KEY TEXT: Revelation 14:6-13 Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water."
KEY THOT: The three angels announce both good and bad news. The first angel makes the last call to the nations to believe in the Gospel, for the hour of God's judgment is imminent: "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water." (v.7). This is in fulfillment of what Jesus said in Matthew 24:14, "And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." Missions and evangelism must remain the top priority in any church's ministry agenda because once the hour of judgment arrives, there will be no need for this ministry.
However, in proclaiming the Gospel, we must be careful not to leave out the three critical elements in the angel's announcement in order to make the Gospel more "seeker-friendly": :
- "Fear God": This is the reason for the Cross, for sin is inconsistent with the holiness of God. And the holiness of God stirs the wrath of God against sin. For this reason, we must fear God before we can love Him. But some argue that the Cross removes this fear because "there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4:18). But we must 1 John 4:18 in its context. In the preceding two verses, John states that only those who abide in God is perfected in love: "So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world" (1 John 4:16-17).
So, this command to "fear God" is irrelevant if we are walking in "perfected love" by abiding in God (keeping his commands). But we cannot "claim" 1 John 4:18 if we are not abiding in God by keeping his commands. Believing without behaving will not spare us from judgment. There remains a judgment for hearers of God's word but not doers, even in the household of God: "For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?" (1 Peter 4:17-18).
- "Give Him glory": This is the second element of the Gospel. The goal of salvation is not to glorify ourselves, but to glorify God. Salvation is ultimately not about us, but about God. Our lives are to be lived for His glory, not our pleasure. Once saved, we are no longer masters of our own fate, but slaves of Christ. We no longer live for ourselves, but only for Jesus' glory. As the embedded song says, "It is all about You, Jesus, And all this is for You, for Your glory and Your fame. It's not about me..." (Listen to the song--it's a beautiful song, one of my favourites).
- "Worship Him": This is the ultimate expression of our love for God. To worship God is not just to attend church services and sing songs of worship to Him. It is an attitude of putting God first above other loves in our lives. In essence, it is obeying the First Commandment: "You shall have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3). In Matthew 6:24, Jesus says, "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money." When we start loving Money (Mammon) more than God, we will sooner or later lose our love for God, become lukewarm and finally despise God and Christ.
So, this is our last chance to repent and obey the Gospel: fear God, give him glory and worship Him only.
Abba-Father, how we have distorted the Gospel to please our self-entitlted generation! May You have mercy upon us. Help us fear You so that our love may be perfected in You and to put You first in everything. Amen.