Where is the Evidence?
It is VERY easy to say... “We are ‘Conquerors’.” Like so many other claims made by Christians, the FACT we are ‘Conquerors’ is biblical and true. But, the outworking of it is sorely lacking, as is understanding of the word. (Really, it is usually used in the wrong context). To put it bluntly, most believers are like shadow-boxers who are great champions when they hit at the air, but who run a mile if a real opponent comes along! There is just no evidence in most of our lives to warrant us saying we are ‘conquerors’!
Similarly, most Christians claim they have ‘faith’, but do not show any sign of having faith. Most declare ‘love’, but rarely show it to anyone outside their very closest circle. Most will speak of compassion... so long as no-one actually needs it. The list of what we claim and what we actually display and do is very, very long.
So, we claim to be ‘conquerors’. Can we prove it? Do we live AS conquerors? And why do so many claim it but show the opposite, to themselves, to the brethren, and to the world, which laughs in scorn at the idea of such weak-spined folks being ‘conquerors’? They laugh because they see no evidence.
I am being blunt because we ALL need to buck-up. I am included, because my sins and errors mean I can be just as guilty of ‘spiritual exaggeration’, laxity or cowardice as anyone else. We must face our own inadequacies and be brutally honest with ourselves, or our lives will be a sham, deserving of the scorn heaped upon us by atheists and others who wish us harm. More importantly, by claiming what we are not, we bring shame on the Lord’s name, because everyone can see plainly that our claims are only superficial, or even laughable.
We need to know what is a ‘conqueror’
Scripture plainly tells us we are ‘conquerors’. I have no problem with that. My problem is with believers (which could include myself) who mouth the right words, but whose lives show something inferior to the claims.
There is only one scriptural text on which to base our claim to be conquerors: Romans 8:37. Now, if we base our claim to anything on only one verse, we must make very sure that we comply with, and understand, its actual meaning. The text says this:
“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”
Now, it is obvious from the first word, “Nay”, that this verse follows on from the previous one. And the first word of the next verse (38, going on to verse 39), “For”, means that they are all part of the same discourse.
It is important to know what these texts really mean, because I am told that my warning – that Christians will be crushed by enemies because of their spiritual laxity – is out of order and untrue. But, is it, when we see Christians scattering at the least hint of attack? When almost none stand up to wickedness, whether by individuals, or groups, or governments? When we see Christians shaking in fear and hiding from any action they should take? When almost no-one stands firm before atheists and others who pour hot scorn upon scripture, us and God, thus causing them to laugh at our inept, depressed, and very depressing, stance?
We can ALL come over as weak-kneed cowards at SOME time in our lives, and God knows about it, for we are human... but to deliberately be a coward or to hide from the enemy as a lifelong choice is not very attractive, and shows a deficiency, not the character of a conqueror. I urge Christians NOT to say we are ‘conquerors’ to the unsaved, when they show the exact opposite in their lives! But, if Christians really DO live as conquerors... that is the time to declare it. Otherwise, we will rightly be dismissed by unbelievers, who are always more than ready to ridicule and humiliate believers. They KNOW a ‘conqueror’ when they see one!
Let us get back to the text in Romans...
What is the whole text saying? What is the context? Does it tell us we are conquerors in our own right? Or, that we are free from all attack and from being crushed by an enemy? No, it does not. Its main thrust is that Christians can never be separated from the love of God (verse 39)! To use it in any other sense is unfortunate, wrong and misleading, especially when we show a public face of fear, anxiety and cowardice, a yellow-line glowing on our backs! And, the major supporter of the idea of always being a ‘conqueror’ in everyday life is the charismatic movement... not a very good pedigree.
Some say we cannot be crushed by enemies, because we are conquerors. This is to misapply the text. In verse 35 we find believers being harassed and even killed. Indeed, we can be “killed all the day long”. Is this not ‘crushing’ us? Of course it is. We are indeed joined to God eternally, but this does not prevent our demise by enemies, whether murderously or otherwise. God will often save us from these awful events... but not always.
We are viewed by wicked men as “sheep for the slaughter”, so they crush us. Thus, ‘conqueror’ is used in an eternal sense. That is, though we will be crushed or even killed, we conquer death because Christ did, and we live eternally for the same reason. If we believe we will not be crushed, then we may be in for a very rude awakening. Ask the martyrs!
The martyrs WERE martyrs because the Lord had given them a special gift of endurance and strength against sure death. They knew they were to be crushed, but they also knew their souls were in the hands of God, Who would never let them go. The reason they were arrested, beaten and killed, was because of their public profession of faith and determined show of faith in the face of fear, violence and evil. This is why I warn that we WILL be crushed if we remain quiet, fearful and run from the battle with shame; crushed in the temporal sense.
In such circumstances we will NEVER be able to say we are ‘conquerors’ in this world... but, even in such weakness and shame, we WILL be conquerors in the eternal sense, the sense meant by the text. As always, I urge Christians not to misappropriate or misuse words of scripture, but to understand and live up to them. We can all fail, so let us support each other in these dark days that will soon become even darker. All around the world Christians are being killed for their faith, crushed of life – but they remain conquerors in the eternal mind.
In that case, can we ever be ‘conquerors’ in this life?
Yes, we can! All I have done in the above is to show the proper contextual meaning of ‘conqueror’, indicating that the word is misused, albeit with good intention.
Most Christians are afraid of the future, so they quake in fear when they see awful things happening close to them; and no-one can blame them for this. No doubt those believers who have been killed by haters of God, from the beginning to now, have had their fears. Yet, in my experience, this fear of what might happen is usually obliterated when one enters an actual fight/opposition. Ask any seasoned soldier – his time of anxiety is before a battle. Once he enters the fray and fights, the fear is overtaken by the need to stay alive and to win! He must, of course, overcome his fear to be able to fight. And if he does not fight, he also knows that he is liable to be crushed, defeated. While his army might win overall and the war is won, it does not stop many soldiers being killed. Therefore, the army is victorious and wins, even though some are defeated and crushed.
Read the Psalms, in which, many times over, David speaks of his bone-chilling, leg-quaking, stomach-sickening fear. But, he never allowed his fear to dictate his actions, or to stop him entering the battle; the fear of being crushed was overcome by his fear of losing God’s favour. As Christians we should be like this... but few are. They imagine too much; they see what happens to believers who stand up to be counted; and in today’s terroristic societies, they capitulate or hide, not daring to speak God’s name. For this reason they will be crushed.
Note that I use this in a very special way. If they are truly saved, but fail to stand publicly for what is right and for the Lord, they WILL be crushed humanly, but will still enter Heaven. But, on this earth – oh what shame! Yet, they have the same gift of conquering as the mightiest martyr. The sad difference is that they ignore the gift and run away, leaving everyone else to be overrun. In my working life in a mental hospital I had to endure this kind of thing, and the result was often injury to my person. All those staff who claimed to be ‘Christian’ ran away when violence came, leaving me alone to face evil violent men on my own. But, at those times I had an inner peace that overcame my fear of being attacked and possibly killed.
Thus, I was a ‘conqueror’, even if I was overcome (which happened a few times) by those violent men and suffered injuries. Needless to say I fought physically to keep my life, but the most vital part was that God kept me safe and I relied on Him. This requires absolute faith in Him, which produces its own brand of peace in the midst of wickedness thrust upon us. It also requires a life given over to God. When these things combine, we are conquerors in this life also, even if we are crushed. There is much more I can say on this matter, but the paper will suffice.
Look for the word ‘victor’. You will not find it in the KJAV, or the word ‘victorious’. But, you WILL find it (victor) in the Romanist’ Vulgate, in Latin! The KJAV only shows ONE verse containing the word ‘conquerors’. The ESV and RSV (both corrupt versions) contain an extra reference (Jeremiah 8:10), but the Vulgate does not.
So, in summary, ‘conquerors’ is used in the plural, and only in the KJAV. It has a very specific meaning and applies to the eternal state of Christians, whose salvation is kept safe in God’s hands. It does NOT preclude harm coming to us – and even a scant knowledge of what is happening in Islamic countries today testifies to that fact.
Christians may, or may not, be victorious in their earthly lives, but the term ‘conqueror’ does not apply to this possibility, though it is often used to describe an unreal victory by charismatics, whose ‘glazed-eye’ approach to truth does not allow them to recognise spiritual or earthly realities.
I urge Christians to be both realistic and spiritually aware. Do not make claims that cannot be supported from scripture in a proper, interpretational sense. We are DEFINITELY ‘conquerors’ eternally, because we cannot be separated from the love of God, nor His salvation. And we can also be ‘conquerors’ in the earthly sense, but the evidence for this is anecdotal... that is they do not refer to ‘conquerors’. (Bear in mind that this paper refers ONLY to the term ‘conquerors’).
However, it is an observable fact that weak or reluctant Christians who deny their spiritual birthright do NOT experience being ‘conquerors’ in any sense... even their eternal safety in God is not understood by them, because they only see the earthly woes before them... and so they are ‘crushed’ though they need not be!
© July 2014
Published on www.christiandoctrine.com
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