Battle of Faith
He who knows nothing is confident of everything. Those that boast of their works in the face of salvation have not clearly seen the grace of God in Christ Jesus. Ahab, a one-time king of Israel, once said that he that is putting on a war garment should not be boastful over he that is putting off a war garment.
What bridged the gap between God’s standard and man’s weakness is grace, apart from which we are doomed. This is the reason why we can’t but remain grateful to Jesus Christ through whom the grace is made available to us all. God has made him that knew no sin to become sin for us so that we can become the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Cor.5:21).
One of the reasons grace is made available to us is to help us walk in truth. No matter how much you love the truth, without grace it is quite impossible to live the truth. Of what use is our knowledge of truth if we can’t live it out? In another dimension, the bible says all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. All have sinned.
Picture speaks better than words; permit me to show this picture of grace in the theatre of the bible. The stage was set in the book of Judges.
‘And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.’ – Judges 7:2
This is shadow of the truth that says we are saved by grace and not by the works of our hands, lest no one should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 has it thus:
‘For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.’
After establishing this fact in the bible drama, God was not through with them; He was going to separate some class of people. Hear Him:
‘Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mountGilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.’ - Judges 7:3
When the call was made to all the corners of Israel, thirty – two thousand people responded and now God asked Gideon to allow those who are fearful and afraid to go back home. Surprisingly, out of these soldiers of Gideon, twenty – two thousand fell to this category – fearful and afraid.
In today’s application, these are Christians with the fear of what the people will say, fear of losing the world’s accolades. Afraid to go outside the camp to suffer reproach from the hand of this world’s system. These ones will not yield to the bible counsel that asked us to follow Christ outside the gates.
‘Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.’ – Hebrews 13:12-13
Jesus our own Gideon is calling for His end – time soldiers who will fight the good fight of faith (I Timothy 6:12), those that will stand with the truth opposing the Midianites’ oppressions.
‘Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.’ – Jude 1:3
These soldiers of Gideon gave us a shocking revelation of those who are really ready and willing to wage war against the oppressive rule of the enemy. Their number is so small from this biblical drama, and it is not quite different from today. Come, let’s open the curtain again:
‘And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go. So he brought down the people unto the water: and the LORD said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink. And the numbers of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water.’
– Judges 7:4 – 6
32,000 men came out with good intention to fight the war of faith, on permission to fall out due to fear, 22,000 men opted out. The rest 10,000 were again put to test by God. This time around, it is the test of ‘comfort’ and ‘convenience’. Many of Gideon’s armies were looking for a more comfortable way to drink water from a running stream. They bowed their knees to comfort. This is also true of many soldiers of Christ today. Our complaint is that we would serve Jesus better if only we are more comfortable. Wrong! Although this is not for babies, the truth is there is no comfortable or convenient way of carrying the cross. This is what Jesus asked us to carry and follow Him daily, if really we are His disciples.
‘Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.’
- Matthew 16:24
For seeking a more comfortable way of following Gideon to war, 9,700 were dropped. Only those that can lap the water with their tongues were picked by God to fight the battle. These are the ones that carry their cross daily, lapping with their tongues. The battle of faith needs determinations. Those that choose to follow the crowd are always lost in the crowd.
But for the grace of God, the statistics was very discouraging:
32,000 men answered the call.
22,000 men were afraid and fearful.
9,700 men bowed down for comfort.
300 men were finally selected for the battle.
The percentage is this:
Those that were afraid - 68.75%
Those that bowed to comfort - 30.31%
Those that were finally selected - 0.94%
It has also being noted that only 1 out of 10 men will finish strong in their ministry in life. This is not better than the result Abraham got when he was interceding for 2 cities, Sodom and Gomorrah. God would have spared the 2 cities if there were 10 righteous men in the cities; the average of 5 righteous men per city.
The question Jesus’ disciples asked him is surfacing again after studying this statistics, and Jesus’ answer is still the same;
‘And they that heard it said who then can be saved? And he said, the things which are impossible with men are possible with God.’
- Luke 18:26 - 27
But for the grace of God, we all would have lost heart on the way to the battlefield. The Lamb is leading us in this fierce battle of faith, and the same picture is given in the book of Revelation:
‘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 17:14 (emphasis mine).
Like numerous Gideon’s soldiers that were sifted, Jesus our Captain also intends the same. Hear Him:
For many are called, but few are chosen.’ – Matthew 22:14
From Gideon’s statistics, about 1% of the men that came out for war eventually made it to the battlefield. The indication of this is that, without grace barely can we see those who will be faithful to the end. However, we should all remember the seventy elders of Israel, who saw God and ate with God: they eventually trampled on grace, and they were among those that perished in the wilderness. They did not made it to the Promised Land, despite the grace given to them. This is a stern warning to our generation who love to take grace for granted.
Unless we embrace the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we may fall short of God’s expectations (II Timothy 2:1), we all should not abuse grace like Gideon did at the end of his life and tenure on earth.
Sound the alarm!
Preparing the Bride,
© 2010 Segun Tewogbola