By Bryan Vinson, Jr.
Military history will bear out the fact that in the course of many important battles it has been necessary to concentrate a comparatively greater force of power at one point of the enemy line than at other points. This is done only until that point has been destroyed or rendered incapable of doing the great damage it was previously able to inflict. When this is accomplished the concentrated power must again be distributed along the whole of the battle line to avoid an enemy breakthrough at another point.
Our warfare is not carnal. Our weapons are not designed to destroy the flesh. But this principle of carnal warfare has a good deal of merit when applied to our important spiritual warfare. It has been necessary at times to concentrate the forces of righteousness and truth against those points of error which seemed, for the time, to constitute the greatest threat against man’s spiritual welfare. Such strategy was employed nearly a century ago against those who were pushing ahead to establish the use of instrumental music in the worship, and the missionary society in the work, of the Lord’s church. It was a worthwhile effort. A sizeable remnant was saved. Such an effort was again employed against the forces of error on the matter of premillennialism. The result was even more gratifying. We have recently witnessed the application of such strategy against those who would “institutionalize” the Lord’s church. The real success cannot yet be measured, –but it has been significant. For this reason there remain throughout the length and breadth of the land faithful soldiers and churches who have not, and who shall not, be taken into a movement which will lead a segment of God’s people into complete apostasy.
It would be foolish for us to become convinced that these forces no longer constitute a threat to the cause of truth. They do, and they ever shall. But the circumstances which justified an all-out attack against these innovations have changed somewhat. It is still true that many brethren are ignorant of these matters and of their importance, but the number of the ignorant has been greatly reduced. Many of those who do not know the truth on these matters are in a state of ignorance because they simply do not care. There is not much hope for them. Most of those disciples who are deeply concerned with the importance of “walking in truth” have grounded themselves in that truth. They will stand. There is no doubt but what many others can yet be reached and saved. We must make every effort in their behalf. Thus, the teaching that has been done has resulted in maintaining the purity of the faith in the majority of those brethren whose greatest interest is in doing all “in the name of the Lord.” While it is essential that we maintain a sizeable force of spiritual energy at this point of the battle between truth and error, we must now begin to evaluate the circumstances and conditions all along the line. Truly, the battlefield is wide!
It is the feeling of this writer that there has been an inexcusable neglect of other points of danger. Certainly there is now a need to take from this area of concentration a sizeable portion of the army’s striking power and distributing it along the whole of the front. If this is not done, the army of the Lord may well be caught off guard by an enemy breakthrough at some weakened point.
Many churches have neglected the responsibility of taking the gospel to the lost. Personal work programs have often found it necessary to take a back seat in order for special classes on institutionalism to be conducted. The usual number of gospel meetings, which attempted to reach the lost of the world with the gospel, has been reduced in order to make room for special series of lectures on current issues. Efforts to reach the lost in foreign fields have been curtailed somewhat in order that more funds might be spent for such works as the publication of special bulletins dealing with “the issues.” These have often been very expensive projects. I am not criticizing such efforts. Most have been worthwhile. What I am suggesting is simply this: It is time for us to lessen the concentration and begin anew in the work of converting the world to Christ. (I think it only fair to point out that some sound churches have been exceptionally active in carrying the gospel to the world.) Maintaining a sound church requires more than keeping it free from modern innovations; it must be actively engaged in its God-given work, to the limit of its ability, in order to be sound. Preaching the gospel to the lost, at home and abroad, is the will of Christ. Churches must support such preaching. Too many are not doing what they could.
We are ever confronted with the force of immorality. It is regrettable that strong teaching against drinking, dancing and the like has not been as prevalent as in previous times. How pitiful it is to find brethren who know and teach the truth on the institutional matters, and yet find no harm in social dancing, or in the current practice of immodest bodily exposure. One such brother on the West Coast indicated to me that he had never heard anyone question the propriety of mixed bathing! It is not enough that we instill within our young people an appreciation for the organizational purity of the local congregation. We must also prepare them for battle against the forces of immorality.
Infidelity and atheism are growing foes. And we will be exposed to them much more in the future than we have in the past. The faith, which we help to instill within our children, will be ridiculed with increasing fervor. We must arm them with the evidences of Christianity. The arguments for the inspiration of the Bible, the Deity of Christ, and the existence of God must be firmly planted to the end that each disciple of the coming generations will be able to “give an answer” concerning the hope that is within him. The arguments against benevolent and missionary societies are not enough to combat the forces of infidelity.
The list of danger points could be made longer. We know, for the most part, what they are. The important question is this: Are we spread too thin to meet their challenges? Are we giving too much attention to one danger and neglecting others? If so, we need to relocate our forces. If we fail to do this, we will eventually deceive ourselves into thinking that there is only one “issue” which threatens the army of the Lord. When this happens we will be too blind to see the movements of Satan’s army, and unaware of the fact that we have been surrounded, –and overpowered. Let us urge one another to place the “shield of faith” between ourselves and the whole of the enemy front, and be prepared to render ineffective all the “fiery darts” of Satan, regardless from which point in his evil line they are fired. Let us keep a watchful eye on the whole of evil. Let us remember–the battlefield is wide!
Truth Magazine VI: 4, pp. 2-3