Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Thermopylae of Christendom

I am not an historian, but I enjoy reading history. The story of the battle of Thermopylae has always captivated my imagination, so when Spurgeon referred to it in one of his lectures my attention was arrested. Spurgeon says, "Often have I said to my brethren that the pulpit is the Thermopylae of Christendom: there the fight will be lost or won." I have been thinking about this statement ever since and thinking about what Spurgeon might have meant.

The Spartans at Thermopylae were able to hold their ground because they trusted their weapons, their knowledge of warfare, and their fellow soldiers. If we as preachers of the Gospel of Christ are to stand our ground, we must do the same.

The Spartans soldiers trusted their weapons. As preachers, we have only one weapon at our disposal: the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). This is a weapon we can always trust "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Heb 4:12 NASB)" What better weapon could we ask for?

However, it seems that many preachers no longer trust their weapon. They substitute the world's marketing techniques, anecdotal stories, humor, and personal experience for God's Word in their preaching ministry. Some preachers never get around to the Bible, or read one passage then preach a message that has nothing to do with the verses read. For some a desire to be 'relevant' results in their being merely entertaining. The people in the congregation may enjoy the show, but their souls are not fed.

In some churches, they are busily hammering their swords into a shape that better suits them. The Word of God is twisted to fit whatever the opinions of the culture are. This is a dangerous practice; it results in many believing they are saved, when in fact they have no relationship with Christ at all.

The Spartans also trusted their knowledge of warfare. They had been trained to fight in a particular style. One soldier who did not do his job would bring about a catastrophe! In their formation, no one soldier could afford to try doing it his own way. We preachers must preach the gospel. The full counsel of God is all that will do. If we try to preach ourselves - our opinions, our new ideas, our experience - rather than the Gospel of Christ, we should expect disastrous results.

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.' "(Mat 7:21-23 NASB)

Those to whom Christ is speaking are doing a lot of good things: prophesying, casting out demons, performing miracles in His name. However, they are not doing the will of the Father. God has ordained the foolishness of preaching as the means of saving souls; He has not ordained others. We must be about doing His will - not trying to baptize our own wills. We must trust His plan for warfare.

We must also, like the Spartans, be able to trust our fellow soldiers to fight the good fight. We must encourage each other, rebuke each other when needed, and stand beside one another.

Like the Spartans, we face overwhelming odds. We must always remember that unlike the battle at Thermopylae (which was lost), our victory has already been won by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We battle for His glory - not our own.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able 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 this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Eph 6:10-17 NASB)

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my first attempt at blogging!

In Christ's name and for His glory,

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