Thursday, May 23, 2013

Who are the overcomers?

For this series, we want to dwell in some depth, the subject of overcoming and overcomers.  In Scriptures, such overcoming may at times be translated as conquering and conquerors.
Part I – Overcomers are the ones pursuing a life of overcoming to the end
There are many things we may face, to overcome or conquer.  Examples, included a) physical things like lack of resources – money, materials needed, even workers or labourers; b) afflictions and calamities like there has been a tsunami disaster, a hurricane strike, a disease epidemic outbreak; c) negative or devastating emotions like depression, overwhelming sorrow, feeling of unloved, and aimlessness; d) combination of any of the above and more; e) the world, as a catch all; and last but NOT the least, f) death!

Yes, you read it right: f) reads death!  Are you surprised to see such a thing that we are to overcome or conquer? 

You are surprised when you are thinking of physical death.  I am NOT referring to physical death, for although one may be able to overcome physical death for a season, there is just no way for one to overcome that, forever. 

Even if it were possible to go into repeated suspended animation (go into long sleep), what kind of life is that,  every time you are not in it, you still age; no one can escape that.  All of us will die, physically. 

Now, I minister in the area of divine healing, and I have seen miracles, and God healed people, yet, all will die one day (unless you are translated or taken up; and even that, you are no longer living physically on the earth), that I know – that all will die one day, and I accept that.

So, the death here, is NOT referring to physical death, but the eventual death or the death after physical death.  In the Christian’s faith terminology, the physical death is known as the 1st death, and the 2nd one, the eternal death or final spiritual death (I add the word, final, although some people don’t, because some also use spiritual death on the unregenerate men (those not yet entered into salvation). 

Scripture does refer to the unregenerate man as dead (John 5:24 for e.g.); what does it mean?  The first thing that we have to believe, is that a man’s spirit lives forever, in the sense that it (or he or she) does NOT become nothingness.  It means the spirit does NOT die into nothingness like in the case of the physical man (dies a physical death).  The physical man dies into nothingness (we are NOT talking about His soul or spirit (Man is tripartite, body (physical), soul and spirit – to understand this, you have to read my Tripartite Man article, here).  The physical man (body) is from dust, and Scripture tells us, upon death, the physical man (body) becomes nothingness, for it returns to the ground (or dust).  But the spirit of a man does NOT vanish into thin air, so to speak.  It will always exist; when one dies physically, the spirited soul (spirit and soul), either goes to Heaven to continue with eternal life, or goes to Hell, and continue to exist (still eternal, but we normally no longer refer to the existence as eternal life but as eternal death). 

Some people use (it is acceptable, I suppose) the word, “legal” to describe these states.  The unregenerate man is “legally” dead, in the sense that he is already damned (or condemned to Hell).  It is to be noted that the man is NOT really dead, in the physical sense of nothingness, but that he is as good as dead, in the sense that unless his status is changed, he is going there, death, and that death is the eternal death or to exist in the lake of fire of Hell.  So, we need to know that there is, that dead, that has just been explained, and there is the condition of the spirit. 

As a condition of the spirit which exists forever, for the unregenerate man, his spirit is very weak indeed, due to its separation from the source of life, God; but the spirit of the unregenerate man is NOT completely dead, like the person is without a spirit anymore.  We won’t object to the saying that the unregenerate man is spiritually dead, for indeed the spirit of the man is no longer capable of discerning spiritual thing or matter, and needed the Spirit of God to come into the picture. 

When the unregenerate man is regenerated or born again, the Holy Spirit or Spirit of Christ quickens the man’s spirit – from “like dead”, very weak, it is vivified; also to note is that, quickening is on the same existing spirit of the man, NOT a new spirit is given him.  And it is NOT before entry into salvation, a man (or the unregenerate man) is without a spirit, or that the man was NOT Tripartite until he becomes a believer or is born-again.  

So when a man is born again, 3 things changed: 1. The person’s spirit is quickened (at the least, given the capacity to discern spiritual matter, enough to understand the Gospel basic message, of Jesus was sent by the Father God for salvation), his spirit understood the basic Gospel message, and he chose to believe; 2. The damned status of the spirit-man is lifted, and that is what John 5:24 was referring to – from (legal) death to life; and 3. God puts His Spirit (or {the same} the Holy Spirit or {the same} Spirit of Christ) to indwell the man.

Many of us are consumed by this, and rightly so, that we overcome the long-run eternal death.  However, to reach that, our faith need to be found to have overcome all the onslaught of what the world we are still living in, may throw at us, including all the above listed items, including the catch all, “world”. 

Many, under heretic teachings, are adopting the stance of: all it is needed to overcome eternal death, and so, able to live forever – eternal life, is simply to accept Jesus Christ as one’s Savior, FULLSTOP.  Such believers have received in, the fallacy of “when you have believed, you are a believer with the meaning that you have overcome and you are an overcomer; that is all there is, to salvation”.  Yes, you become a believer, but that is NOT all there is, to salvation. Such believe that once you are saved, you are always saved, regardless.  So, to such, there is no such issue of overcoming being of any spiritual significance in connection to issue of eternal life or avoidance of eternal death. 

Some even simply adopt the idea that “to those who overcome, …”, in Scripture, like in the various texts in the Book of Revelation, is just another way of saying “a believer”!  Such over-simplification only leads to heretic belief system.

I am NOT saying “legally” a believer is NOT an overcomer, just like we do NOT normally say a believer is NOT alive but still dead (that would be inconsistent with John 5:24).  From being ”legally dead”, upon entry into salvation, your status changed to “legally alive”.  This is one moment of reckoning, but Scripture gives more than one moment of reckoning.  There is the time of physical death or 1st death, and there is the Judgment Day.  Similarly, we call a believer, a saint, and a non-believer, a sinner, for using the same terminology, there is a change of “legal status” from being a sinner to a saint, upon entry into salvation.  Leaving the final judgment to God, I would only call a saint who sins, a dirty saint; I would not call him a sinner all over again.  God can call him a sinner, but I should NOT, unless I hear from God.

Is “legal status” enough?
No, the simple reason is that there is more than one moment of reckoning.  Because we live on (unless you die immediately after entry into salvation), our critical moment of reckoning is the moment of death (physical death or 1st death).  And so, we have to live out our “legal status” until death.  The Father God applied it to Jesus, and the same we are subject to.  Jesus was righteous and sinless, and He had to live it out, living a life of overcoming, before He got back to Heaven, into fullness of glory the Father God has prepared for Him.

I give us a simple metaphor: Suppose US of A would admit any man to be her residents, except one found guilty of a crime on a list, and topping the list is murder.  You are a man outside of US of A, and there came a time, you were accused of murder.  You were innocent, and indeed you were found innocent, after investigation.  Were you still eligible to go and stay in US of A, upon being acquitted?  Yes.  Are you now, still eligible to be a resident of US of A?  Yes.  Next month, are you still eligible?  Depends!  How come depends?  If tomorrow you murder someone, you will be a murderer, and that will make you no longer eligible.  Because you are NOT yet going into US of A today when you are innocent, you need still to be innocent when it is time for you to go into US of A to take up residence.   In other words, you need to live out your innocent status until the time of reckoning; meaning you need to pursue a life of overcoming, of NOT committing crimes on the list (Of course, I am NOT saying a believer would never sin, but there is “remedy” for that, in 1 John 1:9).

I know I have NOT quoted many scriptures in this part I of this series.  We will look at many scriptures pointing to “we have to live out what we are, to be who we are” in subsequent parts of this series. 

Have you wondered where people get this idea that once you are a believer, you have already overcome the world, and life of overcoming is non-issue?!  Or what scripture was used to support the saying that “to those who overcome, …” was just another way of saying “a believer”? 

It is from 1 John 5, and more specifically, 1 John 5:4-5; and we will look into this, in the next part, Part II.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

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