While God’s people are spoken of as a people of peace, and have for a leader the Prince of the house of David, who is the Prince of Peace, and of the increase and peace of his government there shall be no end; yet, they have a warfare, and may properly be called warriors. In their experience, or trials after the light has shined in their hearts, to give; the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, there is war, for they immediately have fears within and foes without. There is wrestling, a resisting, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, one is contrary to the other, so that they cannot do the things that they would. Now this seems to make the poor creature helpless, for when he would do good evil is present with him; this is opposite to what He desires. Now this picture which the apostle has drawn of the poor and afflicted child, is a true and sorrowful one, here is room for vain man to boast over the poor, helpless creature who feels that he “was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope.” It does seem strange that God’s people who have obtained a good hope through grace, should be so tempest-tossed as to be powerless, in regard to doing things that they desire to do. In view of this matter, there is no wonder that the legal religionist boasts of his power to do just as he wills to do, that he has full and complete control of his will and actions, he is led captive by the devil at his will, he walks “according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the Spirit that now worketh in the children, of disobedience.” He is dead in sin, separated from the light, which is the life of the afflicted and poor, he is in darkness, it is all night with him, but he calls the night day. The, true light has not shined there to manifest the darkness, ignorance and unbelief that reign supreme within him. There is no opposition to his carnal or fleshly mind, he is a strong man armed and keeps his goods in peace. There is no wrestling within him; he is satisfied with self. In his dignified state he can say, “Come, see what I can do.” Also he mutters, “If God does not bless me for what I do and have done, then he is unjust.” This is a proof of his complete darkness of mind and ignorance of the wisdom of God. How this character speaks great swelling words of vanity if he hears the poor and needy one exalt the power of God in his presence, when he speaks of the “hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory,” for he speaks “the wisdom of God in a mystery,” “which none of the princes of this world knew.” He who is dead to the knowledge of these things, and in the kingdom of Satan, abhors all this, and his cry is: “Foolish, foolish, away with him.” When it pleases God to reveal his Son in one of these dead rebels, who is armed with all the armor of Satan and man, to keep his goods in peace, before he is aware of it he is bound, and the armor in which he trusted is taken away, and “his goods are spoiled.” In his sorrow day has dawned, knowledge breaks forth on the “right hand and on the left,” he is now enabled to “speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom.” This seems to be the order in which revelation comes to him who was dead, but is now alive. First comes wisdom, for Christ of God “is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” The mighty Conqueror hath taken away the armor in which he trusted, self-righteousness, free will, &c., he is now delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son. He does not hear the invitations of the gospel, as some say, but he hears the commands of his Lord and Master. His commands are certain, sure and ever abiding. All are summed up in the one, the new commandment that He gives them, which is, “Love one another.” The apostle exhorts the saints to the same commandment, which, says he, “Ye also do.” The followers of Jesus cannot force love, nor exercise love at pleasure, there must be a great incentive to cause them to love one another. Paul was aware of this, still the exhortation was, Let love be without dissimulation. He also exhorts to be at peace among themselves, and to live in peace with all men, or with those “that are without,” as much as was consistent with the doctrine and order of God’s house. It is a well established fact that the Lord’s people are to obey God rather than men. It is not expected that they shall sacrifice the truth or order of God’s house, nor compromise in the least degree with the world for the sake of peace with it, but they are to stand firm in opposition to the world, the flesh and the devil. This certainly signifies that God’s servants are all warriors. When I say servants I do not mean his ministers alone, but .ill his saints; I think that there is a sense in which all his redeemed and called people are his servants. Then there is a great company which follows him who sat on a white horse with a battle bow in his hand, he is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. This great company is also likened to a great cloud of witnesses. John says the armies which were in heaven followed upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, I white and clean. Here again is presented the Captain of our salvation, with the armies following. Is not this Christ and his redeemed? The apostle Paul enjoins these soldiers to “fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life.” Also to “war a good warfare.” Again the same apostle says: “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.” We as cross-bearers must of necessity be lighters, “As a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” A good soldier is no terror to any except his enemies. I have often heard brethren speak of certain preachers as being fighters, that it was distasteful to them, that they would rather have them present the doctrine in a milder way, so that their preaching would not give offense to the world. I have always felt that so long as a minister kept close to the testimony of the word, that he was not too much of a fighter.
I shall now try to consider briefly, the armor that is furnished the soldiers of this vast army. Paul in his closing address to the church at Ephesus, says: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” – Eph. vi. 10-12. He again insists that they take unto themselves the whole armor of God, that they may be able to withstand in the evil day, and “having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith. * * * And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” – Eph. vi. 13-17. From the above we have for a girdle of the loins, truth; for a breastplate, righteousness; for the feet, the preparation of the gospel of peace; for a shield, faith; for a head covering, the helmet of salvation, or as it is stated in another place, “For an helmet, the hope of salvation;” for a sword, the word of God. These weapons are all furnished by the Lord, and are riot carnal, but are mighty through God, to the pulling down of strongholds. How very important is the girdle that encircles the body at the loins, it is truth, it is like a band around the earth in the center, embraces all. This girdle is the truth in Jesus, and the truth is always important. The Scriptures in many places speak of the loins, as being an important part of the body. This truth is the faith of God’s elect “once delivered unto the saints,” and they are to earnestly contend for that faith. In contending, they are contentious, signifying opposition, or a state of war; they are to resist evil. In this warfare the Lord is among them as in days of old. “The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels.” This knowledge of God’s presence and power with his people, and his love for them, is too wonderful for mortals to grasp, but it is the truth written in “fleshly tables” and testified to by thousands, yea, “a cloud of witnesses.” This truth that encircles the saints, is like a drawing band, which by its pressure continually reminds the wearer of its importance. Men in olden time were commanded to gird up their loins, thus preparing them for battle, or for mourning, or for some notable event. David said that the Lord “hast girded me with strength unto the battle.” The saints cannot take any of this armor simply of their own will. It is true it is all for them, but he who furnishes it, also must put it on them in the sense that he makes them willing in the day of his power, made willing in the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning. It certainly is of great strength to God’s called children to know that he absolutely reigns supreme over all, and controls all creatures and things just exactly as it pleases him. Then if he takes all temporal government in his hand, will he not much more take especial care of “his elect people,” and keep them as “the apple of his eye”! Truth is wisdom, the wisdom of God, it makes the recipient free, and he “is free indeed.” Free from the bondage of the law, and free in the glorious liberty of the gospel. All that he receives by the graces of the Spirit’, signifies his freedom in the bounds of the kingdom of Jesus, and his kingdom is from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. He that has this truth is wise unto salvation, it is hid from the wise of this world and revealed unto babes, sucklings, outcasts and fools. Upon the truth of revelation the church is built, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. It is all important to have the truth, for all the graces of the Spirit follow in its wake. It is this way; to whomsoever the Lord will reveal it. Wonderfully blessed is the man who has the truth, “it endureth forever.” The Word is full of grace and truth, he is the way, the truth and the life. She (church) is the pillar and ground of the truth. We can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. Those who worship God must worship him in Spirit and in truth, for he seeketh such to worship him. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” – Isaiah viii. 20. “He that knoweth God, heareth us; he that is not of God, heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” There is a text that speaks about rightly dividing the word of truth, this seems to indicate that there is a division of truth. The truth which we have spoken of, is the gospel truth, or the truth of the new covenant. There is truth of the old covenant, or law (legal truth) that must not be confounded with the truth of freedom. The law truth is of that covenant that gendereth to bondage, and all that are guided by it are the children of the bondwoman. Paul, in speaking of the law, calls it, “The law of a carnal commandment.” It, appealed to the carnal mind of man, and could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience. “For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.” The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. This letter of the truth is the ministration of death. It had glory which was to be done away, by reason of the glory which should far excel it. This contrast is sublime and forcible, leading us to conclude that even the glory of the Old Testament is hid because of the vail. A carnal commandment to a carnal mind excites no quickening power in the heart, hence it is said, “But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.” The above presents the law and the gospel, but they are to be rightly divided. Jesus says, “Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” – John xviii. 37. “The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Satanic influence has been exercised over the human family from the beginning. This power is the spirit of murder and of falsehood, he uses this so adroitly over those who are in his charge, that they willingly consent that he is right. They deceive themselves and the truth is not in them. These have not been sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, but are led by the prince of darkness, who goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. The result of this prowling around among the inhabitants of earth is, that many follow his pernicious ways. They have the poison of asps, destruction and misery are in their ways, and the way of peace they know not. The child of God is to wrestle against these “wicked spirits in high places.” They have not resisted unto blood, striving against sin, because their weapons are not carnal. Their weapons are spiritual, mighty weapons, because they are of God. One rebuke in the name of the Mighty One of Israel is enough to put the armies of the aliens to flight. These armies are noted for their great numbers, they boast of this as an evidence of right, but the Lord has espoused the cause of the few, the poor, the needy and the weak, to bring to naught the proud boasting of their adversaries, and bring to his redeemed the victory that is theirs by right of birth and marriage vows; she being one with him in vital life standing before Satan was known among God’s creatures. She was borne by him and carried by him all the days of old, in his love and pity he redeemed her, and with his stripes she was healed. What shall separate her from his love? Shall persecution, nakedness, peril or sword? Nay, none of these things, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate her from his everlasting love in Christ Jesus, the Lord of all.
I have extended this article to considerable length, but feel that I have only hinted at the subject. If you, brethren, see fit to publish this, I may in the future continue the subject.
As ever in the hope of immortality,
J. F. BEEMAN.
Carmen, Okla., March 10, 1901.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 72., No. 14
JULY 15, 1904