As the armies of Israel trembled at Goliath’s roars in the valley of Elah, so we as God’s people may tremble at what lies before us in the year ahead. The enemies of Christ have been loud in the past year; Satan’s vicious agenda against Christ and His Church appears to be getting louder each year. Open immorality and scandals have rocked nations and churches. God-denying men are madly framing laws against Christian liberties, forcing God’s people to acknowledge that we are in a spiritual battle for our very survival of Biblical Christianity. As Christian freedoms are restricted, persecution cannot be far off.
More and more people are subscribing to godless thinking, and we are witnessing what the leaven of humanism has done in our nations. In the USA and Canada, majority opinion states that there is no need for God, nor to maintain His name and laws in public life. It’s obvious we are already living in a secular society. At a recent funeral service for a fallen police officer in Abbotsford, British Columbia, to which hundreds of police officers came from across the country and other parts of the world, there was a “celebration of life” held in his honor. Of course it was proper to honor a man who sacrificed to protect society, and it was proper to support his grieving wife and children, but sadly there was no reference to God, the Bible, or any religious tradition. It was a wholly secular event. Mourners came and went without the hope and comfort which the gospel of Christ alone affords to the sorrowing.
Godlessness in society is also impacting the Christian church. The divide between Biblical thinking and the world’s defiance of all things God-like is widening. Church attendance is dropping, tempting churches to allow the attitudes and standards of a rebellious world into the church. The stand for truth and righteousness is ever more difficult for the gospel-preaching church. The pressure is on to compromise on all fronts – even the message we preach and the way we worship.
What then shall we do? Shall we flee in fear and refuse to engage in the battle for Christ and His kingdom on earth? No. There is no excuse for disobeying the Lord, nor for shrinking from His enemies. We need the mind of David, who as a ruddy shepherd boy boldly faced Goliath with this confidence: “The battle is the Lord’s.” He took his five smooth stones and sling and went out against the giant to slay him. The Lord gave him the courage, the skill, and the victory to silence the roars of Israel’s defiant foe.
In this New Year, we must determine that the battle is the Lord’s. He can empower us to stand for His cause amid a hostile world. We must press forward in the Lord’s name and strength. But let us do so with a greater emphasis on prayer by which we demonstrate our total dependence on Him. Pray against the hostile forces outside our gates, but also pray against the apathy within. As the rot in a tree will eventually cause it to fall, so we have more to fear from the dead wood within the church than we do from the shouts of men without our ranks. The gathering clouds of persecution call our congregations to give themselves to earnest prayer. It is not just a case of propriety, but of survival. It is the only answer to the threats that loom against the ministry of the gospel in these times.
As we enter 2018, it is time for every Christian to add his or her voice to the congregation’s cries unto God in the church prayer meetings. Silence against the evils of the world is unforgivable and so is silence in the church prayer room, especially when we know that the enemy is unstoppable by human efforts. We need to call down the power of God to see the giants of evil fall and the forces of hell put to flight.
Impossible, you say! So thought the armies of Israel, who trembled in pitiful fear until David came on the scene. We have a greater than David to go out against the enemy for us, and when we go in Jesus’ name against the world, the battle truly is the Lord’s. How shall we give an account of ourselves in the year ahead if we do not turn to the Lord for His divine intervention in our churches and our nations? So, the question remains, how shall we pray for victory for Christ’s Church? Only with the inner burning conviction that the battle is the Lord’s.
Rev. Ian Goligher is minister of Cloverdale FPC, BC.