October, 2004 - Enduring To The End - That We Might Be Saved
By Billie Marie Zal
There is a saying, “It ain’t over till it’s over,” and I fully agree with it. We tend to believe that once we make a commitment to Christ and “say the sinner’s prayer” that we are forever safe from an eternity in hell.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. I thank God that He showed me, early on after my new birth, that my life no longer belonged to myself. I owed Him. I owed Him my love, my time, my hopes and my fears. I no longer belonged to ME.
Therefore, I was led by His Spirit to get out my Study Bible and to begin an earnest search for assurance that not only was I “justified by faith,” but that in time I would be “sanctified by the Spirit.”
Unfortunately for a lot of believers, the message of sanctification has not been stressed by men who command the pulpits of our Christian broadcasting stations; and that is a shame and a grief to our Father in Heaven.
When we are born again, God Himself becomes our Father, and we are His children, and it is His responsibility to correct us, to chasten us and to permit trials which will test and prove our faith in His Love. Just as an earthly parent is committed to discipline his/her child, so God likewise disciplines us.
But who wants discipline? It’s so much more fun to “be slain in the Spirit,” to “speak in tongues,” to “be on fire for the Lord” (when we aren’t even dry behind the ears, spiritually speaking), and to “go out and witness and save the lost.”
The truth is, we never save the lost. God saves them, and if we are not faithful witnesses, He finds someone else to reach those who are elected to become His children. God actually doesn’t need us as much as we think He does, in our infantile spiritual minds. Unlike doting parents who “show off” their children and puff them up with pride, God’s first object is to slowly work us over until we see that in ourselves there is no good thing. And that takes awhile.
It is amazing how we “take for granted” the glorious grace of God. Some of you don’t know what “grace” is. It’s used so often that no one takes time to think about it. And when Jesus says, “He that endureth to the end shall be saved,” He was assuming that the individual has enough love for Himself to pursue God and His purposes with all of his heart.
Much as an athlete “works out” for an oncoming game with a competitor, never forget that every day you wake up, a Competitor is there, to fight with you for your spiritual life. And that competitor is Satan Himself. Why else would God’s Word tell us , “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man; but every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James l:13-14).
There is a footnote in my Scofield Bible which says, “The concept of testing or temptation is expressed in both the O.T. and N.T. by the words translated “test” or “tempt” in the KJV, but also by the words rendered “provoke,” “entice,” “snare.” The primary meaning is usually that of proving by testing, OR testing under trial.”
Therefore, there is no such thing for an individual to excuse himself by saying, “I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.” If you belong to the Father in heaven, He could never lead you to the wrong place, and His timing is always perfect.
Now--we have established the reality that we are nothing. We are born into the world, and we begin to grow up. What we do with our minds and our bodies depends largely upon our parents until we reach the age of accountability. We are actually “under law” which is the authority of the parents. But once we are into young adulthood, we become responsible to God. He is the One who will direct us and lead us and eventually reveal His Son’s salvation to us, if we are seeking Him.
Some children never seek Him. I remember, long ago when I was in grade school, seeking Him with all of my heart. I know now that I was elected to salvation, but I had no idea then what salvation was, or how to obtain it. I only knew that my heart sought Someone who was very real to me. My Mother presented God to me as a just God, who would punish me if I was wicked. I accepted this, and I am thankful that I did. It gave me no room for excuses when I misbehaved. In other words, according to my Mother’s idea of God, “Crime does not pay.” And how thankful I am, that this was made clear to me!
Nevertheless, although I sensed the Almightiness of God, it did not cause me to love Him less. As far as I was concerned, He had the right to do as He pleased with me, because He created me. And I knew that the Bible teaches us that we have no right to demand anything of Him, or question Him because we are His creation. Some people get mad at this great power of God, but why? If you made a table and after you finished, you saw flaws in it, you would have the right to destroy it and begin again.
Thank God He could have let the flood destroy all living things during the great flood, because the world then was exactly in the filthy condition (concerning morality) as ours is today, but He had mercy along with His wrath; and He told Noah, whose faith was accounted unto God as righteousness, to build the Ark and take His family and creation into it, and survive the oncoming flood.
Can you imagine how Noah must have felt? Here he was, a man of faith in God, building a ship on dry land, and warning those who scoffed at him that the world and all that was in it would be destroyed. I’ve always believed during those l20 years during the Ark building, his family got mad at him; his sons and daughters complained, and they had to collect pairs of every living creature in order to be ready to take them into the Ark at the appointed time. Most scholars seem to teach that the animals just suddenly appeared on that day and marched into the Ark, miraculously. I don’t believe it; and it was a monumental task, saving those animals and setting up provisions for the deluge that was sure to come.
We are faced today, right now, with the same challenge. We have God’s Word that “As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be; For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be>” (Matt:24: 37,38)
And if there was ever such a time of “eating and drinking” in our age, this is it!! I have never seen so much entertainment which satan has made sure to get into the “Church” so that people will be sure to attend and contribute. Christians go to Church and say it’s fun. When we go before God and encounter His Holy Spirit, it is not fun. It is devastating to the flesh, and we either repent and stop our foolishness, or we ignore it, and have more fun.
We have made “going to Church” an idol to worship, when all the while, we carry the Church within us, for the Church is made up of a body of believers, here and there, who have literally laid down their lives for God’s sake. When the Body (of Christ) has enough of His Holy Spirit to annihilate the flesh and make it new---THEN something will happen and people will “repent in dust cloth and ashes.” Not until then.
I never found God in any of the fun things. I sought Him, and in time, when I had come to the end of my own self seeking and wanted to die, the Sweet Son of God came to me. And satan was right there---in that huge assembly of Christians where pastors from all over the State of Illinois had come for a week long seminar....Christ found me.
I ran down the aisle, not caring that people had “thought I was a good Christian” and I knelt and committed my life, forever, to the authority of God’s Holy Spirit. In a flash, I saw that I was all clean inside---I remember saying I felt like I’d been scrubbed down inside with those S.O.S. pads. And I was a changed individual. I bought myself a study Bible the next day and I pursued a life of sanctification because I knew that my Enemy, the devil himself, would not give up easily. He never does. He loses a disciple, but He does His best to destroy that one’s testimony. And far too often, He succeeds.
Why does He succeed, in your life? It is because you do not find out what God says about sin AFTER you are born again. You never grow up, and throughout your lifetime you ignore the Word of God and assume that “you’ll make it to heaven.”
But what about the Word of God? Did you ever read what God says about suffering? Do you know that you will be put through “fiery trials” which will test you, and that you are to rejoice at such times because you are being made a partaker of Christ’s sufferings, so that when His glory be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy”? (I Peter:l2-13).
Have you ever rejoiced during times of testing? God asks us to rejoice, not because we go through such times, but that these circumstances test us, and prove us as to whether we truly are saved or not. Never take salvation lightly; hell (the pit) is greedily awaiting those who deny the God who created them and reject the great salvation offered to them because of the Blood of Jesus Christ, that day on the Cross.
Did you ever take the time to read in 2 Peter, “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in it, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.” (2 Peter 2:21). And then---the terrible Word, “For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed, to her wallowing in the mire” (2 Peter 2: 21-22). Did you ever read this Word and believe it?
I have never heard this message preached and that is a shame before God. Those who have assumed responsibility for the Churches throughout our nation tell us “ good things.” We are saved, sanctified, and headed for heaven. But are we?
If the Book of Revelation is true, then take time to read what God says about who will make it to Heaven, and who will not: “. . .It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end., I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Rev. 21:6-7). Do you believe this Word? If you don’t, not even God can save you, no matter whether you say you are saved or not.
Endurance proves all things. When God called me so many years ago, to leave my job, and follow Him, regardless of my situation, He enabled me by faith to make that covenant with Him. I praise Him. I thought, of course, since I was just three years old in Christ at the time, that God would “make it easy for me.” He would work miracles, give me a car that worked, give me good health, and make me a testimony of His faithfulness.
God, knowing my need for sanctification, did no such thing. Instead, I lived in one room in a basement “buried” twelve feet down in the frigid earth of Chicago’s winters. I was cold, I was hungry, I was sick---almost died twice, but had no doctor so I relied on God’s miraculous healing. I remember a day when there was nothing at all in my purse and my son needed his shoes, which I had put in the shop for new soles. I had no idea what to tell him; he expected his shoes would be ready that day. We are never closer to our Father in Heaven than when we have nothing on earth to rely upon. So I prayed.
When the mail came, I went out to the box to get it and inside was the exact amount of money that I would need to get Richard’s shoes out of the shop. I went back inside, knelt and thanked God for His supply. Richard came in from school and I shared the story with him. Later that evening, he came downstairs to my basement room and said, “Mommy, I believe an Angel put that money in our mail box.” I had no idea who did, so perhaps he was right.
I spent seven years in that basement room, and when I fully appreciated it, and was able to thank God for all the mercies He had shown me there, He took me out, gave me a home to rent with enough to buy furniture , and blessed me. I had endured to the end of that trial, and God’s pleasure in me is all that I ask or seek.
There were many more trials; we never can settle in and believe that Life will be all that good to us. We live in a hostile world. The devil is the ruler, and He is doing a pretty good job of ruining mankind. He hates those who have not compromised God’s Word, so how can we expect to be left alone, and “prosper”? But God’s Word is sure: If we endure to the end, we shall be saved. That is the sum total of what He expects of us, as His own.
I am aware more and more of the reality that Christ will catch away His Church--His Body--sooner than we can imagine. Preachers preach it; then they beg for money to build million dollar buildings. This doesn’t make sense.
Salvation is a personal experience; no one can experience it for us. And sanctification is a personal experience. Day by day, God’s Holy Spirit takes us through trials only because we need to get to know God, and believe that all He says in His Word is Truth. He doesn’t like for us to suffer. We don’t like for our children to suffer, but if they have a disease, and it hurts to heal that disease, we go ahead and put them through the trial of what it takes to heal them.
I am thankful that some of you have caught the vision and are no longer attracted to the world and the things of this world. But there are so few, when there should be so many. One man in prison, or in the free world, has the most powerful weapon he could ever possess, if he knows the Word of God and obeys it. The Light of Christ shines in him and no one can overcome him. But if there is known, deliberate sin in his life--disobedience to what you know that God has asked of you, then that Light goes out. And the Blood of the everlasting Covenant is trodden underfoot.
This is a serious matter, and God has led me to study and dwell upon the way His Word is being twisted and used for self glory, rather than for His glory. It has cost us everything, here on our mountain, to maintain this faith in God and share it with others. Believe me, there is nothing in this life that we can hold on to, once we are born again---whether it be money, or friends, or relatives. We declare bankruptcy on our self life and begin to obtain a heavenly life. And people around us don’t understand it and they reject us.
God has blessed me with a steadfastness that I long to share with each of you; but you must be willing to let the Self within you die, before you obtain that peace and joy which only obedience to Him makes possible. Therefore, “beware, lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. To HIM be glory both now and forever, Amen.”
(2 Peter l.-18).
* Previously published in February, 2002.
Prayer Requests for October, 2004
Karen Griffin at Atoka, Oklahoma has colon cancer. Pray for her healing, and also pray for the welfare of her children, Cedric, Crystal, and Reginal.
Robert Heffernan, Grady, Arkansas - diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure and is being treated with medication. The good news is that his last check-up showed no need for stints or bypass surgery. He needs prayer still, though.
Pray for everyone at the Michael Unit at Tennessee Colony, Texas; especially pray for their medical unit. I’ve heard that they are having some problems there.
Randal Smith, at McAlester, Oklahoma, needs peace and we all need to ask God to give him that so that he’ll stop “hurting himself.”
Tony Collier at Pontiac, Illinois asks us to pray for his sister, Sherry, for her health, and for his entire family.
Timothy Haynes, Cushing, Oklahoma, requests prayer concerning his daughter, Frances and a custody case in Texas.
George Hurst and his daughter, Sandra. They live in Dequeen, Arkansas. Sandra has third stage stomach cancer.
Edward Ellis at Lawton, Oklahoma has pain in his leg caused by Sciatic Nerve damage. He wants to be healed.
Willie Scott, Pine Bluff, Arkansas, wants us to pray that he will be transferred back to Tucker, Arkansas.
Pray for Sharlyn Matthews of Flint, Michigan.
Pray for Tony Collier’s Father, Tony Whitehurt, who is sick. Tony is at Pontiac, Illinois.
Judy Oakley, Prairie Grove, Arkansas, still battles Leukemia. The latest test results are good and she is out of the hospital. Continue to pray for her and her husband, Steve.
Willie Clark at Abilene, Texas asks that we continue to pray for his transfer to a facility near Houston so that he can be closer to family.
Ronald Pearson at OSP (McAlester, Oklahoma) asks that we pray that he’ll be able to get back into school and get his GED.
Clay Huff, Angola, Louisiana - that his Father & Mother will come to Christ.
Pray for Tommy Christmas and everyone in his Bible study group at Lexington, Oklahoma; Tommy says he’s been getting too “comfortable and is slipping...”
Isaac Douglas of Canton, Illinois - Pray for his sister, Tyria - that God will provide for the building of her new home. Also pray for Isaac’s nephew, Kevin.
Pray for Dr. Gene Scott in Los Angeles, California. He has cancer and recently underwent a surgery to place stints in his kidneys. He continues to teach and live by faith and needs prayer from all of us. It was Dr. Scott and his wife who provided all the books that we’ve been sending out to everyone.
Joaquin Donato, Staten Island, New York - Pray for his health; also pray that God will supply his needs with his prison ministry.
Pray for Sister Ann and all the Carmelite Nuns in Little Rock.
Randal Smith, McAlester, Oklahoma, wants us to pray for his twin sister who is in the hospital. The doctors have not diagnosed what is wrong with her yet.
Adam Wayne Tate, McAlester, Oklahoma, is having a lot of dental problems and is in great pain. The dentists can’t pull all of his teeth due to his high blood pressure and fears that he will bleed.
Pray for all of our brothers on Death Row.
Pray for all of us at Wingspread.
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