MORE THAN CONQUERORS
MORE THAN CONQUERORS From: Kingdom Concepts Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
We know from the Scriptures that it is impossible for Satan to harm the saint who keeps his eyes fastened on Christ. In order to overcome us, Satan must deceive us and gain our cooperation in our own destruction. This is precisely what the Scriptures warn us he will do.
There are at least four great contemporary lies that have overcome multitudes of the saints. These four errors have nearly destroyed the power of the saints in our own day.
Not only shall we be preserved throughout the days to come, if we follow the Lord carefully, but we also shall serve, as did Joseph, as deliverers and protectors of God’s elect, of all who seek the Lord, and perhaps of some of the nations of the earth as well. It is our belief that the lives and ministries of Elijah and Elisha typify the power of deliverance that will be given to the elect in the last days.
The remnant of the churches, the people who do know their God, will not be removed from the earth. Through Christ they will overcome and will emerge more than conquerors.
MORE THAN CONQUERORS
Before the Lord Jesus comes and we are gathered together to Him, a worldwide revolt against authority will occur and Antichrist will take his seat in the Temple of God.
The Christians in Thessalonica had become excited because of the resurrection and catching up of the saints of which Paul had spoken in his first epistle to them. Apparently some of them had quit their jobs and had become disorderly, spending their time in unprofitable talk and gossip.
Therefore Paul wrote to them a second time. He exhorted them to settle down and go back to work, because certain events must take place before the Lord comes and the resurrection and catching up unite us forever with the Lord Jesus and with one another.
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [the coming of the Lord] shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. (II Thessalonians 2:3,4)
Jesus spoke of the coming "abomination" of man making himself God and of the desolation that always results when man makes himself God:
When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) (Matthew 24:5)
It appears that the Temple of God will be rebuilt in Jerusalem. Then the current trend toward the ascendancy of man over God will find fulfillment in a Satan-filled person who goes into the Holy of Holies, sits between the wings of the cherubim, and declares he is God. The Lord God of Heaven immediately will cause great tribulation to erupt on the earth because of such blasphemy.
For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. (Matthew 24:21)
We understand there have been many antichrists in the world since the first century.
Why is it taking so long for a human being to boldly declare himself to be God, establishing his position with satanic signs and wonders? It is because there is an opposing force.
For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth [restrains] will let, until he be taken out of the way. (II Thessalonians 2:7)
We can observe on every hand the signs of the working of the spirit of lawlessness. People are being taught in schools and universities that man is in control of the earth. The elevating of man over God produces rebellion—a despising of authority.
What force is restraining the full revelation of lawlessness and man-centeredness? It is the force of Christ through the Holy Spirit in the saints.
In order for the full maturing of the "tares" to take place, the restraining force must be removed from the path of Antichrist.
If it is Christ through the Spirit in the saints who is restraining the full manifestation of Antichrist in the world, then the saints must be overcome in some manner if Antichrist is to come to full revelation. This is what will take place.
And it was given unto him [Antichrist] to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. (Revelation 13:7)
How will Antichrist overcome the saints and remove them as obstacles in his road to control of the world? One means is by violent persecution, driving the saints from the cities of the world.
Speaking of the many tribulations and distresses that the saints suffer in the world, Paul states:
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. (Romans 8:37)
Another means is deception. We know from the Scriptures that it is impossible for Satan to harm the saint who keeps his eyes fastened on Christ. Therefore in order to overcome us Satan must deceive us and gain our cooperation in our own destruction. This is what the Scriptures warn he will do.
And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. (II Thessalonians 2:10)
Antichrist cannot deceive us if we cleave unrelentingly to the truth. The battle rages around "the love of the truth." Believers in Jesus can be deceived and overcome if they do not remain in the truth of God.
There are at least four great contemporary lies that have overcome multitudes of the saints by removing them from the truth. These four errors have nearly wiped out the power of the saints in our own day. Numerous saints have been overcome already. Antichrist is near to be revealed in his fullness. In some nations the Christian people have been conquered ; and were it not for the current gracious outpouring of God’s Spirit in the "latter rain," the worldwide revival and testimony that even now is upon us, the end would be here.
God will purify to Himself a remnant in the last days, performing this act quickly in His sovereign wisdom and power, or else the Son of Man would find no faith whatever when He returns to earth.
The four great contemporary lies that have rendered the Christian churches virtually helpless in spiritual warfare are as follows:
The belief that God’s grace in Christ is an alternative to godly living.
The idea that God no longer is a God of wrath.
The concept that the purpose of the resurrection and ascension of the saints is that they may not be exposed to persecution and suffering in the world.
The current emphasis on the use of "faith" to acquire material gain and to govern contemporary society.
The first lie to weaken the Christian churches is the belief that God’s grace in Christ is an alternative to godly living, an alternative that makes the believer acceptable to God and brings him into fellowship with God even though he continues to be unrighteous, unholy, and disobedient in behavior.
As part of this error, the Gospel is being preached apart from repentance. People are told that being born again means only that they have expressed an acceptance of the blood atonement made by Christ.
A careful study of the Book of Acts will reveal that the Apostles did not preach that salvation comes through an acceptance of the atonement apart from repentance. John the Baptist, Jesus, and the Apostles preached that people must turn away from their sins in order to be saved.
God sent His Son, Jesus, to turn us away from our sins. If an individual who is about to die receives Christ, his many sins are forgiven. But in his heart he must have truly repented of his sins if he is to obtain salvation.
The Gospel of Christ is a Gospel of repentance. It is a false preaching that indicates all we must do is make a profession of Christ as our Savior. We must also receive Christ as our personal Lord, repenting diligently of our sins and worldly ways, in order to be saved in the Day of Wrath.
The second destructive lie, and it has penetrated deeply into Christian thinking, is the idea that God does not judge His people; that it no longer is necessary for the saints to work out their salvation with "fear and trembling"; that there is no need for any saint to fear the Judgment Seat of Christ because no believer in Jesus will receive the evil he has done in his body (II Corinthians 5:10).
The third widely held error is the concept that the purpose of the resurrection and ascension of the saints is that they may not be exposed to persecution and suffering in the world.
The concept of "escape by rapture" is taught persistently; yet it is not stated even one time in the Scriptures that the resurrection and catching up of the saints are for the purpose of escaping tribulation and suffering. Imagine—one of the most commonly believed Christian teachings of our day is not found anywhere in the entire Scriptures!
Neither Jesus nor the Apostles ever suggested a removal from the earth in order to escape exposure to tribulation. The Lord does give special direction to the elect during periods of danger. The Spirit of God on numerous occasions has delivered the saints from destruction.
Every Christian is to live in unceasing prayer. If he does, the Lord will warn him of danger to come and give him wisdom and guidance. This is why Christ exhorted us to "watch and pray." But the foolish, careless, worldly Christians will not know when trouble is coming and will be destroyed.
The resurrection and ascension of the saints are not for the purpose of fleeing Antichrist or the great tribulation. Rather they are stupendous acts of Kingdom power that will provide the most effective witness of Christ’s resurrection and Divinity ever to confront the peoples of the earth. Every eye will behold Christ when He appears in glory with His saints. At that time the world will believe that God has sent Christ and multitudes will be saved.
The fruit of the "escape by rapture" teaching is that the believers are not prepared to suffer in the flesh. Their faith has been weakened by soft living. Their determination to stand against the enemy has been undermined. They will collapse from fear in the days to come, losing their greatest opportunity to witness to the unbelievers. Can you see how the restraining power is being taken out of the path of Antichrist by the hope of a pre-tribulation "rapture" of the believers?
It is true that throughout the period of tribulation the elect will escape being harmed spiritually by the things that come to pass (provided they follow the Lord closely and obey Him diligently) and will stand in victory before the Son of Man. This does not mean that many will not suffer persecution and tribulation, for such often has been the experience of God’s elect.
But it does mean that the saints will learn to live by a miracle. Food, shelter, transportation, health, safety—all will be provided for the praying, believing elect. There are numerous examples in the Scriptures of the protection and preservation of the saints. Daniel in the lions’ den, the three Hebrew men in the furnace, Elijah in the days of famine, Jeremiah at the time of the conquest by Babylon, Israel in Egypt, Israel in the wilderness, reveal to us that God is faithful in protecting and providing for His saints in the day of trouble.
The difference between the above teaching and the concept of the "escape by rapture" teaching is that the protection of the elect is shown to be for a people of the Lord who are a praying, godly, believing, separated remnant. They all are God’s prophets in a day of apostasy. The only requirement for being caught up in the "rapture" is that the individual has taken "the four steps of salvation."
Also, in the above examples none of the saints was removed from the area of trouble but protected in it.
As far as we know there is not a single example of a witness of God being removed from a place of danger. Perhaps there is but we cannot think of it. Even Noah and his family were saved while riding on the flood of judgment.
The saints go through deep water and are brought through the fire. God does not remove them, He takes care of them in the midst of the danger.
When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. (Isaiah 43:2)
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13)
"Having done all, to stand." "To stand "!
There is a difference between standing and flying away.
The doctrine of the protection of the elect is scriptural. It leads to godliness, prayer, faith, trust in the Lord. It brings a quiet assurance and confidence that God always is with us in the hour of testing.
The doctrine of "escape by rapture" has produced a multitude of believers who are at ease in Zion. They are at ease in Zion because they are under the impression that their faith will never be tested severely. They are to be treated differently from all the saints of Scripture and of history because they have made a profession of Christ. Yet today in some countries the believers are being tortured and slain for the Gospel.
Great tribulation soon is to fall on the nations of the earth. Every Christian who prepares himself today by prayer and dedication to Christ, and prepares his loved ones as far as possible, will be strengthened and guided by the Spirit of God. He or she will escape being harmed spiritually (and sometimes physically) by the things that are to come to pass.
But the Christian who continues to live as a worldling, trusting he or she will be carried off to Heaven in the day of trouble, trusting he will be treated differently from the saints of past and present history, will certainly be deceived by Antichrist.
We will leave it to the reader to decide which of the two doctrines is proceeding from the Lord Jesus Christ.
The current emphasis on the use of "faith" to acquire material gain and to govern contemporary society is a fourth misunderstanding. This teaching brings the believer into the lap of Antichrist.
The "faith message" is part of the contemporary "success" approach to the Gospel, In our day the Gospel of the Kingdom of God has been changed from a discipleship that leads to patient suffering, and sometimes martyrdom, into a program for success—success in our vocation, success in our marriage, success in our education, success in building a church, success in all we do. What an abomination! What a false prophet!
This is exactly what Satan desires: a "saint" who is living an unrighteous, unholy, disobedient life; who fears Satan but not God; who believes that God would never expose him to suffering, torture or martyrdom for the Gospel’s sake; and who has his heart and attention centered on material gain and the blessing of his adamic nature in the present age.
By these four lies Antichrist has overcome many Christians in the several nations of the world. Satan must, as Balaam counseled Balak, tempt the Lord’s people and lead them into sin. Satan understands that a holy people who are anointed by the Spirit of God always shall destroy his works.
Antichrist must deceive the saints away from God, away from the anointing of the Holy Spirit, before he can sit between the wings of the cherubim in the Temple of God. Therefore he is waging a war of seduction and deception against the saints. He cannot overcome the saints by a superior power and so he is overcoming them with their own lusts and self-love. Our enemy is exceedingly cunning.
Do the Scriptures teach that Antichrist will overcome the saints by flattering them and corrupting them with a false sense of peace and security?
And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. (Daniel 11:32)
"Shall he corrupt by flatteries." "Corrupt by flatteries"!
The following passage is particularly important. It portrays the method that Antichrist will follow in order to remove from his path the anointed testimony and resistance of the saints:
And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own [but by Satan’s] power: and he shall destroy wonderfully [astonishingly], and shall prosper, and practice [follow his own wishes], and shall destroy [corrupt] the mighty [men] and the holy people [the saints]. And through his policy [cunning] also he shall cause craft [deceit; trickery] to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace [in their security; by careless security; prosperity] shall destroy [corrupt] many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand. (Daniel 8:24,25)
We think of Antichrist as coming against the saints with swords, guns, bayonets; and no doubt he will do so. In addition, Antichrist is a deceiver. He will be successful in overcoming the saints by deception to the extent that the restraint against his full manifestation will be removed.
How will Antichrist conquer God’s saints?
"Will he corrupt by flatteries"; and "by peace (careless security; prosperity) will destroy (corrupt) many."
What kind of Christians do we see in the wealthy nations of today? They are unholy, disobedient, unthankful, without the fear of God, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God.
The effect of the beliefs that God’s grace in Christ is an alternative to godly living, that God no longer judges His people, that the purpose of the resurrection and ascension of the saints is that they may not be exposed to persecution and suffering in the world, and that "faith" can be used to acquire material gain and to govern contemporary society, that we can be successful in this world by using "faith," is a multitude of churches filled with people who are self-centered, pleasure-loving, full of lust, prayerless, undisciplined, among whom there is no awe of God. Have not the churches been overcome by Antichrist’s trickery?
If God’s elect are to remain on the earth throughout the revealing of Antichrist, as we are suggesting, what provision has God made for their survival and joy?
God’s provision for His elect during the days of Antichrist is the spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Tabernacles. Truly, the Lord has kept the good wine until now.
First came salvation through the blood (the feast of Unleavened Bread). Next, the filling with God’s Holy Spirit (the feast of Weeks).
Now it is time for the Father and the Son to come and abide in the saints (the feast of Tabernacles—see Leviticus, Chapter 23; Deuteronomy 16:16; John 14:23). The spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles is the Lord’s response to the rise of Antichrist.
The true protection against Antichrist is discussed in the Book of First John.
Notice, first of all, that Antichrist comes out of the Christian churches just as Judas came from among the Twelve. The spirit of Antichrist is formed when believers in Christ attempt to use Christ for their own ends. Antichrist is an imitation of Christ.
Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. (I John 2:18,19)
These antichrists were among God’s people but not of God’s people. Why were they not of God’s people? Because they had never been called by the Lord. They were imitators seeking their own gain. If they indeed had been called by the Lord, then it happened that they were overcome by the world, lust, or the desire to accomplish their own ends.
The true saints are those who pray and are anointed by the Spirit of God. If we would escape deception we must give ourselves to seeking the Lord and to godly behavior.
But ye have an unction [anointing] from the Holy One, and ye know all things. (I John 2:20)
Only the believers who are close to God are able to discern between Christ and Antichrist. That is why Jesus warned the elect to watch and pray lest they be deceived.
And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (I John 4:3)
Christ already has come in the flesh, was raised in the flesh, and shall come again in the flesh. The issue raised by Antichrist is that of the coming of Christ in the flesh. Antichrist’s desire is to drive Christ out of the physical realm. When Christ appears in the clouds of heaven Antichrist will resist with force His entrance into the realm of flesh.
The great hope of the Christian saints, until recent times, was the coming, the return of Christ to the earth. Jesus will return in exactly the same manner in which He left. The scriptural hope is the coming of Christ to set up His Kingdom on the earth. This is the often repeated emphasis of both the Old Testament and the New Testament.
But our glorious hope has been changed to a going of the saints to the spirit realm. It no longer is a coming, it has been changed to a going.
What is the purpose behind the altering of one of the greatest of the hopes of the Christian Church? It is to keep Christ and His saints in the spirit realm; to drive them out of the material realm so Satan and Antichrist can inherit the earth.
When Christ returns to earth He shall destroy Antichrist. Christ in the saints shall destroy Antichrist. Therefore by continually emphasizing the leaving of the saints, the whole nature and purpose of the Kingdom of God is thrown into chaos.
The issue is that of Christ in the flesh ; not Christ in the spirit realm, not Christ in Heaven, but Christ in the flesh in the world.
Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. (Luke 24:39)
This is the hope of the Kingdom of God. This is the hope of the mature saints. This is the hope of the first resurrection from among the dead.
By minimizing the bodily resurrection and emphasizing the flight of the saints to Heaven the way is left open for Antichrist to inherit the earth.
Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. (I John 4:4)
Antichrist operates through deception. It is only as we are filled with God in Christ that we can escape being seduced away from the truth. God’s protection against Antichrist is the spirit of truth in the saint, not the flight of the believer to the spirit realm.
As we study the Old Testament prophecies relating to the Day of Christ we discover that the saints will be on the earth throughout the reign of Antichrist and will serve as deliverers and protectors for all who choose to seek God’s help in those terrible days.
Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment. And a man [each one of them—the King and His princes] shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. (Isaiah 32:1,2)
Finally God in Christ will rise up in the saints and crush Satan.
Not only will we be preserved throughout the days to come, we also will serve, as did Joseph, as deliverers and protectors of God’s elect, of all who seek the Lord, and perhaps of some of the nations of the earth as well. It is our belief that the lives and ministries of Elijah and Elisha typify the power of deliverance that will be given to the elect in the last days.
The remnant of the churches, the people who do know their God, will not be removed from the earth. Through Christ they will overcome and will emerge more than conquerors.
Some of them will "fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days" (Daniel 11:33). But at the same time the Spirit of God will use them to instruct and assist many people.
Let us turn to the Book of Joel and see what our God will do in the closing days of this age.
And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. (Joel 2:30,31)
These are the signs that will appear as the announcement of the soon coming of Jesus (Matthew 24:29,30).
Notice the ministry of God’s elect to every person who calls on the name of the Lord in the days just before Christ returns:
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion [the Church of Christ] and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call. (Joel 2:32)
Many persons will be forced to become hot or cold just before the Lord returns:
Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. (Joel 3:14)
Then the great signs of Christ’s coming will appear for all to see:
The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. (Joel 3:15)
Now comes the climactic act of God Almighty, an action mentioned by many of the prophets of Israel as they envisioned the last days:
The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. (Joel 3:16)
We are so accustomed to the gentle Jesus who speaks softly to our hearts that it is difficult to understand that in the closing days of this age He will roar out of the church.
How can we be sure that "Zion" is the Church of Christ?
But ye are [present tense] come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just [righteous] men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22-24)
We can see from the above that the Christian believer already has come to Mount Zion and that Mount Zion is the heavenly Jerusalem, the church of the Firstborn, the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
At the time of the return of Christ from Heaven, God will rise up in the saints who are in Heaven and on the earth. Antichrist will be confronted by Christ in the saints everywhere he turns. He will be destroyed by the power of God in the saints. He will be crushed under the feet of the saints.
And the God of peace shall bruise [crush] Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. (Romans 16:20)
In that hour the Lord God will be the protecting, sustaining hope of His people. A thousand shall fall at our side and ten thousand at our right hand, but we shall have no need to fear because God Himself will be our hope and our strength.
Therefore we have no dread of the future. God Himself is our strength and our protection, our joy and our peace. As long as He leaves us on the earth we are perfectly safe in His almighty care.
If we should die and go to Heaven we will return in glory with Jesus. If we should live through part or all of the days of tribulation that are at hand we will discover that God is with us and in us, and that His power and love make us more than conquerors no matter what problems and dangers are before us.
Whether we are alive in the flesh or present with the Lord we shall be very active in the days ahead, as preparation is made for our rulership over the nations of the earth and we receive our inheritance.