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Fight the Good Fight of Faith
One truth became apparent on our mission into Eastern Europe. "As a man thinks, so is he." How the circumstances of life are perceived and interpreted influences the responses and decisions made. And, God may use the same event for different reasons in a personís life.
Preparing for the mission, my husband, Rev. Jim Craig, read Erwin W. Lutzerís book, Hitlerís Cross (Moody Press, 1995). Starting on page 65, the author describes the religion of Nazism and speaks of Hitlerís transformation of consciousness. Hitler visited the Hofburg Library in Vienna while in his early twenties. He overheard a tour guide talking about a spear believed by many to be the one used to pierce the side of Christ. The guide said, "This spear is shrouded in mystery; whoever unlocks its secrets will rule the world."
With those words, Hitler began research that led him to conclude that when kings or emperors had the spear in their possession, they were victorious. He would stand before the spear for hours, inviting its hidden powers to invade his soul. Before it, he made an irreversible vow to follow Satan, and believed the spear could bridge the world of sense and the world of spirit.
Walter Stein, Hitlerís friend at the time, described Hitler before the spear "like a man in a tranceÖThe very space around him seemed enlivened with some subtle irradiation, a kind of ghostly ectoplasmic lightÖaround him a kind of evil transformation of its own nature and power." Dr. Stein considered Hitler to have experienced a kind of "eclipse of consciousness."
Hitler came into personal possession of this spear when he took Vienna. He felt he was in contact with "masters of wisdom" and came to believe he was the reincarnation of many ancient kings, including Tiberius of Rome. He felt Fate drove him into his destiny as an antichrist.
Hitler desired worship, and people already steeped into occultism followed along. The lie so big, that a man can be god, appealed to both pride and presumption. Hitlerís global vision ignited optimism in a beleaguered nation ripe for a grand idea that would eclipse lesser issues of morals and call for sacrifice.
The Holy Spirit led our team to the Hofburg Museum, where we found this spear, called the Holy Lance, back in its case. Here in room 11 were the spear and the crowns and paintings and swords and scepters and orbs of the kings of the Holy Roman Empire. We prayed in that room as God directed us, for this mission involved El Elyon, the Most High God, and those who would vie for His position. We declared Psalm 110 in that room. "The LORD at your right hand shall strike through kings in the day of His wrath. He shall judge among the heathen, and He shall fill the places with the dead bodies; He shall wound the heads over many countries. He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall He lift up the head."
Hitler stood before the spear to invoke powers of evil. We stood before the same spear to invoke the living God, the Holy Spirit, and to lament over the evils of murder, lies, thieving, and pride.
Only the Holy Spirit with groaning can express the horror, the travesty, the insanity, the compromise of millions crying for bread and peace, so desperate as to surrender personal rights in return for empty promises of a greater good and glory. Hitler was first admired and praised, then feared, then worshiped before the Most High intervened and the charade was over.
We see two different responses to the spear said to have pierced the side of Christ, two different interpretations, two different outcomes. With all this comes the grim reminder that evil prevails when it can, just because someone gives it permission, or makes it legal. When laws are enacted on the belief that man is basically good, and lawmakers disbelieve that "there is none good, no not one" or "in iniquity I was conceived," etc. then the door opens to evil. We must preserve truth while promoting justice, lest our justice be perverted.
Events plus the interpretation of those events yield the response. God uses the circumstances of life, peopleóplacesóthingsówords, to both test what is in our hearts and to bring about His purposes.
For example, Jeremiah stood as the true prophet of God to tell the king and people of Judah that if they did not repent of their idolatrous ways and injustices, Jehovah would deliver them over to the Babylonians. They would indeed go into exile. This seemed contrary to the current and popular belief that being Godís chosen people, performing outward rituals and sacrifices was sufficient to ensure Godís pity, provision, and protection. But God would reveal His plan of restoration and redemption to demonstrate to His people that it is through judgment that deliverance comes.
To those that confessed God but who did not truly believe in Him, to those "faking it," the exile symbolized the utter devastation of those under Godís ultimate curse. For disobedient believers, the exile symbolized Godís chastening of their rebellious ways. (cf Hebrews 12) Through the exile, God would bring His people back to Himself, overcoming presumptuous sins.
The exile anticipated the vicarious sufferings of the Sacrifice, Jesus Christ, who as The Exile suffered "outside the camp" for His people. As the "servant of the Lord," the children of God typified and represented the suffering servant.
For the faithful, exile symbolized the trial of their faith, a call to holiness, suffering for righteousnessí sake, living for the will of God. (cf 1 Peter 4.12-19) In exile, some will see visions of the world-wide expansion of Godís kingdom and learn to cling to Jehovah dwelling within regardless of what lies without.
Circumstances test the mettle of our faith. We believe with the heart (Romans 10.10) and accept the will of God with the mind. Faith receives Godís Word as accurate and dependable. Faith holds to the character, truthfulness, and integrity of the Person of God. When you receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are justified by faith alone; the righteousness of Jesus Christ is imputed to you (laid to your account).(Romans 5) You begin to live by faith and not journey by sight. You begin to walk by a faith that manifests in acts of obedience which demonstrate your belief.
You may begin with faith as small as a mustard seed, but your faith will grow as you grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Those new in living by faith are more apt to consider the natural, look at what is seen, and limit God, not knowing His benefits and promises. (Romans 4.19) Those weak in faith do not see with the mind of Christ and so do not believe that what is impossible to man is possible with God.
Circumstances test us to see whether our faith comes and goes (Luke 8.13) or whether we will stand firm in the faith, actively refusing defeat (James 2.14-26; Romans 4.20). Every believer can develop the gift of faith by exercising his/her heart to:
The people of God did not remain in exile, but returned, Godís purposes in covenant realized. After the indictment of God, judgment proclaimed, and the call to repentance and return or suffer the consequences, came restoration. Restoration relates to resurrection in that there will be a return to life for the dead. Those who suffer, going into the abyss of exile, return with newness of life, emerging to rebuild the temple.
The Holy Spirit resurrects and restores (Zechariah 4.6). God tears down that He may build anew. There may be times of delay or resistance (Ezra, Haggai, Nehemiah), but God will ultimately bring the covenant to consummation and glorify Israel through the coming of the Messiah. (Zechariah)
Faith deepens by experience and relationship with God, particularly as you live daily with the Holy Spirit. Gideon heard Godís word and wondered how he could ever be the mighty warrior God declared him to be. He sought a sign, a fleece. Some do look for feelings or tokens besides the Word of God. Others believe without the need for favorable emotions. Paul came to the point of believing God and His Word when circumstances, emotions, appearances, people, and human reason all urged to the contrary. In Acts 27.20, 25, we find this account:
"And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away." Yet Paul said, "Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer; for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me." God gave Paul faith to fully trust His Word though everything else witnessed the other way. Faith has an object. Trust lives in relationship. God is faithful, and He also will bring it to pass.
Calling the nations to resurrection,
"I have fought the good fight. I have finished my course.
I have kept the faith." Paul, 2 Timothy 4.7
© 2001 Mary Craig Ministries, Inc.
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