“To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.” Revelation 21:6b-7
Church history is marred with so much brokenness. From the Crusades of the 11th-13th centuries to current day scandals, it is clear that much happens in the name of Jesus that is not in keeping with Jesus. Unfortunately, this becomes a false witness to many about who Jesus is. There are times when the actions of people in the church are clearly not in keeping with Jesus and these do great harm. However, there is more illusive harm that does even greater damage. It is when actions are believed to be good and right and deemed so out of worldly logic rather than Christlike faith.
For example, the call to “conquer” appears repeatedly in the book of Revelation. As such, it plays a central role in the letter. However, for reasons too many to even touch in this blog post, people get a very wrong idea of what Revelation has in mind with this word. Many, like those Crusaders of centuries ago, believe this conquering is to be a show of forceful violence—a literal conquering of those who oppose them. But this is far from the case. As a matter of fact, it could not be farther. How, might I ask, from a letter inspired by and written about the one who by being crucified conquered death itself, do we arrive at the conclusion that Jesus calls his people to conquer in such a manner? That, my friends, is closer to the anti-christ than to Christ. We must realize we are called to conquer like Jesus conquers.
“And one of the elders said to me, ‘Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals. Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders'” (Rev 5:5-6a). Jesus’ lion-like conquering is fulfilled through his being a slaughtered Lamb. He devours death by dying. It is in being slaughtered that he is revealed a conqueror through his resurrection. This same conquering is what Revelation has in mind for the church. “And they [the faithful] have conquered him [Satan the accuser] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death” (Rev 12:11) “By the blood of the Lamb… even unto death.” Their conquering was not a show of force opposing their accusers, but a submission to death in keeping with Jesus’. What is more is that this willingness to die “by the blood of the Lamb” becomes not only their victory, but also a witness to the nations, thus leading to repentance. Just as false witnessing leads people to reject Jesus, true witnessing to Jesus by his blood unto death leads to faith (Rev 11:7-13). Remember, “our battle is not against flesh and blood…” (Eph 6:12a).
Please feel free to join us this Saturday as we discuss how to Conquer Like the Lamb. ~Pastor Cole