The following is an excerpt from “Spiritual Warfare in the Last Days.” Intro for Future book?
Chapter # 1 – THE NATURE OF OUR WARFARE Pastor A. W. Weckeman Nov. 2021
Where Have All the Soldiers Gone?
The concepts of Christian soldiering and spiritual warfare are among the many essential doctrines eroded by the ceaseless onslaught of liberal theology and secular humanism. As a result, the Biblical terms: “soldier of Jesus Christ,” “weapons of our warfare,” “war a good warfare,” “contend for the faith” are absent from the modern Christian lexicon.
The Lost Perspective of a Bygone Era
The sermons and songs of the Church during the 16th and 17th centuries reveal the spiritual chasm between modern Christianity and yesteryear. When contrasted with contemporary music, the lyrics of the hymns reveal an undeniable depth of spiritual understanding and doctrine. The lack of spiritual substance in contemporary Christian preaching and music exposes a totally different attitude toward the world and life in general. The old songs employ a warlike vocabulary, a soldier outlook conspicuously absent and foreign to contemporary ears: “Onward Christian Soldiers” (181),” Hold the Fort” (409)” “Fight the Good Fight” (379)
The constant life and death struggle with the forces of darkness was a prevalent theme in the hymnal, as was a deep dependence upon God and His word for guidance, power, and protection. Unlike today, the old songs communicated a pilgrim’s attitude, acknowledging that this world was not their home. Believers during that era saw “this present evil world” precisely for what it is and genuinely longed for Heaven; “When we all get to Heaven what a day of rejoicing that will be” When We All Get To Heaven (498). They looked forward to the day when “This robe of flesh I’ll drop, and rise To seize the everlasting prize…” Sweet Hour of Prayer (361).
The sacred music also spoke of a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ which produced a deep yearning to be “Nearer, still nearer close to Thy heart, Draw me, my Savior, so precious Thou art…” Nearer, Still Nearer (323).
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find…” (Matt.7:7).
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5)
Solomon requested a wise and understanding heart to judge God’s people; to discern between good and evil (1 Kings 3:9) [a request that greatly pleased the Lord].
The First Thing I Need Spiritual Wisdom to See is Me!
Before salvation, our primary need was to SEE (in the Light of God’s word) who we were “without Christ.” After salvation, we face a similar situation; again, our primary need is spiritual discernment: This time to see who we are “in Christ”; to see ourselves as God does.
To go forward in our new life in Christ (and please the Lord), our first need is the spiritual insight to understand WHO we are “in Christ,” not only “new creatures” and “sons of God” but SOLDIERS.
Return to the Historical Biblical Perspective
For the “body of Christ” to be effective in the “perilous times” of the “last days” the leaders must look to the word of God for the necessary spiritual discernment. Relying on the Holy Spirit’s illumination to expose the error of popular contemporary teaching, reemphasizing the truth that genuine Christianity is NOT centered on the believer and his comforts.
The great misconception of the latter days that becoming a Christian will end all our troubles, “come to Jesus and life will be so much better” isn’t the whole truth! While it is true that Christian life is incomparable when it comes to joy, peace, and purpose, yet equally valid, “…all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Tim.3:12).
“…he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey…” (Isa.59:15).
“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” (2 Tim.2:3-4).
“This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare.” (1 Tim.1:18) [Emphasis added].
The crux of Christianity is an ongoing battle between the powers of God and the hordes of hell. A struggle for the souls of men. A deadly clash between the God of “this present evil world” and the Lord Jesus Christ and His followers…to the informed Christian, this world is a battleground, and every saved person is called to be a soldier.
Peace with God Equals War with the Devil!
In truth, our salvation is a proclamation of peace with God and a declaration of war with the devil. In a split second, when God’s Spirit joined our spirit (1 Cor.6:17), we became participants in the age-old struggle between good and evil, light and darkness. Therefore, the second birth is, in actuality, the birth of a soldier. Like it or not, upon salvation, we were inducted into God’s army; perhaps unwittingly, nevertheless, we took sides in a real battle.
Make no mistake about it; at the point of salvation, we incurred the wrath of the forces of darkness. We now have a powerful, invisible adversary, “…as a roaring lion, walking about, seeking whom he may devour…” (1Peter 5:8).
The Real Purpose of God’s Grace
Unfortunately, today many Christians think the only reason God saved them was to keep them out of hell and make their life here on earth better. Such half-truths can have devastating results. Those who have been led to believe that the Christian life is health, wealth, and happiness are in for a rude awakening.
They will be sorely disappointed and discouraged when they discover that just the opposite is true. God’s plan and purpose for their life will most certainly involve tribulation, persecution, suffering , and a host of adversities. Understanding who we are “in Christ” is fundamental; misconceptions can lead to unrealistic expectations and deadening disillusionment.
In reality, it is only by God’s grace that we are the blessed partakers of His righteousness. God’s plan of salvation isn’t all about us; it didn’t begin with us, nor does it end with us. Although the war involves the soldier, it’s not primarily about the soldier.
The outworking of His grace is not about having all our needs met, not about our health, wealth, or happiness. It’s about glorifying the One who saved us by whatever means HE CHOOSES, “…as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil.1:20-21). In truth, we are but trophies of His grace (Eph.2:4-7, 1 Peter 2:9).
It has been wisely stated that outlook decides the outcome, and attitude determines commitment. The realization that we are called to be soldiers of Jesus Christ saved to contend with the forces of darkness (for the souls of men) should be a sobering reality. Not something to be taken lightly and should have a significant impact on how we live our lives.
Participation in the Battle is a Choice
Even though you were inducted into God’s army upon salvation, you don’t have to “Fight the good fight…” You can ignore the command and stay on the sidelines if you so choose; hardly anyone gets hurt in the bleachers. It’s the guys down on the field, the participants who get mauled, but keep in mind that you will eventually face the Captain of your salvation. “Christianity isn’t meant to be a spectators sport!”
If you commit to living for Christ, if you decide to arm yourself with His Word, pick up your sword and get in the battle, then get it settled in your heart and mind, IT WILL COST YOU! There’s no way around it. “No work of God can become established unless it goes through the fire.” Rees Howells
To gain something worthwhile in the future, something must be sacrificed in the present, “Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” (Col.3:23-24, cf. Mal.3:16-18). No Cross, No Crown!
The Lessons of Army Life
In November of 1966, at Fort Dix N.J., I was sworn into the U.S. Army. At that moment, I surrendered the next three years of my life and officially became a soldier. However, the swearing-in ceremony was just the beginning, the initial surrender which set the stage for an ongoing surrender.
In the coming days, I would painfully learn much about the pivotal correlation between submission and soldiering.
I went through eight weeks of basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C. The purpose of boot camp was to transform us from a bunch of willful individuals to a unit of disciplined, unquestioning warriors. This change of heart was accomplished through rigorous training involving constant challenges and continuous hardship designed to break down any resistance to authority. There could be no second-guessing authority in the heat of the battle; commands wouldn’t be explained, nor did they have to make sense.
There were numerous dropouts; some broke under the weight of the physical and mental hardships; they couldn’t endure the intensity of the training. Still, others refused to relinquish their individualism and personal identity, constantly rebelling against the authority of the drill sergeants.
Soldiers for Christ
“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” (2 Tim. 2:3).
The day we trusted Christ for salvation, we humbly agreed with God’s assessment of our actual condition (Rom.3:10 & 23) we surrendered to the Truth. At that point, we were sworn into God’s army.
In reality, the second birth is the birth of a soldier. Perhaps unwittingly, nevertheless, we took sides in a very real battle; we entered the age-old war between good and evil, light and darkness, God and Satan. See: (1Tim.1:18 & 2 Tim.2:3-4 & Eph. 6:12).
Living a Life Surrendered to God
For me, the swearing-in ceremony at Fort Dix was the initial surrender, the first step, which paved the way for a life of submission to authority, so it is with our new life in Christ. The act of surrender that preceded salvation must become a continuous part of our lives, a day-by-day reality. A truth expressed by the apostle Paul in 1Cor. 15:31 “I die daily…”
God’s Boot Camp
For this reason, God has His own version of boot camp designed to subdue our sin nature and transform His recruits from self-willed, self-centered individuals to yielded, unquestioning soldiers. (2 Cor.11:23-29). Only the battlefield can produce warriors.
“Away from the mire and away from the clay, God leads His dear children along. Away up in glory, eternity’s day, God leads His dear children along. Some thru the waters, some thru the flood, Some thru the fire, but all thru the blood; Some thru great sorrow, but God gives a song, In the night season and all the day long.” God Leads Us Along G.A. Young, Hymnal page # 298
“The great thing is to suffer without being discouraged.” Fenelon
As the scriptural outlook gradually sets in, everything changes. A crucial transformation occurs; we begin to see ourselves as active combatants in the greatest struggle of all time. Perplexing trials, affliction, and inexplicable suffering are then viewed as a normal part of our calling (Acts 5:40-41 & 16:23-25). We begin to understand that God is in control. The afflictions and struggles of the Christian life are not meaningless or arbitrary; instead, they are allowed by an all-wise God to train and equip His soldiers for battle
The world is for all of us not only what it is …it is what we believe it to be.” Tozer.
The reality of (1 Peter 4:12-13) comes into focus. “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing is happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”
As soldiers of Jesus Christ, we face fiery trials of a different sort; “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph.6:12).
Consider the Ministry of the Apostle Paul
“For the which cause I also suffer these things…” (2Tim.1:12).
The cost of Paul’s faithfulness to Christ and the gospel was great hardship. Consider, (2 Cor.11:23-28).
Paul was a living example of (2 Tim.3:12) “…all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Paul was “appointed” unto these things as a representative of Christ, and so are we (1Thess. 3:3-4). Trials, tribulation, disappointments, and such are tools that God uses to develop our faith and transform our response, bringing us to the end of our own strength and the beginning of His.
When we consider Paul’s description of the ministry, we are once again reminded how far removed “Laodicean Christianity” is from sound doctrine: Preaching (John 1:12) “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name…” while ignoring (Phil.1:29) “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, NOT ONLY to believe on him, but also to SUFFER for his sake.” [Emphasis added].
Most modern Christianity views Calvary only in the light of salvation (what’s in it for me), neglecting the unpopular yet vital concept of sanctification through surrender. Preaching the necessity of taking up our cross daily, dying to self-life (Luke 9:23) has become a major stumbling block, opposed to all things contemporary.
A cross-less Christian life is a deadening self-deception, an invention of modern charlatans; rooted in the desire to have the best of both worlds. It is a selfish attempt to have one foot in Heaven and the other in “this present evil world.
“The unmortified Christian and the heathen are of the same religion, and the deity that they truly worship is the god of this world.” William Penn Consider: (Col.3:5)
(To be continued)