Spiritual warfare is a term that will get you thrown out of some counterfeit Pentecostal churches. Nevertheless, spiritual warfare is not going away. We were just getting ready to film one of the Apostolic Moments television programs. I asked the Apostolic Equipping Institute (AEI) Bible school students to write down some of their questions for my guest. On a small green sheet of folded paper was written these words,
“Is there any way to come into the apostolic ministry without spiritual warfare?” I thought that was a great question and many have asked it or at least pondered it at sometime. The short answer to the question is, “No.” I wish I didn’t have to be the bearer of such news, but, one must. The good news is, however, that when you enter the apostolic fight you always win and when you win you get the spoils. I am sure you feel a little bit better now. After all we just don’t want to enter the fighting apostolic dimension just because we don’t have any thing else to do, but I am getting a bit ahead of myself.
A REVOLUTIONARY MODEL
Jesus, our Chief Apostle and High Priest, gave his followers and soon to be revolutionaries some powerful counsel. He said things like, “Occupy till I come,” and “from the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force.” Just before His departure into heaven He told those with him not to depart from Jerusalem but to wait for the promise of the Holy Spirit who would baptize them with power. This power was the prerequisite for advancing the Gospel throughout the world. It’s obvious that He taught an invading and occupying spiritual warfare model of ministry. Could it be that the Church has grabbed hold of a departure mindset rather than an invading and occupying mindset that prompts many to ask, "Do I have to fight?"
The pioneering Church in the book of Acts knew that they had to fight in spiritual warfare to carry out the apostolic mandate of advancing the Gospel of the kingdom and building the Church. They were living in times of strong natural and spiritual opposition. Yet, as they persevered, they saw the power of prayer and the Holy Spirit in action as they submitted to God and fought the good fight of faith.
FIGHT TO WIN
So what does it mean to fight? Spiritual warfare prayers and spiritual warfare Scriptures have meaning. Spiritual warfare simply means to “Submit yourself to God, resist the devil and he will flee.” Fighting can be as simple as “having faith in God.” It’s in the believing and moving forward in that belief that the contending comes into play. Scripture also says, “The effectual fervent prayers of a righteous man availed much.” This type of prayer has an aggressive, even militant sound full of an assurance of victory. Many have told me that when they pray they feel a spiritual warfare resistance. They meet that resistance with even more fervency. It’s this resistance to their prayers that keeps them pressing in, contending, resisting, or as the Bible school student brought up -- fighting.
CONFRONTING SPIRITUAL OPPOSITION
The Apostle Paul taught those in his flagship church in Ephesus, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers.” One cannot wrestle without being in a fight. Notice also that the church in Ephesus was founded by an apostle who knew what it would take for that body of believers to grow and influence their territory. Paul was not focused on departing but building the church through an active invasion of the city with the Gospel. He taught the people that they could not afford to ignore their spiritual opposition. They must be battle ready.
The Word also declares not to “grow weary in well doing knowing that in due season you will reap if you faint not.” Why would one ever feel weary? Could that weariness be the result of a spiritual resistance to faith? Weariness is most often experienced long after the first prayer was ever prayed. In fact it is toward the end of the waiting and just before the answer comes that the spiritual resistance is the most intense. That space of time that looks like a delay forces one to experience the “fight of faith.”
My guest, a pastor from Europe was with me in the car as we drove to Coral Gables, Florida. The old City Hall building was built in 1928 and would make a great backdrop for an open-air television broadcast. As the program director counted us down, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, go. I asked him the question “Is there anyway to come into the apostolic without fighting?” Without hesitation he responded, “Absolutely not. You can’t even be a Christian without fighting. You can’t do anything for God without facing the spiritual opposition caused by your faith.”
ADVANCING THE KINGDOM OF GOD
I knew that’s what he would say, but often-apostolic people get accused of being, too fervent, too bold, too militant, too everything except lukewarm. The truth is that we are in a spiritual war for the building of the visible Church of Jesus Christ. Satan is not going to give up the lost souls of this world nor the kingdoms of this world without a fight. When we wage war against our spiritual opposition through believing God and doing what He says, we always win.
Nehemiah is a great example of an apostolic believer who was given a vision to do something for God by the Holy Spirit. It was during the effort to bring about the vision that he suffered persecution and opposition. We too, like Nehemiah, will have to fight --believe, pray, press through, endure -- and win.
Be encouraged the Bible declares, “No weapon formed against you will prosper.” Paul told Timothy, “Endure hardship as a good soldier.” Yes there are times when we want the mountain to disappear without any effort on our part. Jesus said, “Speak to the mountain and it will be move.” So when trouble comes your way, will the mountain move your faith or will your faith move the mountain? Yes, we have to fight the good fight of faith but, “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.”
Apostle Jonas Clark