Now has come…

Revelation 12:10 says

And I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, Now has come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ, for the accuser of our brothers has been cast down, who accuses them before our God day and night.

This “now” comes when the woman travailing in birth (v.2) brings forth a son, a man-child (v.5). This “now” comes when the stronger part of God’s people, consisting of the overcomers, is brought forth from the church. This “now” comes when the “great dragon [has been] cast down, the ancient serpent, he who is called the Devil and Satan, he who deceives the whole inhabited earth” (v.9). Hallelujah! What a “now” to look forward to!

The obvious question: how do we get from the present time to this “now”?

It appears that warfare is involved. The woman aforementioned was not peacefully travailing in birth, you see. Verse 4 tells us that “the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bring forth, so that when she brings forth he might devour her child.” There’s a serpent-become-dragon seen from Genesis to Revelation who will do everything he can to delay the “now” — to delay the execution of the death sentence that Jesus Christ gave him on the cross (Hebrews 2:14). Hence the necessity and even inevitability of spiritual warfare.

We might know about swords, canons, A-bombs, bioterrorism (yes, I’m in microbiology), etc., but it takes a whole different set of weaponry and skill to fight when

our wrestling is not against blood and flesh but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenlies. (Ephesians 6:12)

  1. Be in full obedience to God under His ruling. Satan is the source of rebellion, so whether we end up in his camp or in God’s camp depends on whether we obey.
  2. Believe in the facts revealed in the Word of God. Isaiah 25:8 and 1 Corinthians 15:54, for instance, tell us that death has been swallowed up unto victory. Hallelujah! We must believe this, and we must declare this!
  3. Be properly positioned in the heavenlies with the ascended Christ (Ephesians 2:6). We fight from above! We’re positioned to tread on the principalities!
  4. Refuse to fight an individual battle. We need to refuse because Satan will tempt us to engage in battle alone. He knows that the moment we do is the moment we’re defeated. We stand no chance alone. That’s why the Lord placed us in His Body! Our fight is a corporate fight — “because we are members of His Body” (Ephesians 5:30).
  5. Be empowered in the Lord. Ephesians 6:10 tells us to “be empowered in the Lord and in the might of His strength”. Colossians 1:11 tells us to be “empowered with all power, according to the might of His glory”. 2 Timothy 2:1 tells us to “be empowered in the grace which is in Christ Jesus”. I’m always telling the Lord that I’m weak, weak, weak. But the Lord is telling me, “Be strong, don’t be weak! These are not times to be weak!” Well, my flesh is still weak. But there’s power in Jesus who is in my spirit!
  6. Put on the whole armor of God and leave no part unguarded. The warrior in Ephesians 6 is so well equipped. (That’s the corporate warrior, by the way.) Equipped with what? With all the aspects of the all-inclusive Christ!
  7. Fight by standing. The aforesaid warrior takes up the whole armor of God to “be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (v.13). We must keep standing. Unmovable.
  8. Receive the sword of the Spirit. That warrior has one offensive weapon: the sword of the Spirit, which Spirit is the word of God (v.17). The Lord Jesus withstood the tempter by the word of God (Matthew 4:6,7,10). This is what Satan’s afraid of.
  9. Pray in spirit. The warrior receives the helmet and the sword “by means of all prayer and petition, praying at every time in spirit” (v.18). To pray in spirit is to really pray in the name of Jesus (as opposed to just adding “In Your name we pray” as a kind of P.S. to our prayers).
  10. Claim the blood of the Lamb. Revelation 12:11 tells us that “they overcame him (the accuser in v.10) because of the blood of the Lamb”. The blood answers before God all the accusations of the devil against us, therefore the blood should be answer to Satan.
  11. Declare the word of our testimony. The same v.11 tells us that “they overcame him…because of the word of their testimony”. What is our testimony? It is the fact that the devil has been judged by the Lord!
  12. Fight without caring for our soul-life. Revelation 12:11 continues: “they loved not their soul-life even unto death”. The scariest soldier is one who fights with no expectation of coming out alive. No wife and kids to return to, no fortune to make, no future bright to live out. No reservation. No backward glances. Daniel was such: he prayed with the full knowledge that he would be thrown into the lion’s den for it (Daniel 6).

Lord, teach us to cooperate with You in Your warfare. Grant us faith to stand upon Your victory. Gain Your mighty warrior for the bringing forth of the man-child. Father, Your name be sanctified; Your kingdom come; Your will be done, as in heaven, so also on earth. We look forward to the triumphant shout of “Now has come”.

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My King will soon come back again!

“The Lord’s Return”: I’m not exactly sure what kind of feeling the phrase generated in me before the College Retreat last weekend. I guess “indifference” would probably describe it pretty closely: I knew the Lord’s second coming as a fact, but I also knew that there are a few signs yet to be fulfilled before He comes, so I was basically very 不冷不热 (lukewarm). Praise the Lord, by His mercy, the speaking last weekend really overturned me. “The energy of our endurance is the hope of seeing His face.” This is the only real hope! All other hopes — for a good career, a good family, a good future — have no positive destiny. Those less self-centered might hope for greater things: social justice, racial equality, world peace. These also are to no avail… unless they’re embodied in the hope for Christ in His second coming as the unique solution to every world problem. Call us Christians naive — we only believe what’s written in the Bible! Here’s just one (particularly appealing) example from Isaiah 11:

And the wolf will dwell with the lamb; And the leopard will lie down with the kid, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a young boy will lead them about. The cow and the bear will graze; Their young will lie down together; And the lion will eat straw like the ox. The nursing child will play by the cobra’s hole, And upon the viper’s den The weaned child will stretch his hand. They will not harm nor destroy In all My holy mountain, For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah, As water covers the sea.

“Does our living bear the testimony of waiting for His return?” What a probing question. I still don’t know all of what this living should look like, but certainly it’s a living

  • in the divine history within human history
  • in Christ, by Christ, with Christ, for Christ, one with Christ
  • as a heavenly citizen, taking no root in this earth (Hebrews 11:16)
  • that does not allow eating, drinking, and marrying (Matthew 24:38; the necessities of human existence) to drug and dull the senses; that instead is vigilant in watching and beseeching (Luke 21:36)
  • of paying the price to gain a reserve supply of oil (the Spirit) in one’s vessel (soul) (Matthew 25:1-13)
  • of being faithful to trade with one’s talents — to use the gift given by the Lord (Matthew 25:14-30)
  • of not only believing in His return, but also loving it, expecting it, and even hastening it — by preaching the gospel of the kingdom (Matthew 24:14) and building the church
  • of aspiring to be ripened early for His satisfaction, to be precious enough to be “stolen” by Him (Revelation 3:3)
  • that echoes His promise of “I come quickly” with the prayer “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”  (Revelation 22:20)

Thou healing sun! Thou hope of man!
I really love Thy ray.
Oh, righteous Lord! oh, glorious King!
I bow to Thee and pray:
Oh, may Thou soon ascend Thy throne
And quickly show Thy face;
Thy heav’nly kingdom may Thou found
And grant all men Thy grace.

(full lyrics)

Moon musings

It’s 8/15 on the lunar calendar today (in China) and tomorrow (in Canada). 中秋节. There’s none of that festive atmosphere here, of course, but we do have homemade moon cakes… and seeing the moon on its (arguably) brightest night does make me somewhat nostalgic. About what, you ask? There’s no particular person or thing that I substantially miss in China; what’s there is the pull — however intangible — toward one’s homeland. Now, I’d never describe myself as an “exile”, and Canada’s too much my home to be “alien soil”, but I was reminded of this stanza of a particularly precious hymn:

What exile cannot but desire his homeland
And long his people once again to greet?
What soul on alien soil forgets his kindred?
What parted lovers never yearn to meet?
O Lord, how can these earthly loves and pleasures
With all the joy of Thy return compare?
Then, if I cannot here behold Thy countenance,
What can I do but sigh till Thou, my Lord, appear?

(full lyrics)

When I first chanced upon this hymn (while sitting at the piano some time ago), I was a little taken aback that even Christians filled with the holy Spirit experience a certain sense of void. Now, after the retreat last weekend (see upcoming post), I think I understand just a tiny little bit what the writer of this hymn meant. I can’t describe the sentiment to you; I can only tell you that I want my Lord Jesus to come back.

Lord, how long? My Beloved, when will You return? 

The generation (?)

Having grown up (age 12 and beyond) being encouraged by words like “The Lord’s move is always with the young people”, it was a little hard for me to come to terms with the fact that I’m no longer among the newest generation of young people. Hearing (as an indirect audience) a speaking to the junior high and high school students on being ready for the Lord’s return, I felt a little as if the Lord had “moved on” from my generation. I mean, ok, I’m  only a year older than the oldest campers at this year’s Summer School of Truth, but you know, it’s that sense of being not so young anymore.

But praise Him, our God is the God of all comfort (2 Cor. 1:3), and He’s speaking a word of comfort to me even now. Our God is active, not static! That He has been working and moving since my junior high and high school years is a confirmation of that fact. But what He has moved on from is the extent of His work on earth in 2006, 2008, 2010, not the people He was working with. My generation may not turn the age as Daniel and his friends did as young persons, but we’ll never be too old to be contributors to the thrust that would bring the Lord back. The race to run is still set before us (Hebrews 12:1), and as long as we still have breath, it’s our part to eagerly await Him (9:28).

Lord, whatever generation I am, I love Your appearing (2 Timothy 4:8). For Your up-to-date move I give You my cooperation. My unique aspiration is to hasten Your return. Come, Lord Jesus!

A new dawn

The chorus of the banner song for the Chinese-speaking students’ training/conference last weekend (yes, I’m a little late…) goes like this:

新的黎明,新的复兴,主我奉献,奉献今天;
靠你得胜,因你更新,直到恩主显现。

A lot could be said about this conference, but to be brief, I’d summarize it as an intense weekend of consecration. I was impressed anew that

  • consecration comes from subjective revelation; how much one consecrates depends on how much one sees. When we truly see the destiny of human history as prophesied in Daniel 2, we would no longer invest in this soon-to-go-bankrupt bank, but would give ourselves to continually live in the divine history within human history.
  • consecration = grasping the opportunity. Mary in Mark 14 seized the opportunity to pour out all that she had beforehand (v.8). Will we pay the price to anticipate His coming back?
  • consecration = redeeming the time. Every minute not given to the Lord is a minute eaten by locusts. Satan usurps us by consuming our time.
  • consecration is our reasonable service (Romans 12:1). We have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20); we belong to Him! Shall we still live to ourselves? No! We live to Him who died for us and has been raised! (2 Cor. 5:15)
  • consecration is a splendor, an adornment (Psalm 110:3). Would we like to be beautified with a divine, heavenly splendor? Then we need to those to offer ourselves willingly in the day of His warfare.
  • consecration is a gate to enter once for all. There must be a decisive moment in our life of consecrating our all to the Lord. On the other hand, consecration is a way on which we walk day by day. The fire on the altar shall be kept burning; it must not go out (Leviticus 6:12). Our consecration needs to be renewed every day for the duration of our days.
  • consecration is not to do something for the Lord, but it is to cooperate with Him by giving Him our time. God needs nothing of our natural effort, and we have nothing in and of ourselves. Nevertheless, God needs us, and practically speaking, that means He needs our time. If we don’t consecrate a specific time for reading the Bible daily and regularly, how can the Lord constitute us with His word to be His New Testament priests? If we don’t consecrate a specific time daily for persevering in prayer, how can the Lord move forward without the tracks laid for Him?
  • consecration is an attitude of trusting in God. When we say, “Lord Jesus, I consecrate my whole being, my time, my health, my family, my studies, my career, my future to You”, we’re transferring the ownership and responsibility for all those things from ourselves to Him. When we say, “Lord Jesus, I consecrate to read the entire Bible within the next year”, we’re really saying, “Lord, I can’t do it, but You make it happen.” Consecration is the acknowledgement that God is able and faithful.

My renewed consecration during the conference last weekend — a public testimony to all those in attendance — was a new dawn, a new revival (“新的黎明,新的复兴”). By His mercy and keeping power, such a renewal (“更新”) I’d like to have every morning until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ (“直到恩主显现”).