Onward Christian Soldiers :: By Dale V. Nobbman

As we begin yet another new year, it is a great time for every Christian to once again report for active duty in God’s service as “a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3). However, the length of active service needs to be, at the very minimum, a year-long commitment and not just another one of those New Year resolutions, which fall by the wayside after just a few days.

The year 2014 will be another year when Christianity and American liberties will be relentlessly and increasingly attacked by Satan’s earthly and demonic forces. This New Year will also be a very important election year when Americans, especially Christian Americans, will have the opportunity to positively affect the governmental leadership and course of our country over the next two years.

At this critical point in the direction and life of our nation, Christians cannot afford to remain silent societal bystanders, and church members cannot remain inactive benchwarmers. God does not need reservist in our escalating battle against evil. All Christians need to become active this year, not only at the voting booths in May and November, but in every aspect of daily life in America.

The Bible tells us that people cannot serve two masters, because we will either take a stand with and for Jesus Christ, or else we will have chosen directly or indirectly to serve the cause of Satan. There is no middle ground! The Word of God as found in the Bible draws a line in the sand, so to speak, between the only two possible masters in your life. So, which side of the line are you on? If you are on the side of Jesus Christ, then you should want to be “a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”

Sabine Baring-Gould wrote the words to his hymn titled, “Onward, Christian Soldiers” toward the end of the American Civil War. The first verse and refrain are as follows:

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus, going on before. Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe: forward into battle, see His banners go! Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus, going on before.

Baring-Gould was not calling for Christians to grab their guns and physically confront the enemy on a battlefield. On the contrary, he had spiritual warfare in mind, as described in Ephesians 6 of the New Testament, and in the biblical second letter of Paul to Timothy.

The famous hymn writer, Charles Wesley, also had Ephesians 6 in mind when he wrote the following words to his hymn, “Soldiers of Christ, Arise”:

Soldiers of Christ, arise, and put your armor on.
Strong in the strength which God supplies through His eternal Son.
Strong in the Lord of hosts, and in His mighty power.

Ephesians 6 speaks of Christians putting on the full armor of God, enabling us to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of darkness, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness.

The full armor as described in Ephesians 6 consists of:

1.Girding your loins with truth.

2. Putting on the breastplate of righteousness.

3.Shoeing your feet with the preparation of the gospel.

4.Taking up the shield of faith.

5.Putting on the helmet of salvation.

6. Grasping the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God).

7. Prayer at all times.

In the book of Timothy, the apostle Paul speaks about the call, character, caution, charge, and comfort of Christ’s soldiers.

The first is a call to have courage:

“Do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord…who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, and now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel” (2 Timothy 1: 8-10).

The second is a call to faithfulness:

Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 1:13).

The character of a soldier of Christ is to be strong, single-minded, strict, secure, sound in faith, sanctified, and servant like (2 Timothy 2:1-26).

The caution for a soldier of Christ is the peril of, and protection from, apostasy (2 Timothy 3:117).

The charge to a soldier of Christ is to preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction (2 Timothy 4:1-2).

The comfort of a soldier of Christ is being able to say at the end of this life that we have fought the good fight, finished the course, and have kept the faith, and therefore can find comfort in knowing we have a good future after this life, with eternal rewards in heaven (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

So, onward Christian soldiers. Fight the good fight and be good soldiers of Christ Jesus this year!

“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. And who is the one who overcomes the world, [anyone] who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 John 5:4-5, emphasis added).