SCHOOL OF ISRAEL
Mini-Study Guides, 1994-5
"More Than Conquerors"
12. I Am With You In All Things
Scripture Meditation: Isaiah 41:1-16
Our main scripture reading today is timely council from the Lord to the prophet Isaiah. Please turn with me to the 41st chapter, beginning at verse 8:
"But you, O Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend, I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, 'You are my servant'; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous hand. All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you," declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel" (Isa.41:8-13, NIV).
Welcome, worms! Welcome, little Israel of the latter days, small sons and daughters of Jacob. I don't suppose you've ever been called worms by a preacher before, and certainly not by God. I've never been called a worm before. Well, friends, we're worms together, like it or not, and without our souls being 100% committed to Christ, we'll stay worms.
Why does God call Jacob a "worm"? Because worms are feeble and despised, just as Israel was in Isaiah's day when it was in exile. And so are we worms, feeble and despised, because we have not yet been completely empowered like the first Christians yet. So, yes, we're worms...but not for long.
Are you thirsty for the Spirit of God? Isaiah said: "The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst" (v.17). Those who love Christ are thirsty -- they want to know Him as He really is -- not the weak image of Him that is presented in most churches. And so do we. Isaiah writes further: "But I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them" (Ibid.). Do you believe that? [Yes!] So do I. Because God promises: "I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs" (v.18). Yes, God is going to make rivers flow on our barren souls, and turn the desert of our hearts into pools of refreshing waters.
We are a richly blessed people -- God has done wonderful things with this people since we began. Yet that which is to come will make the way we are now on seem as though we were walking through a barren desert. The problem is we don't know we're in a desert because we haven't experienced the red-hot baptism of the Holy Spirit. But if you stay on course, then I promise you in Jesus' Name that it will come. Just don't turn back, or doubt, or run away. The last part of a desert journey is always the hardest, as we have been told in revelation after revelation.
Paul promises those who come into Christ 100% the possibility of the following: trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger and sword (Rom.8:35). A worse combination of hardship is scarcely imaginable! Yet he goes on to say: "..in all these things we are more than conquerors..." (v.37). He doesn't say: "In some of these things we are victorious, and in others defeated." If we at any time maintain this position we are saying that we are not even conquerors in Christ. No, to be "more than conquerors" in Christ is to be conquerors with a margin -- a "plus" -- ready for another battle with all our resources intact.
Brethren and sisters, we have been wandering through our Gospel life these past few years with little trouble, hardship, persecution, or danger from outside. We have had a few disapproving words from family and friends but nothing that would count as persecution or real danger, although of late it has certainly got worse. But when we go into our Gospel endowment 100%, you had better start expecting the dangers Paul warned about. Are you willing to face them? That's a rhetorical question because I know you can't answer it now, but you must be prepared for it.
I want now to draw your attention to the word "in" in this passage: "IN all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us" (v.37). This word "in" is as important as other words that I have isolated and discussed, like "more" in "more than conquerors." So what's so special about the word "in" in this passage?
The test of any system is not just what it does with the spiritual life, but what it does with the physical and the material. In other words: what is the relationship with "things"? Does it spiritually include the world of the physical and material? That is the test. The Buddhists say we must be indifferent to all things. The Muslim term is beyond all things. The Hindu term -- apart from all things. The Communist attitude (now thoroughly discredited) was through all things. The word used by some modern cults is deny all things. Hedonists (those who say pleasure is the only aim in life) say by all things. Everyone of these formulae wants victory apart from these things. Only the true Christian wants victory in all these things.
This makes the Christian way the way of realism, not idealism. The word "in" conveys relationship to, and yet not identification with, all these things. It signifies realistic contact, yet inward transcendence. The victory is not being indifferent to things, apart from things, but "in all...things". We must get the victory IN, or not at all.
As New Covenant Christians we place our complete faith in Christ; and since He has "overcome the world" (1 Jn.5:4; Rev.17:14), and since we are in Him, what have we to be afraid of? For if we have truly given ourselves 100% to Him, nothing should worry us in the world, because we have a sure protector.
Do you still have major temptations in your life? If you have given yourself 100% to Christ, you shouldn't have. You will be tempted, but you will never be overcome if you are in Christ. Notice the word "in" again -- we are to be "in" Christ, not "next" to Him or "near" Him. The Christian faith is total immersion, just as water baptism is total immersion. John said: "You, dear children. are from God and have overcome..., because the One who is in you is greater that the one who is in the world." (1 Jn.4:4, NIV). You see, I'm talking about relationship. You can only have a relationship with a person if you are in them, and they are in you, as Jesus said: "I have given the [believers] the glory that you gave Me, that they may be one as we are one" (John 17:22, NIV).
Do you want a deep, personal, satisfying relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ? Well, then you've got to be in Him, and He's got to be in you. How are you going to do that? By surrendering your whole heart to him -- giving up the sovereignty of your life to Him. Otherwise you are going to have to face that awful decision: to be for Him, or against Him (Matt.12:30). And I wouldn't want to be in the shoes of someone who was against Him.
God is a God of grace and He gives us time to come to knowledge. But once we know something, we are without excuse. In the final sifting there will only be two kinds of people. Jesus said: "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left. Then the King will say to those on His right: 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world....Then He will say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matt.25:31-34,41, NIV).
Those of you who have been in this covenant a long time know that the choices you have had to make have always been stark. This is no half-hearted Gospel, any more than it was in the days of Jesus. We are, above all, a people of reality -- we detest illusion. And being more than conquerors in Christ means we have to confront those realities. We do not have the liberty to put our heads in the sand like the proverbial ostrich and say: "Yes, I see there are many difficulties -- distress, persecution, hunger, nakedness, peril of the sword, death, life, things present and things to come -- but nevertheless, in all these things, we are more than conquerors." This approach takes the facts, looks them straight in the eye, and yet asserts the central fact of victory.
Those Christians who handle life by pretending there are no problems -- and their number increases day by day -- are simply building their house on sand. Any attempt to establish life on the sands of denial rather than on the rock of reality is doomed to failure. Denial is an attempt to dethrone God. It assumes that God is not quite big enough to handle whatever it we are called upon to face, so we distort reality to accommodate our unbelief. The work of keeping reality at bay, however, absorbs a good deal of personal energy. That is why people who live in denial are always tired. They work so hard at keeping God and reality apart that they have little or no energy left to get into life.
So my plea to you is this: be realistic before anything else. Admit your problems squarely and then surrender your whole soul to Jesus Christ and receive His empowering Spirit. Don't deny life's circumstances, and don't deny that you are more than a conqueror in Jesus Christ no matter what the problem. And never, never, never say that your problem is the exception for that is to deny God.
Invitation to Baptism
Brethren and sisters, if there are any of you who have never received Christ as your personal Saviour, and would like to do so, I invite you to come and stand before the altar and make your request known, where you will be helped to make a prayer of commitment to Him. If there are any who have received Christ and who have been led by the Holy Spirit to unite themselves with this people, then I invite both them and those who are meeting Christ for the first time to receive water baptism at the soonest possible opportunity, as commanded by Scripture -- the first to be baptised into Christ, and all to be baptised into the New Covenant.
If there is anyone who would like to have private counsel first, they too are invited to come up to the stand. We will now have a few minutes of spiritual music to allow those who wish to commit themselves to come up to the altar...
Prayers of Commitment
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for the gift of eternal life. I know that I am a sinner and that I cannot save myself. I believe Jesus is the Son of God and that He died for my sins and rose again from the dead. I now put my complete trust in You alone for eternal life. Thank you for delivering me! In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Dear Heavenly Father, I want to be Your child and I want to be completely free. I confess that Jesus is Lord, I believe You raised Him from the dead and I confess my need for the new birth and freedom He alone can give. I want this. I renounce (the occult, drugs, rock music, sexual obsession, homosexuality, etc.) and all its lifestyle and activity. I renounce all things connected with (the occult, drugs, etc.) that have touched my life recently or have come into my life through my family or friends. I renounce it all, turn from it and ask you to forgive me, free and deliver me from all its consequences. I ask you to fill me with Your Holy Spirit and lead me in the way I should go. I count this done, and thank you for it, in the mighty Name of Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.
This page was created on 16 May 1998
Updated on 16 May 1998
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