Kingdom Truth - Recruitment of the Overcomer
The Service of the Overcomer
III. Imitating the apostles for the Kingdom
Jesus sent the twelve disciples and told them, "Do not go in the way of the Gentiles and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 10:5-7)
Dr. Sun, the founder of the Republic of China penned this famous saying: "Nurture the righteous 'chi' (breath) in the universe and imitate the perfect men throughout the age." Even though Wen Tien-Chian described chi in the first phrase as when on earth, it is the rivers and the fjords; in the heavens, it is the sun and the star; and in men, it is splendor and majesty. It is that great. But what is the righteous chi? We can only sense the meaning but can provide no rational explanation. The 'perfect men' mentioned in the second phrase should be readily understood by all. It refers to those who have a perfect moral character. Righteous chi needs to be nurtured and developed whereas the perfect man is learned by imitation. The righteous chi is internal and the prefect man is external. So, to be a true 'gentleman', one has to nurture internally and imitate externally simultaneously! How fortunate that we have become overcomers of the twenty-first century, should we not apply this principle more? We should be full of the Holy Spirit internally and imitate the Apostles in our daily living as they have imitated Christ. (I Cor. 11:1 and I Thes. 1:6) We need to develop the total person in order not to be ashamed as a twenty-first century overcomer! Overcomers, God has laid His eyes on us before the foundation of the world and equipped us in the end time for the purpose that we can fulfill His desire upon us.
A. At the appointed time and place.
Did not the Scriptures tell us that “God so loved the world”? (John 3:16) It also said: “He desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (I Tim. 2:4) and “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance”? (II Peter 3:9) So, why in the send away speech to the disciples, Jesus only allowed them to enter the house of Israel and forbade them to go to the Gentiles? He even forbade them to enter into the Samaritan cities! Yet before His ascension into heaven, He wanted them to be witnesses in Jerusalem, all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth! (Acts 1:8) It turned out that the Lord wanted the disciples to learn a principle in serving: “In all spiritual work, there is a distinction between here or there and which is first and latter.” When we serve the Lord, we cannot proceed or stop based solely on moral ground or the spiritual need. From the beginning to the end, everything must have the appointed time and appointed place spiritually. Otherwise, it will be difficult to produce spiritual fruit or results! That is why during the time when the Jews celebrated the Feast of Tabernacle, the brothers of Jesus urged Him to go to Jerusalem, but Jesus replied, “My time is not yet at hand; but your time is always opportune.” (John 7:6) Lazarus became sick, He remained at the place where He was at for two more days and then went to resurrect him. (John 11:6) His birth had an appointed time and place. His arrest was at an appointed time. (John 7:30; 8:20) Where he was buried was also appointed. (Isaac 53:9) His all in all was to train the disciples to proceed in accordance with the heavenly itinerary, where should it be and which should be first. It is no wonder then the Spirit of Jesus did not permit Paul to go to Bithynia and Paul immediately changed his original itinerary. (Act 16:7) As overcomers in the twenty-first century, we should also behave in this way. In the matter of serving God, we must have God’s time, place, sequence, method, procedure, et cetera. Never ever assume that we are right, know better and ignore God’s priority as to which comes first and later; which is greater and less, which is further and closer and which is less weighty and more. If we insist upon our own way, either nothing will be accomplished or it will be done just so so! Because God said, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and the cleverness of the clever, I will set aside.” (I Cor. 1:19) May we never underestimate these words. Overcomers, not only we must be clear about our calling, the details of all our service should have clear guidance. It cannot be according to our own pleasure or our own convenience. Only when we walk in the center of God’s will would we have God’s presence. With God’s presence, then everything is prosperous. (Gen. 39:2) His holy work will be blessed!
B. Preaching as we go.
After our Lord made it clear to His disciples that service requires ‘knowing what comes first and later’, He wanted them to pay attention to what is their mission. Their mission is not necessarily to be a ‘pastor’, ‘elder’, ‘presbyter’, ‘deacon’ or even ‘janitor’. Rather, their mission is to ‘preach as one goes’! Is it to ‘preach the gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven’? It certainly is! But how should one ‘preach’? A short discussion on this matter is necessary.
Both the New and Old Testaments have two different words that can be translated as ‘preach’. One is to ‘evangelize’ (Psalm 96:2 and Luke 3:18) or ‘bear good news’ (Is. 40:9 twice, Rom. 10:15). One is to ‘declare’ (Deut. 20:2, 5, 10) or ‘advertise’ (Psalm 40:9 and Mark 1:14). Both of these two technical terms can be found in the same verse in the Old and New Testament. In Is. 61:1, they are translated as ‘bring good news’ and ‘proclaim liberty’. In Rom. 10:15, they are translated as ‘preach’ and ‘bring glad tidings’. While these two words can be used interchangeably at times, they have the following differences. The former word points to the passing on of good news. In the Old Testament, “The women who proclaim the good tidings” (Psalm 68:11) is translated from this verb. The word ‘women’ is not in the original language. It is added because this verb is feminine and plural. ‘Bear good news’ in the Greek language usually refer to the goods news of a birthday or the coronation of a king. This good news is proclaimed everywhere and to everyone so that the people can celebrate and enjoy. So, this word ‘evangelize’ practically hints that we should rejoice at the One who was born for us and also the King and Lord Jesus Christ coming again for us! The latter Greek word differs in that it focuses on the duty aspect of the person who passes on the good news. He must declare it word by word according to the original document or the order he received. He cannot add or subtract any words (refer to Rev. 22:18-19). It is like a royal messenger of old reading the royal proclamation word by word. So, this word in the Hebrew language is often used as the word ‘read’ the scroll (Refer to Jer. 36:6, 8 and 14). When our Lord was on earth, He followed this principle. That is why He said, “My teaching is not Mine but His who sent Me.” (John 7:16) He also said, “... I speak these things as the Father taught Me.” (John 8:28) Even His mother also understood this point well. That was why she said to the servants at the wedding feast in Cana: “Whatever He says to you, do it.” (John 2:5) This is why Paul wanted us to know: “For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord ... ” (II Cor. 4:5) So, the word ‘preach’ in ‘preaching as we go’ is to have this ‘duty’ in ‘preaching’. So, we can see how our Lord paid attention on the accuracy of His words preached by His disciples! He pays great attention to it!
In contrast, as we look at the attitude of the church towards God’s word in the last days, it is either ‘diced or sliced any which way’ or ‘exiled to Siberia’. If it is not used to substantiate one’s aimless wandering, then it is used to frame others! The liberals first criticized the Scriptures and left it shreds. Then some Pentecostals replaced Scripture with tongues. Recently, there are those of the worldly wisdom party that refutes the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures. Thus the prophecy of Lord was fulfilled: “... Not a famine for bread or thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the Lord.” (Amos 8:11). So, ‘preaching as one goes’ not only tells us that we need to ‘reach with single-mindedness and endurance’ and also be ‘diligent and not lazy’. Furthermore, we need to be faithful to what we have been entrusted and never speak foolishly God’s Word. We are not to add, delete or alter God’s word on our own authority and foolishly string things together. We must proclaim only that which we received from God in a clear, understandable and proclaim to others without discount or shortchange.
C. Having Faith and Hope.
As one examines carefully the ‘state of the church’ in the east or west today, some are either so young that they don’t know what to do to or they are so ancient that they are so opinionated. In the pulpit, there are attempts to speak but have no content; attempts to stir but have no strength! Some churches are even comatosed and could not take a single step. Even in such a state, they comfort themselves during their annual meeting by saying: “While we have not improvement last year, there were neither set backs!” They don’t know that all spiritual matters are like a boat going up stream. If one is not moving forward, one is already falling behind! When one examines the root cause for such self-deceit, it is no other than in a poor foundation of the truth. Or, most of believers have salvation but there is no hope. The latter is also the major reason why the church cannot grow. Because without hope is the same as without driving power. Without driving power, there is no way to move forward, to love the Lord more and serve the Lord more diligently. What then is the hope of the believers? When God created man, He has a goal. He wanted the man that He created to rule over everything that He made. But such rulers must first receive training. Unfortunately, during Adam’s training, the devil absconded his ruling authority. This resulted in the tragic situation today that the world is in the hand of the evil one! However, God is still the greatest, the all mighty and most awesome God. (Deut. 10:17) What He said will for certain be accomplished. What he planned will for sure be carried out. The reason is that in Him there is ‘yes’ and not ‘yes and no’. (II Cor. 1:19) That is why our Lord through the suffering of death rendered powerless him who had the power of death. He received the crown of glory and honor so that He might bring many sons into glory to reign with Him in the future. (Heb. 2:9, 10, 14) This is also the hope of the overcomers - to inherit from God the Kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world. So, to enter into the Kingdom refers to a day that we would accomplish the desire when God created man for the purpose of ruling all that he created. In other words, it is to accomplish the grand finale of the great feat of salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ - that all things be in subjection under our feet (Heb. 2:8). ‘The Kingdom is at hand’ preached by the apostles certainly refers to the preparation period of the Kingdom of Heaven. It refers to in particular the period of time between the nobleman who went to a distant country to receive a kingdom and his return. This is from the Lord’s ascension until His return. (Luke 19:12) How do you prepare? The Scriptures say: The Lord gave minas to his slaves not for them to enjoy but He wants them to do business. Through doing business, they will be trained to become useful vessels so that when He returns, they can rule His Kingdom. In this way, to be saved by grace, i.e., a mina of silver, is merely the process of salvation. The goal of salvation is to have authority over ‘ten cities’ or ‘five cities’, i.e., reign with Christ. Unfortunately, the church in the last days is only preaching about a faith that has a beginning without an end. The process was mistaken as the goal. Consequently, the believers spent their whole life in a daze living one day at a time. They are unwilling to receive training. One day, when they discover their true condition, it is too late to regret! Overcomers, we need to preach the whole council of the gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven. Not only people need to believe, they also would have hope and love. Not only people need to repent and accept Jesus, enter into the Kingdom of Preparation and also receive God’s training; the believers need to receive God’s training. To be prepared to be Kingdom personnel and enter into the Kingdom prepared by the Father since the foundation of the world. In summary, we ought to know: We overcomers who were called on the eve of the Lord’s return, our mission is greater and our responsibilities are also heavier! We intensely believe that since the gracious Lord was with the apostles, He will also certainly be with us. It will enable our service, message, teaching; whether in a cell group, fellowship, Bible Study group or Sunday School class to be in accordance to ‘the form in the mount’. We do not speak for Paul, explain for Peter but know only to speak for God without any discount or short pay to bear thirty fold, sixty fold and one hundred fold fruit. Glory to His name. Amen!