(Convinced by the Judgment of the World-ruler)
The question should be faced: How is the conviction carried to the conscience of men that the unbelieving world shall be judged and sentenced?
In answering this we must of course remember that if the sentence of the world-ruler is to serve as ground for the conviction in men’s hearts that the world faces sentence, then that sentence over the ruler must be an evident, a tangible fact. And this leads us to look for that historical fact.
It is most safe to turn to the life of Christ for the appearance of this sentence over Satan and then we find that Christ Himself points this out.
On one occasion the enemies accuse Christ of casting out demons through the prince of demons. But the Savior shows the absurdity of this charge for it would simply imply that Satan’s kingdom is divided against itself, internally torn apart by revolution and anarchy. But such a kingdom is of course doomed. The only other alternative is that He by the finger of God casts out demons. But that is a sign, which God indicates by His finger, that the Kingdom of God has come. For no conqueror can so dispose over and deal out the previous holdings of another unless he has first thoroughly vanquished, bound and evicted him. Christ’s dealing at will with Satan’s former victims shows that Satan has lost control ().
We have another statement on the subject which points more to the history of the New Testament Church. Some Greeks had come to the disciples desiring to see Jesus. In this the Savior sees a foretaste of His glory and the glory of the Father as that shall shine in the great multitude of the redeemed.
But this glory can come only through the way of suffering and the resultant defeat of Satan, and so the Savior triumphantly announces: “Now is the judgment of this world, now is the prince of this world cast out, and I, if I be lifted up from the earth will draw all unto me.” A first fruit of the Gentiles has already presented itself. It is only a first fruit and it fore spells the whole redeemed church, because Satan’s claim on them has been completely broken; he is cast out and condemned. ().
This same idea is presented in the dialogue of the Savior with the Seventy upon their return from the preaching tour in Galilee. “Lord,” they say, “even the demons are subject to us in thy name.”
But, he answered, I saw Satan as lightning fall out of heaven. . . . behold I give you authority over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall. by any means hurt you. But above all they must rejoice in the positive fruit, namely, that their names are written in heaven ().
Also here the fact that the disciples were able to cast out some demons if need required, is the proof of something far greater. It is the proof of the fact that the great ruler himself of that evil kingdom has been shorn of his power and evicted from his usurped domain.
To these historical instances we may of course add the fact of the whole New Testament triumph of the Gospel. Always we see there the powerlessness of Satan to hold his dominion.
Now this historical, visible defeat of Satan is to the world a proof that he has been condemned and his condemnation is the first fruit and sample of the utter destruction of his whole kingdom and of all those who own him allegiance.
In conclusion we must recall that this is of great importance for the church.
The Savior had said, The Holy Spirit as Advocate shall testify, and ye shall also testify. Thus it is through the Apostolic church that this conviction is worked. ().
That testimony is not without content, but it takes its content out of the Apostolic preaching.
And so it implies first that the Spirit will provide an infallible record in the Bible of that sin of unbelief toward the Servant of Jehovah, of His complete justification in the resurrection and exaltation, and of Satan’s futile efforts to retain his dominion.
Secondly, it implies that the Spirit will always have a church in this world that is of God’s party. He forms her by regeneration out of the kingdom of Satan and nothing can stop her appearance from generation to generation.
And, thirdly, He enables that Church to bear witness. He gives her conviction and desire and power to speak in His name and for His cause, and it is especially in time of suffering and persecution’ that her voice becomes very clear. For His promise to her is not that she shall be spared from suffering but that she shall be partaker of His triumph.
Thus by that testimony the Triune God through His anointed servant in the Spirit as advocate not only triumphs in the redemption of His elect church, but also continually in the victory of His Son over the hearts and minds of the wicked.