Ruler over the Whole Earth

Gary Wilkerson

We don’t often think of Revelation has an encouraging book, but please read with me this incredible opening. “Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 1:4-6, ESV). 

Is the ruler of the kings of the earth America? Is it Israel, the European Union, the Arab nations? No! 

Who is the ruler of all the earth? It is Jesus. At whose name will every knee bow and every tongue confess as Lord? It is Jesus. Who is high and lifted up and exalted above every other? No one but Jesus. 

The name of Jesus is glorious and magnified. John is introducing a promise to the beleaguered believers of his time. “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him” (Revelation 1:7). What does Jesus do when the church is in decline and lacking fire, when we lose our first love and are persecuted or discouraged? He makes himself known again! “Here I am. Come and know me.” 

He sets us free again from the sins that so easily entangle us, and he raises us up into a kingdom of faithful priests once more. As much of Jesus as you already have, he has more for you. The greatest thing my father ever taught me was “You can have as much of Jesus as you want.” 

I’m excited about missions work and good preaching and solid theology, but nothing fills me with as much joy and interest as Jesus. Even if we’re not there yet, Jesus is always waiting for us to turn toward him. If we do, we will be overwhelmed with his magnificence. We will have a hope in the ruler over all things. To Jesus Christ be glory and honor forever and ever. Amen!  

Do Not Delay!

Mark Renfroe

Refusing to repent in areas God convicts us about is never good. Most of us would agree on that. However, I think many of us believe it’s okay to think about repentance before we actually submit to the Spirit’s conviction. What we’re really doing is delaying our repentance, and that can sometimes have a spiritual guise to it, but it’s just as poisonous to our relationship with God as outright refusing to turn away from sin. 

We probably all know the story of Jonah. He was given specific commands from God; instead of obeying, he started fleeing to the edge of the known, civilized world. God sent a storm, and instead of repenting, Jonah told the sailors suffering because of his delaying disobedience, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you” (Jonah 1:12, ESV). 

He almost sounds pious and self-sacrificing. In reality, he was still delaying his repentance. It’s not until he was in the belly of the great fish that we finally see Jonah relent and bow to God’s will. 

Jonah went to Nineveh and preached probably the shortest sermon in the Bible about God’s judgment. All of the people immediately repented and started fasting upon being told that they were objects of God’s wrath. The king then declared, “Let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands” (Jonah 3:8), but we know that the people of Nineveh were already repenting because they believed Jonah, not because the king ordered it. 

Jesus told the religious leaders of his day, “The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here” (Matthew 12:41). God always gives us a message of conviction in order to bring restoration, but we must choose to obey. Disobeying or even delaying isn’t a neutral choice; it immediately moves us away from God. He is looking for us to repent quickly so he can restore us to a right relationship with him. 

Mark Renfroe and his wife, Amy, have been involved in field missions work for 30 years. Mark served as the area director for Assemblies of God World Missions and currently serves as the chief missions officer for World Challenge.

Loving the Truth

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Paul gives thanks to God for a people who remain steadfast in perilous times. This holy remnant will rise up against the spirit of antichrist and stand strong. They will never be overcome. On the contrary, they will overcome the world, the flesh and the wicked one.

“But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you . . . because God from the beginning chose you for salvation. …Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught. …Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work” (2 Thessalonians 2:13-17, NKJV).

This holy remnant loves the truth, and they are not afraid to be reproved. They examine themselves in light of God’s Word, letting it pierce them to the very marrow. Beloved, if you keep your heart open to the truth—if you continue to love God’s Word—the Lord will establish you.

“Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people from this time forth and forever. For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous, lest the righteous reach out their hands to iniquity” (Psalm 125:1-3).

The antichrist spirit has a rod, signifying authority, but his power and reign will not be over you because you are part of God’s holy remnant. “I have written to you…because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one” (1 John 2:14). “And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (1 John 5:4).

Let the spirit of antichrist come. You will not be moved because you will be firmly established on the truth of God’s Word. You will be found in God’s house, worshiping from a pure heart, and your faith will overcome all that the enemy brings against you.

A Double Pain

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

The first part of God’s “double pain” is when we sin in his presence, against his light and love. The sin itself is not what grieves God, however, but the fact that he knows the consequences of our sin. God knows our sin is going to drive us to misery.

The second part of God’s “double pain” is that our sin compels him to keep his Word in judging us. He has to stand by like a loving father and listen to our cries of anguish as he chastens us, all for the purpose of producing godly character in us.

At one time I came to a crisis, to the end of my rope. Slanderous things were being said about me; and after this had gone on for some time, I began to remind God of his Word: “A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who speaks lies shall perish” (Proverbs 19:9, NKJV), and “A liar listens eagerly to a spiteful (destructive) tongue” (Proverbs 17:4).

After some time, I cried out in despair, “Oh, God, how long will you let this go on? The lies keep changing so much, I don’t even know what they are from day to day. You are my defender, Lord, and you say you will avenge your people. But I don’t see you working any justice.”

As I thought of all the slander coming against me, I began to think of other beleaguered pastors and servants. There are many righteous people today who are enduring awful trials because evil words are being spoken against them. “Why, Lord?” I prayed. “Why do you continue allowing your people to be hurt?”

The Lord answered, “David, I am merciful, longsuffering and slow to anger because it pains me to mete out my justice. If you could feel my pain, you would never, ever desire to see my judgment fall. You would understand why I wait so long to bring it down. You know how painful it is to discipline your children. It is the same for me. It pains me to chasten those I love!”

A Glimpse of God’s Pain

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. …They have made themselves a molded calf, and worshiped it and sacrificed to it. …I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people! Now therefore, let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them’” (Exodus 32:7-10, NKJV).

“Then Moses pleaded with the Lord his God, and said: ‘Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? …Turn from your fierce wrath, and relent from this harm to your people…’ So the Lord relented from the harm which he said he would do to his people” (Exodus 32:11-14).

In reading this passage, many Christians mistakenly attribute more grace and mercy to Moses than to God. They think, “Moses is pleading for great mercy upon Israel, while God is ready to destroy them.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The only reason Moses could pray as he did was because he knew God’s heart of mercy.

God’s justice demanded that the people be consumed, but Moses knew it would pain God too much to destroy his children, so he lifted this plea to God, “I know that your justice is crying out and these stiff-necked people should be wiped out, but I know you would not be able to stand the pain if you did that. I know your heart, God, and I know you cannot destroy Israel because you love her.”

The Bible says God “repented,” which means he changed his mind about how he would judge Israel. He was not going to destroy them; instead, the people would waste away in the wilderness. Although the people would continue to pain his heart for thirty-eight more years with their unbelief, the Lord would still protect them, lead them, feed them and clothe them to their dying day.

This knowledge of God’s heart should move us, as it did Moses, to worship and serve the Lord even more passionately.