CHRISTIAN OBLIGATIONS – TO ENGAGE IN THE BATTLE
By Ian Henderson (C.W. Vice-Chairman)
Edited from an address given at the High Leigh Bible Conference, 2016
The Word of God states – in Jude v 3 – to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” or – in other words – “to engage in the battle.”
It is a plain fact that the Protestant Reformed faith is under threat today as never before – it is under threat from various sources – including atheism, Islam, Ecumenism and Romanism.
Sadly, many Ministers today choose to take a neutral stance on virtually every issue – presumably so that they don’t offend others or jeopardise their own positions. But the Word of God is very clear – and the Lord Jesus Christ did not preach to please all His hearers – the disciples did not preach to please all their hearers. They preached so that men and women could hear the good news of the Gospel and seek the Lord in repentance – and if people were offended (and many of the religious leaders were) – so be it.
Why is the Church not active today? Is it because God’s people are not engaged in the battle?
How many times have you heard prayers offered, prayers that bemoan the state of our nation? And yet we must ask ourselves some pertinent questions:
- Why is the Church not taking the Gospel message to the people – the people in the streets who do not come into the Churches? Is it because God’s people are not engaged in the battle? Let me ask you – when did you last give out a Gospel tract – organise/support an open-air meeting – do some door- knocking?
- Why is the Church not opposing the evil in their communities? Why is it silent? Is it because God’s people close their eyes to the sin all around them and are not engaged in the battle?
- Why is the Church not providing more practical support for the brethren across the world who ARE doing the Lord’s work and are being imprisoned because of it? Is it because God’s people are not engaged in the battle?
- Does your heart burn to do something in the Lord’s service – or are you simply not engaged in the battle? You leave it to others.
- Do you desire to stand unashamedly for the Lord’s cause and for the cause of the Gospel, but no leadership is given – or are you simply not engaged in the battle? Maybe your role is that of leadership!
I want to suggest to you that you and I have to take responsibility for the state in which we find the Church today – as we are not engaged in the battle as we ought to be.
We are not engaged in the battle as were our forefathers.
The Church has gone quiet – most people find it to be irrelevant in today’s society – it allows sin all around us to abound without being challenged.
In fact, in some instances, the Church actually promotes sin. Men in high office in the Church no longer believe that the Bible is the Word of God and they challenge its authority.
Next year – 2017 – we celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation – OR – do we celebrate?
What does the Protestant Reformation mean to you?
What does the Protestant Reformation mean to me?
Do you look at Rome through the eyes – as it were – of the Protestant Reformers – through the eyes of Martin Luther who came out from Popery and nailed his 95 theses to the Church door at Wittenburg – or do you feel today that Rome is no longer the threat that it once was?
Today, we are in a battle
- a battle against atheism
- a battle against Ecumenism
- a battle against Romanism
- a battle against Islam – and many other isms – but are we?
Are we really engaged in the battle – or do we just drift along to Church Sunday by Sunday (maybe even being SMOs – Sunday Mornings only) and simply expect the Church doors to be open for us, the central heating to be turned on and the comfortable cushions laid out on the pews?
But – if we – as the Lord’s people – do not engage in the battle – who will?
Let me briefly summarise some of the battle-lines in which we, as Protestants, ought to be engaged:
1. We ought to be contending for the Protestant Reformed Christian faith and be a bulwark against further declension from the old paths.
2. We ought to adhere to the boundaries as laid down by the Word of God alone and defined by the great Confessions of Faith.
3. We ought to seek adherence to the Authorised Version of the Scriptures – the AV 1611 King James Bible – as being the most accurate translation of the Scriptures into the English language.
4. We ought to expose the failings of modern Bible translations and their link with the spiritual declension in so many Churches today.
5. We ought to lobby in support of other true Christians who are suffering persecution – and act in support of organisations and ministries who are working specifically in the areas concerned.
6. We ought to be in regular contact with Government Ministers at Westminster when Christian freedoms are threatened and Biblical standards of morality are challenged by the introduction of ungodly legislation.
7. We ought to lobby against ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’, such as Ministers of local Churches who openly support godless lifestyles as being acceptable.
8. We ought to expose the ‘big names’ in neo-Evangelicalism who embrace Roman Catholic doctrines and others, for instance, who promote the false theory of evolution.
9. We ought to expose dangerous teachings such as the Alpha Course and their links with Rome.
We need to be watchmen – engaged in the battle.
Are you a watchman?
Are you – am I – engaged in the battle?
What is a watchman? What is the responsibility of a watchman? Well, the job of a watchman in the Church is to give a warning cry – to sound the alarm – at the erosion of our Christian liberties whenever they may occur.
For the past 43 years, we, in the United Kingdom, have been under threat from a godless European Union – a Union promoted strongly by the Roman Catholic hierarchy.
23rd June, 2016 – just 6 months ago – was a great day for this once great nation of ours – our Independence Day – but we – as Christians – need to be on our guard. Can ungodly politicians be trusted? Does Brexit mean Brexit? We are still not free from the shackles of the European Union – a Roman Catholic super-state – we must remain engaged in the battle. There is much to be done – we must not leave it to others.
This Protestant nation of ours – thanks to the European Union and its open door immigration policy – is under threat today from militant Islamic expansion and persecution – as well as false Christianity. Are you engaged in the battle?
We are under threat because of wicked legislation designed to prosecute and persecute Christians who dare to preach the Gospel in the public arena – who dare to stand against evil. Are you engaged in the battle?
The people of God have a great responsibility – they have a responsibility and a duty to stand up for righteousness in a godless society – and our first duty must be to God. Where a Government, or a people, or a law, is against the Word of God, we have a duty to make this fact known – whatever the consequences.
Let’s just take a quick look at some Bible characters –
John the Baptist lost his life for pointing out the evil of Herod taking his brother’s wife.
Daniel was a lone voice on the night of Belshazzar’s feast – and ended up in the den of lions.
Elijah stood alone on Mount Carmel against the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of the groves.
Jeremiah was a lone voice and was persecuted and imprisoned for his stand for the Lord.
Gideon continued trusting in the Lord, even as he saw his army reduced from 32,000 to 300.
Did God fail any of them?
No – He did not – and He will never fail those who put their trust in Him. But these men all had one thing in common – they were all engaged in the battle. Are you – am I – engaged in the battle today?
For centuries – since the Protestant Reformation – there has been one citadel of Protestantism that Rome has sought to destroy – and that is Protestant England. We are living today in a day when she has all but achieved her objective. In Victorian times, the great revivals of evangelical Protestantism fostered and encouraged worldwide missions. England became the acknowledged head of the Protestant nations.
The growth, power and prestige of this country were due, at that time, to our evangelical past and God honours those who honour Him. But the reverse is true today – for today we have departed from God more than any generation of people since the Protestant Reformation.
In the 19th century, Protestant societies were formed – let’s just remind ourselves of some of them:
- the Protestant Reformation Society in 1821
- the Protestant Alliance in 1845
- the Protestant Truth Society in 1895
Today, they are now but only a shadow of what they once were. Others – like the National Union of Protestants in 1940 or the British Bible Union and the Bible Testimony Fellowship have ceased to operate and we saw them replaced, as time went by, by a new Movement – the World Council of Churches – and the idea of a world Church and Church unity came to the fore.
What happened to our Protestant voice?
Most of the larger denominations joined the World Council of Churches – and today are co-operating with Rome in many of their activities; and it is against this background that Rome hopes to destroy us.
So the question must be asked again – are you willing to be engaged in the battle
- a battle against the might of Rome
- a battle against the wealth of the Vatican
- a battle against the power of the priest?
Who is on the Lord’s side is the battle-cry – are you willing and ready to enlist?
The trials endured in Northern Ireland in recent decades are largely due to two factors – the influence of Roman Catholicism on the one hand and a dead ecumenical Protestantism on the other. Our loss of character as a nation has developed as we have departed further and further from God but, at the same time, Rome continues to seek to gain influence and to equate herself with Christianity in the minds of the majority of the people. Rome’s influence can be seen in the media – Archbishops of Canterbury rush to pay their respects to the Pope – Free Church Ministers invite Roman Catholic priests to address meetings in their Churches; but Roman Catholicism preaches a false Gospel and it is not a Christian Church. Rome denies the sufficiency of God’s grace to save men. Roman Catholicism, in its official teachings, rejects Sola Scriptura and places its traditions and superstitions on a par with the Scriptures – thus effectively adding to the Word of God.
Rome also denies that the death of our Lord Jesus Christ was sufficient to atone for the sins of His people. This denial can be seen in the blasphemous Roman Catholic Mass which claims to offer Christ as a sacrificial victim, again and again, on the altar at each Mass; thus denying the Word of God that Christ’s sacrifice was paid once and for all on the cross of Calvary.
For centuries, this nation of ours held to the Biblical position that the Pope of Rome is that man of sin and son of perdition – as described in 2 Thess. 2 v 3 – but, today, we see widespread and growing acceptance of the Papacy within the fold of the Christian Church.
On 16th July, many evangelicals joined hands (apparently in the name of unity in the Lord Jesus Christ) at an event called TOGETHER 2016. Many professing Christian celebrities took part and the organiser – a man named Nick Hall of Pulse (which is apparently a student led evangelism movement) – gathered more than 1000 Churches nationwide to join in prayer for Christian TOGETHER 2016 unity as found in Psalm 133 v 1 –Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. ”
But this unity at TOGETHER 2016 is not the unity spoken about in the Scriptures – this unity is a false man-made unity which includes unity with Pope Francis, who included a personal video message for the event. There is a battle being waged and it is the bounden duty of every Christian – every Protestant – to oppose, not only Rome, but also the false ecumenical unity being propagated at events such as this.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon – the Prince of Preachers – once said “it is the bounden duty of every Christian to pray against antiChrist; and as to what anti-Christ is, no sane man ought to raise a question. If it be not the popery in the Church of Rome, there is nothing in the world that can be called by that name. ”
But is Rome part of the Christian Church?
I trust that we are all agreed on the answer, but in case there is any doubt let me quote Pope Francis. A few months ago he stated that Christ’s work on the cross was a failure.
A few weeks ago he stated that –To say that you have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ is dangerous.
And in recent weeks he said that – Jesus Christ is not our hope; but Mary and the Mother Church are.
So there is but one answer – Evangelicals, Protestants, must awake to the pressing need and the imminent danger in which wefind ourselves. We MUST engage in the battle — we MUST stop pussy-footing on Romanism – and we MUST put our own house in order – the serious nature of the days in which we live demands that we all get engaged in the battle.
Is it not the case that in many of our Churches today we would be surprised to see unbelievers come in – we preach the Gospel to those who are already saved and neglect the sinners who are outside in the streets. Multitudes around us are ignorant of the Gospel and its message – and the world rushes on to judgment. But Protestantism is an open-air plant – it needs no hot-house cultivation. It thrives in the strong winds of opposition, but is weak and sickly when cultivated indoors.
The Protestant Reformation was a revival – the Reformers were Gospel preachers – and we today are the spiritual descendants of these Reformers. We must battle against Rome – we must battle against any departure from the Scriptures.
We must be active in evangelism – reaching the people in our immediate neighbourhood with the Gospel.Whether it be what The fight against Rome we could call Campaign Evangelism, Rural Evangelism, Literature Evangelism, Child Evangelism – every possible God-honouring form of evangelism – our single purpose must be the salvation of precious souls – young, old, male and female.
The Reformers cried from the stake – NONE BUT CHRIST; the Puritans made Christ the centre of their writings and sermons. The Victorian evangelicals – Moody, Spurgeon and the rest – were all constant in the same theme – the Lord Jesus Christ.
Will you engage in the battle today for the Lord and maintain a witness for the truth? We are called to contend – contend for what? Contend for something valuable – the Word of God says “contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Why was it delivered? Because it is a valuable heritage and treasure. We today are those with a commission – “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. ”
- The Gospel which brings freedom and light.
- The Gospel which breaks the chains of sin.
- The Gospel which brings decency and high standards and a love of righteousness into society.
In our work and witness, we ought to be engaged in the battle. We are contending for the faith – contending for real Christianity – Christianity that can transform lives. Is that not a battle worth engaging in?
“Contend” says the Apostle, “for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”
To contend for something means we have to strive for it. Battle is involved. Controversy is inevitable. But the Authorised Version doesn’t just tell us to contend. It says “EARNESTLY CONTEND”. Look it up for yourselves in Jude v 3. That may not be very comfortable these days – but let us see to it that future generations don’t curse us for our laziness – don’t curse us for our apathy.
We are contending for something historic.
We are contending for something valuable.
We are contending for something in jeopardy – nothing less than the furtherance of the Gospel of Christ in our land and the maintenance of our Protestant heritage.
“Earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” – so says the Scriptures.
Engage in the battle – don’t leave it to others – be proud to be a Protestant – and God will give us the victory. We may well have a fight on our hands – but the outcome is assured.
May God enable us by His grace to be soldiers for Jesus Christ and to enlist in God’s army.
So let us all be engaged in the battle and “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints”. Amen
As the stars do not make Heaven, but only decorate and adorn it, even so works do not merit Heaven, but adorn and decorate the faith which justifieth.