•••by Russell Young
The Lord has revealed that those who “overcome” will inherit the New Jerusalem and the promises that apply to it. (Rev 21:7) Since this is so, it is important to be among the overcomers. There are a lot of assumptions and presumptions made about exactly who the overcomers or victorious are and how they achieve that state.
Many rest their hope of victory solely in that which the crucifixion of Christ has accomplished for them and assume no responsibility for any contribution for their victory. This understanding is often referred to as God’s “sovereign grace.” Such thinking will lead many to eternal disappointment. Paul has written that he was straining ahead and pressing on toward the goal; he did not assume victory as having been completed through the crucifixion of Christ. (Phil 3:13-14). Although there are many other relevant passages that deal with the need to be led, to follow, or to do God’s will, the Lord admonished his listeners that they had to stand firm to the end in order to be saved. (Mt 10:22)
In his revelation through John the Lord told the seven churches that they were to be victorious in maintaining their love for him ((Rev 2:4), in remaining faithful even when facing death (Rev 2:10c), in remaining true to the teachings of holiness (Rev 2:14), in not tolerating false teaching (Rev 2:20), in living -making their practices meet the requirements of God (Rev 3:2), in obedience and perseverance (Rev 3:10), and in passion for him (Rev 3:15). These teachings did not only refer to the church as a unit but to the individuals who comprise the unit. At the end of Revelation, he stated, “All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.” (Rev 21:7, NLT)
Peter warned his readers about wandering back into sinful practices. “And when people escape from the wickedness of the world by knowing our Lord and savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled up and enslaved by sin again, they are worse off than before. It would have been better if they had never known the way to righteousness than to know it and reject the command they were given to live a holy life.” (2 Peter 2:21, NLT)
Further, the Lord said, “The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.” (Mt 13:41, NIV)
Believers have not been relieved of participation in their deliverance or salvation. They have been commanded to “work hard” to achieve God’s kingdom. Those who fail to “work out” (Phil 2:12) their own salvation may not make it. “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.” (Lk 13:24, NIV) “Effort” and “working out” are not passive acts but demand commitment from the believer.
Christ has won victory over death and Hades, but that is his victory. Through it, he claimed right to determine who would be judged fit for the heavenly kingdom and the presence of God. The fate of all humankind rests with him. Because the keys are his, he will be the mighty judge and all honour will belong to him. For the redeemed person to share in his kingdom he or she must obey him in this life. (Heb 5:9) The Lord can win the victory for him or her.
Victory cannot be achieved without commitment and without clinging to the Lord who is the believer’s power for victory. There is yet a life to be lived and a death to be lived. Christ declared that since John (the Baptist) many have been trying to “force” their way into the kingdom and told them that the law would not disappear but that the least stroke of a pen would not drop out of it. (Lk 16:16) He also said that he came to fulfill the law (Mt 5:17) and he will do that through his presence in the believer (Col 1:27) as they obey him (Heb 5:9)
Each person has a part in victorious living. It is not sufficient to just let Christ remove the stain of sin by his sacrifice as achieved at the point of redemption through a single act of faith; holy living must be practiced. The Lord has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Pet 1:3) but not life and godliness itself. The words of Christ at the end of Revelation were: “Blessed are those who wash their robes (“do his commandments”, KJV), that they might have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.” (Rev 22:14, NIV) They must be victorious.