Kingdom Truth - Recruitment of the Overcomer
The Training of the Overcomer
I. In His Steps
On one occasion, Fan Chieh asked Confucius on ‘knowing’. Confucius replied, “Know people!” On another day, Duke Ai asked on ‘governing’. Confucius replied, “Let your mind dwell on knowing people, one cannot not know Heaven!” He also said, “Being studious is the way to knowing.” Or it is said, to know people, one must first know heaven. To ‘know’ heaven and ‘know’ people, one must be ‘studious’. In other words, to establish oneself and establish others; to succeed personally and help others to succeed, one must first know God. To know God, other than through God’s grace, one must also be studious. Just as the Scriptures teach: “... the people who know God will display strength and take action and those who have insight among the people will give understanding to the many...” (Dan. 11:32-33) It also says: “Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser.” (Prov. 9:9) Then, to be a twenty-first century overcomer, the importance of knowing Christ and walking in His steps should be understood without any teaching! God saved people for the purpose that people will be like Him. How can they be like Him? The Scriptures tell us that through His Son all will be accomplished. This is just as that recorded in the Scriptures: “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son.” (Rom. 8:29) There are three aspects in accomplishing this conforming. On the negative side, He forgave people’s sins and eliminated evil in people. From the positive side, He granted people His own life to change people’s hearts and desires. This is in order that people will first have ‘various internal’ renewals. Then, people have ‘various external’ changes. Even so, the Scriptures tell us that while the capital is from the master, the business has to be conducted by the slave. So, in the human side, there is still the need to “... being renewed to a true knowledge” in order to become “the image of the One who created him.” (Col. 3:10) In other words, God saved people in order that people would “know God’s Son” and “follow in His steps.” (I Pete. 2:21) Or to walk in the steps of Christ in order to be like God. This is especially true for the overcomers He recruited. He wants them to be more like Him! Let us take the first step Christ’s life - “both listening to them and asking them questions.” (Luke 2:46) and try to follow Him.
When our Lord was twelve years old, He has this studious spirit. He put aside the parental love; ignore the fear in a strange place and stay in the temple ‘to ask subordinates questions un-ashamed’. This is like giving wake-up pills to those who mesmerize themselves by saying, “All we need is the filling of the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t matter if we have Scriptural knowledge or not!” Whom the Holy Spirit has filled more than our Lord has? Who is like Him in “... God gives the Spirit without measure.” (John 3:34) But He never misses an opportunity to learn. Praise the Lord! ‘To ask subordinates questions un-ashamed’ is a virtue that seems to be completely forgotten in the world in these last days. It is replaced by ‘the boss knows it all’ and ‘I do what pleases me’! But the church should not be like this! Our Lord is the source of wisdom. All of God’s richness is in Him. He could ‘turned His nose in the air’ and pays no attention to anyone around! But on the contrary, He sought teachings from those passé religious leaders of the time in a most humble and respectful manner. This truly can be described as ‘His capacity for humility is like the Grand Canyon’ and ‘He is so wise that He appears foolish’! The Lord has said. “A disciple is not above his teacher.” (Matt. 10:24) If our teacher was like this, then, as His students, should we not always be ready to receive teaching with a humble heart? It is said that when Confucius was seriously ill, his disciple Shang Fork divined for the master’s hour of death. He told Confucius that it would be happen at noon. Confucius immediately ordered his disciples to ‘bring the books!’ You can describe the studiousness of the sage as - he never stopped learning until his death! This studious spirit is comparable to what Paul told Timothy before his death: “… bring the books, especially the parchments.” (II Tim. 4:13) What a pair of excellence! One often hear preachers say that their work is too busy and have no spare time to read books! Actually, ‘Nothing is too hard in the world for those who have the desire in their heart!’ When there is a desire to read, one can always find an opportunity and receive benefits from opening a book anytime and anywhere. This is especially true for overcomers who are also teachers of students and Bible teachers. If one wants to satisfy the questions and inquiries from the brothers and sisters at a moment’s notice, they must be constantly looking to “He is” (the meaning of God’s name Jehovah) for guidance. In addition, they must personal have diligent studies, detail studies, careful studies and persevering studies (especially on the Scriptures). This should be his second life. It is because the intricate words and the essence of righteousness of truth become more profound when researched further and deeper when explored. To witness for the Lord, admonish the believers and build up the church, one has to pay the hard labor of ‘studying by moonlight and digging into the Scriptures’. Especially when we are young and healthy, we must not allow the books on our shelves gather dust and become entombed in spider webs. This would head off the sighs in the future because one is ‘not diligent when the hair is dark and regret when the hair has turned gray!’ Our Lord was diligent in studying and detail in research. It was not only under special circumstances but also in the growing days of his youth. At no time He did not press on forward. It is because the Scriptures recorded that: “Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” (Luke 2:52) The word ‘increasing’ is formed by a prefix ‘towards’ and verb ‘cut’ or ‘hammer’. It has the meaning of ‘cutting a trail through the briar patch’ and ‘forging iron into steel’. Our Lord is the God who separated part of Himself to come to earth. If He lived like that when He was a man on earth, what about us? We who when placed in the balance can only go up! (Psalm 62:9) Diligent, detail, careful and persevering studies will be briefly mentioned below. May the overcomers use them in reflection.
A. Study diligently.
The Scriptures say: “The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage.” (Prov. 21:5) The book of Jaw Zjwan also says: “People live because of diligence. Diligence has no deficiency.” It can also be said that, “Preachers live by being diligent. Being diligent, there is no deficiency.” In particular, as Jwong Tse said, “My life span is limited but knowledge is limitless. For the limited to follow the limitless. How perilous!” Time passes like a ‘flash of light’ or as a ‘spark of fire’. To thoroughly understand truth that is profound, comprehensive and without limits; unless time is spent in searching, seeking and researching day and night in detail study and one is chained to the desk; there is no way to enter into it’s splendor and wonder! So for all the overcomers who desire to study, seek knowledge and understand God’s will, you cannot wait until there is time. You must, on the contrary, act first and make time! After Dr. Sun Yat-San’s kidnapping ordeal in London, he went to the British Museum daily to study. On many occasions, he became very tired in the evening. He would take a short nap by laying his head on the desk. Afterwards, he would continue to study. He never made small talk with anyone. He never wasted any time.
B. Study in detail
Diligent study is serious, thoughtful, not casual nor obligatory time spent in studying. It should be repeated vocal readings so that not a single word or a short phrase is missed because every dot and stroke of the Lord’s words have truth and value. Every adjective or conjunction has a reason for being there. Nothing must not be added or removed at will. Even so, there is a difference between the master and the servant in studying. The subject is to be studied and researched in detail. Then, use the rest of the material related to this subject and in particular, the principle and method, as additional support, augment or develop the subject matter. When work is long and hard, even a steel bar can be polished into a sewing needle!
C. Study carefully.
Studying carefully points to the use of careful and discriminating thinking while studying. It is for the purpose of selecting the best and affirming the unchangeable. So, when studying, not only ‘back and forth’ thinking is required, attentive observation is also needed. Fresh and tasty fish always have sharp and thorny bones! Other than the Bible, one must have the alert awareness that ‘to believe all that is printed is better not to have any books at all’. Do not be the slave to a book but let the books be your slaves. Examine everything in the books with a scientific mind and critique from a philosophical viewpoint. Absorb everything that is needed. Set aside temporarily what is not needed until there is time. Studies must ‘comprehensive in scope, contents must be questioned and clearly distinguished’ in order to be useful in application and carried.
D. Study long and hard.
To be a twenty-first century overcomer, one should ‘read the Scriptures that everyone reads’ but must ‘share the message that no one has shared’. They should also have the wisdom that ‘everyone has in their mind’ but ‘no one has penned’. In order to be like this, they must study long and hard! ‘To come up with a rhyming word, many strands of beard are lost over it’ is the description of a poet’s hard work! ‘An un-wandering mind and an unbridled emotion’ is the result when studying has reached the stage of a ‘clear heart and calm mind’. Sze-Ma Qwan’s memory was not as good as others, so he studied until he can recite verbatim. He said, “Books must be committed to memory. So, when one is on horseback or insomnia, the words can be recalled and its meaning meditated. Oh, so much is gained!” Many great men in history succeed through studying long and hard. In the Han dynasty, Sun Ging kept himself awake by hanging his head in a noose; Yau Tse used fire to burn his hand and Soo Ching used an awl to stab his bottom. They seem to be so overboard but ‘only those who can endure the hardest of all hardship can be the man above all men.’ This saying is not only famous in China but also most logical. Every overcomer, if you want to follow the steps of Christ, you must study! You have to study the Heavenly Book. You also have to study people’s books. Because your work is to ‘Unite Heaven and people into one.’ If you do not understand Heaven and you do not understand people, how can God accomplish His command through you? Your years might be advanced, your body might have deteriorated, your experience might be stale and your reputation might be ‘old fashioned’. However, you mind must be always fresh and new, your spiritual life must constantly receive new strength, and your knowledge must be gradually renewed. Never sit and wait for time to become available and then you study. Strive to gain every minute and second to improve yourself, develop the spiritual gifts God has given you, and accomplish the commission God has placed in you. Amen!