Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 26)
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!’ And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: ‘Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.” Isaiah 6:1-5
In our last post, we asked seven questions about the spiritual battle Christians find themselves fighting every day.
- 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?
We answered the first question. Now let’s look at the second: what is at stake in this spiritual battle?
Christianity is not a game. It’s not a social event. It’s not even ‘up’ for discussion. It’s a war. The sooner every one of us understands that, the sooner being Christian makes sense.
“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
If we’re reading our Bibles and attending a Bible-teaching church, we should have heard someone quote from Ephesians 6 about ‘spiritual warfare’. However, have you considered what’s at stake in this battle? If you’ve looked at the back of the Bible, you know that God wins it all. So, what’s at stake is not whether God wins or not. Nothing Christians do or don’t do on earth will affect God’s victory over Satan, sin and death. So, why is what we do here of any consequence to the end game? What does it matter whether we participate in spiritual warfare or not?
The short answer is that God commands it. If you have spent any time serving in the military, you know that people who have a higher rank than you rarely ‘ask’ you to do something. They ‘order’ you to do it and if you know what’s good for your future, you do it (as long as it’s not illegal).
When Isaiah saw God sitting on His throne in Heaven, “high and lifted up,” with the train of His robe filling the Heavenly Temple, saw the angels covering their faces and crying out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory,” and saw the posts of the Heavenly door shaken and the house filled with smoke, Isaiah said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.”
When I read stories today about people who claim to have seen Heaven, it’s obvious that they did not see the Heaven written about in the Bible. Anyone who sees God’s Heaven is going to see the Holy God on His Throne and hundreds of thousands of angels praising His Name and singing about His holiness. They’ll also see Heavenly elders casting their crowns toward God and crying out that He is worthy to receive glory and honor and power because He created all things and sustains all things by His will. They would also cry out like Isaiah about being people of ‘unclean lips.’ When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians about seeing Heaven, he said that he heard inexpressible words “which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” (2 Corinthians 12:4)
What’s At Stake?
Let me propose the idea that one important thing at stake in spiritual warfare is God’s reputation on earth. Notice that I did not say God’s reputation in Heaven. There is nothing Satan and his ‘principalities and powers’ can do to God’s reputation in Heaven. Nothing. However, there is much Satan and his demons can do to the ‘perception’ of God’s reputation on earth and that is a big part of what’s at stake in our war “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
Jesus began His special prayer for disciples with these words – “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) It is the desire of God the Son that the ‘will’ of God the Father be done on earth in the same way it is done in Heaven. We’ve already seen that the way God’s will is done in Heaven is absolute obedience. Jesus wants His Father’s will to be done here on earth in the same way – absolute obedience. Anything less than that is a challenge to God’s reputation as God.
We don’t have to leave our homes to know that God’s will on earth is not being done in the same way it’s being done in Heaven. In fact, we don’t have to look at anyone except ourselves to see that His will is not being done here in the same way we will one day do His will in Heaven. Think about that for a minute. The day is coming when you and I will stand before God in Heaven and do whatever He asks us to do. No questions. No hesitations. No discussing alternatives. We will obey God willingly, gladly and absolutely. Agree? Okay, then why won’t we do that now? Yes, I know about sin and human nature, but isn’t that just an excuse of convenience?
I know it is because I use that excuse for not doing God’s will on earth as I would if I was in Heaven. Sin and human nature is a factor, but what did Paul tell us about the flesh and spiritual warfare?
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-6
Sounds great! But how do we do that? How do we walk in the flesh but not war according to the flesh? Paul gets specific in Ephesians 6.
“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
Why should we fight so hard in this spiritual war? Because of what’s at stake. What’s at stake? God’s reputation on earth. Why? Because God has chosen to use us as His ambassadors, “as though God were pleading through us.” (2 Corinthians 5:20) Christians ‘represent’ God on earth. We speak for Him and touch lives for Him. God could have chosen to do things differently, but He chose to use us. The good news is that God chose to use us. The bad news is that God chose to use us.
The office of ambassador is very important because that’s how people of another country know about your leader. If you’re kind and generous, they think of your leader as kind and generous. If you’re mean and stingy, they think of your leader as mean and stingy. The conduct of an ambassador is so important to the reputation of a country’s leader that ambassadors are often recalled because of their actions and attitudes.
So, how are we doing? What kind of ambassadors are we? Should God promote us or recall us? If you want to know more about what God thinks of how His ‘ambassadors’ are doing, check out the letters Jesus dictated to seven churches in the 1st century – Revelation chapters 2 & 3.
Next time in our series about Evangelistic Apologetics, we ask the question – “Are you really involved in fighting in this spiritual battle?”
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”