“I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.” Romans 7:21-25
My fellow soldiers, this battle hymn and others in our series may be misunderstood by some. I will talk more in a future dispatch about the subject of military metaphores in the Bible, but here let it be understood for now that the language of battle hymns is figurative and not literal. Of course, we cannot literally fight against Satan and his kingdom of darkness and our battle is not with the forces of evil or injustice in the world even though we stand against all that they represent. (Ephesians 6:12-13)
Our battle is an inner one. In Romans chapter seven quoted above, the Apostle Paul speaks of the battlefield that takes place inside every Christian soldier’s mind. We face a daily war between that old part of us that wants to sin and the new part of us that wants to please God. How to win that battle iss the issue of living the Christian life. I point you back to chapter six in the book of Romans to our crucified-resurrected life in Christ. Paul encourages, “…Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16) This mention about fighting the spiritual battle is too brief, but only to show that the battles are largely quiet, inner struggles. We need the Holy Spirit to guide us through the Word of God so we know God’s battle plan for living our lives to honor our Great Commander – Jesus Christ.
The Fight is On!
by Lelia Morris *
* Lelia (Mrs. C.H.) Morris (1862-1929) was born in Pennsville, Morgan County, Ohio. When her family moved to Malta on the Muskingum River she and her sister and mother had a millinery shop in McConnelsville. She and her husband Charles H. Morris were active in the Methodist Episcopal Church and at the camp meetings in Sebring and Mt. Vernon. She wrote hymns as she did her housework. Although she became blind at age 52 she continued to write hymns on a 28-foot long blackboard that her family had built for her. She is said to have written 1000 texts and many tunes including “Sweeter as the years go by.”
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.Philippians 3:13-14
My fellow soldiers! Last time I exhorted us to stand at our post in faith without wavering. Yes, there are times to stand firm, without budging and without fear. Then there are times to press forward.
The night watch is over and it’s a new day. It’s time to march forward into battle! Secure your armor – belt buckled and breastplate tight. Check that your sandals are fit for the long march ahead. Gather your shield, sword, and helmet. Before we begin our march, pause and remember that today is a new day to serve our Lord and Master. As servant-soldiers, we know that our life can be taken on the battlefield at any moment. So keep your eyes on the reward that awaits all God’s soldiers when the battle is finally over: “Well done!”
Marching on! Marching on!
By Robert Lowry # and William B. Bradbury **
# Robert Lowry (1826 –1899) was an American preacher who became a popular writer of gospel music in the mid- to late-19th century. His best-known hymns include “Shall We Gather at the River“, “Christ Arose!“, “How Can I Keep from Singing?” and “Nothing But The Blood Of Jesus“.
** William B. Bradbury (1816 –1868) was born in York Maine and grew up in Boston. He was a musician who composed the tune to “Jesus Loves Me” and many other popular hymns.
Fellow soldiers, this is a reminder about something you already know: There is a time to move and a time to stand still. Sometimes, God calls us to action and sometimes our duty is to stand fast at our post and trust Him! Even when our labor is hard, which it often is, we stay at our post and do our duty to our commander. The Gospel is worth standing for no matter the opposition. We will not budge from the faith: truth, sound doctrine, and righteousness. Jesus Christ is our Fortress, High Tower, Stronghold – our Cornerstone!
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast,
immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,
knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:58
Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.
1 Corinthians 16:13
…continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast
…not moved away from the hope of the gospel
which you heard… Colossians 1:23
Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren,
my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.
At Our Post
by J. Jackson *
At our post, as valiant soldiers,
Bearing each our sword and shield;
This our watchword now and ever:
We will die, but never yield.
At our post, no step must falter,
Let us stand with one accord,
Beating back the wary tempter,
In the name of Christ the Lord.
At our post, no step must falter,
At our post, no time to sleep;
We must guard the royal standard,
Every eye a watch must keep. (Refrain)
At our post in active duty
Whensoe’er the Lord shall call;
At our post and faithful servants
May He find us one and all. (Refrain)
* J. Jackson’s songs were first published in New York City and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the 1880s. His last known work was his music for Am I a Soldier of the Cross?, composed December 20, 1933.
Fellow soldiers: this is not the time to be discouraged. No matter how the battle rages and no matter how it looks like the enemy is winning, nothing can separate us from the love of our Savior!
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Romans 8:35-39 (NKJV)
“O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
I Corinthians 15:55
Faith is the Victory
by John H. Yaates
Encamped along the hills of light,
Ye Christian soldiers rise,
And press the battle ere the night
Shall veil the glowing skies;
Against the foe in vales below
Let all our strength be hurled;
Faith is the victory, we know,
That overcomes the world.
Refrain Faith is the victory! Faith is the victory! O glorious victory, That overcomes the world.
His banner over us is love,
Our sword the Word of God;
We tread the road the saints before
With shouts of triumph trod.
By faith, they like a whirlwind’s breath,
Swept on o’er every field;
The faith by which they conquered death
Is still our shining shield. (Refrain)
On every hand the foe we find
Drawn up in dread array;
Let tents of ease be left behind,
And onward to the fray.
Salvation’s helmet on each head,
With truth all girt about,
The earth shall tremble ’neath our tread,
And echo with our shout. (Refrain)
To him that overcomes the foe,
White raiment shall be giv’n;
Before the angels he shall know
His name confessed in heav’n;
Then onward from the hills of light,
Our hearts with love aflame,
We’ll vanquish all the hosts of night,
In Jesus’ conqu’ring name. (Refrain)
“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.” Hebrews 4:14
“Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 1:13
Hold the Fort
by Philip P. Bliss*
1 Ho! my comrades, see the signal,
Waving in the sky!
Reinforcements now appearing,
Victory is nigh!
“Hold the fort, for I am coming,”
Jesus signals still,
Wave the answer back to Heaven,
“By Thy grace we will.”
2 See the mighty host advancing,
Satan leading on;
Mighty men around us falling,
Courage almost gone. [Refrain]
3 See the glorious banner waving,
Hear the bugle blow;
In our Leader’s Name we triumph
Over every foe. [Refrain]
4 Fierce and long the battle rages,
But our help is near;
Onward comes our great Commander,
Cheer, my comrades, cheer! [Refrain]
* Philip P. Bliss (P.P. Bliss) (1838 – 1876) left home as a young boy to make a living by working on farms and in lumber camps, all while trying to continue his schooling. He was converted at a revival meeting at age twelve. His first song was published in 1864, and in 1868 Dwight L. Moody advised him to become a singing evangelist. For the last two years of his life Bliss led the music at revival meetings in the Midwest and Southern United States. Bliss and Ira Sankey published a popular series of hymn collections entitled Gospel Hymns. The first book of the series, Gospel Songs, was published in 1874. Bliss’s tragic death at the age of thirty-eight happened near the end of 1876 when a train wreck en route to sing for the evangelistic services at Dwight L. Moody’s Tabernacle claimed his life and that of his wife.
“…above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” Ephesians 6:16-17
Arise Ye Soldiers of the Cross – To Arms!
by Hieronymus Annoni *
Arise, ye soldiers of the cross,
To battle for your Lord!
No slothful soul can ever wield
His strong, triumphant sword.
His banner floats on high;
Clear sounds the battle cry;
With Him who died to make us free
We march to victory!
Be strong, then in your Lord and King,
Put on God’s armor whole;
Be steadfast in the evil day
With true and righteous soul.
Take up the shield of faith,
And, valiant unto death,
Quench Satan’s every fiery dart;
Your Lord will strength impart.
With Thee, our captain and our king,
We need not fear the fight;
If Thou dost rule each thought and deed,
We conquer by Thy might.
Make strong each heart and bold,
Nor let our love grow cold;
Thy faithful soldiers we would be
And share Thy victory.
* Hieronymus Annoni (1697–1770) Annoni’s ancestors fled the Italian valley of the Tanaro in Piedmont, south of Milan, for religious reasons. After studying theology at the University of Basel, he became a tutor in Schaffhausen. He traveled through Switzerland (1729, 1730–31), Germany (1732–33, 1736) and Holland (1736), where he met leading Pietists. He became pastor in Waldenburg in 1740, and in Muttenz in 1747.
“…above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”Ephesians 6:16-17
Awake, Ye Soldiers
by Robert Lowry *
Awake, ye soldiers of the Lord,
With shield of faith and Gospel sword,
The trumpet echoes from afar,
And Zion shakes with sound of war.
Awake! awake! the call obey;
Awake! awake! and march away;
With sturdy blow beat down the foe,
For truth will win the day.
The hosts of sin in dark array,
With haughty front await the fray;
Close up the ranks with sacred glee,
The Lord will give the victory.
Unfurl the banner; lift it high;
Take up the march with battle cry;
Draw out the blade, ye sons of light,
And put the alien foe to flight.
And still the battle rages on,
From morn till night, from dark till dawn;
But God’s elect, to glory sealed,
Will spoil the foe and keep the field.
* Robert Lowry (1826–1899) Lowry attended the University at Lewisburg (now Bucknell University), where he became a professor of literature. He was ordained a Baptist minister and served numerous pastorates in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey. He also helped found the Sixth Avenue Baptist Church in New York City. Lowry wrote about 500 Gospel tunes, and was a music editor at the Biglow & Main publishers.