Originally published February 20, 2008 - Southern Spirit
First, there is an utter confidence in God’s Word. There is no hint of doubt as to whether it is the true Word of God, any misgiving that there might be mistakes contained in its pages, any foolish speculation about how it compares to other holy books in the world. Its words transform. Its counsel enlightens. Its commands guide. But if you are dismissing the things you don’t like, when the trumpet sounds you’ll miss the advance.
Second, victory is expected. No doubt, there is sin in the world and evil is afoot. No question that Satan devours all he can with an insatiable hunger for more. But he shall not have the last word; sin will not win the day. For the Lamb has come not only to bleed but to conquer. There is no iniquity greater than the blood of Christ. There is no soul beyond the reach of the One who came to claim the wayward world. When a soul is won there is no time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of victory. There are more souls and more opportunities to push the enemy closer to the abyss.
Thirdly, there is a stone-hard conviction that The Salvation Army is God’s instrument in the world. Barefoot soldiers proudly wear their wrinkled and stained uniform with no concern as to how fashionable it is or worse yet, puzzle over whether to wear that or a pair of jeans or a pretty dress. The flag is not just something trotted out for ceremony but the standard that proclaims the Army’s message and rallies the troops when the enemy assails. Corps buildings are not known for their architectural appeal but are judged by how effective they are at being the maternity wards of the Kingdom.
The cost is counted and it is reckoned to be a bargain. Nothing is owned that cannot be sacrificed. No place is home that cannot be forsaken should the call come to go to the next town or the next country. No limitation of ability or education or talent stands in the way of rushing forward to the war. Salvationists do not weigh their service in the Army by how fulfilling it is or whether they can find the right fit of their spiritual gifts with a comfortable ministry.
The question is never, “How can we be expected to do this?” Rather, the belief is that is the challenge has been given, then God by His grace and power will see to it that it can be done. And if we fail, and failures are quite frequent, it will mean that we regroup and attack again. If we cannot speak the language, we will learn it. If we cannot stand in front of people, we will continue to get up and do it until we can. The work is too important to wring hands and whimper about the conditions.
To not advance is to die. No war is ever won on the defensive, no victory claimed when the call to arms is unheeded. We cannot win by conducting the war as we have. We have been infested with the culture of plenty when self-denial is demanded, of seeking success instead of conquest, of playing video games instead of fighting a war. God forgive us for satisfying ourselves by watching from the grandstands the victories happening somewhere else. Let’s advance as the Army God raised us up to be.