Friday, June 26, 2015

Pastoral Ponderings ~ Absolute Security in Today’s Absolutely Insecure World

          No matter what happens in the world today, and no matter how much threat and action is expressed against Jesus’ brothers, here is how my Heavenly Father ministered hope to my heart today. It began with jigsaw puzzle pieces coming to mind one-by-one, and ended with such a glorious picture of God’s unfailing plans and purposes for our good and his glory, that it is literally impossible for God’s enemies to succeed, or for God to fail.

Puzzle Piece One

Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer.[1]

          No matter what else happens in history, the world will hear story after story of the church of Jesus Christ charging out through the pages of history and turning lost and broken sinners into “more than conquerors through him who loved us.”[2]While the news stories of death and destruction increase, there are also many stories of people turning to Jesus Christ in genuine faith as they see the life that is in God’s Son.

Puzzle Piece Two

18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.[3]

          The church Jesus is building will prevail. The church Jesus is building does not require buildings, so it isn’t a defeat when buildings are taken away. We aren’t here to establish denominations, so it isn’t going to hinder Jesus’ church when a denomination turns away from God. The church doesn’t have any other name, so the names of Christian groups that come and go does not mean the church comes and goes. The church doesn’t have earthly foundations, but it moves with the Spirit who blows wherever he wishes,[4] so it is no surprise that the church is able to move and grow around the earth, gathering people from certain places in one generation, and moving on to gather people from other nations in other generations.
          Because Jesus is the one building his own church, and the gates of hell “shall not prevail against it,” it will grow as this living, spiritual, body of people who are redeemed by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, and will one day stand around the throne of God in glory,[5] shining back to God the glory of his work in us.

Puzzle Piece Three

9 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, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”[6]
          Jesus’ church will end up standing before the throne of the living God, right where that throne is, with the church right where we should be. No one will move God’s throne, or remove God from his throne. No one will stop the church that Jesus is building from saving souls from every nation, from all the tribes and peoples and languages of the earth.
          This glorious picture of the multitude of people who are redeemed out of every nation and people and group we could imagine tells us that Satan is thoroughly defeated in his attempt to keep God from having a people in the image and likeness of Jesus Christ.[7] Satan lured Eve into being like him, and thinking like him, and acting like him, and so she helped Adam bring sin into the world.[8] For all intents and purposes, Satan thought he had destroyed God’s work of making a people in his own image and likeness.
          Left that way, with Satan bringing all of humanity into sin beginning with the first two people God created, we would have had a world in which someone had been victorious over God. God had a will about something, but Satan appeared to thwart God’s will. God set out to do something, but Satan made it impossible for God to have what he set out to do.
          One reason that Scripture gives such beautiful details of God working out the plan of salvation before he began to create the world,[9] was to reveal to us that God had Satan defeated before the beginning of time. God had a plan to outsmart Satan’s attempt to outsmart God, and now that plan of salvation from God rings out to every tribe and nation, bringing people into the salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ, resulting in this great and glorious multitude surrounding the throne with the thankful song that salvation belongs to God and the Lamb. Salvation comes from the throne of God, through the Lamb who stands before the throne, looking as though he had been slain,[10] opening the seven seals until all the will of God is accomplished.[11]
          While Satan has had great success in destroying lives, he has not defeated God. While God has allowed the world to see how evil Satan is, and to let Satan vent his full fury against God in every way imaginable,[12] God glorifies himself by showing that he has saved completely every single person who comes to him through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus receives every person who is given to him by the Father. Everyone who is appointed by God to receive and experience eternal life receives and experiences eternal life because Satan cannot win against God.[13]

The Glorious Picture

          This is the eternal hope of the believer in Jesus Christ. While we may cringe with grief and confusion at the evils Satan is able to perpetrate in the world, we see this glorious picture of God fulfilling all his plans and purposes in Jesus Christ. If God has saved us at all, he has saved us forever. If we have come to God by faith in Jesus Christ, we will one-day stand before God in the image and likeness of his Son.
          God “who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ,”[14]and there is nothing Satan can do to stop him. God who is “able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,”[15]is able to fulfill all his plans, purposes, and promises, no matter how hard Satan works to stop him.
          Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”[16]This means that the lost and spiritually dead people who are Jesus’ lost sheep will hear Jesus’ voice when he calls them into his salvation. They will come to Jesus through the power of the gospel. They will be saved. Jesus will take them into his hands forever. No one will ever snatch us away from him. No matter how much Satan is able to damage and demoralize churches and Christians, he cannot take us away from our Savior. Ever!
          So, Jesus adds why it is impossible for Satan to succeed in stealing sheep from the flock of God. He says, “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.”[17]The Father is greater than Satan, and all Satan’s minions, so when the Father has given us to his Son, working to make his Son the firstborn among many brothers,[18]he is greater than all, so no one is able to snatch us out of the Father’s hand.
          Satan gave it his best shot to stop God from having a people in the image and likeness of his Son, and God has completely defeated him. “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him (Jesus Christ).”[19]This is why Jesus, “is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”[20]
          This is also why God “is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy.”[21]He is able. Satan cannot stop God who sits on the highest throne, who has the greatest name, who wields unstoppable power, because God is able to save those who come near to him through Jesus Christ, and he will fulfill his plan of having those people in his own image and likeness forever.
          When we see that glorious picture of the “great multitude that no one could number,” crying out before the throne of God, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” we understand why God’s servant would conclude, “to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”[22] God’s children can declare such blessed news because it is the way things will be when God decides enough is enough.
          So, yes, even in today’s awful tragedies, with the world flexing its muscles under Satan’s direction and deception, there is a heavenly Father who sits on the throne, and a Lamb looking as though he had been slain standing fully alive before the throne of his Father. There is a scroll of divine will that cannot be opened by anyone except the Son of God who was slain. As he opens each of the seals on the scroll, God’s judgment unfolds upon the world in increments of grace, giving people time to repent and leave the deadly folly of Satan’s will, his work, and his ways.
          When all is said and done, the trumpets are blown, the bowls of wrath are poured out, there will be this “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!”
          Even while we hear further stories of the heartbreaking tragedies, torture, and death perpetrated against God’s people, the rest of the story is that God himself is adding to that joyful multitude that will stand around the throne in full and complete joy over the salvation they have received in the Lord Jesus Christ.
          There is still time to settle that we will be in that multitude.

© 2015 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] Revelation 6:1-2
[2] Romans 8:37
[3] Matthew 16:18
[4] John 3:5-8
[5] Romans 8:28-30 shows this glorious work of God from its foundation in eternity, its present work of working everything for good, and its promised completion when we are fully conformed to the image of our Lord Jesus Christ, glorified in his glory.
[6] Revelation 7:9-10
[7] Genesis 1:26-27
[8] Genesis 3
[9] Ephesians 1:3-14 is one such example.
[10] Revelation 5:6
[11] Revelation 5:7-14
[12] Revelation 12:12
[13] Acts 13:48
[14] Philippians 1:6
[15] Ephesians 3:20
[16] John 10:27-28
[17] John 10:29
[18] Romans 8:29
[19] Colossians 2:15
[20] Hebrews 7:25
[21] Jude 1:24
[22] Jude 1:25

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