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" Onward & Forward "
    "Brethren, I do not count myself to have laid hold; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and stretching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are complete, be of this mind..." (Php3:13-15)

    "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so persistently harasses us, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith..." (Heb12:1-2a)

If you've been following along the 2011 articles this year, there has been somewhat of a loose concept of a 'theme': what constitutes the false church, paganism that masquerades as "church", God's judgment, some of the ways God uses to judge, the fact that Salvation is not possible through today's false church. And as we observe all that is wrong, are Christians to be despondent in hopeless despair? And last month, the fact that Christians are NOT to compromise with paganism and the apostasy.

And so... is that it? We know what paganism is, the apostasy; we are not to fellowship and compromise. And so what do we do? Sit next to the pool under the shade, sipping our ice-tea, and -rejoicing- that we know we are on the right side, and are not compromising?

Biblical terminology for the Christian life is of -action-. Striving. Persevering. Enduring.

A little aside here... This article is to True Biblical Christians. If you are of the apostasy, new age or pagan entities, would you please show some respect and stop reading at this point. This isn't for you. This is locker-room talk to THE TEAM. Members of the opposing team are NOT WELCOME. Go on back and re-join the rest of your team-mates 'over there' as you strategize.

OK... are they gone? Let's continue.

Salvation is "by grace through faith...not of works" (Eph2:8-9)

But once we are saved, we are saved "UNTO GOOD WORKS" (Eph2:10)

The expression used by the early church was "WORKS BEFITTING REPENTANCE" (Ac26:20) seeing as how Salvation is expressed by our Lord as "repentance and remission of sins" (Lk24:47) which is how the Church leaders explained it to the Jewish leaders (Ac5:31) and thus it is also "repentance unto life" (Ac11:18)

When a baby is born, it is known that it is alive when it wiggles and cries. If there is no movement or sound, and is blue, it is -dead-.

Thus, with -life- is ACTIVITY. Of what sort is that activity? Certainly there are many who sluff along, doing the bare minimum that society expects, getting mediocre grades, getting mediocre jobs, having mediocre success. Nobody much notices them, and when they die nobody misses them. They receive no praises or accolades. Why did they even exist? Ho-hum...

But Jesus exhorts to be -diligent- for the Kingdom, that when it is time to give account, we might be worthy to hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Mt25:21,23) Jesus wants to "confess" us "before the angels of God" (Lk12:8)

If people are running in a race, who are the ones to be lauded over the PA system and from the stands, and to stand on the medal podium? Those who petered out, found a nice grassy spot to lie down for a nap? Oh, but! one might say, There is no hope of me winning... scrawny little me... and look at all these others with buff bodies and full of energy.

I often get the biggest (emotional) kick out of the sports stories telling of the -slow- person who -FINISHED- the race. Maybe they came in last, after the sun had set, and most of the spectators had left, but against all odds, due to physical injury, or perhaps deformity from a birth defect, or whatever, nobody even took notice of them; but they cross the finish line and are elated with ecstasy. Normally there was no hope for such a person, but their -goal- was to -FINISH- the race. To be able to say, "I did it!" And they -DID-!

    "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. Hereafter, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all the ones loving His appearing." (2Ti4:7-8)
To run in a race requires STRIVING. To exert much effort. To struggle or fight forcefully. In other words, WORKING -HARD- at it.

PERSEVERING means to persist and remain constant to a purpose, particularly in the face of obstacles. When the apostasy seeks to divert us away from Sound Doctrine, to remain "steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." (1Co15:58)

And to ENDURE is to carry on through, despite hardships, to suffer patiently without yielding. Jesus spoke of affliction, hate, betrayal; persecution; and says,

    "But he who endures to the end shall be kept safe." (Mt24:13)
Paul says it like this...
    "Therefore take up all the armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand firm therefore...." (Eph6:13-14a)
It is warfare. In God's Kingdom there is no such thing as turning tail to run. In western mentality there is the concept to try to "bring everybody home alive". But for you Star Trek fans it's more like the Klingon concept, "This is a good day to die!" If where you are fighting, victory doesn't seem possible, FIGHT TO THE DEATH. If, after the battle, and they are coming around to collect the bodies where the enemy got through the lines, they better not find you alive and cowering. If so, you did not do your job. But if they find the dead body... They know you gave -everything- you had. You stood your ground, and died rather than give in to the enemy.

If martyrdom is not the Believer's calling, then it is to "not yield" to attempts by the enemy to divert one's Faith and Doctrine. When it is temptation, NOT YIELDING. When it is invitations to dialogue and 'join' in the apostasy, DON'T ACCEPT. When it is the world's allure to sin, keeping away.

    "Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not go in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not pass by it; turn from it and pass on." (Pr4:14-15)
But do we spend lots of time turning away evil? Remember: It's a -race-. We are getting from point A to point B. From this sinful world -to- Heaven. The goal of our prize is Jesus Christ in the glory of the Father and the angels. If we swat a mosquito, we do not stop to gaze at the mosquito's dead corpse. If we are wading and thrashing through thorns and vines, we do not stop to 'admire' the beauty of the flowers attached to them. If we are wrestling the wolves we do not do as in the children's tale and be in wonderment: Grandmother, what big teeth you have; or the answer will be, "the better to eat you with". Climbing the cliff and we fall and skin our knee, we do not stop to whine about the boo-boo, but we pick ourselves up and KEEP GOING.

Supposing we see another along the way struggling, we grab their hand, help them up, and perhaps together, helping each other, we go wading through the swamp. As the preacher says...

    "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his companion; but woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he does not have another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have warmth; but how can one be warm alone? And if one overpowers him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken." (Ec4:9-12)

    "Bear one another‘s burdens, and so fulfill the Law of Christ." (Ga6:2)

    "And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others rescue with fear, snatching them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh." (Ju22-23)

B'but... if I stop to help, I won't "win" the race. Well, none of us are coming in 'first' anyway...Jesus already did that as the "firstfruits" (1Co15:20,23) when He rose from the grave and crushed death. But if I stop to help, then -both- of us will "finish" the race. When -eternity- is in the balance, what difference will a few seconds/minutes make. The important thing is to get -everybody- there that has been invited. We are to be as Jesus was,
    "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider clinging, to be equal with God, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found comprised as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in Heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, cultivate your salvation with fear and trembling..." (Php2:5-12)
But -what- are we doing as we "race" along? Well, what does -any- Christian do? We do as the Holy Spirit gives us the "gift" to do. (Rom12, 1Co12)
    "But having different gifts according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, according to the proportion of faith; or ministry, in ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with simplicity; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness." (Rom12:6-8)
It is not so much -what- we do, but "WHATEVER" we do.
    "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.." (Ec9:10)
There are some who tie themselves up in knots with lists of "Do's and Don'ts" and judge their lives (and everybody else's) by "appearances" (1Th5:22kjv) The good that we do, do "heartily, as to the Lord" (Col3:23kjv), and the evil we abstain from we abstain from "every form (kind) of evil" (1Th5:22)
    "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, DO ALL TO THE GLORY OF GOD." (1Co10:31)
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