I had a lot of fun writing up the Bible study on DOOM that I decided to do a Bible study on another classic, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
The game starts off with Link’s fairy, Navi, waking him up and telling him he needs to go see the Great Deku Tree. As the Great Deku Tree tells you of the great evil about to fall upon Hyrule through a man named Ganondorf, you learn of your purpose to fight this evil. So, you venture off into the world, all by yourself, to prepare to fight against this evil to destroy it.
Upon your first encounter with Ganondorf, Princess Zelda is fleeing with her protector, Impa, and Ganondorf follows after her. You try to stop him, failing to do so because you’re just a wimpy little kid with a $2 sword from the Dollar Store.
But you don’t give up. You make it your life’s mission to save Zelda from Ganondorf. However, as you’re preparing to save Zelda, you discover it’s not just Zelda who needs saving from Ganondorf, but all of Hyrule as well. So, you wield the Master Sword and the Hyrule Shield to prepare to fight this great evil, as well as becoming a master of Time. Maybe Link was a Time Lord. That would make an interesting theory for The Game Theorists’ YouTube channel.
Running Off into Battle
Ocarina of Time is indicative of the human condition, particularly in Christians, who go off into the world to face evil.
When someone “gets saved”—as evangelicals are apt to say—they are excited to tell other Christians about their salvation. They run up to you and say, “I just got saved!” Others says, “I got saved on April 17, 2007!” That’s great and all, but you got saved over 2,000 years ago on a Friday at 3:00pm when Jesus died on the cross for your sins!
Jesus calls us all through the Great Commission, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20a). After receiving faith in Jesus, we often become excited about this faith and run out into the world to tell people about it… all by ourselves.
This is our first mistake—going out alone without any proper instruction on how to share the faith, especially when to properly distinguish Law and Gospel. (For example, street preachers who preach the fire and brimstone of Hell on the streets to gay rights activists is a confusion of Law and Gospel. They don’t need the Law because they already know what the Law says about their sins. Rather, they need the Gospel. They need to be fed the honey of the Gospel, not the vinegar of the Law.)
Now, I don’t want to downplay those who have gone out by themselves, shared the Gospel with a friend in private or even a stranger, and helped lead them to salvation. There’s nothing wrong with that; I’ve done it myself. However, when we go out into the world, I think it’d be wise and more beneficial to go out with a small team (especially to have training beforehand so we don’t confuse Law and Gospel). I’m not saying going out with a small team is guaranteed to convert someone, but it’s far better—and far more practical—than going by yourself.
Jesus, after all, sent His disciples to do His work in groups of twos. Even after His ascension, the apostles continued to travel in groups. Even when they did travel alone, they always made it a point to get together again and do ministry together as well as to receive encouragement and strength from one another. Sometimes, God leads us in different directions than our friends in ministry, but it is always vital to be strengthened and renewed with our brothers and sisters.
There’s a lot in Jesus’ wisdom when He sent out the 72 disciples in groups of twos (Luke 10:1). This isn’t surprising since Jesus is the wisdom of God incarnate.
Why would Jesus send them in groups of twos? It’s quite simple, really. A group of two people are able to rely on each other for comfort and encouragement, and they can tag-team the Gospel message to make it even more profound. It’s one thing when someone goes out by themselves to preach the Gospel, but why should I believe that one person? When two people (or more) have the same message and testimony, it makes the message all the more convincing. There is also the fact that we have some weaknesses that others are simply better at.
(For example, my vicarage supervisor excels with face-to-face interaction, whereas I don’t; and I excel at writing, whereas he doesn’t. This is to his own admission. Our strengths and weaknesses aid each other as we minister to others. There is also the differences between his extroversion and my introversion; both have their own strengths and weaknesses that aid each other as well.)
Now, some of you may have evangelised in the streets by yourself and experienced success. Good for you! That’s great! However, wouldn’t it be much easier and encouraging to go with someone else? In contrast, some of us may have attempted evangelism by ourselves and experienced failure. But it’s not over. (By the way, proper evangelism is sharing the Gospel according to our vocational relationships, not the apostolic method of going from town to town in the streets, which was necessary for their time and place, not so much ours. This method still worked in the 50s, but it’s not so efficient today, nearly 70 years later.)
When Jesus sent out the 72 disciples, He told them, “But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless, know this, that the kingdom of God has come near'” (John 10:10-11). And the apostles did do what Jesus said in this matter on their missionary journeys (cf. Acts 13:50-51).
It is not our responsibility when people reject Christ. When we proclaim the Gospel, we often take it personally when people indefatigably refuse Christ, and we think it’s our fault. We think to ourselves, “Did I say something wrong? What could I have done better?” There’s nothing we could’ve said or done differently to make them believe, in most cases (if you sinned against them while proclaiming the Word, this would likely be a hindrance to their believing). Either way, it is not we or they who cause conversion; that is solely the work of the Holy Spirit. “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44).
A person’s conversion does not depend on the eloquence of our words and neither does it depend on them doing the right things or praying the right prayer (e.g. “the sinner’s prayer”). I could preach the best sermon in the universe and you could tell God’s story of the Gospel in the most entertaining and persuasive way possible, and still, some will not believe. This is because faith does not depend on our ability or the will of the unbeliever. Their conversion depends on the Father who draws them near through the Holy Spirit.
The Father draws all of us near to Him, but the only decision we actually make on our own is when we reject Him because we are already living in rejection of Him—it is a decision we make every day in our unbelief until the Holy Spirit intercedes and chooses to give us faith. The Holy Spirit gently breaks the ice of our inner being, but it is the condition of our nature—known as original sin—to resist Him.
So, when people refuse the gift of Christ and reject Him, let us go on our merry way. We’ve planted the seed; let someone else water it. We must respect the Holy Spirit enough to do His work as He so chooses. Consider Paul’s words, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So, neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:6-7). However, as we let them remain in their faithlessness, let us continue to pray for them.
Trying to Save the World
As Link’s original mission was to save Zelda, he realised it’s also the world that needs saving from Ganondorf’s evil regime.
After the Fall of Man, God knew the world needed saving. He didn’t make a plan to save only Adam and Eve, but also all of creation (all of creation includes both mankind and nature; the two are not separate). So, God the Father sent His Son into the world to die for its sinful corruption. John 3:16-17, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” This gift of faith offered through Christ’s death and resurrection is known as the universal offer.
This is far different from the heresy of universalism, which purports all people are saved whether they have faith in Christ or not; but that’s not what God’s Word says. It says whoever believes in Christ will not perish but inherit eternal life, meaning this gift of faith is offered to every single person on earth (hence universal offer), despite what Calvinists might tell you (that Christ only died for the elect, which is absurd). Those who do not receive this faith will perish. So, universalism is an enormous lie sold to gullible people.
Romans 6:23 says that through Christ’s death and resurrection, the wages of sin have been bought for all. First Timothy 2:6 says Jesus “gave Himself as a ransom for all”—that is, He paid the ultimate price for all our sins. We were held captive by sin, and Christ paid the ransom for all its captives, if only they would believe this. This deposit of Christ’s blood is our inheritance from Christ Himself. Hebrews 9:15, “Therefore, He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.”
As Christians who are enthusiastic for the Lord and to preach the Gospel, we sometimes grow a saviour complex ourselves (aka messiah complex). We take it upon ourselves to save the world.
We already have a Saviour, folks. The Messiah has already come. There is already a Jesus. Jesus will always be a better Jesus than you can ever be. He already died for the sins of the world. Yes, go out as a servant of Christ’s commission to make disciples, baptise them, and teach them what Jesus has taught us. But we cannot save the world. Not all people will be saved, as sad as that is. We don’t know who will be saved, even if at first someone we witness to rejects Christ; they could believe two years from now, or even thirty years from now. Even on their death bed, whenever that is. Simply fulfil your Christian duty and trust God with the rest.
This analogy of Link saving the world breaks down, as all analogies concerning God break down. Link succeeds in saving the world, and all are saved; Jesus died for the sins of the world, but not all will be saved. That’s where the analogy breaks down. Nevertheless, as we witness, we must remember the victory has already been won in Christ.
Jesus already defeated evil on the cross; it is only a matter of time until that victory is officially culminated on this side of the eschaton. So, as we go out into the world to proclaim the Gospel, we must try not to develop a saviour complex because (A) there is already a Saviour, and (B) their salvation is not our responsibility. Let us plant the seed, and if at first it isn’t fruitful, let us leave and allow someone else to water it as we pray for them.
The Master Sword of God’s Word and the Holy Shield of Faith
As Zelda fans know, Link wields the Master Sword that has the power to destroy all evil as well as the Hyrule Shield to fend off the strongest attacks.
If you predicted I was going to compare Ganondorf to Satan, congratulations, you were right! Ganondorf is the primary antagonist in Ocarina of Time, and he sends evil creatures to do his evil bidding. This isn’t too different from Satan. 2 Corinthians 4:4, “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
Also, Jesus said, “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on Me, but I do as the Father has commanded Me, so that the world may know that I love the Father” (John 14:30-31). Satan rules this world and sends his demons to do his bidding.
Christ is still King of this world, however; He still reigns over it “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me” (Matthew 28:18). Satan is the “god of this world” in that he is allowed to rule to an extent in order for God to carry out His will, particularly showing His power over evil. If you’ve been watching the news for the past few years and have been paying any attention to politics, this is obvious. Satan’s influence invades philosophies, education, religion, politics, gender identity, and sexual perversions.
This does not mean, however, that God is somehow powerless. It means God allows Satan to operate within the boundaries He allows (we see this especially in Job’s life). Scripture says Satan is the ruler of this world, but God only gives him dominion over unbelievers. Christians are no longer under the dominion of Satan. Colossians 1:13, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.” Christ is King; Satan is merely a ruler—like a mayor. He’s insignificant.
Consider the ancient Roman Empire. In Jesus’ time, Tiberius Caesar Augustus was Emperor. Underneath him were tetrarchs, or governors, like Herod in Jesus’ childhood who were given domain over a certain area of Rome but had certain boundaries of authority the Emperor set on them. In the same way, God is King of Heaven and Earth; Satan only has dominion over the unbelievers on earth, which is a very specific kingdom.
This does not mean, however, that Satan doesn’t try to cause Christians to fall away from the faith. He can make his attempts, but he doesn’t rule over us. God rules over us. Nevertheless, Satan can persuade us. Any time we think of something along the lines of, “Did God really say…” is when Satan is trying to deceive us and fall back into his kingdom. After all, it worked so well with Adam and Eve, and they were perfect!
If you read my Bible study on DOOM, you would’ve read in detail about every piece of the armour of God. I’m not going to go over all of them again, but I will re-emphasise some key points.
Link took up the Hyrule Shield. Let us take up the Holy Shield of Faith.
Faith is a powerful thing. In fact, it is so power that it can move mountains (Matthew 17:20). Of course, Jesus did not mean literal mountains; He was obviously speaking metaphorically and hyperbolically, as was His pedagogical method. His point was that even faith as minuscule as a mustard seed can grow into something enormous and, furthermore, do enormous things, such as resisting the Devil. Without faith, resisting the Devil is impossible. Yet faith even as small as a mustard seed can do such a powerful thing as resisting the ruler of this world.
Humans are inclined to think we have to do things in order to be saved. In contrast, God says something entirely different. Rather, we are saved through faith by His grace (Ephesians 2:8-9) and we are, therefore, justified by faith (Romans 5:1). We don’t have to do anything except receive the gift of faith. First Corinthians 12:3, “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit.”
The Holy Spirit gives us faith and it is only because of the conversion He works in us that we are even able to say, “Yes, Jesus, I accept Your gift. You are my Lord and Saviour.” In other words, it’s not that we say “yes” out of sheer human will and reason and then are converted, since our will is dead in sin and, therefore, can’t do anything but lie there like a lifeless corpse (Ephesians 2:1). Rather, the Holy Spirit first converts us (gives us life in Christ), then we say “yes” because of the work He’s already done in us. The comic below is a helpful illustration of this.
Link took up the Master Sword to destroy evil. Let us take up the Master Sword of God’s Word to destroy Satan’s evil. Jesus uses God’s Word during His temptation in the wilderness against Satan to fight him. Guess what? Jesus won.
Even though Satan twists God’s Word for his own purposes, he ultimately cannot withstand God’s Word. Satan twisted God’s Word to the first Adam in the garden and he was deceived along with his wife. Satan twisted God’s Word to Christ, the second Adam, in the desert, and He refuted Satan with God’s Word, having fulfilled what we could not do in the garden.
When Satan says we’re unworthy or unlovable and aren’t forgiven, let us say: “Get behind me, Satan! I have been baptised into Christ and adopted as a son/daughter of God. By this, the Holy Spirit dwells within me. I am a temple of the Holy Spirit. Nothing you do can harm me. It is because of God’s love that I am baptised and forgiven. Therefore, go, for you are weak against my Lord, Jesus Christ, who reigns in me through His Holy Spirit!” And Satan shall flee (James 4:7).
Or, to quote my favourite prayer from St. Benedict, “Begone, Satan! Never tempt me with your vanities! What you offer me is evil. Drink the poison yourself!”
We can use the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit to fight on behalf of others as well. What do you think we’re doing when we comfort a believer, or even an unbeliever, with the Word of God? We are using His flaming sword by faith to defeat the evil attacking them. By faith, we are defending them. By speaking God’s Word into their lives, we are fighting for them. Rather, the Holy Spirit is doing His work.
What happens at the end of Ocarina of Time? Peace happens. Link saves Hyrule and they live in peace. In the same way, when we receive Christ’s salvation, we live in His peace.
I want to share an excerpt from a series I wrote called “Rooted in the Faith: Peace”:
Peace is the common goal for all humanity. Mankind desires world peace. But when we examine history we find the more we strive for peace, the further we’re driven away from it. Why is this? Well, because the entire world is corrupted with sin. As long as sin abounds, world peace is impossible by human standards. Some look to Jesus as a great teacher and even erroneously believe He came to bring peace to the world, but He didn’t promise us world peace. However, He did say, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27). Jesus did not promise to bring world peace; He promised to give us His peace, which comes not from this world. He also said elsewhere that His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). So, if His peace isn’t of this world either, perhaps they both come from the same place—God the Father in Heaven.
What does Jesus mean when He says He gives us His peace? What does this peace feel like?
His peace is not a feeling; it is the reality of the relationship we now have with God the Father. We are no longer enemies of God; we have now been reconciled to Him by faith.
We can all remember this peace by remembering our Baptism, by which we are sealed into the family of God through the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. This peace is not something we can receive from the world. The world strives for political, military, and economic peace even though they use means that make this impossible. Their efforts become a colossal failure.
Insofar as the world remains corrupt with sin, peace will never be attainable. Christ, however, promises us and gives us peace with God the Father—the peace that is reconciliation, comfort, and forgiveness in Christ, which is justification by faith.
Therefore, let us praise God for the victory we have in Christ! Let us praise God for the gift of His Word and faith, the faith that saves us and the Word that fights for us! Let us praise God for the peace we receive through Christ!
Therefore, let me leave you all with the Benediction as you fear, love, and trust in God above all things and game boldly:
The LORD bless you and keep you.
The LORD make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.
The LORD lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.