The Few – the NOT Proud – the Overcomers

He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.  John 1:11

Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.  Rev. 1:11

Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear My voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.  Rev. 3:20

In Steven’s discourse to the Council (probably the Sanhedrin, because Paul was a Pharisee and he was there that day listening also) he makes this statement by the Spirit in Acts 7:38 saying, “This is he, that was in the Church in the wilderness…” Now carefully consider what is being said here.  Moses was in the Church.  He was in the Church.  Just as you and I are “in the Church.”

But what’s interesting is what the Holy Spirit calls the children of Israel in that verse.  He calls them “the Church.”  Have you ever thought about that…I mean, really thought about it?  Why would the Holy Spirit through Steven call them “the Church?”  Could it be that in God’s eyes, they were the Church? Yes, I believe this to be the case here.  In the Old Testament there was a Church; and in the New Testament there is a Church.

We are a mirror image of them…you just have to be able to see it.  They were delivered out of Egypt; and we also were delivered out of Egypt (the world).  They were baptized in the Red Sea unto Moses (a type-and-shadow of Christ); and we were also baptized in water unto Christ.  They drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them in the wilderness; and we have been drinking of that Rock that now lives in us.  They ate the manna that came down from heaven {remember that scripture teaches that the manna came down from heaven, and not the sky…it came from heaven itself, it didn’t just fall out of the sky}; and we are eating the living Manna that came down from heaven.  They had God’s Word; we have God’s Word.  They were called the “children of God” in Deut. 14:1; and we are now called the “children of God.”  These are but a few of the almost 100 exact mirror characteristics that can be contrasted between us and them.

Yet the divine scriptures teach us in Hebrews, Romans, and Jude that these same “children of God” were destroyed and did not make it because of their sin(s)(ing), and their unbelief.  It is of paramount importance that you understand this…they were destroyed – they perished – they did not make it…BECAUSE OF UNBELIEF!!  Because if a person really believes in God (but more importantly believes in God’s Word), then this will affect his living.  Because Jesus said that if you believed Him and His Word, then you would keep His Word and DO what He said.  “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things that I say?” Luke 6:46

Jude v.5 ESV says, “Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.” (and I encourage you to look up and do a word study of that word “destroyed” – for it may surprise you).  Actually, I think that for the sake of some that do not own nor have access to Greek dictionaries or lexicons, I will give a few definitions of what that Greek word “destroyed” actually means, and some other New Testament contexts in which it is used.  The Greek word is ἀπόλλυμι (pronounced ap-ol’-loo-mee, which something else you may find interesting is the very next word in the Greek language is Apollyon, who is the angel of the bottomless pit mentioned in Revelation 9:11.  And the name Apollyon can be traced back to satan!!!  So now you can see what word group this “appollumi” word is derived from).  So now the definition taken from my Thayer’s Greek Lexicon: “to destroy, to put out of the way entirely, to perish, abolish, and put an end to, to devote or give over to eternal misery, by ones conduct to cause another to lose eternal salvation, , to be lost, ruined, to incur the loss of true eternal life, to be delivered up to eternal misery, to lose, to vanish away, used of sheep straying from the flock, by neglect they are thereby in danger of losing eternal salvation, to be blotted out.”  And a few references in which the Lord used this word can be found in Luke 17:29 when the Lord spoke of the fire and brimstone that came out of heaven and “destroyed” the Sodomites. It can also be found in John 17:12 where the Lord says, “While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been “lost” except the one doomed to destruction.” You will find this word used by every single writer of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, James, Peter, and Jude.  Every single writer uses this word two or more times in the negative connotation.  Think of that for a moment!!!  Do you think that these guys knew what they were writing?  I think they did; for the Lord Jesus used the word more times than all the other writers from the book of Acts to Revelation combined!!!

How can we know that they didn’t believe?  Because scripture teaches us that they continued in their sins.  They loved to sin, and they loved their secret sins.  They did not really love God; for if they had they would have believed Him and obeyed Him.  So…God did His part in saving them and doing everything for them imaginable and conceivable under the sun; but in the end they perished in their sins because they loved transgression and they loved their pleasures.  They didn’t want to be told to do anything.  They wanted it their way.  They were rebels to the core.  And Moses even said to them, “you rebels.”

Out of millions that God saved, the vast majority died and went to hell.  Paul speaks of this in Romans and in Hebrews.  Peter speaks of it.  Jesus spoke of it at the very beginning of His ministry in Luke. 

So what can we glean from this?  That only a few made it…only a few.  Jesus Himself said that only a few would make it; and He actually said it on several different occasions.  I personally think that He meant exactly what He said.  We are no different than the “Church in the wilderness.” We are an exact mirror image of them.  God is trying to bring us to that same place He brought them to…the good land.  For them the good land was Canaan; for us the good land is heaven.  They were promised an inheritance if they obeyed and believed; and we have been promised an inheritance if we obey and believe.

I remember hearing a young man many years ago that went to heaven for three hours.  He said, “You’ll be amazed at who is there, and at who isn’t there.”  I always remembered that comment.  But I’m not amazed anymore by it, because I see this truth in all of scripture.  Only holy people make it.  If you really believe God’s Word, then you will hate sin and the world more than you’ve ever hated anything in your life.  Sin should scare you to death!!!  The love of the world and its pleasures should scare you to death!!!

You see, God came unto His own in the Old Testament and the majority received Him not.  They just kept on sinning.  Over and over and over again it is recorded “they sinned against the Lord.”  You see, when you sin, it’s really against the Lord.  Do you remember what David prayed (Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight) in Psalm 51:4?  Do you remember what the prodigal son prayed (Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.) in Luke 15:18? 

This issue of sin was a big issue on God’s mind when He had the New Testament written.  Just a few verses (out of hundreds!!!) come to mind here: 2 Cor. 13:2, “I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time; and being absent now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare.” Or 2 Cor. 12:21, “I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced.” Or 2 Peter 2:4, “For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment.” Did you know that God called the angels “sons of God?” And He did not spare any of them that sinned, but cast them into hell.  Many of them are already in hell; and at one time they were “sons of God.” How did they end up there according to the verse?  They “sinned.” Or Hebrews 3:17, “And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness?”  So then…who was God angry with?  The “children of God” who sinned, and who fell.  Their bodies fell in the wilderness and their souls fell into everlasting shame, everlasting contempt, everlasting darkness, and everlasting punishment.

Have you ever thought about that 2 Cor. 12:21 verse?  Many of the New Testament writers seem to have addressed this issue of sexual improprieties and promiscuity.  Even the Lord Jesus addresses this issue at the beginning of Revelation in His addresses to the seven churches, and He ends Revelation with a warning about this issue.  So it must have been a huge issue in their day…and I’m afraid it’s a huge issue still in our day.  Yes, there are Christians involved in all kinds of sexual vices, affairs, pornography, and all other sorts of filthiness of the mind and of the flesh.  Let these ones know that Jesus, Paul, and John all said that they would not inherit the kingdom of God.  So, if this is you…repent of your sins and your uncleanness and seek after holiness of the heart, mind, and body.  Because if you don’t have holiness, then you will not even see the Lord.  I’m even afraid that some who are reading this today may “be on the verge of failing to get there after all” Hebrews 4:1 Living Bible.  I’ve spoken to many folks, and I’ve ministered to many folks over the years, and I have come to this conclusion: there are many who just flat out love their sins and are not willing to leave them for Christ.  These have gone in the way of Saul; who obeyed almost all that the Lord told him.  But he held back the secret things that he wanted for himself. And if you read the story in 1 Samuel 15, you will see that he lost it all…including his very soul.  He rejected the Word of the Lord for himself.  And as long as you’re involved in sins of the mind (your thoughts and imaginations) and sins of the flesh (the actual deeds of what started in your mind), then you have broken your fellowship with God and He will not hear your prayers (nor will He forgive you) until you repent of your sins and turn from your wicked ways, and deny ungodly lusts which war against your soul, and deny the fleshly passions that will snare your soul.  This is very serious…eternally life-threatening (spiritually speaking).  I felt led to write this paragraph, so it must be for somebody out there.  Remember what the book of Ezekiel teaches in two places…”Repent, and turn.”  It’s not enough to repent – you must turn and forsake your former ways, sins, and thoughts.  Then, and only then, according to 2 Cor. chapter 6 will God receive you.  So don’t deceive yourself…and don’t presume upon His grace, for you may wake up one day and realize that you played the fool according to Proverbs.

God has come, and is now in the very process of still coming, unto His own (the New Testament Church).  But the majority will not receive Him.  My heart breaks over this.  When I look at professing Christians and see how they live {remember that Jesus said you would know them by their fruits}, and they actually think…I mean they really think, that they’re going to make it.  They are so deceived in their hearts and minds.  But scripture tells us “the god of this world has blinded the minds of them that believe not.”  I have news for you…this is NOT just talking about the unbelievers.  Jesus Himself saying that they were already satan’s children.  He doesn’t need to blind their minds because they’re already blinded!!  How can you make a blind man blinder?  You can’t!!   He’s as blind as he’s ever going to be.  No my friend, the minds being blinded are also those professing Christians who can see, but choose not to.  These are the blind ones.  For further proof of this, remember who Jesus said was the blind ones in John 9:40-41?  Those who said they could see.  And that would be you and me my friend.

At the beginning of the Lord’s discourse to the seven churches in Revelation chapter two, you will notice that He addresses the seven churches and even certain groups within those churches.  But please notice at the end of Revelation chapter three that He is only addressing an individual.  This is very important that you understand this and that you see it.  He begins with the masses so-to-speak, but ends up speaking to one individual: “Behold, I stand at the door (singular) and knock: if any man (singular) hear My voice and open the door, I will come in to him (singular), and will sup with him (singular), and he (singular) with Me.”

This is the way it’s always been: the Lord starts off with the millions, but in the end, He ends up with a few.  And these few love Him and obey Him and do all things to please Him…just because He is worthy.  The few believe that He said what He meant, and that He meant what He said.  They flee from sin, and they keep His commandments.  They can see the finish in their hearts, and they are living for the hereafter…“for surely there is a hereafter.”  Proverbs 23:18

But the LORD said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot out of my book.”  Exodus 32:33 

And at the end of the Old Testament…when the Lord knew there would be 400 years of silence from Him before the Lord Jesus came on the scene…He wanted His people to remember something very important.  He didn’t want there to be any misunderstandings or misrepresentations of Himself or His Word; therefore part of His closing remarks upon that generation that would carry through to the next 9 1/2 generations was what?  For I Am the LORD, I changeth not.  Malachi 3:6

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Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Joel 2:1