Month 8:24, Week 4:2 (Shanee/Matzah), Year 5935:224 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Saturday 19 November 2011
Endurance & Overcoming
The Key to Your Continuing Salvation
I am sure it has not escaped your notice but as you look around at the world today things are getting worse, not better. Whoever you are, wherever you may be in your spiritual journey, you, like me, face a daily choice: to continue on the little traveled road that leads to eternal life or to turn back to the world on the well-worn road promising Utopia but which leads to hell.
The pressure on believers to abandon their faith and follow the crowd will not diminish as the years roll on. It will increase. Though there may be spells when the pressure eases off, by the grace of Yahweh, to allow us to get much needed rest, it will overall be increasing. I hope, then, that you accept that and are under no illusions. The 'good old days', whatever they may have been to you, will not be returning - ever.
And Yahweh makes no promise that they will be returning either. Forget about any 'rapture', it's a fairy tale concocted in that same place where the masses are headed. Take heed of all the false prophecies concerning it. They have all, without exception, failed, and those which are projected for the future, I guarantee will fail. How do I know? Because the Bible teaches uniquivocably that the only people who will be lifted into the sky will be those of the first resurrection who meet the resturning Messiah who is on His way here - and will be staying here - for a thousand years. The flight duration of those blessed to be here when He comes back will probably only be a few minutes - and they will have passed though the Great Tribulation and have been made the better for it. The only people who escape the Great Tribulation will be those who die here before it.
Many Christians and Messianics have been sold the lie that trial and tribulation are a 'bad' thing and that this is only for the 'unspiritual' or 'disobedient' folks. But to believe that, they must cover their heads with a sack when a whole cluster of scriptures contradict this lie. Why, you may, ask, would Yahweh want to go through 'trial and tribulation'? And why would He want us to welcome it, even?
The pre-tribbers - those who believe Christians will be whisked away before the Antichrist starts his seven year terror, leaving behind the 'bad Christians' - face a connundrum with such passages as this. According to Paul, we are to look tribulation in the eye and welcome it, not for tribulation's sake (only a massochist would do that), but because of the fruits it produces: perseverence, character and hope. Tribulation that produces these we are to actually "glory" in. And why not? After all, what are the three most important virtues we are to seek?
"We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, tikvah (hope). Now tikvah (hope), because the ahavah (love) of Elohim (God) has been poured out in our levim (hearts) by the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) who was given to us" (Rom.5:3-5, NKJV).
It should be obvious that not only do these three survive when knowledge, prophecy, tongues, and all the rest have passed away, but that they are in some way connected, with Ahavah (love) being the crowning virtue in a developing series: as emunah (faith) increases, so does tikvah (hope); and as tikvah (hope) increases, so does ahavah (love). There is no accession to ahavah (love) without emunah (faith) and tikvah (hope), and this being indisputably so, do you not think that that which develops tikvah (hope) is critically important?
"And now abide (remain) emunah (faith), tikvah (hope), ahavah (love), these three; but the greatest of these is ahavah (love)" (1 Cor.13:13, NKJV).
If you agree that tivkah (hope) is vital to discipleship, to our relationship with Yahweh, and to our eternal future, then do you not think that that which produces tikvah (hope) is important too? Clearly. Tribulation leads to perseverence which leads to character development, which leads to tikvah (hope). And tikvah (hope) develops our ahavah (love).
Yahweh will send whatever tribulation is needed to accomplish this in your personal life. It will be a uniquely tailored cocktail which you can either choose to embrace while embracing Him or flee letting Him go. The trouble with the latter - and this is Satan's biggest trick - supposedly fleeing the tribulation that leads to tikvah (hope) by abandoning Messiah and embracing the world not only doesn't result in a tribulation-free life but the resultant tribulation is of no use to you at all. You will not profit by it, for it will neither develop your emunah (faith), tikvah (hope) nor ahavah (love). The tribulation of an authentic believer matures his soul whereas the tribulation of an unbeliever or a rebellious believer stunts his development. There is no life on planet earth without tribulation of some sort - the thing is, will you accept tribulation that makes you a better man or woman and secures you happiness in the eternities or will you fall into the hands of the other kind that does not by rejecting or abandoning your Saviour?
To understand why it is not a bad thing to experience trial and tribulation as a believer, consider your purpose for being down here in this mortal sphere. Your birth here was not some cruel cosmic joke and random event. It has multiple purposes:
I recently came across a wonderful definition of Endurance: Overcome by continuing. And since endurance is so obviously a part of being, and remaining, in the salvation life, then clearly it is not something to trifle with. Thus we must cling to Yah'shua (Jesus) even though we must pass through difficulty, pain and sorrow, and especially when we pass through difficulty, pain and sorrow, because difficulty, pain and sorrow are a part of the inescapable lot of the true believer.
"Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Master has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by Elohim (God)'; for Elohim (God) cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of emet (truth), that we might be a kind of bikkurim (firstfruits) of His creatures" (James 1:12-18, NKJV).
"For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of Elohim (God), you may receive the promise:
But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul" (Heb.10:36-39, NKJV).
For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by emunah (faith); but if anyone draws back, my soul has no pleasure in him.
"My brethren, count it all simcha (joy) when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your emunah (faith) produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (James 1:2-4, NKJV).
You will recall that in Yah'shua's (Jesus') Parable of the Sower, the seed on the good ground must not only endure the heat of the midday sun but that it must actually bear fruit while enduring that scorching heat (Mt.13:3-9)! Both the good seed and the bad seed had to run the gauntlet of the hot sun. The reason the seed that fell on the rocky soul did not endure was because its root was not deep enough to suppy it with water - it was unable to continue, whithered away, and could not bear fruit.
The reason why so many Christians and Messianics fail and fall away is because of this problem of bad soil. And if we do not understand what this 'bad soil' is, we will never be able to help them turn it into good soil. Yah'shua (Jesus) explains:
For more on the three different yields the Master spoke of, see Shabbat Shuvah & the 30-60-100 Truth.
"Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the davar (word). And these are the ones by the wayside where the davar (word) is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the davar (word) that was sown in their levim (hearts). These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the davar's (word's) sake, immediately they stumble. Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the davar (word), and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the davar (word), and it becomes unfruitful. But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the davar (word), accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred" (Mark 4:13-20).
Yah'shua (Jesus) plainly teaches that only those believers who cling to Him in emunah (faith) and continue in spite of the difficulties, pain and sorrow during the Great Tribulation or any tribulation they may have to face, will be saved:
If you have been seduced by the 'Once Saved, Always Saved' deception that has contaminated so much of Evangelical Christianity, now is the time to be rid of that and to allow the Scriptures to speak to you in all their plainness. Confess the words of the Saviour, namely, that only "he who endures to the end shall be saved". There is no free ticket to heaven for those who abandon Messiah - they must repent, cling, obey and endure!
"Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because Torahlessness (lawlessness) will abound, the ahavah (love) of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved" (Matthew 24:9-13).
There, you have your "two or three" witnesses. Believe them. Salvation is the spiritual condition you are in at the end of your life, not where you are today. If you are saved today then you have the promise that you will remain saved if you "endure to the end"! Never forget that!
"Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved" (Matthew 10:21-22, NKJV).
"Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved" (Mark 13:12-13, NKJV).
Please notice that if you do not endure, you do not reign either, and if you deny the Saviour, He will deny you and you will forfeit your salvation if you once had it before.
"Remember that Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my besorah (gospel), for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of Elohim (God) is not chained. Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Messiah Yah'shua (Christ Jesus) with eternal glory. This is a faithful saying: 'For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself" (Timothy 2:11-13, NKJV).
This is serious stuff and we can't trifle with it.
The book of Revelation is not only a warning about the difficulties and things that are to come, but also an encouragement to believers about what Yahweh will grant to those who have continued through trial and tribulation by His grace and strength, and having thus overcome. Overcoming cannot be disconnected from continuing in emunah (faith):
I think it is very important at this stage that every believer, knowing as he must that he must pass through trial and tribulation, have a sound grasp of the promises given to him if he endures, for it is these promises that give meaning to what sometimes can seem so meaningless until we have come through our difficulties and can look back with added wisdom:
"But hold fast what you have till I come. And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations (i.e. rulership) — ‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’ — as I also have received from My Father; and I will give him the morning star" (Rev.2:25-28, NKJV)
Time and time again I have seen those who claim to be 'believers' cut down and flee as soon as the first real opposition comes. Here we are told why they cannot stand - it is because they were never born again, and since they were never regenerated, their emunah (faith) lacked substance: it was only a matter of words and posturing. And that is why I use the Hebrew word 'emunah' to denote true biblical faith, because biblical emunah is also one that is built firmly around the Davar (Word) of Scripture.
"For whatever is born of Elohim (God) overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world -- our emunah (faith). Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Yah'shua (Jesus) is the Son of Elohim (God)?" (1 John 5:4-5, NKJV).
Now the promises:
No overcoming, no Tree of Life.
"To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of chayim (life), which is in the midst of the Paradise of Elohim (God)" (Rev.2:7, NKJV).
Please note that those who pass through the second death are not annihilated but are "hurt" or "suffer", demonstrating that the second death is a purging process for the rebellious and unbelieving, lending further credence to the concept of Universal Graded Salvation since we are told that those who pass through the second death are the children of the second resurrection:
"He who overcomes shall not be hurt (injured, suffer) by the second death" (Rev.2:11, NKJV).
Also see Revelation 20:14 and 21:8. Obviously not everyone is a ruler else who would they have to rule? The children of the first resurrection rule those of the second who are purged by fire and suffering.
"Blessed and set-apart (holy) is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be cohenim (priests - i.e. rulers) of Elohim (God) and of Messiah (Christ), and shall reign with Him a thousand years" (Rev.20:6, NKJV).
So overcomers do not have to go through the pain of those who were rebellious believers or unbelievers - they will be free of tribulation forever unlike their lawless brethren.
Overcomers receive supernaturally supplied, hidden spiritual nourishment to enable them to continue which non-overcomers do not, causing the latter to stumble and fall away.
"To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it" (Rev.2:17, NKJV).
Overcomers are made pure and spotless and are guaranteed eternal life.
"He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Chayim (Life); but I will confess his name before My Father and before His malakim (angels)" (Rev.3:5, NKJV).
Overcomers are pillars, upholders of emet (truth) (1 Tim.3:15) and leaders (rulers) (Gal.2:9) of the nations whose base is the New Jerusalem, not the earthly city of Jerusalem.
"He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My Elohim (God), and he shall go out no more. And I will write on him the name of My Elohim (God) and the name of the city of My Elohim (God), the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My Elohim (God). And I will write on him My new name" (Rev.3:12, NKJV).
Only the overcomers are rulers.
"To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne" (Rev.3:21, NKJV).
The overcomers receive everything there is to have!
"He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his Elohim (God) and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Rev.21:7-8, NKJV).
Everyone reading this is struggling and one or two are even struggling with me! If the latter is the case, edit out all I have written and just read the scripture quotes. That's all I ask.
If we continue in emunah (faith), struggle to overcome and continue clinging to Yah'shua (Jesus) no matter the trials and trbulations, then the promise we have is that Yahweh will show Himself faithful.
We need not over-dramatise this either. Most of our struggle is not about facing challenging Herculean tasks (though there may be one or two), riding out in shining armour to fight epic battles (though we may occasionally have these too), or anything nearly so flashy, as it is about simply
Endurance, you see, is for the most part overcoming by continuing along the Way, clinging onto the promises, believing that everything Yahweh says is Emet (Truth), holding on to Emunah (Faith) and strictly abiding divine Tavnith (Pattern). What overcoming is not is continuing in sin, trying to overcome in our own strength, or doing our own thing. These three consitute defeat and guarantee that we will whither up fruitless when the real presecution comes our way.
I want to conclude today by underlining the extreme importance of trusting everything Yahweh says. A great deal of overcoming consists of coming to a decision as to whether our Father in Heaven's words really are true, and whether His Way really is right and perfect. And the big question really is whether we will continue trusting Him even when we are hurting and in great difficulties? Part of true salvation involves the divine enablement to respond positively to these things and to continue following Him. His words are true and He is righteous and faithful even when we are going through difficulties and especially when we don't understand why. Then, we have one final promise if we will do this:
with the corollary that those who do not believe or continue believing will continually be put to shame.
"Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame" (Rom.10:11, NKJV).
The choice is ours.