From the May 6 sermon “Persecuted in Smyrna: Faithful No Matter What,” preached by Pastor Mark Driscoll out of Revelation 2:8-11:
Pastor Mark preaches at the church in Smyrna on Jesus’ words—still applicable today—to the church in Smyrna from Revelation 2. Today, Turkey is the least churched nation; still, Jesus tells the church in Smyrna to be encouraged and to endure what he endured (tribulation, poverty, slander, suffering, even death), but not to fear. Pray for Christians and churches where persecution still continues.
You Are Part of God’s Divine Plan
Hear what the Spirit says to the churches. God has placed you here today. Do not be afraid.
Acts 17 says God determines when we are born and where we will live. You are part of God’s divine plan. God has placed you today in this place. Because Turkey matters. Because Izmir matters. Because Jesus matters. And because your life matters.
[. . .]
For you young men, this is a magnificent, historic opportunity to marry women who love Jesus.
To raise children who love Jesus.
To raise grandchildren who love Jesus.
And to leave servants of Jesus for generations.
The work here will be slow. And it will be hard. But it is possible to see Jesus made much of in Izmir. I pray that your grandsons would be planting churches. And that you would not fear.
Jesus loves you. I love you. Thank you for being an encouragement. And do not fear.
Do Not Fear
Some of you have lost family and friends who have rejected you.
Some of you have lost jobs and inheritances.
Some of you have lost spouses, family members, and friends.
And Jesus grieves with you. He experienced the same thing while on the earth. [. . .]
And Jesus says, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit has to say to the churches.” Jesus wants to open your ear to hear a word from him today. And his word is very important for you to believe.
Jesus says, “Do not fear.” Jesus says, “Do not fear.”
5 Ways You Will Be Mistreated
Here Jesus is asking you to endure what he endured for you. And if you know that Jesus loves you, and you love him, you will be willing to do this, though it is hard. And Jesus says there are five ways that you will be mistreated as he was.
He says there will be tribulation. This means that it will be harder to live in this city as a Christian.
There will be poverty. Being a Christian will cost you money. Some of you will lose jobs and inheritances and it will not be repaid until the kingdom of God.
You will be slandered. Being a Christian means that your reputation might be destroyed. People will say things that are untrue, perhaps, about you, or your church, or your faith. They will misunderstand or misrepresent who you love and what you believe.
Jesus says there will be suffering. Being a Christian will make your life far more difficult.
It could include death. For some in the city’s history, such as men like Polycarp, all the way to the present, this has been the price to be paid. We do not aspire to die or to cause any conflict. But we believe the words of the Bible: “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” Whatever the price, we belong to the Lord.
And he promises that after death there will be no second death. There will be no hell, condemnation, or wrath.
For the Christian, this as close to hell as you will get.
For the non-Christian, this is as close to heaven as they will get.
Because Jesus died for us and rose for us, if we die for him, we will rise with him.