6. Local Church & Warfare
The Local Church and Warfare
- Healthy/ Biblical church if you want to make a difference. Rooted and grounded- This step cannot be skipped. Skeletal Structure/ non-negotiable aspects for a Biblical church: High view of God/ Sufficiency of Scripture/ Biblical- called leaders/ Biblical message. Church seeks the face of God. NOT Spoken about: Solid Doctrine (Soteriology). Concerned about personal holiness.
- The Internal organs: Fruit of the Spirit/ Love for another/ humility/ submission/ obedience/ thankfulness/ peace/ accountability/ Biblical counseling/ faithfulness…
- The Muscles: External advancing/ missions/ function in this world. The seeking to save the lost through the proclamation of the gospel.
- We are in a war- I do not have to convince you of this fact. You should feel it daily.
- Scriptures testify of it: Gen. 3 to the dragon in Rev.
- We have an enemy; A lion roaring, subtle serpent; angel of light, dragon.
- We live in a dangerous environment/ fallen world/ promises pleasure (vanity). No safe place. Called to fight/ never known a fight that was easy.
- Warfare is internal (spirit against the flesh- Gal. 5:17; 1 Pet. 2:11), External (2 Cor. 10:3-5; Eph. 6).
- Just as God choose the foolishness of preaching to call men to salvation/ to confound the wise (weak/ to shame the strong). The means in which we advance the kingdom is also seen as foolishness by the world.
- Temptation: to employ different strategies/ own tactics/ we might feel they are outdated, or the people seem to not respond/ pragmatism.
- Many talk about them, yet they don’t employ them in the local church. Hide them in plain sight. Equipping the people with pillows to fight a life or death war.
- WORSE: Their theology removes the gift that they are given.
- What are these weapons of warfare in this life for the Christian? Look at the four main ones- other aspects involved clearly: Word of God, Prayer, Sacrificial love, and enduring hardship. You have been given all you need, in Christ- when you were given the HS.
WORD OF GOD- Missions is not primarily about planting churches. I’m very concerned when I hear people speak about being a church planter/ or the goal is planting church.
- Missions is not about the missionary. It is about truth. It is about taking the Word of God, and preaching the truth of Jesus Christ. The effect of this will be churches planted, or you being beaten and thrown out of the town.
- Book of Acts: Many great things done by men, famous, familiar. Focus not on men
- Church found spreading; not primarily about history of church. Primarily: Word of God; spreading; conquering. Shows Sufficiency/ Power of God’s Word (facing opposition) Wins
- Men can be thrown into prison, beaten, or walk among the heathen who sacrifice bulls to Greek gods, or philosophers and yet men are saved and the church gathered.
- Shows impact of the Word of Christ in a dark world. Conquering in impossible places. Tearing down strongholds, uniting barbarian, Greeks, Jews. Taking men captive all the way to the capital of Rome, infiltrating the very household of Caesar. This is why Luke stops recording, and doesn’t record Paul’s death- the Word sent to the capital. (From small town of Nazareth to the capital of the known world).
- It reminds us of the importance of knowing truth/ having a solid doctrine/ understanding the Biblical message from the OT to the NT/ Having a correct hermeneutic.
- This is the call of every believer, not just the pastor.
- The point of the spear in our weapons that the Lord has given is the Word of God.
- Eph. 6 calls it the Sword of The Spirit. Acts 2:37 Peter preaching Pentecost (pierced to the heart)- cry out “What shall we do?” – Other it pierced, and they lash out in anger.
- Heb. 4:12: Word of God is living, active, “and sharper than any two edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
- Unfortunately: Jer. 23:25-32: describes what we see today. Jeremiah rebuking the false prophets (men who dream dreams, speak from their own heart, and who steal His words from one another). Experiences- words that people want to hear – People are intrigued when you say “the Lord spoke to me”
- V. 28 “but let him who has My word speak My word in truth. What does straw have in common with grain?” declares the LORD. 29 “Is not My word like fire?” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer which shatters a rock?”
- There is a straw, and there is a grain. Straw gives the appearance of something good, but cannot provide nourishment- Grain has sustenance. Trading powerful words for feeble.
- The charge: “Speak MY WORD in truth”- His word is like fire, and a Hammer-
- You can see the comparison. The Word of God is powerful. Hammer: used for tearing down, and building up. Shatters the rocks of men’s hearts. Fire: Igniting both the reality of judgment, burning up the false ideas- and putting a zeal in the heart.
- The primary weapon of the war is the Word of God. Importance of knowing it/ standing on it/ relying on it. The Word also nourishes those who believe.
- Word is also pictured in the Scriptures as HONEY (Ps. 119:10, Ps. 9:10), MEAT (Heb. 5:13-14), MILK (1 Pet. 2:2), LIGHT (Ps. 119:105), WATER (Eph. 5:26).
- It is powerful in the tearing down of strongholds, yet it nourishes the believer, cleanses the believer, and provides him guidance. It is a might weapon of warfare.
- Eph. 6:18: “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,” Tied to armor of God-
- Paul wants the solider to pray.
- Great mystery to prayer: ditches all around-- unhealthy view of Sovereignty of God, does not change anything, lack of prayer. Unhealthy view of man: My faith is more important that the Lord’s will. You can force God to answer you. High view of man/ faith.
- Must have a balance: High view of God, Scriptural view of prayer. Approach with reverence, yet with boldness as commanded- knowing that God works through the prayers of His people. We pour our heart out before Him, in the correct way- LORD’s PRAYER.
- Weapon of War: Paul calls that at all-times, with all types of prayers, be in constant prayer.
- Every type of prayer, we should take advantage of: See the Psalms: Crying out, begging, pleading, complaining, imploring- AT ALL TIMES: Morning/ evening- heights and depths/ with tears and praises/ in victory and defeat/ all seasons/ city or country/ rich or poor- for all men, in every situation.
- Qualification: “pray at all times in the Spirit” This changes it all. I could pray, cry out in tears, plead- at all times of the night for myself and for others, and yet it not be effective.
- “in the Spirit”- according to his revealed will (His WORD), in the name of Christ, in unity with the Spirit.
- James 5:16-18: Example of praying according to His will. Emphasis usually falls: righteous man (nature like ours), pray earnestly. Those are true. He prayed for no rain? What happens when it doesn’t rain?
- Why? Duet. 28- God would withhold the rain if they turned.
- Elijah: saw the nation’s sin; Knew God’s Word; greatest good for people was repentance; prayed accordingly; even though death would follow; out of love and the people’s good
- Made it effective, even if it grieved him. The people repent (killing Baal prophets), rain.
- In fact, prayer is applied to the rest of the armor. It is the state which the solider moves- it is how he applies the armor to begin with. He girds his loins with truth through prayer, the shield of faith is held by prayer. If he is not praying, he des not have on the armor.
- Paul concludes “be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints”
- “Alert” – 4 Times in NT. Twice by Lord. Both times: Associated w/ “life & death” kind prayer
- Literally: sleepless/ lie awake. There is great danger- be on the alert- PRAY.
- Not easy- it is a fight. We walk by faith and not by feeling.
- We must take advantage of this weapon. Things change: from within, and without. I have seen wombs opened, and the Lord move in ways that many would never believe.
- We advance through prayer. Humble dependence in the Lord/ desperation for Him to help.
John 13: Upper room/ public ministry is over/ one night to express his final instruction and love to his disciples.
- At the beginning of this night, the disciples were arguing about who is the greatest (Luke 24). Christ rebukes them and tells them that it is not that way in the kingdom of God. The greatest must become the least, the leader the servant-
- Then in John 13 Christ stands and removes his outer garment, girds himself with towel. As a servant, He washes the feet. The Greatest in heaven and Earth washes their feet. Servant of servants.
- Even washing the feet of the man who would betray Him. This was shocking. So much so, Peter refuses to let Him. This was shocking.
- Several reasons we are given for this act:
1) Picture of what He was about to do: He was about to wash them- their sins away.
2) v. 15: He gives them an example of greatest in the kingdom. Example of sacrificial love. Not only would He lay down His life, but HE was giving them an example to follow.
- V. 35: “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
- Paul could write Timothy in 1 Tim 1:5, That the goal of his instruction is love, from a good heart, and clear conscience, and a sincere faith. The goal was not education/ a new building/ not a large church- but it was to form love in them- true, pure, and sincere love that comes from each part of them.
- Why? He knew that if he could speak with the tongues of angels, had all gifts of prophecy, had faith that could move mountains, sells all his possessions and gives to the poor, even gives his body to be burned- YET, does not have love- it is nothing (1 Cor. 13).
- He explains that love is superior to all of this things.
- Greatness in this world is measured by men who conquer and lead- men who work themselves up to the top of the pyramid and have people serve them. Greatness in the Kingdom of God is working your way down to the bottom and serving as many as possible.
- We conquer by love. Love towards God, and love towards our neighbor. Laying down our lives in sacrifice, and taking up our cross.
- Not walking the way of the world- but rather in love. One of the great weapons of our warfare is a sacrificial love.
- Many men pray for great things- but we must pray for the greatest; love.
- It is a love that baffles this world. Polycarp was a disciple of John- it is said that when the soldiers came to get him, he made them breakfast and prayed. It is said that this act led some to Christ and others to tears as they led him away to be burned.
- Prov. 25:21-22: “If your enemy is hungry, give Him food- thirsty, give him water to drink- For you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.”
- It is a sacrificial love that testifies that we belong to Him.
- Philippines EXAMPLE OF SACRIFICAL LOVE.
-This can be seen in the life of Christ, and Paul can say that it is the love of Christ that controls him (2 Cor. 5). It can be seen in the life of Paul, who gave everything to benefit the Body of Christ. This is how they will know that we are his disciples, by our love for one another.
- Many do not think of this as a weapon of our warfare. But I think it is.
- 2 Tim 2:3-4: “Suffer hardship with me, as a good solider of Jesus Christ” Notice the connection- suffering and being a solider in the fight.
- 2 Tim. 3:12: “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” There is an undeniable reality for any solider, and for any warfare- there will be suffering. If we are going to advance the kingdom in this world, there will be suffering.
- We live in a fallen world, we fight against a very real enemy- If we a Christian that is faithful, we will draw the eye of the enemy, and we will draw the eye of the world.
- Men who love darkness will hate the light.
- However, God uses this suffering to His advantage. Uses it to advance the gospel. Like a refiners’ fire, it burns away the dross from within. It teaches the believer that He has only one true hope, and that is in Christ. It causes him to exercise his faith, building strength in the Lord.
- Rom. 5:3: - Tribulations bring perseverance-> proven character -> hope, which does not disappoint. God takes that of the enemy, the resistance of the world, and uses it to benefit his child. He advances the kingdom in his heart. Creates a thirst for the heavenly/ free from sin.
- Suffering not only aids the believer- but it helps the church:
1) It weeds out those who are not true. MODI ELECTION.
- Do you remember the parable of the sower? Matt. 13:20-21. The seed that fell among the rocky soil. A person who receives it with joy. They give the impression that they are a believer, but WHEN affliction comes they fall away- showing they were not believers.
- The Lord uses it reveal the heart of man, and to expose the false.
2) Testifies to the world of the truth of our testimony.
1 Thess. 2:1-2: “you yourselves know”- this word “know” means to acknowledge with your own eyes. To see. It is not hearsay.
- V. 2, “but after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness to speak to you the Gospel…” How do they “know” (same word, to know by seeing) they suffered in Philippi? They were not there!
- They could see through the marks on their body. They were battered, beaten, limping, probably with bruises on their wrists.
- Yet, Paul points to this to show that they do not speak to please men- they speak the truth. They didn’t come with flattering speech- they came broken and beaten. Drawing wonder…
- What they had to offer was Christ- it is love that brings them.
John Piper tells a story about a man in Africa….
- The advancing of the truth is done through men. It is following the example of Christ/ following the example of men like the Apostle Paul.
- This war is a spiritual war, and it is fought with might weapons of war. We have been equipped. We fight with the Word of God, in a desperate dependence in prayer, through a heart of sacrificial love, enduring suffering when it comes to us.