The church of Jesus Christ was established from the beginning of creation, having as its members the men of old, our examples to follow by which we may judge ourselves. By divine testimony, the men of old acquired faith in Christ – the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world to save men from their sins – and by faithful obedience, they gained God’s approval (Rev. 13:8; Heb. 11:1-8.)
The prophet Abel knew Christ, obeying Him by faith, sacrificing a lamb, and witnessing Christ’s salvation. Enoch, seventh generation from Adam, walked in faithful obedience, pleasing God and prophesied of Christ’s return, warning of impending judgment upon ungodly sinners in the church and in the world (Jude 1:14-19.) Abraham rejoiced to see Christ’s day and was glad (Jn. 8:56.) Moses knew Christ and endured ill-treatment rather than the pleasures of sin, looking forward to Christ – as seeing Him who is unseen (Heb. 11:24-29.) The church was with Christ from the beginning – chosen from the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before Him in love (Eph. 1:4), but in these last days, Christ was brought into public view for the sake of you (1 Pet. 1:20.) He is the source of eternal life to all who obey Him (Heb. 5:9.) No one comes to the Father, except through Him (Jn. 14:6.)
Does God approve of you? Do you belong to Jesus Christ as do the faithful men of old?
Judge yourself. “The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot… because you say, “I am rich (I know Christ), and have become wealthy (saved), and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that (in reality) you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked (lost), I advise you to buy from Me gold (understanding of My Word) refined by fire (purification through testing), that you may become rich (spiritually wise), and white garments (the nature of Christ) that you may clothe yourself (with righteousness), and that the shame of your nakedness (sin) may not be revealed (on Judgment Day); and eye salve (discernment of the Holy Spirit) to anoint your eyes, that you may see (with spiritual eyes the purpose of the Gospel.) Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline (in order to share My holiness); be zealous therefore, and repent (turning entirely away from evil) … He who overcomes (by faith which obeys Me), I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 3:14-22). Do you find yourself approved as far as you know?
“He who overcomes (as Christ overcame) shall thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels” (Rev. 3:5.) He who overcomes is approved by God.
Through Scripture, the approved men of old are urging you to overcome as they overcame; to run your race with endurance, looking away from every encumbrance and sin which so easily distracts, pressing on to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. This is only accomplished by fixing your eyes on Jesus Christ, just as they did, confident in His grace to help you obey, but fearing for those who continue in disobedience, the object of His terrible wrath (Heb. 10:26-31; 12:1, 2.)
This race, this fight to be faithfully obedient to God, wins God’s approval. Like the faithful men of old, faithful men today are also running to enter the city where only righteousness dwells; for here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come (Heb. 13:14.) God has built a city in the new earth in which only those who practiced righteousness on this earth are granted entry. All the approved of God come to this city, to the heavenly Jerusalem, to Mount Zion, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect (the redeemed–Tit. 2:14), to Jesus, the Mediator of a new covenant, and to mercy, the sprinkled blood (Heb. 12:22-24.) In the city of righteousness, nothing unclean, no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Rev. 21:27.)
Outside the city (of righteousness) are the dogs (teachers who have misled God’s people, and those who have returned to sin) and the sorcerers (those manipulating others through evil) and the immoral persons (impure in thought, word, or deed) and the murderers (including abortion) and the idolaters (living for self, submitting to temptation); and everyone who loves and practices lying (whatever is in opposition to God’s Word – Rev. 22:15.) It is obvious that these persons, having never repented, have loved the approval of others, more than and rather than the approval of God – their actions being the proof.
Since time is short, all believers looking for God’s approval to enter the city of righteousness on the Day of the Lord must take inventory of their deeds.
Have you confessed repentance and faith in Jesus Christ in order to gain God’s approval?
Have you laid aside all sin to obey His Spirit, becoming sanctified-keeping God’s approval?
If so, then you are being perfected in love – the purpose of true faith –bearing the seal of God’s approval and reaping the reward, eternal life (Romans 6:16-18, 22; 2 Timothy 2:19, 20; 1 John. 4:17.) The proof of your faith is found in your deeds (James 1:21, 22.)
By deeds done in faithful obedience, the men of old gained God’s approval while upon this earth, and now they are waiting to enter the city of righteousness with you (Heb. 11:13, 39, 40.)