CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Where Are All the Reinforcements?

May 17, 2017

In the Christian life we are not on a holiday but in a war. I realise that most Western believers do not think in these terms, but that is because carnality, compromise and cowardliness have so very much ravaged our churches today. So most contemporary Christians are on a cruise ship when they should be on a battleship.

The great champions of the faith of yesteryear knew all about the battlefield that Christians are in. Let me highlight just one of them: Charles Spurgeon, the great English preacher of 19th century. He often spoke about how Christians are at war and how they need to act accordingly. Here are just two quotes of his:

reinforcements 2“Where are you? You are in enemy country, a stranger and an alien. The world is not your friend. If it is, then you are not God’s friend, for whoever is the friend of the world is the enemy of God. Be certain that you will find enemies everywhere. When you sleep, remember that you are resting on the battlefield; when you travel, suspect an ambush in every hedge.”

“The Church of Christ is continually represented under the figure of an army; yet its Captain is the Prince of Peace; its object is the establishment of peace, and its soldiers are men of a peaceful disposition. The spirit of war is at the extremely opposite point to the spirit of the gospel. Yet nevertheless, the church on earth has, and until the second advent must be, the church militant, the church armed, the church warring, the church conquering. And how is this? It is in the very order of things that so it must be. Truth could not be truth in this world if it were not a warring thing, and we should at once suspect that it were not true if error were friends with it. The spotless purity of truth must always be at war with the blackness of heresy and lies.”

I was just recently reading in the daily devotional, Mornings and Evenings with Spurgeon. In his August 5 evening devotional he wrote on Numbers 32:6 which says, “Moses said to the Gadites and Reubenites, ‘Should your fellow Israelites go to war while you sit here?’”

He points out that just as all the Israelites had to be involved in warfare and join in the battle, so too believers today must do the same. Spurgeon begins his piece with these words:

Kindred has its obligations. The Reubenites and Gadites would have been unbrotherly if they had claimed the land which had been conquered, and had left the rest of the people to fight for their portions alone. We have received much by means of the efforts and sufferings of the saints in years gone by, and if we do not make some return to the church of Christ by giving her our best energies, we are unworthy to be enrolled in her ranks.
Others are combating the errors of the age manfully, or excavating perishing ones from amid the ruins of the fall, and if we fold our hands in idleness we had need be warned, lest the curse of Meroz fall upon us. The Master of the vineyard says, “Why do you stand here all the day idle?” What is the idler’s excuse? Personal service for Jesus becomes all the more the duty of all because it is cheerfully and abundantly rendered by some.
The toils of devoted missionaries and fervent ministers shame us if we sit still in indolence. Shrinking from trial is the temptation of those who are at ease in Zion: they would try to escape the cross and yet wear the crown; to them the question for this evening’s meditation is very applicable.

Exactly. There are so many devout disciples of Christ who are working so hard for the Kingdom, but they feel so very much alone. They are on the frontlines, facing vast opposing armies, but when they look back they find very few of their own side out there with them.

Yes it is true that God works through a remnant, through a minority. But even the bravest soldier needs some backup. Even the greatest Christian warrior can use some reinforcements. No believer can do all the fighting alone. He needs the support of others.

But so often that support is lacking. So often those who are on the frontlines are battling away with very little help from other Christians. Even some spiritual firepower in the form of intercessory prayer and spiritual warfare would be appreciated, but that too is so often lacking.

In a time of war there must be no lone soldiers. We need a united and dedicated army. But so many believers are flopped in front of their tellies instead of out there in the trenches. No wonder our side keeps losing so often. When believers refuse to engage in battle, they have effectively gone over to the other side. They are aiding and abetting the enemy.

Let me finish this piece by briefly noting two other related matters. These things I think about now and then and it bothers me somewhat. First, there are many individuals and groups who love to have you promote, endorse and share their Christian ministry and activities. I try as often as I can to do this on their behalf. And why not? If it is a good cause we all should pitch in and share it, promote it, advertise it, be involved in it, etc.

But sadly many of these same folks will never return the favour: they will not promote or run with what others are doing. They seem far more interested in building their own kingdom and getting all the glory than they are in promoting God’s kingdom, whether they get the credit or not. I find this to be so very sad.

For example, if a group claims to be concerned about, say, prolife issues, I would have thought that as much as possible they would support the work of other prolife groups. But often these groups will only promote their own ministry, and remain fully silent about what others are doing.

But if they are really dedicated to the prolife cause, why not support others and seek to work more with other groups? There seems to be so much pride out there, with so many folks building their own little empires, while ignoring what others are also doing. If this grieves my heart, I am sure it grieves God’s heart even more.

Another thing that I find a bit curious is this: I am surprised that some folks will be involved in the Lord’s work quite heavily and faithfully, but then they pull out and you never hear from them anymore, whether because they have retired or for some other reason. Sure, it is up to them and God as to what they do and when they do it.

But sometimes it seems that they were so super passionate one minute, but the next minute, silence – as if it were just a passing fad or something to do for a short season. Some of them were in paid positions as they did the work, but no longer are. I would have thought that deep convictions about something always stay with you, even if you no longer have a paid position.

As I say, it is up to them how they proceed. But for what it is worth, the idea of retiring sounds a bit odd to me. How can a disciple of Christ retire? God willing, I expect to keep working for the Lord as long as I live. Sure, illness and such can slow you down if not stop you altogether.

But as long as I have my health, it seems somewhat strange to speak about retiring. The needs are always out there, and it seems to me all believers still have something to contribute to the Lord’s work. The idea of burning out instead of rusting out seems like the appropriate ideal for the Christian.

As I say, the battle can get quite intense out there – and very lonely as well. Where are all the reinforcements? Where is all the backup? Why are there so few workers when the needs are so great? As Jesus lamented, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few” (Luke 10:2).

Spurgeon went on in his devotional to speak about those who “choose a downy pillow and a silken couch” instead of being “a soldier of the cross”. Which will we choose?

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14 Responses to Where Are All the Reinforcements?

  • Another timely message Bill, howbeit an unpopular one for many.

    I was walking down the Bourke St mall last Tuesday week and noticed a ‘lone man’ holding up a book that he was offering the passersby. He was a Christian from Amphitheatre near Ararat who trains it down. A pensioner he saves his money, buys the Bibles and gives them away to the whosoever. I had the privilege of sharing this ministry with him for 15min (I was catching a train and 15min was all I could give). I saw three people in that short time take a Bible from him.

  • Hi Bill, we enjoy watching good Christian Youtube videos on the telly. Many of the Creation videos showing the latest scientific research in astrophysics, archaeology and critical thinking, etc, are absolutely amazing. Sometimes the camera will show a sweep of the audience at the hall where the presenter is presenting his scientific research but all too often we see that over 90 percent of seats are empty! And to top it off the “viewing count” for many of these videos is usually in the low thousands. These presenters must find it very discouraging to stand in front of near empty halls and churches, especially when their subject matter is so important for all Christians to see and hear.

  • This is an excellent post and one much needed today. So many professing Christians, with whom I have discussed various issues and situations, define right and wrong by what is beneficial or convenient for them and not by what the Bible says. They defend everything by asking, “If something looks good, why should it not be good?” I have reminded them of the example of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, as per Genesis 3. They usually become very angry because they want to justify what they want to choose as the “right” way or “right” thought or action for themselves. It is bad enough when the unsaved and unchurched are ignorant, but very, very sad when professing believers have no concept of basic right and wrong.

  • Depressing days indeed Bill but I’m always encouraged that the God of Heaven is still able to raise up champions as in days past so we must trust in His will. I’m always reminded that in the days of Elijah’s depression there were 7000 that would not bow the knee – Elijah didn’t know them & they probably didn’t know him but God knew them both & that always comforts me ! We don’t know each other either but I’m grateful for your ministry in these days as a rallying point & strong encouragement for those of us of the same mind . Thanks Bill.

  • Not only do we need to fight together but we need to stand in the gaps when one of us falters – that is how wars are fought and yes from time to time people will need a break.

    You are absolutely correct that the enemy is exploiting the often arbitrary differences between people and there definitely needs to be channels of communication set up across various networks. Communications is hugely important as is coordinated effort, which is also a part of effective warfare. Why there needed to be different petitions, for example, against the proposed abortion changes in NSW I really don’t know but it does highlight the lack of communication and coordination.

    Be assured, I for one, do pray for you Bill and I am certain there are many others. I think the latest time was just this morning. I also prayed for Cardinal Pell and the ongoing and the already legally disproved attacks on him. That he should endure this ongoing attack by not only vexation litigators but also the outrageously biased media is extraordinarily wrong.

  • Bless you Bill for your faithfulness….You are daily in my intercessory prayers.

  • Many thanks indeed Ess.

  • Yes Bill, a tough fight indeed! And yet, with God on our side, who can stand against Him? Not even the most powerful Nebuchadnezzar and his worldly ways www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=daniel+4&version=NIV

  • You make a very important point here, Bill. For some reason it reminds me of “the loneliness of the long-distance runner…”

    Yes, support makes such a difference to the one who has often risked a great deal, like you, by putting your head up above the ramparts.

    You mention cowardice. Moral cowardice seems to have become one of the rampant diseases of our age. And I think the most important point for us all to recognise is that everything depends upon the individual… the effort of every single one of us in the fight that we are all called to …to respond in what ever way we can, even if we think it is pretty minimal and that we don’t count.

    One of the most damaging things, I think, is the notion too many have that one should leave things to leaders. But the concept of leadership first is one of the most pernicious of all. it is after all leaders who have been responsible for some of the most atrocious crimes against humanity. Think Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot – and all those leaders of countries today where the people are imprisoned, tortured and executed for standing up to be counted.

    And too often people join groups, perhaps donate a little and think this is enough. But government can easily discount a particular group – saying …It’s just that lot…” What is much harder for governments to discount is when individuals themselves, regardless of whatever religion, if any, they subscribe to, stand up to be counted as individuals. it is the individual multiplied by others standing with him/her who can accomplish great things even if the change appears to be gradual. If everything depends upon the individual – that means each of us.

  • Here’s the silver lining on that dark looking cloud…
    Since so few Christians are actually doing anything, the door is WIDE open for a whole gamut of the most amazing opportunities for any Christian to grab hold of.
    Evangelism: Compared to the heavy traffic hell-bound, the trickle of saved souls making their way to heaven are so few and far between that a single Christian evangelizing full time on the streets could actually cause a noticeable bump in the percentage. How’s that for motivation!
    Scripture in Schools: For those of us fortunate enough to live in an Australian state that provides for scripture classes in schools, anyone with a bit of time and perhaps a little mentoring (if they have never taught before) can jump right in. There is unlimited demand, and easily one of the most productive activities any Christian could do. I reckon the effect of one scripture teacher equals about three local churches – and alive churches at that.
    Go do something on purpose. Get a PhD in a science and help disseminate and extend Creationist content, push into the political arena, get serious in prayer, help a church, start a church, write a book, start a blog, preach on Youtube, bring up a big family knowing the Lord, do something completely different that fits your gifting and the gospel.
    So in other words – store up treasure in heaven.
    It’s a command!
    I love how there is so little competition that you can do just about anything and quickly get some treasure happening. As for no workers in the harvest – oh well – to a certain extant, that is God’s problem. We are just told to pray about it. In the meantime – raid the heavenly stockmarket at bargain prices.

  • My God Bless you Bill for your steadfastness in the face of the loony left and all evil in the world.

  • Thank you Lord for this timely message of Bill. I don’t usually spend time on my computer except to check on important e-mails but I happen to do it today when I am feeling for people to respond to join me as a church to support the Rally for Life outside the Parliament House tonight here in Perth. I feel like I have to carry a “wooden spoon” just like when I need to discipline my children when they are disobedient. Why are the responses so scarce. We can’t just be good in our praying. We have to put action to it if we want our city transformed. What you wrote here is exactly what I was thinking this morning. We, the people of God must understand we are in battle and we must win it. And we can only win it together.

  • Bill and all commenters, this message is absolutely timely, partly because it is always timely. This discussion reminds me again about John Bevere’s book “Driven by Eternity”; it biblically expounds and motivates you by the anointing of the Holy Spirit to go out and make a real difference, to conquer the enemy (yes Jesus has already won the victory, but still), and to bring people into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

    We as a wider family are going through a change at this time and sometimes the stress of it all makes we wonder, am I really up for this? But then I reminded myself and my wife this morning that the change does have the right motivation and the potential to make a bigger difference than what we are doing now. I’ll say what we are doing just as a form of encouragement and maybe inspiration for others, but by no means am I holding it up as a standard that all must adhere to; we each have our own path that God determines and it is true that what we are doing is not the supreme sacrifice that others make. We have sold our family home, my parents have sold theirs and together with my sister we are building a single larger dwelling, thereby removing the bank far sooner from our lives than is currently possible. We want to see the money we earn put to the Kingdom of God as both people and resources are needed. There are countless examples of where money is needed: Heartcry Missionary Society would be one, I know there are many.

    We need to make our short 70 – 120 years of life amount to something that is greater than just a comfortable existence and a safe death. The call is greater, Jesus will ask on that Day what did you do for me? In reading all your contributions I don’t just feel motivated; it is more that I will set my face like flint and march on into the journey ahead, and come what may, do my utmost for the church of God and ultimately for God in the context of eternity.

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