Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Storm the Gates -- Part 1

Last week, time was spent on the Barnabas Blog with a series of posts called “Guard the Gates” (Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) and how important that our minds are in this spiritual battle that we are involved in. Late last night, I was mulling over the next series of things to write about that might bring a little inspiration to those hearty souls who are involved in ministry. During that time of productive meditation, I was drawn to another theme from Bunyan’s The Holy War that sort of lodged in my spirit.

Early on in the taking of Mansoul, Bunyan pulls us in with the majesty of his word pictures when he tells us that Captain Resistance was one of the chief men of the city who had great influence. As he tells us of the approach of Diabolus in attacking the Eye Gate and Ear Gate, Captain Resistance gets up on top of the walls of the city. From that high point, one of the deadly archers of Diabolus shoots him off of the wall with an arrow to the head. Obviously the word picture gives us the idea that Captain Resistance is a godly pastor who is preparing to shout his warning from the top of the wall. When he goes down, the whole city soon falls to the evil hordes of Diabolus and his minions.



After the capture of the city, Prince Emmanuel determines that he will attack the city in the same manner that Diabolus managed to breach the place. He will attack by the Eye-Gate and the Ear-Gate; however, Prince Emmanuel determines to put a huge amount of energy of his attack into the Ear-Gate. So begins the journey of recovery for Mansoul. The four captains are all preachers whose voices will assault the Ear-Gate so the citizens within will be able to turn the tables on Diabolus.

Captain Boanerges—He was the leader of the others. He was the strongest of all of them and his first lieutenant was Mr. Thunder. They all wore black and the insignia on their uniforms was three lightning bolts. In all four companies were ten thousand men.
Captain Conviction—His first lieutenant was Mr. Sorrow. Their uniforms were pale and their insignia was the book of the Law that issued a flame of fire.
Captain Judgment—His first lieutenant was Mr. Terror. Their uniforms were red and their insignia was a burning fiery furnace.
Captain Execution—His first lieutenant was Mr. Justice. Their uniforms were also red and the insignia had a fruitless tree with an ax lying at the root of the tree.

These four captains were always the first line of offense that Prince Emmanuel used in the conquest of all battles. They were men who were described as “very stout and rough-hewn men, men that were fit to break the ice, and to make their way by dint of sword; and their men were like themselves.” Bunyan uses incredible imagery with words in the depiction of what it takes for a true conversion to take place. Thundering words of passion, conviction that provokes sorrow, the knowledge of future judgment that promotes terror and the understanding that somewhere execution will take place as justice carries out the final time of judgment.

If ever a generation needed men to rise to their calling and fulfill the will of God through preaching, now is the time to do it. This is the God-directed way to storm the gates! But you must know that real, true, godly, and righteous preaching is going to be hard work. You will be thwarted by busyness, by opposition, by criticism, by a lack of personal discipline, by fits and starts of lukewarmness, by feeble prayers, and by a host of other physical and spiritual maladies. Despite that, every man must understand that Mansoul is wilting underneath the great burden of sin and someone must call them out of the mire they are entrapped in.

In the book, The Preacher and Preaching: Reviving the Art, edited by Samuel T. Logan, there is a chapter that simply asks the question, Why Preach? In that chapter, preaching is defined in several ways.


1.
It is the content of God’s message to man. That means the source of what I have to say will be entirely dictated by the Bible. It is crucial to make sure that this word is clearly articulated in a way that it is not the man’s opinions, ideas or fancies that comes across as truth. Every angle of preaching is ultimately Word-driven or it is not true preaching.

2. The purpose of preaching is to inform, persuade, and call forth an appropriate response to God and His ways. It is not to be taken as a calling for men to follow the man or the church per se, but rather to follow God. Anytime men begin to follow a man or an institution it only lives one generation before it implodes on itself.

3. Preaching always demands an application to godliness and spiritual maturity. The Bible is a very practical book that has the unique ability to show us the way to live both in the circles of church fellowship and in interaction with the world around us.

4. Preaching has a great authority that coincides with the delivery of the message. Human lips may stutter as they speak but there is never a question as to the great authority that God invests in a clean, godly man who speaks the Word of God. Preaching that does not display divine authority both in its content and manner is not the substance but merely the shadow of the real thing. The authority of preaching flows from the transparency of the preacher and his relationship with God. For only a preacher who is under authority can speak with authority.

5. Preaching mediates not only God’s authority but also His presence and His power. Until it happens to you, there is really no clear understanding of what takes place when God moves into the message that is being preached. When this happens something happens to the man preaching and the people hearing. It is almost as if time stops and the congregation hangs on every word that is spoken. Suffice it to say that this is not the giftedness that comes to those who are talented public speakers but something spiritual has clearly come into play. This is the kind of preaching that has to take place every week, in fact it must take place every week! But you must know that there is a price-tag that is on this kind of preaching.

Storm the gates on the mid-week and storm the gates every weekend. . . Pay the price to become one of those strong, clear, convicting voices of the Prince Emmanuel to take back Mansoul!

More tomorrow. . .

Thanks for reading. . .

Philip Harrelson

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