Nearly everyday I hear from Pastors and Christian leaders who are discouraged, disheartened, and disillusioned by the cultural and moral disintegration we are watching around us. Prophets and pundits agree--the Church of Jesus Christ and the civilization built upon the Christian ethic is under an all out assault by the world, the flesh, and devil. But what are we to do at a time like this?
It is our abiding conviction that as the Church has lost her confidence in the Truth of God's Word--written and incarnate, and as the Church has sought after the Spirit of the Age rather than the Spirit of the Ages—that Holy Spirit of the Living God, she has been rendered incompetent and incapable of meeting the challenge of this hour.
Some have suggested that the Church should surrender some or most of the territory she once claimed for Christ. Others have called for the Church to retreat into support groups. Most have been so intimidated by the onslaught that they have decided to do nothing.
There is a way forward! There is a way for the Church to regain her footing, engage the enemy, and prevail against the gates of hell.
Rather than thinking of the Church as a social club, or a support group, or a political organization, or the greatest show on earth, we must be THE CHURCH MILITANT! Ours is a holy Crusade for Christ. (Not a “CRU” but a CRUSADE FOR CHRIST).
ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS
Think of the hymns we sang when the Church was claiming territory for Christ:
A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD
AM I A SOLDIER OF THE CROSS?
I’LL BE A SOLDIER FOR JESUS
THE FIGHT IS ON
SOLDIERS OF IMMANUEL
STAND UP FOR JESUS
SOLDIERS OF CHRIST ARISE
How different from the hymns of this namby pamby, sissified, effete form of godliness that presents itself as the Church today. No fight. No blood. No victory.
The inspired Apostle Paul urged Timothy, “WAR A GOOD WARFARE!” Tragically the modern church has lost her fight—and that’s why we’re losing the battle.
IF THE CHURCH MILITANT IS TO ENGAGE AND PREVAIL in this battle for souls, we need enlistments who will 1) Accept the discipline, 2) Put on the uniform, 3) March to the distinct sound of heaven, 4) Engage the enemy together, and 5) Protect the flag, at any and all costs.
1. ACCEPT THE DISCIPLINE!“Oh Sergeant, that’s so legalistic!” One can only imagine the fate of a Marine enlistment who blurted out such a complaint to his drill sergeant. Yet today most of those in the Church refuse to accept the disciplines of Christ. Some are so adroit at explaining away their lack of discipline they have made a virtue out of lawlessness. “Sin boldly that grace may abound.” How tragic.
It’s no wonder the world refuses righteousness—the professing Church herself absolutely will not yield to the law, the disciplines of Godliness. We’re not calling for legalism, we’re calling for legality! All who love God love God’s law. If we do not love God’s law, we do not love God.
We simply cannot prevail so long as everyone is doing what is right in their own eyes. WE NEED DISCIPLINE.
2. PUT ON THE UNIFORM!“Commander, do I have to wear that? I feel more comfortable in my street clothes," the recruit complains.
Refusing to wear the uniform is grounds for expulsion from the armed forces. Inattention to the details of the uniform is grounds for discipline.
Just as soldiers wear the uniform that is proper and appropriate for their unit, we who are a part of the CHURCH MILITANT must wear what God’s Word directs. It must be gender specific ( “A man shall not wear that which pertains unto a woman, and a woman shall not wear that which pertains to a man”), it must be modest (“with modest apparel”), and it must not engender pride (“not with gold, or pearls, or costly array”).
One of the great joys of God’s people is to wear the uniform that God Himself has prescribed! I love to be identified as a soldier of the Cross. God’s people look different, smell different, act different, and sound different from the world. HALLELUJAH! WE ARE DIFFERENT!
3. MARCH TO THE BEAT OF ANOTHER DRUMMERThe Church Militant will never prevail so long as we are marching to the sensual, carnal, beat of the night-club. Our music should be as distinct from the world as the light is from night. We are children of the Light!
Why is it that Churches don’t want to look like churches, sound like churches, or act like churches? Maybe it’s because their cushioned chairs are filled with people who aren’t churches.
My father used to tell the story of the little guy who gave his heart to Jesus on Sunday and went to school the next week. When his friends tried to get him to join them in doing something wrong he stood up and said, “Oh I can’t do that, I’m a church!
You know the word “Church” means “called out ones.” The reason so many don’t want to look, and sound, and act “called out,” is because they have not been “called out!”
Whoever it was that convinced us that to gain adherents, and to advance the cause of holiness and righteousness, we needed to look and sound like the world, has surely made a mockery of the professing Church. Compromise with the world and the flesh and the devil never has, and never will grow the Church.
4. ENGAGE THE ENEMY TOGETHER!
In his soon to be released book, WHAT IS IT LIKE TO GO TO WAR,” award winning Marine Karl Marlantes writes of the transcendent force of “WE” on the battlefield. He wrote of a key battle fought on a hill in Vietnam. Under fierce assault from the North Vietnamese, Lieutenant Marlantes and his forces called for a helicopter to assist. The chopper crashed in a hail of enemy fire. He writes,
As I read the account a rush of emotion flooded my heart. I couldn’t help but think how great it would be if the Church Militant could act so today. In His High Priestly prayer Jesus prayed for us, “Sanctify them…I in them, and thou in me that they, that they may be made perfect in one.” (John 17:17ff).
“Knowing for sure that the chopper crew were dead for sure if we didn’t break through to them, we simply rushed forward to reach them before the NVA [North Vietnamese Army] killed them. No one gave an order. We, the group, just rushed forward all at once. We couldn’t be stopped. Just individuals among us were stopped. Many forever. But we couldn’t be. This too, is a form of transcendence. I was we, no longer me.”
If the “I” of self-interest, self-promotion, and self-will, would be sanctified out of our hearts—If we would abandon our plans, our ambitions, our wishes, for the cause of Christ—then we would unleash a purifying, and sanctifying force like no other known to man.
5. FINALLY, PROTECT THE FLAG AT ANY AND ALL COSTS
For generations Americans have been inspired by the photograph of American marines raising Old Glory at Iwo Jima. Warriors know that when the flag is raised, it is a declaration of victory for all to see. This territory has been won.
Too often the only flag the professing Church has been raising is the white flag of surrender. We have surrendered our faith in the infallible inspired Word of God. We have surrendered our Lord’s teaching on the permanence of marriage—“For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife,…what therefore God has joined together let not man put asunder.” (Mark 10:7ff). We have surrendered up heart holiness. We have surrendered up the holy life.
Surrender has left us powerless, purposeless, and people-less!
It is high time that the Church Militant rise up to champion the cause of Christ! It is time that the Church militant face the enemy squarely, and boldly stand for righteousness and holiness.
The Apostle Paul gave his son in the Gospel “A Charge to Keep!” “War a good warfare!” he urged. Let the Church be the Church! If we will, We have Christ’s promise, “The gates of Hell will not prevail against us.”
A charge to keep I have,
A God to glorify,A never-dying soul to save,
And fit it for the sky.
To serve the present age,
My calling to fulfill:
O may it all my powers engage
To do my Master’s will!
Arm me with jealous care,
As in Thy sight to live;
And O Thy servant, Lord, prepare
A strict account to give!
Help me to watch and pray,
And on Thyself rely,
Assured, if I my trust betray,
I shall for ever die.