AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH January 15, 2012
A Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
and the Lord Jesus Christ without Compromise by Faith
THE PATH OF PILGRIMAGE IN CHRIST THE CONQUEROR
THE SITE AND THE SURGE FOR CONQUEST
In Revelation 6:2 we find a chapter of conquest: "And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given to him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer."
This follows in Revelation 5 such a testimony to the Lamb of God, the sacrificial Saviour, so great that the symbolic representatives of the people of Christ declare this, amid the creation of God:
"You have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priest to our God; and we shall reign on the earth. "
And again, it is no mere power invested, for it is priority attested, so the ten thousands around the throne of God in the vision are heard declaring of Christ Jesus:
is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom,
and strength and honour and glory and blessing."
Why ? Love. How ? blood. When ? through eternal purity as God, sent to save as man, falling upon sin to deliver, felled by its sentence now on Himself, his very body risen to show it, sending His Spirit that we might know it (John 16: 5 -17:1-3, Titus 2-3, Philippians 2:1-10, Micah 5:1-3, Isaiah 48:15ff.).
All creation is heard attesting His glory, and it proceeds: "Blessing and honour and glory and power, be to Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever!" From this base, we plunge into Chapter 6. In continuity with the theme in Ch. 5, one of victory and triumph, the re-investment with glory of the vindicated Redeemer, and the people there made kings and priests, centred in Christ in the heart of God, then we come to this white horse of Revelation 6.
"Come and see!" comes a participatory voice. It is then that we find as in 6:1, just what was seen. It was the white horse, given a bow for impact and a crown for place, and it is this lively emblem, this humanly directed abiding galloper which goes forth "conquering and to conquer." In the context (and the chapter divisions are humanly added divisions for ease of comprehension, so that it is all one here), the white stands for washed, the redeemed kings and priests made so to God, in Christ their sponsor, Saviour and Leader. The horse itself attests speed of coverage and intent, purpose and impact, while the conquest is what relates to THE KING who is worthy to receive blessing and honour and glory and power, forever and ever.
Is this white horse thrust of Revelation 6, then, a territorial victory, and is the Lamb transmorphed into a worldling, making a come-back for regal power while the gospel goads the earth ? To ask is to answer. It is when this Age is over, that God will rule the earth with that power which the preceding liberty makes proper; but not yet (Acts 1:6-8). This is the Gospel Age where mercy is paramount (John 3:17), for preaching His word and teaching to keep ALL His commandments (Matthew 28:19-20), from which so many ostensibly His, now resile, as foretold.
What then is it but a spiritual victory! What would it mean ? This: that there would be an immense and intensive, a fast and glorious thrust of this self-same Gospel and these same commands for living which would come upon this world, so that instead of Christ and His name being a thing of history, a thingummy of the past, an event as we pass on, it would lead to national and international, personal and popular thrusts so great that there would be an escalation from one site of impact to another, one victory leading to another at the spiritual level. It would rise; its thrust would overcome: the spiritual territory of the Gospel would surge into sight and vast arrays of victorious presentation and saved people would be found in an irresistible overcoming, attesting Christ in the earth.
That happened, so that the message was not only consolidated even in Jerusalem (before the predicted ruin of Matthew 24:1ff. came), but in those intervening 40 or so years of earlier apostolic dynamic, and then past the city's fall, it would surge into Europe until the entire Roman Empire, in line with this "conquering and to conquer" in the name of this puny Galilean as some thought, would formally attest Christ the Lord and Saviour. It was paralleled in the 16th to the 20th centuries in Britain, that Protestant Empire which avoided the perils of Romanism (SMR pp. 911ff., 1032-1088H), its subversive infiltration and its petty tyrannies of papal self-exaltation contrary to Matthew 23:8-10 to an entirety. Indeed, many were the vast national impacts, whether in due course, in Holland or Sweden, Finland or Germany, or the USA or Canada, whether in insurgent revivals in the 18th and 19th centuries, or in earlier thrusts into the very hearts of those nations.
Nor were these all. Places like France and Czechoslovakia for example, were to have considerable works of Gospel substance, though these in no small measure were made into scorched earth by the political and Romanist powers, the lax luxury of exploitation and counterfeit attesting darker interests at war with these testimonials galloping their way on. Accordingly, the Huguenots in and from France, becoming something of a national export, lowered the power of that nation, while Moravians attested further in their movements a love for the crux of the cross.
It was no pleasant excursion however. The words of Christ still included many like these to follow.
"If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me," as in Matthew 16:24. Note the "deny himself". This is not triumphalist journey of arrogant attainment and subjugation in the world (Mathew 20:25-28, Luke 22:25-30), even if the horror of the papal dynasty in Rome made it so for their part, for as Christ declared, "the prince of this world is coming and he has nothing in Me!" (John 14: 30).
In Revelation 13, we see that this is in due course shown in two beasts, the international one and the religious one, the one to be worshipped and the one to incite to worship. Thus the two are to collude, the lustful lord and the propagandist for him, using religion not only to attest that impostor, but to invest him with power, an outcome given a prelude of attrition, in the Investiture Contest in the Middle Ages, when pope and Emperor played power politics against each other in efforts to be supreme. There is to come, however, a final resumption of the interplay; but this time, the imperial being firmly established, the religious will be merely a fraudulent addition, seeking to bend the bent in man's mind for worship, properly given to his Creator-Redeemer, till it snaps in submission to worship of the Beast and its leader (Revelation 13:1-16), a vicious perversion of spirit.
That is part of the fight, the spiritual fight; for as God acts, so the devil seeks to infiltrate, to react, to reach up for glory, having been cast out of heaven (Revelation 12), to earth from which he seeks new summitries of passion and power till his final crushing as in Revelation 19-20. Never was there a more blatant 'sleeper' than he, who deceives whole nations, while suppressing his identity, just as there have been those in the highest places in secret service associations in the nations, who have in fact been SO secret, that they came near to ruling them, though utterly against them. Being HIDDEN is part of the plan of devilry, so that the presence is not realised, though the works of deception and loss of agents are evident enough.
Reaction there certainly is and has been, but it is "conquering and to conquer" that the white horse goes, and myriads are won by these crusades of the cross of Christ, these attestations of His victory over death and desire, to bring about a new nation entirely, a spiritual people, one of priests and kings, since in Christ they have immediate access to the God of all glory, power and particularity (Ephesians 2:17-22, Hebrews 4:14-16).
THE TYPE OF CONQUEST
This, then, is a victory of many facets, but its nature is spiritual, though its implications and consequences are vast on all sides. Nevertheless, it is not victory for personal swagger, but quite to the contrary, these victors deny themselves. How do you do that ? It is not easy, since it is a battle with the very nature of what has been oneself.
WORD TWO, A COMPOSITE
The impact of sin, culture, political programming, educational folly has been vast. When therefore, one is awakened to spiritual reality, there is a self, a nature, an 'old man' as Paul names it (Ephesians 4:22, Colossians 3:9-10, ), who has to be put off in constant correction and cleansing, and in principle IS already discarded, as these biblical passages, in that order, attest. The 'new man' has to be put on, or if seen as one's garb already, then renewed.
Like a plant ready to be watered (if it could object), but now acquiescent to all of this, it is fertilised and pruned, yes and placed where desired; and it is one planted "by the Father" as in Matthew 15:13. Thus one has to "deny" one's very self, however misused one might have been, by brambles and weeds, false fertilisers and gloomy overhead from former wrong placement, or however crudely some might seek to intervene by temptation, resisted with all Christ's own wisdom and keeping power in view and in mind as one waits on the Lord. To Him is all power being given, and against Him there is no effectual impediment (John 10:9,27-28, Ephesians 1:11, II Timothy 1:8-12, Romans 8:29ff.).
IN these conquests then, there is victory over the 'old man', which being a war (as in Galatians 5:17-24), involves sacrifice and effort; yet this is not in one's own strength, for this can be subverted by sin. Rather, it is in His who has overcome and in whom is the power for this victory (Romans 7 leading to Romans 8:1-10, I John 5:1-14). If sin fells you, you must fall as one having an accident, to find His victory, never swaggering. You have likewise to "take up your cross", which of course is not the cross of Christ's redemption, since only He could bear that (Colossians 1:22). Indeed it is by Him AS crucified that one is crucified to the world and the world to oneself as a Christian (Galatians 6:14), and it is He only who is the ransom (Matthew 20:28, Hebrews 7-10), bringing eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12), by one offering covering for ever (Hebrews 10:10-14).
What then do you DO in this respect ? It is this. TO everyone who is a Christian, there is a place accorded, a site for non-surrender to subversion, for victorious attestation of Christ, for living in God, and whether it be in teaching or preaching or administration or brotherly kindness or healing or prayerful prevailing, and whether it be in wealth or comparative poverty, in privation or in privilege, in tempting power structures as with Daniel, or in imprisonment as with Joseph, it involves difficulties of one kind or another. Incredible as it may at first seem, life 'at the top' in terms of civil power or privilege can be almost harder than that in humbler positions, since the essence of the thing can be a perpetual problem needing constant vigilance, as we have seen in the case of Nehemiah; and big-headedness and little-heartedness are constant enemies!
Yet though they fight against the Christian, they will not prevail against him (as exhibited in Jeremiah's call - Jeremiah 1:19, cf. Ezekiel 2:6ff.), for each of God's adopted children (Ephesians 1) is "sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory." God is most zealous for what He has purchased at such cost, just as He removes fraud and equivocation, Balaam-esque intrusion, preserving His own from such devious self-promotion and self-deceit.
Then amid this composite SECOND WORD showing the reality of the suffering and the discipline of discipleship, but also its joy, you have also, said Christ, to "follow" Him.
THE PARTICULARITY OF CONQUEST
How can this be ? In John 12:26, we read: "If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honour."This followed an application by some Greeks to "see Jesus" (John 12:22), and this brought forth some items for recognition, for the sight of Jesus is not primarily of a physical format. First, in answering this request, He declared this: "the hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified," John 12:23.
In other words, to the point here, seeing Christ, is not going to exclude the torture, the kind of barbarities He suffered, the false religionists and the political harassment. All this was to come (John 14:30), and Christ made it clear that it was part of the vision of truth to realise these thrusts of evil power and Christ's victory over them, through meekness and sacrifice trouncing the sin which they represented, and to observe and realise how it was done and for whom and why!
HOW was He about to be glorified ? It was to happen in two chief ways.
It was in
1) His glorious fulfilment of the whole historic and
2) His testimonially elegant, simple bodily resurrection
Indeed, this being glorified, on the part of the Son of Man, to which Christ in John 12 referred, included the entire follow on from that, just as Revelation 5 exhibits its basis in a kind of orchestration of praise. Christ went on, as we see in John 12:24, to indicate that as He for ransom would die, so those ransomed by Him would die to the old man, to their former way of life, indeed to the very heart of their old natures, being invested by the power of God with a grand and ordered life, irruptive and challenging, bursting with a new productivity. What do you DO then ? Enlist, volunteer (Psalm 110), repent into regeneration, trust Him for life eternal (John 4:14, 7:37, Galatians 6:14).
Next week, Lord willing, we shall look into the personal particularities and the abiding realities together in their mutual involvement, at dramatic dealings and the high supervision from the Lord.