Thursday, November 7, 2013

Who are the overcomers? Part III (on-going overcoming expected of us)

In Part I, I have argued that believers need to pursue a life of overcoming.  It is NOT enough just to rely on the “legal” status of an overcomer upon entry into salvation, and NOT pursue that life of overcoming. 

I gave the understanding that God applied it to Jesus Christ, and the same we are subject to.  He was righteous and sinless, and He still had to live out His righteousness and a sinless life; He was still needed to pursuing a life of overcoming the world, and came up as the Overcomer.  Jesus is our model; He is the Firstfruit.  We are to be, likewise, be an overcomer who pursue a life of overcoming the world, be a model, and be the firstfruits for many more men to come after us.

In Part II, we have looked at the correct dividing of the text of 1 John 5:1-6a, particularly 1 John 5:4-5, coming to the conclusion the Apostle John was NOT intending to say that we are already overcomers, and so, there is NOT any need of us to overcome anything in our on-going life, much the same way of his saying in 1 John 3:9 that believers cannot sin, does NOT mean that believers do NOT need to resist sins.

“To those who overcome” is therefore, NOT simply another way of saying “a believer”, as purported by some overly grace preachers who kept on their erroneous exhortation to believers, to just bask in grace, and NOT to try to live right and be fruitful, overcoming all the onslaught that the world throws at the believers, to hinder.

The overall counsel of the Word is more like “We are who we are (overcomers), when we live out what we are (“legally” declared overcomers)”.

Part III – On-going overcoming is expected of us
We have established we have to be pursuing a life of overcoming to the end.  It is just NOT we enter into salvation, and it is all done – that we have overcome all (inclusive of the future troubles), at that point.  As long as we still live, we have to continue to overcome. 

Below I give us a spectrum of verses from Scripture showing on-going overcoming is the expectation of God.  If it were we have already overcome, and there is no more need to pursue a life of overcoming, it does NOT make sense that Scripture devoted so many commands and so much space, to this subject.  I have added my comments against some of the verses.

John 16:33 – “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” 

My comment – By this, Jesus’ own words, we know we would NOT be having trouble-free life after becoming a believer.  But at the same time, we need NOT be distressed, for our Lord had overcome the world, and so, can empathize with us, and help us.  Despite it all (troubles and all), in Him, peace is still possible (if you want to know how {i.e. be of peace still}, read this: The Holy Spirit is the peace).

1 Peter 5:8 - Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

My comment – it is NOT the devil now no longer prowl around, or that when you become a believer, you cannot be the “someone” that the devil will target.  So, rightly, we have it in the verse - be watchful, and be sober-minded.

1 Cor 10:12-13 - 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!  13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

My comment – The Apostle Paul warned us, here, NOT to be cavalier about our part in overcoming.  At the same time, Paul spoke about God will provide a way out.  This is consistent with John 16:33, that in Christ Jesus, it is still possible to be having peace.

Hebrews 13:5 - Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."

Matt 13:22 - The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.

My comment – This is directed at believers too; and it is NOT you would automatically be free from love of money on entering into salvation, if it were so, there is no need to exhort.  It is on-going, in our lives, we have to avoid the love of money, be contented.  Godliness with contentment is what we have to pursue on-going; it is of great worth, said the Word.  So, we have to overcome the love of money, on-going.

James 1:12 - Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him 

My comment – 1. Obviously the test here is NOT referring to the test of entry into salvation; where, when you entered, you have withstood the test or trial, and that you have been steadfast.  2. Yes, you do begin to love Him, at the entry into salvation, but the “love him” there, in the verse obviously, is referring to a person’s on-going love for the Lord or God.  3. How we want God to bless us; well, blessing of God can come, according to this verse, when you continue to overcome, continue to be steadfast under trial.

Revelation 3:21 - To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.

My comment – I have quoted this, more than once, in this series so far; it is clear, we have to pattern after Jesus – to overcome to the end, and then share in like-glory.

Revelation 3:5 He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. 

My comment – I have also quoted this before, in this series so far – the way to guarantee your name NOT be blotted out, is to be overcoming till the end.

Revelation 2:7 - He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

My comment – How can “to the one who overcomes or conquers” be simply another way of saying “a believer”.  If it were so, it would be superfluous to say to, or exhort the church, for the church is the body of believers.  Obviously, it is referring to a believer who overcomes, in the present continuous tense manner, that the Lord would be granting eternal life.

Revelation 2:11 - He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.

My comment – Similar to Rev 2:7, for the ones who live a life of overcoming, his destiny is eternal life, and NOT the death after death, in the lake of fire of Hell.

Revelation 2:17 - He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.

Revelation 2:26 - To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations--

Revelation 3:12 -  Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name.

My comment – These are some verses from the Book of Revelation exhorting us to persevere in our overcoming, in our on-going earthly life.  Notice Rev 2:26 has “God’s works” in it; that we are to keep His works.  For this verse, “to the end” is in it; we do need to overcome until the end.

It is NOT a one-minute or five-minute thing, of entering into salvation by saying the Sinner’s Prayer or repeating it after another, of the same; it is a life-time thing!  Jesus said to count the cost before making the decision to follow Him (Luke 14:27-30).  It is when you have weighed out or counted the cost, and then made the decision to follow the Lord, that very decision was a decision with commitment; and is a commitment to a life of overcoming all the odds against your living out the Kingdom (of God)’s life.

Revelation 12:11 - They overcame him {Dragon or Satan} by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.

My comment – Now, this again was NOT referring to the moment of entry into salvation. What is meant by overcoming Satan by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony? 

It is we enforcing Jesus’ victory over Satan, achieved through the shedding of His blood.  How to do that? 

First, we have to understand what Jesus did by His sacrifice – He defeated Satan, and wrestled back the authority over us, men.  This authority is given back to you when you enter into salvation.  In other words, your volition is restored to you; Satan has no hold on you, you are no longer counted with Satan from the Original Sin by Adam and Eve.  It is right of Scripture to say that Jesus is the propitiation of the world; He is, but each still have to come to Him in order to have the authority wrestled back from Satan, to be received by the individual. 

Secondly, this authority a believer received back, he/she has to willingly, consciously and on-going-ly gives over to the Lord by obeying the will and desires of God, including His Word and commands, for him/her.  Now, this is also where the overcoming by the word of testimony comes in; how we live, bears out whether or NOT, we have effectively given our allegiance to God.  This verse talked about believers who would even be willing to die for the Lord, to remain overcoming.  It was NOT talking of about just at the moment of entry into salvation.

Revelation 21:7 - He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.

My comment – This is the heritage of the one who overcomes to the end, God will be His God, and he will be God’s son.  I am NOT saying that you and I are NOT sons of God, presently, but it is that we are accorded as sons (and so, He, our God), AND there is still a reckoning at the end of our life.

Because many of the verses above are from the 1st section of the Book of Revelation, as part of the messages to the 7 churches, calling for pursuit of overcoming, it is appropriate to, at least, have a list of what are the things the Lord has spoken about, concerning the need to overcome, before we end this part of the series on “Who are the overcomers?”

These are the things that Jesus said to overcome, from the scenarios of the 7 churches, definitely NOT just the renunciation of the faith:

1)  Temptation to forsake our first love (Rev 2:4-6, Ephesus church): 4Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

2)  Temptation to give in to oppression, imprisonment, persecution, and even afflictions of life (Rev 2:9-10, Smyrna church): 9I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life (You may want to read also the 2nd soil of the Parable of the Sower {soils} in Matt 13)

3)  Temptation to stray from God’s teaching, embracing false ones from outside (of the church proper), particularly those promoting unfaithfulness towards God, and sensual indulgence and licentiousness {Balaam-styled teachings & Nicolaitans’ teachings} (Rev 2:14-15, Pergamum church): 14Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. 15Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans

4)  Temptation to stray from God’s teaching, embracing false ones from within (of the church proper), again, particularly those promoting unfaithfulness towards God, and sensual indulgence and licentiousness {teachings from Spirit of Jezebel, a controlling spirit} (Rev 2:20, Thyatira church):  20Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.

5)  Temptation to just do one’s own thing, dead works (with no abiding in the Lord), instead of good works (Rev 3:1b-2, Sardis church): I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.

6)  Temptation to give up the faith or give up on the keeping of God’s commands (Rev 3:11, Philadelphia church): I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.

7)  Temptation to give in to complacency, which will also lead to pride (Rev 3:16, Laodicea church): So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

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