This sermon is from the series UNDERSTANDING REVELATION and was preached at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Cherry Log, Georgia on Sunday, August 17, 2014 by Pastor Paul Mims. You can hear this sermon at www.csbccl.org
In one of his meetings, D.L. Moody was explaining to his audience the truth that we cannot bring about spiritual changes in our lives by our own strength. He demonstrated the principal like this: “Tell me,” he said to his audience, “HOW CAN I get the air out of the tumbler I have in my hand?” One man said, “Suck it out with a pump.” But Moody replied, “That would create a vacuum and shatter it.” Finally after many suggestions, he picked up a pitcher and quietly filled the glass with water. “There,” he said, “all the air is now removed.” He then explained that VICTORY for the child of God does not come by WORKING HARD to eliminate sinful habits, but rather by allowing Christ to take full possession. (Today in the WORD)
We all know the struggle to be more than we are to please our Lord. In the Holy Scriptures we read that one day we will have victory over the evil that we see on the evening news or in our society all about us and also the evil that we see within ourselves. That is a great promise. One day, we shall be as Adam and Eve were before the fall.
When will this come about? It will happen when Jesus comes again and the Battle of Armageddon is won, the Antichrist and the False Prophet are destroyed, and Satan is bound for a thousand years and ultimately destroyed. What will it be like then?
I. CHRIST’S RETURN WILL GIVE US VICTORY OVER THE PRESENCE OF EVIL. (vv.1-3)
“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer…”
Chapter 20 is the most difficult chapter in the Bible to interpret. There are three major views and variations within those views among faithful Christians. It is good to know the various interpretations, but more than that is to know the truth that Jesus is coming again and will make all things new.
The “A-millennial” view means no millennial or thousand year reign of Christ on the earth either before or after his second coming. This was begun in the fourth century by Augustine. The “thousand years” is interpreted symbolically and not literally. This is the view that is widely held by churches in this area.
The “Post Millennial” view is not held much today because of world conditions. This view once held that the kingdom would be established by the spread of the Gospel and a golden age would occur on earth and then Christ would return. The “thousand years” is interpreted symbolically. But as time has progressed, world conditions have gotten worse as sin has prevailed.
The “Pre-Millennial” view believes that Christ will come and then the thousand years of his reign on the earth will begin. The position that one takes on the millennial view affects how most of Revelation is interpreted.
It is true that the Apostle John used symbolic language and imagery from Jewish thought to convey real events. As you know, our study of Revelation has focused on the REAL EVENTS that are prophesied and thereby we have interpreted in the Pre-Millennial view.
To understand the REAL VIEW of things we must go back to what Jesus said in Matthew 24:4 ff. “See to it that no one misleads you…You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.
At that time many will fall away and will betray one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
Jesus described the presence of sin from which we shall be free. Isaiah 59:2 makes it plain: “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God. And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.” Romans 5:12 says: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.”
This is what makes our lives difficult today. This is what we are struggling with in our fight with Satan’s evil dominions. T.S. Eliot summed up life by saying, “Life ends with a whimper.” Shakespeare said, “Life is a tale told by an idiot.”
II. CHRIST’S RETURN WILL GIVE US THE VICTORY OVER THE POWER OF EVIL. (vv.4-6)
“Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and…they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years…over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.”
The Apostle Paul said, “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) Man would never have died if he had not sinned against God. Death is the penalty for sin in both the physical and spiritual dimensions. We all will die physically because of sin. Those who are unsaved will die spiritually because of their unbelief in Christ. The power of evil to kill us is great.
Listen to how Paul described the struggle in Romans 7:15 ff. “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate…For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want…I find then the principle that evil is present me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
The redeemed in this passage are being resurrected from the dead because they have won over the personal evil in their lives and were killed because of the evil in others. They were martyred by being beheaded because of their faithfulness to Christ. It is gloriously stated, “Over these death has no power.” The early persecuted Christians could understand this. We too, can understand it better because of the persecution that modern day Christians in the Islamic countries are suffering. Current news reports are saying:
• Muslims driving out all the 1.5 million Christians from Mosul, Iraq – one million over the last ten years, and 500,000 just a couple weeks ago. Under the threat of mass beheadings, a half a million Christians were driven from their homes, and then robbed of all their money, jewelry and any other valuables as they left Mosul with barely the clothes on their backs.
• Muslims terrorizing other Muslims in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other places.
• More violent Muslim persecution against Christians in several countries in the Middle East than has been seen in centuries – or perhaps ever before.
National spokesman for Iraqi Christians and Chaldean-American businessman Mark Arabo said the “evil” being carried out by ISIS militants in Iraq now includes shocking beheadings of children, and he praised President Barack Obama for authorizing an intervention in the crisis Thursday.
“They are systematically beheading children, and mothers and fathers. The world hasn’t seen an evil like this for a generation. There’s actually a park in Mosul that they’ve actually beheaded children and put their heads on a stick,” Arabo told CNN’s Jonathan Mann last week.
“And they have them in the park. This is crimes against humanity. The whole world should come together. This is much broader than a community or faith. This is crimes against humanity and they are doing the most horrendous, the most heartbreaking things you can think of,” he explained.
Addressing the plight of Christians in Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, since it was captured by the Islamic State militants, Arabo said 95 percent of them were forced to flee while some five percent of the Christian population converted to Islam.
He said even Christians who thought they could escape persecution by paying a fine discovered later that there was no honor among the militants.
This makes the prophecies of Revelation come alive today. This a time of tribulation for the people in the Middle East. Think of what it will be when it goes world- wide. The glorious truth is that we will one day be free from the power of evil.
III. CHRIST’S RETURN WILL GIVE US VICTORY OVER THE PENALTY OF EVIL. (vv.11-15)
“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it from whose presence earth and heaven fled away and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books according to their deeds…
And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
The reality of judgment and eternal punishment is something that modern man does not want to think about. Therefore, if he can explain it away by saying he doesn’t believe in God he feels that he does not have to be accountable. Or he may say that a loving God could not allow anyone to go to hell. He is right in that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all might come to repentance. In his mercy and grace he has provided a way for all to be saved. But judgment is coming and only the redeemed will be free from the penalty of sin.
A young minister was confronted—as the congregation expected—with an able young skeptic, Burt Olney. At the close of the first service Olney said, “You did well, but you know, I don’t believe in the infallibility of the Bible.”
“It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment,” was the young man’s calm assertion.
“I can prove to you there is no such thing as a judgment after death,” declared the skeptic.
“But men do die,” the young pastor declared, “for it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”
“But that’s no argument,” the skeptic protested, “let’s get down to business and discuss this matter in regular argument form.”
The pastor shook his head. “I am here to preach the Word of God, and not to argue over it.”
Olney, annoyed, turned away with the remark, “I don’t believe you know enough about the Bible to argue about it.”
“Perhaps you are right,” was the calm. rejoinder, “but please remember this—’It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.’ ”
The very tree toads Olney heard on the way home sang the verse, and the stream he crossed, and the frogs seemed to croak, “Judg-ment, judg-ment, judgment.”
The next morning he called at the par¬sonage. “I’ve come to see you about the verse of Scripture you gave me last night,” he said. “I’ve spent a terrible night with those words burning their way into me. I can’t get rid of them. Tell me what I must do to be saved. I’ve got to get rid of this torture.”
When he left, he was a child of God through faith in the finished work of Christ.—The Pilot.
When Jesus comes again we will be free from the presence, the power, and the penalty of sin.
PRAISE BE TO HIS NAME!