War! War! War!
May 1, 1859
C. H. SPURGEON
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“Fight the battles of the Lord.” [1 Samuel 18:17]
We will not take these words in their literal sense, as they came from the lips of Saul, when he gave David his elder daughter, Merab, to marry; but will adapt the passage, and use it as an exhortation given to the church of Jesus Christ, and to every Soldier of Jesus: “Fight the battles of the Lord.” Although this exhortation is not found in the exact words, coming from the lips of Jesus, nevertheless the whole tenor of the Word of God says the same thing - “Fight the battles of the Lord.”
In the present crisis of our nation, the minds of men are extremely troubled with dreadful prospects of a terrible struggle. We do not know where this trouble may lead us. The signs of the times are dark and dreadful. We fear that the bowls of God’s wrath are about to be poured out, and that the earth will be flooded with blood. As long as there remains a hope, let us pray for peace, yes, even in the time of war let us still plead with the throne of God, crying, that he would “send us peace in our days.”
The war will be looked upon by different persons with different feelings. The Italian will consider, all through the controversy, his own country; the Sardinian will be looking continually to the progress or to the defeat of his own nation; while the German, having sympathy with his own race, will be continually anxious to understand the state of affairs. There is one power however, which is not represented in the assembly and which seems to be silent, because the ears of men are deaf to what it has to say. To that power all our support will be given, and our hearts will follow it with interest; and all through the war, the one question that we will ask, will be “How will that kingdom prosper?” You all know to which kingdom I refer - it is the kingdom of Jesus Christ on earth; that little one which is even at this time growing, and which is to become a multitude, which is to break into pieces all the kingdoms of earth, and to seat itself upon their ruins, proclaiming universal liberty and peace, under the banner of Jesus Christ. I am sure that we will think far more of the interests of true religion than of anything else, and our prayer will be, “O Lord, do what you will with the earthen kingdoms, but let your kingdom come, and let your will be done on earth, even as it is in heaven!”
However, while we anxiously watch the contest, it would be good if we get involved in it ourselves. Not that this nation of England should touch it; God forbid. If tyrants fight, let them fight; let free men stand at a distance. Why should England have anything to do with all the coming battles? Just as God has cut us off from Europe by a rough and stormy sea, so let us be kept apart from all the clashes and turmoils into which tyrants and their slaves may engage in. When I speak about joining in the fight, I speak about a spiritual battle; I speak to the church of Jesus Christ. I say, “Let us join in the fight; let us have something to do. We cannot be neutral; we never have been. The Lord’s army is always in hostility to sin and Satan. “My voice is still for war.” The senate of Christ’s church can never talk of peace. For thus it is written: “The Lord will be at war.”
This will bring us to our text, and here I will consider first of all, the Lord’s battles; we are not to fight our own; secondly, the Lord’s soldiers; and thirdly, the King’s command, “Fight the battles of the Lord.”
I. First, THE BATTLES OF THE LORD, what are they?
Not the uniform rolled in blood, not the noise, and smoke, and clamor of human slaughter. These may be the battles of the devil, if you please, but not the Lord’s. They may be days of God’s vengeance but their manner of war is something that the servant of Jesus can not mingle. We stand distant. Our kingdom is not of this world; or else God’s servants would fight with sword and spear. Ours is a spiritual kingdom, and the weapons of our warfare are not the weapons of the world, but spiritual, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
What are the battles of God? Let us here carefully distinguish between the battles of God, and our own.
Oh, my brothers and sisters in Christ, it is not your business to fight your own battles, not even in defense of your own character. If you are criticized and slandered, leave the slanderer alone. His cruelty will only be increased by any attempt that you make to defend yourself. As a soldier of Christ you are to fight for your Master, not for yourself. You are not to carry on a private warfare for your own honor, but all your time and all your energy is to be given to his defense and his war. You are not to speak a word in your own defense. Too often, when we get angry, and our blood pressure is stirred up, we are apt to think that we are fighting the cause of truth, when we are really maintaining our own pride. We imagine that we are defending our Master, but we are defending our own little selves. Too often the anger rises against an adversary not because his words reflect dishonor upon the glorious Christ, but because they dishonor us. Oh! let us not be so petty as to fight our own battles! Depend on it, the noblest means of conquest for a Christian in the matter of slander and lies, is to stand still and see the salvation of God. When you come to fight your own battle, put away all your own weapons and let God fight for you, and you will be more than a conqueror.
Again, we must remember that there is such a thing as fighting the battles of our own denomination, when we ought to be fighting God’s battles.
We think that we are upholding the church when we are only upholding our section of it. I would always be very sensitive to the honor of the Christian body to which I belong, but I would rather see its honor stained, than that the glory of the entire church should be diminished. Every soldier ought to love the special group in which he has enlisted, but better to see the colors of that group ripped to rags, than to see the old standard of the cross trampled in the mire. Now I trust we are ready to say of our own denomination, “Let its name perish, if Christ’s name will get more glory as a result.” If the extinction of our denomination or local church would be the result of the conquest of Christ and the promoting of his kingdom, then let it be wiped out of the record book, and do not let its name be heard any more. We should, each of us, defend the body to which we belong, for we have conscientiously joined it believing it to be the nearest to the old standard of the church of Jesus Christ, and God forbid that we should leave it for a worse group. If we find a better one, then would we sacrifice our prejudices to our convictions, but we cannot leave the old standard so long as we see it to be the very standard which floated in the hand of Paul, and which was handed down to him through several generations, through Chrysostom to Augustine, from Augustine to Calvin, and so on through the glorious race of mighty men and women who have not been ashamed of the gospel of Christ Jesus. But yet I say let our name and let our group, and let our denomination be absorbed, and let it sink, so that the battle of the Lord may be well fought, and the time of Christ’s triumph accelerated.
Now, What are these, “…battles of the Lord”?
These are battles with sin, and battles with false doctrines, and battles with war. Fight these battles Christian and you will have enough to do.
The Lord’s battle is first of all with sin.
Seek grace to fight that battle in your own heart. Endeavor by divine grace to overcome those propensities which continually push you towards iniquity. On your knees wrestle against the sins that so easily entangle you. As sinful habits appear, then endeavor to break them by the sword of strong resolution wielded by the arm of faith. Take all your lusts as they become active to the foot of the cross, and let the blood of Jesus fall on those vipers and they will die. The blood of Christ will cause the blood of sin to flow. The death of Christ will be the death of iniquity, the cross of Christ will be the crucifixion of transgression. Labor with yourselves to drive the Canaanites out of your hearts. Spare none, let no petty lust escape. Go after pride and laziness, and lust, and unbelief and you will have a battle before you which will keep you busy, and more than busy. Oh! cry to God for your strength, where your help comes from, and then fight on again, and as each sin is overcome, as each evil habit is broken, as each lust is denied then go on and search out others, and keep on destroying them, until all are subdued, then your body, soul, and spirit will be consecrated to Christ as a living sacrifice, purified by his Holy Spirit.
And while this battle is being fought, and while it is still fighting back, go out and fight with other men’s sins. Hit them first with the weapon of holy example. Be in yourself what you would want others to be. Be clean that you can hope to be the purifiers of the world; and then, having first sought the blessing of God, go out into the world and bear your witness against sin. Let your testimony be unflinching; never let a sin pass under your eye without rebuke. Utterly slay young and old; let no one escape. Speak sometimes sternly if the sinner is hardened in his sin, speak gently, if it is his first offense, seeking not to break his head but to break the head of his iniquity - not to break his bones or wound his feelings, but to cut his sin in two, and leave his iniquity dead before his eyes. Go forth where sin is the most rampant. Go down the dark alley, climb the creaking staircase; penetrate the dens of iniquity where the lion of the pit lies in his death den, and go and pluck out of the mouth of the lion-two legs and a piece of a ear, if that is all which you can save. Count it always your joy to follow the track of the lion, to confront him in his den, and fight him where he reigns most secure. Protest daily, hourly, by act, by word, by pen, by tongue, against evil of every kind and shape. Be like burning and shining lights in the midst of darkness, and as two-edged swords in the midst of the army of sin. Why, a true Christian who lives near to God, and is filled with grace and is kept holy, may stand in the midst of sinners and do wonders. What a marvelous feat that Jonah did! There was the great city of Nineveh, having in it more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who could not tell their right hand from their left, and one man went against it - Jonah - and as he approached it he began to proclaim, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be destroyed.” He entered the city - perhaps he stood aghast for a moment at the multitude of its population, at its richness and splendor, but again he lilted up his sharp shrill voice, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be destroyed.” On he went, and the crowd increased around him as he passed through each street, but they heard nothing but the solemn monotony, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be destroyed;” and yet again, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be destroyed.” And on he went, that solitary man, till he caused turmoil in the midst of the multitude, and the king on his throne robed himself in sackcloth and proclaimed a fast, a day of mourning and of sadness. Yet on he went, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be destroyed,” till all the people bowed before him, and that one man was the conqueror of the multitude. Oh! believer, if you will go out and do the same, if you will go into the streets, the roads, the highways, the houses, and into the private places of sin, and still with this continued cry against sin and iniquity, say to them, “Look to the cross and live, look to the cross and live.” Though there were only one earnest man in London who would continue that monotony of “Look to the cross and live,” from end to end this city would shake, and the great monster metropolis would be made to tremble. Go forth then, believer, and cry against sin with all your might.
And even so must we cry against error and false doctrine.
It is the preacher’s business Sunday after Sunday, and weekday after weekday, to preach the whole gospel of God and to vindicate the truth as it is in Jesus from the opposition of man. Thousands are the heresies which now plagued the church. O children of God! Fight the battles of the Lord for truth. I am astonished, and yet even more astonished when I think about it-about the lack of seriousness that there is in the Protestant Church of the present age. How do you imagine that Cardinal Wiseman pays for all his splendors, and that the Roman Catholic Church is supported? By fools and people with lazy hearts, these are those who supply much of their wealth. If the Catholic Cardinal is scheduled to preach in some church or hall, who is it that crowds the church until it is full, and even pays for admission to get in? The Protestants; and thus the Protestant Church of England pays the wages of the Pope! I am ashamed that sons of the Reformers should bow themselves before the beast, and give so much as a single penny to the shrine of the devil’s firstborn son. Be careful you Protestants, lest you be partakers of her plagues; do not touch her, lest you be defiled. Give a grain of incense to her censors, and you will be partakers of her adulteries and partakers of her plagues. Every time you pass a Roman Catholic Church call down a curse on her: For the Lord has said: - “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes. Give back to her as she has given; pay her back double for what she has done. Mix her a double portion from her own cup. Give her as much torture and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself. In her heart she boasts, ‘I sit as queen; I am not a widow, and I will never mourn.’ Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her: death, mourning and famine. She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.” - Revelation 18:4-8.
Some men’s minds are growing weaker in the battle. I hear them speaking of incorporating certain Roman Catholic beliefs into our Protestantism - and what is that but Roman Catholicism made worse than it was before, by being more despicable and deceivable than even Catholicism itself. Don’t you hear men talk of the Roman Catholics these days and say, “Oh! well, they differ a little from us.” Doesn’t the evangelical party in the Church of England seem at the present moment to embrace some of the Roman Catholic teachings? All is well with that Church when it is separated from the heretics, and a great gulf is fixed, but all that helps to bridge that gulf will mar her glory and destroy her power. We must have no truce, no treaty with Rome. War! War! War! with her! There cannot be peace. She cannot have peace with us - we cannot have peace with her. She hates the true Church, and we can only say that the hatred is reciprocated. We would not lay a hand on her priests; we would not touch a hair of their heads. Let them be free; but we will attempt to destroy their doctrine from the face of the earth because it is the doctrine of demons. O God, let the Roman Catholic Church perish, let it be consumed in the smoke.
We must fight the battles of the Lord against every error that pollutes the church. Utterly slay them; let no error escape the sword. “Fight the battles of the Lord.”
Even though it is an error that is in an Evangelical Church, yet we must destroy it. I love all those who love the Lord Jesus Christ, but, nevertheless, I cannot have any truce or any treaty with the numerous errors that have crept into the church, nor would I have you regard them with complacency. We are one in Christ; let us be friends with one another; but let us never be friends with one another’s error. If I am wrong, sternly rebuke me; I can handle it, and handle it cheerfully, and if you are wrong, expect me to do likewise, showing no peace with your errors in doctrine. Let us all be true to one another, and true to Christ; and as soon as we perceive an error, though it is only the shadow of one, let us root it out and drive it from us, lest it plague the whole body, and allow the entire fabric of the church to be affected with leprosy. No peace with sin. No peace with false doctrines. War, war, war without deliberation: war forever with error and deceit!
And yet again, it is the Christian’s duty always to have war with war. To have bitterness in our hearts against any person that lives to serve Satan.
We must speak very sternly against error, and against sin; but against men we have not a word to say, though it were the Pope himself: I have no hostility in my heart against the Pope as a man, but as a type of antichrist. As Christians we are one with men. Aren’t we every man’s brother? “From one man God made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth.” The cause of Christ is the cause of humanity. We are friends to everyone, and are enemies to no one. We do not speak evil, even of the false prophet himself; as a man, but, as a false prophet. We are his sworn opponents.
Now, Christians, you have a difficult battle to fight, because you fight with all the evil and hostility between man and man: you are to be peacemakers. Wherever you go, if you see an argument you are to try to stop it. You are to pluck the firebrands, the burning pieces of wood, out of the fire, and strive to quench them in the waters of kindness. It is your mission to bring the nations together, and weld them into one. It is your task to make man love man, to stop him from devouring his own kind. This you can only do by being the friends of goodness. Peace with error is war with man: but war with error is peace with man. Attack error, attack sin, and you have done your best to promote happiness and union among mankind. Oh, go, Christian, in the strength of the Holy Spirit, and attack your own anger - put that to death, attack your own pride - level that, and then attack every other man’s anger. Make peace wherever you can; scatter peace with both of your hands. Let this be the very air you breathe; let nothing come from your lips but words of healing, words of tenderness, words which will stop the strife of this poor troubled world. And now you have a battle before you, - a battle against sin and against error, and then, also, a battle against strife, - the battle of love.
II. And now FOR THE LORD’S SOLDIERS: who are they? Who are the ones that are to fight the battles of the Lord?
Not everybody is a soldier of the Lord. The Lord has his army, his church: who are they? The Lord’s soldiers are only those whom he personally chooses. He has chosen them out of the world; and they are not of the world, even as Christ is not of the world. But if you want to know the Lord’s soldiers, I will tell you how you can determine whether you are one of his soldiers. When the Lord Jesus enlists a soldier in his army, the first thing he does with them, is to tell them that they must first take off every rag of the old garments that they were accustomed to wear. Jesus says to them, “your rags must be relinquished; both your sins and your self-righteousness must be forsaken. Here is the uniform, here is the inner garment of my imputed righteousness, and here is the outward garment of divine sanctification. Put these on, and you are mine. But in your own clothes, I will have nothing to do with you, you will still continue to be a recipient of my wrath, and I will not enlist you among the inheritors of grace.” As soon as a person has taken off their rags, if Christ has enlisted them, then the next thing they are required to do, is to wash. They are washed, from head to foot, in a supreme bath of blood; and when washed, they are arrayed, and clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. This being done, they are taken into the midst of the army and introduced to their comrades, and they learn to love the entire army.
“Well,” says one, “I love my own rank.” Do you? Then you do not belong to the Lord’s army if you do not love the other ranks too. The true soldier of Christ wears their uniform and loves the entire army. They are faithful to their own regiment, and likes its flag - the flag that has braved so many battles; still they love the entire army, however much the colors may differ from regiment to regiment. They love them all, because they all serve the Lord Jesus Christ. “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another,” even as Christ has loved you.
Once brought into the army, there is one characteristic by which you may know a soldier of Christ, namely, that he is not his own. If you meet him, he will say, “From head to foot I belong to my Captain, every inch of me; and what is more, I have given up possessions and property, wife and children, time and talents, everything to him. I am not my own, I am bought with a price.” He is a consecrated man.
Come, then, ask these questions of yourself. Have you been washed in the blood of Christ? Do you boast in the imputed righteousness of Christ? And are you clothed with the sanctification of his Spirit? Have you given up everything for his cause, and do you love to bear his name? Are you willing to live and are you willing to die, if only you may promote the honor of Christ? Well then, if your answers are “yes,” then, you are his soldier, and therefore I will not need to draw any further lines of distinction; but go to the third point, which is -
III. THE EXHORTATION - “Fight!” “Fight the battles of the Lord.” If you are a soldier of the heavenly King; “Grab your weapons! Grab your weapons!” “Fight the battles of the Lord.”
Here I would observe that there are some people who are very fond of watching, and not fighting. Perhaps five out of every six of our church members do very little and only watch the battle. You go to see them, and you say, “Well, what is your church doing?” “Well, we bless God, we are doing a great deal; we have a Sunday school, with so many children; our minister preaches so many times a week, and so many members have been added to the churches. The sick are visited; the poor are fed and comforted.” And just then you interrupt them, and say, “Well, friend, I am glad to hear that your church is doing so much; but exactly which work is it that you do? Do you teach in the Sunday school?” “No.” “Do you preach?” “No.” “Do you visit the sick?” “No.” Do you assist in the discipline of the church?” “No.” “Do you contribute to the poor?” “No.” Then wait a minute, I thought you said you were doing so much. Step back, sir, if you please, you are doing nothing at all. Be ashamed! Your master does not say, “Watch the battles of the Lord;” but “Fight” them.
“Ah,” says one, “but then, you know, I contribute towards the support of the ministers he has to do that.” Oh! I see, you have made a mistake; you thought that you belonged to the English government, and not to Christ’s government. You have been paying for a substitute, have you? You are not going to fight in person; you are paying, to have a substitute to fight for you. Ah, you have made a great mistake here. Christ will have all his soldiers fight. Why, I am not paid to do the fighting for you: I will endeavor to encourage you to fight the battle; but as to doing your duty, no thank you. The Roman Catholic may believe that his priest does the work for him; I do not believe any such thing in my case. Christ did not serve you by proxy, and you cannot serve him by proxy. No, “he in his own self bore our sins in his own body,” and you must work for Christ in your own body, your own self, with your own heart and with your own hands. I do hate that religion which another man can do for you. Depend on it, it is good for nothing. True religion is a personal thing. O soldiers of the heavenly King, do not let your sergeants and your officers fight alone. Come on with us; we wave our swords in front. Come on comrades, come on! We are ready to mount the call. Will you desert us? Come up the ladder with us. Let us show the enemy what Christian blood can do, and at the sword’s point let us drive our foes before us. If you leave us to do everything, then we will not be able to do anything; we all need to do something; we all need to be fighting for Christ. Here, then, is the exhortation to each individual Christian - “Fight the battles of the Lord.”
And now, I will read to you the military code - the rules which Christ, the Captain of the Lord’s Army, would have you to obey in fighting his battles.
Regulation I. - NO COMMUNICATION NOR UNION WITH THE ENEMY!
“You do not belong to the world.” You are not to enter into any truce, any association, or any treaties with the enemies of Christ. “‘Come out from them and be separate,’ says the Lord. ‘Touch no unclean thing.’”
Regulation II. - NO MERCY TO BE GIVEN OR RECEIVED!
You are never to seek honor from the world, nor are you ever to give honor to the world. Do not ask it to excuse you; do not excuse it. Absolutely no negotiations with it at all. If it praises you, do not care for its praise; if it scorns you laugh in its face. Have nothing to do with its pretended friendship. Ask it for nothing; let it be crucified to you, and you to it.
Regulation III. - NO WEAPONS OR AMMUNITION TAKEN FROM THE ENEMY ARE TO BE USED BY CHRIST’S SOLDIERS, RATHER THEY ARE TO BE UTTERLY BURNED WITH FIRE!
If you defeat the enemy, and you find their guns lying on the ground, then first render the weapon inoperative and then melt them down; never fire them off: - that is to say, never fight Christ’s battles with the devil’s weapons. If your enemy gets angry do not get angry with him; if he slanders you, do not slander him. One of the devil’s long guns is slander: immobilize it and melt it; do not attempt to use it against the enemy. All kinds of bitterness - these are firebrands of death which Satan hurls against us: never hurl them back at him. Remember your Master, “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate” Never mess with the enemy’s weapons, even if you can. If you think you can crush him by his own mode of warfare, don’t do it. It was fine for David to cut off Goliath’s head with his own sword; but it would not have been good for him to try that, until he had first split his head open with a stone. Try to get a stone out of the brook of truth, and throw it with the sling of faith, but have nothing to do with Goliath’s sword; you will cut your fingers with it, and get no honor.
Regulation IV. - NO FEAR, TREMBLING, OR COWARDICE!
“The men of Ephraim, though armed with bows, turned back on the day of battle,” but Christ wants no cowards in his army. Do not be afraid. Remember, if anyone is ashamed of Christ and his words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels.” “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Regulation V. - NO SLEEPING, REST, COMFORT, OR SURRENDER!
Always be at it, at it all, constantly at it, at it with all your might. No rest. Your resting time is to come, in the grave. Always be fighting the enemy. Ask every day for grace to win a victory, and each night do not sleep unless you can feel that you have done something for the cause of Christ - have helped to carry the flag a little further into the midst of the enemy’s ranks. Oh! if we only focused on these regulations how much more might be done! But because we forget them, the cause of Christ is hindered and the victory is delayed.
And now, before we close, I would call out Christ’s soldiers, and drill them for a minute or two. I sometimes see the captains marching their soldiers back and forth, and you may laugh and say that they are doing nothing; but note this, all that maneuvering, that forming into squares, and so forth, has its practical effect when they come into the field of battle. Allow me, then, to put the Christian through his postures and positions.
The first posture the Christian ought to take, and in which he ought to be very well practiced, is this. DOWN ON BOTH KNEES, HANDS UP, AND EYES LIFTED UP TO HEAVEN!
There is no posture quite like that. It is called the posture of prayer. When Christ’s church has been beaten in every possible way, and it has finally gone down on its knees, then, and only then, did the whole army of the enemy flee before us, for on its knees Christ’s church is more than a conqueror. The praying army is a army of heroes. He who understands this posture has learned the first part of the heavenly drill.
The next posture is: FEET FIRM, HANDS STILL, AND EYES LIFTED UP!
This is a difficult posture even though it looks very easy. “Stand still and see the salvation of God.” I have known many Christians who could practice the first position but who could not practice the second. Perhaps that was the hardest thing that the children of Israel ever did. When they had the sea in front of them and Pharaoh behind them, they were commanded to stand still. But Christians must learn to stand still when they are provoked, to be silent when they are mocked, to wait under adverse providences, and to still believe that in the darkest hour, that they will again see the sun shine brightly. May we all learn to patiently wait for Christ’s coming.
Another posture is this: DOUBLE TIME, CONTINUALLY MOVING FORWARD!
Ah! there are some Christians who are constantly sleeping on their guns; but they do not understand the posture of moving forward. Double time! Many Christians seem to be better skilled in the goose step of lifting up one foot after another and putting them down in the same place, rather than moving forward. Oh! We must all learn how to progress - to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Never think you are doing anything unless you are moving forward, that is, having more love, more hope, more joy, and are extending your sphere of usefulness. Soldiers of Christ, Quick march!” Speak to the children of the Living God, tell them to quickly move forward and advance.” Do not let them go back; do not let them stand still. On, on, on, soldiers of Christ! Go forward!
Another posture is one that is really very hard to learn. It is what no soldier, I think, was ever told to do by his captain, except the soldier of Christ: EYES SHUT, AND EARS SHUT, AND HEART SHUT!
That is what you do when you go through Vanity Fair, a place or scene of empty, idle amusement and foolishness. Eyes shut, so as not to look on temptation; ears shut, so as not to consider either the praise or the taunts of the world; and heart shut against evil, with the golden principle, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Roll a large stone in front of the door to your heart that sin can not come out of it. This is a hard posture; but you will never fight the battles of the Lord until you know how to maintain that.
And then there is another posture: FEET FIRM, SWORD IN HAND, EYES WIDE OPEN; LOOKING AT YOUR ENEMY, WATCHING EVERY MOVE THAT HE MAKES, AND WATCHING TOO FOR YOUR OPPORTUNITY TO KILL HIM WITH YOUR SWORD!
This a posture that you must maintain every day. Guard against the flaming arrows of the enemy; hold up your shield, and be ready to run directly at him and give him a deadly wound. I don’t need to explain that. You that are employed in the business world, you that are in the ministry, you that are serving God as deacons and elders, you know how often you have to deflect the arrow and look directly at your enemy, and meet him with your sword in hand, ready to rush in whenever the time is right for the attack. Don’t let any opportunity pass by. Wound your enemy whenever you can; destroy sin, destroy error, and destroy bitterness, as often as you have an opportunity to do so.
There is one other posture, which is a very happy one for the child of God to take up and I want you to remember this today. HANDS WIDE OPEN, AND HEART WIDE OPEN, WHEN YOU ARE HELPING YOUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST.
Have a hand always ready to give whatever the church needs, and an eye ready to look up for help when you cannot give help with your own hand, and ready to guide the hand whenever help is needed; and a heart open to listen to the needs of another, to “rejoice with them that rejoice and to weep with them that weep.”
Above all, the best posture for Christ’s church, is that of PATIENTLY WAITING FOR THE RETURN OF CHRIST.
Let us all look forward to the glorious appearance of Jesus Christ, who will come and will not delay, and who will get the victory. Now, if you will go to your houses, and if divine grace will help you to put yourselves through this form of drill, you will be mighty in the day of battle to put down the enemy.
And now, some very brief words of exhortation, but strong and serious.
O Christian men and women, the more you think of it the more you will be ashamed or yourselves, and of the church today, that we do so little for Christ. In the very first century of the church, there were a handful of men and women in an upper room; and that handful of men and women were so devoted to their master and so true to his cause, that within a hundred years they had influenced every nation of the then habitable earth; yes, within fifty years they had preached the gospel in every land.
Now look at this great crowd gathered here this morning. Probably there are not less than two or three thousand members here today, and I ask you, “What will you do in fifty years time?” What does the church do in any year of its existence? Why, hardly nothing at all. I sometimes wonder how long God will allow the church to be cooped up in England. I fear that we will never see the world converted, until this country is invaded. If it should ever happen that our homes should be invaded, and that we should be scattered, north, south, east and west, all throughout the earth, it would be the greatest thing that ever happened for the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. I would go down on my knees and pray night and day that it may not happen for the nation’s sake; but nevertheless, I sometimes think that the greatest disaster that can ever occur to our nation will be the only way in which Christ’s church will be spread throughout the world.
Look at it. Here we have our churches on almost every street, and despite the destitution of London, it is not destitute if you compare it with the other nations of the world. Oh, shouldn’t we as ministers of Christ spread out our armies? And shouldn’t our people go everywhere in the habitable world, in ones, and twos, and threes, preaching the gospel? But, one may ask, “Do you want us to leave our wife, and house, and children?” I am not asking that you do that; but if you would, then Christ’s power would be seen, and then the power of the church would again return to it. The men in the early church were men without money or extra clothing, and they went everywhere preaching the word, and God was with them, and the world heard them and was converted. Now we cannot go if we are not sent, and perhaps it is only reasonable that flesh and blood should not ask more. But still if the life of God were in the church, it would never stop in England for very long; it would send forth its troops, rolling along in one tremendous stream; a new crusade would be preached against the heathen nations, and the sword of the Lord would cut down the strongest of our enemy, and Christ would reign, and his glorious kingdom then would come. Oh that the church had power with men, and power with God!
Dear brothers and sisters, look around and see what you can do, every one of you. Do something today. Don’t let this Sunday go by without every one of you trying to be the means of winning a soul to God. Go to your Sunday Schools; go to your Bible Studies; go to your neighborhoods; go to your families, your mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters; go home and do something today. “Fight the battles of the Lord.” You can do nothing by yourselves; but God will be with you. If you have the will to serve him, he will give you the power. Go today, and seek to heal some rift, to end some hostility, to defeat some sin, or to drive out some error; and God being with you, will make this a happier day to your soul, and a holier day to the world than you have seen in your entire life before.
And one last word, a word to the unsaved person.
Sinner! I remember that you are here this morning as well as the saint. Sinner! you are not Christ’s soldier; you are a soldier of Satan; you will receive your pay soon, when you have worn out your sword, and worn out your arm in fighting against Christ, yes, then you will receive your wages. Look at it and tremble. “The wages of sin is death,” and damnation too. Will you receive death and damnation, or will you now renounce Satan and his wickedness, and enlist under the banner of Christ? O that God would give you the deposit of free grace, and enlist you now as a soldier of the cross. Remember, Christ takes the very dregs to be his soldiers. Every man that was in debt, and every man that was discontented, came to David, and he became the captain over them. Now, if you are in debt this morning to God’s law, and cannot pay, if you are discontented with the devil’s service, tired and worn out with pleasure, come to Christ, and he will receive you, make you a soldier of the cross, and a follower of the Lamb. God be with you and bless you, from this day forth, forever and ever! Amen.
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Bible Bulletin Board
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Online since 1986