Counter-Culture: Triumphant Living in a Turbulent World
Week 2: Revelation 2:8 –11
Our current teaching series examines the powerful and encouraging message Jesus Christ sent his church in the New Testament book of Revelation. This book speaks hope to believers living out their faith in a world that ignores or resents Jesus Christ. In the first three chapters of Revelation, Jesus Christ messaged seven third-generation churches about how to live God-honoring lives in a culture that disregards or opposes him. This week we’ll learn how to conquer our fear of trouble – those hard times that inevitably come our way. Jesus has a clear word for us: “Do not fear what you are about to suffer . . . be faithful” (Revelation 2:10).
How do you tend to respond to people who disagree with you? Do you like to debate or would you look for a way to change the topic?
Getting into the Text:
1. (Revelation 2:8) Each of the letters to the seven churches begins by reminding us of something about who Jesus is. What does this verse call to our attention?
2. (Revelation 2:9) How might the church at Smyrna have felt when they heard Jesus say that he knew in detail how they were suffering? What do you think they expected to hear next from him?
3. (Revelation 2:10) How might these believers have felt when they heard that in the near term their troubles were going to increase, not decrease? Is this because their situation was beyond God’s control? How does this shape our expectations for God’s good response to our suffering?
4. (Revelation 2:10) What two commands does Jesus give to this church? What does it mean to be faithful in this context?
5. (Revelation 2:11) What promise is held out for those who endure and overcome? (See Rev 20:11-15 and 21:6-8 for more on the “second death.”)
1. How does it make you feel to know that Jesus sees you, knows you, and can relate to you when you are suffering unjustly?
2. God uses all kinds of trials and suffering in our lives for his glory and for our good. What is God’s purpose and promise in each of the following cases:
a. When our suffering is the result of our own sinful choices? (2 Cor 7:8-10, Psalms 32:1-5)
b. When our suffering is the result of sinful choices by others around us? (1 Peter 3:13-17)
c. When our suffering is the direct result of our Christian witness? (1 Peter 4:12-16, Matt 5:11-12)
3. The two commands Jesus gave to the persecuted Christians in Smyrna are just as relevant for us today. As you think about sharing and living out your faith among those opposed to Jesus Christ, which of these two commands is most important for you personally?
4. Both John (the author of Revelation) and Jesus acknowledge and identify with the suffering of the believers in Smyrna. (See Rev 1:9) How might you and your small group better identify with and pray for those around the world who are persecuted for their faith today?