In these annual “state of the church” messages, we sometimes address our local circumstances here in Christ Church. At other times the message has addressed our national condition. This year, it is (I believe) necessary to do both as the situations are unusually intertwined.
We are living in a time of great uncertainty and turmoil, and in such times, men turn naturally to their gods. In the case of many Americans, jack-secularists, they have resorted to long-neglected temples, only to find that their gods have toppled over like Dagon. They are therefore governed by fear and anger, both right and left. We are not in their position, and so whatever we do, we must not copy or imitate them.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3–5).
SUMMARY OF THE TEXT
Although we have been born again, although we are new creatures in Christ, and although we are citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, we still nevertheless have physical bodies that we walk around in. We remain embodied beings. But though we walk around in the flesh, we do not conduct our warfare that way. We wage war, but we do not wage war according to the flesh (v. 3). Paul says that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but what he contrasts this with is revelatory. His first comparison is not carnal over against spiritual, but rather carnal over against mighty (v. 4). Carnal weapons are not strong enough to do what is going to be done, which is to cast down imaginations and every lofty, proud thing, and bringing every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (v. 5). In order for them to topple statues of generals from a century or two ago, all they need are some cables and a winch. In order to topple principalities and powers, you need something more.
So what Paul has in mind here is not the kind of echo chamber rhetoric that you see on partisan political web sites. “Watch so-and-so drop a bomb on old what’s-his-face. Click here to watch Sen. Taxit own the libs!” He is not talking about casting down devilish imaginations in his head. He is talking about bringing the intellectual world to heel, bringing them to an actual obedience to the Lord Jesus.
PREPARING FOR ONE KIND OF CONFLICT
In the year 2020, Americans bought a record-high 17 million guns. This was on top of all the guns already owned, which is somewhere between 350 and 400 million. For every one hundred Americans, there are about 120 guns. And if you go out there in order to buy some 9mm ammo, good luck. The shelves for 9mm ammo look like the shelves for milk in a socialist country.
Now I only bring this up to note two things. The first is to point to the level of uncertainty in the general population. They should be ripe for hearing a sure word—a word of traction in slippery times. We should make a point of speaking that word.
The second reason is to use it for an illustration—simply to point out that unfortunately the sons of this world are more shrewd than the children of light (Luke 16:8). The worldlings look at their resources, and they make a point to stock up. They at least know they are supposed to do something. But many Christians don’t look at their resources, don’t anticipate the costs of spiritual warfare, and they don’t stock up.
A CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW AMMO BOX
If you are concerned about the state of our nation, you ought to be. If that concern has affected you to the point of wanting to prepare yourself in order to protect your family spiritually, then you are thinking wisely. So what can you do? What kind of spiritual 9MM ammo can you stockpile? What should you concentrate on? We don’t know what is going to happen, but I do know that if you start laying up these things, you will be better prepared for whatever comes, regardless of what comes.
- Worship—“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve [worship] God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Heb. 12:28). This is the central thing.
- Honesty about sin—“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: But whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Prov. 28:13). If you are not right with God, you will have real troubles in any real troubles.
- Marriage—“Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun” (Eccl. 9:9). In other words, love your wife with holy abandon.
- Music—“But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel” (Ps. 22:3). And the psalms are the arsenal and hymnal of God.
- Hospitality/community—“Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality” (Rom. 12:12–13). Notice how the fact of tribulation does not negate the need for hospitality.
- Christian Education—“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). This is a critical component of what we are up to.
- Debt-free—“The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender” (Prov. 22:7; cf. Rom. 13:8). Your central encumbrance should be the encumbrance of love.
- Joviality, cheerfulness, laughter—“Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh. 8:10). Our weapons are not carnal, but being joyful, are mighty.
- Family dinners/sabbath—“And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deut. 6:7). Church is where your instruction is packed. The family table is where it is unpacked.
- Study/read—“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). First, read the Word. Second, read a book.
- Work—“Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is” (1 Cor. 3:13). In context, this is talking about the work of ministry, but it is a principle that all the people are to imitate.
- Stories—“Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.” (Joel 1:3). Joel is talking about a cautionary tale, but there are great, inspirational tales as well. All the stories.
And you know there is more than this. But there is certainly not less. And the first item—worship of the Father, in the name of Christ, in the power of the Spirit—is the box that will hold all these bullets together.