Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

OVERCOMERS

As God gave birds two wings with which to fly, so nearly all of God’s truth must have two wings with which to fly. To attempt to focus on only one wing and ignore that which appears to be in opposition, is to end up flying lopsided.

 

For example, when the Bible speaks of Christ’s Kingdom, it’s referring to a present spiritual Kingdom, as well as a future literal Millennial Kingdom.  

 

When the Old Testament prophesies  of the coming of Messiah, it is speaking of two comings.  His First Coming was to come as a baby boy, grow to adulthood and eventually die on a cross as a blood sacrifice for our sins. His Second Coming is about His return to this earth one day to conquer His enemies and reign for a Millennium.

 

When the Bible speaks of God giving us His righteousness to make us fit for Heaven,  He is not only speaking of His judicial act  of imputing His righteousness to our account through Justification, but He is also speaking of practically imparting His righteousness to us through the life-long process of Sanctification which in Heaven will be complete when we are glorified and sinlessly perfect for eternity.

 

Perhaps the main problem dividing Christ’s Church is the failure to understand the relationship of faith to works.

 

Recently I posted on my Face Book page the following statement. “We are never more like our father, the devil, than when we insist on having our own way, even if it means hurting others. We are never more like our Heavenly Father than when we sacrifice our self interests for the good of others. If yours is a life of selfishness, don’t deceive yourself.  Jesus said, “You are of your father, the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do.” John 8:44

 

An increasingly heavy burden weighs down on my heart as I observe deceived people who claim to know Christ as Saviour, but whose lives show absolutely no hatred for sin and no love for Christ and His Word, the Bible.  Though they testify to being Christians, their lives show little or no evidence of that reality.  It grieves and frightens me that though they think they are saved and going to Heaven; one day they will wake up in Hell.

 

I realize I am no judge of hearts. Only God knows our hearts.  But I can observe  lives and I know what the Bible says about salvation.

 

TWO FALSE EXTREMES

 

1. Some teach that after trusting in Christ for salvation, we can lose it  by falling into sin or by failing to produce a life of good works.  That statement represents the Arminian theological camp and is contrary to the Bible.

 

2. Others teach that because salvation is all of God’s grace, if one is predestined and called to salvation, he will one day be in Heaven, regardless of how he lives. In other words, our works have no relationship whatsoever to our salvation.  That also is a false position.

 

I am not saying that Calvinists and Arminians are not saved.  I believe many are.   If one is accused by a Calvinist of being an Arminian and if he is charged by an Arminian of being a Calvinists, I think perhaps he has the correct balance.

 

SOME BASIC TRUTHS REGARDING SALVATION

 

A. Salvation is received as a pure gift of God’s grace  and is not earned nor secured by our works.  Ephesians 2:8-9

 

B. Saving faith results in God  regenerating our hearts, enabling us to walk with God and live a new life of good works, as taught in Titus 3:5-8 and Ephesians 4:1 and 2:10.

 

C. Faith without works is dead.  That is, faith that does not result in a changed life is not saving faith.  James taught that in James 2:14-26.

 

D. Those who trust Christ alone for salvation, are eternally secure in Him.

Follow along in Romans 8:29-39 as we describe the steps to that security.

 

1. It all begins with God’s foreknowledge and love of those who would come to Him for salvation.  Before the world was ever created  He knew and loved us and predestined us to be conformed to His image and to be with Him forever in Heaven.  See Ephesians 1:3-14 for a strong statement concerning this marvelous truth.

 

2. Those whom He foreknew, He predestined or predetermined to be conformed to His image.  Note, that if you are not becoming more and more like Jesus, that is a red flag that something is wrong.  Don’t deceive yourself.  To become a Christian is to increasingly become more and more like Jesus as we hunger to read and meditate on God’s Word and hear it proclaimed.

 

3. Those whom He foreknew and predestinated to be conformed to His image,  He called to Himself.   Christ calls us as we read and hear His Word preached.  His Holy Spirit takes the Word and convicts us of our need of Christ and draws us to Him.  In John 6:44 Jesus announced, “No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.”

 

You cannot come to Christ on your terms or on your timetable.  You must “seek Him while He may be found.” Isa. 55:6  “Behold, NOW is the day of salvation.” II Corinthians 6:2   If He is speaking to you concerning your need of Him, trust Him now.  Tomorrow, your heart may be cold to the Truth and you may never have another opportunity to be saved.  Hearts only grow harder as they continue to reject Christ.

 

4. Those whom He called He justified.  Justification is an act on God’s part by which He takes one who has responded to His call to salvation and transfers all his sins (past, present and future) to Jesus account and transfers Jesus’ righteousness to his account.  That is an amazing truth,  For more on this read and meditate on II Corinthians 5:21 and then go to my message on JUSTIFICATION on this SALVATION link and read it and reread it until you understand and rejoice in this marvelous foundational truth of God’s grace.

 

5.  The final link in this chain of salvation is  Glorified.  To be glorified is to  be just as pure and as perfect as Jesus Himself.  That will not happen until we stand in His presence in Heaven.  Only then will we be glorified and sinlessly perfect.  What a day that will be!  

 

In the meantime, there is another link in the chain between Justified and Glorified.  That link is called Sanctification.  Perhaps the reason it is not listed as a link in Romans 8:30 is because it is implied  in being Glorified. Sanctification is the process  by which God takes a justified believer and turns him into a glorified believer. 

 

Sanctification is a life-long process.  It begins the moment we put our trust in Christ to save us and it concludes as we draw our last breath on this earth and pass into the presence of Christ.  Glorification is guaranteed to the one who has been justified.

 

How does God sanctify us or make us saintly?  He uses three tools.

a) We are sanctified as we read and meditate on and learn to obey God’s Word.  John 17:17

 

b) We are sanctified by the indwelling Holy Spirit as He enable us to grasp God’s Word in our minds and apply it in our hearts.  II Thessalonians 2:13 and  I Peter 1:2.

 

c) God also uses suffering to gain our attention and draw us to Himself to make us more like Himself.  I Peter 5:10

 

HOW WILL WE KNOW WE ARE SAVED ON THE ROAD TO HEAVEN?

 

As we learned in Romans 8:29, we will become more and more like Jesus. What does that look like?  How can we and others recognize we are becoming more like Jesus?  As His Holy Spirit lives and reigns in our hearts, He will begin producing His fruit in our lives.  That fruit is described in Galatians 5:22-25 as The Fruit of the Spirit.  It is His supernatural love, joy, peace, longsuffering,  gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance that begins to be manifested in our lives.

 

In contrast, the unbeliever is described in Galatians 5:19-21. Read both lists and determine which list best describes you. Remember that you can’t fake it.  If you are not truly born again and indwelt by Christ’s Spirit,  you cannot possibly bear His fruit.  It will all be a sham and a counterfeit.  The Christian life is a supernatural life, the very life of Christ being lived out  in us by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  

 

THE DANGER OF DECEPTION

 

Because these truths of salvation are so vital to us now and to our eternal destiny, Satan does all he can to deceive us and foil God’s plan. Christ warns of the danger of false professors of Christianity in His Parable of the wheat and tares in Matthew 13:24-30.   He also warns of the dangers of self-deception in James 1:22-27 and the danger of falling from our own steadfastness in II Peter 3:17-18.

 

So let’s ask ourselves four questions that will help us determine whether our faith is genuine or spurious.  

1. Is ours a living or dead faith?

2. Are we becoming more and more like Jesus?

3. Are we what the Bible describes as Overcomers?

4. Do we have Jesus’ love for others?

 

I. IS OURS A LIVING OR DEAD FAITH?

 

James asks that question in James 2:14-26.

 

As it is vain and empty for us to “bless” a needy  person with our words when we have the ability to bless and help him with our time and substance and refuse to do it;  so it is vain and empty for us to be testifying with our mouth that we are saved, while at the same time continuing to live in known sin with no thought nor desire for a clean life.  Such a testimony is just empty, vain talk.

 

Such faith a merely academic, static, false and dead.  In contrast, saving faith is dynamic and life-changing.  II Corinthians 5:17 explains that when we put our trust in Christ for salvation,  we are made a new creation, created unto good works. The old life is gradually being replaced by the supernatural new life, Christ’s very life being lived out in us, which brings us to our next question.

 

II. ARE WE BECOMING LIKE JESUS?  

 

According to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:48 it is God’s purpose and plan for us to eventually become as perfect morally as He is. Of course, there is not a one of us who can achieve that perfection on our own.  That’s why Jesus did it for us through His death and resurrection. That’s why when Christ’s life begins to be seen in us as believers, it is all to the praise of His glory, for He’s the One who makes it possible. Ephesians 1:6-14.

 

A true Christian is constantly growing and becoming more and more like Jesus, according to II Peter 3:18.

 

Look again at that great eternal security passage in Romans 8:28-39 and note that the whole purpose of all these things God is working out in our lives is for the sole purpose of us being “conformed to the image of His Son” Romans 8:29.  If that is not happening, please do not disgrace God by talking about your “salvation.”   I’m not saying that if you are not perfect, don’t claim to be a Christian. None of us are perfect, nor will we be perfect until we are in Heaven.  However, all genuine Christians are in the process of becoming more and more like Jesus.

 

Saving faith is more than abstract theory.  It MUST affect our lives. That’s what Peter tells us in II Peter 3:11-14

 

III. ARE WE OVERCOMERS?

 

Revelation 21:7-8 tells us that Overcomers go to Heaven and those who are not Overcomers, but continue on in their sins, go to Hell.

 

If you are comfortable with sin and enjoy it and feel no conviction of sin, you have evidently never been born again and you are still lost in your sins and Hell bound; regardless of the pious things you say about Jesus and the pious experiences you have in a worship service and regardless of your academic knowledge of the Bible. That’s what James teaches in James 2:19-20.

 

When a Christian sins, he is grief stricken and broken before God. He cries out for mercy and forgiveness as David did in Psalm 51 and God hears and forgives him.

 

Genuine Christians, who have been forgiven and are being delivered from the bondage of sin are described in I John 5:4-5 as Overcomers.

 

Why are we Overcomers?  I John 4:4  and 5:4 teach that Christ Jesus who indwells every believer by His Holy Spirit is greater and more powerful than  Satan who is the present god of this sinful cosmos, or  world system,

 

So how do we overcome the world? Christ already has overcome the world. Go to the Gospel of John.  John 16:33  and 17:4 and read of this reality and of Christ’s prayer for us as believers.  As we surrender to His Lordship, we share in His victory over the world.

 

How do we overcome Satan, the god of this present world system?  Read Revelation 12:9-11   We overcome this world:

1. By faith in the sacrifice of the shed blood of Jesus for us.

2. By the word of our testimony that we belong to Christ.

3. And by the total surrender of our lives to Him, even to death if need be.

 

How do we overcome evil men and difficult circumstances? Let God  deal with them. See Romans 12:19-21

 

Christian friend, don’t turn back to the sin from which you have been delivered. If you turn back you will be overcome by it and your punishment will be  more severe than for the one who has never known Christ. That’s the teaching of II Peter 2:18-22.

 

Note Christ’s promises to Overcomers in Revelation.

 

Rev. 2:7 They will eat of the Tree of Life in Heaven, which is a way of saying we will have eternal life.

 

Rev. 2:11 They will never experience the Second Death and Hell.

 

Rev. 2:17  As Israel was given Manna, supernatural food to eat in the wilderness, so Overcomers are given the spiritual Bread of Life to eat that the world cannot grasp or appreciate.

 

Overcomers will also be given a “white stone”  In ancient times, the winning athletes were given a white stone as an invitation to a victory celebration.  So Christ will invite all those who overcame by His blood sacrifice and we will join Him at the victory celebration in Heaven.

 

The new name engraved on the stone speaks of a personal relationship with Christ which all believers have experienced and will continue to experience throughout eternity.

 

Rev. 2:26 tells of the power and authority which we will share with Christ over the nations in His Millennial Kingdom.  See more about this under the PROPHECY category.

 

Rev. 3:5 Our names will never be blotted out of the Book of Life.

 

Rev. 3:12 Christians will be pillars in the Heavenly temple of God.

 

Rev. 3:21 We will sit with Christ in His Throne.

 

One final and ultimate test of the genuiness of our faith in Christ.

 

IV. DO WE HAVE HIS LOVE FOR OTHERS? I John 4:7-12,  19-21

 

This is an evidence of genuine Christian that no one can fake.

 

Christ’s agape love, something every genuine Christian has, is not a selfish emotion.  It is not lust  or selfishness.  It is totally others-centered.

 

Christ’s love is expressed in the genuine Christian by selflessness and kindness towards others, even to our enemies or those who do not deserve our love.

 

One with Christ’s love cares abut the feelings and needs of others. Hebrews 4:15   Whereas, a selfish person cares only about his own needs and feelings.   A selfish Christian is a shame and disgrace to the name of Christ.

 

True love is utterly selfless.  Christ, the perfect example of true love expressed it to us by dying on a cross and shedding His blood for  our sins.

Have you received that gift from Him?  Until you have, you will never have the power to live the Christian life.

 

A CHALLENGE TO YOU

 

I challenge you with Paul in II Corinthians 13:5  to examine yourself. Is there evidence that Christ lives in you and is controlling your life?  If not, do not deceive yourself.  You are not a Christian.

 

Yes, we are saved by God’s grace alone and through our faith in His sacrifice for us.  We are kept saved by His grace and not by our works.

 

But the other side of the coin is that if we are saved, we have become His workmanship and He is presently at work in our lives enabling us to live a life of good works, and be overcomers and to share our love, His Love through us,  to those who need it.

 

If none of this matters to you, you are still lost in your sins and bound for Hell. You desperately need to be born again today.

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August 6, 2009 - Posted by | Salvation

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