Changes God requires in His church today in order to produce the perfected 'bride of Christ'




Today we look at the positive side, the first of the 2 churches Jesus commended, that at Smyrna.







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DEFINITIONS (For serious students only)



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We now come to the two churches with whom Jesus did not find fault. If we are truly honest with ourselves, we are unlikely to want to belong to either of them!  




8 “To the angel of the church in Smyrna write:

These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. 9 I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. (Revelation 2:8-10a)

The church is poor. Of course we all know that poverty means that we aren't receiving the blessing of God, don't we? That is what prosperity teachers preach and is the prevailing belief of most Christians, without a doubt! Whether travelling in countries, rich or poor, ministering to rich churches or poor, almost without exception, the concept of material blessing being a sign of God's favour is a fundamental belief.




Yes, we humanise so many things. In a worldly sense it is better to be rich than poor. Personally I have known both extremes twice in my life, having been a millionaire, then a bankrupt, and repeating the experience. Humanly speaking it is nicer to have money than not to have it! Even in the human view of the spiritual, one is able to support and help others far more when you have the means to do so.




Yet, in the end, as we can see in the church at Smyrna, God is looking for something different. The first and foremost thing is a deep personal relationship with you and with me. His desire is for us to have a full trust in, and dependence upon, Him.




As we found out last week, this wasn't happening at the richest of the 7 churches, the one that mankind would view as the most successful, that at Laodicea. Jesus, in fact saved His most scathing criticism for these seemingly successful, self confident people. I have been privileged to visit many churches, both rich and poor. Almost all those who are rich are super confident that what they are doing is God's way, when usually it is patently obvious that it is not. The worship may be technically superb with an apparent anointing created by excellence. The preaching is likely to have good content and be well presented by a powerful orator and leader of people. On the surface, all appears to be brilliant, a superbly stage managed presentation to gladden the hearts and lift the spirits of the congregation. Then enters the Holy Spirit! He wants to do things His way. Oops! He is going to upset our perfect church! I will let you muse over the end result for yourself!




On a personal level, I can testify that I have got far closer to God in times of bankruptcy than in times of plenty. My first bankruptcy brought me 'to' Jesus, my second took my 'into' Jesus. There is a huge difference.

After the first bankruptcy God restored business success. At this time I held the pen while the Holy Spirit wrote the 'Walking With Jesus' discipleship course. I was able to print and distribute 6,000 copies free of charge to people in New Zealand and worldwide, all from the profits of the business. Amazing - yes! Helping others - yes! Spreading the Word - yes! Successful and blessed by God - yes! Was I confident in God? Yes!




Then a second bankruptcy! One created by a lack of wisdom in trying to provide funds for myself to enter full time ministry without being a burden on others. A laudable goal? In a human sense - yes! In God's plan - no, and no again!

For you see, He wanted me to rely fully upon Him. Not only in the material, but also in the spiritual. So He took me through a wilderness experience of 5+ years. He gave me revelation and understanding that no one wanted to hear. It was a lonely walk, battering my head again and again against a brick wall. "God, am I right or wrong? Is it really you Lord, or my fertile imagination? Lord, why will nobody understand! Lord, I have given up everything for you, I have immersed myself in your Word, yet I am rejected seemingly everywhere."

I even ministered overseas, being listened to politely, but not really understood.




It was not until my third trip to Africa that things changed. Tired after a 14 hour flight, I was taken off the plane to a meeting my friend was running. I will never forget that day! There was a Singaporean speaking. I wanted to go to sleep, but when I heard His words, I immediately awoke! Here, for the first time in, by now 7 years, I heard someone else speaking out the same revelation that I had been given! What a relief! "Lord, it is not just me! Thank you Lord!"

Over the next few days I met a number of people who had also had a similar understanding. Upon speaking to them, without exception, all had been through a wilderness period, a period of rejection, a time of death to self, before coming back into ministry at a new, far deeper level than they had been at previously.

On my last trip through South Africa, a trip of faith on 50 cents a day, I found that there were now churches whose people were starting to understand, and trying to live, the life of being sold out to God. Not in the rich churches, but in those in some of the poorer areas of the country. These are the ones who are most receptive to God's desires as they have little else to rely upon.




Unlike the church in Smyrna, and those in some parts of the world today, most of us are unlikely to die for our beliefs. Yet God does require each of us to die - to die to our human nature and grow into His.

None of us have fully achieved this yet. Just ask my wife Kathy! As Paul said,



Philippians 3:12-14



The people of Smyrna had nothing materially. They were persecuted. They were ridiculed. They were likely to die for their faith. Yet, spiritually, in their faithfulness, they had everything! And were given the promise:



Revelation 10b



God, above all, desires us to be fully reliant upon Him 




...as we look at the second church Jesus commended, that at Philadelphia.





We glibly talk about being submitted to God's will, but are we really? I know that I have to ask myself the question regularly!

But that is what He wants of us - all of us!

Extra-Biblical Historical Evidence for the LIFE, DEATH, and RESURRECTION of JESUS


The Gospel of Thomas, probably from 140-200 AD:

Contains many references to and alleged quotations of Jesus.

The Treatise On Resurrection, by uncertain author of the late second century, to Rheginos:

"The Lord ... existed in flesh and ... revealed himself as Son of God ... Now the Son of God, Rheginos, was Son of Man. He embraced them both, possessing the humanity and the divinity, so that on the one hand he might vanquish death through his being Son of God, and that on the other through the Son of Man the restoration to the Pleroma might occur; because he was originally from above, a seed of the Truth, before this structure of the cosmos had come into being."
"For we have known the Son of Man, and we have believed that he rose from among the dead. This is he of whom we say, 'He became the destruction of death, as he is a great one in whom they believe.' Great are those who believe."

"The Savior swallowed up death. ... He transformed himself into an imperishable Aeon and raised himself up, having swallowed the visible by the invisible, and he gave us the way of our immortality."

"Do not think the resurrection is an illusion. It is no illusion, but it is truth. Indeed, it is more fitting to say that the world is an illusion, rather than the resurrection which has come into being through our Lord the Savior, Jesus Christ."

". . . already you have the resurrection ... why not consider yourself as risen and already brought to this?" Rheginos was thus encouraged not to "continue as if you are to die."



So until next week.......

His servant and yours

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931. Godly obedience is the present outworking of belief and faith.

David Tait         




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