Mobilize Your Faith and Put Flesh on Your Dry Bones.
When I was in the Army National Guard several years ago (2005) we were alerted that our unit was getting mobilized for combat in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. This wasn’t a shock considering our country had been at war with Iraq for several years at the time but it did elicit feelings of dread and anxiety in most of us. The term “mobilize” can be defined as “to assemble, to prepare, or put into operation for or as for war.”
So if we are thinking about this in terms of spirituality we must realize that Christ has mobilized us for combat and our assembly is for a greater purpose than to just gather for our well-being. Christ has mobilized us for combat, assembled us for war and calls us to faith. Since our battle isn’t exactly in the realm of things we can see we must rely exclusively on our faith which is defined in Hebrews 11:1 as “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” We need to learn that we are a vast army in God’s service, we have been equipped and prepared for battle and we must defend our faith.
We are a vast army:
Christ has called us to community as believers to help destroy the army of darkness and if we look to the old testament for an example of this we can see in Ezekiel 37:1-15 that we are in fact a vast army.
The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath[a] enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”
Before Christ calls us and really fills us with his spirit, with his breath of life, we are essentially just dry clamoring bones. We make a lot of noise and look kind of scary to the rest of the world but we are essentially useless in our approach to advancing the kingdom of God. Without the breath of God, the living Holy Spirit within us that we receive at our regeneration from death to life, we are dead. This valley of dry bones is a perfect illustration of the state of the American Church today. We are a vast army, perfectly capable of advancing the kingdom of God but we are incapable of living to our potential because of our dryness. There is hope for us though, even in our driest skeletal churches Jesus’ living water can renew our strength so that we are fully capable of marching in a cadence fitting to our king. John 7:38 says “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."
We are prepared for Battle:
Jesus doesn’t just call us to action without first giving us provision and proper equipment to do the task at hand. We have been prepared for battle and equipped with the full armor of God as it is laid out in Ephesians 6:10-18.
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
We have all the tools we need to fight the good fight of faith. When I was deployed to Iraq we were given certain pieces of equipment that had to be worn before we could go into battle and if we neglected to wear any part of this uniform we would not only be disciplined but we would also be a danger to ourselves and a burden on others. If we look at these verses in the context of modern warfare we can see that things like the helmet of salvation being compared to a soldiers Kevlar helmet that was solely for protecting the brain from small arms fire. The breastplate of righteousness could be compared to a modern IBA vest (interceptor body armor), which was designed to stop bullets, blades, and shrapnel. The belt of truth could be compared to the gas mask that we had to carry around our waist. If the belt of truth helps us discern what is right then the gas mask helps us filter out what is toxic and impure so that we do not choke. Our feet were fitted with boots that are well constructed so that we can carry the peace of the Gospel or in the case of the military so that we can get from point A to point B without worrying about faulty footwear.
The shield of faith could be compared to the up armoring placed on vehicles that so many soldiers in combat ride inside of. My mission was to perform convoy operations and convoy security. Our vehicles were designed with armor to help protect and shield us from outside attacks. The biggest threat to our safety was Improvised Explosive Devises, also called IED’s or roadside bombs. These ghastly devises were well hidden, sometimes even in plain view, they were angled to create what’s called a shape charge. This placement of the explosives allowed them to create the maximum amount of damage. Spiritually our shield of faith can operate the same way as the armor on a military vehicle in that when we are attacked by our spiritual IED’s from Satan we will have a much better chance of survival when we rely on our shield of faith than when we just try to do it in our own strength. Our sword of the spirit in conjunction to modern warfare would essentially be like a well-maintained M-16 or M-4 rifle. The word of God is our weapon but just like a rifle that isn’t maintained, if we aren’t constantly taking care of our weapon it will misfire, if we don’t read the word we can’t effectively use it as a weapon, it will jam in combat if it isn’t maintained.
Lastly we must always stay alert. The number 1 killer of soldiers is complacency. When we get complacent we drop our guard. Complacency Kills was a motto that we repeated to ourselves and saw written all over the place to remind us of this fact. We must always be aware that there is an enemy out to kill steal and destroy and we have to stay on guard.
We Have To Defend Our Faith:
What does defending the faith even mean? Jude 1:3 says: “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” Jude starts this verse with an address to friends alluding to the fact that he is in fact speaking to believers. This message is intended for the Church. His interest shifted from being excited about Jesus and the salvation we as believers have received to an urgency to motivate the church to fight for the faith. The usage of the word “contend” in this verse is taken from the Greek word epagonizomai, which literally means to fight or to wrestle in reference to athletic contests. Jude used a terminology that was strong enough and relevant enough to his audience that they understood the urgency of his message. Jude (also called Judas) was worried about the sinfulness that crept into the body of believers and essentially used salvation as a cover for their disgusting lifestyles.
So many times we just believe that as long as we personally have faith we can just hold out until Jesus comes back but this is not what Christ intended for us. He wants us to fight for our faith. We have to give an account of the hope we have. We need to make every effort to contend for our faith. Matthew 11:12 says “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing and forceful men lay hold of it.” Let’s make this personal, we have to fight for our friends and family and forcefully lay hold of God’s kingdom by fighting for our faith. Jesus doesn’t want us to just sit in complacency he has called us to active duty.
Jesus has given us all the tools we need to advance his kingdom and he has given us our marching orders and he gives us specific instructions in Matthew 28:18-20 as far as what we are to do as a mobilized army. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Jesus has all of the authority, we are under his command and he gives us our marching orders to mobilize us into action. We follow our lord into battle and we are covered by His authority. He goes on to say “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, so We must be spreading the gospel, we are all called to be ambassadors of Christ (2 cor 5:20), he calls us to make disciples, we can start where we are, right in our backyard, in our own homes.and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”Jesus wants disciples, he wants warriors of the faith to rise up and not only bear his name but also his likeness. We are called to go out and make disciples, not just converts and we are required to do this to spread the kingdom with force like it says in Matthew 11:12(From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.)
You were not called to occupy a pew on Sunday, you were called to make war on the kingdom of darkness and occupy enemy territory in Jesus name. You are under a heavenly command and Jesus has all authority in heaven and earth, so what are you waiting for and what are you afraid of? Mobilize your faith!