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The End of Longsuffering

 

Throughout the Bible, and certainly in the ongoing experience of any true believer's life, the mercy and the longsuffering of the Lord is truly unfathomable.  Yet the Scriptures, as well as history and life itself, also bear forth the sobering reality that God's mercy has it's limits, and His longsuffering does have an end. And I would like to correctly define God's longsuffering as "Putting up with people for a long period of time who are not conforming to His ways; and continuing to do good to them, in hope that they will see the folly and cursed state of disobedience, and return to the state of blessedness which accompanies obedience."  We need look no further than the sixth chapter of Genesis to see this truth confirmed, as God's longsuffering of about sixteen hundred years with all of mankind ended, as He saved only Noah and his family, while destroying all men; not to mention every other living thing that wasn't on the ark (Gen. 6:6-8). If we really want to understand and know the mind and nature of God, we must honestly acknowledge that it was not gentleness, kindness, longsuffering, or any other such like trait that destroyed the inhabitants of the earth at that time. It was disgust, and it was anger - holy, righteous anger, and a whole lot of it!

Another very powerful biblical example of God's longsuffering having an end is regarding how that He rooted Israel out of the inheritance that He had given them, after they stubbornly and persistently defied His righteous rule over them for a long period of time. They had agreed to obey all of God's commandments, and they understood that if they refused to do so, they would be cursed by God, and eventually cast out of the land that God gave to them to be blessed in (Exd. 19:8; Deut. 28:15,63). After several hundred years of suffering His people's rebellious ways, and after exhausting all efforts to steer them back in the right direction, He finally ousted the northern kingdom of Israel from their inheritance by the hand of the king of Assyria (II Kings 17:5-15). And after the southern kingdom of Judah failed to be warned by the removal of their northern brethren, but went onward in sin and all manner of abominations, God also rooted them out of the land about a hundred and fifty years later by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon (Jer. 3:8-11; II Kings 24:1-4).

And of course we have the yet to be realized, ultimate end of God's longsuffering with man; that being the second coming of the Lord Jesus to this world. We are told clearly by the Scriptures that the wrath of God will be "poured out without mixture" upon the whole world at this time, and that afterward there will be "few men left" (Rev. 14:10; Isa. 24:6). This of course will usher in the thousand year reign of Christ with the faithful Saints who have been caught up to meet Him at His coming (Rev. 19:11-14; Rev. 20:1-6; I Thess. 4:15-17), and they will reign over those who are left.

But what I really want to address in this article is the fact that God's longsuffering toward His worldwide Congregation (i.e. Spirit baptized believers - I Cor. 12:13) and the  individuals therein can have an end, even as with mankind or a nation. There are examples in the Scriptures in regard to this truth, the saddest of which has to be Saul, the first king of Israel. After starting out very well, Saul's heart was eventually lifted up in pride, and he became entrapped by the fear of men, and he lost the honesty and humility of his beginnings (I Sam. 15:17-24). God also withdrew His mercy and longsuffering from Saul, and He took the kingdom away from him; turning him over to the power of an evil spirit, which spirit carried him further and further from righteousness, until he met a very tragic end (II Sam. 7:15; I Sam. 16:14; I Sam. 22:16-19; I Sam. 31:1-6).

I have been deeply impressed for some time, that God's longsuffering with the waywardness of His people is growing short, and that this thinning patience has been showing up in the form of overtly straying saints being taken away in the midst of their years; suddenly and in graphic manner. I'm aware that sometimes the righteous may also be taken away in like manner, and I'm also aware of the admonition of Jesus, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Lk. 13:3,5). Yet in all of this I have no choice but to recognize the terrifying pattern that I've seen, and tremble. While understanding that I am not the judge of anyone's eternal lot, I also am unmistakably assured by the Scriptures that nobody who dies in sin will be saved, especially those who have been once delivered from sin (Heb. 12:14; I Jn. 3:2,3; Jude:3-6; Heb.1 0:26-31; Heb. 3:1-3; II Pet. 2:20,21; etc...). In seeing these kinds of things take place, I have been overwhelmed with both sadness and godly terror. In some of these cases, people with the Spirit of God in their lives had been living in overt fornication, as well as other clearly evident sins, for some time (I Cor. 6:9; Eph. 5:6; Col. 3:5,6).

I know that many could identify with at least some of the sadness, but I wonder how many in the body of Christ can really identify with the feeling of godly terror, as a result of seeing such things. The Apostle Paul certainly understood this aspect of godliness, for it was he who said "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men" (II Cor. 5:11). And why did he persuade men? "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that  every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done,  whether it be good or bad" (II Cor. 5:10). This is why the same Apostle admonished us to "work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling" (Philip. 2:12). Peter certainly was in agreement with this godly mindset regarding the fear of the Lord (I Pet.  1:13-17 ). In fact, all of the holy people of the Bible understood and agreed with these things. But the body of Christ has been taught in the opposite direction of the fear of the Lord, by being taught the comfortably erroneous traditions and doctrines of men, instead of the true way of holiness.

The Congregation of the Lord has been taught that we obtain eternal salvation at the beginning of our faith, whereas the Bible clearly and consistently sets forth that salvation is something that we will receive at the end of our earthly pilgrimage, if we have been faithful to God in holiness till the end (I Pet. 1:3-9; Heb. 2:1-3; Heb. 3:6,14; Heb. 4:1,11; Heb. 10:35,36; Heb. 12:14-17; Philip. 3:11-13; Mat. 24:12,13; etc., etc...). Why fear God if you're already locked into salvation? And God's people have been taught that Satan is the one who ordains and brings to pass everything that pertains to difficulty, hardship, and sorrow; while God brings everything that is welcome and enjoyable. Yet the Scriptures plainly state that it is God alone who has power to ordain and perform anything, whether pleasant or adverse (Rom. 11:13; Eph. 1:11; Amos 3:6; Isa. 45:7; Job 1:20,21; Deut. 32:39; Hos. 6:1; Eccl. 7:14; etc...) [Also see our FAQ's page Q&A called Is Satan the one who is responsible...?]. And this particular erroneous school of thought has caused God's people to fail to see God's great love and care for us, in regard to His effort to perfect us in holiness through the fiery trials that we must endure; which trials actually are our ticket to salvation and eternal life, if we prove faithful in obedience through it all (I Pet. 1:3-9; I Pet. 4:12,13; Mat. 3:11,12; James 1:2-4; II Cor. 7:1; Eph. 1:11; Rom. 8:28; etc...). What's there to fear God about when we can lash out at the Devil in righteous indignation for his supposed attacks on us for being the righteous?

We are told in the Bible that "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding" (Prov. 9:10). In speaking of the end time, Jesus said that His overall assembly of believers would be like "ten virgins,... and five of them were wise, and five were foolish" (Mat. 25:1,2). The five foolish virgins were lost in the end, while fully expecting that they would be saved (Mat. 25:11,12). The five wise virgins obviously understood that righteousness and true holiness would be required of them till the end of their journey, in order to obtain eternal salvation. The foolish virgins did not understand this, and therefore they did not fear God, or understand their trials, and the holy purpose of them. Jesus also said "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore and repent" (Rev. 3:19). The faithful saints of the Bible understood that holiness was required for salvation, and that God was the one who brought affliction upon them in love, for their betterment, joy, and salvation's sake (Heb. 12:5-13; Psm.  66:10-12.; Psm. 119:72,75; Job 23:8-10,13,14; Gen. 45:4-8; Gen. 50:20; Mat. 26:38,39,42 with John 18:10,11 and Heb. 12:2; etc...).

In closing, I would like to say that I hope this small article can help some to focus on God's purpose and great love for us all, and may we, and God, somehow be spared from further grief over tragic, premature loss of dear brothers and sisters from our presence and company. If you know someone who has received God's precious Spirit, but has strayed far from it, please pray for them, and warn them of the oncoming danger (Ezek. 33:8,9). For more on how the true salvation of the Lord is obtained, please refer to "When and How is a Person Saved"? on our FAQ'S page. May God bless, and deal graciously. Amen.

"For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, ..."
(I Cor.12:13)


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