Christians have a unique advantage over the rest of the world. The advantage lies in the fact that their longing for the things of this world is second only to their longing for the day of the Lord. They rather forfeit the things of this world in order to receive the blessings necessary for the day of the Lord. For this has to be if faith in Christ must have anything to do with overcoming the world. The nature of the world is quite the opposite. While Christians know this truth, the world has not yet reached to such magnanimity. Therefore, believers of Christ are way ahead of the world. Such supremacy begins from their thoughts sprung up from pure belief in Christ leading to varieties of works. They collaborate with the confession of Paul, who himself gathered from his predecessor and elsewhere reminded the readers saying, “We also believe, therefore we also speak.” After all, it is all about believing in God, His Son, Jesus and His word. Nothing else really makes a difference for Christians. It puts them on the path of faith that was laid in the time of the forefathers. This path has never ceased to exist, but was advanced by the coming of Jesus, who by fulfilling the promise of God provided it to all alike.
If this path has not made a difference in the life of the believers of Christ, they have not yet been separated from the world nor have they reached to the magnanimity of overcoming the world. Though they may speak of their longing for the day of the Lord, it is vain. Alas, many churches such as the churches of Christ have ceased taking the opportunity that God through Christ has availed. While they claim in God and His Son, Jesus, their claim has not yet been ratified by the works that spring up from pure belief. They are weak toward the truth, since they do not have the avenue, i.e. belief, to possess it. They cannot lead people to the works of faith, since they themselves are not aware of them. Of those claimers the Lord God of heaven and earth says, “Alas, you who are longing for the day of the LORD, for what purpose will the day of the LORD be to you? It will be darkness and not light” (Amos 5:18).
For if a believer’s works are to result in overcoming the world, his very thoughts that are a prerequisite for works must spring up from pure belief. What this essentially means is that the belief that one obtains by hearing the word of God must be as pure milk. Unless one has begun in Christ in this manner, it will be impossible for him or her to take part in or get access to the matured works of Christ. And, many are present today that do not have matured works, which is a gross indication of spiritual darkness. They do not even know of them, since the belief they obtained regarding Christ was not pure as milk. The message of the Lord to them was subdued. It was subdued by the work of man. To be precise, the adulterated thoughts of men shaped in them adulterated belief. They chose to deny the existence and credibility of the matured works in Christ. As an alternative, they believe and preach the word with a meaning that is not of God, “for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God” (John 12:43). To these the day of the Lord will not be light. When they have chosen the approval of men to engage in proclaiming Christ, they have chosen the adulterated belief. When they chose the credibility of men over the credibility of God, their aspirations gained precedence over Christ and heaven.
For many years the present day churches of Christ have dwelt on the approval of men to understand God. In fact, their origination was by the approval of men. Therefore, belief in Christ could not occupy a rightful place in the churches. What they believed and continue to believe is that which came by the approval of men. They termed this approval as belief in Christ. Now, those who constantly preach this belief preach it that they may bring to completion that which was approved by men and to further become like those that loved to receive the approval of men. What effectively resulted in the churches was the vanquishing of the love for the approval of God. There remained no possibility for the presence of people with a genuine concern for Christ and His kingdom; none present for the building up of pure belief. To vanquish the love for God’s approval is to vanquish the very love for God. One can only imagine the outcome of not having love for God. Everything that was and is being done by the churches in the name of God and for God has logically become the namesake. For this reason also, Paul in the Spirit said, “If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Cor. 13:2).
If not having love makes man nothing, those churches that do not have love for God are nothing. The basis to carry out any approval of God or work of faith comes from loving God. To love our neighbors as ourselves, to practice our love toward brethren, to do benevolent works, to support the spreading of the gospel throughout the world both financially and spiritually, etc all must have their basis in our love toward God. In this love God will approve His appropriate course to us. Or else, no matter the colossal nature of our works, they logically become the namesake. Concerning this problem God through His word spoke to the Corinthian church. They were so preoccupied with gifts, knowledge, mysteries and performing works in the name of faith that they forgot the most fundamental part of belief, which is to love the approval of God. As they ceased to love God’s approval, they were left with an immediate alternative i.e. to love the approval of men. In this conundrum they began losing their love for God. Their belief was adulterated, because of the presence of men with adulterated thoughts. They began claiming the greater things that come from God so that they could bring to completion the works that will bring upon them the glory of men. For this reason, every believer of Christ, in order to avoid any callousness toward loving God, must always be in the condition of being filled with the Spirit for the purpose of receiving His approval. Then, the word of Christ will also serve its purpose wholly. This prevents spiritual mutiny and ensures glorification of God. “For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality” (Col. 3:25).
The present day churches must be aware of this admonition. Many churches are on course to receiving the consequences of their wrongdoings. In truth, some are already receiving, because of the lack of spiritual strength that springs forth from the approval of God. Their lack of spiritual strength is quite evident as the doctrines proclaimed by them are in steep opposition for the glorification of God. They have taken away the liberty that each believer must possess and thereby, made them feckless. Their greatest wrongdoing is in not being able to acquire God’s approval. By not receiving the spiritual strength to perform the works of faith the churches have given every opportunity to Satan to entangle them in sin. Therefore, “The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing” (Heb. 9:8). As long as churches such as the churches of Christ are preoccupied with their thoughts leading to improper teachings about the manifestation of God in those that love Him and to teachings against the unequivocal nature of His word that causes pure belief, the way to eternity has not yet been revealed to them. The teachings that are not according to the approval of God are works of flesh. Given that their works of flesh remain, they are kept out from taking part in the matured works of God.
The reason behind concealing the way into the holy place for Israel was the presence of the outer tabernacle and the reason for the way into eternity to remain concealed for the mentioned churches is their thoughts of the flesh. The outer tabernacle was a place where all the works in the flesh related to worship were brought to completion. Since these works are in the flesh, they did not make the worshipper perfect in conscience and God did not disclose to Israel the holy place. Similarly, the teachings of the mentioned churches are unable to perfect the conscience of the hearer, because they are being performed outside the approval of God. Since this work of flesh, which is impure, continues to remain in them, they are not alongside those that are way ahead of this world. They have not yet come to point of heeding the instruction pertaining to “not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing” (1 Pet. 3:9).
On the other hand, those that love God will inherit a blessing. The fact that they are called to inherit a blessing gives the assurance that all who hear His call and believe shall receive a blessing. The message heard cleanses their conscience; and the blessing received occupies them. These are Christians and God also demonstrates their blessing that many would be inculcated with the virtues of God. This is God’s provision to them that desired the magnanimity to overcome the world. Each one is blessed according to the measure of God. Whatever the blessing, since there are varieties of blessings, every one that comes to God with an unadulterated belief receives a blessing from Him. To abstain from evil and to inherit a blessing from God has its basis in loving Him. This is the truth and there was a time when a greeting such as this was very assuring – “The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth” (3 John 1:1). May God bring this assurance to Christians!