From Virtual To Reality
Dr. Jim Denison
Historians will call this era the “technological revolution.” It’s an amazing time. For instance, just in time for Christmas, a fashion student in England has developed a way for Internet shoppers to feel clothes through their computer screens. Since 40 percent of all clothes bought online are returned by dissatisfied customers, there must be a better way, or so she theorizes.
With the help of her technology, soon you’ll be able to use your mouse to test the thickness of fabric by lifting up its edge and dropping it. You’ll be able to stretch garment and watch it return to its original shape. You’ll be able to stroke the fibers of a garment to test their quality. It won’t be the real thing, but it’s the best we can do.
Christmas is a little like virtual reality, an image you can see on your computer screen but aren’t sure is really there. We all have the picture in mind: a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger protected by his peasant teenage mother and her carpenter husband. Shepherds watching, Wise Men coming. But how do we know it’s real, or that it’s relevant?
We can’t go back in time, and even if we could, how could we know that this child is really God in the flesh? He is supposed to be the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the ruler come to his realm. But his kingdom doesn’t seem to have changed much since his visit.
We’re still plagued with hurricanes, earthquakes, disaster and disease. The oppression of the Roman Empire is replaced by the global war on terror. Ancient diseases gave way to the Black Plague, which has given way to AIDS and the threat of avian flu. People live longer, but they still die. Global warming is producing 15 million acres of new desert every year. Each year we consume 160 billion gallons of water more than is being replenished by rain. A third of the world lives on $2 a day; a billion people live on $1 a day.
How did Advent really change anything? How is Christmas more than virtual reality to your soul, your marriage, your problems? It’s a good question, and the most relevant issue we can discuss today.
The Final Advent is coming
As you know, the bad news of the Bible comes early, with the fall of mankind in Genesis 3. Because Adam and Eve refused the word and will of God, they were cast out of paradise.
And the Lord said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So God drove our first parents out and “placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:22, 24).
With this fall of humanity into sin, everything changed. Satan became the “god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Jesus called him “the prince of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11).
Scripture teaches that Satan now holds the power of death (Hebrews 2:14) and “leads the whole world astray” (Revelation 12:9). He has “blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). He is a liar and the father of lies, a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44).
The reason our world is plagued with disaster and disease, suffering and sin, is because Satan is its god. The present fallen world has rebelled against its true King and is now the unlawful kingdom of the devil.
At the first Advent, the Son of God came into this fallen world to begin an insurgency, an underground movement to overthrow the “god of this age” and return the world to its rightful King. If Jesus is your Lord, you have joined his resistance. You are operating behind enemy lines, participating in a revolution against the unlawful, demonic ruler of this fallen world. This because of the First Advent coming of the Son of God.
At the Second Advent, the Spirit of God came into the world to empower the soldiers in this army of God. To give us the leadership, protection, and courage we would need to assault the gates of hell (Matthew 16:18). If we will confess whatever is wrong between us and God and ask the Holy Spirit to take control of our lives each day, Pentecost will come for us every morning. Christmas will be real; the Son of God will make our lives his manger. We will be a living nativity, the presence of Christ in the world. The Spirit of God will use the people of God to build the Kingdom of God.
Then one day, at the Final Advent, the King of Kings will return to claim this world as his own.
Here’s what will happen on that day: “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:11-16).