INTRODUCTION: This is Memorial Day Weekend. It is the time when remember those who have given their lives so that we might enjoy the freedoms we have in this country. We would do well to remember that these freedoms did not just happen. They were not the easy fruits of some careful negotiations. No, they were bought with a price. Many families lost their sons and fathers. Many a wife became a widow in her youth. When we freely worship our God, we stand on the blood of those who went before us. When we openly declare our opposition to a government policy, we stand in the shadow of those who have made the sacrifices that allow us such a voice. Truly, we should remember these mighty soldiers of our land.
However, there are another group of soldiers I want to memorialize today. They are the men and women of God who have paid the price so that we might worship and serve God freely. They have suffered and often died to take the gospel to a dying world. They have fought the good fight of faith as examples to us all. The Baptists have historically been known as a militant people—a people willing to fight for right and for what they believed. Sadly, the only fight left in most Baptists is the fight they reserve for each other in petty controversies meant to lift themselves above the others. They are turf wars of a declining people. It is time for us to return to the battles of yesteryear, when the enemy was Satan, the stakes were eternal, the captain was the Lord Jesus, and the victory was certain.
Illustration: Scrapping Baptists; Princeton 1; Baptists 4 – Hopewell Bible School was established in 1756 in Hopewell, New Jersey, by Pastor Isaac Eaton as a training school for Baptist preachers. “The school took in boarders as well as day students. The boarders lived as members of the Eaton family and were James Manning, David Howell, John Stites, David Jones, Isaac Skillman, Stephen Watts, and Samuel Jones himself. These names were to become well known in Baptist life in America. The most famous perhaps was James Manning who became president of Rhode Island College. But they all were to become men of influence and standing.
“On 1 October 1757 several of the scholars went to visit the nearby college at Princeton. Manning and Howell intended going there ‘as soon as they are fitted.’ On their way home to the Eatons, they encountered a group of Princeton students. The Princeton men mocked their dress ‘which was rather plain compared with their own’ and set upon them. The future Baptists put up a manly fight. In the words of Samuel Jones, ‘Manning who is the boast of our school for his strength of arm and agility in movement, struck out with both fists and knocked over two of our assailants at once.’ David Howell poked his combatant in the stomach with his cane while David Jones ‘who is quite famous as a boxer, though small in size, upset the heaviest fellow…’ Samuel, who was a big youth, did not become too actively involved. However, he did suffer a ‘severe blow to my nose (which is quite prominent) and the blood flowed very profusely.’
“The Hopewell scholars acquitted themselves well against the ‘Philistines’ as David Jones called them. Afterwards they agreed that Manning ‘who is a real Christian young man and is loved and respected by all the school’ should explain the matter to Mr. Eaton. As a result of their altercation with the Princeton students, Samuel believed ‘more than I ever did, in original sin and the devil.’ ” –from Transatlantic Brethren: Rev. Samuel Jones (1735-1814) and His Friends by Hywel M. Davies (p.80-81).
THE POINTS OF THIS MESSAGE ARE THREE:
- The Lord is a Man of War
- We are His Soldiers
- We Cannot Win Unless We Fight
OLD TESTAMENT TRUTHS:
Exodus 15:3 The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name.
Joshua 5:14 And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant?
1 Samuel 17:45 Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.
Psalm 24:7 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.
Isaiah 13:4 The noise of a multitude in the mountains, like as of a great people; a tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together: the LORD of hosts mustereth the host of the battle.
Isaiah 31:4 For thus hath the LORD spoken unto me, Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them: so shall the LORD of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof.
5 As birds flying, so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over he will preserve it.
NEW TESTAMENT TRUTHS:
- The Lord is a Man of War
Matthew 24:27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Colossians 2:15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
- We are His Soldiers
2 Corinthians 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.
2 Timothy 2:1 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
Seditious Baptist Books – “The year was 1664, and the young man standing before the judge for sentencing was a Baptist minister named Benjamin Keach, only twenty-four years old. A few weeks earlier he had published a little book, entitled The Child’s Instructor; of, a New and Easy Primer, to be used for the religious instruction of children. Copies of the book had sold rapidly, and one had fallen into the hands of the local justice of the peace. Horrified by Keach’s printed statement that ‘believers, or godly men and women only, who can make confession of their faith and repentance,’ were the only fit subjects for Christian baptism, the justice of the peace had Keach seized and jailed until a speedy trial could be arranged. The evidence had been placed before the jury and he was soon found guilty.
“Thus Benjamin Keach was called to the bar, and the judge passed sentence as follows: ‘Benjamin Keach, you are here convicted, for writing, and publishing, a seditious and schismatical book, for which the court’s judgment is this, and the court doth award: That you shall go to gaol for a fortnight without bail or mainprize; and the next Saturday, to stand upon the pillory at Ailsbury, in the open market, for the space of two hours, from eleven of the clock to one… And the next Thursday, to stand in the same manner and for the same time, in the market of Winslow; and there your book shall be openly burnt, before your face, by the common hangman, in disgrace to you and your doctrine.’
“The sentence was carried out to the letter, but to the judge’s surprise, young Keach used his time in the pillory to preach to the throngs in the marketplace. When he was forced to stop speaking by the sheriff, his young wife stood beside the pillory and continued her husband’s sermon.” –from The Forgotten Heritage: A Lineage of Great Baptist Preaching by Thomas R. McKibbens, Jr. (p.16).
Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
- We Cannot Win Unless We Fight
1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
2 Timothy 4:6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
John Weatherford – “The amazing story of Pastor John Weatherford of Chesterfield County [Virginia] represents a classic illustration of the church-state intolerance prevailing at that time. Weatherford, a father of fifteen, spent six months in the county gaol [in 1773] for ‘preaching without a license.’ However, his oppressors soon discovered that they had more on their hands than they had bargained for. So many locals started getting converted below the grates of Weatherford’s cell that the magistrate ordered a twelve-foot wall be erected directly in front of the preacher’s window. However, they quickly learned, to their chagrin, that out of sight was not out of range! When Weatherford’s faithful congregation assembled for ‘church,’ a handkerchief on a pole would be raised as the signal that they were ready for the Sunday sermon. The man of God then proceeded to throw his voice through the grates, over the twelve-foot impediment. Such an unorthodox ‘worship service’ was known back than as ‘denying the prison bounds.’
“Pastor Weatherford was eventually released after a lawyer by the name of Patrick Henry paid his fine. Today, a giant memorial bearing witness to the preacher’s ordeal can be viewed less than twenty feet from the site of the incarceration itself. His final resting place is not so easy to find, however. A small, worn headstone bearing the sole inscription, ‘J.W.’ stands by itself in an obscure clump of trees in the middle of a field about a mile from the road behind the Shockoe Baptist Church in Java, Virginia.” –from How Satan Turned America Against God by William P. Grady (p.140).
2 Thessalonians 1:7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
Revelation 17:14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.
Revelation 19:11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;
CONCLUSION: From Fear to Ferocity – The coming of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost brought entirely new life and power to the apostles. “Instead of ignorance, they had the knowledge of the tongues; and they that were scarce well skilled in their own dialect, were instructed on the sudden to speak the most flourishing languages in the world, and discourse to the people of several nations the great things of God (Acts 2:11). Though they were not enriched with any worldly wealth, and possessed nothing, yet they were so sustained that they wanted nothing in any place where they came; a table was spread for them in the midst of their bitterest enemies. Their fearfulness was changed into courage, and they that a few days before skulked in corners for fear of the Jews (John 20:19), speak boldly in the name of that Jesus, whom they had seen put to death by the power of the rulers and the fury of the people: they reproach them with the murder of their Master, and outbrave that great people in the midst of their temple, with the glory of that person they had so lately crucified (Acts 2:23; Acts 3:13).
“Peter, that was not long before qualmed at the presence of a maid, was not daunted at the presence of the council, that had their hands yet reeking with the blood of his Master; but being filled with the Holy Ghost, seems to dare the power of the priests and Jewish governors, and is as confident in the council chamber, as he had been cowardly in the high-priest’s hall (Acts 4:9), the efficacy of grace triumphing over the fearfulness of nature. Whence should this ardor and zeal, to propagate a doctrine that had already borne the scars of the peoples’ fury be, but from a mighty Power, which changed those hares into lions, and stripped them of their natural cowardice to clothe them with a Divine courage; making them in a moment both wise and magnanimous, alienating them from any consultations with flesh and blood? As soon as ever the Holy Ghost came upon them as a mighty rushing wind, they move up and down for the interest of God; as fish, after a great clap of thunder, are roused, and move more nimbly on the top of the water; therefore, that which did so fit them for this undertaking, is called by the title of ‘power from on high’ (Luke 24:49).” –from Existence and Attributes of God by Stephen Charnock (Volume Two; p.70).