God Needs More Foot-Soldiers

by Thomas Thornhill

At this time our nation is in a conflict taking place mainly in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our uniformed personnel are daily placed in harm's way, facing an enemy which in many cases is often unseen until they strike. This is of course a physical confrontation in which people use material weaponry to maim and kill the enemy. Daily, lives being lost. It is a tragedy that nations do such things. We pray daily that this conflict will soon be over and the men and women can return safely home.

But, in this article I want to write about a much more serious conflict in which Christians are engaged in today. It is one that has been going on much longer than the one in Afghanistan and Iraq. It has been waged with mankind since time began. It is not a struggle against flesh and blood, nor is it a battle for the possession of earthly territory. This conflict is taking place in the unseen dimension of another realm, the heavenly places. "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12). It is not a physical warfare but a spiritual one. It is a battle for the souls of men and women. "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, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled" (II Corinthians 10:3-6).

God has a great arch-enemy, Satan, who is seeking to overthrow His rule in His own kingdom. Two thrones are locked in deadly combat. God is seeking to keep His rightful place as King of kings in the hearts of men and women, even as Satan continually seeks to usurp this authority. Satan's war is not really with us. It is against the Holy One of this universe. But he attacks us, the children of God, because he knows God has set His love and affection and salvation on us. Thus, we are called to join with the forces of righteousness to do battle against this great enemy of God, who is striving to unseat our God.

To win this battle, God enlists Christians to become His foot-soldiers in this great warfare. God supplies the strategy and the tactics for this war, and His Son, Jesus Christ, is the "author" (captain-KJV) of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10). But, this does not remove the need for personal involvement. He needs people to fight for Him. An army general observed some time ago that there was always a need for a standing army of soldiers. He said "all the technology in the world will never eliminate the need for the foot soldier."

He was right. After the strategy has been planned, and the tactics developed there is still a need for the common foot-soldier. All the weapons, satellites, and guided missiles, automatic weapons and computers, jet planes and air-craft carriers, and all the rest of technology devised by man will never eliminate the need for intelligent human beings going in to really possess the land.

The same is true of the Lord's church. Strategy and tactics may be taught to reveal sin as the enemy to be conquered in men's lives. Programs have been developed to convert the masses, and experts are used to enthuse us to do it. But, none of these things will work, if there is no one to carry the battle. Enthusiasm, without personal involvement, is not enough. Enthusiasm in the pulpit helps, but commitment in the pew will help a lot more. There is a lot of difference between enthusiasm and commitment. Too often the church has come to depend on the pulpit, collection basket, and church building Bible classes to do the job of fighting. The common foot-soldiers are disappearing. All want to be officers and generals planning the strategy, rather than enacting it. The church shrinks when the members shirk their duty. Many want to pay their way, and not fight their share of the battle.

The Lord didn't give the task of evangelizing the world upon programs, gimmicks, and machinery. He gave the commission to men, personally. We have all types of mass media, both visual and print, available to carry the word of God, and they are helpful aids. But, they will never substitute for one saint communicating the one saving gospel to one sinner. God has chosen the avenue of preaching to convert and save souls. "It pleased God through the message preached to save those who believe" (I Corinthians 1:21). This preaching is not just through the pulpit. It includes teaching, both public and private, but mainly private one-on-one teaching. The power to win souls is still with the common foot-soldier. The Lord's army is not a machine, directed by arm-chair generals, and fought by angels. Rather, it is fought by living men and women going from house to house teaching the word. See such passages as Acts 5:42; 8:4; 20:20.

God wants all Christians to enlist and fight. He asks for volunteers to "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses" (I Timothy 6:12). But, just remember the battle will not be an easy one. "You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please Him who enlisted him as a soldier" (II Timothy 2:3-4).

Have you enlisted in the Lord's army? If not, why not? If so, are you carrying your share of the battle?

"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil ... 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" (Ephesians 6:10,11,13).