Revelation 2:8-11 ESV
“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.
“‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 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 ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto 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. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’”
The Synagogue of Satan
Jesus Christ is speaking here. He is speaking to a specific group of people in a particular location at a distinct time in history. Yet, these letters to the seven churches are timeless in their applications to various groups of people at various times and locations throughout biblical history. So, I like to use that saying, “If the shoe fits, wear it.” It means basically that if what this says fits your situation then apply it to your life and circumstances.
In the previous devotion we dealt with similar circumstances as we are here, for we were talking about the church in Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13). The church there was also dealing with those who claimed to be children of God, and yet they were of the “synagogue of Satan,” which would be a description of those who make a pretext of being of God and of having faith in Jesus Christ, but who are really serving Satan and his purposes.
In other words, they are wolves in sheep’s clothing, masquerading as servants of righteousness while they are truly servants of the devil in disguise. And we have many of them leading in many institutional churches today here in America, and I suspect in other nations, too. For they have turned the church into a marketplace to be marketed to the world, and they have altered the gospel message to make it more palatable to human flesh.
So, Jesus Christ is not the head of these “churches.” And the Holy Spirit has been kicked to the curb, so to speak, for he has been replaced by marketing books and by self-help books and by books written by mere mortals who were not writing God’s God-breathed words, but who wrote about their philosophies mixed in with Scripture which they usually twisted to make their case for whatever message they were trying to convey.
Many of these book authors are teaching a diluted gospel message, and some have diluted it so much to where it barely is even recognizable as the gospel anymore, for some of them don’t even mention the cross of Christ but they talk about how God is just so enamored with the people of the earth that he is just craving to be in relationship with us if we will have him. It is so twisted and so backwards and such a lie.
The most popular gospel which is being taught in today’s church dilutes faith in Jesus Christ to a worldly prayer prayed after someone else or to a mere acknowledgment of what Jesus did for us in dying on the cross for our sins, but of course they do not give a complete message on that. And then they tell those who prayed the prayer that they are now children of God, that they are bound for heaven, and that nothing can take that away.
But they are not teaching repentance (dying with Christ to sin) or obedience (living to God and to his righteousness) or submission to Christ as Lord (the fear of the Lord). But Jesus died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us, and in order that we might no longer be enslaved to sin but to God and to righteousness.
[1 Pet 2:24; 2 Co 5:15,21; Rom 6:1-23; 1 Co 6:19-20; Eph 4:17-24]
I Know Your Tribulation
Those who are wolves in sheep’s clothing today, who have turned the grace of God into a license for immorality, have not only turned the church upside down, and not only have they altered the gospel to where it is barely recognizable as the gospel, but they are on the all out attack against those of us who are still holding to the truths of the Scriptures and of the gospel as the Scriptures teach it, and they are accusing us falsely.
They are accusing us of teaching “works-based salvation,” even though we are teaching what the Scriptures teach within their proper context. And they are calling us such things as “self-righteous,” “crazy,” “hyper-religious,” “hateful,” “intolerant,” and the like. And they are trying to persuade their listeners to reject the true gospel in favor of their diluted gospel, so they convince them not to listen to us who are teaching the truth.
But it isn’t just that. They will come against us on social media and on Christian discussion sites and in the blogging world or wherever we are having a voice out in the public. And they will attack and accuse us falsely, and they will try to bait us into an argument because they want to discredit us and our ministry and what we are teaching. Or they will harass us or try as they might to try to get us to fail so they have cause to accuse us.
But that isn’t all. In other countries the persecution is much more severe. Many people are losing their lives over their faith in Jesus Christ or are coming under much more severe persecution. And this is coming to America. They have been hinting about it for a long time now, talking about how we need to break down everything which divides us as the people of the world and how we need to all unify and become one voice and one heart.
So, this is where it is all heading, to this one world religion, and to where teaching the truth of the gospel will no longer be allowed, and it might be outlawed, and those of us who still hold to the testimony of Jesus and who will not bow to the beast will not be able to buy and sell. There is plenty going on in our world right now that indicates we are not very far from this becoming a reality. It is just a matter of how soon.
Do Not Fear
But we are not to be afraid of what is coming, and something is definitely in the works. And we can see it if our eyes are open and if we aren’t being hypnotized by these clever and charming wolves in sheep’s clothing who are duping so many people and who are leading so many people right into their traps. We can’t trust anyone – not the government, not pastors, not prominent people in the community – for anyone could be an enemy.
The Scriptures have always told us that to be a follower of Jesus means that we will suffer as Jesus suffered. We will be hated. We will be persecuted. And some of us will be falsely imprisoned, and some of us will be put to death for our faith in Jesus Christ and for our testimonies for the gospel of our salvation. But we are to be faithful unto death and we will receive the crown of life.
If we are victorious over the enemy, and if we do not retreat from God and join enemy forces and compromise with the world, but we remain steadfast in our faith even unto death, then we have the hope of eternal life with God. But if we join in with the world, and we walk in sin, and we do not follow our Lord in obedience to the death, then we will not inherit eternal life with God. So, we need to listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Rev. 2-3; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8, 27; Rev 22:14-15]
An Original Work / June 19, 2013
Based off Acts 20-22, 26; Mt. 28:18-20; Ac. 1:8
Why are you weeping and breaking my heart?
I’m fully ready to suffer for Christ.
If I must die for the sake of His name,
I am convinced it will not be in vain.
Glory to God and to His Son Jesus,
Who has redeemed us; bought with His blood.
May I speak to you? Jesus came to me;
Asked of me, “Why do you persecute me?”
He said, “Now get up and stand on your feet.
Go, and you’ll be told all I have for you.
I have appointed you as a servant,
And as a witness; you have been sent.”
“Go into the world and preach the gospel.
Open the blind eyes. They will receive sight.
Turn them from darkness to the light of Christ;
From power of the evil one to God,
So they may receive forgiveness of sins,
And a place among those who’re in heav’n.”