The Old Paths

The Old Paths

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

In almost every major war preceding World War I, men met face-to-face on the battlefield. The weapons used by soldiers had not changed much in thousands of years, so engagement distances were limited to 100 or so meters at most. By World War I, the bolt-action rifle had been perfected, machine guns were everywhere, some artillery pieces had a range of 80 miles, people fought in the skies for the first time, and some soldiers even had portable machine guns.

Commanding officers didn’t care, though. Soldiers always charged into battle; that was a thing. This was how they had fought for thousands of years, so why change now? They threw soldiers’ lives away over and over again, each charge being erased by the enormous volume of bullets. Why hadn’t they changed tactics after the first couple of failed charges? 9.7 million soldiers died in World War I (https://www.census.gov/history/pdf/reperes112018.pdf). A hefty percentage of them would have survived if the commanding officers had just changed tactics.

Christianity is warfare (Eph 6.12; II Cor 10.3-6; II Tim 2.3ff). We fight our own nature, the influence of evil, and the involvement of the enemy (satan). Christianity is also a rescue operation – we’re trying to save people! Just as with any war, the enemy is always trying to stay one step ahead. Ours is the most advanced threat anyone could face! No stakes are higher, no enemy more powerful, and he’s primarily concerned with causing as much damage as possible. He knows he’s doomed (cf Matt 8.29), which makes him an enemy with nothing to lose. We KNOW he’s used evolving tactics over the millennia.

The message Jesus gave us is timeless and can never be changed. The way Jesus wants his church to operate is timeless. Doctrine cannot be changed. But this gospel is not confined by an era or aesthetic. The message is relevant across time, culture, and understanding. If we confine Christianity to a form that hasn’t been in common use for a long time, do we not demonstrate a lack of faith in his timeless message? Worse yet, it would mean our rescue operation is several steps behind the enemy’s offensive.

We have the most powerful entity as our ally, but this mission is ours. What God wants to accomplish will be accomplished. Since this mission is ours, we must execute it as effectively as possible! How? The message is timeless, so it works in any culture and time. Match it to our culture and time in every way that doesn’t compromise (I Cor 9.19-23), and let God’s power do the rest.

“Our fight is not against people on earth. We are fighting powers of darkness. We are fighting against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph 6.12).

via National WWI Museum and Memorial.
A Global Adversary

A Global Adversary

Neal Pollard

In the wake of the recent siege on an upscale mall in Nairobi, Kenya, the Kenyan Government has mentioned the possible role played by American teen boys and a British woman–perhaps the infamous “White Widow” linked to the London Bombing in 2005–in the deadly attack led by Somali militants.  Since our nation went to war after the attacks on September 11, 2001, the government has frequently stated that this war is unique.  It is not against a particular nation per se or even a specific religion.  It is against particular people, bound together by a similar philosophy, mindset, and methodology.  Such a war is difficult to prosecute, since a front might pop up in Indonesia, Kenya, or no one knows where.

As formidable, frightening, and frustrating as such a foe is, Christians of every generation have been engaged in similar warfare.  It is not with people, but the devil (1 Pet. 5:8).  The warfare is most unique.  Paul writes, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5).  The warfare, weapons, and tactics are unconventional and spiritual.  We do not conquer by subjugating or injuring–we lose if we do that.  In fact, we are not the conquerors in this sense.  The battle belongs to the Lord.  Victory occurs when those fighting for the enemy leave his camp and come over to the Lord’s side.

We personally wage that war here at home, but the battle rages across the planet.  We may wage it thousands of miles from home, but our fellow-spiritual soldiers all over the world are armed with the gospel and on the front lines. Unlike the war on terror, Christians know this battle must rage until Christ comes again.  May we never surrender!