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The Church Militant

Three distinct groups of people belong to the elect church of God, though in the end they shall all be gathered in one in Christ (Eph. 1:10). There are first of all the elect on earth at any particular time in history. They are referred to as the "church militant."

Then there are the elect who have fought the good fight, finished their course, and gone to glory. They are the "church triumphant" (II Tim. 4:7, 8, Rev. 6:10). Last, there are those who belong to the church by election, but who are yet to be born and brought to repentance and faith. We call them the "church latent" (hidden - II Pet. 3:9).

The church on earth is rightly called the church militant - fighting. She is described in Scripture as a mighty army (Song 6:4, 10, Rev. 1911-16). Her calling is warfare (II Cor. 10:3-4, I Tim. 1:18, II Tim. 2:4), her members are to put on the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-18), Christ is the captain of her salvation (Heb. 2:10, Rev. 19:11-16).

Militant means, however, she is not just ready to fight. She is always engaged in warfare. That is her whole calling and her whole life (II Tim. 2:4). And, as Scripture suggests, the battle is not over until we leave this life and go to be with Christ in glory (II Tim. 4:7-8). She is not the church military, but the church militant.

Nor is her warfare merely defensive. The church and her members are called to take the battle into the territory and camp of the enemy - to take the offensive. Surely this is what the Word means in II Corinthians 10:4-5: "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God, to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations, . . . and bringing into captivity every thought. . . ."

As II Corinthians 10:4-5 also suggests, that battle is spiritual. The enemies (Eph. 6:12), the weapons (Eph. 6:13-17), the warfare itself are all spiritual. This does not, however, make the struggle any less real or difficult.

The enemies are Satan, the world, and our own sinful flesh - sin and temptation in all their guises and wherever they are found, even in ourselves. The weapons are not the weapons of this world. That battle cannot be fought with political, social, economic or military might. It is fought by faith and the Word of God (Eph. 6:13-17, I Jn. 5:4).

Revelation describes the course of that warfare throughout the NT. Chapters 1-11 describe that warfare as we experience and are part of it. Chapters 12-22 describe the spiritual background to that battle, the great warfare between Christ and Satan.

It is a battle for the minds and souls of men - a battle against false ideas and heresies, as well as against wickedness and temptation (II Cor. 10:4-5, Jas. 4:7). It is a battle against everything unfriendly to God and to the knowledge of God!

In that battle, however, we do not fight for the victory. We fight in it as those who already have it through the suffering, death, resurrection and ascension of our Lord. We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us! (Rom. 8:37). But we must fight. We are not here to enjoy ourselves but to be soldiers (II Tim. 2:3-4).

Are you fighting or playing?

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Additional Info

  • Volume: 6
  • Issue: 1
Hanko, Ronald

Rev. Ronald Hanko (Wife: Nancy)

Ordained: November 1979

Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1979; Trinity, Houston, TX - 1986; Missionary to N.Ireland - 1993; Lynden, WA - 2002; Emeritus October 15, 2017

Website: www.lyndenprc.org/sermons/

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    13823 Clear Lake Rd.
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    WA
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    United States
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    360-527-6633

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