Saturday, February 16, 2008

Escaping the Beast

Revelation is perhaps best known for being unknown. Apart from the first five, and possibly the last two chapters, most people, certainly myself included, would struggle to tell you much about what was going. Except it's weird. Weird and scary. It's certainly hard to read the visions of judgement in the middle of the book and come away worrying about anything else other than how to stand before a Holy God. Which is good. It's obscurity is a bit of a shame though, not only because it's as much part of the cannon as 2 Timothy or mark, but because it's (unsurprisingly) full of good stuff.

Today i was in chapter 12, a vision of the devils persecution of the church. I've been reflecting all day more or less on 2 Timothy 3:12, which seems to be a promise more than a warning, and this chapter doesn't shy away from the rage of the heaven dismissed devil chasing the church with it's destruction in mind. This is real, this happens today. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn't exist. He prowls around us like a hungry lion, looking for someone to will we resist? Revelation 12:11 gives us three ways:

1) They overcame by the blood of the Lamb.
On account of Jesus blood shed for her on the cross, the church will overcome. What are we to do when the devils comes to us with what we did and thought and said yesterday? When he tries to convince us that our sin means we cannot possibly live in relationship with God, what will we do? The problem with those accusations are that they are true. The devil doesn't need to make up my sins, they're right before me. We remember the blood of the lamb. Because Christ died on the cross there is now no condemnation. There is no more punishment due for my sins. Nothing left to pay, it's all been done at the cross. What a glorious truth, and a mighty weapon in the battle against the devil.

2) By the word of their testimony.
Probably not just 'how i became a Christian' but certainly not less than that. Keep preaching the Gospel, to yourself, to Christians and non Christians. Keep it on your lips and it will warm your heart. Keep speaking, believing and obeying the Gospel all the time. The quiet Christian is the troubled Christian.

3) By not loving their own lives even unto death.
How were they able to do that? How can we? By remembering that death is gain. It's hard to defeat an enemy finally when killing them means they win. It's hard to lose a fight when being killed in action means ultimate victory. These truths stir my heart like few other. They make me want to go to eastern Europe, or the subcontinent and spend my life traipsing from village to village with the Gospel and nothing else. And yet, it can be hard. The devil will convince us, by degree, that staying alive and being comfortable really is preferable to living a life of radical Christ like obediance. A new car or giving to the church building fund? A holiday abroad or supporting a missionary? Larger savings or contributing to the translation of the Bible? If our lives are caught up in the here and now, we will struggle to not love them even to the point of death. If we hold all we have cheap, including our own lives, the devils pursuit of us will lose it's vigour and efficiacy.

In Christ is the victory, we just walk on the road of emulation and obediance. But walk we must.

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