The first century churches at Smyrna and Philadelphia faced persecution from without and a sense of their own weakness within. The Lord Jesus wrote tender words, encouraging them to endure hardship and promising eternal rewards to those who overcome. As we study these two letters, Alistair Begg shows how God works through our weaknesses and trials, giving us the strength to be faithful and the confidence of knowing we are secure in His Kingdom for eternity.
8“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.
9“‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander1 of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10Do 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 ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’
7“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.
8“‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. 10Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. 11I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. 12The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. 13He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
Everyone loves to receive mail, especially when it’s from someone we deeply love or respect. How much more, then, would we long to know what Jesus would say in a letter to us?
The truth is that He did write letters to His Church – specifically, to seven first century churches – and sent His mail through the Apostle John in the Book of Revelation. As Alistair Begg guides us through these letters, we learn that the issues addressed by the Lord Jesus 2000 years ago are timeless in their application. Churches and individual Christians today face the same challenges, and we need to hear the same words of warning and encouragement as those early believers: words that say He knows our circumstances; words that call us to reject compromise; words that promise faithfulness will be rewarded in the coming Kingdom.
The risen Lord Jesus has sent the Church some mail. Are we prepared to read what He’s written?
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