Monday, November 2, 2009

Seeing Defeat In Victory

In my previous post, I put up the picture on the left and asked, "What do you see?" Many of you had to look very hard to see the word "DeFeat" in yellow embedded in the word "victoRY" in black.

This picture illustrates the kind of preachers and preaching we see in many churches today - preachers who do not or dare not preach the total and absolute victory we believers have in Christ; preachers who try very hard to preach defeat into the victory we believers have in Christ.

Casting aside differences in teachings about the baptism of the Holy Spirit or Holy Communion or the Lord's prayer, etc, let us talk about the most basic thing about Christianity ie. if you accept Christ as your Lord and Saviour, you will go to heaven after you die. This is quite straightforward, isn't it? This is at least what Christ died on the cross for, isn't it? This is the ultimate victory for us believers, isn't it, that regardless of how we suffer here on earth, at least we can enjoy heaven after we pass on?

No, we have preachers who preach defeat into this victory. These preachers preach that our salvation is not assured, entry into heaven is not guaranteed because of Matthew 7:21-23; that we risk losing our salvation at the very last if we do not live holy lives. These preachers do not or dare not believe in and preach the finished work of Christ on the cross; they believe and preach that Christ's work on the cross is just the beginning and we have to finish it through our own efforts by living holy lives.

Does Matt 7:21-23 really say that we may not enter heaven unless we do our part by living holy lives?
"21"Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’"

Many preachers interpret that "Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven" means not every believer is guaranteed to go to heaven BUT they fail to see that in v23, Jesus says "I never knew you". If you are a believer, then Jesus can't say that He never knew you because He at least knew you once before!

Moreover, v21 says that the one who can enter the kingdom of heaven is "he who does the will of My Father in heaven". Preachers then interpret doing the will of the Heavenly Father as obeying God's commandments or living a holy life BUT what truly is the will of the Father? In John 6:40, Jesus himself defines what is the will of the Father - "this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day".

It should also be noted that in the context of the book of Matthew and Matthew 7 in particular, Jesus was preaching to his fellow Jews who were under the Law. Jesus was telling them that now that He has been sent to replace the Law, they cannot go to heaven under the old system of the Law, no matter how fervent they were under the Law. They could have prophesied and cast out demons in the name of God BUT that cannot get them to heaven. Now that Christ has come, they can get to heaven only through believing in Him (John 6:40). Jesus confirms this again in John 14:6 - "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me". Therefore, I submit that Matt 7:21-23 was not referring to us believers.

The total and absolute victory of Christ's sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection has thus been tainted by the defeat which many preachers strenuously squeezed out from their erroneous interpretation of scripture. There are many more such instances of preachers seeing defeat in victory and I hope to share more on this in future.

Isaiah 25:8
He will swallow up death forever,
And the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces;
The rebuke of His people
He will take away from all the earth;
For the LORD has spoken.

1 Corinthians 15: 54-57

So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“ O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

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