You are as beautiful as Tirzah, my darling,
as lovely as Jerusalem,
as majestic as troops with banners. …
Who is this that appears like the dawn,
fair as the moon, bright as the sun,
majestic as the stars in procession?
- Song of Solomon 6:4, 10
Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in.
- Joshua 6:1
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
- Romans 12:1-2
“It was said that Mary, Queen of Scots feared John Knox’s prayers more than she feared an enemy army. But is society today afraid of what God’s people may do? Probably not, and it’s mainly because the church hasn’t done very much to display the power of God to a skeptical world. The church is no longer ‘terrible as an army with banners’ (Song 6:4, 10). In fact, the church is so much like the world that the world takes little notice of what we do. We imitate the world’s methods; we cater to the world’s appetites; we solicit the world’s approval; and we measure what we do according to the world’s standards. Is it any wonder that we don’t gain the world’s respect?”
- Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Strong
It seems many of the major Bible scholars of today are cessationists. They believe that as the canonical Scripture ended so did the great signs and wonders. This hard line may be to combat the branch of Christianity that, in some cases, requires salvation to include some sort of outward sign and wonder of the Holy Spirit. Our salvation must be in Christ alone. We will be baptized with the Holy Spirit when we are truly saved. But speaking in tongues or the gift of healing are not prerequisites to salvation.
But that being said, I do not rule out the working of the Holy Spirit today. You hear of unexplained healing, unexplained by science that is. The Holy Spirit could have indeed been at work, but at the same time Charles Stanley said that if faith healers were such infallible channels for the Holy Spirit, why do they not visit hospitals? Rev. Stanley also pointed out that speaking in tongues and interpreting tongues were the last of the gifts whenever the Apostle Paul listed them. Thus, are they so important as to be a prerequisite for salvation? Absolutely not.
I mention this in that the “church” in Joshua 6:1 is the people of Israel, but God had just caused a flooding river to heap up while His chosen people crossed on dry ground. Their string of military victories on the east bank of the Jordan was also in the news in Jericho as well as the 40-year-old story of the crossing of the Red Sea and maybe even the plagues of Egypt.
Thus, if God is performing great signs and wonders, it gets people’s attention. But how did Joshua prepare to attack Jericho? He had all the soldiers get circumcised. He had the people celebrate Passover. He went back to the basics so that the people knew who was leading them into battle. It was God’s fight.
If the church goes the way of the world, if we conform to the world, we will become impotent and in time non-existent. If we become transformed by the renewing of our minds, we will transcend this world and set ourselves apart from it. Our power will be manifested. We may have much fewer numbers in the pews, but there will be power in those pews.
We do not need to rearrange the words of the Bible. We do not need to make our hymns and songs of praise more politically correct. We especially do not need to apologize for anything in the Bible.
We need to stand firm. We need to pray. We need to study God’s Word. And when we stand firm, we need to stand firm together, side-by-side with other believers.
In doing so, God’s power will become apparent within us.
Will that lead to great signs and wonders? It may not need to be that way. If we stand firm, the world may call us old-fashioned. The world may say that we are haters (because we hate sin, and they love sin). But then, there will be those who become attracted to that affirmative belief that God got everything right in the Scriptures. They will choose what the world calls hate because they will see the world’s lies and they will seek truth.
But if we choose to conform to the world, we will be no more than an outlet store where the poor come by to find food and shelter. “Good” may be done, but no one will learn who can save their souls.
I choose the transformed church. I choose Jesus.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.