Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 3, 1961
NUMBER 13, PAGE 2-3b

The Christian's Strength

Brooks C. Webb, Lewisburg, Tennessee

"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might" (Eph. 6:10)

The Christian's life is not pictured in the New Testament as a constant flowery bed of ease, nor is it represented as a life of glamour. Rather it is represented as a struggle, as a life of persecution; it is portrayed as a life of constant battle. The Hebrew writer declares that even the Author of eternal salvation was made perfect through suffering. (Heb. 2:10) The Christian is issued a charge by Paul to , "war a good warfare." (1 Tim. 1:18) Further he instructs us to "Fight the good fight of faith." (I Tim. 6:12) And to "endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." (2 Tim. 2:3)

There is a great need in the army of the Lord for men — men who are willing to "war a good warfare," to "endure hardness as good soldiers of the Cross," men who are willing to "fight the good fight of faith" against every sort of unrighteousness and ungodliness. Satan is pitching a heated battle on every front. He is attacking from within and from without the church. And unless we, as Nehemiah and his co-workers, labor with sword in hand, we will be defeated by the Adversary.

However, there seem to be within the church as it faces every major crisis, preachers and elders who "keep their ears to the ground and who play to the galleries." These are "contemptible beyond description." Should the Lord punish them today as he punished Nadab and Abihu, there would be a thinning of the ranks. Brother Cled Wallace once said "The cause of Christ needs men today of 'a like precious faith;' reverent men with holy lives and deep convictions; men 'afire with God' who can fight; .... The pulpit of the church of Christ is no place for your nice little men who are so 'liberal' and 'broad' that they have no convictions. That kind had better stay off the firing-line. They are liable to get hurt. God is calling big men into his work who are not afraid to tell folks what he wants done with an exclamation point after it. If you are not that kind, sail on to smoother seas. The pulpit can't use you." (ACC Lectures, 1919, page 80)

We are engaged in the battle of the ages, truth against error, righteousness opposing unrighteousness and godliness against ungodliness. In almost every battle the one possessing the greatest strength is certain to be victorious. Since Satan is indeed strong, those who would oppose him and eventually emerge from the battle "more than conquerors" must have a source of strength beyond that of the adversary. All true Christians realize the need of strength spiritually, as it is no easy matter to overcome all the temptations of Satan, to transform our lives into the pattern of the Perfect Example. But this is not all there is to Christianity. As soon as the faithful servant of God raises his voice in opposition to the evils of the world, the world will immediately cry out against him, its greatest artillery will be fired in his direction, and even those who aver to be his friends will turn and denounce him. With their scoffs, their ridicules and their threats they would seek to silence him. Surely, the one that "overcometh" must have access to a great source of strength.

Another thing certainly taught in the passage under consideration is, "The way of man is not within himself." The source of strength necessary to "overcome the world" is not of man's devising. When we profess ourselves to be wise, we become fools, and if, when attempting to "fight the good fight of faith," we seek to rely upon our own wisdom and strength, we become miserably weak. Our source of strength, therefore, Paul said, is "in the Lord." The church is the Army of the Lord, with Jesus Christ serving as the Commander-in-Chief. As the troops of an army must have confidence in, and depend upon, the Commanding officer, so must we trust unreservedly in, and depend entirely upon, our Commander — Christ. He bids us, "Ye believe in God, believe also in me." In return for such positive reliance, He cares for his own, strengthens them, protects them, lifts them up and comforts them.

Paul, in Eph. 6:10, seems to be seeking to instill within us that note of confidence that is so vital to an army. "With no confidence in the flesh," by placing our trust in Him, and depending upon him for strength, we are urged to go forth to battle as did David against Goliath, not in our own name, nor depending upon our puny strength, but "in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel." By thus doing we can be as confident of victory as was the Shepherd lad, and with the boldness, assurance and courage of Paul, say, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Phil. 4:13)

Real trust in God, and sincere dependence upon His power, will be seen in one's treatment of God's word. In defense of what we believe and practice in religious matters, do we resort to a "thus-saith-the-Lord," or do we appeal to the wisdom of men, traditions of the fathers and inconsistencies of men: The one who depends upon the all-sufficiency of the Book of God places his trust in God. But the one who must appeal to all sorts of chicanery, human sophistry and wisdom of men, betrays his lack of confidence and genuine faith in the "Captain of our salvation."

Too many share the defeatist attitude of David when he said, "I shall one day perish at the hands of Saul." To such the Lord would say, as to Peter, "0 thou of little faith." Victorious Christian soldiers must be strong, very courageous; they must never entertain a cowardly spirit. Yet when granted strength to be triumphant, we must be aware of the dangers of our taking the credit and the glory of mastery for ourselves. This has ever been a weakness of man, and Jehovah recognized it when he reduced the army of Gideon to three hundred men. (Judges 7) The statement of Paul, "I can do all things through Christ which Strengtheneth me," and the encouragement to "be strong in the Lord," places the emphasis where it must be, and gives the glory and honor completely to Christ, the true source of power and strength of the Christian.

It must be the firm determination of every child of God to be "steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord," to rely upon the sufficiency which we have available to us in Christ, and "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith," "press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Then being firmly established in the truth, and "contending earnestly for the faith once for all delivered unto the saints," "no weapon that is formed against us shall prosper .... this is the heritage of the servants of the Lord." (Isa. 54:17)