Ron Graham was called home on March 14, 2013. He began writing this commentary before his death and had asked me, Nathele Graham, to continue his service to our Lord by finishing what he began.
“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier”(2 Timothy 2:3-4).
“Onward Christian Soldiers” is a stirring song, which calls us to battle. The words were written by Sabine Baring-Gould in 1865 and it has been a favorite marching song ever since. Let’s take a look at that call to action.
“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!”
I would like to thank each and every one of you brave Christians who have put on a military uniform. I pray along with so many others that God’s hand will protect you. There are also many Christian soldiers around the world who are battling and dying, but they are not in uniform. By this I mean those who are in God’s army and stand up for Jesus Christ without concern for their own well-being. They are brave warriors who are neither afraid nor ashamed to speak about our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, no matter what persecution they may face.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).
Each and every Christian needs to be stouthearted and bold in our witness for Christ whether or not what we say in a public setting might be considered hate speech. Today it is becoming more and more treacherous to stand for Christ, and those brave soldiers in countries where Christianity is banned will be rewarded by God for their stand for Christ. Christian, there is a war raging all around us. We need to prepare for battle against the unseen enemy of all humanity by knowing that Jesus Christ leads the battle.
“At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee;
On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!
Hell’s foundations quiver at the should of praise;
Brothers lift your voices, loud your anthems raise.”
The truth is Satan has already lost the battle. He was defeated at the cross of Calvary. Jesus won and Christians need to remember that victory.
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
Soldiers are known for standing firm for the commander who gives them their marching orders. In the military, men are taught to fight the enemy without fear of their own death. Soldiers are taught to overcome their fear early in their training and very few go A.W.O.L. Our Commander, Jesus Christ, also taught his disciples early on that fear is not to be a concern for those following him.
“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
“Like a mighty army moves the church of God;
Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.
We are not divided, all one body we,
One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.”
When we look around at the various buildings with labels like, “United Methodist,” “First Baptist,” “Second Baptist,” “Southern Baptist,” “Lutheran” and so forth, it seems as if the army of Christian soldiers is divided. It is true that there doctrines in each congregation that seem to separate the Christian Ekklesia, but “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into One Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13).
We are unified in Christ. He is our commander and the leader of this army of Christian soldiers. Many saints have followed Him into this spiritual battle and we who are living today follow where they have trod. Christ will not fail!
“What the saints established that I hold for true.
What the saints believed, that I believe too.
Long as earth endureth, men the faith will hold,
Kingdoms, nations, empires, in destruction rolled.”
We are very blessed today to have God’s written truth – the Holy Bible. In it we read of the world prior to Christ’s coming. The history of the Jewish nation and the promise of the coming Messiah are contained in the Old Testament, which is a written record of God’s plan. When Christ walked this earth He fulfilled all of the prophecies concerning His first Advent, and He only asks us to believe.
“And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).
Peter proclaimed Jesus was the Messiah. Do we proclaim that truth today, or do we shrink away from taking a stand for our Lord? As Christians we need to stand firm in our faith. The twelve men who followed Jesus were willing to face death rather than deny Christ. John was not martyred but faced imprisonment on many occasions. Judas was a turncoat who ultimately committed suicide and was replaced in the group by Mathias who was martyred. Throughout history faithful men and women have faced torture and death because of their faith in Jesus Christ.
Today is no different. Around the world many Christians are being imprisoned, tortured, and killed because they will not renounce Jesus. Their belief in Him is strong and they will not compromise. If they are killed for their faith it is only their body that dies.
“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55)
Brethren, keep Christ first in your life. Don’t be ashamed of Him.
“Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane,
But the church of Jesus constant will remain.
Gates of hell can never gainst the church prevail;
We have Christ’s own promise, and that cannot fail.”
Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against Satan and his minions.
“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” (Ephesians 6:12).
On our own we would be lost and the battle would be won by the enemy. These rulers of darkness seem strong and all manner of evil looms around us and seems to be growing stronger by the day. Make no mistake about it, Christ will prevail. Each day we battle with these principalities and rulers of darkness, but as Christian soldiers we have the promise from Jesus that even the gates of hell will not prevail against His Ekklesia.
“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18.
What rock is Jesus talking about? Certainly He isn’t talking about Simon Peter as some mistakenly believe. The rock that Christ spoke about was Simon Peter’s declaration that Jesus is the Christ.
“Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng,
Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song.
Glory, laud and honor unto Christ the King,
This through countless ages men and angels sing.”
The battle still rages but the invitation is there for everyone to join our army of believers. There will come a time, however, when the Christian soldiers, an army of born again believers in Jesus Christ, will be raptured and Christ’s Ekklesia will be taken Home. That time is drawing near. Brethren, do you know someone who needs to come to know Christ? Do not delay telling them about Christ. Invite everyone you know to join us in singing the praises of our Lord and King, Jesus the Christ.
“And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them” (Acts 16:25).
Paul was in prison, yet he sang praises unto God. Not only was he in prison, but he had also been beaten and locked in stocks. In spite of his misery he still sang praises to God. When the battle doesn’t seem to be going your way, do you get discouraged and pout, or do you sing praises unto God? Paul’s example to the prisoners and to the jailer resulted in many people coming to know Christ as their Savior. Whatever circumstances we find ourselves in, we need to be an example of Christ’s love to people around us by making choices that honor Christ instead of paying homage to our enemy. Our example just might be the difference between them making the choice to accept Christ or choosing to die in their sin and spending eternity in hell.
Christian, we are at war. Our Commander knows this and has made armor available for us for our protection, and each soldier needs to be skilled in using it.
“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye 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, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:13-18).
Brethren, the battle rages all around us and every piece of our armor must be in place. We have marching orders from our Leader. Will we obey those orders and fight the good fight, or will we go A.W.O.L.? Jesus has called us to action, and we must respond.
“Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.”
We know that Christ will win the victory in this battle, but He needs Christian soldiers standing fast and fighting strong.
“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).
God bless you all,