Class Notes: 5/16/2021
Smyrna, the pivot for SPQR part 39
Phil 1:29; For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also on behalf of Him to suffer,
Heb 9:27; NET And just as people are appointed once to die once and then to face judgment,
2Cor 4:1-18; Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart,
2 but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,
4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
5 For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus' sake.
6 For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;
8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing;
9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
11 For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
12 So death works in us, but life in you.
13 But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I believed, therefore I spoke," we also believe, therefore we also speak,
14 knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you.
15 For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.
17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,
18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Psa 23:1-6; (NET) A psalm of David. The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He takes me to lush pastures, he leads me to refreshing water.
3 He restores my strength. He leads me down the right paths for the sake of his reputation.
4 Even when I must walk through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me; your rod and your staff reassure me.
5 You prepare a feast before me in plain sight of my enemies. You refresh my head with oil; my cup is completely full.
6 Surely your goodness and faithfulness will pursue me all my days, and I will live in the Lord's house for the rest of my life.
In our study on Smyrna, the base of the pivot power for the first gentile client nation SPQR. We are in Rev 2:10; that starts with the mandate "not to fear what you are about to suffer"
Last time we noted the 10 specific periods of Christian persecution that lasted about 200 years.
It ended in 313AD when Constantine issued at Milan the edict that terminated the ten special persecutions of our Rev 2:10; passage. He said, "We grant," "to the Christians and all others free choice to follow their own mode of worship, whatever they wish ...".
Ten emperors had administered these persecutions preparing the church to evangelize the barbarians who were invading the empire waiting to be converted.
Because the church had survived the persecutions so well in so many cases two kinds of believers were manifest at the time. First of all there were believers living in God's spiritual power system contributing to the up trends of the Roman Empire.
These are the ones who when faced with death refused to recant and glorified Jesus Christ as they died. These are the ones who died under dying grace and there are special rewards reserved for them in heaven.
But many other believers renounced Christ to escape death, to escape torture, to escape the confiscation of their property. These had already contributed to the downtrend and they continued to live in the Roman Empire to be an impediment to it.
But God had a purpose in all of this: He was toughening up the Church for the greatest mission field that has ever been faced, the evangelization of the entire world.
The Romans could not conquer the entire world but the pivot of believers sent out missionaries to China, to India, to Armenia, to Parthia, to Africa, and to all of the areas of the world that Rome had never been able to conquer.
And many of these so called barbarians who were invading Rome would eventually form Gentile client nations, and it was not the eagle standard of Rome but the Cross of the Christian missionaries from Rome who went out from the pivot of mature believers and evangelized the entire world.
The martyrdom of the Christians demonstrated a principle that the barbarians could not understand. Many of the barbarians were physically strong and powerful, they were fierce warriors and great conquerors, but they all lacked one thing: they were afraid of death.
A principle we learn from this is that the way you live is determined by your attitude toward death.
Sooner or later death becomes everyone's reality and when that happens we discover that the things we thought were important, things that we spent our lives doing, the pleasures that we sought, the ambitions to succeed and to get ahead and become famous and great and to excel, all of these things that we pursue in life will not give us one moment of peace or blessing or courage when we face the imminent reality of our death.
If we haven't solved the problem of dying with our scale of values, and where doctrine stands, and the perception and application of doctrine in our life, then we are never going to be able to face death with confidence in the way God wants us to. Phil 1:21;
Without Bible Doctrine death is going to be a horror, a time and moment of truth when we will look back at our life and realize what a fool we were to spend all of our time seeking happiness when Bible Doctrine the true only source of truth that is the basis off freedom, happiness and contentment was right there in front of us. John 8:31-32;
The Church is never ready to send out missionaries to evangelize until the Church is not afraid of death or adversity because it has been toughened by testing to the point where it is not afraid of anything and having passed the adversity testing also passing prosperity testing.
Adversity toughens and prosperity softens, and so to pass both tests we have the history of the first three centuries of Christianity related first of all to persecution and then to prosperity.
Persecutions, then and now in a client nation to God. Historical trends of adversity and prosperity continue and will continue until the day the Lord removes the Church from satan's world with the exit resurrection terminating the opportunity that believers have to suffer for Jesus sake to the glory of God and unimaginable blessing in eternity. Phil 1:29; 2Cor 4:17-18;
Historical trends exist and the precedent has been set by the ten persecutions that were predicted in Rev 2:10.
In the devil's world there will always be the potential for the persecution of believers. God often permits this persecution because too many believers have become involved in the cosmic system and, therefore, the remnant in the pivot are toughened and their values are strengthened by adversity.
Any persecution of Christians that God permits has two purposes: either divine discipline for believers living in satan's cosmic system or spiritual momentum and special blessings for believers living in the God's spiritual power system.
From the time of Constantine (313-337) another historical trend would become obvious: the problem of separation of Church and State plus the importance of the Church staying out of politics.
When the Church becomes involved in politics the nation is destroyed; when the Church stays out of politics and advances spiritually to maturity the nation is saved.
Our job as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ and collectively as the Church is to stay out of politics, to advance to maturity, because the only thing that can save a client nation to God is God's spiritual solution that is comprised of the enlarged pivot of mature believers and the blessing by association that God provides from that pivot.
The same historical trend of cosmic failure exists in Church today when the church gets involved with the social gospel in the pursuit of temporal social justice in the name of the evil of equity.
God's objective is freedom. Satan's objective is equity.
Under the principle of historical trends all suffering, pressure, and persecution that God allows to be directed toward believers is designed for either divine discipline or divine blessing.
Rebound followed by growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ turns divine discipline into divine blessing.
The historical trend when the Church us separated from the State is often persecution or the Church by the State, but when the Church becomes the State or becomes involved in the evil of social action, the Church also becomes a source of persecution. Both are evil.
Rev 2:10;b begins with the present middle imperative of the verb ginomai, to be or to become. Here it is translated "keep on becoming." The progressive present tense is for action in the state of progress or persistence so it refers to present linear action.
The middle voice: tells us that: believers are commanded to produce the action of the verb through their response to the adversity of persecution from their position of strength inside God's spiritual power system.
This means that believers handle all of the persecution on the basis of God's power so their resistance to the persecution is not violence it is functional virtue. The imperative mood is the imperative of command.
Next is the predicate nominative from the adjective pistos, meaning faithful or dependable, this is a reference to consistent residence and function in God's power system so that when any pressures and persecutions in life come along they are handled on the basis of the integrity of virtue love.
This prevents the believer from ever taking the role of prosecutor. This can only be done when the believer operates on the basis of the virtue manufactured inside of God's spiritual power system.
This is followed by the improper preposition "achri" followed by "thanatos" translated "until death," indicating that this persecution will occur before the exit resurrection so the believer will die physically and go to heaven as a result of the persecution.
We see from this that the reality of death is the test of the believer's scale of values that determine their spiritual status. In the face of death many things that people value that become absolutely useless. If you are dying money is no good, success is no good, wealth or promotion or social life are no good.
Everything that has been placed as a higher priority than doctrine immediately becomes useless. Depending on the doctrine in your soul dying can be the greatest happiness in life or the greatest misery.
This means that the experience of dying is a test of one's values in life and if Bible doctrine is not first in your scale of values dying will be a nightmare.
The ten special persecutions from Domitian to Diocletian made death a reality to millions of believers.
Believers living in the cosmic system when facing the threat of torture and death renounced their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Believers living in God's power system, when facing the same threat of torture and death, were not afraid.
Many of them surrendered their lives under the principle of dying grace. It was not a tragedy because they could not have departed from this life apart from the Lord's permission. But they had been prepared by their attitude toward doctrine.
On the other hand, the cosmic believers fear of death becomes their fear of life. People who are afraid of death are afraid of life. If there is nothing worth living for there is nothing worth dying for. But only those mature believers in the pivot understood that issue.
It took the persecution of the Church to give believers the proper perspective for their missionary activity.
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