The Victory of the Cross of Christ (continued)
Therefore, we see that the Herods have become the agents of satan's antichrist spirit as satan attempts to usurp the Throne of the Most High. It is the antichrist spirit of satan that gives the beast, that gives all that is antichrist, his power, and his throne; it is the antichrist spirit of satan that gives the beast the power to make war with the saints, and to overcome them (Revelation 13:7). It was the antichrist spirit of satan that was working his evil through the Herods!
But, let us remember, satan and all his antichrist evils and counterfeits are doomed. "If anyone has an ear, let him hear ... Here is the patience [the endurance] and the faith of the saints" (Revelation 13:9, 10). Beloved, when Herod beheaded James, he did not overcome James or John or Peter or the Church that was fervently praying, he did not overcome those who had gathered at the house of Mary, the mother of Mark, to pray. No, James and the others overcame Herod, James and the other overcame all that which was, and is, antichrist, for Revelation 20:4 proclaims:
"And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them; and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years."
In this scripture, we find what was really taking place when James laid down his life. Acts twelve does not give us many details concerning the death of James; but in the above scripture, the Holy Spirit, Who knows that which the natural eye has not seen and the natural ear has not heard, reveals to us that a tremendous unseen conflict was taking place between the Lord and the antichrist forces of satan.
Herod, through the instigation of satan, moved to afflict evil upon the Church, he moved to discourage and weaken the Church by putting their leaders out of the way, but, instead, the Church prayed. James laid down his life "because of the Word of God and because of the Testimony of Jesus." And because of this, James got the victory "over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name." In a different way Peter and John would also lay down their lives because of the Word of God and because of the Testimony of Jesus. Peter and John would also overcome all that is anichrist as they would go on to finish the course the Lord had set before them. These three were joint-sharers "in the tribulation," and "in the kingdom" and "in the patient endurance" which are in Jesus Christ. And the Lord, not satan, wrought a great victory that strategic season when Herod put forth his evil hand to afflict the Church. In that strategic season one of the most important portions of God's eternal purpose in Christ was birthed out of the tribulation and travail, that those brothers and sisters experienced. For Ats 12:24 tells us: "But the Word of the Lord continued to grow and to be multiplied". And not long after this, another brother names James would be inspired by the Holy Spirit to pick up his pen and write a letter to the Christians who had been scattered abroad because of tribulation: - and the New Testament was begun.
Thus, many years later, we find the Holy Spirit using John to write one of the last books of the Bible, the Book of Revelation. We find John writing to us of the tribulation that all who are overcomers must experience. This should not discourage us, for the Word of God confirms that those who suffer with Christ, will reign with Christ. Beloved, John was "in the Spirit" when he wrote the Book of Revelation, just as James was "in the Spirit" when he laid down his life; and when we are "in the Spirit" we are brothers and companions with those like Samson and Hannah, those like Peter, James and John. When we are "in the Spirit" we are brothers, companions in the tribulation, in the kingdom, in the patient endurance which are in Jesus Christ.
We have seen that in the measure we allow the Cross to work in our lives, in the measure that we deny our self, that is the measure we are "filled in the Spirit." And if we allow the Cross to do its work in our lives, we will be empowered by the Spirit to overcome all that is antichrist. We will be joint-sharers with those who have gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name (Revelation 1:9; 15:2).
We have seen that the time came when James and John and Peter drank of the Lord's cup, the time came when they became joint-sharers in their Lord's sufferings. Dear ones, whether we are to be martyred like James, or whether we die after living a long life for the Lord like John, or whether we live out our lives like those unnamed brothers and sisters who "fervently prayed" at the house of Mary, the mother of Mark, we are called to lay down our lives for the Lord. We are called to be joint-sharers in the tribulation, in the kingdom, in the patient endurance which are in Jesus Christ. We are called to drink of His cup. We are called to endure the Cross. "Here is the patience and the faith of the saints."
Beloved, our Lord has commanded; "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." May our answer be: "I was in the Spirit ... and heard."