The following letter from Warren Zehrung is especially important with “Thanksgiving Day” coming up this Thursday.
Children of the Kingdom
We are the Children of God, and the Children of the Kingdom. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the Children of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifies himself, even as He is pure.” (1 John 3:1-3)
Who are the Children of the Kingdom? “Who are Israelites; to whom pertains the sonship, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.” (Romans 9:4-5)
Today, when Jesus Christ looks down on this earth from His heavenly throne, seated at the right hand of God the Father, and He looks at His true saints – what does He look for? Millions of people on earth believe that they stand in God’s good stead when obviously they are not at all pleasing in His sight. They have not repented, but neither have they been called, and therefore judgment is not now on this present evil world.
But, how many of the brethren in God’s Church make the same mistake of believing that they are in a more favorable position with God because of the things that they know, or the man that they follow and are loyal to, or because of the organization they affiliate with? They love all the people in their group. Jesus said that it was easy to go with the flow: “If ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so?” (Matthew 5:46-47)
Brethren, we are the Children of the Kingdom with assurances that we are a privileged people. However, we are not all pleasing in God’s sight at this time. Why else would Jesus issue this warning to us? “Many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the Kingdom of heaven. But the Children of the Kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 8:11-12)
We, the Children of the Kingdom have every assurance from God that He will supply our every need – and yet it is possible for us to miss out all together. This is a most sobering thought.
The phrase, “Children of the Kingdom” most aptly applies to those who are enjoying a deep personal and spiritual relationship with God , and not, as Jesus uses the term here, to those who are yielding to fleshly desires, favoritism, and privileges that come with consorting with the wealthy , the political, or those in the fallacious religious sphere – to the exclusion of the faithful brethren.
These condemned Children of the Kingdom here in verse 12 are those who yearn to be exalted and highly thought of, when they are unwilling to be a living sacrifice for their brother’s spiritual welfare. They will not jeopardize their social recognition in the corporate organization for any reason. Jesus will condemn them and they shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Again, Jesus issues this stern warning:
“Who is the one who condemns? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is raised again, who is even at the right hand of God, and who also is making intercession for us.” (Romans 8:34)
The good news is that when one rejects the inordinate desires for the recognition and notoriety of those who exploit and misuse their office – the condemnation is annulled:
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1)
Is it possible to fall away from the truth of God and His good graces, and lose out on salvation? The answer is, “Yes.” Extremely trying days lie just ahead for those of us in the Church of God. Everything that we hold sacred will soon be overthrown – everything, that is, except our faith, which must continue until the very end. Over and over in the Bible the brethren are admonished to live lives of overcoming, and remain faithful to the end.
Once saved, always saved is not a Biblical concept. Protestants teach that once a person is saved – God automatically forgives all their subsequent sins – no matter what. The true Biblical instruction is shown in this end-time setting: “He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” (Mark 13:13)
Enduring to the end is not a matter of relying on our own strength and will-power. If we rely on ourselves – we will ultimately fail. Do we have the proper faith in God to deliver us in every trial and bring us securely to the Kingdom of God? That remains for us, if we endure to the end.
How secure is our relationship with God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ? How well do we trust in His unchangeable nature – in His love, in His trust-worthiness, in His providence, in His protection, in His sovereignty, in His holiness, in His mercy, and a whole multitude of other divine characteristics? If that faith and full reliance is not growing, then we are actually in the process of departing from the living God. We are either moving forward in our understanding and trust of God, or we are slipping away and putting our entrance into His Kingdom in danger. It is only through Christ that we are assured of victory, if we remain steadfast unto the end.
Too many in God’s Church have a misplaced reliance on their own faith. An individual’s misplaced reliance on inward faith might reveal itself with an, “I’ve got it made because of such-an-such” attitude. And, we do not say it openly, but we think it inwardly – and it goes something like this: I’ve got it made because I keep the Sabbath. My foundation is sure – because I know my Bible. I’ve got it made because I follow a man who would not steer me wrong. I’ve been in the church for many years – I’ve got it made! I’m with a real big group – I’ve got it made!
Contrast this misplaced inward faith with an outgoing enduring faith. “…we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.” (1 Timothy 4:10)
As we countdown to the return of Jesus Christ, let’s realize that a final test of our conversion will be for the purpose of seeing if we will remain faithful. “…Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).
Paul illustrated that it is possible to lose our salvation. “Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest [millennium and Kingdom of God], lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” (Hebrews 4:11)
The question is: who among us will remain faithful in the face of such a severe ordeal? Many people start off strong when they first hear the message of the Kingdom of God, but are unable to remain faithful until the end. “Many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14) That clearly means that many will not hold on to their precious faith, as they should. It can happen to us – regrettably, it has come to pass for all too many already. “Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap [salvation], if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9)