Thursday, March 10, 2011

You've Been Drafted

The Draft
Ephesians 6:10-20 "Put on the Whole Armor of God"
Not many of us today remember what it was like to live during the Second World war, especially not many of those reading (or writing) this. I certainly don't, I wasn't even a whisper of a person then. Despite having no memory of it, I've gleaned what I can from those who lived around that time to get a sense of what it was like.

Remembering the Past
Whenever I hear veterans or the elderly talk about their lives during the Great Wars, I always notice something. Something subtle, but altogether striking. The way they speak about their experience sends the clear message that time that they were born in and grew up in was one vastly different than our own. I see a sort detached puzzlement in their eyes at the current state of affairs, like we really have no idea as to what we have before us. In the US we are blessed to be free from war within our own borders, free from the draft, and free from the total transformation of a nation into a holistic war effort that was necessary to secure victory. Frankly, we can "go to war" and the only people that really go are the soldiers. We enjoy a freedom, among countless others, that many people will never enjoy; we enjoy insulation. Insulation from the reality of war and strife around us. One of the results of this freedom can sometimes be laxity. I think that this mindset is held by many leaders in the church and by countless Christians, especially in the US.

The Fact of the Matter
If you're a Christian, a follower of Christ who has been redeemed by His blood, then there's an inherent problem with this mindset. In fact, the reality is that you've been drafted into an Army, and a heavenly one at that.

Silent Soldiers
If you, Christian, are indeed in Christ, you have been drafted. You have been predestined, called, conformed, justified, glorified, and are being sanctified (Romans 12:2, Romans 8:30, Ephesians 4:1). And yet, despite this reality, we live in a way that does not reflect the urgency of the times or our true nature as those redeemed in Christ. Too often do we embrace the peacetime mentality that leads to laziness and a lack of zeal for the Gospel. We in effect become silent soldiers, useless in waging war. 

Roles, Goals, and Tolls
Soldiers never go into a fight without first understanding their roles, their goals, and the possible tolls (at least, those soldiers who want to live). When one's life is on the line, it becomes exceptionally important to know what might endanger that life. Similarly, as Christians we ought to know what our plan of action is, what our roles, goals, and tolls are. We need to understand what sort of warfare we are called to engage in.

Our role: Each of us needs to know what ministry God has called us to, and to do that to the best of our ability. This includes church-specific ministry as well as what God has called us to do vocationally. Furthermore, we need to know how we can best witness and share the Gospel within these roles. The Gospel is

Our Goal: Our ultimate goal is to fulfill the great commandment and commission; to love God and to share the Gospel. These goals are completely unattainable without the proper commander, namely our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Without His atoning blood, we're not even fighting for God. In fact, the situation is far more dire than that: apart from Christ we are enemies of God. 

The Tolls: If we really believe what Scripture says about the exclusivity of Christ and the reality of Heaven and Hell, then ought to be deeply and urgently motivated to share the Gospel. The casualties of the Great Spiritual War that is the central drama of human history are permanent, eternal fatalities. If someone doesn't hear and accept the Gospel before they die, they are lost forever. The reality that millions upon millions of people share this fate should spur us to compassionate, drastic action. 

Battle Plans

So, what does this spiritual warfare look like then? It begins with the accurate realization of the spiritual and impending eternal state of the world we live in and of the people who live in it. This realization ought to bring about action that is distinguished by the following characteristics:

-Radical focus on God and His complete sovereignty; there is no fear that Satan will win this war, for it is already won. Spiritual warfare is not a fight against the demons of the world, but rather a war against unbelief, fleshly desires, and weak faith. Demons may come, but Christ will uphold us. They fight a lost war and we one victorious already.

-Radical faith and fear in and of God. Know that God is sovereign over everything everywhere and that He is working all things for the good of those who He has called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). It has been noted that soldiers are their bravest when they truly have nothing to fear; we, Christians, are the only ones who can truly claim this to be true. No fear in life, no sting in death. Christ won, we cannot lose.

-Understanding the Urgency of the Time. If we really look at each person as one with an eternal state that they might enter into at any moment, we would be much less bashful about sharing the Gospel with them and much more urgent that they come to know its sweetness.

In closing, it is my hope and prayer that you, Christian, consider reality: people need to hear that Gospel, we need to share it. We are all moments away from eternity, and today really is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Believer and unbeliever alike ought to read the text below and wake up: either to Christ or to the reality that we have been called to. 

Ephesians 5:14–16 (ESV)
14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, 
m“Awake, O sleeper, 
and narise from the dead, 
and oChrist will shine on you.” 
15 pLook carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 pmaking the best use of the time, because qthe days are evil.

Wake up,
Mark 

6 comments:

  1. But according to your Calvinist theology we cannot awake UNLESS God awakens us... it is NOT up to us but to HIM. Or do you deny your theology?

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  2. No, I don't deny my theology. Firstly, I'd like to clarify that we prefer not to be simply lumped into the Calvinistic system of theology; we do our best to have biblical theology and to interpret what we see in Scripture as best we can. If that lines up with what Calvin believed, so be it. He would've detested just the term "Calvinism" and would've preferred that it be called "biblicism"; the same with Armin. People from all varieties of theology ought to believe that we need to share the gospel, and it is no different for us.

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  3. I am glad that you have your convictions, but why then do you seem to be calling unbelievers to "wake up" when the Calvinism that you seem to agree with says that only God can wake them?

    Or do you believe instead that totally depraved sinners have the power within themselves to overcome sin, unblind themselves, and "wake up" on their own?

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  4. You're right. Only God can awaken dead hearts. Jesus affirms this in John 6:44, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. but earlier he says in verse 40 that, "this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day."

    Jesus affirms both God's divine calling but also human's responsibility to believe. You can't ignore one or the other. Both things have to be in place for someone to be saved.

    That being said, as Christians, we follow the example of Jesus. In Mark 1:14-15, Jesus calls men to repentance. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

    Jesus calls people to repent. He doesn't talk about predestination or about God drawing people to Himself. He simply calls them to repent and obey.

    Furthermore, God has given every person the means to know Him through creation. Romans 1:19‑20

    What may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature‑‑have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

    Unbelievers do need to wake up and witness what God has already revealed to them. It's not up to people to decide whether or not they've been "woken up". Their job is to worship their Creator, whom they know already know is real.

    And Calvin believes in both divine calling AND human responsibility. Just fyi.

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  5. This still doesn't make sense.....
    If you are born in an area with NO CHRISTIANS and no one to tell you about the specific God that you happen to believe in, then what? They never have a chance to be saved by your standards. God hasn't made it plain to them because quite frankly this person would have no idea what your talking about whether you want to believe it or not.

    You can't say the Christian God reveals himself to everyone when the fact is he hasn't.........

    There is NO reason why a person who hasn't heard of Christianity would one day wake up and believe in Christ. End of story. Nice to know people have a better shot just because they are American ;).

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  6. I'm a different Jim. Sorry for the confusion.

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