Spiritual discussion

1 Timothy 1:18-19 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

18 This charge I am setting before you, child, Timothy, in accordance with the prophecies spoken long ago about you, that by them you might fight as a soldier the fine warfare, 19 having trust and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.

Ponder for a moment; think of our walk as Christians thus far, have we truly had a share as a fighter for the truth? We all need to enter the battle, whether man or woman, young or old, as long as we fit the requirements. Paul spoke of our need to be “a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” Just as we must fight the right warfare, we to must be the kind of soldier, if we are to find God’s support. We have to devote our lives to the evangelism of biblical truths and be willing to be part of the adversities and maltreatments that come with it along with numerous pleasures and blessings. The whole of 2 Timothy 2:3 reads, “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” During training, we can only imagine what kind of soldier we are going to be, but it is not until we face battle, we cannot truly know. Will we be faithful, trustworthy, steadfast and dedicated, or will we miss many weekly Christian meetings, or not partake in the evangelizing of unbelievers? Will we be reliable and stable, or more like a wandering mercenary who is thinking of his own interests? In reality, the men we serve, as our leaders are representatives of God, so in the end, it will be God who examines us. (1 Corinthians 4:1-4, NASB)

THE CHRISTIAN APOLOGISTFor those who have acquired a measure of skill in fighting for the truth as a Christian apologist, we need to carry our own weight in this spiritual warfare, but all that of the new believers, who are not battle ready as of yet. The greatest number of casualties in a real war is those new recruits that did not have the fighting skills to survive. Just as Paul looked after his spiritual children, so the experienced Christian apologists of today, must look after the new ones so they can walk deservingly with God until they have the necessary skills to walk on their own. This responsibly needs to be carried out with a humble spirit, leaving the pride for those in the world. We need to appreciate and value the responsibilities God has given us. (2 Tim. 1:7-8) The apostle Paul tells us that we need to be worthy to be among the Christian fighters for the truth through such qualifications. He stresses another qualification with his student, Young Timothy, i.e., live accord to the faith.

1 Timothy 1:18-20 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

18 This charge I am setting before you, child, Timothy, in accordance with the prophecies spoken long ago about you, that by them you might fight as a soldier the fine warfare, 19 having trust and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. 20 among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may be taught not to blaspheme.

There was a good reason for Paul’s exhortation because there were some in his day, who attempted to undermine the faith, fighting back against the truth to an extreme degree; and he cautioned that such ideas would be as deadly as gangrene if allowed to take hold. In the same way that a soldier who is uncertain or faltering, or lacking resolution may very well pay with his life, so may we if we do not embrace steadfastly to our faith. We have to let God prove to be true by evidencing our faith and confidence in the Word. We must cling to it as we would a life preserver in the midst of a rushing river. Some in those early days lost their way and attempted to bring others down with them. Of these, Paul wrote, “among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.”

THE EVANGELISM HANDBOOKIf we are to be effective in our fight for the truth, we must be spiritually clean, morally clean, mentally clean, and physically clean.[1] “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.” (Phil. 1:27) Yes, Paul ‘urges us to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3)

Other criteria for qualifying as fighters for the truth would be avoiding “the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.” As ‘Paul warns us, as he warned others before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.’ (Gal. 5:19-21) Thus, if we are to qualify as fighters in this spiritual warfare under our leader Jesus Christ, we must have no part in any way of the fruitages of the flesh, but rather evidence the fruitages of the Spirit. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law.” (Gal 5:22-23) We cannot be a fighter in name only, but rather, we must maintain the faith in good conscience, namely, a conscience that is trained in keeping the Word of God.

1 Peter 3:16-17, 21 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer because you are doing good, if the will of God wishes it, than because you are doing evil. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the flesh but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

We can uphold God’s sovereignty and maintain our integrity, for the apostle Paul wrote,

1 Corinthians 10:13 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

The apostle Paul describes the war waged within the Christian between “the law of sin” and “the law of God,” or “the law of my mind” (the Christian’s mind must be in harmony with God). (Romans 7:15-25)

Paul does not want us to be among those that run the race of faith and share in proclaiming biblical truths to others, only to find ourselves eliminated from the prize of life.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

24 Do you not know that those who run in the stadium all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25 Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 Therefore, the way I am running is not aimlessly; the way I am aiming my blows is so as not to be striking the air; 27 but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

Army of Fighters Going into Action

No army is made up of one soldier. It must be an effort of many units, a subdivision of a larger body, if the battle, and eventually, the war is to be one. We need to stand ‘firm in one spirit, with one soul contending side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not letting ourselves be intimidated by anything by our opponents, which is a sign of destruction to them, but of our salvation, and this from God, because to us has been graciously granted on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him but also to suffer on behalf of him.’ (Phil. 1:27-29) We depend on our spiritual brothers and sisters, just as real soldiers would fellow soldiers. However, our greatest trust is of God. “For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” (2 Cor. 10:18) That is why Paul wrote, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 10:17-18; Jeremiah 1:19; Psalm 35:1-10)

CONVERSATION EVANGELISMPilate said to Jesus, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose, I was born, and for this purpose, I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” (John 18:37-38)

The Roman Governor Pontius Pilate cynically posed that question to Jesus. He was not looking for an answer, nor did Jesus give him one. It might be that Pilate viewed “truth” as too abstract or relative to understand.

Many share this disdainful attitude toward truth today, including liberal Bible scholarship, educators of our children and young adults, and politicians. They do not accept that truth, especially moral and spiritual truth, is absolute but relative and always changing from one person to the next. Yes, they believe that each person can determine for himself or herself what is right and what is wrong. (Isa. 5:20-21) Moreover, these progressive liberals vehemently reject the past values and moral standards, as being out-of-date.

The statement that provoked Pilate’s question is worth repeating. Jesus had said, “For this purpose, I was born, and for this purpose, I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.” (John 18:37) Truth to Jesus was no ambiguous, beyond our understanding notion. He assured his disciples, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

We know exactly where that truth can be found. On one occasion, when Jesus was praying to his Father, he said, “your word is truth.” (John 17:17) The Word of God in sixty-six books, inspired and fully inerrant, with each author being moved along by Holy Spirit. This is what makes known truth that makes available both trustworthy guidance and a sure hope for the future, life everlasting. 2 Timothy 3:15-17, 2 Peter 1:21; John 3:16, 36

Pilate uninterestedly rejected the occasion to learn the truth. This is what we have to offer as Christian apologists, which we readily make available to all.

Evade Being a Casualty of War

Jesus has given us the privilege to be his evangelists, something that will never be repeated in the eternity to come. We definitely want to take advantage of this opportunity and make him proud. If we are to succeed, it means we must become a serious student of God’s Word, to acquire a full knowledge (epignosis), and full discernment, so that we do not teach things that just are biblically untrue so that we do not stumble anyone. We need to have zeal as Paul had for the truth. We do not want to have the spirit like some that Paul referred to, “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.” (Romans 10:2-3)

Philippians 1:9-11 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in accurate knowledge[2] and all discernment;[3] 10 so that you may approve[4] what is excellent, and so be sincere and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

We need to have the correct knowledge, and if we find that we do not have correct knowledge on a particular belief, we need to humbly adjust our thinking and use the truth rightly. We may recall that Paul went by Saul prior to Paul, and Jesus introduced him to the truth and the way. Paul was a proud Pharisee, who refused to adjust, so Jesus had to make a personal visit. We now make personal visits to believers on the wrong path, on behalf of Jesus Christ.

Ecclesiastes 7:12 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

12 For wisdom is a protection just as money is a protection,
but the advantage of knowledge is this: wisdom preserves the life of its owner.

There are just as many casualties in spiritual warfare, if not more. God has seen fit to give us his Word, to give us teachers of that Word, and has provided us with a storehouse of biblical study tools in these end times, and yet many fall by the wayside and become indifferent to the truth. This may cause us concern to hear, but we are very safe, as long as we keep the right mental attitude. We need not fear any opposer, as our God is greater than everything in existence is, as he brought it into existence. (Isa. 41:11-12) However, as long as Satan exists, up until the return of Christ, the fight for the truth still wages. Like Paul, ‘a wide door for effective work has opened to us, and there are many adversaries.’ (1 Cor. 16:9) By choosing to be a Christian apologist; we have boldly stepped through that door to fight for the truth!

Review Questions

  • Who can qualify to be a Christian apologetic evangelist?
  • What are some of the requirements or qualifications for being an evangelist?
  • How may some have fallen victim to being disqualified as a fighter for the truth?
  • Why do we need to become one, if we are going to defeat the enemy?
  • Describe the Satanic, demonic army that we face.
  • How do we evidence our love for Christ?
  • How can we resist Satan and his tactics?
  • Why must we come together as an army?
  • What is truth?
  • How can we evade being a casualty of this spiritual warfare?

[1] See 2 Corinthians 6:14-18; Revelation 18:4; 1 Peter 2:12; Hebrews 4:13; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Philippians 4:8; (Matthew 15:18-20; Deuteronomy 23:12-13; Ephesians 4:25, 29, 31; 5:3; Revelation 21:8

[2] Epignosis is a strengthened or intensified form of gnosis (epi, meaning “additional”), meaning, “true,” “real,” “full,” “complete” or “accurate,” depending upon the context. Paul and Peter alone use epignosis.

[3] Or insight, experience (Gr, aisthesei)

[4] Or discover; or differing