THE VALUE OF A GODLY BRIDGE
Updated: Sep 28, 2020
Last time we considered the value of good spiritual discernment when engaging in spiritual warfare. This week, let us evaluate Satan's strategy to defeat the Church in the battle for souls.
THE ENEMY'S SCHEME TO DEFEAT THE CHURCH
There should be little doubt that the devil hates God with an unholy hatred. Beginning in the Garden of Eden, Satan launched an attack against the human race by lying to the mother of all living that would have long-lasting effects to the end of the ages. He caused her to take her eye off the ball, or the highest priority of life and give him the allegiance that belonged to God her creator alone. Men have been deceived in the same way ever since then.
Granted to those whom God has called to oversee His Church is the maturity to do so. The Church has been given the task to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and verify it before the world by living out its implication in real-time.
Enter the dragon, the serpent of old the devil. His mission is to confuse the means of carrying out Christian maturity through discipleship, thereby running the Christian train right off the track and amok.
In the movie, BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, (taken from a true story) a British regiment is brought captive to a Japanese prisoner of war camp. The Japanese commander wants officers and enlisted men to be treated the same, which was against the Geneva convention's agreement. A battle of wills ensued between the two commanders.
After days of being placed in a hot tin box, the British commander emerged with fried brains. Afterward, he decided to motivate his men and thereby save their lives by building a bridge for the enemy. He further rejected his military doctor's wisdom, who suggested his actions could be construed as consorting with the enemy. "Tend to medical matter and leave leadership to me," was his reply.
The story ends when the British commander wanting to save his bridge realizes the error of his ways. He says, "My God, what have I done?" He is shot and falls upon the detonator, set by an alete team of British soldiers sent to blow the bridge. In turn, the train, carrying Japanese officers, plummets to the river below to their death.
THE MORAL OF THE STORY
Leadership is not called to protect the flock but lead them in giving their lives away for the sake of Christ and the Gospel. Jesus said, "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, and the Gospel's will save it." (Mark 8:35)
The pastor, as a mature Christian, should be the first person to give his life away as an example to the flock. Such self-sacrifice does not take place where a dichotomy exists between leadership and laity. The congregation does not grow the way it should when they are led to believe they cannot lead properly without a seminary degree.
Did you ever meet an eighty-year-old person who had been saved for fifty years but could not adequately proclaim the Gospel? I have. Put another way, many times I was involved with transporting soldiers on their way home for a holiday called the exodus. During basic training, men are broken down and not allowed to think for themselves. They are part of a unit, and their lives during wartime depend upon their ability to follow orders without hesitation. Did you ever meet a person that could not think for themself? It is not pretty. At least there is a useful purpose in the military.
Inadvertently leadership does the same thing in the Church to many of its members through improper use of authority. What happens during basic training in soldiers becomes a lifetime experience for many in the Church. John, the disciple of love, addressed this issue when he wrote, "But the anointing which you have received from Him (Christ) abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you..." (1 John 2:27)
Christians need only the depth of their understanding increased, the reality of Gospel truth is given us all through the gift of the Holy Spirit when we are born-again. There is a wealth of knowledge implanted in the heart of the believer, even though it is not entirely understood. All Christians are on an equal footing, which is why most of the New Testament is written to members, not leaders.
Satan plans to destroy the Church by stifling spiritual growth. The Catholic Church leaders believe their members cannot understand the Bible. Evangelical Churchs believe in the Bible for all, in theory, but fall short in practice. Consider Paul's teaching.
"And He gave some as ...pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man..." (Ephesians 4:11-13)
The word "some" is not in the original Greek. Indeed, not every Christian has a spiritual gift to teach, but maturity is not for an alete group of believers. The work of service belongs to the whole body, to build up the entire Church. Many Christians upwards of 35 years remain immature because the expectation of their calling is set so low by their leaders. Why? Spiritual maturity is defined by intellectual education by the most educated. Only the most honest pastor could admit such a fault.
When leadership alters the terms by which the Church is to be built and takes matters into its own hands, as did Israel's King Saul, it builds a bridge for the enemy. The first Church was comprised of mostly uneducated people. They did a pretty good job. I realize I am standing against a powerful tide.
CHRIST'S TERMS TO BUILD THE CHURCH
Leadership MUST NOT develop a big head. "they do all their deeds to be noticed by men..." (Old Testament teachers who perverted the law of Moses) "...But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. "Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. "Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ." (Matthew 23:5, 8-10)
There is no place in the Church for doctors, fathers, and professors. In my opinion, such polity has brought too much ruin for what it has produced.
THE GROUND IS LEVEL AT THE CROSS
"But the greatest among you shall be your servant. "Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted." (Matthew 23:11, 12)
The command to go into all the world and make disciples, teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded, is the responsibility of every beloved blood-bought son. Gifts may differ, and a calling can be unique. However, zeal by which every child of God begins should never be quenched by a dichotomy between leadership and laity.
Ask yourself, how have I observed the following admonition applied in the Church? "On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it." (1 Corinthians 12:22-26)
If the Church were practicing this principle well, there would be little to no division in the body. Is that the case? Or is the true Church at present fractured into thousands of pieces? I am not speaking about soft sentimentalism.
The importance of God's word can never be overemphasized. Nonetheless, preaching that overshadows prayer, as it does, is a mockery of Christ's Church. "And he taught, and said unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations? but ye have made it a den of thieves." (Mark 11:17; Isaiah 56:7)
God never refers to His house as a house of preaching. We can know nothing of God without His holy word. The Bible reigns supreme in the knowledge of God through 66 books of self-revelation. However, if one hour is used to preach and teach, then at least two hours should be given to pray.
No army engaged in a battle makes survival their most important priority. Self-survival is a given; it is as natural as living. Our priorities are these:
Never to negotiate on the terms of serving God.
Love the brethren by considering them better than ourselves.
Unity in the Church by exalting God's thoughts over our own.
Preach the Gospel and validate it through obedient living. (See first three priorities)
Each of the above priorities is not possible apart from self-denial. A selfish person cannot love, and neither will they be obedient. Self-denial is a must in everything we do for another.
An unquenched zeal always produces a desire to know God and share Him with others. A proud leadership unwittingly squelches what would otherwise be an unleashed army of Gospel preachers. "And on that day a great persecution began against the Church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. ...Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word." (Acts 8:1 & 4)
I tell you the truth, a wrong emphasis on a pre-eminent and worldly degree (a diploma that says we are qualified for ministry) rather than spiritually energized, and Biblical wisdom is building a bridge for the enemy.
The Apostles were far too broken over their defeat on the night Jesus was betrayed to take pride any longer in knowledge. God made the Apostles, and He placed their names on the foundation of the New Jerusalem. We should follow their example.
"Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant (inflates, puffs up), but love edifies (builds up)."
(1 Corinthians 8:1; emphasis added)
Prayer is to Humility what Learning is to Pride
To learn without praying correctly and sufficiently guarantees building a bridge for the enemy.
"At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
"Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
"And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me;
but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea." (Matthew 18:1-6)
PRIDE IS THE ENEMY THAT BUILDS A BRIDGE;
PRAYER IS THE VICTOR THAT LOOKS TO CHRIST
WHAT'S THE VALUE OF A GODLY BRIDGE?
THE EXALTATION OF JESUS CHRIST