“I WILL build MY Church!” – Phase 2

In Matthew 16 verse 17-18, Jesus responds to Peter’s confession that He is the Christ with –17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Jesus says that HE WILL HAVE A CHURCH on this earth. He adds that the church WILL be mightily attacked but, the gates of hell WILL NOT Prevail!

After the first phase and birth of the church and the spread of the gospel, the church then enters into a phase of severe persecution. Under the Roman Empire for a period of 250 years, the church suffered 10 specific ‘tests’ under 11 different Emperors. The total years for this persecution was 143 years with small respites in-between! The persecutions against christians were the most dreadful tortures and death that could only have ever come from satan! Millions of christians were martyred for the faith in Christ in this time – and Christ knows. (refer Foxes Book of Martyrs)

In His letter to the Smyrna church for this era, Jesus says, “that you will suffer, the devil will put you in prison and unto death. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” The first martyr for Jesus was Stephen(Acts 7) and his name in Greek(Stephanos) means ‘crown’ or ‘garland’. A crown that is earnt! The promise given to all those to Smyrna was this crown! Praise God.

Following Christ is not about living a life today full of blessings. On the contrary. Jesus promises a life of ‘trouble’ but we are not to worry as Christ has overcome the world. Christ is always looking for believers to be ‘living sacrifices’ – just as they were under the roman empire. In their tortures and death, the believers were crushed but there was an ‘aroma’ released in their crushing that touched those watching and witnessing such horrors! Many came and believed in Christ just by witnessing the courage and faith of the persecuted christians. Many! And also coming to faith, they also met the same fate! What a fate – eternity with Christ and away from the suffering of this world. The Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians (2:15-16)15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life“.

Smyrna means ‘Myrrh’ – which is an embalming liquid with significance to suffering, distress and death! Myrrh is a dried sap and oil from a specific tree and for the aroma and incense to be released, the dried sap has to be crushed. Jesus is looking for our bodies to be living sacrifices, dying to ourselves so that in the crushing, the ‘aroma’ of Christ will be released. In Romans 12 verse 1, Paul writes to the persecuted church – ” I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Let us fast and pray, give ourselves fully for Christ and His will for our lives. Let us be living sacrifices for our precious Jesus. He will be with us as he was with His persecuted Church in the era under the oppression of the romans. Whatever satan does he will not destroy the church -there is something far greater in a Christian and it’s the presence of the Holy Spirit!

Love Jesus, remain strong and pray! May God bless you all!