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Are You Winning?

Are You Winning?

        Man is a competitive being because, let’s face it, mankind wants to win. However, the problem with this is what man desires to win. In Mark 8:36 Jesus presents a question that should make us all think about what it means to win. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Nothing on earth is as valuable as your soul.

       We have at least two cases in the book of Acts of folks thinking they are “winners” by “getting gain” while on the earth.   In Acts 16:16 we see some who thought themselves to be “winners”.  And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:Then in verse 19 we see they were outraged when they perceived their “success” was being diminished when Paul, through the power granted by the Holy Spirit, cast the evil spirit out of the damsel.   And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, 

      There is also the case of a probable idolater, Demetrius, the silversmith of Acts 19:24-25 who also confused wealth with winning. For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen25 Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth

          When Jesus, in Luke 12:20-21 told the parable of the “rich fool” to the one that asked the Lord to “officiate” over his inheritance, He pointed out what it means to win in this life. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? 21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.  Wealth does not equal winning.

     In Matthew 6:19-21, in the midst of the Sermon on the Mount, we find the Lord presenting the formula to be followed by those of His day, (and of ours) if one wants to truly be a winner.  Jesus was speaking of His kingdom which would come into existence following His death, burial, resurrection and ascension.   Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 

       Winning in the spiritual realm is not a “one and done” event. We may win a battle, yet lose the war.  Even those who were privileged to enter the kingdom (church) when it first came into existence on the day of Pentecost on A.D. 33 were not guaranteed a home in heaven “no matter what”. The Bible never teachesonce saved, always saved”. When Peter and the twelve delivered the Words provided by the Spirit regarding Salvation on that great day, the Jews in attendance heard what was spoken. In Acts 2:40 we read that which shows clearly that they had the responsibility to respond to the gospel If they wanted to be saved. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

       But even this would not “keep” them saved. The Spirit had Paul direct the minds of the Christians in Philippi so they would know how to win all the way in Philippians 3:12-13.  Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before

     The things which have already passed are in the past.   If we want to win – truly win – we have to do as the Spirit directed the apostle to pen in the next verse, Philippians 3:14. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  That prize of which the Spirit had Paul write is eternal life, and that is the only way we can truly win. We can start winning in this life, and then we receive the reward when the Lord returns and the judgment occurs.

       If you would be a winner, your obedience cannot end when you exit the watery grave of baptism. This is where one becomes saved from past sins, but baptism alone will not keep one saved. In Philippians 2:12 we read what the Spirit had the apostle Paul write to these same brethren. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

       Are you winning? You are not if you have not been baptized into Christ to become a child of God, regardless of the wealth you have attained, or if you have received the trophies and accolades of success as the world measures winning. Neither are you a winner if you have been baptized into Christ and failed to live up to the commitment you made to God at that time.      Become a winner today! Obey the gospel, and remain a winner by being faithful to God.      

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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