The Banner Of Truth 2014
Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. (Psalm 60:4 )

"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear Thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth" (Ps. 60:4).
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More than Conquerors in Life
By Al Stoner
“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life . . . . shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:39).


 
In different times of the world's history the church has been assaulted with such things as the threat of death and physical harm because of their profession of faith in Christ; persecutions, famines, wars, plagues, etc. have been the lot and portion of many of those in Christ, both who lived in by-gone days, as well as in the present. This can be seen, for example, in the opening of the second, third, and fourth seals in Revelation 6.  There various assaults were unleashed against the believers in Christ, being depicted by the riders on the red, black, and pale horses (vv. 3-8).  The opening of each seal became a distinct time frame that imposed grievous sufferings of varying sorts upon those who lived in that time.   It seems that God, in all these things, was demonstrating before principalities and powers the marvelous excellencies which proceed directly from believing upon His only begotten Son.  In each test God was glorified through Jesus Christ, as He "always" caused the ones being tried "to triumph in Christ," and made "manifest the savour of His knowledge by" His sorely tested saints "in every place" (II Cor. 2:14).

 

But, in our time and place in the unfolding of God's eternal purpose in Christ, the faithful in Christ Jesus must contend to a large degree with jeopardies that are associated with life. Life itself and the mere passage of time can and will have a severe assaulting effect upon the faith of those who have named the name of Christ. There is the very real jeopardy that faith can fail (cf. Lk. 22:32), and where men can "fail of the grace of God" (Heb. 12:15), if their faith is not properly nourished and built up.   Men and women must be apprised of the nature of the warfare in their time and generation, and arm themselves accordingly, if they would obtain “the crown of life” (Jas. 1:12).  The promised crown of life is not only for Apostles, Prophets, and martyrs, but for all, of  whom it can be said in that great and final day, that they triumphantly endured the extended barrage of temptations, that living by faith in the Son of God brought their way.  In the end they were victorious.  Some endured famines, pestilence, and wars.  Others endured persecutions, plagues, and unbearable heartache.  Still others endured the wearying and eroding effects of the passing of time, leading  "a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty"  and yet did not permit their love for the Savior to "wax cold" (cf. Mt. 24:12).  In the end all of them were victors, and all shall receive "the crown of life". 
 
A very real danger that confronts those who have begun the race to glory is that of being lulled into disarmament because they are unaware of the nature of the attacks that Satan is making upon their faith in our day.  In our day, for the most part, the Devil is not hailing men and women to prison, nor is he burning people at the stake because of their faith (at least not so in the western part of the world). But yet, to be sure, he is still walking about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  The assaults are often much less apparent. They often come under the guise of pressure to be conformed to this world, or making a man an offender for speaking up when the truth is at stake.
 
The Threat of Separation. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Rom. 8:35). The above is a catalog of things that are posing a very real threat of separating men and women from the love of Christ.  And, alas, in many instances, where the love of many has waxed cold, these very things have been successful in making that separation!
 
Let us be duly apprised of the danger that is all about us!  All of the things mentioned here in verse 35 come under the general heading of trouble. And while these tribulations are often found to be the portion of all men, believing and unbelieving.  Yet all of these troubles take on a special significance when seen from a higher perspective: namely that of threatening to drive a wedge between the people of God and the God of their salvation. And, let’s not deceive ourselves, all of these things can pose a very real liability to men and can, if permitted to do so, effect a separation between God and reconciled men. The old serpent, through various devices, and by the permissive will of God, is seeking to bring men down to condemnation with himself.  Let us not be ignorant of his devices!  The word, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" is  of the nature of a challenge addressed to, and taken up by, men and women, who are actively engaged in the warfare of faith, and who have counted all things but dung, that they might win Christ, and be found in Him, when He shall appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
 
When oppositions are readily perceptible, that is when there are visible, identifiable, personal opponents to the people of God, such as in a time of great persecution, this question (Who shall separated us?) becomes measurably easier to answer with great boldness.  But when the opposition is largely imperceptible, such as in the tribulation and distresses of our day, greater diligence is called into action, in identifying the opposition and in being a conqueror. In our day that which opposes is much more subtle and imperceptible nature.
 
Things Posing this Threat. Let us consider here for a moment some of the things that Paul mentions as posing a threat of separation.  Tribulation. Tribulation speaks of the inward threshing and thrashing effect that trouble in general has upon those who are living and walking by faith in particular. We have this heavenly treasure in an earthen vessel, and therefore we have tribulation. We have members upon the earth that stand continually in need of mortification, and therefore adversity is presently our portion. We are presently beset with great weakness, both physical and spiritual, and for this reason we have affliction and trouble. As one brother said, “Tribulation is that threshing process that must ever go on to fit us for the garner of eternity.” Trouble will, however, only have that “fitting” ministry to us as we continue in the faith. As Paul declared, “we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).
 
Distress. Distress is an unsettling kind of trouble that distracts men and women in their hearts and minds away from the main things and from the most important things, namely from the salvation which is in Christ Jesus. But let us, in the words of the Apostle, seek divine assistance in enduring “distresses for Christ’s sake” (II Cor. 12:10).
 
Persecution. Persecution involves the oppositions of men to the people of God, and these oppositions can take many forms, and can have varying degrees of severity. Persecution can be mildly or severely exclusionary, verbally or physically abusive, or it can “make a man an offender for a word” (Isa. 29:21), that is, for speaking a word of God.
 
Famine. Famine, of course, is the shortage or absence of proper nourishment for the body. And nakedness the lack of proper clothing for the body. This is a completely different kind of trouble than what we have been exposed to in our generation and in this part of the world. But there have been men and women who have been given grace to overcome in this kind of adversity to the glory of God.
 
Peril. Peril speaks of dangers of various kinds. As Paul said of himself, "Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness" (II Cor. 11:25-27). Perils can have an extreme distracting effect upon the people of God. And the only effective antidote for perils is for men to trust in the living God.
 
The Sword. And the sword is symbolic of war and bloodshed.  In the case of war, the sword, unsheathed from its scabbard, was not directed toward the people of God specifically, but a situation of trial, distress, and peril is always created for the people of God by bloodshed.  Historically, all of the above things, at one time or another, have tried the hearts of the people of God. It was the devil's objective in all of these troubles to make men and women who were en route to the world to come, to “depart from the faith” (I Tim. 4:1), to make shipwreck of the faith (I Tim. 1:19), and to “cast off their first faith” (I Tim. 5:12). And, as we have said, Satan has been very successful in his wicked endeavors. Let us not be ignorant of his devices!  Let us also never forget that God is over all (even over the old serpent), and He has ordained that tribulation shall try the hearts of the righteous and that it shall work patient continuance in those who are cleaving to Him with purpose of heart.  And for those who are continuing in the faith, tribulation shall have the effect of making them worthy of “that world” (Lk. 20:35).  It appears that at this present time and in this part of the world that life with all of its distractions and distresses is the main thing that is trying the hearts of God’s people. But this could change at any time. Let us be alert and ready!
 
More than Conquerors in Life. Let us take up the challenge to be conquerors in the things that life is presently made of. Let us not sit idly by waiting for a famine or a bloody persecution to come before we address ourselves to the matter of victory. There is a victory to be had even now in the present time. It is a victory that must be had in the things that life is presently made of.  Are you beset with tribulations? Then seek to be a conqueror in them! In distresses and ridicule from the world? Then seek grace to have the victory in the midst of the conflict. “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (I Jn. 5:4)! Have there been matters where we are very much aware of failure on our part, then let us seek grace from the Lord that we may glorify Him by learning Christ in those same areas where we have come short.  "He giveth more grace" (Jas.4:6).
 
Life’s Entailments. Let us consider here some things that life is made of.   It is true, there are good and pleasant things that are associated with this life, because "the goodness of God endureth continually" (Ps. 52:1). But from the perspective of the Apostle here in Romans 8, life is equally coupled with dangers, jeopardies, liabilities, and risks.  It was in life that Judas betrayed the Lord Jesus, and that Demas forsook Paul, having loved this present world. It was in life that the church at Ephesus left its first love (cf. Rev. 2:4).  It was in life that the seed that fell among thorns was choked, and the seed that fell upon stony ground perished because it lacked depth of earth. It was and is in life that all the oppositions mentioned in this chapter come. And it is in life that men fall into diverse temptations and that faith is sorely tested.
 
In View of These Things What Must We Do? Let us, therefore, seek to recapture the persuasion exuded by the Apostle Paul as it pertains to life in the generation, time,  and place, in which we live. As he said, “we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” Let us continually encourage one another's hearts to be conquerors with respect to the oppositions in life.  Life, with its arsenal of tribulations and distresses, is presently seeking to oppose our entrance into the world to come.  And life, with its associated jeopardies, oftentimes is often found standing in the way between us and our God and Savior.  Therefore, as life is hurling at us great oppositions with discouragements, let us seek to be victors with regard to life. We need not and must not wait around for some imagined persecution,  plague, or famine to come upon us, in order to have the victory!
 
The Way to Victory. We must be followers of the Apostle Paul in the great lesson that he learned in order for ourselves to have the victory of which we are speaking. "And He (the Lord Jesus) said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong" (II Cor. 12:9-10).
 
Let us forget those things which are behind, and reach forth unto those things which are before (cf. Phil. 3:13). If we have sinned a particular sin in the past that is defiling our conscience, then let us quickly confess it to God, and receive the forgiveness and cleansing that He has promised (I Jn. 1:9). We have enough things to deal with in the realm of things present and things to come without being distracted by the past (cf. Phil. 3:13-14; Heb. 12:1).  The things that Paul mentions here at the close of Romans 8 are not able to separate men from the love of God, unless men permit them to make the separation. We shall be the victors in all of life’s adversities so long as we are walking by faith! Let us reckon daily that we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us, even as the Word of God declares that we are! --Al Stoner



"Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;  and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately" (Lk. 12:35-36).