PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: “We Can Stand Fast!”
By: Ron Woodrum
A young boy was standing out in a pasture, holding the bridle leading to his horse. His horse was an old sway-back mare. A passer by asked him, “Hey son, can your horse run fast?” He smiled, as he replied, “No sir, but she sure can sure stand fast!” As we rush further into this new year of 2018, the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is being attacked from all sides! We continue being attacked by opposing groups with their own agendas. Radical New Atheist Crusaders attack the Church as never before, encouraging those who are forsaking the faith, to profess their apostasy by joining in a de-baptism service and celebration. Proponents of the same-sex marriage agenda continue to call the Church “haters” and “bigots” for defending the position of the Bible’s teaching on the subject and defending traditional marriage. Before it is all over our Churches, who hold to the Biblical position, will likely lose their tax-exempt status over this issue. Abortionists continue to assault the Church claiming that to protest abortion is in reality robbing women of their autonomy over their own bodies and denying them, what they call birth control, (coming in the form of an abortion-causing pill); In reality the Church is only protesting a war on the unborn, that has killed more than all the wars, between all nations, over all the generations of history, put together! Pseudo-intellectual professors, teaching our students in our country’s colleges, continue to try to silence people of faith, by insinuating they are morons and imbeciles, if they disagree with what they teach as unaltering facts and remain true to the clear teaching of Scripture, even if they cannot reconcile both positions at this time!; God is Not Dead! Is a movie that applauds Christians for not rolling-over and surrendering to the bullying of these pseudo-professors! Most of the Universities in our country started out as institutions, founded by Christian thinkers, who were seeking Unity out of Diversity in learning. Then of course we are facing left-wing political attacks from politicians in our own country; and violent murderous radical Islamic terrorists hell-bent of eradicating all Christians from the face of the earth. This onslaught upon the Church has left the Church of Jesus Christ stunned and discouraged, waving the white flag of surrender, and cowering behind locked and closed doors, trembling at every threat, praying for Jesus’ soon return to rescue them from their self-imposed exile from the world. The Church has not been in this terrified a state since the Upper Room, the week following Calvary’s public crucifixion of Jesus, the Head of the Church. What is the Church to do?
General Douglas MacArthur was no stranger to opposition and great odds. After Batan, Corrigedor, and Iwogema, and one defeat after another to the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army, MacArthur decided to regroup and return and win the war in American fashion! One one occasion he said, “We are not retreating-we are advancing-in another direction!” At another critical battle he was reported to have said to his troops-“The enemy is in front of us, the enemy is behind us, the enemy is to the right of us, and the enemy is to the left of us…THEY CANNOT GET AWAY THIS TIME!” That is our command! “Forward-don’t let a single one of them escape!”
Every time God’s people faced a crisis God would appear to them to assure them of His presence and power. Once they had seen the INVISIBLE they were ready to face the IMPOSSIBLE! When God needed a deliverer to go back to Egypt and deliver His people out of the hand of the enemy-the most powerful nation on the face of the earth in that day-He appeared to Moses in the Burning Bush. After convincing Moses of His presence and power-Moses returned to the challenge and the rest is history! Let me assure you that “Bushes are still Burning!” God has not left Himself without witness on this earth. God’s presence and power are still manifested in mighty ways to mankind if we will turn aside to see. Elizabeth Barrett Browning put it powerfully in these words-
”Earth is crammed with Heaven
Every common Bush is Aflame with God.
But only they see who take off their shoes!
The rest stand around and pick blackberries!”
We must sound the trumpet for Christians to arm themselves. We must amount an offence and “be ready to always give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason for the hope that lieth in you” (I Peter 3:15). You can rest assured that the forces of unbelief are hard at work. Listen to Christian apologist Wilbur Smith-“It is a strange thing, but these men who insist that we are not to impose our belief on others, never hesitate to impose their disbelief on others. They write books to spread their wretched denials. They stand in the classroom to impose their skepticism on the plastic minds of the immature students. They go up and down the land, giving lectures, writing articles in outstanding periodicals, to impose their agnosticism upon youth looking for something to believe in” (Therefore Stand p. 485). The Christian faith requires tough minds, and the stakes are high. The everlasting souls of young people, and those young in the faith, hang in the balance. It is high time we enter the battle, armed with abundance of evidence that God has supplied, and with the kind of assurance and enthusiasm becoming our faith!
If we are to do this successfully and challenge our generation it will require two ingredients-resolution and relevance! Martin Luther, who challenged his generation with Truth, while facing almost single handedly, (of course he had many reforming fellow-soldiers joining him in the battle), not only “stood-fast” but also struck an offensive that changed the entire world of his day. We would do well to listen to his convicting words on these two subjects.
First of all it will take a genuine resolution on our part to become involved in this imperative work! Listen to what Luther said, “Christendom must have people who can beat down their adversaries and opponents and tear off the devil’s equipment and armor, that he may be brought into disgrace. But for this work, powerful warriors are needed, who are thoroughly familiar with the Scriptures and can contradict all false interpretations and take the sword from the false teachers-that is, those vey verses which false teachers use and turn them round upon them so that they fall back defeated. But not all Christians can be so capable in defending the Word and articles of their faith (creed), they must have teachers and preachers who study the Scriptures and have daily fellowship with it, so that they can fight for all the others. Yet each Christian should be so armed that he himself is sure of his belief and of the doctrine and is so equipped with the sayings from the Word of God that he can stand up against the devil and defend himself, when men seek to lead him astray”. (A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, Illustrations and Meditations from the Life of Martin Luther. (Compiled by Pastor Mark Anderson and Marjorie Young).
The other quote relates to genuine relevancy. There is a quote often debated whether Martin Luther ever spoke this quote in any of his writings. So far it has not been found. But word of mouth from other authors attributes it to him and indeed it sounds like him without a doubt. Here it is-“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the Word of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Him. Where the battle rages there is the loyalty of the soldier proved! And to be steady on all the battle front besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that one point!” Is that not one of the greatest quotes you have ever heard? It is one of the most convicting statements concerning our taking a genuine stand for Christ, where and when it counts, that I have ever heard!
2018 is proving to be a renewed “call to arms” for the Church to Stand up and Speak up for Jesus. Especially on the points we are facing the fiercest attacks. That will require resolution and relevancy. Remember the words of Thornton Wilder, “in Love’s service, only the wounded soldier can serve”. As Amy Carmichael has said, “When we get to heaven our Saviour may ask us upon arrival -“Hast thou no scar?” 2018 should give us plenty of opportunity to earn our Red Badge of Courage!