Living Boldly for Christ in a Hostile World | Tony Evans Sermon

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Living Boldly for Christ in a Hostile World | Tony Evans Sermon

Dr. Tony Evans uncovers the challenges faced by Christians in Smyrna, emphasizing their unwavering faith amid economic hardship and persecution for boldly declaring Jesus as Lord. Join him as he encourages us to endure challenges, as the Lord promises the crown of life for those faithful until the end.

Dr. Tony Evans is the founder and senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, founder and president of The Urban Alternative and author of over 100 books, booklets and Bible studies. The first African American to earn a doctorate of theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, he has been named one of the 12 Most Effective Preachers in the English-Speaking World by Baylor University. Dr. Evans holds the honor of writing and publishing the first full-Bible commentary and study Bible by an African American. His radio broadcast, The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, can be heard on over 1,400 radio outlets daily and in more than 130 countries. Dr. Evans’ sermons are also streamed and downloaded over 20,000,000 times annually.

If you’re gonna go through downtime, suffering times, tribulation times, the key thing you’re gonna need to know is he’s God is right there when you’re going through it.
Make Jesus lord. That does not always mean he will deliver you from, but it does mean he’ll join on you in.
And if he joins you in, there’s victory even in the fight.
God has a major problem with part time Christians who don’t wanna be full time saints.
Who want to identify when it comes to a blessing, but not when it comes to a struggle.
Who want the benefits of heaven, but not the trouble that heaven brings on earth.
John, the apostle writes to this second church. The church at Smyrna.
Smyrna is located 35 Miles North of our previous church, Ephasis, and it is a Seaport town, very well off.
Somewhat prestigious, but there was trouble in Smyrna.
In verse 8, Jesus says to the pastor, the angel of the church, the one who’s going to deliver the message, he says, the first and the last, the one who was dead in the lives says this, the phrase, the first and the last, That phrase is used of almighty god.
In fact, in Isaiah 48, 1213, He says, I am the 1st and the last, the god who created heaven and earth.
So in Jesus Christ, the declares himself in Revelation 2 verse 8.
To be the 1st and the last, he’s declaring himself to be god.
So he picks this old testament designation of god and applies it to himself.
Now we know he’s applying it to himself because he says I was dead.
And now I’m alive. Well, god, the father didn’t die. God, the son died.
So in that little phrase, Jesus speaks of both his deity, and his humanity.
He’s the 1st and the last he’s god, but he died. So he’s man.
In fact, that is, as we’ve often said, the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, the same one who died could rise from the dead.
Because he is both the first and the last god.
And he’s the one who died, man. But who’s now alive.
We explained last time that he now sits as the risen ascended Christ So you must learn to look at it and relate to him now in his current status.
As the one in charge.
It is to this person that we read the phrase, he says, I know your tribulation.
I know your trouble. I know what you’re going through.
If your world has been shaken today, he’s aware of it.
Not only because he’s omniscient, god, but because he’s human. Man.
And so he’s got that dual reality of identification while transcending time and being involved in time.
He says, I know you got trouble.
Now let me give you the 1st category of trouble these believers were facing.
This is Smyrna.
The mountains around Smyrna looked like a crown, a crown that a king would wear.
They were shaped that way. Many of the buildings in Smyrna were built to reflect this mountain look of a crime.
The reason why that is a big deal, if you lived in Smyrna, is because as a Roman colony, they worship Caesar as lord.
You had to recognize Caesar as god.
Well, these Christians had another declaration. Jesus is lord.
That created a conflict with the Roman government.
So they were going through the pressure and oppression of not yielding to the governmental authority when it claimed the rights of deity.
While everybody else were saying, Caesar is lord, they were declaring no Jesus is lord.
While we will recognize government and respect government, we won’t bow to government because Jesus and not Caesar is lord.
That created a problem.
Because once you rejected Cesar, you are now an enemy of the state.
And as a result of that, there was confiscation of property.
It says you are having trouble and you are poor.
Now it’s bad enough to have trouble.
But it’s showing up bad when you have trouble and no money because you can’t afford to cover up your misery.
See, one of the uses of money is to hide how messed up you feel.
You can spend money on entertainment. You can spend money on parties.
You can spend money on this and that to help cover up the trouble tribulation that you may be going through.
Well, what they were facing in their declaration that Jesus is lord was an impoverishedment economically the loss of something financially because of their commitment to the risen, ascended Christ, and their unwillingness to compromise the declaration in front of Rome that you are not our god.
Jesus is our god.
So they were spiritually rich why he says in the next phase, you are rich.
You are rich because of your decision to be committed to me, even though it’s costing you a price tag.
He’s talking about the recognition of Jesus Christ as lord in the face of a rejecting government.
And let me explain this real clear.
We are getting to the place in America.
Well, if you publicly declare, Jesus Christ is lord, not the Democrats, not the Republicans, not the Congress, not the white house.
Jesus Christ is lord and it is he that will make the final decisions for the church, not the government we’re living in a day.
When there’s little respect for our faith, when religious freedom is in jeopardy and regardless of which party you’re for.
That’s not my point. My point is It ought to be clear.
And there ought to be no mistakes about it that our ultimate allegiance is not to Washington.
It’s to the king of kings and the lord of lords.
So I know the trouble you’re facing.
I know that you’re on delicate territory now.
When you do not declare that Caesar is lord, when you do not declare.
And and in fact, in fact, unfortunately, many Christians and certainly, the 2nd political world don’t even really understand what’s happening right now.
I’ve told you this this summer, let me remind you. 2nd round of chapter 15 verses 3 to 6.
It says, in those days, there was no true god, no teaching priest, no law, there was no peace to him who went in, peace to him who came out, city rose up against city and nation rose up against nation.
And then it says, for god trouble them with every kind of distress.
Now if god is your problem, only god is your solution.
If god is your problem, I don’t get who you select. Kick me out your schools.
Kick me out your courts. Kick me out to you’re just gonna kick me out Well, I’m gonna let you see what your country looks like when I go.
He says, I know your trouble.
I know when you don’t compromise at work, you might not get that promotion.
I know when you don’t compromise with your friends, you might not get that recognition, but that’s the piece of your commitment you need to know about.
So that you’re not shocked when it happens so that you don’t know where that came from.
Because I know your trouble, and I know there is a price tag to full commitment to me.
I’m not talking about suffering because of you doing evil. That’s one kind of suffering.
I’m talking about when you’re trying to live for god, when you’re trying to proclaim Christ, when you try and it’s still going south.
It had to pass through his fingers first. K?
One reason he does it is to humble us. 2nd Corinthians 12 or 7.
To humble us. In other words, he he wants to he wants to deal with something in our character that we either actually or potentially are headed toward.
So he allows something in our lives.
Paul says, god allowed a messenger of Satan, a thorn in the flesh.
A phone is something that tricks you that irritates you. He calls in a messenger.
He had a person in his life who was driving him nuts an irritation, and he says, I prayed to god to get rid of it three times.
And god says, I will not get rid of the irritation that I allow the devil to put in your life.
And the reason I’m not gonna allow it is to humble you so that you don’t think more of yourself than you ought to think.
And he says, my grades will be sufficient.
And in your weakness, I’m gonna make you strong.
So god didn’t let it go right then because he wanted to do something different in his life.
But if you don’t know that that’s one of the reasons god allowed you to suffer, All you gonna see are the pricks and not the purpose.
He does that to humble us.
Another reason he lets us when we’re seeking to live for him is to use us.
Second Corinthians chapter 1 verse 4, Paul says, in our affliction, we’re going through stuff.
We’re trying to serve god, love god. Please god. Walk with god. And we are underneath affliction, suffering.
He says, god let us in our affliction watch this so that we would now be able to comfort others who are in the same affliction So god lets you go through stuff, even though you’re trying to please him and are publicly associated with him, because he has somebody else down the line who’s gonna be going through what you are now going through and he doesn’t just want you to quote Bible verses.
He doesn’t just wanna say I’m a pray for you.
He wants you to feel what they feel and emote where they mote.
And because you’ve been where they’ve been, he says, I wanna use the comfort I give you in what I allowed you to go through.
He does it for another reason.
To grow us, James chapter 1 versus 2 to 4, says, the testings of your faith is to develop you.
He wants to take you to another level. So there is purpose in the pain.
If you’re seeking to live for him publicly. I ain’t talking about privately. I ain’t talking about in church.
I’m talking about declaring out there Jesus is lord that he will allow people to come against you, people to to reject you.
People to talk about you as sure as you’re born.
He will he will allow that people to scheme against you. He will allow people to politics against you.
He will allow somebody else to get that promotion that you’ve been working hard because he has a reason Oh, here’s one.
To deepen his reality in your life.
Uh, Washington, is called in Philippians 310 the fellowship of his suffering.
Fellowship means increased intimacy.
And so he does that to deepen the intimacy with his people.
He says, I know what you’re going through. I know you. You’re struggling right now.
But he says it’s even worse than that.
I know verse 9, the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
Oh, wait, man. He started with the secular world.
Now he says, you get in trouble from the religious world. Citagogue. That’s the place of worship.
These were the Jews who rejected Christ. Who are now persecuting the Christians.
These are church folk who reject you.
Because you’ve taken your stand for Jesus Christ because just because they’re in church, don’t mean they write.
Just because they in church carrying the Bible under their arm, because these Jews were carrying the Old Testament just because they carrying the Bible under their arm, doesn’t mean they committed.
He goes on to say, oh, I like this. Do not fear.
Because you can get stirred when you’re hurting because of your faith.
Are they gonna accept me? Are they gonna like me? Are they gonna befriend me?
Are they gonna are they gonna work with are they gonna, are they gonna, are they gonna, are they gonna, are they gonna, I’m talking about appropriately, but clearly, representing the faith.
This says do not fear. Why the dumb do not fit? Cause he said, get ready. Get worse.
Oh, see, see, I lost my emails right there. Get ready. Get worse.
He says, do not fear what you are about to suffer. And they already told him you’re suffering.
He says, well, something else coming.
He says, behold, the devil is about to cast some of you in prison.
So that you will be tested And you will have tribulation for 10 days.
He said, so some of y’all are going to jail.
In fact, some of you here may feel like you’re in jail.
A circumstance you can’t get out of, a suffering you can’t get away from, and you feel like I am in prison.
He said, it’s gonna get worse. And then he tells you, but don’t fear. Don’t fear.
Wait. Wait a minute. I’m already struggling.
You’re telling me if I keep my public identity with you Yeah. It’s gonna get worse.
And then you tell me don’t be scared. Come on, man.
I’m not gonna deal with that.
He says, don’t be afraid because you will undergo some trouble for 10 days.
In other words, I got my hand on the clock.
I’m gonna allow it, but I’m also gonna determine when it’s gonna end. So watch this.
If god says in 10 days, it’s gonna be over, you wanna make sure you’re done and Satan is on a leash.
And I’ve been giving him 10 days to do his stuff for me to do and you what I want you to do, but at 10 days, I’m jerking that sucker back.
Because he’s not just the devil. He’s my devil.
And I use him as I please.
If you don’t believe me, ask Joel, He’s my devil.
I tell him how far he can go and how far he can go and how long he can stay there.
Because I am the sovereign god, and I am in charge. So you make sure you identify with me.
This is not a time for we need Christians.
This is not a day for silly saints.
This is a day for men and women who named the name of Jesus Christ to name the name of Jesus Christ.
And do not vary, sir. Yeah.
That’s that’s why I like the 3 Hebrew boys.
Shadrach, me shaq, and a bendy Never can never get to the big head.
Never can never get to the big head, and never can never says I want everybody in my kingdom of Babylon to bow.
Everybody bow before me. Shadrach Meshack and the Bendigo said now. Okay.
We’re gonna respect you. Okay.
Um, let it be known because the king had said, anybody bow, we’re gonna put in the fiery furnace.
Okay? 3 Hebrew boys said, okay.
Let it be known to you today that we will not bow.
We we’ll serve you.
We’ll give you the because they were in the employment of the king, so we’ll give you the best of our time, the best of our energy, but hitting my knees.
Oh, know. No. We ain’t doing that.
And as to your threat, as to your threat, that you’re gonna fire us as to your threat.
Our god watch this watch this next race who we serve.
And our god who we talk about in church and our god who we just reference every now and then our god who we continually serve.
This ain’t new. We ain’t got just bringing up this today.
We have been serving him while we’ve been working in the secular government.
But our god, we, sir, is able to deliver us from your fiery furnace. Okay.
You may be in charge, but you not the final word, even if he does not.
Even if I lose the job, lose the rage, lose the contract, lose the recognition, even if he does not, Let it be known to the king this day, we will not bow.
We’re gonna make that clear.
So King is hot now because they ain’t doing what what he told them to do and hit their boss.
But he’s asking him to make him lord. They can’t do that. So they all put in the file. Yeah.
Put in the file. They made it seven times harder because he was so hot. He made the fire harder.
He comes to the glass in the furnace.
He he looks to Fireburn.
He asked his boys, how many people we put in there?
Oh, oh, can you put in three people? I mean, she actually racking a minute ago.
Well, I’m looking through this glass right now. And I’m seeing four folk.
There’s Meshak, Shadrach, a bid to go, and there’s another dude in there, like the son of god, walking around.
Now here it is. Here it is. Watch this. Watch this. That’s what I like about it.
Before they put them in the fire, they bound them. Yeah. Hand and foot.
But when the king looked in and saw them, it says they were walking around in the fire.
They bound them up, but they’re walking.
So I’m here to tell you, make Jesus lord.
That does not always mean he will deliver you from, but it does mean he’ll join you in.
And if he joins you in, there’s victory, even in the fire.
So what do you want?
What do you want from me, lord? He already tells you at the end of verse 10.
I want you to be faithful under death. Uh, that’s the message.
I want you if you’re gonna be an overcomer Yeah. To be faithful Yes. Until the end.
Until this life is over, I want you to go all the way for me.
Faithfulness is dependability, regardless of circumstances. Right?
Says be faithful unto death.
And your commitment to me and your living underneath my lordship.
And if you do I will give you verse 10 says the crown of life.
I will give you A crown, you’re in a privileged position.
I’m a give you the recognition I’m a give you the notoriety that it looks like you gave up because of your commitment to me.
I’m a give you the crown of life, and he closes by saying he who has an ear, let him hear.
Okay? Everybody who’s paying attention this morning Yes.
What the spirit says to the churches, and then he speaks to you as an individual.
He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.
Now that is a curious that is a curious phrase.
He who overcomes. What does he mean by overcoming?
He who overcomes the temptation to a abandon your confession during tough times.
He who overcomes the temptation to walk away because things have gotten rough because of your faith.
The overcomers will not be hurt by the second death.
Now the reason why that’s a curious phrase is that the second death refers to hell.
Bob says, Helen’s casting to the lake of fire, and that is the second death. So that’s hell.
But wait a minute. He’s talking to Christians here. He’s a believer who’s suffering. So they’re not going hell.
They’re going to heaven. Don’t let folks who are going down, keep you from maximizing going up.
Don’t let them do that. Your commitment must be to me.
And when you fail dust off, confess, repent, get up, and go on the road to faithfulness.
Don’t throw under town. Don’t quit.
And if we are not developing those kinds of Christians of the church, we failed. Yes.
Because our job didn’t have church, job is to create the disciples who who are not ashamed to say Jesus Christ is lord.
So you don’t quit.
If you’re going through a tough time and you’re living for Christ, If you’re not living for Christ, that’s a whole different story.
That’s getting right. But if you if you had made the decision, I have decided to follow Jesus no turning back, no turning back, you’ve made it known.
Everybody understands that that’s who you are.
Because when god comes through for you, when god, even if it’s letting you know he’s there, you will discover that greater is he that’s in you, in the fire that he that’s in the world.

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