Agonizomai: Rev 2:11 - Smyrna the Persecuted Church<br>Assurance for the Blessed, Through Faith

Monday, May 04, 2009

Rev 2:11 - Smyrna the Persecuted Church
Assurance for the Blessed, Through Faith

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Rev 2:11 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.’

To believers this is not a command, but assurance. It is not God driving them to do something, but God promising to do something Himself. But one has to have the ears to hear. The unbelieving soul will see only God on one side and men on the other. They will see a relationship of separation, like two people tossing a ball back and forth. This is the worldly understanding of those who have no ears to hear.

But Christ’s sheep hear His voice. They have ears because they have been given ears through the new birth. The Spirit of Christ lives in them to bring about hearing. So the words are addressed to those in whom the Spirit truly dwells. This is not "higher knowledge". It is not the recovery of "lost knowledge". It is the truth that all saints understand and that all saints have always understood. It is what Jesus taught, so it can be no surprise that it is what the Spirit teaches, since they are one and the same God.

To those who hear, this is a promise - an encouragement and not a threat. It is, in fact, a part of the very means by which God Himself accomplishes the perfection of His own. He comes into His own, marries His being to theirs, and works in them to do His will through the faith that responds to the spiritual power of His word.

Faith is the key and faith is the gift of God to His children. Now faith can be manifested in differing degrees in various people. Some have great faith and some weak faith. God has His reasons for this. But all who have true faith He will get there (eternity with Him) in the end. He helps and encourages the weak through the "strong". The one who conquers does not do so by independent response to external stimulus (threat) - but by the power of God at work in him - by faith in that power because he knows that Christ has done it all.

The second death is eternity in the lake of fire with the devil and his angels. It is the universal end of all those of humanity who do not believe in Christ in the sense of Biblical belief - that is those in whom Christ dwells through faith by the grace of God, the manifestation of which is growth in grace and a knowledge of Him demonstrated in the obedience of walking in the same way that He walked. If we are busy trying to perfect our faith instead of abiding in the finished work of Christ our focus will always be on ourselves and we miss the stark reality of the truth of the existence of universal damnation outside of Christ for a perishing world. The gospel will not be preached if we spend all our time striving to do, by means of the flesh, something that Christ will do in us by the Spirit as we trust in Him.

Though the messages are given to the angels of the churches (that is, the pastors) it is clearly stated here that the Spirit is speaking to the churches themselves - to the congregants of the churches at each location. Once more, it seems clear that there is a God-given order in the church by which God speaks to His people His words of encouragement or correction. The pastor’s job is given in Paul’s second letter to Timothy...
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. {2Ti 4:1-2}
This is not monolithic order, but pastoral order. It is not lording, but shepherding. Shepherding uses both rod and staff, it seeks the lame and the halt, it carries home the straying upon its shoulders - but it trusts in the true Shepherd to be at work in all that is said and done. It does not rely upon humanistic, monolithic organizational authority. At the same time, the sheep knows the true Shepherd and hears His voice, and the under-shepherd must recognize this so that, if the "sheep" is not hearing a clear message, lovingly delivered, then the under-shepherd does not get all work-oriented and try to do what only God can do.

Again, both sheep and shepherd are accountable to God for their response to the message. The pastor bears the greater responsibility because, besides his own personal obedience to it, he must rightly, patiently and lovingly deliver the same message to the sheep. And they must be able to see in the pastor the example of his obedience. This is not always so - and God’s word is always effective for the purpose for which it was sent - but the responsibility upon each saint (pastor or congregant) to obey the gospel is the same.


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