By Rev. Ken Silva,

Apprising Ministries, October 1, 2005,

"...take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.... And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God...." Ephesians 6:13, 17


"For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."  Hebrew 4:11-12

It would seem that many today feel we are getting close to the end of this Age of Grace. There are some who would say that I am being sensationalistic to say this, but I really don’t think that I overstating this impression at all. More and more people are talking like the Messiah–Christ Jesus could actually return in our lifetime? And certainly there are many fine teachers of biblical prophecy who will say that everything that needs to be fulfilled before the Second Advent of Christ has occurred, and maybe you even feel this way yourself.

Well here is a rare time that I’ll offer an opinion from this Internet “pulpit.” You may have noticed that I don’t do that a whole lot. No, I really don’t often give my opinion on the latest issues. And truthfully, that’s by design. The reason for this is my opinion has been–for as long as I can remember–that far too much of what passes for “preaching the Gospel,” from way too many pulpits, is little but the offering of the preacher’s opinions. Somebody just takes a verse of Scripture as an excuse to “yak” on about what they personally believe about some hot button issue. And I offer in the Lord that this is the root cause for the deplorable shape the Evangelical Church is in right now here in America.

I remember where Dr. John MacArthur –- one of the finest expository preachers of our generation -– had someone inquire about this issue of offering personal views. He was asked: “Why don’t you give your own opinions more often? Why just preach the Bible?” I love MacArthur’s reply -– and it happens to forms the basis of my own theology as well–he said: “God’s opinion, is my opinion.” O if only more pastors could understand that! And this would especially apply to those ministers who have already begun the purpose driven dance of deception, as well as those who are submerging themselves in the misplaced mysticism of the Emergent Church.

Heed The Master’s Warning

Let me relate this to the subject of the certain return of our Lord Jesus Christ. As I was saying, it would definitely seem there is kind of an excitement that He might come back in our lifetime. You could even say that there is kind of an expectation among people that Jesus will return in a time as short as a matter of a few years; in a relatively short time in any event. Now, I’m not sure that I would personally agree with this opinion, but I am still open to discussing with people what the Bible has to say about it.

The main point being, there is just no way that I wish to build a reputation -– or a following –- as some kind of an alarmist preacher. Truthfully, this is a major reason why I teach in the fashion that I do. It is my firm conviction in Christ that I pay very close attention to what the text of the Bible itself actually says. And this is what I attempt to teach you to do as well. I am fully persuaded by our Lord that this is the way I can best serve Him. And I also feel that this is the single best way that I can nurture and protect this growing flock that Jesus has been entrusting to my care.

Which brings me back to this idea that so many today are thinking the return of Jesus Christ will happen relatively soon. So let’s take a moment to think about what this would mean. We’ll use what is known in the apologetics trade as an “if” proposition. This by the way, is a very good tool for sharing the Gospel with someone because initially they don’t feel pressure that they have to necessarily agree with you. The reason is, all you are really asking them to do at that point is to think about “what if” – as in what if what you say is true. Try it sometime; I use these all the time, and it really does work as a conversation starter because it helps relax the person to whom you are talking.

In any event, for our purposes here, if Jesus could indeed return in our lifetime, then wouldn’t it make good sense to be following the Master’s warning in the Book of Matthew? This is, of course, Matthew’s own eyewitness account of his time living with the God-Man–Christ Jesus of Nazareth -– Who just so happens to be the LORD God Almighty in human flesh. Here is one of the things he records Jesus as saying about the time prior to His return -– and I quote:

"So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns." (Matthew 24:44-46)

And wouldn’t it make just as much sense to become very sure of what the Bible actually teaches us about Him? Well, the best way you can do that is to make absolutely certain that what someone teaches you about our Lord is accurate. So you see, this is why it’s so important that each of us should be careful to read the Bible thoroughly–and in context–as we attempt to teach others, and as we witness to them. I’m sure there is one thing that all true Christians will agree on, this is such a critical time in history that God has chosen to place us in. As such then, we should strive all the more to be one of those who correctly handles the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

Prepare To Defend

This cynical postmodern age that we find ourselves thrust into -– particularly here in America (land of the free…thinkers) -- is a time where up often looks down, as in the children of God called to soar like eagles, instead are choosing to remain in the barnyard with the chickens of the world. We who are believers in Christ are told in 1 Peter 3:15 that we must – "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." The Greek word for “answer” here is apologia and primarily means “to give a defense.”

The idea behind this usage of apologia is that of standing in a courtroom and presenting your defense in front of a judge. Dr. A.T. Robertson, whom many believe to be one of the greatest New Testament Greek scholars who ever lived, commenting on this passage of Scripture in his classic Word Pictures in the New Testament, pointed out that apologia means to “[be] ready with a spoken defense of the inward hope. This attitude calls for an intelligent grasp of the hope and skill in presenting it.” The truth is, every Christian needs to be ready to be an apologist  -– a defender -– of the faith that we have been given by our Lord. As the noted Christian apologist Josh McDowell likes to say:

"the ideas we share with people don’t necessarily definitively prove the existence of God, or the truth of Christianity, but they do give the thinking person better information from which to make an informed decision as to whether or not to trust in Jesus Christ by faith."

As some of you know, in addition to my duties as pastor of Connecticut River Baptist Church, I also work at Stevens High School as a study hall supervisor. Up until this year I was also the head coach of the varsity football team. One year I filled in at the school as an instructor in the CAP program and had the opportunity to work closely with Holt Littlefield, who is also a fine fencing coach. A couple of times we compared notes as fellow coaches. And something that all coaches have in common is the use of what are called “drills.” These will vary somewhat for each different sport, but their function remains the same.

The reason that coaches use various drills is to teach –- and reinforce -– the essential basics of the particular sport involved. These repetitive activities are designated to stress key skills a player needs, and usually one or two at a time. The players generally don’t like them because it forces them to go over and over and over the same basic activity, but coaches know very well the value of repeating skills frequently, as these drills will eventually form a habit–an unconscious reaction–that in a game will cause a player to naturally respond correctly without thinking too much about it.

Train To Use The Master's Sword

Here’s how this relates to our thoughts on the Master's Sword -– the Bible. Just as in fencing where the student must drill to learn to properly handle his rapier, so the Christian must study Holy Scripture to learn to properly handle his Sword of the Spirit. Charles Spurgeon once asked his church: Do you not know that the Master has given you His Own weapon to use? Knowing how to use the Scriptures as you witness will enable you to quickly give a lot of absolute truth to those you witness to, which the Holy Spirit will then use for His Own purpose.

And what I have been doing here at AM is to attempt to get people to think about what they believe. This is the exact opposite method used by the Devil. For Satan’s strategy in this nation has been to so thoroughly confuse issues of history, science and religion, that people just finally go: “Who even knows whether there is a God; so what difference would it make what someone believes anyway?” Men and women, as Christians we know that what a person believes about God makes a great deal of difference–to God.

Let’s think of it this way. Suppose you were the President of the United States. And the head of a rival party, oh -– we’ll call Satania -– was out spreading lies and creating unrest around the country. Wouldn’t you send out correct information through the media into the various parts of the nation, as well as sending out people who represented your actual positions on the issues to clear your name? Well, this is precisely what Satan has been doing to God -– spreading lies and creating unrest throughout His entire Kingdom. And our King–Christ Jesus –- has sent us out to represent His interests in this country. And this is what the Apostle Paul meant when he writes –- "We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us." – 2 Corinthians 5:20.

Prayerfully this humble work has helped you to look at the time you spend studying the Bible in a fresh light. Beyond question we spend time reading Holy Scripture to commune with our Lord. It also helps to remember that the Bible is where God had His very thoughts written down so we might be able to learn to think as He does. Now though, you have another reason to read, study and meditate on the Word of God in the Bible. And that’s so you can let the Holy Spirit help you prepare to better handle the Master’s Sword as you share your faith in Christ as this Age of Grace draws ever closer to an end. Today, let's all ask the Lord to give us a fresh desire to really prepare to handle His Sword, and all the more as we look forward together for the blessed hope — "the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13)."

"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.
      "Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure."
1 John 3:1-3

Copyright © 2005 by Ken Silva. All rights reserved. 

Pastor Silva's beautiful website: Apprising Ministries



See also  The Falling Away of the Evangelical Church  and  Why Fear Reveals Love

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