Hello, and welcome back to our series on Spiritual Warfare and Missions (SWAM). If you missed the first couple of posts you really should click here to read them first. And be reminded that this series is based on the book by Jerry Rankin and Ed Stetzer called Spiritual Warfare and Missions.
Last time we talked about Satan’s strategy to convince Christians that missions is optional. When he is able to get us as individuals and as fellowships to focus on ourselves, our needs, our neighbours, then the almost three billion people outside of the reach of the gospel right now are ignored (or avoided) by us. If we have no concern for the nations who stumble in the darkness, then we become like Jonah, who fled from the command of God.
This week we will see that Satan also attempts to erode the authority of God’s Word.
Mr. Rankin begins this chapter by referencing the CS Lewis book “The Screwtape Letters”. The book is a series of fictitious letters, as Dr. Lewis imagined them, written by one demon, Screwtape, to his nephew, Wormwood, who had been assigned to a new Christian. The letters are advice concerning strategies and tactics by which this Christian could be rendered powerless and his life ineffective in the service of the enemy, in this case, Jesus Christ.
One of the letters told him to influence this Christian to neglect his devotional time each day. If he did not spend time in prayer and reading the Word of God, reasoned Screwtape, he would be powerless in spite of all resolve to live for God. Another letter advises Wormwood to use contemporary philosophies and influences to cause him to doubt the truth and authority of God’s Word. This would erode any foundation for building a dedicated life of service for the kingdom of God.
The Screwtape Letters gave Rankin some valuable insight into the reality of Satan’s subtle ways of using worldly thinking and influences to undercut the victory we have been given as Christians. Of course, the victory that overcomes the world is our faith, not only faith in Jesus Christ but faith to believe the truth of God’s Word. If faith is the victory, then all Satan needs to do is erode our faith through doubts, rationalizing away through vain interpretations of the reality of God’s truth.
Satan’s first appearance in his designs against the truth of God’s Word was to confront Eve with doubt. “Did God really say…?” (Genesis 3:1). Yes, God had said they were not to eat the forbidden fruit, but Satan proceeded to malign God’s motives. He is a liar and deceiver, “No, you will not surely die. . . In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4-5). He made her believe that God wanted to deprive her of something desirable. In listening to Satan’s deception, we witness one of his primary tactics: twisting what God had said. Giving in, Eve forfeited the glory for which she had been created. And Satan has been trying to rob God of His glory among the people ever since.
There are numerous studies and surveys that have shown that Canadians identifying as Christians do not read the word of God. Take for example theCanadian Bible Engagement Study. This data was collected in 2013 and released in May 2014. A short video summary can be viewed on YouTube.
The study found that,
● Just 14% of Canadians read the Bible at least once a month in 2013 (down from 28% in 1996).
● 64% of Canadians think the scriptures of all major world religions teach essentially the same things.
● 69% of Canadians think the Bible has irreconcilable contradictions
● Only 18% of Canadians strongly agree that the Bible is the Word of God
●The Bible engagement of self-identified Christians as a whole is not much different from the Bible engagement of Canadians generally
So it seems that the enemy may be doing an effective job of sidetracking Christians from God’s Word.
Those who reject the authority of God’s Word quickly lose any impetus for evangelism and missions. Once the Bible is accepted as erroneous, it becomes subject to every whim of interpretation, and any portion or teaching becomes optional.
And thus Jesus’ warning in Matthew 7.
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7:24-27).
John 14:15 says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Love God, do what He says. That’s the answer. Simple. Simple is in, right? Do you want to solve all the world’s problems? Do you want to solve all your problems? Love God and do what He says. When this happens you are reshaped.
What is success to you as a Christian? People on mission are focused on obedience. As people on mission begin to create and populate local churches, the churches as a whole will live by the same value of obedience. Love God, do what He says.
And that is really the definition of a disciple.
What do you think of the Bible? Does it make clear the mission of the church? Or is it unclear to you? Leave us a comment below. We would love to talk about this with you.