This week's lectionary texts: Joshua 24:1-2, 14-18; Psalm 34:15-22; Ephesians 6:10-20; John 6:56-69.
The Book of Joshua is a picture of the Christian life as warfare to evict the enemies of God from his Holy Land to establish his kingdom rule over the Land and its People. As believers, we are not called just to cross over into the Holy Land but to evict the enemies that are still squatting within in the church and without in the world. Our call is to engage these enemies in warfare so as to demolish their demonic strongholds entrenched in the church and the world. We use spiritual weapons (Word, Prayer empowered by the Spirit), not carnal ones (church politics): “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor 10:3-5).
Therefore, Paul in Ephesians 6:10-20 reminds us that our warfare is not against “flesh and blood” (politics) but against “rulers…authorites…cosmic powers… spiritual forces” (Eph. 6:12). So, we should put on the whole (not partial) armour to engage these unseen enemies influencing us from within the church and without in the world. The goal of spiritual warfare within is to counter satanic deception that is entrenched in believers’ minds and hearts with God’s truth so they can be set free to obey God fully. We call this process sanctification.
On the other hand, the spiritual warfare without in the world is to set Satan’s captives free from his kingdom by proclaiming the Gospel (Good News) of the kingdom of God, so they can be set be delivered from the 4-D’s of depravity, diseases, demonization and death. We call this evangelism. In Alpha, we combine these evangelism and sanctificaiton because these two parts ought to be one continual process. Believers as much as pre-believers need to hear the Gospel continually.
That is why in Alpha, we don’t just proclaim forgiveness of sin (talks 1-3) but we take the guests through the whole process which includes teaching them how to pray (talk 4), how to read the bible (talk 5), how to seek divine guidance (talk 6), how to be filled with the Holy Spirit power (weekend talks), how to resist the devil (talk 7), how to share Christ (talk 8), how to experience divine healing (talk 9) and how to become part of the local church (talk 10). We call this whole process discipleship.
For those who are helping in Alpha, let’s be thankful that God has given us the opportunity like Joshua to serve Him by imparting life through the Gospel and the Spirit so to “make disciples” out of believers within the church and pre-believers outside the church.
Father, what a privilege to serve You and become part of Your victorious people evicting the enemies within in the church and without in the world. Amen