The Overcomer Trust

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By F.J.Huegel.

It comes as a shock when we realise that the Christian life, as we so often live it, falls far short of the divine standard. We are not out-and-out sinners, for we have named the name of Jesus in true faith and are indeed members of His Church, but we do not experience a life of victory, of being more than conquerors, of a life “now hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3 v3).

No truth could be more apparent, as we study the New Testament, than that the divine standard for the Christian is victory. “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him" (2 Cor. 2 v14). We have here a completed circle embracing time and place, whenever and wherever, be the temptation ever so great or the emergency ever so sudden, victory is ever and only God’s order of the day.

It would be silly to make our faulty up and down, now victorious now defeated experience, with much of self and little of Christ, some of God but more of the world, the Christian standard by which we should live. Perhaps we have never experienced in daily life all that God has for us as Christians, and desires that we should receive in Christ. God’s standard is always that we are to be triumphant in Christ.

“But thanks be to God! He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15 v57). Here we have the standard that is set up on the fact that victory is a gift of God through our Lord Jesus.

“This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 John 5 v4-5). Here John states what Paul affirms in 1 and 2 Corinthians. In the matter of victory John stresses the essential condition and that condition is our faith. We have got to do our part and our part is to believe. Then too we are made to realise that victory is not something that the Christian moves towards after a long hard fight. No, it is something we already possess. Victory and faith are one and the same thing. We can no more separate them than we can separate light from the sun. The faith of which John is speaking is the faith which identifies itself with its object. It is the faith of Mark 11 v22, where the Greek suggests "the faith of God”, rather than “have faith in God” as many translations have it. The faith which God, possessing the heart, inspires.

". . . those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5 v17). Here Paul traces the fact of sin, defeat and death as the result of Adam’s transgression. By one man’s offence death reigned. We belong to a fallen race and as such, sinners stemming from Adam, we all die. But, as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous. The argument is that if we have been baptised into Christ's body by the Holy Spirit, our life no longer stems from Adam but from Christ, in whom we reign. We have been made kings and priests to God through Christ.

We come now to what is the strongest statement in the New Testament regarding the fact of victory in the life of the Christian. It is  Paul’s defiant, triumphant cry in the face of every possible condition, every trial or temptation, any and every emergency. He seems to challenge every force of the universe. He laughs at death, defies principalities and powers, hurls the gauntlet at things present and things to come. Though he is accounted a sheep for the slaughter to be killed all the day long, yet victory shall be his. Neither tribulation nor distress nor persecution nor famine nor nakedness nor peril nor sword shall separate him from the love of Christ. There is no creature that shall separate him from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus the Lord. Not only will he conquer, come what may, he will be more than conqueror. “No, in all these things” cries Paul, intoxicated as it were with the life of God, “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8 v31 - 39).

It is not victory now with a clenched fist and set jaw. It is victory swallowed up in praise. It is victory so assured and so complete and final that all sense of uncertainty in the midst of the storm is lost. It is as when the tide comes in and sweeps everything before it. It is as when the sun rises, dispelling the night, and filling everywhere with shafts of light. 

Victory, such as Paul describes in Romans 8, is hinted at in the gospel narrative of Jesus’ public ministry. The lad’s lunch, in the miracle of the loaves and fishes, in the hands of Jesus feeds five thousand with twelve baskets over. The prodigal of the parable is not only forgiven, he is robed as a prince, treated as a favourite son and feasted as an honoured guest. When the disciples’ ship, in peril because of the angry sea, whipped up to fury by a sudden storm, receives the Christ of God, He does not only still the wind and waves, no, the ship immediately arrives at its destination on the other shore. When the nets were filled miraculously by the Master’s command that they should be cast on the right side of the ship, the haul brought in 153 large fish.

It must be “more than conquerors”, for when God gives, it must be in keeping with the immeasurable generosity that characterises the Father of Lights, from whom comes every good and perfect gift.

There is the same thought in the Redeemer’s great utterance, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8 v36), which aroused such a storm of protest and controversy on the part of the Jews. They said they were free, but Jesus said they were in bondage to sin. He said they were of their father, the Devil, but there was hope if they would turn in faith to their Saviour and Lord. Not only free but free indeed,

“Grace and peace be yours in abundance . . .” (1 Peter 1 v2). When God gives, it is always in a multiplied fashion, something like the unnumbered millions of shining stars in the boundless firmament of heaven. Multiplied “through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them we may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (2 Peter 1 v2-4).

“For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace" (Rom. 6 v14).

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12 v9).

From: “Forever Triumphant” with permission Zondervan.