Faithful Till Death

Revelation 2:8-11
by Dennis Baker, President BMAMO Brotherhood

It costs to be a dedicated Christian, in some places more than in others. In the midst of persecution and poverty the Lord’s evaluation of the Smyrna church was that she was rich and encouraged her to be faithful unto death. The church of Smyrna was poor in material possessions because of not being able to secure employment due to strong labor unions that did not respect their Christian values. Other religions considered them atheists because they did not worship God like they did or because they worshipped a different god.

Included in American history is God’s blessings on His churches to have the resources to not only evangelize the people of America but to be able to send God called individuals into other countries so that they can share God’s blessing of salvation through Jesus Christ. But as the Lord’s churches move forward, Satan is rising up strong opposition from governments and religious organizations. Biblical values concerning family, marriage, morals, and death are being challenged in our schools and courts. The current economic situation is not only affecting the family budget but the budget of the local churches.

As the Lord’s churches move forward how will they respond to these increasing pressures? Do our Mission, Focus, and Core Value Statements still have any value? Are we willing to be faithful unto death?
In John’s day, Caesar was looked upon as a god and anyone refusing to say, “Caesar is Lord” would be subject to execution or at the very least excluded from the labor unions. Being excluded from the labor unions resulted in unemployment and poverty. The large Jewish community was accepted by the Roman government, but they did not cooperate with Christianity.

Polycarp, a disciple of John and pastor of the Smyrna church suffered a martyr’s death in 155 AD, at the age of eight-six, because of his faith in Jesus Christ. Polycarp when under threat of being consumed by fire if he refused to recant responded by saying, “Thou threatens the fire that burns for an hour and in a little while is quenched; for thou knowest not of the fire of the judgment to come, and the fire of eternal punishment, reserved for the ungodly. But why delayest thou. Bring what thou wilt.” When the authorities tried to persuade Polycarp to recant his faith by asking, “Now what harm is there in saying “Lord Caesar” and offering incense, and so on, thus saving thyself? Polycarp responded by saying, “Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He hath done me no wrong; how then can I blaspheme my King who saved me?”

As end-time pressures increase persecution will also increase. I Peter 4:12-13. In my opinion Polycarp was not a super Christian but a man who genuinely loved his Lord and Savior. As I think about what it means to die for my King, and Savior, I wonder what would happen to my family if I were called by the Lord to die for my faith. How would God provide for my family’s needs? The best answer I ever received was from one of my seminary professors, Dr. Hal McNeil.

As we studied the life of Polycarp in his class, someone commented, I wonder if I could stand for my faith in Christ and die for Him? Dr. McNeil responded by saying, if God were to call on me to die for Him, He would give me the grace to do so.

We should be encouraged by the reassurances that God is in control!

Be faithful unto death.

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