Tuesday, October 24, 2006

An Essential Part of the Gospel

Revelation 14.6: Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth - to every nation, tribe, language and people.

Revelation 12-14 make up one vision which begins with the war of the dragon on the child Jesus and then the church and ends with the "new song" of victory that the people of God will sing in glory. After a description of the war which Satan will wage on the earth, especially against the church (Revelation 13) and a word of encouragement for the people of God (Revelation 14.1-5), John now sees an angel who would proclaim the eternal gospel.

We may ask - how did the proclamation of the gospel sound? What was said? Verse 7 the first angel said: Fear God and give him glory ... worship him. In verse 8 the second angel tells of the fallen Babylon - the kingdom described in Revelation 12-13, Satan's kingdom, will fall.

Most striking is verses 9-11 which speak of a warning of the coming judgment for those who have the mark of the beast. We read the angel talking about unbelievers: He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises forever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image or for anyone who receives the mark of his name.

3 points:
1. Part of the proclamation of the gospel is understanding the wrath that sinners are under and will experience if they do not fear God, give him glory and worship him through Jesus Christ alone. The gospel is incomplete without the mention of sin and wrath. While God is love, He is also angry and will punish willful sin and rebellion.

2. God's anger and wrath must be seen in the context of the wrath and anger of Satan and sinners alike against God. Revelation 12-13 make this clear. God does not judge a neutral people - they have the mark of the beast and seek to willingly follow Satan - and not worship the rightful Creator and King. God is angry and will punish a people who seek to rebel and hate God. God is righteous and just.

3. In saying all this, verses 6-11 are a warning to those who are still alive. In other words, Jesus gives opportunity to repent. We must, with compassion, humility, and love call sinners to repentance. How awful eternal hell is for the unbeliever. Our hearts need to be softened once again to the plight of the unbeliever and his/her rebellion towards God and when softened, we will seek to proclaim and warn and plead the whole gospel - Christ is the only answer.

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