by Mike Ratliff
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, (Ephesians 6:10-17 ESV)
A dear friend sent me Roger Oakland’s book Faith Undone, which is a very good exposition of the “emerging church.” I have quoted from it since I received it, but I have not had the time to simply sit and devour it. I began that process today. I highly recommend this book to all desiring to know the truth of what some have called “a new reformation.” The “movement” is not biblically based at all. Instead, it has its roots in the existential philosophy of Soren Kierkegaard repackaged by business guru Peter Drucker. Oakland gives us the names of the “Christian” leaders who have bought into this deception. Some are those we know well such as Brian McLaren and Leonard Sweet, but there are others that we don’t normally think of being in the “emergent movement” such as Rick Warren and Bill Hybels. In any case, what we must determine is what we are to do when those whose agenda is nothing more than the destruction and replacement of our Orthodox faith attack it at every level.
I confess that there have been times that I have been taken by surprise by the reactions of the defenders of the emergent agenda when I have used nothing more than God’s Word to show the heretical nature of what these people teach. It is a very odd thing to point to clear doctrinal truth in God’s Word and that be shrugged off by those who have obviously elevated their philosophy to a higher level of authority than the Bible, but who demand to be included in the Church. Some have reacted by disdaining the “label” Christian though. Instead, they insist that they are “Christ Followers.” This is an obvious tactic to show that they consider Orthodox Christianity with its focus on the eternal to be dead while their mystical religion and focus on bringing in the Kingdom of God physically to earth is the true religion. This fits in very well with Rob Bell’s insistence that the primary mission of our Lord Jesus in His incarnation as a man was to teach people the correct way to live. Also, it does away with Penal Substitution since the focus is on the here and now instead of eternity.
Some would say that we are to do nothing about these attacks, that God will deal with them. I agree with the latter part of that statement, but we are commanded throughout God’s Word to stand firm, rebuke, and exhort from it because it alone is our source of absolute truth. In John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress The Second Part we are introduced to a character named Valiant-for-truth.
Then they went on, and just at the place where Little-faith formerly was robbed, there stood a man with his sword drawn, and his face all bloody. Then said Mr. Great-heart, What art thou? The man made answer, saying, I am one whose name is Valiant-for-truth. I am a Pilgrim and am going to the Celestial City. Now, as I was in my Way, there were three men did beset me, and propounded unto me these three things: 1. Whether I would become one of them? 2. Or go back from whence I came? 3. Or die upon the Place? To the first I answered, I had been a true man a long season, and therefore it could not be expected that I now should cast in my lot with thieves. Then they demanded that I would say to the second. So I told them that the place from whence I came, had I not found incommodity there, I had not forsaken it at all; but finding it altogether unsuitable to me, and very unprofitable for me, I forsook it for this Way. Then they asked me what I said to the third. And I told them, my Life cost more dear far than I should lightly give it away. Besides, you have nothing to do thus to put things to my choice; wherefore at your peril be it, if you meddle. Then these three, to wit, Wild-head, Inconsiderate, and Prgmatick, drew upon me, and I also drew upon them.
So we fell to it, one against three, for the space of above three hours. They have left upon me, as you see, some of the marks of their valour, and have also carried away with them some of mine. They are but just now gone: I suppose they might, as the saying is, hear your horse dash, and so they betook them to flight.
Great-heart. But here was great odds, three against one.
Valiant. ‘Tis true; but little and more are nothing to him that has the Truth on his side: Though an Host should encamp against me, said one, my heart shall not fear: Though War should rise against me, in this will I be confident, &c. Besides, said he, I have read in some records, that one man has fought an army: And how did Sampson slay with the jaw-bone of an ass?
Great-heart. Then said the Guide, Why did you not cry out, that some might ha’ came in for your succour?
Valiant. So I did to my King, who I knew could hear, and afford invisible Help, and that was sufficient for me.
Great-heart. Then said Great-heart to Mr. Valiant-for-truth, Thou has worthily behaved thyself; let me see thy Sword; so he shewed it him.
When he had taken it in hand, and looked thereon a while, he said, Ha! It is a right Jerusalem blade.
Valiant. It is so. Let a man have one of these blades, with a hand to wield it, and skill to use it, and he may venture upon an Angel with it. He need not fear its holding, if he can but tell how to lay on. Its edges will never blunt. It will cut flesh, and bones, and soul, and spirit and all.
Great-heart. But you fought a great while, I wonder you was not weary.
Valiant. I fought till my Sword did cleave to my hand, when they were joined together, as if a sword grew out of my arm; and when the blood ran through my fingers, then I fought with most courage.
Great-heart. Thou hast done well, thou hast resisted unto blood, striving against Sin; thou shalt abide by us, come in, and go out with us, for we are thy companions.
This allegorical character, Valiant-for-truth, represents those of the body of Christ who take up the Sword of the Spirit to do battle for God’s Truth against those who would abolish the true faith through thievery, deceit, confusion, and heresy. Sometimes the battle is costly. There are times when it seems the wielder of this Sword is all alone against multitudes of wolves and thieves. It seems as if no one will step in to help, but if the one standing firm relies on the King to send Help then he or she has nothing to fear from the enemy. This is why it is imperative that we get intimately acquainted with the Word of God. It is our Sword of the Spirit that we wield in the power of the Spirit according to the will of God for His glory. When we do this, we can withstand all of the enemies of Truth. Of course, there are many out there who take the Word of God for their own purposes, misusing it, twisting the truth, taking it out of context, attempting to make it support what it does not. We must expose these for the glory of God and the edification of the Saints.
Those who are valiant for God’s Truth know it when they read it and hear it. Pretenders do not fool them. Why? They are regenerate and have the Holy Spirit. They know the truth and it has set them free. They are not spiritually blind, but can see through the lies as we see in this post. These young men would be considered babes in Christ because of their age, but as we see, they most certainly recognize a wolf when they hear him speak. This is because God has done a great work in the hearts of His people to line them up with His truth. Then when they are exposed to the counterfeit, they see it for what it is.
Let us determine to be valiant for the truth in the power of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God almighty. What have we to fear as we obey our Lord in all that we do? Won’t He show is the way to go and the way not to go? Even if we do receive the marks of the enemies’ swords, we are being the valiant warriors in God’s Army that will never be conquered. Let us keep our eyes on the prize, not the temporal in the power of the Holy Spirit, for God’s Glory Alone!
Soli Deo Gloria!