It is four years later and I am now watching the Summer Olympic Games in Rio. To the praise of my Lord Jesus, the important truths He led me to share in the following edited 2012 blog during the London Games still apply. Truly, the motivation, discipline and actions of athletes in the Olympics and all sports competition well serve as excellent analogy for the Christian race and will do so until there is no such thing as athletic competition! How appropriate this repost is as a final, short wrap up word of encouragement to the faithful in all the Lord caused me to write about and who wait for immortal glory as God’s consummation to the great salvation He has worked for us in Christ Jesus.
Originally Posted September 2, 2012
Watching the London Summer Olympic Games, I was struck by the diligence the athletes showed first in training for four years and then in the exertion of competing in their areas of specialty. These men and women do all of this for medals that will fade. The same sort of thing now plays out on football fields on every level around our nation this fall as teams work together to win the prize of trophies, rings and bragging rights in a championship season. As Christians, we are taught in Scripture that we are running in a race that we too are to run to win (1 Corinthians 9:24).
As the Lord leads me to teach in The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics, such a race requires the disciplined mind set of an athlete (1 Corinthians 9:25-27). It also must be run in accord with the rules (God’s, not man’s) lest we be disqualified in shame (2 Timothy 2:5). Finally, surrounded by a very great “cloud of witnesses” that has finished their own, our race is to be run with endurance since it is a marathon, not a sprint (Hebrews 12:1, NKJV). Truly, for this race is not about speed, but only faithfully finishing the race marked out for us. As we run, we look up ahead to our Lord Jesus the pacesetter who displayed the perfect motivation, discipline and faith as the key strategic action in His race; crossing the finish line to victory and immortal glory (Hebrews 12:2)!
Like the apostle Paul who saw the end of his race drawing near, we are only concerned to finish well knowing our works wrought in Christ will follow us and the prize of unfading crowns with immortal glory await (2 Timothy 4:6-8). Indeed, in the race of eternal life, physical death is not a disqualifying obstacle, but the finish line unless Christ returns first! And so, we run; experiencing all of the many kinds of challenges, hardships, afflictions, trials, setbacks, tears and longsuffering others endure to win only the temporary prizes of mortality. Many of them overcome by their challenges, hardships, afflictions, trials and setbacks and lacking endurance, drop out of the race.
However, we press on running our race looking for the Lord’s “well done” and after all adversity caused suffering endured in faith, perseverance and His strength, “the upward call of God in Christ Jesus;” the salvation and immortal glory even admiring holy angels desire to know more about (Matthew 25:21; Romans 8:18; Philippians 3:8-14, 4:13; 1 Peter 1:3-12, NKJV)! Therefore, let every aspiring strong man and great woman of God in the image of Christ our Lord run your race to win and collect the eternal prize to the glory of our God (Revelation 19:5-9).
From the beginning until now, God’s faithful have been a persecuted minority (Genesis 4:1-10; 1 John 3:10-15). Our time in America has come and God wants us to remember in Jesus the stuff we are made of through Him (2 Timothy 3:12)! We may be powerless as a minority today to reverse the decline of our nation or effect the repentance of falling away Christians as foretold, but in our endurance to the end we will receive power from Christ to reign with Him on this earth when He returns with the Kingdom as sweet vindication of our suffering. Be encouraged about the future of the faithful today in this edited blog repost that appeared on the last day of 2012.
Originally Posted December 31, 2012
The final deliverance of God’s elect Jews and faithful saints will begin with the Kingdom of Heaven’s declaration of war on Satan and his kingdom. Holy angels faithful to God in their superior numbers and might will engage and prevail against the devil and his angels in heavenly places. The victory of the holy angels will be so thorough and final Satan and his angels will be evicted permanently from their heretofore dwelling in heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12; Revelation 12:7-9). This means there will be no residence any longer for them in the second heaven which is all of outer space beyond earth’s atmosphere or access to the third heaven, the abode of God (Acts 7:54-56; 2 Corinthians 12:1-4).
This moment is a mixed bag for faithful saints. On the one hand it is good news since it means we are yet another step closer to the fulfillment of Satan’s announced judgment, realizing our hope of eternal salvation and the reign of Christ (Revelation 12:10). On the other hand, it is bad news in the near term because the devil and his demonic armies have just lost the war of the ages and are confined to earth with only a very short time (three and one half years) before they are imprisoned in Hades after which a thousand years later, they are finally forever condemned to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:1-3, 7-10).
These fallen creatures are not very happy campers at all and in fact, while the heavens are urged to rejoice over the devil’s defeat by the holy angels and eviction from their environs, all of the inhabitants of the earth including elect Jews and faithful saints are warned to prepare for grief since “the devil has come down to you, having great wrath,” (Daniel 12:1; Revelation 12:12). This is the major part of the “great tribulation” many Christians miss. It is not God’s wrath that is at the core of that brief most evil of evil times, it is Satan’s wrath and he wastes no time venting it against the human objects of it he hates the most: Jews and Christians (Revelation 12:13-17).
God will supernaturally protect His elect number of Jews during this period (Revelation 7:1-8; 12:6, 14), while faithful saints are expected to overcome the devil’s onslaught of deception, works of power and violent persecution (described as war) through patient endurance involving trust in the blood of Christ, their testimony and being willing to suffer death (understanding themselves as “sheep for the slaughter”) in remaining loyal to the Lord (Revelation 7:9-17, 12:11). These are the aspiring strong men and great women of God in the image of Christ my book, The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics, prepares the willing to become!
The “great tribulation” is the final intense evil period of these latter days and the last gasps of existence for Satan’s kingdom when he reigns openly through his resurrected and immortal man patterned on Antiochus Epiphanes of old (Daniel 9:27, 11:36-45, 12:7; Mark 13:14-23; Revelation 13). In its aftermath are the most violent, painful transitory birth contractions of the approaching Day of God’s eternal Kingdom brought by our returning Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ (Mark 13:24-27). He will lead and be a strong support for the elect, remnant Jews who have been waiting for Him without realizing it in the final battle for Jerusalem (Micah 5:3-5; Zechariah 12, 14:1-15; Revelation 16:12-14, 16, 19:11-21).
He comes to fulfill the ancient promises of God and save the people of His ethnic heritage, even Jacob (Jeremiah 30-33; Romans 11:25-36) and the yet living faithful remnant saints who are transformed alive after those that have died are resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:50-53; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18). Faithful saints from all time that have been the righteous minority in Christ will be powerless no more or ever again (Philippians 1:27-28; 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10)! Finally, the oppressions of the oppressor will cease and the new immortal, righteous majority will rule a world of real peace, justice and equity for all (Psalm 37:11; Isaiah 11:1-10; 51:12-13; Micah 4:1-5; Revelation 5:8-10). Let God fill you fresh with joy, peace and hope by these truths and the power of the Holy Spirit in believing to the end (Romans 15:8-13, 16:20).
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