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Monday, June 24, 2024

Be Able to Converse of Jesus: Evangelism as Non secular Warfare

On my desk sits a e book with a darkish picture on its cowl: a Christian soldier stands alone, surrounded by non secular enemies. Seven arrows and a spear purpose at his coronary heart; dying and the satan draw shut. The soldier has some armor and a defend, however he nonetheless seems to be determined — outmatched, outmanned, and completely conscious of it. He folds his arms and appears to heaven.

As a portrayal of the Christian’s non secular warfare, the picture holds some benefit. We dwell in “the evil day” (Ephesians 6:13). Lies fly towards us like invisible arrows as we have interaction “the prince of the facility of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). We regularly really feel besieged and beleaguered, tempted and tossed, pushed down and stored down. O Lord, we cry, ship us.

If we think about, nevertheless, the saints of Christ all the time defending, and by no means advancing, our thought of non secular warfare wants a sharper blade. As Richard Lovelace writes, “In people faith the posture of the Christian towards fallen angels is defensive; in Scripture the church is on the offensive, and the blows it receives from Devil come from a retreating enemy” (Dynamics of Non secular Life, 136).

“We’re, at the start, not a church attacked, however a church attacking.”

Our Lord Jesus didn’t fee his disciples to hunker down and defend themselves, however to launch the world’s most epic offensive (Matthew 28:19–20). We’re, at the start, not a church attacked, however a church attacking. And so, among the many non secular weapons Paul arms believers in Ephesians 6:12–18, we discover not solely “the sword of the Spirit,” but in addition “as footwear on your toes . . . the readiness given by the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15, 17).

Peace in our hearts, gospel on our lips, we’re messengers of the triumphant Christ, the tide of warfare irreversibly on our facet.

The Soldier’s Sneakers

Some uncertainty surrounds the Christian soldier’s footwear in Ephesians 6:15. In Roman warfare (from which Paul appears to have drawn a few of his imagery), a soldier’s footwear helped him to stand firmly underneath assault — and in context, Paul calls Christians to “stand” thrice (Ephesians 6:11, 13–14). So perhaps “the readiness given by the gospel of peace” means our readiness to face immovable within the true gospel relatively than being “tossed backward and forward . . . by each wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14).

Then again, Paul’s language right here bears a hanging resemblance to the prophet Isaiah’s description of the glad gospel messenger: “How lovely upon the mountains are the toes of him who brings excellent news, who publishes peace, who brings excellent news of happiness!” (Isaiah 52:7). Iain Duguid notes that the phrases toes, excellent news, and peace seem carefully collectively solely thrice in Scripture: Isaiah 52:7, Nahum 1:15 (an echo of the Isaiah textual content), and Ephesians 6:15. These footwear, then, appear made for greater than standing agency: they’re made for marching.

Discover additionally the fury of the satan’s assaults in Ephesians 6. On this battle, flaming darts fly, swords maim, and helmets get examined. Solely “the entire armor of God” will guard us (Ephesians 6:13). Take into account, nevertheless: Upon what sort of church is the satan prone to launch such a full-throttled assault? Upon a relaxed and quiet church? Upon a church that retains to its personal enterprise? Upon a church that shares the gospel solely on Sundays and in small group?

Maybe. The satan hates religion in Christ wherever he finds it. However his actual dread is an advancing church. The toes he hates most are marching toes, tramping toes, toes whose ahead steps thunder his coming doom (Romans 16:20).

“Wherever they go, Christian troopers are prepared, keen, prepared to speak about Jesus.”

Simply as Pharaoh didn’t thoughts the Israelites till they multiplied, the satan could not thoughts silent church buildings all that a lot. However he’ll unleash his powers to maintain the entrance line from advancing, to maintain the church of Christ from putting yet one more foot on his area of darkness. He’ll bend again his bow towards any man or girl who embraces Paul’s ambition: “[Pray] for me, that phrases could also be given to me in opening my mouth boldly” (Ephesians 6:19).

Evangelistic Misconceptions

Paul’s description of the church’s evangelistic activity corrects some frequent misconceptions.

First, Paul arms this armor to the entire church, not simply its pastors and evangelists. Sure, the risen Christ has given “evangelists” to the church (Ephesians 4:11), these splendidly stressed saints who itch to talk of Jesus and appear to take action effortlessly. However Jesus gave such evangelists “to equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4:12), a piece that features talking “the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15). Some Christians are formal, gifted evangelists; each Christian is a messenger.

Second, Paul has in thoughts proactive, not merely reactive, evangelism. Christians who observe Jesus faithfully could certainly appeal to discover and even questions, and our gospel footwear make us prepared for such moments (1 Peter 3:15). However the toes of God’s messengers are “lovely” exactly as a result of they “carry excellent news” (Isaiah 52:7), not as a result of they provide it when requested. Such footwear ship us to individuals and locations we by no means would have approached in any other case. They spur us to cross oceans or cross streets, strike up phrases with strangers and ask daring questions, invite over neighbors nobody else would.

Third, devoted evangelism depends much more on will and want than it does on strategies. Little question, strategies might be useful in evangelism. However strategies can’t create a want to share Christ the place it doesn’t exist already. So, in Ephesians 6:15, Paul fastens upon the Christian soldier’s readiness: “As footwear on your toes . . . placed on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.” Wherever they go, Christian troopers are prepared, keen, prepared to speak about Jesus.

With Christ Our Captain

Maybe, like me, you need assistance placing on these footwear. I can consider two current conditions the place I used to be not prepared and missed a wide-open alternative to talk a phrase about Jesus. On many days, I discover myself much more able to work, relaxation, learn, play, eat, and even do chores than to say “Jesus” to a pal or neighbor. How, then, would possibly we grow to be extra prepared to talk the gospel of peace?

“Each devoted phrase you communicate has the authority of the King behind it. Each hill you see will sooner or later wave his flag.”

In some methods, merely meditating on that phrase readiness would possibly start to form our day by day prayers and plans. Prepared Christians, or Christians who need to be prepared, have a behavior of praying, “Lord, give me alternatives to talk of you at the moment — and provides me the braveness to take them.” In addition they have a behavior of placing themselves in locations and amongst individuals the place alternatives are prone to come up.

However essentially the most stirring ideas come from remembering the type of non secular battle we’re combating — and what Captain we observe.

He Got here and Conquered

Take into account, first, the Captain you observe. In contrast to some, he doesn’t subject instructions from the again of his military. Nor does he conceal himself amongst his troops, like some Ahab sporting one other’s robes (1 Kings 22:30). No, earlier than he ever handed us footwear and referred to as us to go, “he got here” (Ephesians 2:17). He got here and preached peace. He got here and made peace. He got here and turned our peace (Ephesians 2:14–15, 17). He rode not simply on the head of the military, however alone, completely alone — our solitary Victor, excessive and lifted up.

And now, his each name comes with a promise: “Behold, I’m with you all the time” (Matthew 28:20). The footwear he arms us are an invite to run in his lovely footsteps, to publish the peace he received, and all alongside the way in which, to know a fellowship with him that comes solely as we advance his trigger.

He Will Fill the Earth

Then, second, look to the place your Captain leads. When Paul mentions the “rulers” and “authorities,” the “cosmic powers” and “non secular forces of evil” in Ephesians 6:12, he certainly means for us to see them as fearsome enemies. However he additionally means for us to recollect what he wrote in chapter 1, the place he tells us that Jesus, our risen Lord, is now seated on the proper hand of the throne of God, “far above all rule and authority and energy and dominion” (Ephesians 1:21). He’s, furthermore, “head over all issues,” with the church as “his physique, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:22–23).

Christ, our exalted and unassailable Captain, already holds dominion over each foe. Their time is brief, their days numbered. His kingdom has already unfold to a level horrible for our enemy to see. And the spreading should proceed. His kingdom will advance till the gates of hell lie fallen beneath the toes of the triumphant physique of Christ.

And so, J.I. Packer writes to each trembling evangelist,

You aren’t on a idiot’s errand. You aren’t losing both your time or theirs. You haven’t any purpose to be ashamed of your message, or halfhearted and apologetic in delivering it. You will have each purpose to be daring, and free, and pure, and hopeful of success. (Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, 116)

Each devoted phrase you communicate has the authority of the King behind it. Each hill you see will sooner or later wave his flag. Don’t think about, then, Christian, that you’re a soldier merely on protection. Sure, take the entire armor of God; defend your self from assault. However put in your footwear as properly — and pray and run and communicate beneath the banner of your advancing King.

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