THE OVERCOMER IS THE TRUE CHRISTIAN

(Trumpet Ministries, Inc. / Words of Righteousness)

THE OVERCOMER IS THE TRUE CHRISTIAN Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

God is calling out from the churches a holy nation, a royal priesthood. Those who respond are the true Christians. Those who do not pursue the Christian discipleship with enough vigor to gain victory over the world, Satan, the lusts of the flesh, and self-love will not receive many of the blessings we associate with being part of the Church. The victorious saints, those being transformed into the image of God in relationships, in service, and in holiness, are the true Christians, the true royal priesthood.

THE OVERCOMER IS THE TRUE CHRISTIAN

In the days in which we are living the Holy Spirit is calling out from the churches a holy people, a royal priesthood. Various terms are being employed for these victorious saints: the Bride, the sons of God, the brothers of Christ, the godly remnant, the victorious saints, the Body of Christ, and so forth.

In an attempt to emphasize the need for believers to press into the fullness of God, some teachers have stated that the brothers are different from the Bride; the sons of God are different from the Church; and have made other distinctions of this sort.

As we see it, these terms apply to the same set of people and merely are expressing different relationships and roles.

The concept often is held that the victorious saints (the sons of God, the Body of Christ, the remnant) are a special set of super-Christians; that there is the normal Christian church, and then there are these rare, unique type of unusually holy believers. The present writer has written concerning David’s "mighty men," and indeed there is a scriptural basis for a "firstfruits to God and to the Lamb" (Revelation 4:4).

However there is another way of viewing the fact that the Christian assemblies contain both disciples and nominal believers. It is that the victorious saints of Revelation, Chapters Two and Three are, in the present hour, the true Christians. The remainder of the church members of the "seven churches that are in Asia" are not as yet wholly acceptable to the Lord.

If such is the case, true Christians are in a minority. Most of the believers in Christ are not attaining to the first resurrection from the dead. They will not receive their bodies from the dead when the Lord Jesus appears, according to our present understanding. We are not stating that they are lost to the purposes of God, but we do maintain they will not reign with Christ as members of the royal priesthood.

The victorious saints, the overcomers, are not super-Christians. They merely are genuine Christians. The remainder of those who profess faith in Christ will be judged by the Lord and their behavior corrected (if they do not lose their salvation). Some will be saved as by fire. Others will be vomited from the Lord’s mouth. This clearly is scriptural.

We believe the victorious saints are the firstfruits of a much larger church, a church that will not be seen in perfection and completeness until the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age.

The Church, the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb, the new Jerusalem, is a glorified creation. It is not what we usually think of when the word church is mentioned.

The Church of Christ is the most exalted of all the works of God’s hands. There is no set of creatures closer to God than is true of the Church of Christ. The new Jerusalem is the Church in all its regal splendor. To be a member of the Church, the Body of Christ, an eternal servant of God, is the highest of all callings.

Ephesians 1:22,23 points out that the Church is the Body of Christ. Ephesians 5:31,32 reveals that the Church is the Wife of the Lamb. The Church is "the members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones" (Ephesians 5:30).

What finally will be true of the Church?

 That 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. (Ephesians 5:27)

We can see from the above verse that the Church will be an unblemished, perfect creation.

Let us turn to what the Scriptures state concerning the Christian churches on the earth and see how they compare with the description given in Ephesians 5:27 and in Song of Solomon 6:9,10. 

My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her. The daughters saw her, and blessed her; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her. Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners? (Song of Solomon 6:9,10)

The seven churches in Asia represent the Christian churches on the whole earth and throughout church history, according to our understanding. One has only to look about him today and he can observe the characteristics of Ephesus, Thyatira, Philadelphia, Laodicea, and so forth.

The seven churches are the seven golden lampstands. Christ, the High Priest, is in the midst of the lampstands (Revelation 1:13). There is no Christian testimony on the earth other than that given by the churches, the lampstands of God.

What does Christ say concerning the churches on the earth?

 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. (Revelation 2:4)

But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. (Revelation 2:14)

And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. (Revelation 2:23)

Thou 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. (Revelation 3:4)

So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:16)

Now, compare Ephesians 5:27 and Revelation 3:4,

 That 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. (Ephesians 5:27)

Thou 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. (Revelation 3:4)

Let us consider the two groups of believers who constitute the Christian church in Sardis. The majority compose one group, and a "few names" compose the other group. The "few names" are the victorious saints.

The thesis of this paper is that the victorious saints are the true Christians, and the remainder of the church members (perhaps the majority) do not meet the Lord’s standard. While they are walking in sin and self-will they have not as yet attained the standard that has been set for the Church, the Wife of the Lamb, the Body of Christ.

What is true of the majority of believers in Sardis? They have defiled their garments. They will not walk with Christ in white for they are unworthy to do so.

What does the Scripture state concerning the Church, the Wife of the Lamb?

 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness [righteous deeds] of saints. (Revelation 19:7,8)

If the majority of believers in Sardis are unworthy to walk with Christ in white, then they are unworthy to be part of the Wife of the Lamb, the true Church.

We see, therefore, that in the present hour only the victorious saints are the true Christians, the genuine disciples of the Lord. The rebukes directed toward the seven churches in Asia reveal the displeasure of Christ over the behavior of the members of the churches that bear His name.

What is an overcomer? An overcomer is a believer in Christ who gains victory over the world, the flesh, Satan, and his own self-love. It is entirely possible for every believer to be an overcomer, a victorious saint. This would please the Lord very much. But to be a victorious saint we must believe that God, by the riches of His glory, can bring us to this level, and then we must cooperate with the Holy Spirit.

Each Christian person faces problems and trials every day of his discipleship. Some believers pray, exercise faith, study the Scriptures, have fellowship with fervent saints, give, serve, and, through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, achieve victory over the evil that comes before them each day. They carry their cross and follow the Lord Jesus. These are the victorious saints—people of whom the world is not worthy. They are not super-Christians. They merely are normal Christians—individuals who grasp the grace of Christ to the extent they are not overcome by the pressures and deceptions that attack every believer in Christ.

Other believers in Christ do not make the effort necessary for spiritual survival. They flirt with spiritual death continually. They cannot make up their mind to flee from demons and to serve the Lord Jesus with singleness of heart.

They love money and the present world system. They do not pray, study the Scriptures, give, or serve with enough fervency. They do not diligently assemble with dedicated saints when they have the opportunity. They do not overcome the pressures and deceptions that attack them continually. Rather, they are overcome by the evil that is in the world. 

For 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. (II Peter 2:20)

The above verse speaks of believers who do not overcome but who are overcome by the pollutions of the world. At one time they had escaped the world through the knowledge of Christ. Now they are not continuing in the Lord’s grace as they should. They are being overcome.

Again we state, if a believer does not overcome the pollutions of the world he is not meeting the standard set the Church, the Wife of the Lamb, the royal priesthood. Rather, it is possible for him to finish in worse spiritual condition than when he came to Christ in the first place.

The overcomer is the normal Christian.

Let us think for a moment about the concept of imputation (righteousness ascribed to a believer because of his trust in the Lord Jesus apart from any change of behavior on his part).

When a sinner comes to Christ, believes in Him, repents of his sins, is baptized in water, God imputes to him the righteousness of Christ. This is to say, the righteousness of Christ is assigned to the sinner. Because of his faith in Christ, God forgives his sins and receives him into the Divine fellowship.

This is where imputation (assigned righteousness) ceases. God does not continue to disregard the believer’s behavior after the initial forgiveness, counting him as righteous even though his behavior is ungodly. The new saint must set out to follow the Lord each day. As long as he obeys Christ’s will for him that day, the blood of Jesus continues to make an atonement for him in the sight of God. To obey the will of Christ one day at a time is perfectly possible for each and every believer. It is Satan, not Jesus, who is the hard taskmaster.

The rewards to the overcomer are not given to us on the basis of imputed righteousness but on the basis of our works. If this is not true, the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation make no sense at all. If the members of the seven Christian churches in Asia all are righteous because of imputed righteousness, what sense does the text make?

Consider:

 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. (Revelation 2:23)

If righteousness keeps on being imputed (ascribed) to us after we are Christians, no matter how we behave, why should Christ search our minds and hearts? Why should He say, "I will give unto every one of you according to your works"? If righteousness is being imputed to us apart from our godly behavior, why does Christ say this?

Is Christ speaking to the non-Christians? The Scripture states He is addressing "the angel of the church in Thyatira." He is not addressing non-Christians. Christ is addressing the members of the church in Thyatira through the angel (spirit) of that church.

Christian preachers and teachers have carried the concept of imputation (assigned righteousness) far, far beyond what God intended. The result has been a frightful crop of immorality and disobedience.

But, we may ask, what does it matter if we do not receive the rewards designated for the victorious saints? What if we are not in this exalted Church, the Wife of the Lamb, the Body of Christ, the eternal Tabernacle of God? At least we are saved from wrath?

A dangerous position on two counts.

First, the kingdom principle is: to whom much has been given, of him will much be required. If we have been invited to be a member of the Church, Christ will judge us from that standpoint. He will not judge us as a person who never has been called into the Church, He will judge us as a member of the elect. We will be beaten with many lashes if we do not use diligently the talents that have been given to us. We are not held to account for the abilities and opportunities that have been given to someone else.

Second, the rewards assigned to the victorious saints are not frills. They are the necessary steps to the first resurrection from among the dead. Whoever does not gain these rewards will not be raised from the dead and ascend to meet the Lord when Christ appears. Only the saints who have lived in victory will be raised when the Lord comes. Those who have gone down to defeat will have their portion at the end of the thousand-year period, as we understand the Scriptures (Revelation 20:5).

The first reward is to eat of the tree of life (Revelation 2:7). To eat of the tree of life is not a frill, it is to gain immortality in our flesh and bones. It was immortality that Adam and Eve lost through their disobedience to God.

The opportunity to eat of the tree of life never will be given to any human being on the basis of imputed righteousness. We must, through Christ’s grace, overcome the temptations of life before God will entrust us with eternal life in our flesh and bones.

The nonvictorious saints, the defeated, never will be given to eat of the tree of eternal life that is in the midst of Paradise. To eat of the tree of life is not a luxury that a handful of super-Christians will enjoy. Rather, to eat of the tree of life is the "everlasting life" promised in John 3:16. It is the essence of the Christian redemption.

The second reward is the crown of life (Revelation 2:10). The crown of life is the commission to rule the creation of God by the authority and power of eternal life. To rule the creation is the role of the Church, the Wife of the Lamb, the new Jerusalem. No nonovercomer, no defeated believer, will be commissioned to rule the creation of God. He cannot rule now. How would he rule then? The idea of a defeated believer ruling the nations of the earth with a rod of iron is preposterous.

The third reward is to escape being hurt by the second death (Revelation 2:11). The second death is the Lake of Fire. The Lord Jesus is implying here that those who do not overcome through His grace the deceptions and pressures of the world are in jeopardy of being injured by the second death. The third reward hardly could be termed a frill that super-Christians will enjoy. Not being injured of the second death certainly is essential to the Christian redemption.

The rewards to the victorious saints begin with the opportunity to eat of the tree of eternal life and conclude with our being established on the throne of Christ. It is obvious that the victorious saints are the members of the true Church, the Wife of the Lamb.

Those who do not pursue the Christian discipleship with enough vigor to achieve victory over the world, Satan, the lusts of the flesh, and self-love will not receive many of the blessings we associate with being part of the Church. It is our point of view that the defeated believers will not be cast into the Lake of Fire, in many instances, but they certainly are in danger of lashes and outer darkness.

The victorious saints are the royal priesthood, the Church, the Wife of the Lamb.

 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; (I Peter 2:9)

And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (Revelation 1:6)

It is the victorious saints who will participate in the first resurrection from among the dead.

 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)

The Church of Christ, being an eternally inseparable part of Christ and filled with Christ, will rule the creation of God forever.

The Throne of God Almighty, and the nature of those who are in and around the throne, are described in Revelation, Chapter Four. The characteristics set forth here must be true of every member of the Church of Christ.

 And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts [living creatures] full of eyes before and behind. (Revelation 4:6)

The "sea of glass like unto crystal" speaks of the transparency that is created in our personality as we go through the fire of God. Only those who suffer will be allowed to rule with God.

The number four (of the "living creatures") symbolizes Pentecost—the power to bear witness of God that is given by the Holy Spirit. Pentecost is the fourth of the feasts of the Lord. Such are believers who have learned to live in the Spirit of God.

The multitude of eyes before, behind, and within refer to the ability to "see," which is the mark of every true prophet of God. Sin produces blindness in us. God’s victorious saints can perceive the future, the past, and the inner significance of things and events. They are children of light, of the day.

 And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. (Revelation 4:8)

The "six wings" remind us that on the sixth day God created man in His image, giving him authority and power over the works of God’s hands. Man, when he has been created in Christ’s image and filled with Christ, will be given rulership over the creation.

 And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. (Revelation 4:7)

The "lion" is the quality of courage that enables the overcomer to rule. The first group in the "lake that burneth with fire and sulfur" is made up of the fearful, the timid.

 Fear is one of Satan’s chief weapons against the righteous. Joshua had to be reminded continually not to fear (Joshua, Chapter One). God has not given us the spirit of cowardice but of "power, and of love, and of a sound mind."

The overcomer must be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His power, putting on the whole armor of God so he may be able to stand against the strategies of the adversary.

Faith and fear are opposites. Faith is the victory that overcomes the world. Fear leads to defeat and bondage. In order to be victorious we must have the "Lion of the tribe of Judah" formed and dwelling in us.

The "calf" (ox—Ezekiel 1:10) speaks of that which serves and nourishes. The calf nourished God (Genesis 18:7) and the prodigal son (Luke 15:23). Elisha plowed with twelve yoke of oxen, and then took one yoke and "gave to the people, and they did eat" (I Kings 19:21). First the oxen served, and then were offered for the needs of the people.

So it is that the victorious saint is a servant, and his service is sacrificial. Sometimes we attempt to serve the Lord in such a manner that we profit from our service. This is not difficult to do but it is not accepted of God. The Lord is looking for those who are willing to be brought to a place of service that is costly, in that they are not profiting but are serving without hope of reward in this life (except for the reward of pleasing the Lord and being accepted by Him).

 And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. (II Samuel 24:24)

"That which cost me nothing."

 Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. (Philippians 2:17)

When it is easy and pleasant to do so, many serve the Lord. But the victorious saints are willing to serve the Lord in pain and frustration to the point of death. This is one of the principal differences between the defeated believers and the conquering saints.

The "face as a man" signifies the beauty of Christ’s personality, the beauty of holiness to the Lord. Some are courageous and are willing to serve sacrificially but lose their beauty as a person. They become embittered, or get caught up in building their own kingdom instead of the Kingdom of God.

The fruit of the Spirit is the image of Christ. The true saint always is growing in love, in joy, in peace, in patience, in gentleness, in goodness, in faithfulness, in meekness, in self-control. It is easy for the religiously zealous individual to become distorted in personality. Such go about bringing confusion and death among the believers. They regard themselves as strong Christians but they do not show the face of God’s man. They may be spiritual "lions," or "oxen," or "eagles," but they do not have the face of a man, the "face" that is able to dwell in love and union with God.

The face of a man speaks also of the capability of union with God and with one another that is not true of any other creature of God as far as we know. It is possible for the smallest child on earth to be the dwelling place of God through Christ. But no angel, even of the highest rank, has the capacity to be the dwelling place of God.

The "flying eagle" refers to praying and living in the Spirit of God. When we wait on the Lord we "mount up with wings as eagles" (Isaiah 40:31).

The Lord is removing the seals from the Scriptures in the day in which we are living. The truth of the Word is pouring forth on every side. Yet, many of the believers do not understand the importance of prayer and waiting on the Lord.

Our culture is so frantically busy that the believers do not have the time (or take the time) to pray. They come to church after a busy day to enjoy the "service" or because they feel that it is their duty to do so. But they may not be spending enough time seeking the Lord so that they are experiencing His continued Presence.

What bridegroom would be content with a capable, devoted bride who had little time for him? The Lord is not pleased with us no matter how hard we labor if we spend little time waiting on Him. When the congregation does not take the time to wait on the Lord there will be little of the awe, the Presence of God in the midst. This will be true even though the doctrine and works of the church are according to the Scriptures.

No saint ever will become part of the first resurrection from among the dead until he learns to walk in the Spirit of God, and it is impossible to walk in the Spirit apart from prayer.

By prayer we do not mean positive thinking, we mean some time each day spent alone with God in seeking His face. Our lives are filled with many activities that appear to be essential, but none is as important as prayer.

The courage and strength of the lion, the sacrificial service of the ox, and being a man in Christ’s image are all necessary if we would gain the throne of glory. But none of these can attain the required level of acceptability apart from diligent, consistent, faithful waiting on the Lord.

Lord, teach us to pray.

A perfect understanding of the Scriptures will not bring the awe and Presence of Christ into our midst. Tireless service will not do it. All the assertions of "faith" will not do it. Only consistent, intense prayer can enable us to mount up with eagles’ wings into the heavenlies and become part of the Life of our Holy God.

We do not pray in order to "get something from God." We pray in order to "seek" the Lord: this is to say, we seek to abide in His Presence, to worship Him and to hear His voice. We crave Him. We hunger and thirst after Him.

God is calling out from the churches holy servants and witnesses, a royal priesthood. Those who respond are the true Christians, the saints, the Body of Christ, the sons of God, the Wife of the Lamb, the new Jerusalem, the Tabernacle of God, the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. They are not super-Christians, they merely are Christians, disciples of Christ. They follow the Lamb wherever He goes.

The majority of believers are not consecrated to the Lord’s purposes. They are filled with unrighteousness and uncleanness. They are careless about service (which is important in the eyes of the Lord). They often are disobedient to the known will of God and will admit it (without trembling!).

In our day the teeth have been removed from the Gospel message. The Christians have been taught they will be saved by grace apart from their behavior, that godly behavior is not required in the Kingdom of God. This is not true. They have been taught that any day now they will be caught away in a "rapture." This is not true either. They are hoping to enter the Kingdom of God when they enter Heaven. Heaven is not the Kingdom of God nor do we enter the Kingdom of God when we go to Heaven. The Kingdom of God is God in Christ in the saints ministering to the nations of saved peoples of the earth.

The teachers and prophets are seeking money from the flock. The pastors, in many instances, are building their own kingdoms, their monuments.

This is no new condition.

 But this is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison houses: they are for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore. (Isaiah 42:22)

The Spirit is calling the Bride out of the churches of today. It primarily is a spiritual exodus, not a physical exodus. Leaving the "big church" does not make us a member of the true Body of Christ. It is the heart that must leave Babylon (man-directed Christianity) and go to Jesus.

Someone may read our paper and become discouraged because of the high standard presented. We have written the truth; but let us add a word that may help some who are not living in victory at this time.

There are many, many believers of today who have given up trying to be a true Christian. The environment is so demonic, so dark, that only a few it appears are able and willing to make the effort to leave the world, sin, and self-will and follow the Lord.

If you are one of those who would like to be a victorious saint but feel it is impossible, let us speak a word of encouragement. In the first place, realize that God loves you. You are His child and He regards you just as you regard your own children.

If you have a discouraged or handicapped child, you know that your attitude is not one of condemnation but of deep concern that your child be able to succeed in life.

So it is with God. If we, being evil, have a heart of compassion for a discouraged or handicapped child, imagine how God feels toward you!

The blood of the cross will forgive all your sins right now, if you will receive it. Then, look to the Lord for help. Tell Him that you desire to please Him and to live in victory.

There is nothing wrong with seeking psychological help, taking medicine, or participating in group therapy. These can be very helpful at times. Seeking professional help will not prevent God from healing you. He is sympathetic toward you as you attempt to become strong.

The point is, God Almighty is able to bring you to the victory you desire. He is more concerned than you are over your spiritual state and He is able to remove every problem by His riches in glory through Christ.

Do not look into yourself for the solution. Look to Heaven. There is more joy in Heaven over one sinner that repents than over a hundred people that need no repentance. God, Jesus, and the holy angels are on your side. They want you to succeed just as you want your child to succeed.

Ask the Lord right now to give you the desire to lead a victorious Christian life. Ask Him every day. Ignore your failings. Keep on asking! asking! asking! Do not stop asking. Total victory is there for you if this is what you desire.

The second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation are a love letter to the Bride. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.

"Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away."