Please refer to “I AM GRIEVED - Ephesus” before reading this article to have an understanding of the style (signs, symbols and cryptic language) that is being used in a message that Jesus Christ Himself is conveying to the church, then and now, through His servant, the Apostle John.
Revelation 2: 8-11 reads: “And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive. I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”
Jesus starts out by telling the church of Smyrna and those who meet Smyrna’s spiritual condition that He Himself is speaking to them. He does this by using two titles of the risen Christ, (“the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive”). These are very important testimonial statements from Jesus because many people today who call themselves “Christians” really do not believe that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. They do not believe that He died for the sins of the world. They do not believe in the virgin birth or the miracles of Christ. They are really Deists or Unitarians or they are Transcendentalists or Universalists, Liberals, or New Agers, etc. They all believe in the ethics of Christ but not in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The definition of the word “deism” according to The New Lexicon Webster’s Dictionary is: “belief in God reached through natural and scientific observation (cf. THEISM). This rationalistic religion, first prevalent in the 17th and 18th cc; and expounded e.g. by Montesquieu, Voltaire and Rousseau, accepted the idea of God as creator of the universe, but rejected the notion that God might break the laws governing the universe.”
The definition according to Webster of the word “Unitarian” is: “a member of a Protestant denomination believing in the unity of God as opposed to the doctrine of the Trinity. The Unitarian denomination developed in Poland and Transylvania (late 16th c.) and in England and North America (17th-18th cc.) and has come to be undogmatic, advocating tolerance and stressing reason as a guide to belief.”
Peter Marshall and David Manuel, authors of “From Sea to Shining Sea”, state: “Deism first made its appearance in America in the middle of the century. Expounded in England by the third earl of Shaftesbury and others, it left God in the role of creator of the universe, but it denied that He took personal interest in the souls of men, let alone intervened in their affairs-or heeded their prayers. Deism emphatically rejected the Triune God of Holy Scripture. It renounced the divinity of Jesus Christ, His sacrifice on the cross to atone for the sins of men, and His resurrection. Indeed, according to the Deists, there is nothing to atone for; to them, the concept of man’s nature as sinful and fallen was repugnant and absurd. They exalted reason and intellect, and anything that was not logical or rational they summarily rejected-including all the supernatural elements of the Christian faith. In sum, Deism offered a more appealing deity-a comforting abstract, the Prime Cause to which all effects could be traced, an ever gentle, loving and kind Supreme Being…”
After the American Revolutionary War the people’s attention turned from Jesus Christ to prosperity, and their heart moved away from God towards themselves. The war was not fought primarily over taxation (although this was one of many reasons) which the public schools that are Deistic, Unitarian, New Age, Atheistic, etc., in their approach teach, but it was fought over King George III of England trying to force the colonies to come under an Anglican episcopate. The colonialists (the Puritans and Pilgrims) left England over this very issue of a living faith in Jesus Christ, and they were not about to come back under the false Christianity and control of a dead church in Great Britain. The colonies were built on a belief in Jesus Christ as God and the authority of the Holy Scriptures (Protestant Bible). They believed in the resurrection of Jesus and the miracles and gospel of Jesus Christ. America was supposed to be forever a fundamental Christian nation. When they used the term “one nation under God”, it was intuitively understood as “one nation under Jesus”, as the Trinity was fully taught and
accepted, and Jesus Christ was their personal Savior. In fact, a person could not hold public office in the colonies unless they believed Jesus Christ was indeed God and had died for their sins. Prior to the American Revolution and especially during periods of crisis, the colonialists kept their faith in Jesus Christ and their relationship with Him strong. But now, after the war was won, is when the real danger set in. Along with their hearts hungering after selfishness instead of righteousness, they became ignorant of the truths of the Scriptures, consequently finding themselves easy prey to the lies of false religions, philosophies of the infidels, and teachings of clergy whose hearts became backslidden and deceived. Thus, the politician and minister who used the name of God without a relationship with Jesus Christ became influential in changing the mentality and morality of the people in America. America was wide open to new foreign ideas and beliefs, and the Rationalists and Deists used the opportunity to attack true Christianity and mold America into a new image.
The following are some statements from a few French and American heroes recorded by Marshall and Manuel: “Wrote Voltaire of Jesus: ‘Among the Jews, there have always been men from the rabble who played at being prophets in order to distinguish themselves from the mob; here, then, is the one who made the most noise, and who was turned into a god.’
“In 1784, Ethan Allen, hero of Fort Ticonderoga, published his book, ‘Reason, The Only Oracle of Man’, in which he asserted: ‘The doctrine of the Trinity is destitute of foundation, and tends manifestly to superstition and idolatry,’
“He dismissed the atonement: ‘There could be no justice or goodness in one being’s suffering for another, nor is it at all compatible with reason to suppose that God was the contriver of such propitiation.’
“Elihu Palmer, a Baptist clergyman who had been defrocked and driven from his pulpit for preaching against the deity of Christ. In his ‘Principles of Nature’, Palmer maintained: ‘The simple truth is, their pretended Saviour is nothing more than an illegitimate Jew, and their hopes of salvation through Him rest on no better foundation than that of fornication or adultery,’ and he referred to the Bible as ‘a book whose indecency and immorality shock all common sense and common honesty.’
“But the crown prince of American Deists was Tom Paine, the famous pamphleteer who had been a hero of the revolution… Presenting the tenets of Deism in his own words, Paine set about the systematic destruction of Christianity. The result was, “The Age of Reason”, an enormous edition of which , in 1794, was printed in English in France and then shipped to America and dumped on the market for a few cents a copy. Like the other Deist works, it was widely read and contained such profundities as: ‘The Christian mythologists, calling themselves the Christian Church, have erected their fable which, for absurdity and extravagance, is not exceeded by anything that is found in the mythology of the ancients…Take away from Genesis the belief that Moses was the author, on which only the strange belief that it is the word of God has stood, and there remains nothing of Genesis but an anonymous book of stories, fables, and traditional or invented absurdities, or downright lies. The story of Eve and the serpent, and of Noah and his ark, drop to a level with the Arabian Nights, without the merit of being entertaining…the fable of Jesus Christ (referring to the Gospel in the New Testament) and calling the Virgin Birth ‘blasphemously obscene.’
“Unitarianism was a close neighbor of Deism, for if there was one abstract God, then why not one benevolent, Universal Intelligence, embodying love? Why this compulsion for discouraging man with the heavy concept of original sin and man’s fallen nature? Why the need for a radical allegiance to a Saviour? If God made man, then a bit of His Spirit must dwell in every man, which meant that man was inherently good and therefore perfectable, if only given the right environment, encouragement, and inspiration—‘God as universal spirit, indwelling in man, the essential worth and dignity of the individual.’ Having denied the concept of original sin, Unitarians saw no need for Christ to have died for our sins. There existed no great holy mystery concerning His shed blood expiating sin; indeed, sacrificing Himself on the cross became simply not the sort of thing a supreme being, a supremely rational being, would do. No, Jesus was just a man, after all--the greatest who ever lived, perhaps, and eminently worthy of emulation--but still just a man.”
History records that one of America’s famous founding fathers, President Thomas Jefferson was a Unitarian and a real enemy of true Christianity. He was once an American Ambassador to France where he was greatly influenced with the Deist philosophies. The French Revolution was based on Deist and atheistic ideas, and people who wanted to follow the New Age of Rationalism became lawless rebels turning their cause into a slaughter house for so many innocent people living in France at that time. The American Revolution was based on the very reason that the Pilgrims and Puritans left England in the first place--that being the freedom to worship Jesus Christ according to the Scriptures as Lord and Saviour.
Dr. Stephen Mansfield in his syllabus for class HT622: “History of Christianity in America II” records: “The Declaration written by Thomas Jefferson, contains language popular in the Deism of the day. a) ‘…the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God…’ ; b) ‘…that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights…’; c) ‘…Government…deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…’; d)’…appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World…’; e) ‘…with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence…’. Dr. Mansfield goes on to write that: “The phrase ‘separation of Church and State’ does not appear in the Constitution. It is from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson.”
When Jefferson ran for President of The United States, the Deists and Rationalists flocked to his party (Democratic Republican). Young people who are many times idealistic and rebellious also flooded his party, as Jefferson had both qualities manifesting in him.
After the American Revolution the country was in a spiritual mess. The people were mad with joy and a party mentality. They forgot about the God (Jesus Christ) of the Pilgrims and the Puritans. They forgot their spiritual foundation and covenant which the colonies had made to Jesus Christ and were now entertaining philosophies and religious heresies that were damnable. The people forgot to pray unless it was for selfish interests (a blessing on their next purchase or business deal). The church was made up of selfish and immoral people, ignorant of the word of God. The clergy themselves were in disarray, having lost the ability to lead after listening themselves to the lies of infidels. Consequently, they did not have the conviction or the courage to sternly rebuke the people. It was not uncommon for professors of religion themselves to break the Sabbath, to swear, or to get drunk. The whole nation was being absorbed with the evil spirits of rebellion and lies of the French Revolution with Deism, Unitarianism, infidelity, and a spirit of outright rebellion against Jesus Christ.
In the history textbook, “From Sea To Shining Sea”, is recorded the following statements concerning our nationally renowned college, Yale: “For the college that had once produced earnest young ministers, eager to serve the Lord wherever He called them, was now producing young wastrels dedicated to the pursuit of pleasure and selfishness. Well before the sun went down, the elm-shaded campus rang with boisterous carousing, and young men in the red knitted caps of the French Jacobins lolled on the old post-and-hole fence that surrounded the common and referred to one another as Voltaire or Rousseau or D’Alembert, or names of other heroes of the French Revolution. Undergraduates kept well-stocked liquor supplies in their rooms and entertained at all hours, in general disporting themselves as much like Parisian bon vivants as possible. They aped everything French, bent on outdoing one another in outrageous conduct. What was happening at Yale was happening everywhere. Dr. Ashbel Green, president of Princeton, had experienced the same situation when he was an undergraduate there: ‘While I was a member of the college, there were but two professors of religion among the students, and not more than five or six who scrupled the use of profane language in common conversation, and sometimes it was of a very shocking kind. To the influence of the American war, succeeded that of the French Revolution, still more pernicious, and I think more general.’ One Yale undergraduate summed it all up in a brief entry in his diary for May 3, 1797: ‘The world is coming either to Christianity or infidelity.’”
In 1795, a truly born again Christian grandson of Jonathan Edwards became the President of Yale College. His name was Timothy Dwight. Dwight’s heritage was solid Puritan preaching stock, and he was righteously angry at the rebellion and deception the college and nation was in. Dwight declared war on the lies of Deism and Unitarianism. He declared war on the philosophies that came out of the French Revolution and the spiritual infidelity. Immediately upon becoming President of Yale College, Dwight fired all the faculty members who were teaching the French Rationalist point of view. He then started holding open public debates with the students concerning the Rationalist arguments and giving altar calls at the end of his discussions. During his time at Yale, Dwight witnessed the conversion of half the student body. This was because of bold, direct, confrontational debates concerning the lies and the heresies that were being preached and taught in churches, colleges, and political venues. Listen to what Dwight said about the French infidelity and reign of terror into which the French Revolution had degenerated. “The spirit of infidelity has the heart of a wolf, the fangs of a tiger, and the talons of a vulture. Blood is its proper nourishment, and it scents its prey with the nerves of a hound, and cowers over the field of death on the sooty pinions of a fiend. Unlike all other animals of prey, it feeds upon its own kind; when glutted with the blood of others, it turns back on those who have been its coadjutors…Between ninety and a hundred of those who were leaders in this mighty work of destruction fell by the hand of violence. Enemies to all men, they were, of course, enemies of each other. Butchers of the human race, they soon whetted the knife for each other’s throat.” [ibid]
This is what happens when you reject the gospel of Jesus Christ which keeps men human. Reject the Spirit of Jesus Christ and men become an intelligent beast.
Listen to what Dwight preached to his students at Yale who had denied and blasphemed his God, Jesus Christ. Dwight attacked religious infidelity as a soldier would in war fighting for his life: “There can be here no halting between two opinions…You must meet face to face the bands of disorder, of falsehood, and of sin. Between them and you there can be no natural, real, or lasting harmony. What communion hath light with darkness? What concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth, with an infidel? From a connection with them, what can you gain? What will you not lose? Their neighborhood is contagious; their friendship is a blast; their communion is death. Will you imbibe their principles? Will you copy their practices? Will you teach your children that death is an eternal sleep? That the end sanctifies the means? That moral obligation is a dream? Religion a farce? Will you become the rulers of Sodom, and the people of Gomorrah?… Will you enthrone a Goddess of Reason before the tale of Christ? Will you burn your Bibles? Will you crucify anew your Redeemer? Will you deny your God?” [ibid]
Timothy Dwight led such a viciously righteous assault against the lies and philosophies of that day that hundreds of thousands were now being forced to compare Tom Paine’s heresies with Dwight’s rebuttals.
Again we see the mighty influence that Timothy Dwight had on the nation because he had the faith to be bold, fearless and righteously rude. “Thomas Jefferson, back in America and the leader of the Democratic Republicans, to whom the Deists and Rationalists naturally flocked, was soon referring to Dwight as ‘the pope in New Haven.’…Jefferson and Dwight personified the contest between Unitarianism and Christianity. A decade before Dwight went to Yale, Jefferson, as a brilliant undergraduate at William and Mary College, was being steeped in the new French Rationalism and developing deep doubts about Christianity. During his years in France with the Deist philosophies (1783-1789), these hardened into loathing. Back in America, he went to great pains to keep his feelings about Christianity from the voting public, yet they were clearly discerned by Dwight and the evangelical clergy, nearly all of whom denounced Jefferson as an infidel…” [ibid]
Ladies and gentlemen, can you imagine how righteous clergy of that day attacked false doctrine and philosophies and warned the American public about the beliefs and religious hypocrisies of their political candidates and leaders? If only we had enough Christian leaders today who would do the same instead of preaching a constant gluttonous prosperity gospel!
Now let us get back to the church of Smyrna. Jesus commends the church in Smyrna for their faithfulness in the midst of opposition (tribulation) and poverty. The city of Smyrna was a beautiful city with three main arteries and temples to Cybele, Apollo, Asklepios, Aphrodite, and the temple of Zeus. The city was proud with the largest public theatre in all of Asia, a large library and magnificent stadium. The city of Smyrna was the first city in the world to make mandatory “Caesar-worship.” According to Dr. Ronald E. Cottle in his textbook, “The Risen Lord Speaks to His Church”, he writes: “Once each year, every Smyrnian entered the public market place and offered sacrifice to Caesar’s spirit, declaring, “Caesar is Lord.” Failing to do so was illegal, and a certificate, saying that a sacrifice has been offered, was required of every resident. Finally, there was a large Jewish population in Smyrna that hated the struggling Christians in the Smyrna church and who slandered them to their Gentile friends. Because the Jews were wealthy merchants--as they were in nearly every major city in the ancient world, and as they are today--they had the ear of the political leaders of Smyrna. They used this to lie about the Christians and bring persecution upon them. Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, was burned to death at the stake because of Jewish lies about him…The Jews were often the cause of Christian persecution. Nero was the first persecutor of the Christians. His favorite actor, Aliturus, and his infamous harlot, Empress Poppaea, were both Jewish proselytes. It was they who slandered and lied about the Christians and started the first Christian persecution. The Jews of Smyrna ran true-to-form. Jesus called them not ‘the synagogue of Jehovah’, as they wanted to be called, but ‘the synagogue of Satan’, which they really were. For when a man refuses to obey God, he inevitably obeys the devil!”
We are in the same condition in America today with laws being created through the United Nations to accept all religions and cults under the banner of God. Hate laws are being created to bring tribulation on any person who maintains that Jesus Christ is the true and living God and all others are of the house of Belial, as Timothy Dwight would classify it. Today evil and jealous men and women gossip and slander against righteous men and women of God in religious, denominational and church circles. They even go to the courts and governments to persecute the righteous. Many third world countries have clergy that will lie to the government against a righteous missionary who tries to deal with their sins. I have seen people and pastors who call themselves “Christians” lie, slander, frame, evict them from their property, take the righteous to court, etc.
“And ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” This refers to a short time, as the expression “ten days” is an idiom. In all the Greek games the winners received a laurel wreath called a crown. Jesus is telling the Christians to continue to be faithful. Persecution here on earth is for a very short time. Hang in there and you will be the winners. For your information, one-half of Smyrna today is Christian!
Laws are being created today in countries throughout the world, including the United States of America, that are not righteous. Leaders throughout the world and America use the name of God, but they do not believe Jesus Christ is God. Deism, Unitarianism, New Age, etc., is what the majority of clergy and politicians believe. Persecution will increase. The book of Revelation will come to pass with the anti-Christ (Beast and his government) leading the nations and forcing “Caesar worship” (The Mark of The Beast). Ecumenicalism is spreading throughout the nation with its false doctrines, heresies, and bastard gods.
BUT LOOK UP, FOR YOUR REDEMPTION DRAWETH NIGH AND HE WHO IS FAITHFUL WILL RECEIVE ETERNAL LIFE AND BE CALLED SONS OF THE TRUE GOD, JESUS CHRIST, OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR.
© 2003 World Ministries International