Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: August 2008

Friday, August 8, 2008

We Have Lost the Meaning of Militancy

“Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.” (Charles Haddon Spurgeon)

I once was in a discussion with a prominent leader within fundamental Baptist circles regarding the constant battle necessary to maintain, defend, and contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. In that discussion, this individual said to me, “I am tired of fighting all the time.” I told him point blank, “When you get tired of the fight for the faith, it is time to get re-tired (revived) or to retire.” Instead, I watched this man begin to lead hundreds of individuals under his leadership into increasing degrees of compromise in the abandonment of Biblical militancy.

Recently, I had a young man training to be a pastor at one of our well know fundamental, Baptist colleges engage me in conversation. Although I was 40 plus years his senior, he chose to engage me and question me while showing me very little respect for my four decades of ministry experience. In fact, much of what he said was in sharp contradistinction to independent, Baptist Fundamentalism. He proudly spoke of himself as a New Fundamentalist and a Young Fundamentalist. Two of his dominant talking points quickly surfaced:

1. The need for cultural relevancy

2. The need to abandon militancy

What this young man failed to take into account, due to his ignorance of the history of both true fundamentalism and its militancy due to his lack of spiritual maturity and lack of ministry experience, was that these two talking points were the same two talking points that gave birth to New Evangelicalism. Therefore, what he did not realize was that he was not part of a New Fundamentalism at all. He was merely part of New Wave New-Evangelicalism. What he failed to realize was that the original New Evangelism had moved so far inland and away from its original beginnings, that he was just a New Wave of old New Evangelicalism. He came into existence because the generations of fundamentalist before him had lost there willingness to fight the good fight and had surrendered to a kinder, gentler Fundamentalism. Fundamentalism had evolved into at least three or four degrees while still being able to consider one’s self a Fundamentalist even if you held to many varying degrees of ecclesiastical separation, any of a number of Creation Theories, or any one of a number of positions on inspiration of the Scriptures and/or the preservation of those inspired Words.

In ancient times, when an army went forth into battle, each division marched under a banner that identified them to the Field General on the high ground and to the other divisions they fought with. As a charge was initiated, the person carrying the Division Banner would lead that division where they were directed to fight. Each member of the division had standing orders that if the person carrying the banner fell (wounded or killed) the nearest person would pick up that banner and lead on.

When we get right down to the nitty-gritty of it all, there really isn’t “anything new under the Sun.” We are struggling with the same issues Adam struggled with and all those after him. At the time of the writing of the New Testament epistles, Paul was fighting with the same issues and struggles. In his second epistle to Timothy, Paul is directing Timothy (his son in the faith) to pick up the banner that Paul was about to lay down (due to his pending martyr’s death). In doing so, Paul is directing Timothy to fight on with the same battle plan he had been given by the Lord Jesus Christ. With that historical backdrop, read II Timothy 2:1-4 and 4:1-8. Notice the militant language in Paul’s letters to Timothy.

1 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. 3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 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” (II Timothy 2:1-4).

1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. 6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (II Timothy 4:1-8).

The spiritual battle all Christians are to be involved in is the battle for the salvation of souls and rescued lives. The primary “weapons of our warfare are not carnal” (II Cor. 10:4) are the Word of God and a holy, Spirit filled life (Rom. 6:11-13; the word “instruments” is from the Greek word hoplon and refers to an offensive weapon of war). Fundamental Christianity is simply defined as a spiritual struggle, consistently and constantly fought on two spiritual battlefronts.

“For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears” (II Corinthians 7:5).

Those two battlefronts are from “without” and from “within.” From “without” come the external struggles for truth and the temptations that allure the believer into sin and seduce him into spiritual adultery and/or doctrinal compromise breaking his “fellowship” with God and breaching the enabling of the Spirit of God.

From “within” come both the lusts of the flesh that want the things we are tempted with and the carnal emotions of a fallen nature that struggles with the issues of the heart such as pride, fear, worry, envy, hatred, manipulation, bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness again breaking his “fellowship” with God and breaching the enabling of the Spirit of God..

The ongoing warfare of a militant Christianity is against these forces of wickedness from satanic external influences and the carnal enmity of our own fallen natures against all that is godly, true, honest, and above reproach. This struggle of militant Christian warfare is a struggle for our own integrity before God so that His power that resides within us might be loosed upon the world through the testimonies of our lives.

Dr. Fred Moritz in a workshop entitled “Stand For Fundamentalism . . . And Against Attempts to Change It” lists five traits that Non-Fundamentalists commonly identify with Fundamentalism (as quoted below).

1. An emphasis on inspiration, infallibility, inerrancy, and authority of the Bible

2. An opposition to modernism

3. Emphasis on separation

4. Opposition to sin and cultural decay

5. A militant spirit

In order to understand why militancy is necessary to true Biblical Christianity, we must first define why it is a fundamental aspect of Christianity. (Fundamental Christianity is defined by the fundamental truths that define New Testament Christianity, not by a list of Major doctrines.) There is no aspect of true Christianity that is not opposed by the continuous onslaught of the forces of evil. Yes, “greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world,” yet the battle of the Ages wages on and there are real, eternal casualties.

William Ward Ayer, in a speech to the National Association of Evangelicals in April 1956 (as quoted in Louis Gasper’s book, The Fundamentalist Movement (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1981 reprint) gives an excellent definition of Fundamentalism:

“Fundamentalism represents a resurgence of ancient practices, which began not with Martin Luther but at Pentecost. Fundamentalism is apostolic, and the doctrine of justification goes back to Paul. That branch from which the fundamentalist movement sprang lived obscurely through the ages and had never been completely silenced even in the Dark Ages . . . What fundamentalism did was awaken the slumbering apostolicism from lethargy.”

If we accept this definition (and I do), Fundamentalism is about maintaining and defending the historic, apostolic, New Testament Christianity. Fundamental, New Testament Christianity is steeped in terms of militancy. Therefore, if we believe the Bible is authored by God (and not men), we must believe that God purposely chose militant terms to both describe and define the warfare of New Testament Christianity.

11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses” (I Timothy 6:11-12).

There is a movement, whether acknowledged or not, in modern Bible believing Christianity (fundamentalism) to move away from its historic militancy. I believe this to be the result of theological reactionism to the obnoxious, mean spirited and unloving attitude displayed by many professing fundamentalist of the past. (This is a just criticism of Fundamentalism, but it is not a justifiable reason for abandoning it.)

Secondly, I believe the movement away from a militant Fundamentalism is due to our natural tendency for self protection and our desire for sociological acceptance. (Fundamentalism has been denigrated by our society. It is easier to disassociate ourselves with this negativity by trying to redefine ourselves than it is to define and defend historic, militant Christianity.)

In the last 30 years, I have watched the development of a pacifist Christianity that has not only lost the concept of the fight for the faith and against worldliness; they have adopted a neo-neutralism (Positivism) towards the enemies of Christianity and towards the carnal influences and advances of this world. The Bible has a consistent warning to the pacifist Christian. That warning is simple; Satan destroys the lives of his captives. A Christian cannot be neutral, he cannot surrender and he cannot make peace with the forces of evil. Their goal is annihilation. Let down your guard for a moment and they will take your head off.

What many Christians consider neutralism, God considers surrender and treason.

34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. 37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. 39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:34-39).

To take up the Cross of Christ is military terminology defining the essence of the Christian faith. The Cross of Jesus Christ is the banner under which the soldiers of the Cross fight. Therefore, the very nature of this symbolism identifies Christianity as militant.

For some reason, many Christians have decided to be at peace with the Satanic world system Christ is at war against. For some reason, many Christians have redefined Christianity from a militant warfare with real casualties to playground mentality where they think they can be weekend warriors who draw their blessings but never need to take any real risks.

Even though we may not have realized it, when we accepted God’s gift of salvation and became a child of God by rebirth, we were joined with the family of God in a fight against the forces of evil for the lost souls of all of mankind. It is not a game we play. The stakes are far too high. We cannot be at peace with those who are at war with Christ (Matthew 10:37).

1. To take Christ’s side is to take truth’s side.

2. To take truth’s side is to take the side of righteousness.

3. To take the side of righteousness is to take the side of “Light” against “darkness.”

4. To “take up the Cross” is a proclamation of spiritual militancy against anything contrary to the truth it stands for with a willingness to die for that purpose.

Central to the revival of a local Church is the return to a militant Christianity.

The struggle of the Church militant is both a struggle to maintain truth and a struggle for the lives and souls of people. Why did God choose to give us the words of Paul to Timothy in II Timothy 2:1-4? Paul understood the overwhelming responsibility of the transfer of doctrinal truth without compromise (“the whole counsel of God”) from one generation to the next (II Timothy 2:2). Whatever truth is compromised by one generation is usually lost to the next generation. Every “jot and tittle” must be fought to be retained or that ground will be lost in the battle for the lives of the next generation.

Even if we stand for Christ throughout our lives, but fail to transmit the “whole counsel of God” to the next generation, we will not have one person to take up the banner of the Cross of Christ and fight on for proceeding generations. We can expect the Cross of Christ to become battle-scarred and torn when it is constantly carried in the battle for Truth, but it is a sad testimony to the generation that purposely removes large portions of it so it will not be such a heavy load to bear.

Many Christians are so entangled with the affairs of this world; they have little time and less desire to fight the fight of faith (II Timothy 2:4). That person will never be a militant Christian. That person will never have the time for evangelism (the fight for souls) or discipleship (the fight for lives). A real soldier of the Cross understands his purpose in life. It is not to get rich or to be famous. It is to fight the fight of faith and fight to the death if necessary.

II Timothy is the missional statement of the Church militant (II Timothy 4:1-8).

This statement is the inspired Word of God written by the hand of an old battle-scarred warrior by the name of the Apostle Paul. He was writing from a prison cell where he was waiting to be executed for being a militant Christian. Paul was passing the banner of responsibility from one generation to the next. It is the lifelong responsibility of every soldier of the Cross to pass his banner to many others in the next generation who will take up their Cross and fight on.

The non-militant, Seeker Sensitive Christianity of today seems to think the purpose of the Church is to avoid any “doctrine” that is divisive or controversial or that which contradicts the lifestyles of those they seek to reach. That is what Paul refers to by the words “ear tickling” (II Timothy 4:3).

Have you ever taken a dog or cat and scratched it behind the ears until it purred or cooed? That is the analogy here. Paul says the day will come when people will not want to hear the kind of teaching and preaching that brings conviction and confronts the sin in their lives. That generation will want to hear “fables” (II Timothy 4:4). They will want the preaching to be Uncle Ben’s story time. They want Lollypop sermons full of Puppy Dog truths. They will not want to be confronted with the absolute Words of the Absolute God Who commands absolute obedience.

Instead, the nonmilitant Seeker Sensitive Christianity wants to leave their Church services feeling good about themselves regardless of how indifferent they are to God and His absolutes. They want to be scratched behind the ears. But Truth does not tickle our ears (II Timothy 2:4). Real Truth grabs us by the ears and takes us to the woodshed.

What is the banner of the Cross? Paul reveals that to us in Acts 20:26-27.

26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:26-27).

The banner of the Cross God wants passed from one generation is “the whole counsel of God;” every “jot and every tittle,” word for word and cover to cover. Yet the banner of the Cross carries with it a spirit that must be passed along too. God gives us no greater example of that spirit than the Apostle Paul. The spirit is the willingness to fight to the death. It is the spirit of militancy. It is the spirit that says there is no sacrifice too large, no price too high, and no demand that is out of line. Christ went to the Cross for us. He wore your crown and it was a crown of thorns! What are we willing to do for Him?

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