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February 27, 2017

Revelation 12 - The Cosmic Backdrop to This Present Darkness -- No Longer Preached

By Anthony Wade

Within Revelation 12 we find the three keys to overcoming the devil but you'll never hear it from the pulpits today...


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And 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 brothershas been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. -- Revelation 12: 10-11 (ESV)

The modern day church has fully embraced the purpose driven model of growth that builds individual fiefdoms while eroding the actual kingdom of God. You can build a church building to the point that it must be held in an arena while simultaneously denying access to the kingdom of heaven to untold numbers of people. We know that only the uncompromised Gospel has the power to save people. We know that once you start stripping the Bible down to the paths of least resistance that you are in fact removing the possibility of it being able to save anyone. The Bible teaches us that people can believe in vain. That entire churches can buy into a false Christ and a false Gospel. That well-intended people can spend their entire lives serving these institutions only to discover on the last day that Jesus Christ never knew them. Beloved narrow is the gate that leads to eternal life and few are those who find it. Heaven rejoices when a single sinner repents because is not something that happens easily. Repeating a three sentence prayer means absolutely nothing.

I say this because it is profoundly sad to really think about it. To consider how many people are currently in a church building, leading their lives under this false sense of security. What makes it sadder still is there is so much power in God's Word. Real power beloved. Not these trifles sold to us by snake oil salesmen each Sunday. Forget your Jeremiah 29:11 -- it was not written to you anyway! Sure God has a plan for your life but it very well may consist of persecution, isolation, carrying your own cross or even death! The Apostle Paul did not say he could do all things through Christ for the reasons taught in churches today. He wrote it because he figured out the secret to godly contentment in all situations. Good and bad. Prosperous and poor. Carried by God and shipwrecked. Healthy and beaten with whips and rods. Here is the problem today. You will hear half of these scenarios but not the other half. Healthy, good, prosperous and carried by God? That may as well be the sermon title each week at any seeker friendly church in this country. But that is only half the Gospel beloved. Of course it is easy to believe you can do all things when you're sitting on the mountaintop but what happens when your world collapses? That is when you will need true power to overcome. True power to conquer.

Thus we turn to our key verses for today from one of the least preached from and least understood books in the canon of Scripture, Revelation. The imagery is rich. The prophecy is thick. The structure is one of linear timelines mixed in with a painting of the cosmic backdrop to the entire Bible. We talk a good game about spiritual warfare but we are babes when it comes to truly understanding what is going on behind the scenes of this present darkness we find ourselves in.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. -- Ephesians 6: 12 (ESV)

Rulers and authorities over cosmic powers which rule this present darkness we live in. Spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places. These are no small matters beloved. I find it amusing when people who live half in the world play dress up on Sunday and start decreeing and declaring things they do not understand have no such power to do. The Bible says we are to resist the devil not pretend we are in an MMA match with him. We do not defeat him -- Jesus does. We overcome through Him. We conquer through Him.

The Book of Revelation is a vision given to the Apostle John while exiled on the Island of Patmos. While it begins with a series of seven letters written by Jesus Christ to the local churches, which still bear so much truth for the church today, it soon ventures into a vision of what will precede the second coming of the Lord. When He first came, it was as the lamb but when He returns it will be as the lion. The conquering King returning for His bride, the church. When we get to Chapter 12, John's vision has left the linear timeline of events to come and is presenting us with a cosmic backdrop of what is occurring behind the scenes in the heavenlies as the Bible has played out through history. We see the battle play out as Michael and the angelic hosts battle the devil and his demonic forces as we come to our key verses for today. Let us reason together beloved and hear what God wants to say.

And 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 brothershas been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. -- Revelation 12: 10 (ESV)

Christ has come. Salvation for the unsaved earth. The true power of the kingdom of God beloved. When you hear the modern church preach power it is always in relation to this fragile and passing world. This glimmer of a life. The power to have a better career or fun marriage. Whatever. These are not the power of the kingdom. Think of the most powerful men throughout history. Alexander the Great. Caesar. Napoleon Bonaparte. They are all dust under the feet of God. This is why God asks, almost rhetorically, why do we fear man? Fear God who has real power. Power beyond this life.

There is however, an opposition to this power beloved. This opposition is clearly seen here in verse ten. We hear all the time and use phrases like "accuser of the brethren" but rarely stop to consider what that means. We certainly will not hear it preached. The authority of Christ, the power of the kingdom and the salvation of God are all opposed by the enemy as he accuses us day and night. The enemy is relentless beloved. The Bible says that his native language is lying. That means if we can only speak English for example, he can only speak lies. He is not bilingual either. Sure he may mix in a whole lot of truth but the little bit that is a lie will kill you. He lied to Eve in the garden. He lied to David on the rooftop when staring at Bathsheba. Beyond the deception however Satan is also our accuser. I know this flies in the face of modern preaching which elevates man to God's level but we deserve death. Those are the wages we have earned. If you want to read the true state of man before a holy God read Romans 3. All have turned away. The poison of asps is on our lips. Our throats are open graves. I know the church has spent the last twenty years telling you how special you are but you are not. I am not. Only God is and in His unrelenting grace and mercy He spared us from the truth of the accusations of Satan. That is right beloved. Satan may lie and overinflate but when it comes to accusing us we give him enough material I am sure. Every angry word. Every unloving thought. Every defense of evil. Thankfully he can be overcome. He can be conquered and we see how in the following verse:

And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. -- Revelation 12: 11 (ESV)

I am sure we have all heard this verse at one point or another as a referent but I doubt it is ever preached anymore. What a shame because there is so much power in this verse if we are willing to put down the pursuit of this world for a minute. In this one verse, God gives us three keys to conquering the accuser of the brethren. To some, they may sound trite but to others they will they will taste of living waters quenching their souls, left barren and dry by years of purpose driven pablum and seeker friendly gruel. We will overcome and conquer the enemy to our souls with three imperatives -- the blood of the lamb, the word of our testimony, and the devaluing of our very lives. Before getting into each of these, please read the following three paragraphs about these three imperatives taken from Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible. In addition to the hearing the truth, capture the passion with which this is written as that is the same passion we need to approach this as well.

"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb,.... The Lord Jesus Christ, by whose blood they were redeemed and ransomed out of the hands of Satan, that was stronger than they; and by which they were justified from all sin, and so all charges and condemnation were of no avail against them, whether of Satan or the world; and by which they were cleansed from all pollution, both internal and external; and by which even their conversation garments were washed and made white; by this they also, drew nigh to God with boldness, as to their own God, notwithstanding the accusations of Satan; and this they could, and did make use of as a shield to defend them against all his charges; and this being sprinkled upon them, as it gave them an inward conscience peace amidst all, so it was their security from the destroying angel; and under this purple covering they went triumphantly to glory, having through it obtained an entire conquest over Satan: as also

and by the word of their testimony; either by Christ, the essential Word, they bore record of, who is sharper than any twoedged sword, and through whom they were made more than conquerors; or rather by the use they made of the Scriptures of truth, the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, to which they bore a faithful testimony, and to which they adhered, and by so doing gained the victory over Satan and his instruments, whether false teachers or persecutors; and particularly by the Gospel, which they embraced, professed, and preached with constancy and courage, and by their last testimony they bore to it at their death, on the account of it, as it follows:

and they loved not their lives unto the death; they did not value them; they made no account of them; they were not anxiously careful to preserve them; they chose to lose them; they ran to the stake, and willingly and cheerfully laid them down; they did not count them dear unto them, as said the Apostle Paul, that they might finish their course with joy, and testify the Gospel of the grace of God, or bear a testimony to it, Acts 20:24; yea, as Christ has directed, Luke 14:26 ; they hated their lives in comparison of him, and when in competition with him and his Gospel; and by dying thus they conquered Satan; had they loved their lives, and saved them by denying Christ and his truths, Satan would have conquered them; but dying in the cause of Christ, and for it, they got the victory over him." -- Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Beloved it always starts and ends with the blood of Jesus Christ. There is no Gospel without it. Satan is stronger than we are. We were in his hands. In his clutches. He owned us when we were in this world. God redeemed us however. He bought us back. He paid the ransom price to free us from the clutches of Satan. The blood of Jesus Christ justifies us from all accusations of sin. Therefore it does not matter what the accuser accuses us of. We are covered by the blood! Cleansed from all pollution, the blood acts as a shield for us, rendering the enemy's lies and accusations powerless. Because of this we are able to draw near to God with boldness. Not an arrogance of thinking who we are but an amazement of what He has done for us! As the blood sprinkled on the doorpost protected the Israelites living in Egypt from the death angel, so the blood of Christ protects us from the coming judgment upon this earth. It is our very security in an unsecure world. It is, as Gill points out, our very transition to glory.

Do we hear this preached anymore today? No. Sure there may be a passing mention of the blood, maybe even a bloody song on Easter, but generally it is considered most seeker unfriendly for many reasons. The blood leads to the cross and that leads to sin. While the blood secures the believer it does not cover the faithless. They remain accused. That is why the cross offends. It is meant to offend. That is why the Gospel divides. It is meant to divide. The sad truth today is we have bloodless churches across Christendom that prevent people from being able to even come to Jesus Christ. You simply cannot be saved without the blood beloved. There is no overcoming. There is no conquering.

The same can be said for word of our testimony. Sometimes this has been mistakenly taught as our personal testimony. No beloved. This speaks to the Gospel in which we have believed. Romans teaches us that only the Gospel has the power of God unto the salvation of man. When Paul leaves the elders at Ephesus he declares himself innocent of their blood because he did not hesitate to proclaim to them the entire Gospel. What we believes matter. What we profess matters. Our personal testimony only matters in light of Scripture. Look at who Gill correctly lists here as instruments of Satan! False teachers and persecutors. Adhering to the Word will help us to gain victory over Satan. How? Because for every lie he utters the Word of God will tell us the truth and assure us he is lying. How do we overcome and conquer the enemy in our lives? Through Jesus Christ beloved. Through His blood and His Gospel. He has the power.

Is this reinforced or taught anymore in the church today? Rarely. The Gospel is watered down, sugar coated, feel good, motivational, self-help, and cliche'd stories that are leveraged to make this life your best it can be now. So instead of hearing the Gospel, the cross and the blood, you will hear a seven part series on feeling more significant or a month long series on love and marriage. And who knows? Perhaps when you stand before Christ you will feel as if your life had more significance and your marriage was agreeable. Then you find out though that you never were covered by the blood. You put your faith in a false gospel and false christ. Only now it is too late. Too late to overcome. Too late to conquer. That is because you believed teachers that convinced you to love this life.

This brings us to the third and final component. We must go beyond the blood and the Gospel to see this cosmic backdrop playing out behind this present darkness. We must not love our own life, even unto death. Now there is a seeker-unfriendly message! I guess you will never hear that preached! Instead you can buy the latest mega-church pastor's book on this being your best life now or how you are destined to reign. You can listen each week to the bless me theology sermons for a God who is just dying to throw open the windows of heaven and shower you with money, and fame, and wealth. You will not hear how Jesus had already taught that we must give up this life to carry our cross if we intend to follow Him. As Gill points out here that we should not value this life but the one to come. That we should make no account of this life. That we were not anxious about preserving this life. That we chose to lose these lives for the cause of the Gospel. Cheerfully laying them down! That we should hate our very lives in comparison to He who has redeemed us out from them. Remember beloved, Scripture always confirms Scripture:

But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. -- Acts 20: 24 (ESV)

"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. -- Luke 14: 26 (ESV)

That we would have the strength to finish our course with joy, refuse to dabble with false gospels and teachings, and be a living testimony to the all saving blood and the all saving Gospel. By dying to self in favor of Christ, we find the conquering of Satan complete. That we would recognize that by denying the truths of Scripture and His Gospel that we are actually ceding conquest to the enemy. That by loving our lives we in fact deny Christ and give Satan the triumph. Rather by dying in the cause of Christ, and for it, that we would attain victory over the devil.

That is true power beloved. To transcend this life. To surpass this world. That no matter what might happen during our time here that we always remember who we serve. His all saving blood and Gospel. That we would deem that as worthy more than our lives here. It is the church that should be the primary vehicle for this message. If we want to understand how the great apostasy is already underway we should start here. The church has abandoned the true power of God and exchanged it for a cheap knock off to sell the trinkets of this world. To lead people to the promise of an oasis for their parched souls only to discover when they got there that it is still the desert of this world. Then they make them drink the sand and sing hallelujah. God have mercy.

Reverend Anthony Wade -- February 27, 2017

Authors Bio:
Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.