Teach

LIVING WITH PRESSURE IN THE DARK VALLEY OF TESTING (Part-4)

Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

—Joshua 1:9 KJV

Dark cloudy skies added more gloom to an already tense situation. A monsoon rain drenched us as we sloshed across the rice paddies to the military headquarters in Lama, a government outpost and bazaar one mile west of ABWE's mission station called Hebron. Why had I been so unceremoniously summoned? And why was it necessary to be marched off between two surly looking, armed soldiers? My wife, Eleanor, stood helplessly in the doorway as I was led away. We both wondered what would happen to me and how I had gotten myself into this dilemma. Had our decision to become missionaries in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) been a mistake? Yet we had felt confident in God's call as we bade farewell to family and friends on January 29, 1960.

—Jay Walsh, Against All Odds (1995) p 13

Over a period of thirty-five years (1960-1994), Jay Walsh and his wife Eleanor were missionaries in Bangladesh. This test turned out to be a mental attitude test of facing the unknown instead of physical danger test. However, it helped him to prepare for the morning of April 21, 1971 when he was elected by his fellow missionaries to be the evacuation leader as they prepared to flee to Burma during the Bangladesh Revolution. We have talked with many foreign missionaries over the years and read the stories of many more. Long ago we discovered that most Christians in the USA have no concept of what life was like for many of those who took the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ around the world in the years following WW II. The Walsh family in SE Asia and the Browning family in Central Africa were protected in the Valley of the Shadow of Death during times of Bloody-Revolution. The Lord will never forsake his own (cf. Heb. 13:5).

Are you a Combat Soldier in the Spiritual Warfare of the Angelic Conflict?

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 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, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

—Ephesians 6:10-18 KJV

We know that prosperity so puffs men up that they imagine that they ought to be privileged and their state exempted from the common rank, and, in short, that they should be free to do as they please. On the contrary, the poorer people, who are despised and set aside, think that God has as good as forgotten them, and consequently they cannot conceive that He has any care for them. Therefore it is expedient that such as are so drunken with presumption that they take to much upon themselves under the pretext that they are in good standing and authority should be brought down and told that they have a Master in heaven to chastise them, though they escape the hands of men.

—John Calvin, Sermons on Ephesians (1973 Translation) p 648

All of us have been witnesses to the revolutionary movements that have swept across North Africa and the Middle East during the past year. We are witnesses to the economic crisis that has shaken the European Union and the civil riots and turmoil that has occurred in several of these countries. We have witnessed the continued drug war in Mexico and the thousands that have been killed in that country. Since September 11, 2001, we have witnessed the deaths of many courageous members of our armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have faced economic instability within our own country. The world political, economic, and military scene is fast changing and yet we see so many of our fellow believers continuing to live as if nothing is happening. We are living in one of the most exciting and yet evil times in world history and many Christians don't care.

During World War I and World War II large numbers of believers were praying daily for our soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen. A majority of fundamental-evangelical local churches still had weekly prayer meetings; and they spent a lot of time praying for our nations leaders and for our fighting men.

During the Korean War and the Vietnam War, many believers were still praying for our nation and for our military forces in harms way. However, cultural changes were coming to our nation and the importance of praying for our national leaders and our fighting forces was slowly being lost in our local churches. War no longer touches many Americans on a personal basis! Every one of us gets busy in our own little world; and so it is easy to forget the greater world around us. We see war on the TV (or computer) news; and it's just like looking at a Hollywood Movie The reality of war is lost in the familiarity of media coverage.

We have been told that we are too old fashioned! We are living in the past and it is time for us to come into the 21st Century. The United States is a multi-cultural country and we need to make some adjustments to these things. The old ways don't work any more! But what were the old ways and why did they once work?

We look at the crime statistics in our nation. Murder, robbery, assault, rape, drug addiction, and public drunkenness scream out that the new ways are not working either! You can walk the streets of almost any city and find a large number of hungry homeless people. The outward facade of our cities (buildings, architecture, landscape etc) has changed, but the people problems are the same ones we had in the 1930s. Sin always leaves it's stain on society!

Truly, the Scripture does not lie when it proclaims there is no new thing under the sun Ecc1:9. The positional total depravity of the Adamic (human) race has not changed since the fall of Adam (cf. Genesis 2:17; 3:6,7 with Romans 1:18-25). God has declared that He will not accept the human good that comes forth from our nature of corruption (i.e. old sin nature, flesh ‚cf. Isaiah 64:6; Romans 8:8). Our nature of corruption can lead us into immoral degeneracy (cf. Romans 1:26-32), moral degeneracy (cf. Romans 2:1-16), or religious degeneracy (cf. Romans 2:17-29) but every member of the Adamic (human) race has sinned and come short of the glory of God —Romans 3:23. The answer for all of us is salvation through faith in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ and His blood-work on the cross of Calvary (cf. John 3:1-21 with Acts 16:30,31; Ephesians 2:8,9).

Once we are saved, we need to learn how to live the Christian life. We are not advocating some kind of Christian Crusade! We are encouraging Christians to make sure that they are on active duty as a soldier in Christ's Royal Army (cf. II Timothy 2:3,4). We have too many garret troopers. A soldier needs to be trained (cf. John 8:31, 32 with II Timothy 2:15; 3:16, 17)! He needs to know how to use the armor that God the Father has issued to every believer (cf. Ephesians 6:10-17). He needs to learn how to think and how to act like a soldier of Jesus Christ (cf. Philippians 2:5; Ephesians 4:23 with Romans 12:1, 2). He needs to understand his orders of the day (cf. Ephesians 5:16-18). He needs to daily make himself available for duty (cf. Psalms 118:24 with Isaiah 6:8). Once on duty, he needs to know how to follow the Lord's orders and not try to do his own thing (cf. I Samuel 15:22)

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

—Proverbs 22:6 KJV

Scripture establishes the value of a parent providing proper training to a child (cf. Eph. 6:4 with II Tim. 3:15). Through spiritual regeneration (cf. John 3:3-8), at the moment of salvation we became a child of God the Father (cf. John 1:12). As a baby believer, we had a natural desire to take in the spiritual milk of the Word of God (cf. I Peter 2:2). Paul says that if a believer does not grow spiritually they are a retarded Christian (cf. I Corinthians 3:1-3). We are all commanded to grow spiritually (cf. II Peter 3:18). We live in the dispensation of the Grace of God the Father (cf. Ephesians 3:1-5). Within this dispensation, at any given point of time among the children of God there are three classifications of spiritual maturity: fathers, adolescents, and young children (cf. I John 2:12-14). The unknown writer of Hebrews rebukes the believers who have been saved for a number of years and yet have failed to spiritually develop through the in-depth study of the Word of God (cf. Hebrews 5:11-6:12). It is the duty of every pastor to train his local congregation through the studying and teaching of the Word (cf. Ephesians 4:11d-16).

The first local churches in Jerusalem were established by the apostles upon the daily studying and teaching of the Word of God (cf. Acts 2:42a with Acts 5:42). The Father used the evangelistic outreach of the apostles, as they preached the gospel, to produce converts who were led into the first local churches (cf. Acts 2:14-41). The Lord Jesus Christ gave the apostles two major duty assignments: prayer and the ministry of the Word (cf. Acts 6:4). All of their other duties and responsibilities were of secondary importance. the local churches had regular breaking of bread (i.e. communion services - cf. Acts 2:42c) and prayer meetings (cf. Acts 2:42d). Church fellowship among believers was centered on the Bible doctrine that had been taught to them and the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the focal point of the communion service. We base this principle upon the placing of the Word of fellowship in the sentence order in acts 2:42.

Fellowship
(Gr.) κοινωνια (koinōnia}
The share which one has in anything, a participation, fellowship recognized and enjoyed; thus it is used of the common experiences and interests of Christians

And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

—Acts 2:42 KJV

It is important to note that the evangelistic outreach was done outside the local church (cf. Acts 2:14-41, 46a). Inside the church, it was Bible teaching, fellowship, the ritual of communion, and prayer meeting (cf. Acts 2:42). Please remember that there was not one Mega-Church in Jerusalem. The local churches met in homes. On the day of Pentecost there were eleven original apostles in Jerusalem along with Matthias, whom the other apostles accepted as their equal (cf. Acts 1:12-26). They were about to come under severe persecution (cf. Acts 4:1-22; 5:17-42). It is a logical conclusion that from day - 1 there was at least twelve home churches set up in Jerusalem. However, there was a spiritual harmony among these believers that prevented these individual churches to consider themselves in competition with each other (cf. Acts 2:44). The believers' concerns for each other were manifested through the individual decisions of many of them to pool their assets and help each other (cf. Acts 2:45; 4:32-37).

Now there was normal fellowship among the believers as well as doctrinal fellowship and this is proven through their potluck meals (cf. Acts 2:46b). Bible doctrinal fellowship produces a unity among believers that allows them to be relaxed and enjoy each others company (cf. Ephesians 4:12-16). The problem these days is that a lot of local churches place their major emphasis upon social life and pay little or no attention to the importance of the teaching of the Word of God. However, Paul ordered the churches in Corinth to shut down their love-feast (i.e. pot-luck meals) because of gluttony, drunkenness, and cliquishness that was being practiced at them (cf. I Corinthians 11:17-22,34). The whole issue is based on spiritual or fleshly motivations and actions.

In no other profession are the penalties for employing untrained personnel so appalling or so irrevocable as in the military.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur, US Army Annual Report Chief of Staff (1933)

The best for of welfare for the troops is first-class training.

—Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, Rommel Papers (1953)

War is highly competitive; we are trying to train people to endure the hardships and strain of war and we would do ourselves and our country a disservice to adopt measures which would soften the fibre of men in uniform.

—Rear Admiral Robert B. Carney USN (1895)

Every believer needs spiritual warfare training to prepare them to win tactical victories in the spiritual warfare of the angelic conflict. We must remember that the spiritual warfare is fought within our souls. Because you have shared some of the details with us we know many of you that will receive this newsletter are going through serious spiritual warfare tests. Some of you are dealing with the grief that comes with the loss of a dear loved one. Some of you have very severe health problems or close loved ones have severe health problems. Some of you have been told that you many not have long to live. Some of you have loved ones in harm's way as they serve on active duty in the armed forces and some of you are on active duty. Some of you are missionaries on the foreign field and you are in areas that could become volatile at any time. Each one of us must walk our own trail through the dark valleys of testing. The more Bible doctrine we have learned the more spiritual ammunition we have to use as we face these tests and trials. Why wait until the physician tells you that you have incurable cancer and at the most have only six weeks to start trying to learn the doctrine of Dying Grace. After all, others are dying all around us.. The doctrine of dying grace is useful in dealing with the death of our loved ones as well as when it becomes our own time to die. We emphasis the importance of the in-depth study of the Word, so that each one of you will be daily armed to meet your own personal trials and tests. It is nice to have others pray for us. It is more important for us to be constantly praying.

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

—Ephesians 6:18 KJV

The inestimable importance of praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints is the message of verse 18. Again the child of God is depended upon to exercise his will and to elect that place of dependence upon God, which is intended both for his own benefit in the battle and for the benefit of all his fellow-warriors for whom he should pray. Thus fully equipped, the child of God, those of us believers who make up the church of God, can glorify the God whom we serve, the One who has chosen us to live this new life in Him.

—Lewis Sperry Chafer, The Epistle to the Ephesians (1991) p 145

Prayer is our direct communication network to our Supreme Allied Command Headquarters in the Third Heaven. Our Commander-in-Chief is the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Ephesians 1:22, 23; Colossians 1:18). His current place of authority is at the right hand of the Father (cf. Hebrews 1:3). the Holy Spirit is in charge of keeping our communications line open (cf. Romans 8:26, 27). The Father is our Spiritual Patriarch (cf. Ephesians 3:14, 15 with John 1:12) and therefore the Civilian Head of our Government (cf. I Corinthians 15:28). However, the Father has delegated authority to the Son to carry out the Father's plan (cf. I Corinthians 15:24-28). We are always to approach the Father (cf. Matthew 6:9; Luke 11:2) through the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Hebrews 4:14-16). Ephesians 6:18 makes it clear that if we are an effective Christian Warrior, we will be praying for our fellow believers. Now, the Father does not hear out intercession prayers when we are carnal (cf. Psalms 66:18; Proverbs 15:29; 28:9); so before we pray for another believer we must make sure we hold nothing against them (cf. Ephesians 4:30-5:2). We must come to understand that our fellow Christian Warriors are not our real enemies. Our enemies are the unseen forces of Satan (cf. Ephesians 6:11, 12). We have the privilege of praying for all of our fellow believers and even though that would be an impossible task, it certainly opens to us many doors of opportunity.

What a comfort it is for the believer when the attacks rise against him in his life, his family, his business, and his other associations, to know that God sees the end from the beginning and is allowing it for his own glory and the believer's good! Satan can do what he pleases with those who are not of the family of God, but God's own may not be touched without permission.

—Donald G. Barnhouse, The Invisible War (1965)

We hope that this Bible Mini Study will have challenged each one of you to see the importance of learning Bible doctrine so you can stand alone with Jesus Christ and face our spiritual warfare enemies (cf. Ephesians 6:11, 13), you can pray for our fellow believers under fire (cf. Ephesians 6:18) and help rescue Christian POWS (cf. Galatians 6:1, 1). What a blessing to know that Christ will fight our battles for us (cf. Psalms 3:8, II Timothy 4:16-18).