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Christ's Redemptive Nature - The Book of Revelation
Week 21, 2016
This “revelation of Jesus Christ” contains some of the most glorious descriptions of Him, His bride (the church), and the age to come. Its conclusion is probably the most encouraging message in the Scriptures about the future. However, the middle of this revelation predicts some of the darkest, most terrifying events in history, along with the antichrist and harlot church. Yet all are part of the “revelation of Jesus Christ.” Why is such evil included in this revelation of Jesus?
The “man of sin” personifies the sin of man—what we are without Christ. The deep darkness the church fell into during the Dark Ages is the kind of darkness we will all fall to if we leave Christ and join to the spirit of this “present evil age.” This happened to the church after becoming the official religion of the Roman Empire.
This was destined to happen. Jesus is called “the last Adam,” and His bride had to be tempted like the first Adam’s bride was tempted. The bride of Christ also fell, but the last Adam, Jesus, did not. Neither did He condemn His bride—He laid down His life to redeem her. He also had the power to restore her, and He does this now. His power of redemption is so great that He can take the worst harlot and turn her back into a spotless bride.
As we have begun to see in a general sense, the church fell to the Jezebel spirit that continually tried to subvert the church. She became a personification of that spirit for a time. As we also see in Revelation, the Lord gives her “time to repent.” It takes time to get free of this spirit, and the church to this day is not free of it, though progress is being made.
In a previous year we studied the biblical principle that to get to the Promised Land, Israel had to go through a wilderness that was the opposite of what had been promised. This trial brought out the worst in the people, but the best in some. 1 Corinthians 10 says that everything Israel went through in the wilderness is a message for us. The church, “spiritual Israel,” also goes through a wilderness to get to our Promised Land—the return of Christ and the setting up of His kingdom on earth.
Israel spent forty years in the wilderness, but the church has now been in this wilderness for nearly two thousand years. Like Israel, some of the worst has surfaced in the church during this period, to the point that a personification of the sin of man could sit in the temple of the Lord—and the temple thought that it was the Lord. Whether there is yet another fulfillment of this or not remains to be seen, but it has happened in history the way John foresaw and many early church fathers understood that it would.
Many things done by the church in the Middle Ages were exactly contrary to the nature of Christ. Until the church acknowledges this, the world will continue to think those things are the nature of the Christ we serve. They will continue rejecting Him and His church. The axiom that “those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it” has been well proven by the church as almost each generation falls into the same spiritual traps as the previous one. It is time to understand this and break the cycle. When that happens, we are ready to cross the Jordan River into our Promised Land.
As we examine the things done in the name of Christ in history, we can become so horrified that we may condemn the institutions remaining from this period. That would be a mistake. I encourage you to look at this as “us,” not “them.” We are no different than they were without His grace.
The testimony of history suggests that those who get this revelation and rise up to condemn the harlot church seem to fall to the same things. While acknowledging the church’s depth of sin, we must know that the depth of God’s grace released by the cross is greater. It not only redeems but also fully reconciles and restores. We must look at all these things through the redemptive purpose of Christ.
As deep as the world’s darkness was in the past, the darkness at the end of this age will be worse. However, we must keep in mind that as dark as it gets, it is not beyond the grace of God. He has already redeemed it, and He will reconcile and restore. He did not go to the cross to destroy the wicked but rather to save them. He is not coming back for vengeance, but for His inheritance—the nations.
When the Lord saw the evil that the world fell into, He did not condemn it—He laid down His life and redeemed it. This “revelation of Jesus Christ” is for the purpose of Christ being revealed in and through us. For this to happen, we too must look at even the worst sinners and willingly lay down our lives that they might be saved. We must look at evil and desire the redemption of those trapped in it. We must look at everything, even the church in history, redemptively—not with condemnation. We must learn to see even the worst as ourselves without grace—not thinking of ourselves as better than those caught in the grip of evil, but thankful for the grace and wanting to give others the same help we received.
We are taking time to carefully lay this foundation because as we go forward, we will be challenged by the depth of darkness revealed in church history, much of which still remains in our time. At the end of this age the church will be fully delivered, and the one forgiven much will love much. Those in some of the worst darkness can quickly pass in righteousness those who did not learn to love and redeem—and the lukewarm that did not keep growing in love.
Let us resolve now that we will recover the love we had for the Lord at first, and keep and grow in our love for Him and His people. We cannot overlook and excuse evil, but if His love is in us, we will look at all with love and redemption, regardless of their history or their present state.
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