My Thoughts. . .
The angel is writing to the assembly in Smyrna. They are under tribulation and in poverty. They are not to be afraid even though suffering is coming. Some will be put in prison. These persecutions will try their faith. Ten days of tribulation will soon be upon them. Then the angel states, “Be faithful until death and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).
Today, Christians are being burned out, beaten, and murdered in several countries. Their female children are being sold in slave markets or forced to marry men fifteen to twenty years older. They are being re-educated to accept the religion of their persecutors. Slurs are being cast at Christians even in this country. Since the sixties, humanism has made tremendous advances in American education and culture. Christianity is not as popular as it once was, and faith is being tested to expose and punish the real believers.
What does the phrase “be faithful until death” mean? The words roll off the golden tongue of some pulpiteers, entering the ears of welcoming hearers. But how much do those words influence people in the pew once they exit the building? If the environment outside our church buildings is full of profanity and suggestive language, how popular is “Jesus talk”?
If those being written to did not continue to be faithful, then Christianity would have died a sad death. Apparently, some were steadfast and passed their faith on to others so we would have Revelation’s record. Six churches received short messages from God. Only one was threatened harshly (Revelation 3:14-22). Yet, a letter was sent to each congregation that still enjoyed fellowship with God. Were they being warned? Yes. Yet, they were still in fellowship. Neither an individual nor an assembly is perfect. The Corinthian letters as well as Revelation 2 and 3 confirms that truth. Yet, those needing correction remained in fellowship with God.
So, what does “Be faithful until death” mean to the 2021 assemblies of the Anointed One? If it means sinless perfection, then all we will hear is “Depart from me.” The Corinthian assembly was still in fellowship with God. So, what would “be faithful until death” mean to them? Despite their need for correction, they remained in fellowship with God who told them to withdraw only from one member. That member was not guilty of rejecting Paul’s apostleship and some were. He was not guilty of dividing the church over personalities like four groups. He was not browbeating those who continued to believe gods existed but were lesser than God the Father. He was not disciplined because he did not believe in the resurrection. He was not guilty of failing to wait on others during the communion. His sin was committing fornication with his father’s wife. That man lost fellowship with God, but not the rest of the congregation. So, what did “Be faithful until death” mean to the Corinthian assembly?
God was not licensing them to continue in their error, but neither had He withdrawn from them. God did not condone their actions, but He did not withdraw from them. If anyone needed correction, it was the church of God in Corinth. Yet, they were still God’s children. How could God continue to dwell in them and not withdraw Himself or His miraculous gifts from them? If the blood of Jesus did not continue to cleanse them, how could God continue to dwell in and recognize them as His Holy Temple?
With all the division being practiced today, are those who divide better than God? He continued to dwell in an error ridden congregation which he continued to described as “the church of God.” Perhaps there is a lesson in 1 and 2 Corinthians which we have missed?