THE VICTORY OF GOD
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Every athlete, every team in London, from all those 204 nations – they’re looking for one thing – victory in 300 events. The thrill of victory. They’re hoping to live that moment of triumph when the gymnastics judges hold up your scores and they’re all tens, or when you know you’ve heaved the shot beyond the record and no one can touch you, or when the balls swooshes through the hoop and the final buzzer sounds. Those are moments of exaltation – filled with the indescribable joy of victory. Even we non-athletic spectators feel that thrill of victory when it’s our team, or our contestant, who’s won the gold. Or even the silver or the bronze.
In 2004 the US basketball team brought home a bronze. It was a humiliating loss. They were looking to redeem themselves in 2008. Loaded with star power, the U.S. Olympic basketball team arrived in China determined to wipe out any memory of that Athens loss. They did it – they won the gold and the past loss was swallowed up in that victory.
In the Olympics there is an ultimate moment of victory, in the ceremony, when the names are announced; the flags are raised, when solemnly the gold medals are placed around the necks of the winners. And then their nation’s anthem is played. Wow.
But have you ever thought about Christ winning a victory? Have you ever thought about the Bible as a story of a great struggle ending in a great triumph. Have you felt the thrill of that triumph, of Jesus being crowned and worshiped and given all the glory and all the honor because of his victory? I think the Olympics help us get the feel for that kind of joy – the exultant celebrating joy we can have in the victory of Jesus. And I think the bible opens up for us and gets exciting for us when we read it as the account of his victory, as a story that begins with a great loss and ends in a great victory.
The bible is the story . . .
of the victory of God.
and it starts with a great loss. Not just our loss. We’re used to thinking of the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden as OUR loss. We sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve lost it all, right there in the beginning. We lost our innocence, our nearness to God, our place in the Garden, our access to the tree of life.
But it wasn’t just we who suffered loss. God suffered a great loss, too. You only have to go to Luke 15 and read the parables of Jesus to understand this. The Pharisees are criticizing Jesus for befriending sinners. Jesus responds by telling three stories – each one is about loss – God’s loss. The first is about a shepherd who lost a sheep. The second is about a woman who lost a coin. The third is about a father who lost a son. In every case there’s great rejoicing when the loss is restored.
Jesus is telling us that God has lost something precious. And he’s not willing to accept that loss. He WILL regain what he has lost. God could have destroyed his creation as soon as it was wrecked by sin, but he didn’t. He set about to regain what he lost.
But before he can have that reclaiming victory God has several opponents to overcome. He has to overcome Satan, the world, sin, and ultimately he has to overcome death.
1. Satan. He is God’s sworn opponent – utterly committed to destroying his creation. His power is in his power over us -- tempts us away from God and then he points the finger at us and accuses us.
2. The World. Mankind has organized itself apart from God. The world is a kingdom in opposition to God and to his kingdom – it pushes God off the stage an operates as though he doesn’t exist.
3. Sin. It is a power it and it is at work in us. We are shaped by it, infused with it, born into it. And because of our sin there’s our guilt that can’t just be passed over, that can’t be swept under the rug.
4. And then there’s death. Death that always has the last word.
If you read the bible straight through you see God taking steps to win the victory over all these enemies. He rises up like a warrior, like a great champion, determined to regain his Creation and to save his people for himself.
Have you learned to read the bible this way? It very exciting when you understand what’s going on. It’s full of drama. It’s breathtaking to watch God’s plan unfold.
Please don’t think that when I say, “story” I mean something made up – this is THE story. The Great Story. The True Story. It explains everything. It gives meaning and purpose to life. And it’s our story – the one we’re living as believers in Jesus. We’re part of the story. And ultimately is the story of God’s victory through his Son – his victory over all his enemies and his triumphant rescue of those he love.
The moment of victory comes at long last when Jesus, the Son of God, gives up his life on the cross. That’s the moment of great triumph. That’s the victory of God.
That event, that successful obedience unto death that was offered by Jesus; that was the moment that accomplished the victory of God.
Let’s take the opponents Jesus was facing one by one and see how he defeated them by going to his death:
1. Satan. Jesus defeated Satan. In the beginning God swore that one of the offspring of Eve would crush Satan’s head – Satan would bite his heal, but he would crush Satan’s head. It happened on the cross.
Col. 2:15 says Jesus “disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
Jesus took Satan’s weapons out of his hands.
Luke 11:21-22 “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe.
But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils.”
That’s victory language. Satan is the strong man but Jesus is the stronger man. He overcame Satan and he’s systematically removing the spoils Satan thought he had in his possession. We are those spoils. You and me. Jesus broke the enemy’s power and he’s brought us out of the enemy’s house into his own kingdom. In the end, we know Satan will be cast into the lake of fire.
2. The world. Jesus defeated the world. We’re in the world and sometimes it’s like living in smog --- it’s hard to see exactly where we are. But the world is a kingdom in rebellion against its God and it’s full of pride and corruption. Jesus overcame the world by going to the cross. That’s what he said, John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
He did this three ways, First, he refused to capitulate to the world – he scorned everything it had to offer, he kept his eyes exclusively on is Father -- he triumphed by not being of the world. Second, God made a statement to the world when he raised Jesus from the dead. He declared that the one the world rejected is now at the center of everything – seated on the throne. And Third, Jesus established the Kingdom of God which will ultimately come like the rock in the vision of Daniel and crush all the rival kingdoms and fill the whole earth.
3. Sin. Jesus defeated sin on the cross. It had a double grip on us—it kept us in its power and then the guilt we incurred by living in sin doomed us to condemnation. Jesus went to the cross to pay for that guilt and to remove our condemnation. He also took our sinful nature – down to the grave. He broke its power. And he gave us a new life, his life, his Spirit, so that we can begin to live as God’s friends instead of living like his enemies.
4. Death. Jesus defeated death. He did it by voluntarily going into it as our representative and then emerging victorious out of the grave three days later. As the bible says, “It was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.”
And now it can’t keep it’s hold on us. 1Cor. 15:5-57 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Jesus’ death was the victory of God. The enemies of God and of his people have been defeated. Resurrection was God’s declaration that the victory had indeed been won. Jesus was lifted up to be seated on the throne of God’s Kingdom.
But the final ceremonies are yet to come. A day will come when all honor and glory will be bestowed on Jesus – in the presence of all the nations. And those of us who belong to him, those of us who are citizens of his kingdom – we’ll get to share in the thrill of that moment of victory. It sort of puts the Olympics in the shade, doesn’t it?
Rev. 5: 5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, HE has triumphed!
Rev. 5:13-14 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”
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Winner of four Academy Awards including Best Picture! The inspiring true story of British athletes competing in the 1924 Olympics. Ben Cross and Ian Charleson head a sterling cast of newcomers and veterans. The story, told in flashback, of two young British sprinters competing for fame in the 1924 Olympics....
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