Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 24 Number 7 July 2022
Page 3


At War

Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor

Rodney NulphA recent email came to me regarding prayers for our brethren in Ukraine. Christians, as well as all others in that region, are in a detrimental situation as Russia invaded their land. The images of war are unsettling, unnerving and show us just how fragile peace and harmony in life can be. While we are praying for Ukraine’s safety and protection, especially those of the household of faith, there are spiritual lessons to be learned from war.

War Is Destructive!

Most objective observers can clearly see that Russia invaded Ukraine without provocation. Simply because of who the Ukrainians are and because of who Russia is, destructive war was inevitable. For simply being in Ukraine, people are being uprooted, maimed, killed and emotionally changed forever. Many will likely flee to other countries to sojourn in places that are not their homes. Spiritually, the application is valid. Simply because of who we are as Christians and who the devil is as our enemy, we are in a daily spiritual war that is devastatingly destructive as well. Sometimes God’s people ask, “Why me?” We must understand that darkness hates light (1 John 3:19-20) and, as such, Christians are always at battle with spiritual wickedness (Ephesians 6:12). We are not home as we fight this daily battle here on planet Earth (1 Peter 2:11-12). Our home is in Heaven (Colossians 3:1-3), and this place of sojourn is merely a battlefield to defend the Master’s cause (Matthew 28:18-20). Sadly, we must understand that this spiritual battle, like physical battles, brings destruction. There will be casualties, and we all will suffer some degree of pain and hurt. Yet, our spiritual battle is a battle we must fight despite the destruction we face!

War Is Illustrative!

The war in Ukraine illustrates the fact that war brings out both the best and the worst in people. Stories of bravery and heroism stir our hearts as we hear of the valiant efforts to defend liberty and justice by the Ukrainians. Yet, a dictator’s brutal attempts to gain territory and conquer a nation sickens us. Spiritually, the same holds true as well. As we defend the faith (Jude 3), it thrills our souls to hear of others in all parts of this world who are doing the same. It encourages us in the battle as we know that there are others, just like us, who are fighting this war, too (1 Peter 5:9). However, sadly, we also hear of some soldiers who have given up and quit. We are repulsed when we hear of soldiers turning away from the manual on warfare (2 Timothy 2:18). We are repulsed when we see a soldier stop fighting, and even worse, when soldiers flee to the other side and join forces with the enemy.

War Is Collaborative!

Ukraine has no chance of victory unless it collaborates with others who support it in the fight. The forces against them are great, and therefore, Ukraine must learn to fight against its dictatorial enemy by all being on the same page and following the same plan to defend freedom. There is but one agenda in Ukraine right now – to defend freedom! What an illustration spiritually speaking as well! Christianity will never prevail against its roaring enemy (1 Peter 5:8) unless Christians all join together and have one goal and one agenda – to defend freedom in Christ! Politics, opinions, diseases, personal agendas, ignorance or anything else that often separates us must be laid aside for the battle to lead to victory! Christians have but one agenda – to glorify the Captain and win the war for our immortal souls (Matthew 5:13-16; 2 Timothy 4:6-8). Remember, there is just one letter placement of difference between united and untied, but the eternal difference is much more!

Cowards do not stand and fight, but brave soldiers carry the battle (Revelation 21:7-8). It is high time that brave soldiers of the cross take up arms and engage our enemy with faith and with truth to be victorious. Our spiritual battle is a battle for eternity, for your children and mine, for our neighbors and loved ones, and yes, even for our own souls as well. As we face our adversary head on, there will be times when we feel the battle is too great and the enemy is too strong, but our Captain reminds us daily, “…He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4 NKJV). While our prayers ascend for those in Ukraine, we know that our brethren there will be victorious in the end. Their victory may not be in defending their soil but faithfully defending their souls! “These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful” (Revelation 17:14).

[Editor’s Note: Pray also for our Russian brethren who find themselves adversely affected, too – some even who have been or may be conscripted to fight against their wills in Ukraine. Don’t forget to mention in prayers brethren in other especially dangerous places in the world (e.g., in nations that have state gods such as in Hinduism or Buddhism, Islamic controlled countries and nations engaged in civil war or widespread unrest). ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]

Seeking God

Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33 NKJV). Years ago, I had one person in a Bible class make the comment that it took no effort at all to be a Christian or to live the Christian life. In his words, it was the easiest thing one could do, that it came naturally, and one had to give little to no effort at all to please God. Is his statement true? We understand there are two forces at work in the world around us, vying for our attention. In its simplest form, either we are following God or Satan, either holiness or sin. Satan uses temptations that appeal to us, to lure us away from God into the domain of darkness. Experience tells us how effective a tool this is. To make the effort to live for God means the devil will also work to divert us away from Him. While it is the only life that is blessed, it does indeed take effort – a struggle, a battle – against sin which wants to destroy us (2 Corinthians 10:5-6).

Several times in Scripture, Jesus spoke of the nature of this effort to follow His example. In Matthew 6:33 above, Jesus said we must seek first His kingdom and righteousness. The word seek means “to seek in the sense of to endeavor, to try to gain, to strive after, with the idea of earnestness.” As used in Matthew, it is a present tense, meaning something we should be doing continually. It is also an imperative, carrying the idea of a command – something we must do, not an optional extra. It obviously carries the idea of what involves one’s careful attention and effort, not something that “just happens.”

Elsewhere, Jesus taught those in the cities and villages He visited, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able” (Luke 13:24). The Greek word for “strive” is agonizomai, from which we get our word agonize. It carries the idea of conflict and was used to refer to contending for victory in the public games (1 Corinthians 9:25). It generally came to mean to fight or to wrestle (John 18:36). Figuratively, it is the task of faith in persevering amid temptation and opposition (1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7). It also came to mean to take pains, to wrestle as in a contest, straining every nerve to the uttermost towards the goal. Again, it is an imperative, something we must do if we’re going to overcome sin, and if we’re to reach the goal of eternal life.

To this we could add a host of other Scriptures, but the truth is clear. We are in a battle for our souls, and we must engage the enemy to gain victory in Christ. We can’t just drift through life at our leisure and find it. Once we’ve been immersed and added to the body of Christ (Acts 2:38, 47), there is a life to be lived, and it’s one that is essential to having salvation. Satan is doing all he can to rob us of this precious promise. How do you approach life? The Hebrew writer reminds us, “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation…” (Hebrews 2:1-3a).

So, what is your life? Do you spend any time studying the Word of God? Are you actively praying? Do you assemble with brothers and sisters to be encouraged in Christian living and to not give up? Are you engaged in spiritual living? It takes effort in Christ to live faithfully for Him. Anything less will be devastating for us. Don’t be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13). Take your salvation seriously and fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12). To do otherwise gives the devil an inroad into our minds, our hearts and our lifestyles. God was serious about our salvation by sending Christ to die for us. How serious is it to you?

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