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The Remnant Principle

by Victor Christensen

he story of Gideon offers an interesting parable for the church in the last days. In preparation for a decisive battle Gideon wanted to make his army bigger whereas God wanted to make it smaller. When Gideon gathered his army together “the Lord said to Gideon, the people with you are too many” and so “22,000 of the people returned, and 10,000 remained.” In spite of this huge reduction in numbers the Lord said to Gideon, "The people are still too many.” So the numbers were pruned again until an army that started out numbering 22,000 was reduced to 300, and that was the number appointed to fight the battle of the Lord. (Judges 7:3,4,8)

According to the remnant principle which operated throughout the entire coarse of Bible history, and which may be presumed to operate today, only a minority of church members is ever in a state of grace. Paul wrote: "Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved.” (Romans 9:27) When God numbers His people the pattern is always “many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14) Our preference is to identify success with large numbers; in stark contrast to this Jesus’ prognostications concerning the church are consistently pessimistic. "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13,14)

What we need as a platform for revival is for the church to see itself as Jesus sees it. How does Jesus see the church seeing itself? “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.” But how does Jesus view this same church that thinks that it is rich and has need of nothing? He says that in collective terms it is ignorant concerning its lack of spiritually and “naked” in respect to righteousness. In Jesus’ eyes His people are guilty of “not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17) This is an assessment not a final rejection but without moral change it places the church collectively under the conditions of condemnation.

Many pastors pamper their congregations with comforting words when the real cure for the church’s problems is a good dose of guilt. In biblical revelation it is guilt that leads us to Christ. “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him.” (Zechariah 12:10) The Lord Jesus is only desired by those who come under the conviction of the Spirit and learn that they are the cause of His suffering. And it is the honest gratitude that we feel that is too deep for words to express that He esteems as our highest praise. But divine love is jealous beyond our comprehension. It is all or nothing with God, and for Loadicea it is nothing. The door to forgiveness is total surrender. “Any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:33) For many this is too much to ask and multitudes in the church have claimed a forgiveness that was never given. For this reason the church is not the house of the forgiven, it is the house of the forgiven and those who think that they are forgiven but are not.

Whether we are saved or not depends on whether we have accepted Christ or not and whether or not we are joined to Him inwardly by a moral faith that controls the will. The delusion of the age is the belief that faith in a doctrine about Christ is a substitute for accepting Christ Himself. People say they have accepted the cross but that is not accepting Christ. They say that they believe that Christ died for their sins and on that account they are forgiven. But it is possible to believe that and still not accept Christ. The question of whether or not we possess Christ is determined by whether or not He possesses us. It is the inner Christ that connects us to Christ in heaven, and there is no other substitute for Christ in us is the point at which we are joined to Him and receive our identity as forgiven sinners.  We must move beyond the historical account of the cross and in the words of Paul "put on the Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 13:14)

The essence of what it means to receive Christ is summed up in these words. "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith;  examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you--unless indeed you  fail the test?" (2 Corinthians 13:5) Today there is a Jesus people with a Jesus gospel and they sing Jesus' praises louder than most, but they are not going to make it because their Jesus worship has become for them a substitute for receiving Christ Himself and their Jesus is but an idol in their mind. "On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?'  And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness." (Matthew 7:22,23) All profession of faith in Christ is utterly useless without holiness in the life for what is written cannot be broken, "without holiness no man shall see the Lord: " (Hebrews 12:4)

If you are struggling, and we all do, here is something to think about.

"There is a point at which sympathy does not stand aloof, content with words but which descends into the depth of need and lays hold upon the other's burden. If we picture Jesus face to face with one of the penitents who encountered Him, the sick of the palsy, the woman that was a sinner-we may ask ourselves precisely what it was in Him that conveyed to them the sense and reality of pardon. What created their assurance? Manifestedly not the simple fact that admitted them to presence or that He looked at them, as a spectator of their misery. Rather it was that in spirit He went down to where they were, in their bitter, grief-stricken distance from God; and that thus joining Himself to them inwardly He took hold of their hand, that He might raise them up." (H R Mackintosh, The Christian Experience of Forgiveness, Nisbet, London 1927 p.213)

 

 

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