What Overcomers Must Know
IV. Entrusted to the overcomers
So often we pay attention only to God's love and neglected the responsibilities that the Lord has entrusted to us. Consequently, the Kingdom of the Lord cannot expand. What then did the Lord entrust to us? I believe that most people will definitely say that the Lord wants us to ‘go’ because it is the first word of the Great Commission. Yes, we should go. But what are we suppose to do when we get there? Is it to lead people to Christ? Are there other things He entrusted to us? Let us examine this in detail.
What the Lord entrusted to the overcomers is recorded in Mark 13:34. The Lord said, “It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert.” Here it tells us that when the Lord left His house, He did the following:
1. He gave authority to the servants.
2. He assigned a task to every servant.
3. He commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert.
Usually, we pay attention to the word ‘go’ in the Great Commission and not the other important things He entrusted to us. Even though this passage is written in descriptive language, the three aspects of what He entrusted are described.
A. "Gave authority to the servants."
The Lord gave authority to the servants. Certainly the term ‘servant’ do not refer only to pastors and missionaries. The reason is that every believer of the Lord Jesus Christ has a dual identity. We are the children of God because He is our Father. At the same time, since our Father is the King of kings and Lord of lords, so we are his subjects and servants. As His children, we are to love Him. As His servants, we are to be faithful. So, growth in these two aspects should be the basic pursuit of every overcomer.
1. Individual authority.
The Scriptures mentioned that the Lord gave us authority. What kind of authority did He give us? The first type is ‘the authority to be the children of God.’ (John 1: 12) This is not an empty promise but has actual power. Why are the underground churches in China so blessed? We all know that their growth is through the healing of the sick, casting out of evil spirits and the resurrection of the dead. Why do they have such authority? Does God favor them in particular and not the other churches? The reality is that they know how to use the authority given to them and we don't know about this authority! Believe it or not, whether or not a church can grow and God's presence are in direct proportion. When God manifests His power and performs miracles, the faith of the brothers and sisters will grow and their love for the Lord will increase. Overcomers should pay attention to this: all authority given by the Lord to us must be executed. If we do not execute them, we cannot manifest God's presence. May God help us to know fully that to be the children of God is not just in name but there is real authority. The underground churches in China are blessed with God’s grace because they not only know this but they also exercise this ‘individual authority’. Unfortunately, so many churches have completely forgotten and blanked out this real authority! How unfortunate!
2. Corporate Authority.
God gave us not only individual authority but in addition, He also gave us corporate authority. The Scriptures say, “Truly I say to you, whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 18:18) The meaning of this verse is explained in verses 19 and 20. “Again I say to you, that of two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For wherever two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst.” This points to the authority God gave to the church. Through ‘prayer’, the church can have authority on earth. We know that Satan commits all sorts of evil on earth today. It happens not only in society that belongs to the world but also in the church. Moreover, Satan temps the preachers in the church to sin. Why is Satan so daring? Is it because God is not paying attention? No, it is not because God is not paying attention! Rather, God has given the authority to the church. If the church does not exercise this authority, then God can only wait!
Nowadays, the number of people attending prayer meetings in churches is pitifully low. It really hurts to see! God gave this authority to us but we do not exercise it. We allow the church to fall into such hard times and allow Satan to commit evil at will. Some say that they can pray by themselves at home and would that not be the same? But individual prayer and corporate prayer are different. Why did Peter and John pray together in the temple? Is it because they cannot pray at home? It is so much quieter at home! But they understand the importance of praying in one accord in the temple. As a result, miracles happened! Afterwards, five thousand people believed in the Lord. We often say that the church is a place of worship. If worship lost the meaning of prayer, such worship is not pleasing to the Lord. So the Lord Jesus told us: My house (temple) is a house of prayer. (Refer to Matt. 21:13) I trust that all overcomers would understand this authority and in particular to those doing missions work. If they neglected this move, they will return home soon in tears and meet the Heavenly Father with empty hands.
B. “Assigning to each one his task.”
God gave us not only authority, He also ‘assigns to each one his task’ at the same time. Each one is every Christian. So, unless you are not a Christian, but if you are, please note that the Lord has already assigned work to you. If the Lord assigned work to you and you do not do it, what would happen? I trust that no explanation is required! May God be merciful to us and let us not have a ‘doesn’t matter’ attitude!
1. Assigning Gifts.
What work did God assign to us? There are two kinds of work. One is recorded in the gospel of Matthew 25:14-30. It says there: “For it is like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves, and entrusted his possessions to them … ”. These verses deal with the subject of spiritual gifts. For every Christian, God has given us at least on spiritual gift. Unless we are not Christians, it is another matter. Since we are the children of God, He has already assigned work to us. It could be five talents, two talents or at least one. Since we have been entrusted, if we do not do manage the business well, the ending is tragic! (Matt. 25:30) Overcomers, may God help us to treasure this trust in order that that we may not be ashamed when we meet the Lord!
2. Assigning salvation.
Another kind of work is recorded in the gospel of Luke 19:12-23. There it says, “A certain nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return. And he called ten of his slaves and gave them ten minas and said to them, “Do business with this until I come back.”” This refers to the grace of salvation. So, everyone receives the same amount. All receive equal treatment and everyone was given one mina. If we do not do business well with this mina, we would have a problem when we face the Lord. When I say such things, many people do not like to hear it! What they like to hear is: “Now that you are a believer, the Lord loves you and every thing will be fine. There is no need for you to “do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God…” (Micah 6:8). However, the Scriptures clearly states that God wants you to do business (spiritual). Yes, salvation is free but after you received it, you must do you duty by sharing this good news with others. This is our response to His great love by using the authority and gift God gave us skillfully.
Dear brothers and sisters, after you received the grace of salvation, have you worked for the gospel? Have you prayed for the work of the missionaries? By praying for missionaries you can also have a part of the missionary's work. Next, if you can financially support mission's work, it would be even better. The best is for one to ‘go’ himself! But we know that it is impossible for every overcomer can ‘go’. So, even though praying for the missionaries or supporting them financially is our second best, they are pleasing to God. Everyone knows that when the Lord receives us one day, we cannot take with us a single penny. So, why don’t we make good use the money God has given to us now? Do it according to what the Bible tells us by ‘laying up treasures in heaven’. (Refer to Matt. 6:20)
3. Another clear illustration.
God is wonderful. He is afraid that we do not understand the importance of mutual care in our relationship with one another. So, He illustrates it with another clear analogy: the church as the body of Christ. We are the members of the body of Christ. (I Cor. 12:12) Why did the Bible tell us in this manner? Overcomers, have you discovered any non-functional members in the body? That member must be either ‘dead’ or ‘cancerous’. May God help us! Let us not be a dead member of the Lord's church. We ought to find out what God has entrusted to us in the church. In addition, we need to serve as described in Romans 12 by being single-minded. Then we won’t be doing our second best.
C. “Commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert.”
The Scripture also mentioned: “Commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert.” What does it mean? In the beginning, the author did not understand either. Later on, thank God, I saw it. It turned out that the tabernacle (house of God) needed gatekeepers. “The gatekeepers were on the four sides, to the east, west, north and south.” (I Chron. 9:24) Furthermore, it tells us that “the four chief gatekeepers who were Levites, were in an office of trust and were over the chambers and treasuries in the house of God. They spent the night around the house of God because the watch was committed to them and they were in charge of opening it morning by morning.” (26-27) The author believes that these verses are the background of what the Lord Jesus spoke of in Mark 13:34.
1. Must guard the temple gate.
The house of God is a holy place. It has to be guarded so that no Gentiles and uncircumcised can enter on their own. According to tradition, the chief of the temple gatekeeper makes nightly rounds. If a guard is found sleeping and not fulfilling his duty, he will be whipped. Not only so, he would take the guard’s clothing and burn it. So, he will be naked. This helps us to understand what is said in Rev. 16:15: “ Behold I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his garments, lest he walk about naked and men see his shame.” The gatekeeper certainly refers to the overcomers or the leaders. The Bible tells us that they not only have to guard the gates, the treasuries of the temple, they also have to open the gates for the people. Then, it is just like the Lord is telling us that the gatekeepers have to be on the alert in order not to allow those who do not have the life of Christ can come into the body of Christ. This does not mean that when people come to church, they are not welcome. Rather it refers to when people join the church, the gatekeeper must be certain that they are truly born again and saved. This is the first responsibility of the gatekeeper.
2. Must guard the treasury.
The gatekeeper must simultaneously guard the treasury of the temple. It means the watch care over the finances of the church. Whether it is income and expenditure, they must be holy. Since the church is holy, not everybody’s money can be accepted. Money from non-believers must be refused because offering is a privilege of the brothers and sisters in the Lord. (For reference, see Prov. 15:8; 21:27; 9:17). Besides this, we must be faithful in managing God’s money as well as in spending it.
3. Must open the temple gate.
They must open the gates for the believers and pastors. There is a very important meaning here. Overcomers, do you know what trouble the church in Laodicea got into? They drove the Lord out of the church! They let Him stand outside and did not open the door for Him! But the Lord is full of patience. Even when they did not open the door, He did not leave but continued to stand outside. He continues to knock on the door and says to them, “Open the door! Let me come in so that I can dine with you." (Rev. 3:20) But the doorkeeper still will not open the door for Him. What happened in the end? Song of Solomon 5:6 tells us that the patience of the Lord is infinite but it is not bottomless. This girl (refers to the church) was not willing to open the door at first. After her beloved (refers to Christ) has left, she opened the door and could no longer find him!
Overcomers, you all know the seven churches in Asia Minor mentioned in chapters two and three in the book of Revelation. If you go there today, you will not find a single church. Is it because the Lord did not knock on their doors? He certainly did knock continuously. But after knocking and knocking and still no one opened the door, He could only leave!
4. Must have God's presence.
Brothers and sisters, we see a very important principle here. This principle should be kept whether it is a church or a Christian organization. The principle is ‘Emanuel’- God with us. (Matt. 1:23) Many churches and organizations were very humble in the beginning and looked to the Lord in everything and sought the Lord's presence. When they began to sprout wings a bit, they gradually turned and did not want the Lord. They did not allow the Lord to reign. Although the Lord can tolerate them, but if they remain unrepentant to the end, the Lord can only leave them. This is a fact in church history! Overcomers, we are gatekeepers. The Lord has given us authority. We ought to be faithful gatekeepers: keep the church holy and also open the door so that God and His children can enter into God’s house. But we should also be on the alert to watch over our own clothing so that we might not be naked! Some people say that the church today should not be like those Buddhists and Taoists who talk about signs and miracles! People who say such things do not have the faintest idea what they are talking about! What do these other religions have to do with us? We worship the Lord and let us see what our Lord said. When John asked Jesus, “Are you the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” (Matt. 11:3) How did Jesus reply? He did not say, “Go and report to John what you hear in the Sermon on the Mount.” What He said was: “Go and report to John what you hear and see; the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up.” Especially in these last days, overcomers should ask the Lord for grace so that through signs and miracles, His mighty power can be manifested. Never listen to the words spoken by those who have neither faith nor experience: “The age of miracles is over!” Since they have no gift, they have a sense of inferiority complex. They use these words to cover their unbelief and inability. The Lord has already given us authority. His authority is incomparable. We need to use what He entrusted to us. Through signs and miracles, they confirm Him through the gospel we preach. (Heb. 2:4) God has already assigned us work. We need to know clearly what is our assignment so that we will not steal His show, stay focused and not create noise as a half-filled bottle! At the same time, in everything we do, we must fulfill the condition of having God's presence. All these are the duties overcomers should fulfill and the privileges to enjoy. Praise the Lord, for I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in us will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Phil. 1:6) Amen!