Mark G. Schroeder
In June 1940, fear and despair gripped the people of Great Britain as the Nazi German armies rolled across northern Europe, conquering Belgium, the Netherlands, and eventually France. The Germans had surrounded the remaining Allied forces on the coast of France near the city of Dunkirk. An improvised evacuation, using hundreds of military and civilian ships and boats, brought more than 300,000 soldiers safely to England. But the evacuation did not remove the threat of the German armed forces.
Newly appointed prime minister Winston Churchill needed to rally the nation to face the coming dark days. His words are still remembered: “The Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. . . . Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, that . . . for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’ ”
The Christian church has from its beginning been faced with powerful enemies seeking to destroy it. First-century Christians faced savage attacks at the hands of unbelieving Jews and from the pagan Romans. In the centuries that followed, false teachers attacked the church by attacking its central doctrines. Even though the attacks against the Christian church came through human enemies, the apostle Paul reminds us of the real nature of the battle: “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).
It seems that the battle being waged against God’s church has only intensified in recent years. The culture surrounding us has turned the truth on its head. Morals and values that have stood for thousands of years have been cast aside. Marriage has been redefined. Human life is no longer precious. Those who hold to the truths of Scripture are attacked as closed-minded bigots and haters. The love of many has grown cold. Tragically, even large segments of the visible Christian church have embraced these lies and have simply surrendered to a relentless enemy.
Like Great Britain facing the inevitable attack from across the English Channel, today’s church is again facing threats that seek its utter destruction. Is now the time for us to have our finest hour?
Before we answer, we should remember some things. Our strength is not to be found in ourselves but in him. Our confidence lies not on our own resources but in the power and promises of God, who has told us that he will never leave us or forsake us and that the gates of hell itself will not prevail against his church. Our ability to prevail against the onslaughts of an unbelieving world and a hostile culture does not depend on our own wisdom; it comes from the power of the Word of God and his saving gospel to change hearts and lives.
God has given us his promises. He has provided us his unchanging Word and the message of the gospel. He has assured us that his Word will continue to accomplish his saving purpose until the end of time. He has reminded us of his almighty power. Because he has blessed us in these ways, he asks us to be faithful. He enables us to have courage. He calls on us to be witnesses of his truth.
So, in the end, his church will prevail, not because this was our finest hour but because it was his.
Author: Mark Schroeder
Volume 107, Number 02
Issue: February 2020