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The Great Commission

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Birthed in Battle

And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor : therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke. According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompence to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompence (Isaiah 59:16-18).

In his classic sermon on the role of the church in society, The Church-Conservative and Aggressive, Charles Spurgeon compared the church to a city in need of defense. Rather then hire mercenaries from the world to fight her battles, Spurgeon exhorts, "In the name of the living God let the Church of Christ train her own citizens for the battle of Christ. Let her bring up her own young warriors for the defense and maintenance of the Truth."

The early church was birthed in battle. There were heresies from within and great persecutions from without. Their faith came at great cost. Yet still they persevered. These former Christians were very much "warriors for the defense and maintenance of the Truth."

In contrast, most modern Christians weren't told by the preacher that when they made peace with God through the merits of Jesus Christ, they declared war on an enemy. Most didn't sign up for a spiritual war when they gave their life to Christ. Many signed up to be blessed or to go to heaven when they die. Some signed up to be a better husband and father or wife and mother. Others signed up to obtain peace and prosperity. These are not bad things; just incomplete apart from the larger picture of God's redeeming work in and through mankind.

In my case, it didn't take long after tasting the goodness of God's salvation for me to realize that something or someone out there didn't like me. The war was on, as God began to call me from the playground of modern Christianity to the battleground of biblical Christianity.

And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon: and the dragon and his angels fought. But they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world: he was cast out to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him(Revelation 12:7-9).

From this passage of scripture, we glean the first sin was actually committed, not in the garden with Adam and Eve, but in heaven by Lucifer. It was there that the kingdom of God suffered the initial split. As a result, God banished Satan and his imps from heaven and confined them to planet Earth.

Don't you find it strange that God created and strategically placed innocent man in the same neighborhood with this sick, perverted, lying, murderer? Was God subjecting man to the wiles of this fallen angel as a cruel joke?

This mystery is revealed in the vision and mission of Jesus Christ. God became flesh and dwelt among us to defeat Satan. Isaiah tells us, it "displeased him that there was no judgment" (Isaiah 59:15).

Based upon this truth, I believe God chose to redeem man so that man could take the victory of Christ and defeat the enemy. The earth is the battleground and man upon it has a God-ordained destiny to repair the breach in God's kingdom in heaven before the world began.

Matthew 11:12 reads, "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force"(Matthew 11:12). The violent take it by force.

The Church needs to remember we are in the battle of Christ. Then we must train our young men to be warriors again. Finally, we have no choice but to take the kingdom of heaven by force, through the power of Christ.

As Spurgeon said:

Let the Church of God, when her young men go forth to her battles, put her hand upon their shoulders and say, "Be strong, young man, be strong. Dishonor not the mother [Church] that bare you. But go forth and like the son of a Spartan mother, return not but in glory. Go forth to conquer or to die. Come back on your shield, or with it-a hero or a martyr."

You have been birthed for battle. Yet the weapons of your warfare are not carnal. They are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. Wield the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God. Unsheathe your glorious Bible in the sin centers of America. Let the clash of blades, the furor of opposing worldviews, ring in your ear. Don't shrink back. You are mightier than the enemy arrayed against you, because you fight under the banner of the King of Kings. Go forth, gentle Christian. Conquer or die.

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