Will You Be Among God’s Firstfruits?

June 2019 (A Re-print from June 2005)

 

Dear Brethren:


          Warm greetings from all here in the island of Mindanao, Southern Philippines.


          It is really uplifting to have this opportunity again to speak to you through this
letter and share with you matters of great importance for the people of
God—members of the remnant group of His true church who are holding fast to the
faith once delivered.


          We have just observed the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread this year.
We are about to keep the next of God’s annual festivals, Pentecost, or the Feast of the
Firstfruits. God is working through a small group of spirit-begotten humans,
organized and unified by His laws and His truth. Those who were called into God’s
church are part of God’s spiritual firstfruits—the first group to be offered salvation.
The firstfruits have been called for the special purpose of being prepared for God’s
Kingdom.


          Our calling is the first step in qualifying as God’s firstfruits.


          God is still harvesting a small group of Christians. So you might ask: How
does one become part of this current group of firstfruits? The Bible reveals that
people do not just decide to “give their heart to the Lord.” Jesus explained this
clearly to a group of His countrymen who were following Him about. He stated:


No man can come to me [Christ], except the Father which hath sent me
draw him (John 6:44).


          We are then told, from that time many of His disciples went back and walked
with Him no more (verse 66). The reason they stopped following Jesus was that they
had not been given the spiritual capacity to understand His message. But this
spiritual understanding was given to the small group of disciples Jesus was calling
and training.


And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto
them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given
unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them
it is not given . . . Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they
seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand
(Matthew 13:10–11, 13).




          In this case, those who turned away had not been called!


God the Father drew us near to Him; no one can just join God’s church unless
He draws him or her.


          The second step in qualifying as God’s firstfruits is that we must be chosen.


          Remember that Jesus said many would be called but few are chosen. The Bible
shows numerous examples of this process in action. The nation of ancient Israel was
chosen by God to be a model after which surrounding peoples would pattern
themselves.


Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the
judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go
in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers giveth you.
Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye
diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord
your God which I command you. Your eyes have seen what the Lord
did because of Baalpeor: for all the men that followed Baalpeor, the
Lord thy God hath destroyed them from among you. But ye that did
cleave unto the Lord your God are alive every one of you this day.
Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my
God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to
possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and
your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these
statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding
people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto
them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for?
And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so
righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day? (Deuteronomy
4:1–8).


          However, the Israelites chose to disobey God’s law and were rejected by Him.
Saul was chosen as the first king of Israel but decided to follow his own reasoning
instead of God’s instructions and lost his special status (1 Samuel 15). Jeroboam was
given the opportunity to lead ten tribes of Israel, but his religious innovation contrary
to the will of God led those tribes astray, resulting in national captivity (1 Kings
12:32–33).


          New Testament examples tell the same story. Although the church began on
Pentecost teeming with members, new converts—3,000 baptized in one day (Acts
2:41)—it appears that over the years persecution and waning enthusiasm took their
toll on the faithful. Paul mentions some thirty years later “that all they which are in
Asia be turned away from me” (2 Timothy 1:15). This fits the information Jesus
Christ gives us concerning the early church. Describing the first-century Ephesian
church, Christ says:

 

. . . thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou
art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto
thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick (Revelation 2:4–5).


          Certain qualities of character, then, will be required of those who are called, in
order to be chosen.


          This second step in qualifying as God’s firstfruits—being chosen—is
expounded in the parable of the wedding supper:


The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a
marriage for his son. And sent forth his servants to call them that were
bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth
other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have
prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things
are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went
their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant
took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But
when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies,
and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he
to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were
not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall
find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways,
and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and
the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king came in to
see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:
and he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a
wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the
servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into
outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many
are called, but few are chosen (Matthew 22:2–14).


          As chosen of God, we must be in proper attire. We must develop—without
ceasing—His holy righteous character and we must produce fruits.


Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that
ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that
whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you
(John 15:16).


          God chose us before we were born—before the foundation of the world—being
predestined to be called to spiritual salvation. God has richly lavished upon us His
grace.


          The third step in qualifying as God’s firstfruits is: We must be faithful.


          When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8)


That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that
perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and
honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:7).


          We must examine ourselves deeply, as God will measure our faith. We must
go on with our struggle to hold fast to the truth. Praise, honor, and glory will be
given to us if the faith of Christ is found in us when He returns. We can be heirs of
the Kingdom only if we are rich in faith.


Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this
world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to
them that love him? (James 2:5).


          If we remain faithful to our calling and election, we will qualify for the glorious
and eternally-rewarding honor of being God’s own firstfruits at the return of our Lord
Jesus Christ. Being faithful all the way until His return is our final umbilical cord to
eternal life.


          It is a breathtaking, exciting, and incredible sight to behold! When the Lord
of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with Him are called, and chosen, and
faithful (Revelation 17:14).

Your brother in Christ,
Mario Roque


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