“Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”
The promise of final salvation and glory in the kingdom of heaven is for those who gain the victory in the battle of faith.
In the second and third chapter of the Book of Revelations, the Lord will realize His promise to those that overcome. “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:7) To him that overcometh Christ will give a crown of life. (Revelation 2:10) He will give him to eat of the hidden manna, and give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. (Revelation 2: 17) He will give him power over the nations, even as Christ received of His Father, and the morning star. (Revelation 2: 26-28) He shall be clothed with white raiment; and his name shall not be blotted out of the book of life, and Christ will confess his name before His Father and before the holy angels. (Revelation 3: 5) He shall be made a pillar in the temple of God, so that he shall no more go out thence, and a new name, the name of God, and the name of the heavenly Jerusalem, and the new name of Christ, will be written upon him. (Revelation 3: 12) And it shall be granted to him to sit with Christ in His throne, even as Christ also overcame, and is set down with His Father in His throne. (Revelation 3 :21) Indeed, only he that overcometh shall inherit all things. (Revelation 21: 7) And he that endureth unto the end shall be saved. (Matthew 10:22)
The believer in this world has a battle to fight, and only in the way of battle can he gain the victory and obtain the crown. Believers must put on the whole armor of God, that they may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For they wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickednesses in high places; and they need the whole armor of God, that they may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Ephesians 6: 11-17) By Paul’s word to Timothy we are exhorted to fight the good fight of faith and to lay hold on eternal life. (1 Timothy 6:12)
The believer is exhorted to run with patience the race that is set before him, laying aside every encumbrance, and the sin that so easily besets him, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1, 2)
In this spiritual battle the Christian occupies a very precarious position – in fact, an apparently impossible and hopeless one. Everything that is of this world is against him. He is against himself. The Word of God everywhere teaches us that the believer has a fight against himself. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)
What Christian does not from experience heartily agree with the Word of God in Romans 7, where the apostle Paul describes his own battle in the following words: 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. (Romans 7:15-20, 24, 25)
The world is full of the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life; and through it all it appeals strongly to our nature. It would confuse and lead the best of us astray from the path of the truth by its false philosophy. This world can seduce us by the siren’s song of its treasures and pleasures, its honor and glory, its “abundant life.”
Christians will we, then, be able to stand and to persevere even unto the end? And if so, how?
To this question all who profess to believe in salvation by divine grace reply with one accord: YES, we will be able, but only through preserving grace. The same marvelous grace that was revealed on the cross of God’s only begotten Son, and that was bestowed upon us by the Holy Spirit, that raised us from the dead and called us out of darkness into the marvelous light of God, is the power which must keep us, strengthen us, constantly sanctify us, enlighten us, and cause us to discern spiritual things, if we are to stand and gain the victory in this humanly impossible battle of faith. Fighting in our own strength, we must surely be defeated. Standing in our own power, we will surely fall. Depending on our own wisdom, we will surely be entangled in the snare of temptation. Boasting of our own faithfulness, we will, as Peter of old, surely deny Him. We are saved by grace. That means also that we are preserved by grace. Without Christ we can do nothing. And if any man thinketh he standeth, let him beware lest he fall! Not one step on the way of sanctification can we take without His grace. About this there is no dispute. Every Christian knows that he is strong only when he is weak, and that God’s strength is made perfect in his weakness. We persevere and overcome only through the marvelous power of God’s preserving grace. Amen.
Pastor Peter Okereke Jr.
The Living Word Ministries