By Tom Wacaster
There is no doubt that our battle is a spiritual battle: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh (for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds), casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ; and being in readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience shall be made full” (2 Cor. 10:3-6). It seems, however, that we cannot divorce our spiritual battle from the arena in which God has called us to war the good warfare of faith. That battlefield is the world. “Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). The front line of battle is Main St. USA, as well as every hamlet and village in the remote parts of this world. But the front line is also the citadels where the philosophies of the “old man, Adam” are ingrained in the minds of impressionable youth. From Washington, to every country road in America, the battle is waged between God’s people and the agents of Satan every single day. Keep in mind that when the devil could not defeat God in those spiritual realms, “the great dragon was cast down, the old serpent, he that is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world; he was cast down to the earth, and his angels were cast down with him” (Rev. 12:9). When a preacher (or anyone for that matter) addresses social and moral issues of his day it does not mean that he has stepped out of the area wherein we have been called to engage the spiritual battle. When the terrorists attacked our country in 2001 it was the intention of our governmental authorities to take the battle to the stronghold of the enemy rather than wait for the enemy to come to us. We do the same when we address the inconsistencies of all who would oppose the principles of truth that God would have all men to know and apply to their lives. While our battle might occasionally cross paths with the philosophical and moral inequities of the world in which we live, we dare not forget that we are citizens of a greater kingdom than that which any mortal man, or group of men, might be able to design and establish. This includes the United States of America. The one thing that makes the United States so unique in all the annals of history is found in the desire of our founding fathers to be guided by the realization that God had blessed their endeavor and to do all within their power to assure the citizens of this great nation that every man, woman, and child would be free to seek God and to worship Him accordingly. This demands freedom from tyranny, and the absence of the intrusion of government into the lives of the citizens. In short, they knew that it is the people who should rule over the government, and not the other way around. It is sad that the direction of this country is on a course away from God, rather than seeking to be guided by His divine laws. Meanwhile, every child of God should keep in mind that his or her loyalty is NOT to a physical kingdom, but to the kingdom of our Lord Who is King of kings, and Lord of lords (1 Tim. 6:15).
I stand ready to give my life for the cause of my Master. If that means I must be persecuted at the hands of a tyrannical government, then so be it. I will, however, use every legitimate and Biblically authorized avenue to assure my freedom to worship God as I should, and to provide the greatest opportunities for the free run of the gospel. Since my government gives me the freedom of speech, and freedom of the press, I will do what I can to promote the gospel through that free speech, and I will also use the legal avenues available to protect this right. If this means I must openly oppose government leaders who seek to remove those rights, then I will do so; not for the sake of opposing government leaders, but for the purpose of assuring the furtherance of the Kingdom of Christ upon this earth. Should our freedoms be taken from us, I will not take up arms to oppose a change in government; such is not my battle. But while I have the legal right to oppose those who might, by their wicked and evil schemes, seek to destroy those legal rights, I will then “appeal to Caesar” for my personal protection and freedom to preach the gospel of our Lord.
It has been correctly noted that we are “in” this world, but we are not “of” this world. There is a marked distinction between the society in which we live and the kingdom wherein is our greater citizenship. But keep this in mind. In building up the Kingdom of God it becomes necessary on occasions to battle the world’s ideology for the sake of truth. Keep in mind that Paul said our warfare includes “casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God.” It seems to me that the liberal and corrupt element in our society are a part of those “high things” that have exalted themselves against the knowledge of God, and as such, we are compelled to speak out, not to promote the Constitution of the United States, but to promote the Constitution of our King and His glorious kingdom.
The battle rages, and the Captain of our army encourages us to stand in the gap, to “put on the whole armor of God...and having done all, to stand” (Eph. 6:13). A recent bulletin reported that the Episcopalian church is on the verge of allowing homosexuals into their pulpits. Another bulletin reports that the Catholic church is about to capitulate on this same moral issue. Meanwhile, toleration is in, opposition is out, and it is apparent that some of our brethren are about to succumb to the same kind of “pluralistic” thinking that is sweeping our society. “Judge not that ye be not judged” has become the battle cry for those weak of spirit. Controversy is no longer politically correct, whether it be in the political or the religious realm. I, for one, am grateful that neither Jesus, nor His apostles, ever adapted such a philosophy in order to promote and promulgate the “faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Had the restorationist pioneers held to the same attitude toward religious division and error as some of our brethren do today, they would never have gotten to first base in bringing about a restoration of the ancient order of things. J.S. Lamar wrote the following approximately 30 years after the death of Alexander Campbell. I share it with our readers for no other reason than to show that firm conviction and a stalwart stand for the truth is the only way by which the citadels of error will ever be torn down and the truth of God exalted. Here is what brother Lamar wrote: “Every party had made its own creed, and set forth its conception of Christianity in a form chosen by itself. Every builder had erected a structure in accordance with his own architectural ideas and designs; and the results were satisfactory to the builders and really, for human structures, very good. It was while resting in fancied security in these corrupted and beautiful temples, the product of their skill and the pride of their hearts, that Alexander Campbell, as with the voice of God’s thunder and the sword of God’s Spirit, broke upon them, and aroused them to a sense of their danger. Now, if instead of thus assaulting them, he had been content to accept their guage [sic], and to meet them on their own chosen ground, both the conflict and the result had been different. They were fully prepared to contest the question of comparative merit; and if the issue had been, for example, whether the English church was better or worse than the German; whether the Methodist had more or less truth than the Presbyterian; whether the creed, the doctrines, the practices, of any given sect, approximated in more respects than those of some others to the apostolic model and teaching - in such case the conflict would have been most welcome. But Mr. Campbell did not condescend to engage in any such useless strife. The peculiarities of sects and their varying degrees of excellency were treated only as side-issues and incidents, while with ponderous and pounding logic he battered upon the very basis of sectarianism - contending that, whether they had more of the truth or less, they were still wrong, fundamentally wrong, wrong in being sects, wrong in not being what Christ had founded, while yet assuming to occupy the place, to command respect, and to wield the authority of the divine institution. And now the fight was on. It was Alexander Campbell against the whole sectarian world - and all this world combining to resist him.”
Thank God for such men as Mr. Campbell, “Raccoon” John Smith, Barton W. Stone, and a host of courageous men who refused to bow to the “pluralistic” mind set that so dominates our world, yea even our own brotherhood, at this very hour. It is readily admitted that when we take a stand on the side of truth, that we will be criticized. But at least we know we stand with good company, “for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you” (Matt. 5:12b). And should it be our lot to stand alone, or at best with the minority, and should the host of the armies of darkness assail us, we can be assured that in the final analysis, when all has been said and done, and we stand before the Captain of our army, we will hear the sweet words, “Enter thou into the joys prepared for you.” It will have been a well fought battle, and the victory shall be ours to enjoy for all eternity. “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58).