The Good Fight of Faith

October 18, 2017
Adam Whitescarver

Years ago, while studying military history, I read a stunning quote by the Duke of Wellington (the man who finally defeated Napoleon): “It is very true that I have said that I considered Napoleon’s presence in the field equal to forty thousand men in the balance.”

I thought for a bit about what I knew of Napoleon, and the way he fought his battles, and surmised Wellington’s assessment was probably right.  If Napoleon was on a battlefield, it was almost as if his presence alone had added 40,000 men to his army.  Time and time again the French emperor had proven this—when outnumbered he would somehow win, and when numerically superior he typically dominated.  Even Wellington probably would not have beaten Napoleon in his final clash at Waterloo had it not been for the Prussians arriving with 50,000 reinforcements late in the battle.  

I was so inwardly stirred by this thought I had to seek God concerning it.  There was a lesson here I knew I didn’t want to miss.  As I prayed and searched the Scriptures, I came to this conclusion: if soldiers of this world can be game-changers on their battlefields, how much more should Christians be game-changers on their battlefields?

Several Scriptures support this idea, a few of them being:

“One man of you puts to flight a thousand, since it is the LORD your God who fights for you, just as He has promised you.” -Joshua 23:10

“Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall chase ten thousand, and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.”  -Leviticus 26:8

“These Gadites were officers of the army; the least was a match for a hundred men and the greatest for a thousand.”  -1 Chron 12:14

In Mark 5:2-13 Christ drove out a horde of demons known as “Legion.”  From this passage we are led to believe at least 2,000 demons were in the demoniac, but possibly as many as 6,000 because this was the number of the typical Roman legion.  

Did Christ conquer death and send the Spirit to proclaim we should be weaker, less Spirit-ed and losing in our battles than were the saints of old?  Or, are we meant to “put foreign armies to flight” like we read about?  

Imagine praying through urban housing projects knowing the power to drive out demons goes with you; or raising your family with the confidence your descendants could transform the world (Susanna Wesley did!); or that the cheerful witness of your everyday life BEATS back darkness, demonic oppression and evil at the office where you work, the grocery where you shop, the city festival you volunteer for, etc.

In any given city with at least one church there is already enough strength among the Christians to transform the region IF we will but spiritually fight for the Kingdom Come with love, mercy, truth and righteousness that comes from God.

“Our struggle is not against flesh and blood” but “the Kingdom of Heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force” (Eph 6:12, Matt 11:12).  Believers in this world have long been called, “The Church Militant” and this is not an inaccurate term for those who follow a God regularly identifying Himself as a General of great armies, i.e. “the Lord of Hosts” **

We must be intentional wherever we go, praying without ceasing, watching for God’s answers and opportunities to love and transform the hearts of others - whether it be incrementally or entirely - and thanking Him for the changes we see because in doing so we gain momentum in our hopes for change (1 Thess 5:17, Col 4:2, Heb 6:10-12, 11:1).  

If we believed these things the way we ought to believe, would we not press harder in our actions and pray more fervently to become answers to our own prayers?

Not for our Fame but for God’s Glory:

I do not mean we are to be world famous.  Far from it.  Plenty of obscure people have changed the world.  A classic example is Mordecai Ham.  Ham is largely unknown, but his simple preaching brought Billy Graham to Christ resulting in over 225 million people hearing the Gospel through Graham.  Remember “Graham and Ham” the next time you wonder if your meager efforts make a difference.

In Scripture we see Jesus’s life -- according to worldly standards it was not successful during His lifetime.  The Apostle Paul’s life is often glamorized, but it really wasn’t immediately impressive either.  He travelled at great expense to meet with lots of small groups (house churches of a persecuted faith), and rarely drew a big crowd.  He wrote letters to his buddies (now Scripture, but Paul did not know that at the time), and the churches he oversaw weren’t well behaved or doctrinally sound, especially in Corinth, Galatia, and Thessolonica.  Instead, the fruitfulness of Paul’s life was centuries in the making!

Finally, there’s Shammah in 2 Sam 23:11-12: “The Philistines gathered together at Lehi, where there was a plot of ground full of lentils, and the men fled from the Philistines.  But [Shammah] took his stand in the midst of the plot and defended it and struck down the Philistines, and the LORD worked a great victory.”  

This man is literally famous for defending a BEAN FIELD against an army when all the other people of God fled.

Concluding Thoughts:

Our task then, is asking God to show us what fields we should fight for, why we should fight for them, and then for endurance in the battle with an eye toward His Heavenly reward, not necessarily results we can see during our lifetimes.  In such a way, may all of us be worth 40,000 soldiers for Christ in every spiritual battle we enter.


*“Hosts” being an archaic term for “Armies.”  Note the plural form, and see also Ps 24:8, Is 63:1-6.