Senior Pastor Georges Ntemi dissected the Church at Smyrna in his third eschatological sermon on the seven Churches in Revelation this past Sunday and proclaimed that Christians at Smyrna were so humble and loyal in their devotion to the Lord that Christ recommended them for their fidelity.
“The Church at Smyrna was tested and tried, and they triumphed. No fault was found with the Church. Unlike the Church at Ephesus where Christ accused them of abandoning their first love, Smyrna was unblemished,” said the Blessed Man of God.
To affirm the unadulterated character of Smyrna, Pastor Georges read Rev. 2: 8-11, “And unto the angel of the Church at Smyrna, write: This says the First and Last, which was dead and is alive; I know of thy works and tribulations and poverty but thou art rich. And I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews but are not, rather are the Synagogues of Satan.
“Fear none of those things which thou shall suffer: behold the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulations 10 days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches: he that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.”
After reading the four verses, he unpacked them, saying, “A true Christian will never slander his brother, but we live in an era when even bishops are slandering one another. Either you are with God or not. If you slander your brother, you belong to the devil. The Devil will put some in prison for 10 days, but it will be 10 long days of torture and pain; however, Christ says, ‘Don’t be afraid. Be faithful, even unto the face of death.’”
He continued: “Christ says in verse nine, ‘I know your pain and suffering.’ The reality is that once you become a Christian, you become a canon-fodder for Satan. You will suffer but be of good cheer. Be firm. Don’t panic.”
Pastor Georges proclaimed the Gospel according to Paul and chastised Christian who are of the mindset that once you accept Christ as your Lord and Savior, life should become a bed of roses, trouble-free and worry-free. The Senior Pastor said in an anadiplosis, “Through suffering, you learn endurance; through endurance you become a champion for Christ.”
Furthermore, he said no Christian would become what the Lord wants them to become without suffering and endurance, for without endurance and suffering, there is no greatness.
Pastor Georges lamented that it is a shame that countries in the Middle East refuse to allow people with Israeli visas into their countries and wondered why this should be happening in the post-modern world. “We are persecuted because of our faith,” he said.
Talking of persecution, he mentioned the implacable and implausible stories of John the Revelator, Ignatius the Pastor, Polycarp of Smyrna, and wealthy Perpetual who decided to shun the riches of her family only to be persecuted for Christ’s sake, yet they did not cower in fear, neither did they capitulate their faith in Christ, nor did they equivocate to the evil machinations of the Romans.
“There were Martyrs like Ignatius of Antioch whose love for Christ was so deep that he defiantly refused to declare the sovereignty of Caesar over Christ. For that, he was imprisoned and starved before being released into the Coliseum, where ravenous wild beasts were unleashed on him. They ate him up savagely. In the end, only two of his bones remained to be buried.
“Polycarp of Smyrna was 86 years old when the Romans arrested him. He was bound and burned at the stake. In the fire, Polycarp refused to die, as he proclaimed the glory of the Lord. He was surrounded by gold and silver to depict the Celestial wealth of Heaven. Polycarp walked out of the fire, but the Roman soldiers stabbed him several times.
“Even, as he lay dying, Polycarp was singing and praising the Lord. Before he died, Polycarp thanked the Lord for demonstrating his power before the Roman soldiers to prove He is, indeed, God,” stated the Blessed man of God.
Pastor Georges preached that the Lord’s admiration of the Church at Smyrna was borne out of the fact that all their assets were confiscated because they held Christ above Caesar, but Smyrna didn’t waver in their faith in Christ.
Today, the Church would be empty should Christians be threatened with the confiscation of their assets, if they continued to follow Christ. Some hearts are unto Mammon rather than unto God. Remember what Christ said, ‘One soul in Heaven is more important than all the riches of the world,”
According to the Blessed Man of God, what’s the point in gaining the whole world and losing your own soul. “Remember that all good and precious things come from the Lord and there are problems that one’s entire wealth can solve. You need the mighty hand of God to solve your problems,”
Pastor Georges noted that the Coliseums the Romans built where humans were tortured for sport on Sundays are akin to Cable television today because they tempt Christians away from going to Church. “Who can watch over 500 channels. All these channels are there to prevent you from coming to church on Sundays; when it’s time for Church, that’s when they air your favorite programs. Don’t let your heart be in the pleasure of this world.”
In a sermon that was also cautionary, Pastor Georges stated, “Life is not easy. We cannot relax because this is not our kingdom. God sacrificed some people to give us the gospel, so you should be able to go the extra mile to put a smile on somebody’s face. The message Christ gave to John for onward delivery to the world is as valid today as when He gave it to John a little less than 2000 years ago,” as he brought yet another powerful sermon to a close.
The Virtuous Women invites you to join them on the prayer line on Thursdays from 9-10 p.m. The Church still has its early morning prayer line from 5 to 6 a.m. The number to dial for both is 1-302-202-1108 with access code 165038. Your anointment is waiting; don’t wait any longer. Visit us on Sundays at 3600 East-West Highway, Hyattsville, MD 20782.