telephone boxes or whatever it was, and drop down into the average seen in the states and perhaps it would be true here in the UK they would be rubbing their eyes and him in ministry.

Looking at the people as the words came out of their mouth selling to the folks at Gospel of wealth in the gospel of prosperity and a gospel of if you will follow Jesus everything will fall in line for your new get all these things last week before I left the meeting in the New York Times, I discovered that in Africa the fastest growing congregations are congregations where they have bought in to this name it and claim it wealthy philosophy that is been promulgated out of the American context and Africans are coming in their roles to these congregations in the hole that they may become like their self-styled pastors who have been able to give evidence of the fight that God want you to be prosperous and to be strong and to be mighty well it wouldn't have sold in Smyrna. Now you know and it would've been hard for the apostles to get a hold of it and the idea of a Galilean carpenter with 12 young ragtag and somehow doesn't fit that message but still you are tempted to live the lie that it we can show the world that we are strong that we are powerful that we are mighty we can make an impact than they will listen know they won't. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church and indeed the problem in one of the other communities was the very problem that they where rich regarded themselves as being in need of nothing. Need anything to see any need any clothes they had everything they needed.

They were living with a course of complacency not in Smyrna, Jesus wanted them to know that even though they were poor.

They were actually rich in the things that really matter because a man's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses. That same message of comfort and encouragement from Jesus to the church at Smyrna still applies to us today. Jesus knows our present afflictions and he promises eternal rewards when we persevere in faith listing to Truth for Life with Alister if you'd like to share the comforting message of the gospel with others.

We recommend a book called mere evangelism. 10 insights from CS Lewis to help you share your faith in many writings by CS Lewis. He explains that his path to conversion was slow, gradual and marked by a great deal of intellectual debate.

He related his own experience to others when he later began to share his faith.

The book mere evangelism examines what made Louis so effective at leading others to faith in Jesus and the books. 10 insights you learn more about how he used clarity how he made an emotional connection and how he was prepared for opposition to compel others to seriously consider the truth of the gospel requester copy of mere evangelism. When you give a donation to support the teaching you here on Truth for Life. Click on the picture in the app or visit us the Truth for by the way, if you're interested in purchasing additional copies of mere revenge share with others find them, along with many other quality books in our online store where they're available for purchase at cost. Visit Truth for Bob Lapine thanks for joining us. Hope you have a great weekend and are able to worship with your local church. Have you ever been tempted to soften the gospel in order not to be offensive to other people on Monday will be back in the book of Revelation to see why that's a dangerous tactic to take the Bible teaching of Alister reg is furnished by Truth for Life learning is

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