Militant: “1: engaged in warfare; 2: aggressively active esp. in a cause” (The Merriam-Webster Dictionary).
These are trying times for the Lord’s church. We are constantly being encouraged and taught that we should love everybody, never offend anyone or be judgmental. The question we are considering in this article is: should the church be militant? And, by definition, the question becomes: should the church be “engaged in warfare”? And should the church be “aggressively active in a cause”? What does the Bible say?
Paul instructed Timothy, “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (II Tim. 2:3). Timothy was a soldier in the Lord’s army. He was engaged in warfare against the enemy. “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (II Tim. 2:4). A soldier, whether in the literal army of our country or in the Lord’s spiritual army, is made by the path of hardship. His way is long and weary, but the price of victory is well worth it. Those in the army of God are there because they have volunteered. None are drafted against their will (Matt. 11:28; Rev. 22:17). Each individual must decided for himself whether he wants to be a part of the army of God. This service is for life (Rev. 2:10). When one becomes a volunteer, he is expected to remain in service until the war is won and the enemy has been defeated. There is no way to be “mustered” out of service. There are no furloughs or leaves of absence. It is true that some go AWOL. The punishment for such desertion is death (Matt. 12:30; 25:46; Rev. 3:5; 20:14-15).
That Christians are to be engaged in warfare is clearly taught in the Scriptures. We are to “war a good warfare” (I Tim. 1:18). “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (II Cor. 10:3-5). We are to fight! “Fight the good fight of faith” (I Tim. 6:12). “. . .ye endured a great fight of afflictions” (Heb. 10:32). And mentioned in Hebrews 11:34, the faithful are those who have “waxed valiant in fight.” Paul mentions, “I have fought a good fight” among the reasons he was to receive a crown of righteousness (II Tim. 4:7-8).
We have a reason to fight. We have an adversary. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Pet. 5:8). Satan is involved in every effort to get us to sin, in every effort to get us to give up or quit, in every effort to be any less a soldier than God and Christ would have us to be. Satan never rests; he never lets up; he never ceases to engage the faithful in his warfare. Those who are enemies of the cross are serving Satan, even though they may appear to be great men and women. Paul spoke of such in Philippians 3:18 and called them “the enemies of the cross of Christ.” The Bible speaks of enemies which the Lord is trying to destroy. Read I Corinthians 15:25 and Hebrews 10:13.
When one becomes a soldier in the Lord’s army, he is fitted with a uniform. Paul describes this uniform in Ephesians 6:11-17: “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation. . .” Perhaps one of the reasons so many refuse to fight today, to be militant, to engage in warfare, to be active in the cause of Christ, is because they have never put on the armour! They are not prepared. They are frightened to death by the enemy. So they argue for spiritual pacifism.
Notice also that the soldier of Christ is to carry a weapon: “. . . and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17b). This weapon is “quick, and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword” and is to be “piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit . . .and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). This weapon can be used to “prick” (Acts 2:37) and “cut” (Acts 7:54). Please take note that our weapon is a sword, which is to be used to engage the enemy in fight. It can and must be used both as a weapon of defense and a weapon of offense. IT IS A SWORD TO FIGHT WITH AND NOT A BUTTER KNIFE TO SPREAD BUTTER!
The question is not SHOULD the church be militant. The church, if she is to fulfill her role as taught in Scripture, MUST be militant. It is high time that our cowardly preachers unsheath their swords and once more engaged the enemy in battle. The problem is in far too many cases, the enemy is US! How about you? Are you a good soldier of Jesus Christ?
-Paul M. Wilmoth