Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 25)
If teachers are teaching and preachers are preaching the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27), no Christian should wonder why the Church is under attack. It’s not a secret. God is not trying to hide from us that the Church is under attack. In fact, God has made it abundantly clear in His Word that Satan is His enemy and our enemy and is attacking us continually using a sophisticated system of spiritual forces working at many levels of life on this planet and in this universe.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:10-13
Ephesians 6:10-18 is often referred to as “spiritual warfare” and that’s not a bad name for what is occurring in the spiritual realms. We may think our enemies stand before us in flesh and blood, but the real enemies live in the spirit world. That’s why God tells us to use “spiritual” weapons to battle with these spiritual beings. A primary weapon we have available to us as Christian warriors is Evangelistic Apologetics.
“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:14-18
Before you say, ‘I’ve heard this before,’ let me ask you seven questions:
- Why has God placed ‘you’ in this spiritual battle?
- What’s at stake in this spiritual battle?
- Are you really involved in fighting in this spiritual battle?
- If not, why not?
- If so, how is the battle going for you?
- What part does Evangelistic Apologetics play in this spiritual battle?
- What part are you playing in Evangelistic Apologetics?
In reading Ephesians Chapter 3 we learn that God made known to Paul “the mystery,” which Paul mentioned earlier in his letter (Ephesians 1:8-12). The mystery described there is “the mystery of His will … that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.” Paul expands on the ‘mystery’ theme in Chapter 3.
“For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles— if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.” Ephesians 3:1-7
This is not the first time Paul told the Ephesians about the mystery of the Gentiles being fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the Gospel.
“Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.” Ephesians 2:11-18
At the beginning of Israel’s journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, God made clear the differences between Israel and all other nations. “And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘This is the ordinance of the Passover: No foreigner shall eat it’ (Exodus 12:43). However, God did make a way for gentiles to participate in the Passover and that was through circumcision: “But every man’s servant who is bought for money, when you have circumcised him, then he may eat it” (Exodus 12:44). In fact, God went a step further: “And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it. One law shall be for the native-born and for the stranger who dwells among you” (Exodus 12:48-49).
That is not a mystery. Anyone who read the Torah knew how gentiles could participate in worshiping God. Circumcision was something God instituted with Abraham (Genesis 17:10). What Paul wrote about in Ephesians is something not included in the writings of Moses or the Prophets. It was a true mystery that God revealed in His time. Here’s how Paul explained that timing.
“To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.” Ephesians 3:8-13
The preaching among the Gentiles “the unsearchable riches of Christ” was hidden ‘in God’ from the beginning of the ages. Paul’s preaching among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ “to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery” was hidden ‘in God’ from the beginning of the ages. Why? “… to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.”
What you and I are involved in now is the Church, the Body of Christ – “one new man” that Jesus created from Gentile and Jews (‘thus making peace’), reconciling them both to God in His Body through the Cross, putting to death the enmity.” The intent of this ‘mystery’ is “that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.” God wants to make known to His spiritual enemies His manifold wisdom and He does that through His Church. If you are a member of the Church, the Body of Christ, then God is making known His manifold wisdom through you and other members of His Church.
Every true Christian is involved in spiritual battle with God’s enemies. The ‘intent’ of our involvement in that battle is that “now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.”
In the next part of our study about Evangelistic Apologetics we’ll look at our second question: What’s at stake in this spiritual battle?
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”