Thursday, December 5, 2013

The King's Conquering Gospel - Revelation 12:13-14:20

Revelation 12:10-12 "Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, 'Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. 11 And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.'

Revelation 14:6 "And I saw another angel flying in mid-heaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people."

Christmas' Revealed King in Revelation is none other than Jesus Christ.  As we are entering into this Christmas season, we know that at the center of the celebration is the Conquering Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The Gospel points us to Christ's first advent (or coming) as well as His second advent (or coming). 

 The entirety of Revelation 12:10-14:20 begins and ends with reference to the Gospel, which gives us the main theme for today's post: The King's Conquering Gospel.  The good news in these chapters is that Jesus Christ came to conquer sin for the sake of the Gospel in His first coming and he will conquer Satan's plots through the Gospel in His second coming.

In today's post we want to focus particular attention on the King's Conquering Gospel as it is unfolded in various scriptures and in Revelation 12:10-14:20. The two main points we will use in understanding the King's Conquering Gospel are these:

1. Christ came to conquer sin. Matthew 1:23; 2:1-7; 4:17; Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8; Matthew 27:37; 1 Peter 3:18; Matthew 28:18-20.

2. Christ is coming to conquer Satan's plots. Revelation 12:10-14:20

When we think about the King's Conquering Gospel as focusing attention on Christmas' revealed King in Revelation, we can first of all note that...

1. Christ came to conquer sin. Matthew 1:23; 2:1-7; 4:17; Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8; Matthew 27:37; 1 Peter 3:18; Matthew 28:18-20.

What is meant by the word "Gospel" in the Bible? The Gospel's message is "goodnews". The Gospel's main focus is Jesus Christ. The Gospel's main work is to save sinners. The Gospel's main goal is God's glory. Over 100 times do we find mention of the word "gospel" in the New Testament, as well as other passages which speak of it. Whenever we talk about the Gospel, we include Who Jesus is and what He came to do in His first coming, as well as what He will do in His second coming.1  A quick sketch of the first, middle and last mentions of the word "Gospel" proves instructive in demonstrating this dual focus of the Gospel.2 

So what had Jesus Christ came to do in his first coming? Among other things, to conquer sin. Matthew 1:21 has the angel explaining to Joseph: "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 2:2 reveals that Christ in His incarnation, even as a two year-old toddler, was considered by the wise men worthy of worship. Matthew 4:17 records Jesus starting His public ministry with His conquering Gospel: "From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” As Jesus healed diseases, preached the scriptures and related to people, all was setting the stage for what He would do on the cross. 

Hebrews 2:14  & 1 John 3:8 both explain how Jesus came to set us free from sin by destroying the Devil's works.  Jesus' goal in coming as most loved babe in swaddling clothes was to go to the cross as a hated, common criminal.  In Matthew 27:37 we read of how He conquered, and the words placed above his head: "And above His head they put up the charge against Him which read, “THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

So how do we know that what Jesus did in His first coming succeeded? The King's Conquering Gospel is explained most clearly in 1 Peter 3:18 - "For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit". So in understanding the King's conquering Gospel, we noted that Jesus Christ came the first time to conquer sin.  But now notice a second truth concerning the King's conquering Gospel....

2. Christ is coming to conquer Satan's plots. Revelation 12:10-14:20
As we turn our attention now to Revelation 12:10-14:20, we can take note of the following events witnessed by John that reveal how Jesus Christ will conquer Satan's plots by the Gospel.  Following the grand announcement from heaven concerning Satan's future final expulsion from heaven, we read in Revelation 12:12 "For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.” What follows concerns Satan's 3 rebellious plots followed by Jesus Christ's defeat of those plots by the Gospel.  

a. Satan's main plots to be defeated by Jesus. Revelation 12:13-13:18
-Plot #1 Satan's future attack on Israel. 12:13-17
In the last 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation period (=1260 days Rev. 11:3-4; =Times, Times and half a time Rev. 12:14) Satan will be exclusively on earth, attempting to wipe out Israel and thwart God's plan to save and redeem Israel.  Of course Satan will fail in his first plot, since ultimately all Israel will be saved as the Spirit gives them grace to look in faith upon the One whom they pierced. (Romans 11:25-26; Zechariah 12:10) Thus Satan will have to resort to plots #2 and #3.

-Plot #2 Satan's front man - Anti-Christ. 13:1-10
We see John explaining the following about this ultimate rebel against Jesus Christ:
*Satanically energized. Revelation 13:1-4

*Seeks to blaspheme God, His name, His people. Rev 13:6-10
*Schemes with a secondary figure, the second beast for false prophet in deceiving the world. Revelation 13:11-14
*Strategy is to rule the world politically, economically. Revelation 13:15-18

W.A Criswell writes concerning this Anti-Christ or "first beast rising out of the sea" of Revelation 13:1-10 - "I think the figure means that the first one arises out of social chaos and revolution. In the turmoil, strife and raging conflict of races and nations and economic orders, this great final tyrant rises to preside over the might and strength of the whole earth."3

-Plot #3 Satan's false prophet. 13:11-18
Following on the heels of plot #2, Satan will launch his third enigmatic figure - the false prophet.  Anti-Christ will be Satan's front man, mainly operating more so in the political and economic sphere.  Criswell notes that this second Beast will arise out of the earth, out of an established civil order.4  Clearly by the mid-point of the tribulation the Anti-Christ will have achieved the peace sought out by the world's inhabitants. The false prophet will be raised up by Satan to provide the spiritual power and persuasion to dupe the unbelieving world into worshiping the first beast or the anti-Christ. 

b. Jesus Christ will defeat Satan's main plots through the Gospel. Revelation 14:1-20
-Jesus will defend Israel, thus defeating plot #1 through the Gospel. Revelation 7:1-9; 14:1-5

-Jesus will defeat Satan's second plot, Anti-Christ, through the Gospel. Revelation 14:6-7; 19:19-20

-Jesus will defeat Satan's third plot, the false prophet, through the Gospel. Revelation 14:8-13; 19:19-20
The amazing characteristic about Revelation 12:10-14:20 is in how it begins and ends with reference to the Gospel.  Revelation 12:10-12 predicts what will be the announcement from heaven of the goodnews.  The saints of God who will be born-again and martyred in the tribulation (as well as what could be said about church age saints who are martyred today) will be noted as having overcome by the "blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony". The blood of the Lamb refers to what Christ came to do in His first coming: conquer sin.  

We then come near to the end of Revelation 14 in 14:6 where we read of the angel announcing the Eternal Gospel.  This is the Gospel's final swan song, the final time that the good news will ever be heard on planet earth.  Sadly for those in the latter half of the tribulation who would not repent, it will be too late. Despite what clearly is an outmatching of Satan, the anti-Christ and the false prophet by Jesus Christ at His second coming, the unbelievers left will refuse to repent. 

Closing thoughts
John MacArthur notes concerning Revelation 13-14 "Rather, it stands as a warning to the unbelieving world. It challenges believers to lead careful, watchful, godly lives (cf. 1 Pet. 4:7; 2 Pet. 3:11).5  May you and I this Christmas season proclaiming the King's Conquering Gospel that Christ came to conquer sin and that Christ is coming again to conquer Satan's plots. 

1. The two ordinances Jesus gave to his church to depict the Gospel: believer's baptism and the Lord's supper, emphasize both comings. In baptism I'm publicly recognizing what God did by His Spirit in calling me to prior saving faith that partakes of the power of His resurrection, the first first fruits of things to come (James 1:18) while relying on what Christ has done in His cross and resurrection. (Romans 6:4-11; 2 Corinthians 5:17) In the Lord's Supper I'm reminded in a joyful celebratory covenant meal of what Christ accomplished on the cross in His first coming while doing so until He returns. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

2. The first mention of the word "gospel" in the New Testament is found in Matthew 4:17 where Jesus begins preaching the "Gospel of the Kingdom".  The middle mention of the Gospel, the Gospel of salvation, is found in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 where clearly Jesus' accomplished work in His first coming is in view - (died, buried, raised according to the scriptures).  In Revelation 14:6-12 we see the final mention of the word Gospel (the Eternal Gospel)  and the combined testimony of various angels in the latter half of the tribulation period alluding to or referring to both Christ's finished work and soon return.

3. W.A Criswell. Expository Sermons on Revelation - Volume 4. Zondervan. 1966. Page 114. Undoubtedly Criswell is referring to the 1st 3 1/2 years of the whole seven year tribulation wherein the Anti-Christ makes a peace-pact with Israel in Daniel 9:26b-27a. The world will be looking for one ruler to bring order and peace to the middle east, and the Anti-Christ will be the man they will follow.

4. W.A Criswell. Expository Sermons on Revelation - Volume 4. Zondervan. 1966. Page 114. 

5. John MacArthur. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary - Revelation 12-22. Moody Press. 2000. Page 65

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