The Lord’s promise to the overcomers in the suffering church in Smyrna is that He would give them the crown of life (Rev. 2:10).
In the Lord’s speaking to the church in Smyrna, a church under persecution, in suffering, and facing death, we can see the glorious victory of the crucified and resurrected Christ over the devil and over death itself. Through death, Christ nullified the power of death (Heb. 2:14).
He presents Himself to Smyrna as the First and the Last, the One who became dead and is alive. The church – and especially the messengers in the church – need to know Christ’s victory.
Furthermore, we need to realize that the church has never been defeated. We may be assaulted, persecuted, or buried under wave after wave of death, but there’s something in us that prevails – the resurrection life of Christ. We are not alone when death comes: we are members of the Body, and the supply comes continuously.
Resurrection life reigns over death. Amen, the churches need us to know this experientially! May we know this resurrection life! Mere knowledge of the doctrine of resurrection will not prevail against death, and knowing Bible verses and absorbing them doesn’t empower us.
The churches need brothers and sisters that cannot be shaken by the attack of death, those who inherit and enjoy an unshakeable kingdom.
We don’t know what awaits us as the end draws near, but we have to realize that the attack intensifies, and the saints need brothers and sisters who really know resurrection life and who have experienced the outpouring of the resurrection life in all kinds of death.
The crown of life is promised to the overcomer who reigns in life, who is victorious in any kind of suffering and death. The crown of life is a reward given to those who have learned to reign in life over death.
The Lord needs us and the churches need us to see Christ’s victory over the devil and death, know that the nature of the church is resurrection, and learn to reign in life over death itself.
Actually, it should be normal to reign in life over death; this doesn’t mean that physical death will not attack or that there’s no death in its many forms attacking our mind, body, soul, or spirit, but we receive the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness, and we can learn to reign in life over the death that is attacking us!
Reigning in Life by Receiving the Abundance of Grace to Receive the Crown of Life
The Lord’s promise to those who overcome suffering, persecution, and death, is that He will give them the crown of life (Rev. 2:10). The crown of life – as a prize to those who are faithful unto death in overcoming persecution – denotes the overcoming strength that is the power of the resurrection life (Phil. 3:10).
The crown of life also denotes that the overcomers have attained to the out-resurrection from the dead (Phil. 3:11), the outstanding resurrection. The crown of life is a sign that we are rewarded with the privilege of reigning with Christ.
However, the crown of life will not be given to those who all their life long are defeated by death subjectively; they don’t just suddenly get a crown for no reason. The crown of life is a manifestation of the reigning life they have been brought into. Amen!
As we see in Rom. 5:21, grace reigns unto eternal life, and those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:17).
We need to have the realization that, on the one hand, we experience Christ as resurrection, He is supplying the church, and we learn to be faithful unto death; on the other hand, if we are faithful to the Lord, He will give us the crown of life.
How can we reign in life over death? When there’s darkness, you don’t rebuke it or tell it to go away: you simply bring light in, and darkness is dispelled. The same is with death: there’s nothing in us by nature that can withstand or conquer death, but death fears the uncreated eternal life of God.
Whenever God’s life appears, death disappears. We don’t deal with death directly; rather, we are receiving the abundance of grace – not just a little grace here and there, but abundance of grace!
This grace by nature reigns in life, and if we receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness, we will reign in life over the death that is in our fallen human being and the death that attacks us.
When we receive the abundance of grace, we will reign in life and not allow death to fill our meetings; it will be normal for us to bring in life wherever we go, because grace reigns in us.
We just need to make sure we daily receive the abundance of grace so that grace may reign in us, and when we are confronted with situations of suffering and persecution, when we are face to face with death, something within us – the reigning grace, the reigning life – rises us, and even in the midst of death, this grace conquers and causes us to reign.
Day by day we need to come to the throne of grace, receive mercy and find grace for timely help (Heb. 4:16), and grace will reign, causing us to reign in life. This grace which is our supply and enjoyment won’t make the hardships to go away, and even the pain in our soul won’t be eliminated immediately – but death is conquered!
When the enemy seeks the churches built up in this way in the resurrection life of Christ, he will know that his time is short, for Christ is building His church in His recovery today, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it!
Lord Jesus, give us the abundance of grace! Fill our being with much grace, even abundant grace, until we overflow with grace! May the grace we enjoy and receive fill our being to overflowing, so that this grace would reign in us unto eternal life! Amen, Lord, fill us with the enjoyment of the Triune God, and cause us to reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ! Supply us with much resurrection life, and make us those faithful to You unto death, so that we may receive the crown of life!
Enjoy God’s Dispensing in the Midst of Suffering to Grow and Receive the Crown of Life
On the one hand, the church in Smyrna was a local church to which the Lord addressed His epistle in Rev. 2; on the other hand, it represented a stage in the history of the church, the stage of persecution and sufferings.
The church in Smyrna didn’t receive any rebuke from the Lord, only encouragement; to them the Lord introduce Himself that He’s the First and the Last, who became dead and lived again (Rev. 2:8).
The suffering church needs to know the Lord as the resurrection and the resurrection power, so that the church would enjoy Him as such a one and allow His resurrection power to operate in her.
History confirms that, the more the Roman Empire did to persecute and kill the Christians, the more they multiplied and increased, to the point that there were Christians even in the household of Caesar.
Polycarp, an elderly brother who was arrested and urged to renounce Christ, said, “Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never once wronged me; how then shall I blaspheme my King, who has saved me?”
Amen, how wonderful to see that the resurrection life of Christ, the One who died and lived again, operated in the suffering church under the enemy’s persecution.
To those who overcome in Smyrna the Lord promised to give the crown of life; to those in Ephesus He promised them to eat of the tree of life – something inwardly to supply them, and to those in Smyrna He promised the crown of life – something outward for glory.
A crown in the New Testament denotes a prize, something in addition to salvation; for those in Smyrna that overcame suffering and death, life was their crown – it was the glory of the victorious martyrs.
Today we may not have outward persecution for the Lord’s sake, but the Lord assigns some sufferings to us, which sufferings are needed for our growth in life.
Just as some trees grow through hardships in cold weather, so we Christians grow through hardship; God assigns each one of us certain circumstances and environments, and He knows that these hardships can help us grow.
All we have to do is enjoy the divine dispensing in the midst of sufferings, and we will grow in life, we will reign in life, and life will be our crown – we will have the crown of life, that is, life will be our reward.
All human beings have hardships and sufferings, but if we enjoy the divine dispensing in the midst of sufferings by maintaining a constant contact with the Lord, we will grow in life and we will eventually be rewarded with this life as our crown.
By enjoying the divine dispensing in the midst of suffering, we will grow to receive the crown of life!
Lord Jesus, thank You for the environment and circumstances You have assigned to us in order for us to be helped to grow in life for the building up of the church. Amen, Lord, keep us under Your divine dispensing every day, and keep us in a constant contact with You as we go through trials, sufferings, and tribulation. May Your divine life fill us, work in us, operate in our being, grow in us, and even become our crown of life. Lord Jesus, keep us open to You all the time to grow in life and receive the reward from You – the crown of life!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by brother Ron K. for this week, and portions from, Collected Works of Witness Lee, 1964, vol. 2, “A General Sketch of the New Testament in the Light of Christ and the Church, Part 4: Revelation,” pp. 451-452, as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Returning to the Orthodoxy of the Church (2016 fall ITERO), msg. 3 (week 3), The Church in Smyrna.
- Hymns on this topic:
# God’s complete salvation / Is based upon His righteousness and through our faith. / By the two divine transfers: / Out of Adam into Christ / And out of the flesh into the Spirit. / In the one spiritual union of the / Spirit of Life with our spirit / Forming a mingled spirit. / For us to reign in life by the abundance of grace / and of the gift of righteousness. (song on Reigning in life)
# Reign in me; reign in me; / May Your life, Lord, reign in me, / By Your grace abundant and Your righteousness; / May Your life, Lord, reign in me. (Song on grace reigning in us)
# From my spirit within flows a fountain of life— / The Triune God flowing in me; / God the Father’s the source, Christ the Son is the course, / And the Spirit imparts life to me. / Lord, I treasure the sweet flow of life, / And my soul-life at last I lay down; / O Lord, deepen the pure flow of life; / At Your coming may life be my crown. (Hymns #1191)
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