On this Memorial Day I remember with the rest of our grateful nation those from all branches of the military that have died in wars from its inception. War is not a pleasant matter to consider or view even from a distance as is afforded in modern times through television. Nevertheless, God Almighty sanctioned the inclusion of men in His ongoing war with rebel angels as formally stated in Eden after our forefather and head of the human race, Adam, fell to Satan through sin (Genesis 3:1-8, 14-15). In the same breath our God announced a Champion from among us that would single handedly prevail against Satan and the entire fallen angelic realm!
The Lord Jesus Christ--Seed of the virgin, Mary--won the war as foretold by His life, ministry, death on the cross, burial, resurrection from the dead and ascension to Heaven (Luke 1:26-33, 4:14-21, 31-41; Hebrews 2:9-18, 7:25-8:2, 9:24-28). Whether aware of it or not, like it or not, those that become Christians through the Gospel about Him to this day are enlisted into the ongoing war of the ages. For though Christ has won the war, the mop up operations include bringing willing humanity to salvation and leading us to journey through this fallen world waging “the good warfare” in His victory safely to Heaven (Colossians 1:3-8, 2:11-15; 1 Timothy 1:18-20, NKJV).
Walking in the victory of Jesus Christ means that we must closely follow His example and pattern of conduct in the face of satanic warfare against Him. Even from His youth the Lord had the priority of His life settled--He would be about His “Father’s business,” (Luke 2:41-50, NKJV). As He ministered, He remained mindful that the Father’s ultimate business for Him was suffering leading to death (Luke 9:18-22). He did not sugar coat or deceive anyone then nor does He do so now; the cost to be His disciple is the same self-denying priority focus on pleasing God and doing His will to the death He had--the life of the Strong Man of God (Luke 9:23-26, 14:25-35; 2 Timothy 2:3-4)!
The Lord prepared for His final battle of suffering and death with Satan as His Father’s business for Him in three major ways: He put His affairs in order, remained resolute through prayer, and finally, submitted completely to all that the Father had allowed for Him to experience. While our Lord had no property or bills (Luke 9:58), He had made provision for His mother as required of the first born Son and spoke it from the cross (John 19:25-27). The soldiers had already taken His clothes as foretold (John 19:23-24). Following His example, every adult Christian should be living to die and simply; having all of our affairs in order as it depends on us (1 Timothy 6:7-12).
Seeing the tragedy that can unfold when there is death without a will, Christians should have at least a basic one to give direction about the distribution of property and other assets to surviving family members. Providing for our spouses and any dependents to the death is our responsibility before God as aspiring strong men of God in the image of Christ (1 Timothy 5:3-16). This does not just require having life insurance or retirement income if available, but leaving as little debt as possible. Written funeral and burial plans paid in advance will be helpful too. Jesus knew when He was going to die and put His affairs in order; not knowing, we all the more should.
As our Lord embraced His coming suffering and death, we must do the same. For while He fully participated in activities beyond ministry such as weddings, dinners with friends and foes along with funerals (though He interrupted one in progress by raising the deceased to life), He was resolute in His commitment to die in His Father’s cause to save fallen mankind (Luke 13:22, 22:7-16). As the time drew very close, His resoluteness to suffer and die was fully tested on the Mount of Olives. But He prevailed over the natural, human desire to look out for self, avoid pain and live through steadfast, intense prayer as we may have to also do when our hour comes (Luke 22:39-46).
Fully surrendered and completely resolute after prayer and strengthening sent from His Father, the Lord Jesus endured being betrayed to His face by His hand-picked disciple as well as submitted to the mob that had come to take Him prisoner and Satan, who was ultimately behind the evil of that hour (Luke 22:47-53). The Lord expects His followers to imitate Him in all things including preparing for our final battle in the hour of darkness as He did. To the glory of God, the last twenty centuries are filled with the excellent testimonies of aspiring strong men and great women of God in Christ’s image who prevailed to victory in their final battle (Acts 7:54-60; Revelation 2:8-13). Many prevail every day now. May you and I go out in a manner worthy of our Lord (2 Timothy 4:6-8).1 The risen, living Christ continues His cry among American churches, “Who is on the Lord’s side?”
1 As an additional instructional resource on the topic of the Christian’s spiritual warfare, the Strong Man Store has available an audio
CD series I was blessed of the Lord to proclaim entitled, We Are At War!
As a result of the ongoing, escalating rebellion of the world against God and His Anointed One, Jesus Christ, the ancient foundations of mortal human existence are breaking up like the ice sheets in earth’s Polar Regions. While in my book, The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics and otherwise the Lord has led me to cite Psalm 2:1-3 as the key prophetic Scripture explaining what was clearly a forceful uptick in rebellion against Him in the 1960’s, the rebellion itself, of course, began in Eden with Eve and Adam (Genesis 3:1-13; 1 Timothy 2:14). It continued reaching a crescendo in Noah’s day and again as human hands conspired together to put to death the Son of God (Genesis 6:5-8; Acts 4:23-28).
Unveiled prophetically by the Lord Jesus, the general sweep of history from His first to second comings to earth would be filled with conquest, war and tumult to include rank rebellion against God together with religious deception, persecution and violence against the saints and upheaval in the political, economic, social and natural spheres (Mark 13:3-13; Revelation 6:1-11). As revealed also by the apostle Paul to the church at Thessalonica, going forward from the 1st century lawlessness as a constant, but restrained drumbeat would continue until the man who fully personifies it comes to the world stage by the working of Satan in the permissive will of God (2 Thessalonians 2:3-10).
In the midst of all that is going on in the world at this hour, rebellion against God and His Anointed can be seen building to this next high point in the Antichrist whom the Lord will crush with his evil, mortal allies and spiritual enabler at His glorious return (Revelation 19:11-20:3)! So, what are the righteous to do as the hated targets of a world in such vigorous rebellion against God; when the ancient God ordained foundations of human life on earth--definitions of gender, related roles, authority, marriage, family, morality and truth--are crumbling (Isaiah 59:4-15)? Certainly, we do not forsake the Lord and change sides!
Like David who was inspired by the Holy Spirit to reflect on this important matter, we stand firm as aspiring strong men and great women of God in the image of Christ completely convinced that God is in control and put our trust in Him (Psalm 11:1-4a). Nothing, I repeat, nothing happening on this earth is occurring outside of the foreknowledge, perfect or permissive will of our God enthroned in Heaven! He is superintending unfolding events in accord with His will and prophetic Word recorded for our benefit, to confound His enemies to their faces and prove His superior standing as God Almighty (Deuteronomy 29:29; Isaiah 44:6-8; Matthew 24:23-25)!
God sees what those in rebellion against Him are plotting and doing (Psalm 11:4b). He is allowing them to display the true contents of their wicked, unrepentant hearts in fulfilling His purposes of judgment as they fill the cup of His wrath to the top with their deeds. The deeds of the wicked include the violent persecution of the righteous as God’s holy people because we--considered “strange” in their eyes--do not join in with their wickedness (1 Peter 2:9-10, 4:1-4, NKJV). Supposedly, we are not ashamed to be the peculiar people of God because we are no longer of the world in darkness, condemned and dying (Romans 13:11-14; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 John 2:15-17).
Instead, as those purchased out of the world soul and body with the price of Christ’s blood, we live as sons of the light and in so doing, manifestly expose the world’s “works of darkness,” (1 Corinthians 6:12-20; Ephesians 5:8-14; 1 Peter 2:11-12, NKJV). For this reason, the sons of disobedience hate and increasingly persecute Christians to the point of seeking to be rid of us as they also did our Lord (Luke 21:12-19; John 15:18-25). We must come to grips with the truth that the Lord in times of declension such as these also tests the hearts of those professing to be His. For the Lord is not ignorant of the fact men sign up for salvation in times of ease, but when persecution and suffering come they easily fall away (Psalms 11:5a; Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23).
Indeed, the falling away of many professing Christians from God’s Word now is due in major part to their being ashamed of it and Christ at the world’s ridicule. Among them are pastors that corrupt, defy and lower the standard of God’s Word in compromise because you fear men and women will not attend the church you lead. You help God’s ancient foundations crumble! You also make men and women in your image not Christ’s and ill-equip them to stand as the unashamed peculiar people of God to their salvation since the Lord will be ashamed of those ashamed of Him at His coming (Mark 8:34-39). Severe persecution quickly reveals who the Lord’s faithful, peculiar people are (Revelation 12:9-11)!
Seeing such days in ancient Israel as we have today, the prophet Micah mourns over the shrinking number of the faithful and warns about betraying opposition even from among one’s own family, friends and no shocker, church folk as does the Lord Jesus who cites his writing (Micah 7:1-6; Matthew 10:34-39, 24:10; Luke 21:12-17). Like David, Micah determines to put his trust in God and wait for His salvation as we are to also do (Micah 7:7). Too, he warns the wicked gloating in triumph over God’s peculiar people that it is temporary; our apparent defeat is only testing and merited chastening. In the end, however, God’s wrath will eternally destroy them as David affirms (Psalm 11:5b-7; Micah 7:8-10). The risen, living Christ continues His cry among American churches, “Who is on the Lord’s side?”
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