Sermon Overview & Prayer: "Assured and Undaunted"

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Revelation 20:1-6 – PRAYER POINTS
Assured and Undaunted - Jeff Purswell
These written prayers are intended to fuel your meditation on this passage and your enjoyment of God in prayer.

“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while. Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also, I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.”

Revelation 20:1-6

A Christian will be undaunted when he knows his cause is glorious, and his future is secure.

As those who forever belong to Christ—our cause is glorious, our future secure. Untouchable. Undaunted.

PRAYER: Father, we know that we are inclined to think of life only in the present. Remind us that our great salvation began in eternity past and will continue into eternity future. May such hope strengthen, comfort, and sustain us in this brief life as we await eternal glory!

So, all 3 of these battles appear to be the same battle, viewed from different angles, bringing out different truths for John’s readers. That’s how the book works – it’s not a sequential narrative of events like a history book that maps on to the headlines with mathematical precision. It’s a cycle of visions that reveal to us ultimate realities, the true nature of the world, the true identity of the church and its enemies, and the Savior who is ruling over it all. If this is the case, then we shouldn’t read ch. 20 as following ch. 19 chronologically. The vision reaches back into time, to a decisive moment in salvation history. John 12 – the hinge of the book – the very moment Jesus realized, “My hour has come”, the hour of His sacrifice, the moment for the cross, had arrived. Paul stresses this triumph over Satan at the cross in Col 2: “He disarmed the rulers & authorities & put them to open shame, by triumphing over them.” Something powerful happened in Christ’s death & resurrection: spiritual powers were defeated, and Satan was bound.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for bringing clarity to what is too often viewed as cosmic chaos. Thank you for delivering us from a preoccupation with dates, and times, and places, and personalities. Holy Spirit, please remind us again and again of the profound and powerful simplicity that the Christ who came, conquering sin and death, bringing salvation and life to all who would believe, is coming again to complete all that he began!

These verses aren’t given to us to fascinate us about end-times or argue for a “millennial position”. They’re given to us to encourage us, to remind us – You’re part of something glorious! We have the privilege to live in that era of salvation-history where God is gathering His elect. Our salvation from sin sweeps us up into a cause–a divine mission that will not fail, because Christ has triumphed over sin & Satan. He has “bound the strong man” and He will build His church, and the gates of Hell itself will not prevail against it. That’s the message of this first vision: All the raging of Satan cannot thwart the saving purposes of God through Christ. Assured of that, you & I can be undaunted as we serve our Savior in His great cause.

PRAYER: Lord God, help us to guard our hearts and minds from drawing conclusions about our future from the news, from current events, from hostility to the gospel, or from distorted interpretations of Scripture. Guide us into the truth of who you are; of what you’ve done, are doing, and will do; and that all authority in heaven and on earth is given to you. There is none greater, more powerful, or more glorious!

Here is the other major debate in this text: Is this a physical resurrection to an earthy reign with Christ, during a 1000-year period on the earth with unbelievers still alive in un-glorified bodies before the Final Judgment? Or is this a “spiritual” coming to life, and a reigning with Christ in heaven, during the church age – a participation in Christ that brings the blessings of living and reigning with Him?

A few factors point me to a “spiritual resurrection.” First—if this were physical, then this resurrection would be separated from the non-believers’ resurrection by a thousand years (or a very long period of time). But Scripture never speaks that way. It always portrays the final resurrection as part of a cluster—a constellation of end-time events that accompany Christ’s return, the resurrection of the dead, final judgment, inauguration of the new heavens & new earth—the arrival of Jesus sweeps them all in! When Christ appears—there won’t be any questions, and it won’t be complicated. He will abolish all rule & power & authority, & reign, unchallenged, forevermore. That is the New Testament hope...our hope.

PRAYER: Father, as we read your Word, help us to see that in Christ’s first coming – in his death, resurrection, and ascension – he brought his life, his rule, and his reign to all mankind. And help us to see as well, that upon Christ’s return, all will be victoriously completed – not in degrees or stages or phases – but in one all-conquering completion of our glorious salvation!  May this bring a peace-filled anticipation to our souls!

That’s what this vision ends with – joy! The most blessed condition, the most happy condition, the ultimate experience in life, is to share in the “first resurrection” – to find, upon one’s passing from this life, new spiritual resurrection life in the presence of Christ.

A more glorious future is impossible to imagine! This is what awaits those who know, and love, and trust Christ. And here’s what else is true: we’ve been joined to the One who holds all authority and all history in His hand. Our destiny is utterly secure. And anything we face in this life – the worst that the world & the Devil can throw at us – is only a path to a glorious future. And no power, no threat, no adversary, no tragedy, or heartbreak, can defeat you.

Knowing our cause is glorious, and our future secure – that’s what makes an undaunted Christian whose life radiates with joy and hope—to the glory of Christ.

PRAYER: Father, as we await that day – the return of our Lord and Savior, our all-conquering King – help us to live this day with faith and hope and joy and faithfulness! And please alert us to opportunities to share with others, the realities of eternity – reward and glory or wrath and judgment.  May this advent season prompt conversations about the glory of his coming again!

 

OVERVIEW OF THE SERMON:
Like the whole book of Revelation, Revelation 20:1-6 helps us see reality more clearly. First, these verses remind us that the great dragon has been bound and defeated. Because Satan is defeated and his power to deceive the nations is broken, the glorious cause of the gospel cannot be stopped. Second, we are reminded that faithful followers of Christ have a secure and joyful future of reigning with Christ in heaven.  Therefore, in a world opposed to Christ, Christians can be undaunted because their cause is glorious and their future is sure.  

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  1. There are two contrasting visions in Revelation 20:1-6. What are these two visions about and where did Jeff locate these visions within history? 
  2. In the sermon, we were reminded that we live in a world and culture that is opposed to the gospel and hostile to Christ. Are there any ways that you have recently experienced or seen fellow Christians experience the difficulty of being a Christian in our world and in our culture?
  3. The first vision reminds us that the dragon has been defeated and bound. How was the dragon defeated and how should this reality encourage us as we participate in the glorious cause of the gospel advancing to all nations?
  4. The second vision reminds us of the glorious and sure future that awaits every Christian. In what ways are you encouraged and strengthened by this vision of your future?
  5. How have you seen the grace of God at work in fellow SGCL members giving them strength to be undaunted by the trials they face in this world?