OVERCOMERS AND THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
5He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, (Rev 3:5)
"Pastor, I'd like to ask you a question if you've got a minute."
"Certainly my son. What is it you would like to know?"
"Well, I was reading here in Revelation and I see where it's the Overcomer who'll get all the rewards and stuff. It just got me thinking. I've been coming to this church for a long time and I don't think I ever heard you talk about the Overcomer even once. Yet it's the Overcomer who'll go to Heaven and be with God. I was just wondering if you'd tell me what an Overcomer is and how I can know if I'm one of them or not."
"I would be glad to answer whatever questions you may have. And this question of overcoming is a very simple one to explain. Have you been baptized? By that I mean have you been baptized in the proper manner and with the proper words said over you at your baptism?"
"Yeah, I guess so. I was baptized right here in this church, so I guess it was the right way."
"Yes, I'm sure it was. And at your baptism, did you give your profession of faith?"
"Yeah, I guess that's what it was. I said the words you said to say, so I guess they was the right words like you just said."
"Yes, they were. Then my son, you need not fear, you are a child of God and by having been born again you are an Overcomer."
"That's all there is to it? I mean, there's nothing I got to do? I mean, like, it looks to me like the Bible tells me I got to do all the other things and all. But if I hear you right, you're telling me that because I got in the ring I'm automatically a winner, whether I fight or not. Is that what you're telling me?"
"That's a very good picture of the Christian life my son. Yes, that is what I'm telling you."
"Well then let me ask you this Pastor, what about all them people who never heard the Bible preached? What about them? Do they got to go to hell because they never been baptized and said the right words?"
"I'm afraid that is so. And that's why we have missionaries in the field with the sole purpose of winning those lost souls to the Lord."
"Well, what about little kids in them jungles, and even here too? Do they got to go to hell because they never been baptized?"
"No, not at all my son. Children under the age of accountability are automatically taken into the arms of the Lord without having to be baptized."
"Is that so? Well, doesn't that kind a sound unfair? I mean, those little kids get the rewards for doing nothing if they die, but an old codger that worked hard to do what God wants them to do, but never took a dip, goes to hell forever? What about the little kids in them there jungles that grows up never hearing the Word? They's still little kids when it comes to knowing about Jesus aren't they? Don't they get taken up like us baptized folk do?"
"There is a school of thought that caters to such a notion, but I myself can't reconcile it in Scripture. But all that is in the hands of the Lord and is not for us to decide or worry about. The fact is, you are saved, and by being saved, you are an Overcomer. Isn't that your concern?"
"Kind of it is. But I got this question too that goes along with the Overcomer thing. It's about works and all."
"Works is something you don't have to worry about my son. There are many people trying to work their way into Heaven, and you may be sure, works will never work to cause one to be saved."
"I got that ok Pastor. I know no one can work to get to Heaven. But what about all the places where the Bible says we got to work, and our work is what's going to be judged? What do they mean by works if works is a bad word?"
"Works will indeed be judged my son. But you needn't worry about works or any such thing because you're covered by the blood of Jesus. It's not your works that will be judged, but rather it's the works of the unbeliever that will be judged. And of course, because they are unbaptized and not of faith, they will automatically fall into the hands of Satan and suffer his consequences. Never fear my son, you are free from any consequences. It's your faith that has saved you, not your works. And your faith has been proven by the fact that you have been baptized."
How often have you heard a sermon on Overcoming? How many times have you heard any reference to Overcoming? Do you think the word is in the Bible? Do you have any idea what it means?
I've seen the word, often, when I read the Book of Revelation. But since I hadn't heard much about it from the pulpit, I kind of skipped over those verses, regarding them as something not particularly important, or else something that must automatically apply to me because I was baptized as a Christian.
Though the word Overcome is one that I passed over; it was not one without power. Each time I saw the word, I felt that it somehow applied to me, and that I should give it due consideration. After all, it appears to me that Salvation and Eternal Life hinges on being an Overcomer according to Revelation. But from many pulpits I am told, so it seems, that as long as I believe that Jesus died for my sins; and I was baptized, that my Salvation is assured, even if I backslide into hell itself.
Somehow that just doesn't feel right. Especially when I come across that word "Overcome."
So in order to determine if Overcome is a word worth worrying about, I decided to do a study on it.
To begin with, this word "Overcome" in Greek is also interpreted as "Prevail, Conquer, Get the Victory."
In this study I've included only the verses that use the word interpreted as Overcome.
When I did my research on the subject of works and the Overcomer I discovered there were vast areas of important Biblical principles that seems to have been overlooked, avoided and compromised. Overcomer, as strongly as it is emphasized in the Bible has had very little comments attributed to it. I decided to investigate verses that were so blatantly advocating the absolute need to overcome and to work that the commentaries could not get around making some kind of comment on the subject. And indeed, I found such comments. I discovered, that in their mind, a person becomes an Overcomer by having faith. Faith? By having faith? What is faith? Faith, in reality, is something we think we have, and that we hope we have, but we never know if we have faith until we are tested. For instance, I once studied and practiced to do some skydiving. I read all the books, I practiced all the exercises, but when it came time put my faith into a parachute, I chickened out. All my faith was for nothing. It was in reality non-existent.
Faith in this affluent culture has come to mean a mental assent to something that we hope will never be challenged. Faith to us is not something that is to be tested. If we say we have faith, even though all evidence points to our not having faith, we are to accept what is said and not what is obvious. Much of this attitude probably comes from the concept of "Faith statements" made by both the world and the churches. If we believe it is so, then it is so. If we believe we'll be given a thousand dollars, then we will receive a thousand dollars. If we believe we will be healed, then all we have to do is sit back and wait to be healed. If we believe a fluffy white cloud will come and invisibly whisk us to Heaven, then it is so (well, it's a good movie theme anyway). I have yet to see this principle successfully applied to flying off a tall building or swimming across the Atlantic, but I suspect there have been attempts at such things that I haven't heard about.
Works is another word I tried to find information on. All through the Bible, especially the New Testament, we see the word works, and how we will be judged according to our works. Yet for some reason, in sermons and in commentaries, works is a word that seems to be written with invisible ink. After much investigation I found that works is something that does not apply to the Christian, one who has this unproven and invisible faith, but rather works is what unbelievers will be judged by.
Doublespeak (a form of double-talk) is the use of words and concepts that are mutually incompatible, and yet fully accepted. Keeping this in mind, I would like to ask you a question. Who, do you suppose, the Bible is written to? Do you think Jesus and the Apostles were teaching the unbelievers? Or do you think they were instructing those who already are Christian how to behave as Christians? All the letters I see in the Epistles were written to "the Saints in...." then the name of the church or the city where the church is located. Revelation is written "To the servants" and to the "churches" (Rev 1:1,4).
Jesus spoke to the multitudes. When He spoke to the multitudes He was telling them what they must do to be His disciple. Jesus gave many instructions to His disciples, those who were faithfully following Him. Now I ask you, if this is the case, that all through the Bible instructions were given to those who bear the name of God, and punishment has been (such as in the Old Testament) upon those God called His people, then why, I wonder, when it is all over with would God suddenly start judging the unbelievers? The fate of the unbelievers is already known (Mark 16:16). It's the fate of the supposed believers that is to be determined at the judgement. Does that make sense to you?
Some day we're going to find out just what faith really is, and who's works are going to be judged. I don't know about you, but I'm not counting on having sufficient faith to endure to the end. I'm trying to develop my faith by testing it daily. And I'm not counting on it being the unbeliever's works that are going to be judged. I'm working as hard as I can to rid this body of fleshly desires, striving to overcome as Jesus and the Apostles overcame (John 16:33; Rev 3:21), not like the couch potatoes who claim there is nothing to overcome once the baptismal water has dried.
FILL IN THE BLANKS
I have found through the years that there are many unanswered questions in the Bible. It appeared to me that no one had the answers to the questions I would like to have answered. And as I look back, I see a lot of times I accepted answers that I see now were not correct, but at the time I had nothing better presented to me. Some questions I found a bit of an answer here, and a piece of an answer there, and in between those bits and pieces I filled in the blanks. And I assumed I had the answer that preachers and theologians were trying to get across to me. One such set of answers and blanks involved Overcomers. I thought I had a good understanding of what was being taught by a particular preacher, and I agreed with much of what I was reading. He spoke a great deal about Overcomers. So in effort to see just what an Overcomer is, at least in his opinion, I searched his writings. I discovered that he never stated what an Overcomer is. His concept of an Overcomer is someone who belongs to the same denomination as he does, which is one he started. Well, this is exactly what all the denominations believe, that is, that they have all the answers and that they are right. I was downcast to say the least. I see how I had been filling in the blanks, causing him to say what he hadn't said. And that is the crux of the problem - he never said.
And this is what I'm finding all through the Bible, on every important aspect, things are not said. When there is no way to avoid commenting on the issue, the issue is either sidestepped by the commentators, whitewashed, made of no consequence, or pointed at something that has nothing to do with the subject at hand.
Does it sound like I'm describing a politician? It does to me too. But unfortunately I'm describing the ones we rest our eternal souls on, believing they have the truth, and that they are telling us the truth.
It seems to me that anyone who truly believes in God, who believes in Heaven and hell, who believes in the Judgement, would put more effort into finding the truth of the Gospel than they do in selecting a cold medicine. What do you think?
THE PORCH AND THE DOOR
Jesus said He is the Door to the sheep fold, the Church. We know and except this to be true. Before the door we have the porch, the steps to the Church. All the churches believe they are the Church that one must enter and remain in after passing through the door. This is a huge fallacy that is causing a lot of trouble within the Church body. The churches, the denominations are not the Church, they are the steps to the Church. On the steps of the Temple is where Jesus and the Apostles taught the people and endeavored to convince them of the Truth. It's to the steps people came to learn about the things of God. Within the Temple, those who were the ones supposedly serving God and the people of God, were people who turned a deaf ear to what Jesus was saying. Those who should have been the most knowledgeable about the things of God, who were the teachers of the Word of God, were in fact the most ignorant of the things of God. The Disciples were not instructed on the porch of the Temple where Jesus taught by words alone, they were given their instructions while they followed Jesus and His example on the road, and by listening to Him when they were alone. They learned by doing as He did, by emulation, and by following His instructions. The steps are merely the beginning, the invitation, the introduction, and they are outside the Church, not inside. Church instruction is important. The churches, offering the milk of the Word, prepares those who's heart is ready to enter into the Church, to follow Jesus through the testing experience. But instead of preparing the neophyte for service, the churches hold down their prospective converts, telling them they have reached their full potential, and to go no farther. Because of this we have thousands of splintered organizations separating the Body of Christ and keeping their adherents from progressing in Spiritual growth as they should. The denominations argue about the milk, and about fantasies, declaring their fantasy or doctrine to be the correct fantasy to believe and accept. And while they argue about the non-essentials, they ignore and deny the absolute essentials that God insists we learn and follow if we expect to remain standing before Him at our Judgement (Rev 6:17; Rom 14:10). If the churches, any of the churches, were to realize that they are not the Church, they are not the Door, and they do not hold all the Truth, what a difference could be made in the purposes of God.
11Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. 12For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again WHICH BE THE FIRST PRINCIPLES OF THE ORACLES OF GOD; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13For every one that useth milk IS UNSKILFUL IN THE WORD OF RIGHTEOUSNESS: for he is a babe. 14But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised TO DISCERN BOTH GOOD AND EVIL. (Heb 5:)
Note that Paul is reprimanding the churches for still needing milk, the "first principles" of the Gospel, and not being ready for meat. Read again what Paul has to say about those still needing milk. Read it carefully, it's important.
Now, let's see what Paul means when he says they still need milk. Just what is milk?
1And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. 2I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. 3For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? 4For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? (1Cor 3:)
Take careful note what Paul defines as "carnal, not Spiritual." The signs are division and separation from one another within the body. And if a person is not Spiritual, how can that person teach or understand Spiritual things? (1Cor 2:9-16 look this up, it's important!)
1Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us GO ON UNTO PERFECTION; not laying again the FOUNDATION OF REPENTANCE FROM DEAD WORKS, AND OF FAITH TOWARD GOD, 2OF THE DOCTRINE OF BAPTISMS, AND OF LAYING ON OF HANDS, AND OF RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD, AND OF ETERNAL JUDGMENT. 3And this will we do, if God permit. (Heb 6:)
Did you notice what Paul says is milk? What he's presented here is essentially the entire concepts of what is preached in the churches. And this is milk, not meat. What is meat then? Paul said it, it's moving on into perfection. But what's Paul talking about? Isn't everyone who's been baptized already perfect? Are you getting the message? Or are you turning a deaf ear to what I'm telling you?
Paul is speaking to those who are the teachers, teaching things they don't know anything about. They either refuse to learn, or they are unable to learn. But they think they have all knowledge. This is not new, it's a common occurrence with those in authority. We see it in governments, in the schools, in the Sanhedrin during Jesus' times, and in the leaders during the Exodus where those under Moses wanted to kill him because they thought they were just as godly and knowledgeable as he was. Churches are supposed to be feeding the sheep meat of the Word and teaching them righteousness. But the leaders (with but very few exceptions), deny the need for righteousness, so how can they teach what they don't know? And if we can't learn how to be righteous in church, which is needed to stand before God, then where do we learn righteousness?
26But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:)
25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (Eph 5:)
19These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. 20But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, 21Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. 22And of some have compassion, making a difference: 23And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. 24Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, 25To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and for ever. Amen. (Jude 1:)
1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Rom 12:)
It's not the job of the churches to prepare the Christian for standing before the Lord. It's our job to prepare ourselves. It is the churches job to teach us what we should know in order to accomplish this task, but they will not have to bear the consequences for our failure, we will. We are to listen to the leadership and instruction of the Holy Spirit, not the leaders of the churches. Jesus said:
2Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: 3All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. (Mat 22:)
During the time of the Old Testament (which is the time Jesus lived), it was customary to have the Torah, the Bible read in church, the synagogues. Teaching doctrine, customs and traditions was done outside the church, the synagogues, not in the church as if what was said beyond what the Bible says is Gospel. Today we hear commentaries taught as Gospel, and the Bible is relegated to nothing more than support for whatever doctrine is preached.
Times may change, but people do not. The problem that existed in Jesus time is still present with us today. Paul had to repeatedly confront the leaders of the churches because they followed the example of the Scribes and Pharisees. Jesus in the second and third chapters of Revelation dealt with this issue, attributing it to the end-time church, which is us. Preachers and other leaders of the church are merely people. Some are more Spiritually aware than others, and some are better speakers than others. But regardless of the Spirituality or the ability of the leaders, the responsibility to progress in the Lord falls on our shoulders, not theirs (see Ezekiel chapter 33 for their outlook). The disciples of Jesus had to go contrary to what the church was teaching the people if they chose to follow Jesus. Jesus had to teach outside the city of Jerusalem, the Church, in order to teach what God wanted His people to hear. The church of His day wanted to silence Him, to kill Him. It's no different today. The churches all try to silence those who don't teach as they do. And, in spite of their insistence otherwise, they do not hold the truth, but instead they present fantasy and label it truth. You, me, every one of us, has to study the Word to see what God is really saying if we want to find God's Truth.
Truth is important, but only as a motivator. Knowing the truth is not the same as doing what truth tells us to do (James 1:22). So there's no need trying to blame the church if we fail. If we don't have the truth, it's because we've been content with the lie we're being told and not looking for truth.
WHAT MUST I DO?
Somehow the churches have come to the conclusion that salvation is all there is to Christianity. They try to figure out what constitutes salvation, and they preach their salvation messages. Salvation is not my concern, not in this nor in but very few of my writings. Salvation of the world is the job of the churches and of each of us as ambassadors to the world. Just what salvation is, what brings it about, is of little or no interest to me. I try to reach for the "high calling" Paul tells us about and was striving for himself. Salvation may be the open door to spending eternity with God, but there is so much more. And since this "more" is not taught, it is not understood by the churches and those in the pews. And because it's not accepted or understood, neither is my writings concerning that higher calling understood by anyone other than those who have felt the calling to move forward.
Salvation may come with a bath. I think there's more to it than that, but as I stated above, that is not my concern. At the far end of the spectrum there is another world, that of the Overcomer. Most churches and groups that speak of the Overcomer have interpreted this to mean the 144,000, or the church they belong to, or something that includes them, for whatever reason they might have. Overcomers are not a denomination of couch potatoes. They are not some elite group of mystics with a private revelation. And they're not people who have performed some special rit or that has somehow worked to deserve this position. The Overcomer may have no idea at all about doctrine, nor understand what the Bible is saying at all. The Overcomer is that one who has felt the need to abandon all security of church doctrine and listen to the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit telling him or her what they don't want to hear, what does not fit with what they have been taught, and very often what makes no sense at all until they have followed the instructions given them. The Overcomer is the one who is struggling, against all odds, to overcome this flesh and to become what they least want to be (in the flesh) and to be all Jesus was, who is our example. The Overcomer is the one who loves nothing more than to learn of the Lord, and to serve Him, even though every attempt to serve Him properly seems to end in utter failure. The churches teach us that we must be confident that we are in the will of God. The churches teach us that we should have confidence in our salvation. The Overcomer feels none of these. No matter how well the Overcomer seems to be doing at the moment, it is not enough. Each success reveals a dozen more failures that hadn't been noticed before. The Overcomer strives for humility, but humility is a carrot hung before the mule, always in sight, but never acquired.
The Overcomer is one who can see the need to overcome the flesh, but in spite of all efforts, just can not do as he or she knows they must do. The Overcomer wants nothing more than to "See the face of the Lord, and to serve Him," and nothing short of this will suffice. Eternal life is not the hope of the Overcomer, in fact, if the Overcomer can not overcome and sit in the seat of the Overcomer, then he or she would reject eternal life, because they see so much more that they would be missing out on. The Overcomer would be the one's "weeping and gnashing teeth" if they fail to overcome.
Unless you know exactly what I'm talking about, then what I have just said is stuff and nonsense to you. However, whether you accept or understand what I'm saying here or not, it may help you to understand why so much of what I say sounds farfetched and unreconcilable. But if what I have said touches your heartstrings, then I'm sure you feel a tear at your cheek knowing you're not alone, and that someone else knows what your feeling and experiencing. I would like someday to hear that someone understands, though I doubt it will ever happen in this lifetime.
Are we to overcome? Is Christianity a battle against our own flesh? Is Jesus and the Apostles our example? If they are our examples, where they content to be baptized and seek nothing further?
Are you hoping to see the face of your Lord and serve Him diligently and with all your heart? Or are you simply looking for a little shack in the corner of Glory? Whatever is your goal, your hope, it's here and now you must be working toward that goal. After you learn the truth of the Gospel it will be too late to alter your course and your aspirations.
1And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: 4And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. (Rev 22:4)
13And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. 16THEY shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on THEM, nor any heat. 17For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead THEM unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from THEIR eyes. (Rev 7:)
33These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:)
Did you notice who is comforted through eternity? Who it is that will see the Lord's face and have access to the tree of life? Have you decided yet whether you want to be a couch potato Christian or get out on the field with the others who are striving for a crown of life?
14For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called HIS OWN SERVANTS, and delivered unto them his goods. 15And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. ..... 29For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. 30And cast ye the unprofitable SERVANT into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Mat 25:)
Tell me now, who is being judged here do you think? Is it the world of the unbelievers who are being judged as is taught in the churches? Is that the way you read these verses? If you think it's the "servants" (which I take to mean those who have been baptized and taken on the Christian name), who are being judged, as it appears to me to be, then who are the ones doing the weeping and gnashing of teeth?
26If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? (Luke 14:)
I have yet, to my recollection, heard a sermon preached on this passage of Scripture. Could it be that what Jesus is saying goes against the "do nothing" doctrines of the churches? But whether you've heard this preached or not, or if the sermon sweetened the words with strawberry icing, did you count the cost when you became a Christian? Did you abandon everything, including your own life and take up your cross on your way to Calvary? Or were you even informed of the need to do so?
12Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14I PRESS TOWARD THE MARK FOR THE PRIZE OF THE HIGH CALLING OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS. 15Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, GOD SHALL REVEAL EVEN THIS UNTO YOU. 16Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. (Phil 3:)
Are you otherwise minded? Do you think Christianity is something other than pressing toward the mark of the high calling? If so, don't you think it would be a good idea if you followed Paul's advice and prayed for God to reveal the truth to you?
11And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12FOR THE PERFECTING OF THE SAINTS, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, UNTO THE MEASURE OF THE STATURE OF THE FULNESS OF CHRIST: (Eph 4:)
Did you read closely what Paul says about pastors, teachers and other leaders of the church? What is their purpose? Why did God give us these leaders and instructors? To what degree of maturity are we to be brought to? Read this section in your Bible and see what Paul has to say about children and winds of doctrine.
24Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (1Cor 9:)
12Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. (1Tim 6:)
At your baptism, did you repeat the sinners prayer or read it off a card? Then chances are you have also promised to turn your life over to Jesus and take up your cross and follow Him. Are you keeping that promise? What do you think God is going to do with those, the unfaithful, who don't keep their promise to Him? (Eccles 5:4-7)
The battle is not won in the baptismal tank, but on the battle field. Spectators sit in the bleachers watching those who strive for the mastery, the crown of the high calling. Where are you? Are you in the pews, or on the field?
27But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (1Cor 9:)
Paul is in the ring taking punches in order to keep from becoming a castaway, a reject. Are you in the ring with him? Or are you ringside nibbling potato chips?
24Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 26For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 27For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. (Mat 16:)
1He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of THE SECOND DEATH. (Rev 2:)
13And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is THE SECOND DEATH. (Rev 20:)
3For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. 4But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5For every man shall bear his own burden. 6Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. 7Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 9And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 10As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. (Gal 6:)
"Sowing" is a "Works" word. What are you sowing?
19Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; 20Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. (James 5:20)
I want you to know that I have a multitude of sins that need covering. That's one reason I try so hard to move Christians away from error and expose them to the truth. As far as I can see I'm failing miserably in my efforts. I can only hope the Lord gives me credit for my attempt.
[For more on overcoming see: THE CALLED, CHOSEN, ELECT, AND THE GLORY. Also check out OASIS, and MISSING THE MARK, and I AM THE DOOR.
For more on works see: FANTASIES - LAW & WORKS.]
17For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? 18And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? (1Peter 4:)
3And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer's inkhorn by his side; 4And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. 5And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: 6Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house. (Ezek 9:)
1And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. 2And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, 3Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. 4And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. (Rev 7:)
Where does the beginning of God's judgement on this world begin? Who are the ones who will be missing this judgement? Is it those baptized Christians sitting ringside that are going to be saved? Are you willing to risk your eternal destiny and safety on the concept being taught that everyone bearing the name of Christian will be rescued from the Tribulation?
Jerusalem is the city of God, the Church. "Jews," like the churches in the second and third chapters of Revelation, is a representation of the different types of churches and Christians. In this New Testament Spiritual realm "Israel" (Jew) is the Church as explained in Romans 9:6-8.
The Scriptures concerning Overcomers below are universally applied to us as believers:
11He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death. (Rev 2:11)
7He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. (Rev 2:7)
17He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. (Rev 2:17)
26And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: 27And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. 28And I will give him the morning star. 29He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Rev 2:26)
4Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. 5He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. 6He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Rev 3:5)
10Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. 11Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. 12Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. 13He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Rev 3:12)
5And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. 6And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 7He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. 8But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (Rev 21:7)
1And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. 2And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. (Rev 15:2)
3For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? 4God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged. (Rom 3:4)
Each of the letters in the second and third chapters of Revelation are composed of two separate parts. The first part of the letters are written to a type of church or person within the body of Christ wherein a commendation is given, and instructions as to where a church or person is failing. Along with that commendation a warning is given that church as to what the consequences will be if that problem, that failure, isn't corrected. The intent, as I see it, is that each church should seek to find (from among all the letters) where they need work, and strive to overcome that error. We see an example of this in practice where Paul reprimanded the church of Corinth regarding sin in the camp. Instead of the modern churches recognizing that these warnings are for them, they believe themselves above any such reprimand, in spite of their obviously falling into that category, stressing the Love of Jesus and being covered by the blood, and believe themselves to be a part of the last portion of each letter.
At the end of each letter Jesus commends those who overcome as He has overcome, and states that it is these who will have a part in the rewards coming to Him. I would expect that every church, and every member of every church, would be striving to attain to the higher calling of Paul, of the Overcomer, and to rid themself of every shortcoming given in the letters to the churches. I would also expect that sermons and teachings would be based on this effort, as they were in the fire and brimstone preaching days in which I grew up.
The above Scriptures are universally applied to us as believers. And I think you will agree that there are great rewards prepared for those who Overcome, and dreadful punishment for those who do not, and for those who don't even try.
But what is an Overcomer? Is it all those who have been baptized? Or is there more?
Generally the churches and commentaries use this Scripture to explain what Overcome means:
4For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? (1John 5:5)
It sure sounds like all we have to do is believe, and in fact, this Scripture doesn't even mention baptism.
But just to be on the safe side, let's look at some of the surrounding verses, shall we?
1Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. 2By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. 4For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? (1John 5:5)
Look any different to you? The words "Keep Commandments" somehow slipped out of the Traditionalist's view. I wonder how that happened?
Here's a little more that John had to say on the subject:
14I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. 15Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1John 2:13-14)
The Scriptures we looked at first (from Revelation) were those spoken by Jesus, who surely must know what "Overcome" means. Let's see if there are any verses of Scripture that He applied to Himself as an Overcomer whereby we may better understand just what He expects of us:
32Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. 33These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD. (John 16:33)
21To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, EVEN AS I ALSO OVERCAME, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Rev 3:21)
26And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: (Rev 2:26)
The picture I get is that Jesus expects us to Overcome in the same way that He Overcame. Did you get that picture?
Now the question is; how did Jesus Overcome the world???
Different interpretations and different desires create a multitude of different denominations and cults. There are thousands of opinions floating around for every subject. And more than likely every one of them is wrong.
19While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. 20For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 22But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. (2Pet 2:19-20)
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