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Chapter 2 - Smyrna
Our second lesson concerns the second letter to the second church, which is the Church of Smyrna. The word Smyrna means flowing, distilling, spiritist. Metaphysically this stands for a consciousness of substance, spiritual substance. Now the Church of Smyrna in us symbolizes that part of our worshipful attitude in which we are developing some conscious understanding of what we mean by the substance of God or the substance of spirit and substance, the substance of God, the substance of spirit, we learn in truth is the only true reliable bases of what we call prosperity.
Now what is substance? Many of you who are hearing this lesson will already know what we mean by that word through your study of truth fundamentals but perhaps we should elaborate a bit at this time. Let’s look again at our dictionary definition of the word Smyrna. We said that it means, among other things, flowing, distilling, spiritist, and this gives a really beautiful clue to the character of that which we call substance—flowing, distilling, spiritist. That which we call substance the substance of spirit or of God is, figuratively speaking, flowing all about us and even within us at all times. It is the invisible, intangible reality containing all potential of forms. It is not material, but it is the essence out of which all material can be distilled.
Substance very definitely responds to your thought, and substance does use your and my consciousnesses as a channel for which it can directly or indirectly produce effects of itself in the realm of forms. These forms are then encountered by us and used by us and we call them our supply or our prosperity, but remember that in its original state, in its unlimited state, substance is of Spirit. It is good, it is pure, and we should always remember that it is unlimited and omnipresent. Substance, the substance of spirit plays no favorites and it will respond to any human being who is willing to become consciously aware of it and who thinks about it in the right way and when we become aware of it, when we think about it in the right way, and when we dedicate all of its results in our life to good purposes we are then developing what we call the true prosperity consciousness, which is the purpose of the church of Smyrna within us.
In verse nine of our second chapter these somewhat odd words are addressed to that church, “I know thy tribulation and thy poverty, but thou art rich.” What is the meaning of that? Well, every human being is completely rich as far as substance is concerned. Whether a person realizes it or not, his very existence is emersed in the substance of God’s good and is permeated by it. Such things as lack, poverty, or failure in a person’s life, are only the effects of his ignorance or indifference towards the substance of God. Now a person is not to be blamed for this, but spiritual substance can only awake his awakening before it can use his consciousness to enrich his life.
Now the Christ mind knows our struggles in times of lack or poverty. It says, “I know thy tribulation and thy poverty.” But notice it does not put a period after these words, it adds this truth, “But thou art rich.” In other words, whoever you are and whatever your past experiences of lack may have been, or what your current struggle regarding proper supply may be, a prosperity consciousness can and will be developed for you right here and right now, if you will activate the church of Smyrna within yourself by giving your attention and your faith to the reality of God’s omnipresent, spiritual substance in yourself, in your life, and in your world. This will develop for you a true prosperity consciousness.
But first, what is a prosperity consciousness? Now, primarily a prosperity consciousness is something which develops in the mind of a person who has learned to put God first in all his thinking about supply. He no longer is putting the fact of supply ahead of God, but he puts God ahead of all else that is in his thinking. The reason that he has been able to do this is because he has come to realize that God, and God only, is the Creator and the Source of all good, and that the substance of God is always going to see to it that good takes proper form as needed in his life. Now, if you are such a person, it means that your consciousness has developed the ability to cause a flowing and distilling process to constantly occur in the substance of your life. The result is that your life demonstrates all sufficiency in all things. This is what we call a true prosperity consciousness and it is permanent. This is our church of Smyrna.
Next in our letter, beginning in verse nine, there is a word of warning given concerning this church in us. Where we read, “I know the blasphemy of them that say they are Jews and are not, but are of the synagogue of Satan.” Here I must explain something a bit technical about Bible interpretation. In the symbol language of the Bible, the words Jews and the word Satan had very definite metaphysical meaning. In Bible symbolism, Jews stand for all the thoughts and feelings within us, which are turned toward spiritual truth. The word Satan refers to all of the tendencies toward negativeness and error, and harm in human nature. I shall repeat that very briefly. In metaphysical Bible symbolism, the word Jews stands for all the thoughts and feelings within us, which are turned toward truth, turned toward the good. The word Satan stands for all of the negativeness, the error, and the harmfulness in human nature.
Now, the warning given to the church of Smyrna, pertains to some of the false beliefs, which are still active in our thinking about prosperity. Some of these false beliefs may outwardly appear to be helpful to our prosperity consciousness. “They say they are Jews,” the letter says, but these things are actually doing damage to our prosperity consciousness, or as the letter says, “Are of the synagogue of Satan.” These negative beliefs may wear some very clever disguises and may have fooled many persons, but it’s up to us to know the truth about them, to recognize them as error, and to try to cast them out of our prosperity thinking.
Here are a few of them which I have observed in my own and in many other persons opinions about prosperity, and perhaps as you listen to them, you will see if any of them are also familiar to you and are spoiling your church of Smyrna, your prosperity consciousness. Here are a few I have observed:
- The belief that it is possible for me to get my good at another’s expense.
- The fear that there is a danger that another might get his good at my expense.
- The belief that the only way to prove you are prosperous is to possess many things, the more things, the better.
- The fear that if a certain channel of supply in my life is taken away, that means that I shall be deprived of my good.
- The belief that I must never, never give more than I can expect to get back in return.
Were any of these familiar to you? Did you recognize any of them? They are but a few examples of some of the wrong beliefs human nature has about prosperity and supply. These are examples of some things in our thinking, which the Author of Revelation symbolically refers to, “Them that say they are Jews, but are not, but are of the synagogue of Satan.” Perhaps this would be a good time to take a look at that final example I listed, the belief that I must never, never give more than I can expect to get back in return. How many people believe this? How many times have you and I been taken by it? Countless times perhaps, but what have we ever gained by it? What has this kind of belief ever really done for our prosperity consciousness? I’ll tell you what it has done. It has helped to spoil our true prosperity time and time again.
Now, what is its opposite, or what is the truth concerning it? The truth is that real prosperity is possible only to one who is able or willing to give more than he has to, even more than he can expect to get back in return. A truly prosperous soul is one who has agreed that prosperity from God really is not limited to such things as profit making from sharp business practices or keeping on just this side of legality or bargain hunting on shopping sprees, or any of that kind of thinking, which causes a person to say, “I better not give too much”, or “I mustn’t take a chance on giving anything until I’m sure how much is in it for me,” because this kind of believing and thinking results in what we could call false prosperity, or as the author of Revelation calls it, “The synagogue of Satan”.
Then next, our author tells us of a promise made to our church of Smyrna by the Christ mind, where we read in verse 11, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches. He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” First, how do we overcome false beliefs, which spoil our prosperity consciousness, our church of Smyrna? You begin by trying to base all of your thinking about prosperity on the idea of substance, not things, not amounts, but substance, God’s substance for you. Rely on God. Trust in God. Speak words concerning the prospering power of God’s substance in real life and all the ideas in divine mind will go to work for you and cause that to come forth, which will constitute your rightful supply, your security, your true prosperity.
Secondly, never forget that the most powerful action you as an individual can take to preserve and expand your prosperity consciousness is to get in tune with God’s law of giving and receiving. Giving is so very, very important where prosperity is concerned. When you pay your bills, for example, smile within yourself and declare, “I am causing a greater circulation in the flow of spiritual substance in my life, and I am grateful to be able to do so, and I am happy to pay this bill.” When you are going to purchase something you need or want, don’t wear yourself out looking for bargains or worry about being cheated. Don’t be one of those who become penny wise, but remain pound foolish. Instead of worrying about finding bargains, think about the mightiness of God’s law of giving and receiving, for that’s the only real bargain there is. When you give or loan to another person, try not to get all tight inside yourself and worry about whether they are grateful enough or whether you are being too generous, for who can be too generous? Instead, always try to see yourself as a willing channel through which the god-like act called giving is being done, and just know that all the spiritual forces of Heaven and Earth will see to it that you are thrice blessed for all that you give.
Now, let’s look at the final words of that promise contained in our letter. “He that overcometh, shall not be hurt of the second death.” In Bible symbolism, the term first death would refer to something leaving a form of existence to enter its present form of existence, and the second death would be when something leaves its present form of existence to enter another form of existence. For example, when a baby is born, that soul, in a sense, guide to whatever form of existence it was in before it entered into physical birth. The first death was actually its physical birth. Also, another example, the life in an oak tree died to its past form of existence, which was an acorn, so that it could enter the present form of existence called oak tree. That was its first death. Then the life in the form of an oak tree will die to the oak tree form of existence so that it can enter into the form of existence called fine furniture. This would be its second death.
You see the word death, as commonly used in the Bible, always pertains to some change in the form of existence of anything. In life this is happening all the time, forms come, forms go. This is the way it should be. What about us, we as human beings? Do reality, good, and truth come and go? Does life come and go? Does real love come and go? Do energy and intelligence come and go? Does true prosperity come and go? No, only forms come and go. It is this going of any form now in our life, which is called in the Bible, the second death, which will not hurt us. Ask yourself this question, “Do I have to be hurt in my prosperity by the changing of forms of my good or by the sometimes going away of certain types of forms of my good? Does this need to hurt me?” Definitely not.
Our promise by the Christ Mind is, “He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” This means that when you and I are established in a prosperity consciousness consisting of faith in God’s substance, then the comings and goings of outer forms shall in no way hurt us. We are not hurt or damaged when we seem to lose certain things, because when we believe, really believe that God’s spiritual substance fills every atom of our being and every moment of our eternal life, then we have perfected the church of Smyrna within us. Then we have once and for all time established a realization that we are never separated from the source of our good, and our needful supply will never be withheld from us.