Chapter 7, Part 3
Overcomers have to be Chosen
God is faithful and His faithfulness is unto all generations. Even though mankind is stubbornly stupid and has prolonged some of God's plans, anything and everything He planned will be "cashed in" one day. In other words, His plan towards the Kingdom will be realized! The fact that He gives us salvation today is in order to realize His plan so that we can become personnel of His Kingdom. When His Kingdom descends, we can accept His commission--"I will put you in charge of many things". Who is worthy to receive such a commission? They are those who are chosen. They are those who are "faithful in a few things". The faithfulness "over a few things" is developed by the training of "trading" (see Matt.25:16). This is just like a gem stone in the raw, for it to be a jewel, it has to be cut and polished. How then can a gem stone be cut and polished in order to be chosen?
A. Be Chosen and the Training
After we are saved by grace from our sins and transgressions. we receive a dual position. One is that of a "beloved child of God" and the other to be a "good and faithful servant". To be a child of God, all one needs to do is to "receive". "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God." (John 1 :12) However, to be a good servant of God is to be chosen and it will require training. This is just like Abraham who is the father of faith; he did not achieve it instantly but it was through a long period of cutting and polishing. Although when he was in the trial period, there were successes and failures, overall, he was more than a conqueror. This is not only with Abraham. All the famous personalities in the Scriptures such as Moses, David, Daniel, Peter, Paul...are like this. Praise the Lordi
In like manner, since the personnel of the Kingdom are those who "overcame" or "chosen","striven and prevailed" and "receive a wreath that is imperishable", they must be tested after training in order to be chosen. Mencius said, "When Heaven is about to confer a great office upon a man, He will exercise his mind with sufferings, his sinews and bones with toil and his body to hunger. He will subject him to extreme poverty and confound his undertakings. Through these, He stimulates his mind, hardens his nature and increases his competency." The Scriptures also say, "...you encounter various trials...that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (Jas.1:2-4). Even our Lord also experienced this! "He was tempted in all things." The word "tempt' was used in the New Testament 60 times. As a verb, it was used 39 times and as a noun 21 times. It has the meanings of "test', "trial" and "tempt". It was translated as "testing" and "trial" in John 6:6, Acts 20:19, Hebrews 11:17, James 1:2, 1 Peter 1:6, 4:12 Revelation 2:10 and 3:10. So, when our Lord was on earth, all the "trials" He underwent were also His "tests". Praise the Lord, He passed all the tests. The reason is in the Scriptures: "He is without sin." The original meaning of sin is "missing the mark'!....flunked. "Without sin" is equivalent to "didn't flunk''. Praise the Lord. He stood in our shoes and took the testing on our behalf. He was 'just like us''. While we frequently fail our tests, He never did! So He is able to say, "Which one of you convicts Me of sin?" He can also say, "Just as I have overcome." For this reason, God has "highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name". As a matter of fact, which great man of faith in the Scriptures was not "cut" and "polished"? No wonder Peter said, ''You have been distressed in various trials that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." (1 Pet. 1:7)
B. Be Chosen and the Equipping
By reading carefully the two parables on "the master giving talents to the servants" (Matt.25:14-30; Luke 19:11-27), we know that the reason for such action is not because the master is money crazy. He is not so greedy that he wanted his servants to increase his bank account in his absence. Rather, he wanted them "to acquire knowledge through learning and hardship"! Among mankind, the number of people who are "born with the knowledge" are really scarce. Regarding spiritual matters, there is probably none! So, although to do business (work) is important, what the master is concerned with is not the amount earned (work), but whether or not the servant has received the equipping he ought to have. Thank God, what He wanted us to see is that the purpose of doing business (work) is not for the sake of making money (work) but to equip the servants so that they can become Kingdom personnel with whom He is pleased. Today, when we selflessly go out to save souls, serve the church in toil and frustration, serve the Lord by rising early and sleeping late, or struggle for the Kingdom by swallowing bitterness and hardship, we experience the means which the gracious Lord has selected to equip us. To be honest, if it is only for works, the gracious Lord can have Pentecost happen everyday in the church so that there will be three or five thousand saved daily. He could even send the angels to preach the gospel (see Rev. 14:6,7), lead revival meetings and shepherd the church. They would definitely do a better job in preaching, leading and shepherding, and would achieve better results, but He desires us to do the work. He wants us to ask in prayer with a seeking and single-minded heart. He wants us to prepare carefully in detail. He wants us to co-operate with each other using our abilities together to move forward. Sometimes, we have to even pay quite a price in order to see some spiritual fruit. Why? This is in order to fulfill the Scriptures: "For He did not subject to angels the world to come concerning which we are speaking." Rather He wants us, we who are insignificant people to rule (Heb.2:5-7).
C. Be Chosen and to Reign
We know two things from the previous Scripture passage: First, there will be a better world in the future than the present one. Secondly, in the future world, the rulers will no longer be angels but man. This is no different than telling us that this world will pass away in the near future. A future world is waiting to come in. What will be this future world? This future world is not that ideal world when God created the earth, because the earth has been destroyed by the evil one to the point that it is beyond recognition. Also, it is not the Messianic Kingdom expected by the Jews and by the mother of James and John when she requested of Jesus: "Command that in your Kingdom that these two sons of mine may sit, one on your right and one on your left." (Matt.20:21) It is also not what was expected by the robber on the cross who requested, "Jesus, remember me when you come in your Kingdom!" (According to the reply by the gracious Lord, He did not grant his request. He only promised that his soul shall be saved. If he has not received training to be Kingdom personnel, how can he be a ruler in the Kingdom?) It shall be the Eternal Kingdom. It is the world that God has prepared since the foundation of the world. The ideal earth and the Millennium of the Messianic Kingdom are only the means and not the end of the salvation of the gracious Lord. The final goal of salvation should be: '"there shall no longer be night and they shall not have the need of the light of a lamp or the light of the sun because the Lord will illuminate them and they shall reign forever and ever." (Rev. 22:5) This is also the promise of the Lord: "He who overcomes and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations!" (Rev. 2:26) Again He said, "He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne." (Rev. 3:21)
D. Be Chosen and not Chosen
The passage of Scripture in section B also tells us that the rulers of this present world are the angels. How can this be? Did not the Scriptures tell us that "the whole world lies in the power of the evil one"? Yes, but the evil one was also an angel in the very beginning! The Scriptures tells us that there are “chosen” angels (1 Tim 5:21). Since there are chosen ones, there must also be those who are not chosen. Today, the world is under the rule of these two classes of angels. The Scriptures also address them as 'prince' (Dan. 10:13, 20, 21). Michael the archangel and the prince of Persia and Greece are both called princes. They are both angels of the same rank. Their only difference is that one is not chosen and the other is chosen; one is disobedient and the other is obedient! In the same way, this fact also exists among the believers: some are chosen and some not chosen. The Scriptures tell us: "I never acknowledge you, depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness." (Matt. 7:23 original meaning), "Truly I say to you, I do not know you." (Matt. 25:12), "And cast out the worthless slave into the outer darkness!" (Matt. 25:30), and "By your own words, I will judge you, you worthless slave" (Luke 19:22). All these are words of judgment from the gracious Lord to those who were not chosen. Can we cover our ears and not listen? Regardless, everything from God is intended to "cut" and "polish" us and to equip us to accomplish all that He has prepared from the foundation of the world. When He equipped Moses, He did not just spend 80 years but 120 years! When He built up Paul, it was not just three years in the desert in Arabia but his entire life until he said, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith...” The preparation of an overcomer is really not simple. No wonder so few are chosen!