II. The second voice (the first angel – the voice of the gospel)

We come now to the second voice of this great chapter which is the first of the six angels that speak. The number of rebellious man is six, so there are six angels to answer rebellious man. “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” This angel carries the Word of God a spiritual weapon to first smite the wicked and depraved world. There are two separate sides of a debate about this text in regards to the gospel that is mentioned in our text. The first side of the argument says that the gospel is always a reference to the message of salvation through Christ. The other camp sees the term gospel as the unfolding of dispensational truth (some variations are more extreme than others). One version of that view is this: the first gospel (good news) that was preached was the gospel of the kingdom which was for Israel when Christ first came as their Messiah (Matt. 4:23) and this gospel was rejected by Israel and therefore postponed; the next gospel is the gospel that was preached to all men which was the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (I Cor. 15:1-11); the last part dispensation would be when the gospel of the kingdom (which is specific to Israel) is again preached. That is what some would say (and I will not vehemently disagree) is happening in our text and was directly prophesied by Christ Himself when He said, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations…” (Matt. 24:14). Some of the more extreme dispensational views would claim other dispensations within that space of time and some even say that the other gospel dispensations preached a salvation by works (and that would include our text – salvation however is always by grace through faith alone). I only rebut the dispensational view by saying that Christ is the central figure of all gospel presentations or dispensations (Mark 1:1). The gospel preached by John the Baptist and Christ and apostles prior to His death may have lacked some detail of doctrine but it was still the good news of Christ. Anyone who trusted Christ in any dispensation (regardless of the amount of content contained in the gospel) is born again, is saved (John 3:15-18). So the gospel here is nothing less than the message of Christ. It is called everlasting because it is related to eternal nature of God that gave it and the everlasting life which those who accept it receive. To the nation of Israel it relates back to the everlasting promises given to Abraham which they have fulfilled in Christ (Gen. 17:7). The gospel is the sole means of God’s mercy which is everlasting (Ps. 100:5). It is everlasting because it is unchanging because it is based not upon the arbitrary whims of a man like antichrist but on the true Christ who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

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But there is more to the voice of the gospel in our text. First, consider the source of the gospel. It is an angel of God. It is not an accursed angel carrying a different gospel than the one we received because there is nothing in this text to say such a thing contrary to the claim of some hyper-dispensationalists (Gal. 1:7). The angel is the preacher and the angel is preaching in an obvious way by flying in the midst of heaven. So the angel is preaching in the air or the sky. The idea is that every land would be able to hear this gospel. Secondly, consider the audience. The audience is those that dwell on the earth. So far in the book of Revelation those that dwell on earth are the ones that would be tried (Rev. 3:10), the ones that would be avenged upon (6:10), the ones that rejoiced at the death of the true prophets (11:10), the ones that were subject to the great woe of the last three trumpets (12:12), and the ones that worship the beast. The term “them that dwell on the earth” is synonymous with those that have sided with antichrist, refused to repent, and will be judged with antichrist. So, the gospel here that is preached is not preached for the purpose of winning them to Christ. He is preaching to those who have already decided against Christ. Therefore we can deduce that the sole purpose of this angelic aberration and preaching is to draw a distinction between the sides; to declare Christ as opposed to the antichrist that the world has embraced. The same may be said of the world that was once said of Israel, “That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them” (Mark 4:12). The gospel that is the savor of life to many will be the savor of death to the unrepentant world. The same sun that melts the wax now hardens the clay. Thirdly, it has a specific message above and beyond the message of Christ, “Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” A lot of the controversy concerning the nature of the gospel in this text arises out of what the angel says in this text. To some of the hyper-dispensationalists, the claim that the gospel, or good news, of this text is a gospel of works based on what the angel says. The extrapolate that to mean that people who are saved during the tribulation are saved by works. This is their proof text. They forget that this gospel is not being preached to people who would be saved but to a rebellious people who would not repent. The same crowd would say that Christ, who obviously taught salvation by grace through faith in Him alone as the means of salvation (Matt. 11:28, John 3:15-18, 5:24, etc.), taught the same gospel of good works when he told the rich young ruler sale all, give to the poor, and follow Him (Matt. 19:21). It was clear in that text that Christ was not meaning to espouse the doctrine of salvation in contradiction to all He had taught elsewhere but rather to teach that young ruler what it would take to stand perfect before God. The gospel is salvation through Christ alone and our text is not a proof text that there is any other gospel other than salvation through Christ alone. This was a call to repentance equivalent to the call to repentance that has always accompanied the call of the gospel. It is further clear that the true gospel is being preached by the angel (that is the good news of salvation through the person and work of Christ) in opposition to the false gospel of the antichrist that was preached and received by the world in the 13th chapter. This text, without doing violence to the clear meaning of the gospel, what ought to be the effect of the gospel. The purpose and end result of the gospel of Christ is to bring men to God (John 14:6). This is about the fruit of the gospel. Where Paul speaks of the root of the gospel in proclaiming justification by faith, James preached the fruit of the gospel by saying we are justified by works, that is the works that naturally result from faith (Titus 2:14). They were not in contradiction.

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The angel is not preaching a gospel of good works unto salvation as people want to claim. He proclaimed loudly that the true gospel if it would be received would reconcile them to God. The gospel, if received, would cause them to fear God, give glory to God, and worship God. Consider each of these. First, the gospel brings us to a place of fear. “Twas grace that taught my heart to fear….” This is the truth of all our experience. When the gospel is presented to men it causes those who would be saved to fear the God that they had offended with their sin. The gospel is presented to people who have no fear of God before their eyes and shows them the immensity and power and holiness of God. The fear of God is the beginning of all knowledge and that includes the saving knowledge of the gospel of Christ. We show fear and reverence to God by reverencing His Son (Luke 20:13). Further, the fear of our text immediately references judgment. Man should fear because the hour is soon coming that He will judge all men by His Son (John 5:22). To the people on the earth who will hear this last gospel call it is declared that the hour of His judgment is come. They are called therefore to fear before God because of their sin. Secondly, the gospel calls brings men to giving glory to God. The command for men is to give glory to God (Ps. 29:1). Giving glory to Christ (via the gospel) is synonymous with giving glory to God (Luke 17:18). Therefore the gospel of Christ is the synonymous with the gospel message of this angel. We can only give honor to the Father by honoring the Son. “He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him” (John 5:23). The need to honor God through submission to the gospel (i.e. through the Son) is urgent just like the need to fear. It is because the hour of His judgment is coming. This judgment is that which is anticipated by Daniel in his prophecy. “I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened” (Dan. 7:9, 10). The call to give glory is summed up well to this apostate world in the words of Jeremiah, “Give glory to the Lord your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness” (Jer. 13:16). Fear leads to the giving of glory to God in any presentation of the gospel. Kiss the Son lest He be angry with thee (Ps. 12). Lastly, the gospel contains a call to worship. The reception of the gospel brings us from fear to the giving of glory and finally to worship. The reception of the gospel (i.e. Christ) makes us true worshippers of God. The message of Christ to the woman at the well began with the gospel presentation of the living water and ended with a call to worship: “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). One can only worship God through the truth of Christ in the same way that in the Old Testament men would worship God through sacrifice. It is the worship of God that is the bringing us to God by Christ (John 14:6, Heb. 7:25). “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit…” (I Pet. 3:18). It is the reconciling of ourselves to God through the gospel of Christ.

I want to note that none of the three results of the gospel here preached by the angel (fear, giving glory, and worship) constitute a gospel of works. What it does constitute, if it could be obeyed (II Thess. 1:8) by the hearers in our text is a real opportunity to turn from idols to worship the living God through the gospel of Christ. They have decided to worship a man and a created dragon and an image. They have decided to worship the creature instead of the Creator. This is an offer, a final offer, to worship the one that heaven and earth. This is an offer to worship the one the made the sea and the fountains of water that nourish this earth. Why worship something less than true divinity. The gospel presentation of this angel stands in stark contrast to those who would fall before the beast.