"Fight the good fight of faith..." 1 Timothy 6:12
"After ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions," says the Word of God in Hebrews 10:32. Life involves warfare. Life is made manifest in warfare, and is developed and strengthened by warfare. This is the law of God in nature, and the law of God in grace. So, my brother, the trumpet of the gospel gives no uncertain sound. We are called to warfare. In the spiritual world as in the natural, foes are permitted to exist: that we, as God's children, in fighting and overcoming them may grow in grace and strength, and make manifest the beauty and the power of that life which has been imparted to us to the praise and glory of our God. Therefore:
"Count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience." (James 1:2,3)
"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." (I Peter 4:12,13)
"Every branch [in me] that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit." (John 15:2)
"For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." (Hebrews 12:6)
"The God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you." (I Peter 5:10)
Thus the Lord puts before us our calling. The Lord is "the Lord of Hosts." "The Lord is a Man of War." All who follow Him are called unto conflict.
"If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and
take up his cross, and follow me." (Matthew 16:24)
Let us ever bear in mind that this warfare comes after we are illuminated -- comes because we are God's children, not to make us God's children. We are working out the salvation we have received, making manifest the life that God has put within us: working "with fear and trembling" indeed, in view of our terrible foes, and our constant need of divine help; and in view of the fact that "it is God which worketh in [us] both to will and to do of his good pleasure." But we are working not for, but from salvation. Illuminated, we stand as lights in this dark earth to shine for the glory of God, way-marks against which the world will rage — just as the waves of the ocean foam and toss themselves against the beacons on the coast, that have invaded their domain to save the mariner from the ruin they would inflict.
God-hating devils and men have always hated God's children, and always will. A man wearing the English uniform, and bearing the English flag, passing through Upper Egypt today, would be an object of hate and persecution, and be in danger of death. He would be identified with a Government against which the people were fighting, and whose rule they refused. He would be in an enemy's territory, and could not have peace, if loyal to his country and to his flag. He must fight or throw off his uniform, and hide his colors. So a Christian in the world is in an enemy's country. God's rule is rebelled against, His authority despised; His very existence denied. We cannot be loyal to God on this earth without warfare — uncompromising, unceasing hostility to the very end. It is to this God calls us as His witnesses. If "illuminated," here is where we must stand — shoulder to shoulder with those who have girdled the earth with the name of Jesus; holding forth the Word of Life, standing fast for God and His truth: or basely hide our illumination, lay off our uniform, forsake our colors, and be at peace — false peace — with the enemies of our God. May God save us from this! "For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels" (Luke 9:26).
If discouraged or depressed in mind in view of the conflict, let us look up to Jesus, as commanded in Hebrews 12:2. Look to Jesus, the princely Leader of our faith, who has gone on before us, enduring the cross, despising the shame. Let us remember the great cloud of witnesses: the saints and heroes who, upon earth's battlefield, have witnessed a good confession, and died in the faith.
"Once they were mourners here below
And poured out cries and tears;
They wrestled hard as we do now,
With sins, and doubts, and fears."
Let us go forth unto Christ in separation and communion, joining the host of sanctified ones who have suffered reproach for His name's sake; seeking here no continuing city, but looking for one to come: and then we shall be enabled, with a clear eye and a steady heart, to "run with patience the race that is set before us," and to fight on in the good fight of faith; and "having done all, to stand."
It is grand to be a soldier of Jesus Christ; for His soldiers are not for show, but for war.
Forward then, with Jesus sharing
In the warfare here below!
Forward! in His name unfearing,
Boldly meeting every foe.
Count it never a disaster,
When the shame for Him you bear,
But rejoice that such a Master,
Gives you in His cross a share.
Unto sin be daily dying,
That His life may through thee shine;
Find thy strength in lowly lying
At the piercéd feet divine.
Soon the earthly conflict over,
Christ will come to claim His own;
Oh, the grace— the grace, my brother!—
If He then shall say, "Well done!"
From Life, Warfare and Victory by D. W. Whittle. Chicago: Moody Press, 1899.
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