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Boast of the Gospel

Boast of the gospel because the hope of the resurrection assures every believer in the Lord that “Death is Not the End!”

 

Revelation 11:3-14 3 And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.”

 

4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5 And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed. 6 They have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire. 7 And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit[a] will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, 8 and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically[b] is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. 9 For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb, 10 and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth. 11 But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. 12 Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here!” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies watched them. 13 And at that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.

 

14 The second woe has passed; behold, the third woe is soon to come.

 

What is the boast of the gospel? It is the hope of the resurrection that assures us that “Death is Not the End!”

 

In the last two weeks, I lost three friends back-to-back. All of them were pastors. I served with two of them in New York and the third was my doctoral student at Liberty University. He was getting ready to defend his dissertation when I received a text from his bereaved wife that said, “He returned to the Lord.”

 

Why did she say that? Because the Bible teaches to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord Jesus. That is the hope of the resurrection and the boast of the gospel that assures us that “Death is Not the End!”

 

The problem is that most people do not know what is after death. They need to hear the hope of the resurrection, the boast of the gospel that assures us that “Death is Not the End.”

 

As we continue our series, “Uncovering Revelation” verse by verse, Revelation 11:3-14 show God’s relentless effort even in the end times to offer the hope of the resurrection, the boast of the gospel that “Death is Not the End.”

 

The big idea here is that if you want victory over death and assurance of eternal life then you must believe in the hope of the resurrection and boast of the gospel that the resurrected Jesus rose to power to claim victory over death and the devil to declare “Death is Not the End!”

 

How do we boast of the gospel? Until Jesus comes, nothing can stop the proclamation, power, and purpose of the gospel.

 

Nothing Can Stop the Proclamation of the Gospel

 

Revelation 11:3 says “And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” The Greek word didomi translated in ESV as “authority” is translated as “power” in KJV and “appoint” in NIV. No matter how you translate the idea, it is God’s doing.

 

God will give the two witnesses power for three and a half years in the second half of the seven-year period of tribulation to proclaim the gospel. They will wear sackcloth, a sign of mourning, and repentance. The sackcloth was usually made of black goat’s hair which was not comfortable to wear. The principle is that calling people to repentance by proclaiming the gospel in an age of godlessness and self-centeredness is extremely uncomfortable, yet we must do it.

 

A leader of another church said he feels uncomfortable evangelizing people. So what? Even new shoes feel uncomfortable for a period of time, but that doesn’t mean we need to stop wearing them.

 

Who are these witnesses? Verse 4 reads, “These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.” Zechariah describes a similar vision in his book, also.

 

Many think these two witnesses might be Moses and Elijah for two reasons.

 

At the end of the Old Testament, they were spoken of as the oracle of hope. In the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi 4:4-5 says “4 Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel. 5 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.”

 

In the New Testament, we see how they were expected to reappear. In Matthew 17:3 on the Mount of Transfiguration, the disciples immediately recognized them as Moses and Elijah. There are other guesses too but what I really want you to see here is that these two witnesses will receive the power to defend themselves against any attack so that the gospel can be preached.

 

Revelation 11:5-6 shows the magnitude of their power, “5 And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed. 6 They have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire.” The supernatural works here are similar to Moses and Elijah's miracles. The witnesses didn’t use human weapons to convert people but performed divine works to show the power of God because God converts hearts, man does not.

 

Do you remember in Spider-Man movie, Uncle Ben told Peter Parker, “With great power comes great responsibility.” What we have here is a great power that will be given to these two witnesses, but their power comes with a great responsibility. Their power is for defense only and only so that the proclamation of the gospel may not be hindered by anyone.

 

The same Spirit that will rest on the two witnesses today lives in us. Still, God is using miracles to draw people to Jesus. He can do miracles here too if we activate the power of the Spirit in us by going all out for Jesus. Just as God will appoint the two witnesses to proclaim the gospel, He has appointed us to proclaim the gospel of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

 

The question is, what stops you from proclaiming the gospel and activating the power of the Spirit in you?

 

Nothing Can Stop the Power of the Gospel

 

 Revelation 11:7 says, “And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them” God has three promises for protection, persecution, and resurrection.

 

The promise of protection. No harm will come to them until they had finished the proclamation of the gospel. God promises the same power of invincibility to every believer.

 

The promise of persecution. The beast will come from the bottomless pit, the abyss, an abode of powerful demons living in the lower part of hell to wage war. This beast will come to aid the antichrist to conquer and kill God’s witnesses not because the beast will be more powerful but because their death will be necessary for the salvation of people.

 

It is no different when Jesus was dragged through the street of Jerusalem, mocked, and killed on the cross and people on Earth, demons in the abyss, and their master, the devil thought that they killed the author of life. Little did they know that by dying on the cross, He paid the ransom to secure eternal life for believers to come and His death was necessary to descend into Hades to proclaim the gospel to set the captives free there too.

 

Persecution serves God’s purpose, verse 8, says “and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified.” The great city here is Jerusalem where their Lord Jesus was crucified indicating they were Christian witnesses. Just as Jesus was hung high on the hill so people could see, the two witnesses will be put on display for people to see.

 

Verse 9 reads, “For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb” Jesus said that we will be hated and killed for His name's sake.

 

What we have here is a war between two systems. The world’s immoral God-hating, Christless system empowered by the satanic power right from the devil’s pit fighting against the divine system of restoration.

 

Verse 10 says, “and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth.” They will celebrate the death of the voice of reason, truth, and conviction so that they can go back to their sinful live without guilt.

 

The promise of resurrection. Verse 11 says, “But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them.” A breath of life came from God. God has sovereignty over death because He is the source of life.

 

It was not their preaching, not the war, not their death, but their resurrection that brought the world to their knees. It was not until after the resurrection that the disciples really believed in Jesus. It was not until after the resurrection that things changed forever.

 

If Jesus had remained dead, that would have been considered noble His resurrection was divine. There were other resurrections before Jesus. In those cases, people died but Jesus rose again never to die again. These witnesses will demonstrate that again. They will rise never to die again. We too will rise, if we believe the gospel, never to die again. This is precisely why we can boast in the gospel and the hope of the resurrection.

 

I remember on 9/11, I was still in Pakistan. I saw people dancing and distributing sweets. When I got home, I saw my whole family glued to the TV, saddened and shocked. With our current global social media connectivity, the events described in Revelation 11 can be live streamed right from the streets of Jerusalem. People will come to Jesus because they will witness the power of the resurrection that the defeat of the witnesses was not final because Death Is Not the End.

 

Nothing can stop the power of the gospel— not even death.

 

Nothing Can Stop the Purpose of the Gospel

 

What is the purpose of the gospel? To free people from bondage to sin and its consequences eternal death through the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross.

 

Verse 12 says, “Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here!” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies watched them.” This scene is similar to the one when Jesus ascended back to heaven in cloud and people watched him.

 

Verse 13-14 continues, “13 And at that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. 14 The second woe has passed; behold, the third woe is soon to come.” The powers against the gospel may manage to kill the witness, the people, but they can never kill the witness, the purpose of the gospel. The scene closes with people giving glory to God because now they too believe in the hope of resurrection.

 

You may have heard the story of missionary Jim Elliot who was killed in Ecuador. God used His death to inspire a whole new generation of missionaries to unreached people groups. His death also caused many to come to Jesus. Nothing stops the purpose of the gospel.

 

Trust God— even in the darkest hour of your life because God always wins. He always accomplishes His purpose.

 

Growing up in Pakistan I always wondered why Christians do not fight back when their towns, homes, and churches are attacked by Islamic extremists. Then I heard a former Islamic terrorist who took pride in Jihad that he witnessed how Christians even loved and forgave their persecutors rather than fighting back. This caused him to come to Jesus.

 

So, never stop sharing the hope of resurrection and the boast of the gospel that Death is Not the End. Nothing should stop the proclamation, the power, and the purpose of the gospel.

 

If you are not a believer in Jesus, come to Jesus and receive eternal life. The Bible, in Romans 5:8, teaches that God showed His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.

 

However, If you are a believer, then boast in the gospel that the resurrected Jesus rose to power to claim victory over death and the devil to declare “Death is Not the End!”

 

Don’t let another day pass without committing your life to the Lord of life and resurrection. Jesus said in John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.”

 

In John 14:19 He said, “Because I live, you also will live.”

 

You can boast of the gospel because the hope of the resurrection assures every believer in the Lord that “Death is Not the End!” Death has lost its grip on us because Christ is risen. Therefore, the word of God says, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

 

Study Questions

 

1.       Who are the two witnesses?

 

2.       Why were they given the power to harm those who tried to harm them?

 

3.       Who is the beast that killed the witnesses and why do people celebrate their death?

 

Deeper Study Questions

 

1.       Discuss the cost of being the witnesses of Jesus. How are you being a witness of Christ?

 

2.       Discuss in what sense the terrified people glorified God.

 

3.       How would you share a balanced gospel message with others to provoke love and fear of God? (Consider that the gospel is Good News only if people receive the free gift of salvation; if they do not God’s judgment stands for them).

 

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