Summary: The resurrection makes life worth living -- and leaving!
DELIVER US FROM EVIL: THE HOPE OF THE RESURRECTION
Sermon Objective: The Resurrection makes life worth living … and leaving.
Easter Sunday, as exhilarating as it is, has, shall I say a “negative side-effect” that we must address. If we are not careful we begin to live and think as if Easter happens once a year and then we move on to something else. But Easter is NOT one day … Easter Sunday is intended to be everyday of our lives. From the resurrection onward we are expected to live our lives, as the disciples did , it light of its reality and power.
The Resurrection is the church’s Motivation and Message.
Nothing is ever the same after the resurrection becomes a reality in you.
Not only that, but the whole book of The Revelation (the entire New Testament actually) is anchored to the reality of the resurrected Jesus and the hope of the resurrection of the saints. It changes everything!
Would you to say that with me? “THE RESURRECTION CHANGES EVERYTHING!”
John writes: Rev. 14:13 Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”
For the last few months I have been preaching through chapters 12 and 13 of The Revelation. As you have undoubtedly noticed I have focused much of this time on the nature, intention, and destiny of evil. It is not because I am on a “devil under every rock” kick but because that is the turn the text has taken. It is an important truth the be grappled with if we are to be followers of Christ and / or understand The Revelation.
The existence and nature of evil is one of the underground streams that run through this book. In fact, it is one of the underground streams that run through the entire narrative of the Bible. From the Fall (Genesis 2-3) to the restoration of humankind and earth (Rev. 21-22) evil is being confronted and solved. What we discover in the Revelation mirrors what we discover in the remainder of the Bible; that evil is:
(1) Corporate – that is indeed can infest institutions and even governments.
(2) Systemic – that evil is learned and can be passed down from generation to generation unless it is checked by good.
(3) Personal – the reason evil can exist in other dimensions or expressions is because, as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said, “the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being” (The Gulag Archipelago, 1973).
The Revelation stresses the danger of over-estimating or under-estimating evil.
Danger of over-estimating
TO OVER-ESTIMATE EVIL MAKES IT SOVEREIGN … dare I say even divine. It creates a dualism that asserts evil to be equal with God and suggests there is a war between the two to determine who will win. It attributes divine characteristics to evil – characteristics like
• Unlimited power
• The ability to create or control creation
• The power to resurrect the dead
The Bible never gives such attributes to anyone but the Creator Himself. Anything akin to it (either in this book or the entire Bible) is actually seen as counterfeit or deceptive trickery.
The Revelation clearly declares that there is only ONE Sovereign and that this Sovereign God permits evil (I cannot fully explain why or how) or, at least, allows it. As you may remember from my sermon on the “Sovereignty of God in the Revelation”, the use of the term “edothe” (“It was given”) is intended to communicate this very truth.
God has no rival!
Evil never wins or even comes close to winning over good in the Revelation. The Bible often uses the concept of an “inaugurated eschatology” (already but not yet) to describe evil’s defeat and destiny. IN FACT, THERE IS A SPECIFIC HISTORICAL EVENT THAT REFRAMES EVIL and proves it has already been conquered.
Danger of under-estimating
TO UNDER-ESTIMATE EVIL CREATES A PRESCRIPTION FOR DISASTER TOO.
• It fails to equip God’s people to understand and withstand evil’s attack.
• It encourages a naiveté where we “whistle as we pass the grave yard” as if ruin, pain, injustice, oppression, corruption, greed, and their ilk are simply figments of the imagination.
• It facilitates false doctrines akin to “if we had more faith evil things would not happen us.”
If you wish to have a real and workable faith you must come to grips with the fact that evil is real; that it is mean, it is random, and it does cause genuine heart ache and destruction even for those who call themselves Christians.
Under-estimating evil fails to take the reality of human suffering, persecution, and such seriously. Which means it also fails to take God’s solution to evil seriously. At first glimpse it looks as if under-estimating evil holds the cross and resurrection in higher esteem (i.e., evil is powerless); but in reality it down-plays the work of God on the cross and in the resurrection by failing to grasp the depth of effort and love God underwent to break the penalty and power of evil.