Simple Faith for Complex Times

revelation.pngAn exposition of Revelation 13:1-18. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, September 28, 2008.

It seems like a reasonable question to me. The kind of question that one would naturally ask given the context in which we live. “If Christ has finished his redemptive work and if he has conquered – why is the world in such a mess?” “If Satan has been defeated – how does he exercise so much power? Why does it appear that he is having a field day?” Doesn’t that seem to be a legitimate question? If what the Bible teaches and what we believe is true – why does there appear to be such a struggle between good and evil between righteousness and unrighteousness? The Bible is clear God is the creator of all things. That includes the devil. Satan and God are not equal powers struggling to gain mastery of the universe. God is the eternal, infinite, uncreated one. Satan is a created, finite creature. Thus it is not a “fair” fight. God is in control of all things. Everything is held together by the power of His might. But life doesn’t always reflect that – does it? There are those times when it seems that God has little or no control. There are those moments when you think He is not even paying attention.

What are you supposed to do when living righteously doesn’t “pay off”? How are you to live when your faith seems to create problems rather than guarantee peace? When unrighteousness runs rampant and godlessness prevails what then? The churches of Asia Minor at the close of the first century found themselves in great distress. Because of their faithfulness to Christ and their refusal to acknowledge Caesar as Lord they were stripped of their possessions, lost jobs, were imprisoned, tortured, tormented and martyred. The more faithful they were – the more they suffered. There was no end in sight Rome marched on and everything in their world said, “Give up.” But the Lord of the church had something to say to those struggling saints then and to unsteady believers now. “Things are not as they seem. Hold on. Victory is sure. Righteousness will prevail and I’m still in charge.” Our text this morning is found in Revelation chapter 13.

Text: Revelation 13:1-18

There are two great threats to the people of God – brute external force that seeks to conform us to the ways of this world and subtle deception that seeks to woo us from the worship of the True and Living God to the worship of that great pretender – the red dragon, the old serpent – Satan who is called the devil. The thirteenth chapter serves to remind us that…

Thesis: In a world of increasing hostility and mounting unrighteousness the people of God endure the most difficult hardships and crushing oppression by simple faith and trust.

By simple I do not mean easy. I mean it is not complicated or complex. The choice is clear. The options are distinct. Endurance and eventual triumph demands that I take God at His word and put my trust in Him. I want to point out just two things.

  1. The people of God do not cower before the show of brute force and overwhelming strength knowing God’s Sovereign purpose and seeing His providential hand. (13:1-10)
  2. The people of God do not fall victim to powerful deception and lying signs because they know the truth of God in Christ. (13:11-18)

The point is Satan and his horde are determined to destroy the work of God on the earth and bring an end to God’s people but we will endure the most overwhelming calamity and stand our ground in the face of unbridled wickedness. Hold on dear saint. Stand firm uncertain believer the Lamb is victorious and we will overcome.

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