CHRISTMAS TO COME
Copyright © 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All rights reserved.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
There was Christmas past, when the Lord Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem. There will be Christmas to come, when the Body of Christ is brought forth and caught up to the Throne of God.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” (Revelation 12:10-12)
The verses above that describe the victory to come are one of the greatest of all the passages of the Bible. They tell us of a giant step forward in the battle against evil. It is not the end of the battle against evil, but it is a major aspect of that continuing struggle between lies and the truth, lawlessness and lawfulness. The war between lies and the truth, and lawlessness and lawfulness, began when it came into the heart of Satan to usurp the place of the Father. The revolt of Absalom against King David, his father, reminds us of that awful scene in Heaven.
The very heavens were defiled by the rebellion of Satan and the angels who followed him. This rebellion came down into the earth and has affected the behavior of people ever since. To this day most people choose to trust in their own thinking and desires, even Christian people, rather than to commit their lives each day to the Lord Jesus Christ.
God had to give His own Son over to the death of the cross in order for an atonement (reconciliation) to be made for the rebellion. If God had not done this, all people would be separated from God for eternity, beginning with Adam and Eve.
The sanctuary in Heaven was polluted at that time, and was cleansed by the sprinkling of the slain Lamb of God. It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. (Hebrews 9:23-26)
Not just to forgive the sin, but to do away with sin! No sin whatever will be permitted in the world that is coming.
Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. (Daniel 9:24)
“To make an end of sins”! The heavens have been cleansed through the blood of Christ. So have the hearts of those who have put their faith in the blood of the cross. However, Satan is still active in the heavens and in the personalities of those who have been forgiven through the blood.
What then prevents the operation of Satan in the heavens and in the personalities of people who have received Christ? Why do lies and lawlessness still contaminate the heavens and God’s saints, both Jews and Gentiles, who have placed their trust in Christ?
In order to understand the answer to this question, we must understand the righteousness of God’s character. To the present hour, Satan is pointing out to God the unrighteous behavior of God’s people. Satan is saying to the Father that the Father cannot send Satan and his followers to the Lake of Fire unless He sends His own people to the Lake of Fire as well.
God is totally righteous. He must respond to the accusations of Satan. He cannot drive Satan from the heavens unless He drives His people from Heaven as well, if they are doing the works of Satan. Satan’s argument is correct, and God will not violate His own righteousness by behaving unjustly to Satan and Satan’s followers.
But hasn’t Christ paid the price for our reconciliation to God? Yes, He has. But His people still are bound with sinful desires and behavior.
Right here is the great lie of today’s preaching and teaching. God’s people are told that Christ has done it all for them. He has lived a perfectly righteous life and has paid on the cross the penalty for their sins. Therefore, the sins of the believers do not matter. This is how Divine grace is being presented, and it may prove to be the most destructive error ever to enter Christian thinking.
Michael and his angels have enough power to remove all sin and sinners from the Kingdom, leaving those who confess and forsake their sins shining in righteous personality and behavior.
The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. (Matthew 13:41-43)
But the Father has not as yet given them the authority to do so. What will be required if the Father is to issue the awful word to Michael? There needs to be saints who demonstrate by their behavior that they are worthy to inherit the Kingdom of God. The Spirit of God will bring them to full maturity in Christ, and issue authority and power to them. Then they can work at the task of removing sinful behavior from the remainder of mankind, that is to say, to install the Kingdom of God in Heaven and on the earth. It will be their responsibility to reconcile to God those of mankind who obey them.
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. (II Corinthians 5:18-20)
In the present hour, the Spirit of God is challenging us to press into Christ to the point our behavior satisfies the Father. When there is a company of “brothers,” in Heaven as well as on the earth, who attain to that maturity in Christ, God will inform Michael, and then Michael and his angels will drive Satan into the earth. In this way, the heavens will be cleansed. But the earth still will be in need of deliverance from the lies and lawlessness of Satan and Satan’s followers.
And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down — that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. (Revelation 13:7-9)
Michael and his angels received that strength because there were Christians in whom Christ had been born and who had thus been caught up to God and to His Throne. These saints are the Body of Christ. Their destiny is to govern all the nations of the earth with an iron scepter.
What then will be the result of Satan and his angels being driven from their place in Heaven?
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ.”
The casting down of Satan from his place in heaven is salvation, the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ. For those who dwell in Heaven, this indeed is Christmas to come.
For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.
We wrestle against wicked lords in the heavens who resist every effort we make to lead a righteous life. When they can deceive us into stumbling, they rejoice exceedingly as they point out this fact to the Father. But notice:
They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.
Our goal is to overcome Satan. We cannot overcome Satan by our own righteousness. All the platitudes of philosophers and all the principles presented by religious teachers are not sufficient to give us victory over Satan. We must have an unshakeable faith in the blood of Jesus Christ.
The testimony of the “brothers” must conform to the Scriptures. God has given us numerous promises in His Word. These promises provide us with the wisdom and strength we will need during the coming days of moral and physical chaos in the United States and other countries.
Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. (Psalm 37:1)
If we fret and complain about the wickedness taking place today in our world, Satan will overcome us. We have been commanded to rejoice in the Lord always. We have been urged to think about things that are pure and holy. If we do not, we cannot overcome the accuser of the brothers.
Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. (Psalm 125:1)
If we keep our trust in the Lord throughout the coming days of rebellion and moral filth, our testimony will be such that Satan will be overcome. The Father will take note of our faith and will rejoice.
We must not love our own lives, even to the point of death, if we are to overcome the accuser of the brothers. This third aspect of overcoming may be the most important of all.
The original problem was disobedience to the Father. Satan chose to elevate himself above God instead of loving and obeying God. It is true to the present hour. Only a small minority of Earth’s people appear to place God’s will above their own. This is true even of Christian people on the earth, and perhaps also of those who are in Heaven. After all, sin originated in Heaven around the Throne of God.
Notice the statement of the Apostle Paul:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
To be crucified with Christ means that we have given over our original adamic personalities to crucifixion. This means that we are willing to suffer many years during which our most intense desires may be deferred. The issue really is simple: Are we going to live our own lives, even our “Christian” lives, as we see fit? Or are we going to present to Christ every aspect of our being and doing, from the greatest activity to the smallest detail? Human beings think, speak, and act. We can perform these three functions according to our own will, wisdom, and talents, or we can commit every thought, word, and action to Christ.
Shall we live by the Life of the living Christ? Or shall we live by our own life? This is a decision each of us must make. If we choose to live our own life, no matter how religious, we cannot possibly overcome the accuser of the brothers. Only Christ can overcome the accuser. When we are living with our thinking, speaking, and acting in God’s will, the grace of Christ in us can overcome the accuser.
Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.
For the heavens, the removal of Satan to the earth is Christmas to come, we might say. Salvation, power, and the Kingdom of God have come. God’s will now is being done in Heaven.
Notice that the solution has come from saints, some of whom are living in the earth. There must be an interaction between earth and Heaven in order for sin to be overcome. “Whatever we bind on the earth is bound in Heaven,” Jesus proclaimed. “When God’s will is done in Heaven, then it can be done on the earth.” This is the coming of the Kingdom of God, isn’t it? “Your will be done on the earth as it is in Heaven.”
Today, the problem is the performing of God’s will in the whole earth. An angry Satan will be hurled down to the earth and the sea — perhaps referring to the “sea” of mankind. As we read the accounts of today’s events in the earth, we might think that Satan already is here. It is true that Satan moves among the people of today with lies and lawlessness. But the moral swamp of today cannot be compared with what the earth will be like when Satan actually is in residence here.
I believe we can gather, from what I have written, that we who have received Christ have a responsibility to all people. We can live our own lives, trusting in our self-righteousness. We may fret and complain about the lying and lawlessness that we see around us, not giving glory to the One who causes all things to work together for good to those who are called according to His purpose in Christ. We can maintain our own religious life instead of choosing to live by the Life of Christ.
Or we can recognize that the creation is waiting for the giant step forward in the war against evil, the casting down of Satan and his angels to the earth. We can set ourselves to be one of those who overcome the accuser.
If we overcome the accuser, he will be thrown into the earth. But then Christ and His overcoming saints will descend from Heaven and imprison Antichrist and the False Prophet in the Lake of Fire, and Satan himself in the bottomless pit.
This still is not the end of lying and lawlessness. We read in Revelation about the rebellion at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age. But it is, as I said, a massive victory in the war against evil.
So let each one of us resolve to be one of the “brothers” who sacrifice our own lives so that the accuser may be forced down into the earth, there to await his incarceration in the Bottomless Pit. This will be our Christmas gift to mankind.
The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15)
(“Christmas to Come”, 3115-1, proofed 20211027)