Hold the Fort!

Roman Fort

 “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.

Roman Paganism and the New Testament

Roman PaganismThe word “pagan” is a 14th-century word used to distinguish between a Christian believer and a non-Jewish non-Christian. The Latin paganus meant a villager, rustic person, civilian, non-soldier. The term later came to mean a Roman or Greek who, though they worshiped false gods, was more cultured than a heathen or barbarian. Obviously, Romans and many others did not think of themselves as pagans. Going back to the 5th century BC, cultures “borrowed” or “adopted” mythical gods from others cultures and gave them their own names.

The Romans did not follow a “religion” as we understand its meaning today. Roman theology was borrowed from Greek philosophy and had little to do with faith, spirituality, priests, or worship. What we call religion today Romans observed in a complex set of external traditions, rituals, festivals, feasts, and practices that intertwined with everyday cultural and civic life. Spiritual comfort during difficult times was found in extended families or in city life through clubs and trade guilds.

The accepted pagan cultures in the Roman Empire were in constant conflict with orthodox, monotheistic Judaism and budding Christianity. The rise of apostolic Christianity and the spread of the Gospel were destined to challenge Roman public life and “turn the world upside down.” (Acts 17:6)

Pagan Temple RuinsFellow soldiers, we live in a ruined world that is much like ancient Rome where people go about their daily lives with no thought of God or a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s too easy for us to let here-and-now thinking invade our minds and break our spiritual concentration. Our thoughts can wander to pleasures, riches, shiny new objects; we forget that we are soldiers of our Great Commander! His order is this: “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. (Colossians 3:2)

Like a sentry on guard duty, we cannot allow ourselves to doze off. We must stay alert at all times—eyes and ears wide open, swords at the ready, patrolling constantly, checking the gates, challenging every intruder! “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (I Peter 5:8)

While it’s good to care for our own self-defense and protection, we also have orders to be witnesses. Watch (be sensitive) for those who need a Savior and be ready to tell them of the One who died for them and rose again. “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” (Colossians 4:5) If you ever become discouraged, remember our Greek brethren who, “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” (I Thessalonians 1:9)

Before we realize, our night patrol will be over. We’ll set our weapons down, join our comrades, and finally meet our Commander face to face. Until then, soldiers, remember —

Stay alert!

        Take your weapons!

                   Fight on!

Arise Ye Soldiers of the Cross – To Arms!

Shields and swords

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.

The Roman Empire and the New Testament

Ancient city of RomeThe New Testament Gospels and Epistles span a time in Roman history between approximately 4 and 90 AD. The birth of Jesus Christ took place within one generation of the start of the Roman Principate (Imperial) period which began in 28 BC and ended the five hundred-year Roman Republic. The Imperial age was the beginning of powerful one-man dictatorships in Rome which did away with the classical republican government run by a Senate of representatives elected by elite Italian families.

It was God’s sovereign purpose that “in the fullness of time” the Jewish Messiah would be born in the frontier province of Judea where He taught, performed miracles, died by crucifixion, and arose from the dead under Roman military occupation.

Christianity began to spread throughout the Western world in the first century in a time of relative peace—the Pax Romana. The Gospel’s rapid spread benefited from an orderly Roman infrastructure of universal commercial languages (Latin, Greek, Aramaic), written laws that favored its citizens and freedmen, a common currency, and an Empire-wide road and sea transportation network.

The Roman government began to persecute Jews and Christians for their faith in the middle of the first century. Jews were banished from Rome in 49 AD and most Christians in the city were caught up in the expulsion. “a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome)” (Acts 18:2) Some believers like Aquila and Priscilla returned to Rome five years later after Claudius died. “Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 16:3)  “Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.” I Corinthians 16:19)

Roman rule in Judea near the end of the century experienced years of rebellion and guerrilla warfare ending with the complete destruction of the Temple and the City of David in 70 AD. The Roman historian Josephus wrote that 1.1 million people died in the siege of Jerusalem, many by crucifixion. Those who survived the destruction entered the Jewish Diaspora which only began to reverse when the State of Israel was founded in 1948 AD.

Even our brethren in Sardis of Lydia are not immune to the wiles of our adversary. This warning from our Commander is for us soldiers too:

Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.” (Revelation 3:2-3)

Soldiers, listen. We serve in this army in perilous times. Now, more than ever, we must be alert to spiritual dangers that will lull us into complacency before they attack. Hold out because our Commander and His army are on their way! Until then, remember —

Stay alert!

       Take your weapons!

                 Fight on!

Awake, Ye Soldiers

Roman Trumpets “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.

The Centurion Chronicles

INVICTUSWelcome fellow soldiers!

Your cohort leader here with important news for all troops. Today is the first installment on a blog series with short lessons about the Christian’s spiritual warfare. Roman military examples, illustrations, and metaphors are replete in the New Testament. I invite other soldiers to join me in a series I’ve called The Centurion Chronicles. We’re reminded in Ephesians 6:10-13 that our enemies are not physical but spiritual. God issued us all the spiritual armor and weapons that we need to fight our daily battle. Our duty, fellow soldiers, is to train ourselves and use them!

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (NKJV)

We’ll take our time looking at Roman soldiers in the New Testament and lessons we can learn from them. Some military men are laudatory and others shameful, but we can learn from them and move forward. We’re all centurions together in this battle!

Make no mistake, fellow soldiers—living the Christian life is a moment-by-moment battle against spiritual forces intent on causing us to stumble, fall, and stay wounded on the battlefield. But God has made us more than conquerors in Christ and INVICTUS is our motto for the coming campaign. See you at our next formation!

Stay alert!

Take your weapons!

Fight on!