Worship Service: Remembering the Persecuted Church

Title: "Remembering the Persecuted Church"
Text: Revelation 2:8-11
Speaker: Dr. Don Sweeting

“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.’

1. Do you agree that the Christian church is undergoing significant persecution in certain parts of the world in our day? Can you think of some examples?
2. Take a moment and read about the church in Smyrna, from Revelation 2:8-11. How are the words of Jesus "framed by the gospel" in Revelation 2:8?
3. According to Revelation 2:9-10, who were the enemies of the church at Smyrna?
4. What types of suffering did the church experience?
5. Do you agree that the church in America often lacks a theology of suffering? Why or why not?
6. What comforts does Christ offer to the church that is undergoing persecution, as you read this passage? What do we learn of Christ that helps us in suffering?
7. What is the call of this passage to Christians undergoing persecution?
8. As we get better informed about the persecuted church, we can learn from fellow Christians who are suffering. What are some of the things we can learn from them?
9. Our closing hymn was quite a challenge: "Am I a Soldier of the Cross?" Here are the words of the third verse: Are there no foes for me to face? Must I not stem the flood? Is this vile world a friend to grace, to help me on to God? What is the challenge for you from this song, and from the words of Jesus to the Church in Smyrna?