Isaiah 54 – Once Conquered

Hey FBE-ers!

In the opening scenes of the movie, Gladiator, general Maximus stands with his first officer and friend Quintus.  They gaze across a soon-to-be battle field as their enemies defy them and call them out to battle.

Quintus, knowing the power and strategy of the Roman legions in his charge says of his enemies,
A people should know when they are conquered.

Maximus replies,
Would you, Quintus? Would I?

And indeed, the armies led by Maximus and Quintus soundly defeat those who did not yet know they were conquered.
What about us?
Are we wise enough to know when we are conquered?

The Bible is clear that sin brings death. (Genesis 2-3; Proverbs 14:12; James 1:15; Romans 6:23; 1 Corinthians 15:20-26; Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13)
Dead people can only do one thing really well – stay dead.

The dead cannot raise themselves to life.
The dead are conquered.

We were/are all, at one point and perhaps still, dead in our trespasses and sins.

But the dead do not always know they are conquered.
The vast majority of the world either think that they are alive and well, regardless of their sin, or they believe they must, by correct actions, earn their right to life.

Every other way of life besides Christianity worships human action.
Hinduism and Buddhism and other such religions put their focus on human actions to meet the requirements of the cosmos in order to attain a higher plane of existence.
Islam requires strict practices of worship through human effort.
Other pagan religions work hard to appease spirits or deities who often merely act like super-powered humans.
Atheists believe that reality is matter in motion and human action is of as much value as humans decide to honor it.

Christianity stands alone bearing witness to the truth of reality –
We are conquered. We need rescue.
We are dead. We need resurrection.

Only God can do this.
And He did.

Somewhere around 30% of the world’s population claim to be Christian.
I’m sure many of them are only professing a belief in a religious tradition and are not walking daily in discipleship with Christ.

At any rate, at least 70% of the world’s population does not know that they are conquered.
It is a humbling thing to admit.
“I am weak.  I am helpless.  I am dead.  If you don’t save me, Lord… if you don’t raise me up… I am hopeless.”

But, when God, by His grace, brings a person to understand that he or she stands conquered by sin and death, He also brings them to understand that He, through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, has conquered sin and death.

So… in Christ, one can be more than a conqueror.
((see Romans 8)

We were once conquered.
We did not conquer our conqueror.
We were made to be unconquered.

We were once conquered,
but the conquering has been removed from our reality.
Once conquered, but no more.

Never again.

Isaiah 53 tells us that because the servant of Yahweh, who is Christ, was “wounded for our transgressions; crushed for our iniquities”… because “upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace”… because “by his stripes we are healed,” (53:5)… that this is now true of Christ:

Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;

yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.
Isaiah 53:12

He took our sin and death upon Himself, and undid it.
Now He makes intercession for those who confess Him as Lord and believe that He has resurrected from the dead.

In Christ, we are more than conquerors.
We are unconquerable.

Even death is but a doorway to eternal life with Christ.

See, it is I who created the blacksmith
who fans the coals into flame
and forges a weapon fit for its work.

And it is I who have created the destroyer to work havoc;
no weapon forged against you will prevail,
and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.

This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD,
and this is their vindication from me,” declares the LORD.
Isaiah 54:16-17
Even in difficult times we can rejoice in Christ’s eternal victory as we identify with the sin of the world as witnesses to His sufferings and love and grace. (see 1 Peter 2:19-25)
Even when we are persecuted we do not need to feel like victims, because we can rejoice that though we are being killed all the day long, neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:36-39)

We were once conquered.
But no more.

Let us live with such an unconquered hope and joy and peace and love
that the world will see Christ’s resurrection in us.

Once Conquered,
Nick

P.S. Click here and/or here for older reflections on previous passages out of Isaiah 54.

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I've been on staff at FBE since March of 2005 and senior pastor since January of 2012. I am learning to live the story of Christ's redemption. Husband. Father. Thinker. Reader. Epic movie watcher. And a palate for a good botana.

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