Author: Vincent Stevens

The Need to Train for Battle

The moment we enter this new spiritual life, we are thrust into the middle of a battle, a spiritual war. Since this new spiritual life is unfamiliar to us, spiritual warfare is also unfamiliar. The lack of clarity of this new life causes us to conclude that preparation (spiritual training) for this battle is not necessary. There is a tendency to interpret discipleship (spiritual training) as an invasion of privacy that forces us to submit to the direction of others; however, we should look at it as a training process that equips us for spiritual battle and growth. We have to be taught to understand how to use our spiritual weaponry, armor, and to comprehend the strategies that our adversary is directing to us for our failure in spiritual development.

Discipleship is so essential because this is where most of the casualties of spiritual warfare begin to take place. Just like in a natural battle, soldiers must be trained and developed to prepare them for the battle at hand. We must be taught to understand who the enemy is and the tactics he employs. We must also be taught to understand the rules of engagement–the process of spiritual warfare.

It is ironic that this emerging generation of Christians tends to dumb down or ignore the complexities of spiritual warfare. Psychological and human reasoning solves everything this generation seeks to accomplish. We tend to talk less of Satan, his demons and the strategy to disrupt the course of our destiny, and instead utilize the world’s perspectives to interpret culture and society and its problems. The goal is to be embraced by the world and get along with those who don’t know Christ.

Paul tells us in the book of Ephesians, “to put on the whole armor of God so that we may be able to stand in the evil day” (Ephesians 6:13). We put on this armor in order to have the ability to withstand the onslaughts of Satan’s attacks in our lives, yet this is spiritual armor that we have never seen or utilized up to this point in life. Discipleship allows us to learn from someone more familiar with the battle and use the tools necessary to be successful in this struggle.

To ignore spiritual armor and the training needed to wear it is like a soldier going into battle without any sense of preparation, weaponry or defensive capability to engage and win the fight. This is a solider in preparation to lose. Many Christians today sing songs of victory while living a life of loss.

In addition to a soldier’s armor, we also need to understand Satan’s strategies of warfare. We understand that Satan himself is a deceiver, and disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). We must understand the part of his strategy that is designed to distract us or deceive us. It will cause us to think that our enemy is other people and not be of a demonic source (Ephesians 6:12). This misunderstanding will cause the immature Christian to believe that everything of God feels good, and anything that feels bad is the result of bad luck. It also tends to cause an immature believer to think that the Godly life is without challenge, discomfort and loss.

The discipleship process is God’s way of building us up for the challenges to come. Satan does not want us to be successful in pursuing God’s direction for our lives, so he seeks to redirect us. Discipleship is not something to reject but to embrace. Let us train so that we can impact the world!

Evangelism

Good

Matthew 28:19a “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,…

A key responsibility for Christians is to evangelize the world. Unfortunately, our willingness to evangelize is limited primarily to group outreach or church programs instead of individual or relational contact. It seems probable that many Christians are somewhat fearful of expressing their faith. Either the opposition to Christianity comes across very aggressively or Christians are unprepared to present that which we say has changed our life.

In reading Matthew 28:19, the responsibility of sharing our faith is a command for believers. In fact, the goal is to not just to make converts, but “disciples of all the nations”. To be a disciple means to not only be converted, but to also attach oneself to a teacher and follow his/her conduct and way of life—this requires much more than telling your testimony to someone and dropping off a church track to someone. This process must become a continuing growth expression that helps one become a contributing member of the body of Christ and the local church.

At best, people are converted and then left alone to fend for themselves. This creates a challenge of retention for the local church and a lack of growth for the convert. When we make a person a disciple, we are teaching them to be disciplined to patterns of Christian faith.

The other problem many Christians have is the inability to present the “good news” of Jesus Christ. The responsibility to evangelize means to present the good news of Jesus Christ, or to present the core message of the Christian faith. The goal is to lead them to a growing and life changing relationship with Jesus Christ; tracks and testimonies do not effectively share the person of Jesus Christ. When I want to introduce you to a good friend, I will not hand you their biographical sketch. I will tell you about them personally highlighting their strengths and the advantages a friendship with them offers.

When we offer our testimony as a form of evangelism, we are putting the emphasis on us and not Jesus Christ. When you present your experience to people it tends to give the listener a sense of responsibility of recreating the same experience to find the same result.

Early on in my Christian walk, evangelism was telling people about hell. When someone is being recruited to a college or organization, the last thing you would expect to hear is the bad side of an organization or college. We would expect their strengths to be presented, the good news of the company or organization.


Today it’s time for the Church to re-energize its primary mission and get back to the heart of evangelism. At a time when the world is in confusion and discord, Jesus is the answer!

Acts 8:12
But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike. (NASB)


Unity

Romans 15:5-6
5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind
with one another according to Christ Jesus, 6 so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (NASB)



It is concerning to note that today as we watch confusion and disorientation rise in our cities, nation and world, that the church presents itself in a manner just as disoriented and confused. In many cases the church has taken on the confusion that the world has impressed upon it. The present elections are a clear example of the divisiveness that has infected the church. Political candidate, political party, and the different views on issues that magnify themselves in this culture are dividing Christians. We are taking sides against ourselves within the world’s system.


In addition, the Church is further divided by its own subcultures. Within the community of the Church we are divided by race (Black Church and White Church) — Sunday morning is still the most segregated time of the week. The commitment to social organizations (Masonic and Fraternal affiliations), outshines our fellowship as Christians. We wear our colors and symbols to distinguish ourselves from other believers. Many Christians flaunt their associations with these organizations more than they do the church. I have sat in seminary and watched preachers debate the merits of their organization more than they do the Kingdom of God. We shout out our Denominations and churches (Southern Baptist and Methodist). People demonstrate their affiliation with their church more than their affiliation to the Lord. We also find much separation from our doctrinal/theological positions (Reformist and Charismatic). We argue more our differences than we do our unity and strengths together. In the midst of the world’s disorientation, the community of God has a great opportunity to stand up and let our light shine before men, but we must first remove our lampshades.


The disorientation and discord in the community of the church only presents a church of dysfunction to the world. At a time when we should be presenting our Lord in all his glory amidst a lost and dying world, we instead reflect the world and its ever-changing culture. If Jesus is the only answer, then it is the responsibility of the church and the church alone to fulfill this task. Although we live in a Democracy, we function under a Theocracy. We must present our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ as the most prominent value in our lives. …more to come!



Galatians 3:27-28
27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (NASB)