Spiritual Warfare - Fighting the Good Fight of Faith

 

“You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” - 2 Timothy 2:3

Spiritual WarfareThe New Testament identifies the born again follower of Jesus in a variety of ways. We are called ‘Citizens of Heaven’ in Philippians 3! The Lord Jesus also designated us to be ‘Living Branches’ in union with the Vine! In I Corinthians 12, every authentic disciple is described as being a ‘Member of the Body of Christ’! Moreover, we are depicted as being ‘Adopted’ into the family of God, and graced with the title of being ‘Heirs’ of God and ‘Joint-heirs’ with Jesus Christ’! However, in this text of scripture, the Apostle Paul portrays the bonafide believer as a ‘Soldier’ in the army of the Lord of hosts’! The fact that every believer is depicted as being a ‘military man’ reveals that we have been born into a blessed battle! Dear fellow disciples, every one of us have been converted to ‘fight the good fight of faith’! I submit to you that the church of the Lord Jesus Christ is not a cruise ship. It is a spiritual battleship, which has been called to battle stations! Brothers and sisters, we are resident aliens within this fallen world system. Every believer has been enlisted into the Lord’s infantry. Furthermore, we must remember that we are fighting behind enemy lines. Consequently, every Christian soldier is summoned to live a life of active duty on the front lines of battle. Our conquering Commander is leading us into enemy territory, to cooperate with His great mission of gathering in His bride and to establishing His kingdom! As soldiers in the army of the Lord of hosts, we have been issued orders to ‘put on the whole armor of God’!

 This was my theme for the annual ‘pastors conference’, which I recently taught at the campus of the Kenya Ministries Training Institute in Kitale, Kenya. I entitled this most recent workbook, ‘Christ-Centered Warfare’ (Spiritual Weaponry For Fighting The Good Fight Of Faith). Nearly 600 pastors, church planters, evangelists and other spiritual leaders gathered together from all over the nation of Kenya; as well as, over 100 pastors from eastern Uganda. Hundreds of these spiritual leaders are either past graduates of KMTI. or present students at their various campuses. There was also a very large contingent, of well over 100 spiritual leaders, which annually attend from another ‘leadership training organization’, which is entitled CBLT – Kenya, Church Based Leadership Training! These blessed soldiers of the Cross, annually sacrifice a week of their time, to attend these intensive studies which cover various biblical themes. I personally consider this annual conference in Kenya to be a major highlight of each and every ministry year!

I am absolutely overwhelmed with gratitude that our God has sovereignly orchestrated my ‘life-path’ to cross with Dr. George Wafula and Rev. Larry Neese of KMTI., along with the entirety of their leadership team. I will also be forever grateful for Rev. Fredrick Mulei, Pastor John Machuka and the godly leadership of CBLT. For I have been a ‘first-hand’ witness of the tremendous impact that God has produced, through these godly lives and ministries. Both KMTI. and CBLT are being an awesome ‘ministry of multiplication’, into the lives of thousands of churches and individual disciples in East Africa! These dear brothers have committed their lives to ‘admonish every man and teach every man, that they may present every man complete in Christ’! It is a blessed privilege for me to come alongside of these ongoing ‘pastoral training ministries’, for a few days each year, and plant an ‘exposition of the incorruptible Seed of the Word of God’ into the lives of those who will ‘teach others also’.
 

Tragically, there have been multitudes of false teachings, (some which originates from our own nation), which have poisoned evangelicalism on the continent of Africa. This area of the teaching, concerning ‘spiritual warfare,’ is no exception to this catastrophic phenomenon. For friends, spiritual warfare is primarily a ‘battle for truth’! Our adversary is the master deceiver. He is the father of lies; and he operates chiefly in the realm of spiritual deception. I submit to you that the enemy’s primary weapon is ‘doctrinal defilement’ within the walls of evangelical churches. Consequently, the Word of God is our only accurate source, which is able to supply us with the proper armor, both to stand and advance in victory. I want to share just two of the hundreds of tremendous testimonies, in relation to how the Spirit of Truth mightily applied the Word of Truth; and obliterated the numerous unsound teachings that have contaminated the church in Africa, especially as it relates to this vital area of ‘spiritual warfare’.

The first testimony comes from the heart of the Director of K.M.T.I., Dr. George Wafula:

 “Bro. Ed, one person has well said that, ‘You will never know that you don’t know, until you meet someone who knows’. I have heard a multitude of statements, which are very similar to this, from many of the pastors and spiritual leaders who attended your most recent conference entitled, ‘Christ-Centered Warfare’ (Spiritual Weaponry For Fighting The Good Fight Of Faith). As you well know, Africa has been the victim of a multitude of ‘bad theologies and false teachings’ for many years now. There are so many good leaders, within our churches, who have an authentic passion to serve the Lord. However, they have been misled and misdirected by a plethora of false teachers and false prophets. These spiritual leaders have been sincere, in both their beliefs and their behavior; but they have been sincerely wrong! Consequently, these teachings have really affected the church in this section of Africa in a negative way. For wrong teachings produce wrong believing; and wrong believing leads to wrong living.

Oh, but I want to thank my God for raising you up, as a grace gift to the church of Christ, especially here in northeast Africa. For these annual conferences (which have been attended by hundreds of church leaders, pastors, evangelists, overseers and church planters) are impacting the church in East Africa in a powerful way! For these annual conferences are building the church into a sound Biblical theology for the glory of God. Through these biblically oriented teachings of God’s word, the bad theology and bad belief systems are being dismantled and destroyed. And in their place, you have been edifying the body of Christ, by replacing these false teachings with a solid foundation of biblical theology, in a multitude of areas of Christian life and ministry. Our people are now having the opportunity to hear the pure and undiluted word of God.

Many overseers and pastors came to me, at the conclusion of these meetings, and repented for ‘believing, teaching and propagating falsehoods’, in relation to this essential area of spiritual warfare. We had been taught that spiritual warfare was about taking territory. However, we have come to the biblical reality that spiritual warfare is a battle for living the truth; walking in the truth; and warring by the truth! These most recent teachings have been both a tremendous challenge and a glorious blessing to every teacher who was in attendance.The exposition of Ephesians 6:10-17, during this year’s conference, was a powerful eye-opener for so many, including myself! For you dug deep into God’s word in this vital area of spiritual warfare. God used you to assist us to comprehend the armor of God in its proper context. For years, all of us had been preaching from this passage; but with only a very limited knowledge. Oh, but as you opened up the Word of God, during the entirety of the conference, the spiritual cobwebs and blinders of ignorance were gloriously removed from our minds. And the light of God’s genuine teaching on this monumental subject powerfully illumined all who were in attendance. I am so thankful for your passion for the Lord and your commitment to come every single year to be a tremendous blessing to us. The KMTI family is overjoyed to continue to host you for these life- changing meetings." We love you - Dr. George Wafula

 
 

The following testimony comes from Rev. John Machuka, one of the overseers at CBLT-Kenya:

Many African pastors have had problems demystifying and appropriating the armor of God, as taught by the apostle Paul in Ephesians 6. Most of us could not bring out the correct interpretation of the text and draw the appropriate applications of the same to their own lives and ministries. But now, they have known and embraced a correct interpretation of this critical passage, which has consequently brought about a massive correction and an enthusiastic application of God’s Word in regard to spiritual warfare.

Friends, until this conference, I did not fully comprehend the gravity and magnitude of the reality of spiritual warfare to the born again Christian. It is an understatement that most believers are oblivious of this reality; and have ended up being casualties of the fiery arrows of the adversary. I have learned from this conference that ‘whether we know it or not, every believer is born into a colossal conflict, which is continually occurring in the heavenly places’. This teaching was extremely relevant and timely in helping address the erroneous fads which are practiced in churches here. African Christian charismatic movements have, to some extent, been infiltrated by practices of animism. This is predominant in African independent churches, which comprise about 60% of church-going Christians in the rural countryside. Mysticism is a key characteristic of these movements.

There has been much ‘mere intuition and so-called secret knowledge’, in attempt to know God and get into a place of communion with Him. I have personally encountered churches where the speaker begins his message by asking for a moment of silence in the service; so as to receive revelation directly from God and pass it on to the adherents. In such churches, the speaker does not come with a sermon that he has diligently studied. He comes empty, expecting to receive mystical revelation from God! This unbiblical trend affects every other aspect of their Christianity. Some of the people, who attended the conference, were previously involved in such false doctrine. Therefore, the teachings about the need to hold out the objective truth of God’s inerrant and infallible Truth, as the final authority in all matters of faith and practice, was a great help to the churches here. The eyes of the people were enlightened from the vast exposition of this portion of Ephesians 6. For the master deceiver had lured preachers into ‘receiving and believing unbiblical concepts’ concerning him. Hence, making the people of God largely ineffective, moribund and apathetic in their practice of the faith.

 It is a divine imperative to all pastors to feed their flocks, through a correct and accurate exposition of the objective truth. This ministry has to extend to all those in our churches, and to all that the Lord brings in the sphere of the influence of our lives. Bro. Ed has set a good example for all of us, in all of these conferences. For he always lays the truth bare before our very eyes. I was particularly challenged by the depth of exposition, as he drew facts and background information from Paul’s second missionary journey to the idolatrous city of Ephesus in Acts 19. This set the historical context, which was absolutely vital in understanding the epistle to the Ephesians; and more specifically chapter 6. Kenya has been a fertile ground for false teachers and self-proclaimed apostles and bishops. Most of these false teachers are peddlers of the Word of God; either ignorantly or with partial knowledge of the truth. This challenge has been exacerbated by a naivety and ignorance of the truth, on the part of the professing believers in our churches. In my assessment, we share a similar context of idolatry and doctrinal and moral corruption with the first century church of Ephesus. This teaching from Bro. Ed will exponentially go a long way, in strengthening the churches here. As a local pastor, I have already committed to teach a ‘2-month series’ on the Armor of God in our home church. So that these truths, which I have learned, can be multiplied to impact many lives.

 Over the past three weeks, since the conference, I have interacted with many pastors from our ministry, to further discover the impact of the conference on their knowledge of God, their individual lives and their ministries. They could not hide their joy and excitement, as they shared the truths that they learned in the conference. Even more important, they have all exhibited a zeal and passion to teach other faithful people the things that they learned. I wish to deeply convey my appreciation to the ‘Ed Lacy Ministry friends and partners’, for supporting this ministry to impact churches in Kenya and Uganda. Your intercessory prayers and your financial gifts, to the ministry of Ed Lacy, are absolutely vital to the advancement of the truth and the obliteration of the error in the evangelical churches of East Africa! Let us continue fighting the good and glorious fight, under the victorious banner of the Lord Jesus Christ. Bro. Ed, may our Lord richly reward you for your endurance to teach 8 hours daily for 4 days! This was amazing grace indeed. We love you Bro. Ed! May your passion be fueled by this testimony of God’s work through your life and ministry.“ Your servant, John Machuka

The Glorious Privilege of Prayer

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Paul closed his intercessory prayer for these Ephesians, (and for every believer), with this grand and glorious doxology. He had already prayed that we would be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man. He had further prayed that Christ would dwell in our hearts by faith; and that we would be rooted and grounded in His astounding love for us! He continued on to intercede that we would be filled with all of the fullness of God. And having done that, the great Apostle began to break into passionate praises to our Lord and God who delights to answer the prayers of His beloved children.

Friend, as I taught ‘Christ-centered Evangelism’ to well over a 120 Indian pastors, church planters and Indian mission organization directors from 9 different states of the nation of India, my heart was overwhelmed with a similar doxology of praise, thanksgiving and worship to our God of amazing grace, marvelous mercy and astounding love! How can it be that a ‘formerly agnostic, arrogant, argumentative and nearly alcoholic’ rock and jazz drummer could be transformed into a follower of Christ? How is it possible that this ‘formerly thorough-going pagan’ would be sent out of our nation on over 190 foreign mission trips in 20 different nations? How could it be possible that a ‘formerly introverted person’ would be called to preach the Gospel and train pastors and church planters? The sole explanation is that the living God has done exceedingly, abundantly above all that I could have contemplated or even imagined! I can join in with the psalmist and proclaim, “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim His name; make known among the nations what He has done.”

 

John Newton wrote,
“You are coming to a
King;
Large petitions with
you bring;
For His grace and
power are such,
That you can never
ask too much!”

Perhaps, you are presently finding yourself in a situation in which there appears to be a spiritual drought. You may be experiencing the yearning heart of the psalmist, when he cried, “My soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory.” But friend, I am here with great rejoicing, to report that our God is still saving sinners! Our Lord is still multiplying His truth into the lives of other spiritual leaders, who are being faithful to teach others also!

 

You may be presently praying for someone or some situation; and the answer appears to be impossible. Oh, but friend, this precious verse reminds us that we are praying to the God whose power is eternal, universal and absolute. We are seeking an answer from the Lord who has all authority in the heavens and on the earth. God’s power is an omnipotence that is supernaturally extraordinary and inexhaustible, in its ability to accomplish enormously above and beyond what we can conceive! We must remind ourselves that the Lord and God, whom we are addressing, is the Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent King of the universe. As John Newton as well said, “You are coming to a King; large petitions with you bring; for His grace and power are such, that you can never ask too much!”

Every born again believer is welcomed to bring their most daring petitions, their most impossible requests and their most incredible desires to our Lord! For our Lord and God is perfectly capable of accomplishing all that He wills. Furthermore, it is a certain fact that He will attain all of His plans and purposes. We must not lose sight of our Lord’s absolute and universal authority to fulfill His great mission in this world. As Charles Spurgeon has well said, “The very invitation to pray implies that there are blessings waiting for us at the mercy-seat.” We must see each personal challenge and each specific burden as an invitation to pray! Our God is still accomplishing immeasurably more than you can even conceptualize!