We are in the church-militant.
It may not at times look that way. There is so much laying down of arms that one wonders whether the church has forgotten that she is the church-militant here below.
Indeed, she is at the same time the church-triumphant. Faith is the victory, John declares in I John 5:4. He does not say that faith ultimately gets the victory. He does not say that faith will help us to gain the victory. Emphatically he declares that faith is the victory. And Paul declares in Romans 8:37 that we “are more than conquerors” through Him that loved us. We are not simply sure of having the victory at the end of time. We are at present more than conquerors in Christ. From His ascension to God’s right hand we have with Him been sitting in heavenly places. In principle the battle is all over. He paid for our sins in full on the cross. He was raised because we were justified, Romans 4:25. He was exalted and given dominion over all things in heaven and on earth, over Satan and his host and all the subjects of his kingdom of darkness. We have a King who is Lord of all lords and King of all kings. Christ now has dominion, over land and sea. Earth’s remotest regions now His empire be: Psalm 72:8 is realized.
However, we are still on the battlefield; and the time for the wiping off from the face of the earth of the kingdom of darkness is not yet. We ourselves still have the old man of sin with us. And that makes for contention and strife even in the church. It makes for a battle and struggle in the individual, regenerated child of God. Paul’s experiences as related in Romans 7 are those of every regenerated child of God, although they may not at all times be to the same degree. That flesh is not, and according to Romans 8:7 cannot be, subject to the law of God. The new man in Christ, according to I John 3:9cannot sin. And so a continuous struggle, a battle of faith is waged inside the regenerated child of God. Sometimes it spreads out to other regenerated children of God because of his or their flesh, or because of the flesh of both. Besides this, there is the ever-abiding enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. The new man in Christ comes in conflict with the old man of sin in the world. And that seed of the serpent is not always so clearly to be recognized. In John’s day already the church had to be warned against false prophets and had to be admonished to “try the spirits” whether they were “out of God.” The world we have little difficulty recognizing as the seed of the serpent. But the false church, and the false prophet of that church, poses as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He has a form of godliness although he denies the power thereof; and that form often leads us to sup with him rather than to fight him. But it all underscores the fact that we are still the Church-militant and will be till God takes away that flesh from us and removes from off the face of this earth, in the day of Christ, the in-principle- defeated enemy.
That enemy has work to do yet in the fulfilling of God’s counsel. The measure of iniquity must be filled. The little seed,—little but potent and significant seed,—sown in paradise sprouted into a tree which, in the first generation already, in fact in the firstborn of woman, brought forth murder; and soon enough produced a world ready for the judgment of the flood,—and thereby chopped down to a great extent. That seed is growing again from the shoot that sprang up from Noah and his son’s flesh. That tree must bring forth every possible bit and kind of fruit. It must become abundantly evident to the church that we are saved only by grace. It must become abundantly evident to the world that try as man may, he cannot and never will be like God, except as God makes us once again to be spiritually like Him in Christ; that to live apart from God is death; and that man in paradise began to walk a pathway that can only lead to destruction. It must become plain that all his ingenuity, knowledge, science, invention, and progress in the service of mankind and without the fear of God can only lead him to ruin. He begins to see that today, although he will not admit it. That little seed of sin in paradise has brought him to where the tree has brought man to the point where five nations, in this way of knowledge, science and the like, have it in their wisdom and power to wipe man from off the face of this earth. Babylon with all its gold and silver and merchandise, with all its skyscrapers and engineering feats will destroy itself and has created a world of tension and fear the like of which the world never saw, either before or after the flood. And all this must be. Therefore the church is still on this earth; and although we have the victory and are more than conquerors in Christ, we are still on the battlefield and surrounded by the enemy. Elect must yet be born and reborn and so be gathered into the church of God. The wicked must progress in their sin,—and can do nothing else,—until the Judge comes and that which Satan sowed in paradise is seen for what it actually is worth, and the tree is chopped down and thrown into the fire.
Is the church fully aware of its calling to fight?
There are so many evidences of infiltration of the enemy, of fifth columns and “brain washing,” that a call to arms is not out of place at all today. There is so much spiritual apathy today. And the false church is so feverishly at work in the attempt to swallow up the true church and destroy her. Satan knows the value of the worldly philosophy that if you cannot defeat them, then join them. And join not to adopt their doctrine and righteousness but instead from within to instill doubt and evil.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. Love your enemies, and do good unto them that persecute you. Bless them that curse you. Who wants to deny any part of this? That would indeed be fighting in the camp of Satan. There is not too much danger at the moment that we might militate against these texts and this truth. Our danger comes from the other quarter, namely, that we are deceived into a wrong interpretation of these texts and lay down our arms because we have been brain washed spiritually. We have been turned away from the other side of the picture. We have quietly yet persistently been caused to overlook all the texts in Scripture that demand of us that we fight the good fight of faith. I Timothy 6:12; II Timothy 4:7; Genesis 3:15; Jude 1:3. To these texts you may also add the fact that Paul in Philippians 2:25 andPhilemon 2 speaks of himself and the believers as soldiers.
Indeed, there is that desire for peace. There can also be that fear of war. But far more important is the fear of the Lord. And that fear will never allow compromise with the lie and evil practices. It will always stand for the truth and righteousness; and then there will be a fight. Why is it that in many a church and church circle there is no desire to fight for doctrinal purity,—but they will fight you, if you deny Arminianism,—and throw out all discipline because it is contrary to their idea of love, and then will fight tooth and nail for social improvements? They believe, as a church or church group, mind you, in fighting for worldly things; but to fight for the spiritual, for the truth and for upright walk they find not in their souls. Let us beware lest we seek peace with men and find ourselves opposing God Who is Truth and Righteousness.
It is quite possible to have a love commended by men and towards men that actually is rooted in hatred towards God. It is the love of the flesh and not at all the love demanded by God’s law. It is the love that you can find in the brute beast for its own and is no compliment at all to the rational-moral being made in God’s image. It is therefore very easy to leave a man in his sin and fail to exercise any discipline upon him in that fleshly love which brute beasts can have towards each other. Meanwhile we are fighting against God Who hates all sin, and we willingly allow rebellion against Him. It is so easy to keep silent and even fellowship with those who deny God His glory by false doctrine and do so because we do not want to hurt the feelings of the heretic. But is it love to God when we condone the lie that presents Him in an evil light and in fact calls Him a liar?
The tragic thing in our church world of today especially is that although the antichristian forces are fighting furiously and relentlessly to set up their kingdom and banish the church of Christ from this earth, there is so little fight in the church of Christ, at least in much that which calls itself His church.
No, of course, we are not advocating bitterness and fighting with the flesh or tongue against those of the household of faith. We must not be a people with a chip on our shoulders. We must seek to understand as much as we desire to be understood. In the love of God and in His fear we must be afraid of fighting His children. Paul admonishes us in Titus 3:9 to “avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions.” All this, however, does not take away the Word of God in I John 4:1 that we are to try the spirits and not believe every spirit in the world. Evil and the lie, no matter in what form they may come, must be opposed and not defended. False doctrine and evil practices must be condemned in no uncertain terms and not be commended even by silence.
It is high time that the church be alerted to the closest enemy, and not the more remote. It is time for the church to be called to arms for a battle that is being waged rather than to look away towards one that may come in the future. It has been stated that the church needs to unite in order to have a stronger front against Communism. Roman Catholics and Protestants have a common enemy and ought to find a common ground where they can stand and fight together against this enemy. But Communism is not The Enemy of the church. It is an enemy of the State. Indeed, if it prevails and we obtain a communistic form of government, our freedom of religion will be gone. It is an atheistic ideology. No one in the church can or wants to deny that. But the false church and the false prophets of that church are far more to be feared than corrupt governments of foreign nations. Rome was atheistic also in the day when Jesus walked on this earth. But Jesus warned His disciples not of Rome but of the leaven of the Pharisees. He also pointed out to John on the Isle of Patmos, for our instruction and comfort, that the Antichrist comes after the manner of the one-world political ambitions of the Communists. But He also pointed out that false prophet who serves this beast and practices deception to turn the worship of men to that beast. Let the church today understand that there are forces in the church-world that exactly seek to destroy the church from within.
Satan knows all the tricks. And when four hundred years after the Reformation “divide and conquer” did not bring about the desired effect, and a stubborn “little flock” (which is yet “an innumerable host” and figuratively “seven thousand” that have not bowed the knee to Baal) still remains faithful to the truth, he resorts to this: “Join them” and then corrupt them from within. Must fear of Communism,—which is nothing less than the wicked world that never makes profession of Christianity or worship of God—must fear of that wicked world drive the church to unite with the false church? And will that preserve the fear of God upon this earth?
What if Communism is defeated? What if it falls by its own weight, and it pleases God to crush it by calamity and famine and disaster upon disaster (We are not ruling Him out of the safety of His church are we?), and then the world is safe for the religion of the Antichrist. What have we gained?
Shall we unite all those who claim to believe in God? The Jew does. The Modernist does. Even Communists have been heard to say that God also helps them. Shall we say, “No creed but Christ?” All who claim to believe in Christ can unite? Will there be room for me, when I insist that Christ atoned for the sin of all His elect and did not simply make it possible for all men to be saved, if they will only accept it? Will there be room for the Modernist who denies that Christ is essentially the Son of God and wants only a Christ who has the title, “Son of God?”
Who was more dangerous to Israel? The heathen who worshipped Baal, or Jeroboam who introduced the golden calves? Shall we take up arms against the out-and-out wicked world and let the enemy creep into our own camp?
In His fear the church is afraid to go along and have friendship with any but those who love God and the truth and confess Him to be sovereign in ALL His works. In His fear the church does not fear Communism,—the bold wicked world that will persecute and never permitted man to worship God,—but fears the false church, the false prophet, and false doctrine that lead us to join in the practices advocated by Communism and the world. Because she fears God, she takes up arms, the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God to keep pure in doctrine and in an upright walk.