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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15

The Challenge We Face

The Late R. Nelson Colyar, Denver, Colorado

From The Baptist Challenge, January 2014

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

Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesian saints, and to all the faithful in Christ Jesus, while “the prisoner of the Lord” at Rome. It is said to have been written about 64 A.D., and that it is the first of his prison epistles. He wrote by divine inspiration as “an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.” His address to “the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus” renders the epistle of perennial interest to every generation of the faithful.

Paul’s “finally, my brethren” (Eph. 6:10), stands out as a mighty challenge to all the saints then, in the dawn of the Christian Era. Yet the years have not diminished its pungency nor faded its luster. The opening sentence snaps out as a sharp military command: “Finally, my brethren,” (before I take leave of you), “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might!” To Arms! “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil!”

Soldiers must be ready to take orders. They must recognize authority. They must have in hand the implements and ammunitions of war. They must know their enemy, who he is, what he is, where he is and the extent of his power.

Thus Paul, a mighty soldier of the cross of Christ, throws down the gage of spiritual conflict to the faithful in Christ Jesus against Satan and all the powers of spiritual darkness and moral turpitude at his command. There is no deceitful cunning, no diabolical weapon he will not use to destroy utterly the Christian hope and way of life.

The adversary of Jesus Christ has not challenged one iota in character, method or purpose of his relentless opposition to the Christian ethic in all the ages. The tangible means to his diabolic objective may vary, but the underlying motive, never. The diabolicalism of this world with all of its false systems of religious pretenses and practices is just what it was when Paul challenged the faithful in Christ Jesus to battle for the Lord’s cause.

The challenge we face has nothing to do with the unbeliever, no matter what his pretenses may be. It is to the faithful in Christ Jesus! It has nothing in common with “a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” It is to the faithful in Christ Jesus! It has nothing to compromise what the so-called “branches of the church, the mystic body.” It is to the faithful in Christ Jesus and to none other whatsoever!

There is a great deal of masquerading under the name of Baptist today that has nothing in common with the origin, doctrine and practice of true New Testament Baptists whatsoever. Much of it should appear to spiritual vision under the light of God’s Word in this paper in future issues, if the paper lives up to the challenge of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians.

The challenge to true New Testament Baptists, which must be clearly defined in these pages from issue to issue, is not a single-phase action.

First, soldiers of the cross are “to be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” They are to summon up the energy they possess in Christ Jesus. To the church at Jerusalem Jesus said, “Ye shall receive power (energy), after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” It is not the energy of the flesh that is to be summoned, for none can prevail in this spiritual conflict by the energy of the flesh. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” the apostle said in another epistle. Paul is saying: Summon up the spiritual force which you possess in the Lord. “Be strong ... in the power of his might.”

The challenge here is to rely on the Lord for strength to perform all His commandments. This power is given to activate the Great Commission in all its parts. That power holds sway over all the evil forces of the world. It is restraining power; it is driving power. It is superior might. It is conquering power. It is sovereign power: it stands alone. As it is written: “Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and there went out a fame of him through all the regions round about.” So are the faithful in Christ Jesus to go forth to the nations with the word of God in the energy of the same Spirit that empowered Jesus.

Second, “Put on the whole armor of God.” Five pieces of protective armor are enumerated here, which we have not space to mention. To be less prepared for the battle is to be vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. He is too much for the mere strength of the flesh and the wisdom of the world.

One, and only one weapon of offense is needed namely, “The sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.” It is to be wielded by the faithful in Christ Jesus in every phase of the battle, but never in the strength of the flesh. It is sharper than any two-edged sword. It gets to the hearts of men, not to the heart of flesh.

None but the faithful in Christ is willing to depend upon the Word of God only! Some must bring to bear a bit of science, a bit of philosophy, a bit of worldly sophistication, a lot of human organization to make the Word of God effective. Yet all this readiness set out by Paul may be simulated, without effective action.

An army without a supply line is headed for defeat. There is yet one thing needful. Prayer. The line of supply reaches from earth to heaven and back again. The faithful in Christ Jesus must go forth to do battle, “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, watching thereunto with all perseverance that supplication for all saints.” The churches of Jesus Christ and prevailing prayer go hand in hand through the ages unto the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

The supreme challenge to real, independent, New Testament Baptists of today is to hear the word of God and keep it; to believe what God says, and act like it. They are faced with a formidable array of denominational machines which often foster unscriptural programs for the churches, foist upon the ministry and the churches schools teaching doubtful and heretical doctrine; building money pools that entice the weak in the faith, et cetera, ad nauseam. The challenge to the ministry is to edify the churches by the Word of God “till we all come in the unity of the faith.”

The challenge to true, New Testament Baptists is to hear and heed what the Spirit saith to the churches; to rise in the power of the Spirit of God and demonstrate to a gainsaying generation of Baptists and to an unbelieving world that they can operate, and cooperate successfully, now, in the fulfillment of the Great Commission of our Lord in all its parts, scope and purpose, with the promised presence and blessing of the Lord upon them, just as the plan and pattern for our obedience is set forth for all the faithful in Christ Jesus in the New Testament.

“Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith...Them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed” (1 Sam. 2:30).