The Art of Spiritual War

The Apostle Paul reminds us in Ephesians chapter four that the Spirit has given various offices and gifts to the Church “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.  {Ephesians 4:12-16}

Here is a clever and biting bit of satire from St. Anne’s Pub that reminds us how easily some of us in the Reformed world lose sight of this priority and goal.  And despite all our shortcomings we can rest in the knowledge that what the Apostle shares is exactly where the Spirit will someday take the Bride of Jesus!



God-Centered Salvation & Evangelism

Some years ago I put together an updated version of the classic TULIP that is used in many reformed circles.  I changed the acronym to PRAISE which gives six points rather than five!
I included an “E” for evangelism because, while many modern Saints question whether reformers who study John Calvin believe they need to share the Good News, strong evangelism and missionary work was one of the great hallmarks of the Reformation.  I included various proof texts for further study, which in some cases are entire chapters because I believe that the reformed faith is the solid teaching of the Scriptures and would challenge all of us to be Good Bereans, taking everything that is shared back to the Scriptures to see what is true.

“All Thy works shall PRAISE Thee, O LORD!”  Psalm 145:9

[there are over 100 references to God’s praise in the Book of Psalms alone!]


God-Centered Salvation & Evangelism

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,  even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),  and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,  not of works, lest anyone should boast. 
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”      Ephesians 2:4-10


P R A I S E !


‘P’ is for:   The Problem of Man!                                         A Reality

In the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam a real choice, with real consequences:  Eternal life with God or death.  His wrong choice left mankind ‘dead in their trespasses and sin.”  Without God, man’s estate was truly hopeless with “none that seek after righteousness, no not one.”  By understanding the bad news we see the need for a gracious Savior.

Scriptures for further study:  Genesis 1-3; Romans 1:17 – 3:20; Titus 3:3-8; Galatians 3:21-23; Jeremiah 17:9; Ezekiel 37


‘R’ is for:  The Resolve of God!                                              A Mystery

Our Triune God from before the foundation of the world covenanted together so the Father could present His Son with a glorious Bride who would fill the earth by the power of the Spirit.  God’s eternal plan demonstrates His great mercy and love through the Salvation of His people and His justice with the punishment of the wicked.  While a full understanding of God’s purposed are beyond our understanding, we see the end of the matter:  “for of Him and thought Him and to Him are all things to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen!

Scriptures for further study:  Ephesians 1:1-14; II Corinthians 1:3-11; Romans 9-11; Colossians 1:9-13; Isaiah 53 & 55; Deuteronomy 29:29


‘A’ is for:  The Adequacy of Christ’s Work!                      A Wonder

God could not “wink” at the problem of sin, but had to maintain His justice while justifying those who were to be saved.  To accomplish the work of salvation God the Son became flesh, ‘to save His people from their sin.’  He lived a perfect life, took the punishment of our sins upon Himself on the cross, was raised in power and now sits at the right hand of God the Father.

Scriptures for further study:  Matthew 1:21; John 17; Romans 3:21 – 4:25; I Corinthians 1:1-11; II Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 2: 1-11; Colossians 1:14-22; Hebrews [yes, the whole book!]


‘I’ is for:  The Insistence of the Holy Spirit!                      A Mission

God the Holy Spirit provides a new heart for God’s people and the gift of faith so that we have the power to repent of our sins, live lives of obedience and be protected from the devil, the world, and our own flesh.  The Book of Acts can be rightly called “The Acts of the Holy Spirit” because it is where we learn about His great work of bringing salvation to God’s people and filling the earth with the Kingdom of Jesus!

Scriptures for further study:  The Book of Acts; John 3:1-21; Galatians 5; Ephesians 2:1-10


‘S’ is for:  Secure in the Hand of God!                                A Blessing

Just as we were not able to save ourselves from sin, we cannot live the Christian life without the power and protection of our gracious God and Savior.  “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”  And Jesus promised the Father He would lose none of those given to Him, so we are safe in the hands of our loving God.

Scriptures for further study:  John 6:31-65; John:10:1-42; John 14:15-31; Romans 8; Romans 12:1-2; I Corinthians 1:1-9; Philippians 1:3-10; Colossians 2:6-10; I Peter 1 & 2


‘E’ is for:  Evangelism of the World!                                    A Calling

As thankful, obedient children of God, we are to take the Good News of the Gospel to all the nations of the earth, making disciples and baptizing them in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  And we can share with the confidence of knowing it is God Who has the power to bring lost sinners to repentance!  “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace and bring glad tiding of good things.”

Scriptures for further study:  Genesis 12:2-3; Matthew 28:18-20; Romans 10:6-21; I Corinthians 15:20-28; Colossians 4:2-6; I Timothy 2:1-8


What is my only comfort in life and death?

A. That I am not my own,[1] but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death,[2] to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.[3] He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil.[5] He also preserves me in such a way[6] that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head;[7] indeed, all things must work together for my salvation.[8] Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life[9] and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.[10]

[Heidelberg Catechism question & answer #1]

[1] I Cor. 6:19, 20
[2] Rom. 14:7-9.
[3] I Cor. 3:23; Tit. 2:14.
[4] I Pet. 1:18, 19; I John 1:7; 2:2.
[5] John 8:34-36; Heb. 2:14, 15; I John 3:8.
[6] John 6:39, 40; 10:27-30; II Thess. 3:3; I Pet. 1:5.
[7] Matt. 10:29-31; Luke 21:16-18.
[8] Rom. 8:28.
[9] Rom. 8:15, 16; II Cor. 1:21, 22; 5:5; Eph. 1:13, 14.
[10] Rom. 8:14.