Friday, April 26, 2013

Pastoral Ponderings ~ The Contrast and the Connection of the Conqueror

          After my first few days in Revelation 4, I am fascinated, and overwhelmed. There are such treasures of wisdom and knowledge”[1] hidden in the Lord Jesus Christ, that we cannot expect to speak of them all in only one short breath.

          My attention this week has revolved around this sentence: “After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven!”[2] An open door sounds like an invitation. Here are some encouragements for us to receive this invitation with glad and sincere hearts.

          The first thing that really stood out to me is the contrast between, Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me”,[3] and, “behold, a door standing open in heaven!”[4]

          This strikes me with a sense of the ridiculousness of the picture. How dare the human heart close a door to our Creator, to our Redeemer, to the King of kings and Lord of lords! How dare the God of heaven have to stand outside a closed door and wait for us to open it! How strange that man would think that we can shut God out of our lives, or that we would even have any desire to do so.

          However, it is equally strange, given the sinfulness of mankind, that there would be an open door into the Holiest of Holies, and an invitation to come up and see what is taking place.

          The second thing that stands out to me is the connection between, “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne”,[5] and this “door standing open in heaven”,[6] leading to the revelation of the throne-room of God.

          This picture of God’s heavenly throne-room adds another scene to the divine montage (or collage, or tapestry). We now have the glorious picture of Jesus Christ centering the whole mural.[7] And, we have Jesus showing the churches that the condition they are in from his viewpoint, in relation to him, is going to affect whether they go through these next scenes as conquerors, or as victims of sin.[8]

          With the encouragements and rebukes of the letters to the seven churches still ringing in our hearts, it is clear that God wants his people to be conquerors. It is “the one who conquers”[9] who can rest in all the glories of the heavenly throne-room. It is the one who conquers who has the assurance of sharing in the full riches of heaven without fear.

            When the Holy Spirit reveals to your heart that there is a door standing open in heaven, do you want to go through it and find the one who is there? If you were to go through that door to find the one who is there, what would YOU be like in going there?

          This is what is missing: we keep focusing on what God is like, what these scenes tell us about him, whether heaven and his throne room seem good in our eyes. We rarely consider what we are like. Will we seem good to God if we entered his divine presence in the wonders of this revelation?

          What tugs on my soul is that, in the early chapters of Revelation, we first have the vision of Jesus, then we have the vision of ourselves as conquerors, and then we have the vision of God on his throne. This is the theme of Revelation. It is a letter to God’s servants who conquer. It is a letter to the servants of God who are clothed in white because they have conquered.

          “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”.[10]Believers in Jesus Christ conquer “the great red dragon”, “that ancient serpent”, “the devil”, “Satan”, “the deceiver of the whole world”, “the accuser of the brothers”, “by the blood of the Lamb”, and, “by the word of their testimony”.[11]

          “The blood of the Lamb” refers to the finished, redemptive work of Jesus Christ whereby his sacrifice for sin sets free from sin all those who repent and receive him by faith. “The word of their testimony” refers to the personal experience of the saving, redeeming, regenerating power of the blood of Jesus Christ delivering individuals from their sin, and giving them eternal life.

          Another way of saying this is, “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith”.[12] Hebrews chapter 11 gives us examples of those who conquered by faith. Some conquered by great victories in this lifetime. Others conquered by enduring the world’s hatred until the end and entering into the heavenly paradise as beloved children of God.

          Revelation 2 and 3 give us further expressions of what it looks like for believers in Jesus Christ to overcome the world, the flesh, and the red dragon, by faith. They live this faith in direct opposition to the world that calls them to sight, to self, and to sin. The Conqueror is the one who:

1.  Has returned to first love (2:1-7)
2. remains fearless and faithful in tribulation (2:8-11)
3. holds fast to Jesus’ name even where Satan’s throne is; cleanses the church of false teachers (2:12-17)
4. is intolerant of Jezebels and those who follow them (2:18-28)
5. wakes up and strengthens anything that is about to die, and lives in the righteousness of faith (3:1-6)
6. keeps Jesus’ word in weakness, acknowledges Jesus’ name in danger, and patiently endures until the end (3:8-13)
7. receives Jesus’ view of what is lukewarm and returns to the heat of unending zeal walking in fellowship with Jesus (3:14-22).

          For the conqueror, there is no contrast between the door to his heart, and the door to the heavenly throne-room. Both are open. His heart is open to the abiding presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit. Heaven’s door is open to him, and his life-line of hope is firmly anchored in the Most Holy Place.[13] The conqueror has opened his heart to the Lord Jesus Christ, so he draws near to the throne of grace with confidence, receiving all the mercy and grace and help his time of need requires.[14]

          One of my favorite “Big-Picture” Scriptures is the Beatitudes. It tells me that those who experience God’s blessing, otherwise known as “the one who conquers,” are not strong, skillful, powerful, influential people. They are the people who admit their poverty of spirit, who mourn their sinful condition, who meekly accept that they cannot fix themselves, and so they hunger and thirst after the free gift of righteousness offered to them through faith in Jesus Christ.

          This experience of transforming mercy makes them the merciful, who grow to have such a pure hearted love for Jesus that they become fearless peacemakers who seek to lead people to have peace with God. And, as fearless peacemakers, they rejoice even when the many persecute the few, because they know that this is the way the many treated Jesus, and his prophets, and the church.[15]  

          Conquerors will rarely be seen in packs of “many”. However, history will always be affected by small bands of a few conquerors here and there who will persevere at inviting people to know and love the Savior who laid down his life for the lost.

          At the same time, we have the promise of a coming day when the few from here and there will all stand before the throne together, at the same time, conquerors in their victorious Savior. This is what that will look like:

  After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”[16]

          When you feel like you are standing all alone with your faith in Jesus Christ, remember that Jesus spoke of “the one who conquers”. Be that one now, and look forward to the day that you won’t even be able to count those who are with you.

          From my heart,


© 2013 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Colossians 2:3
[2] Revelation 4:1
[3] Revelation 3:20
[4] Revelation 4:1
[5] Revelation 3:21
[6] Revelation 4:1
[7] Revelation 1
[8] Revelation 2-3
[9] Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26-28; 3:5, 12, 21
[10] Revelation 12:11
[11] Revelation 12 shows the red dragon’s hatred of the church, and the victory of the church against the red dragon.
[12] I John 5:4
[13] We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:19-20)
[14] “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
[15] Matthew 5:1-12
[16] Revelation 7:9-10

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