The War of Ages

The Opening Address to the 7th PCC Annual Conference, 6-10 Jun 2006

"3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled" (2 Corinthians 10:3-6)

We are here in a conference to learn about the War of Ages. This conference is not just about the spiritual war that each one of us will have to fight individually. It is more than that. It is about a cosmic war in which the personal battles that we fight are but little parts of the greater war.

Now, I shall like to leave the bulk of our discussions to our speaker, Pastor Coleborn. But this morning, the Lord helping us, I would like to kick off our studies by asking why we need to spend time on such a subject.

This subject, after all, seems to be quite academic and theoretical to some of us.

Well, allow me to impress upon you, with 10 brief reasons, why it is necessary, and indeed important for us to take earnest heed to the things that we shall hear in this conference.

Here is the first reason: These lectures should, God willing, …

1. Open Our Eyes To A Reality Unseen

The apostle Paul says:

"3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds"

By these words he is reminding us that there is a spiritual dimension in our life and ministry; and he is telling us that there is a war going on. Unlike the Iraq war or the war in Afghanistan which confronts us with very graphic picture, this war that Paul speaks about is invisible.

And yet it is very real and it is raging. It has been raging since the fall of man.… and it affects every event in the world and every aspect of our lives.

The lectures that we will hear are an attempt to make us realise how this is so. God willing, through the work of the Holy Spirit accompanying the word preached, our eyes will be opened to these unseen realities.

Secondly, these lectures if received prayerfully, will.…

2. Help Us In Our Understanding Of Scripture

This is so because much of scripture refers to this battle.…

The first verse that refers to this battle very explicitly is Genesis 3:15, which reads:

"And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."

Now, most of us will recognise this verse as the protoevangelion, the first giving of the Gospel.

But do you realise there is more than that?

Do you realise that the Lord is not only speaking about Christ on the cross, but about a conflict that exists between Christ and His church and Satan and his adherents?

Do you realise that the ideas expressed in this verse underlie all the books of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation?

Unless you understand this as a fact, you will not understand why the Scripture speaks of so many wars. And you will not understand why we sing (Ps 18:29a, 34):

By thee through troops of men I break,

And them discomfit all;…

Mine hands to war he taught, mine arms

Brake bows of steel in pieces.…

And you will not understand why Christ the Lamb of God is spoken of in Revelation as sitting on a white horse with a bow in His hand, going forth conquering and to conquer.

The lectures that we will hear, will, God willing, help us to understand these passages of Scripture much better.

But thirdly, they will help us not only to interpret the Scripture, but also to interpret world events.

3. Help Us In Our Interpretation Of World Events

The lectures we will hear, I believe, will show us that the events of the world do not happen by chance. Providence is not a random unfolding of events.

Think of September 11, 2001; the Bali bombing of October 12, 2002 or the Madrid bombing of March 11, 2004. Did these things happen by chance? Was it merely because the Al Qaeda planned these horrific acts?

Think of the earthquake in Bam in December 26, 2003, the Indian Ocean Tsunami in December 26, 2004; and the earthquake in Yoyakata in May 27, 2006. Are these unrelated events? Are they related only in so far as these places lie in the ring of fire?

Are these events related to the terrorist attacks we have listed?

What about the plan to build the casino in Singapore and the rising oil prices? And the dramatic changes in our public education system that puts heavier and heavier demands on our children. Are these things unrelated?

I believe, when we understand that a war of ages has been going on since the beginning of human history, it will become clearer and clearer how all these things are related.

The lectures, we will hear, will, I believe, help us to make sense out of the increasing bewildering things that are happening around the world.

But fourthly, these lectures will…

4. Give Us A New Perspective Towards God’s Creation

I say this not only because our speaker is a renowned ornithologist. I say this because a proper appreciation of the war of ages will no doubt make us look at creation in new light. It will help us to understand what the apostle means when he says "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain until now" (Rom 8:22).

It will help us to see that we should not be unconcerned about the failure of our children to appreciate God’s creation and the unnecessary and greedy destruction of nature.

It will make us realise that the earth and all the things in it are not merely some unnecessary props in the redemption of man.

Fifthly, the lectures we will hear are important because they will…

5. Affect Our Attitude And Priorities In Life

All of us come to this conference in a midst of a busy life. We have taken a break from our busy schedule. If I ask you what was your life like yesterday or the week before, I am sure that one word can describe it: battle. My life is a battle field.

I was fighting at work. I was fighting a tough schedule. I was fighting unreasonable bosses and colleagues. I was fighting at home. I was fighting to make ends meet. I was fighting to make sure my children excel in their school work and extra curricular activities. I was fighting to make sure my children learn their catechism. I was fighting boredom. I was fighting poor health. I was fighting family problems.

Do you realise that all these things are not unrelated?

We have been drifting along. We have allowed the system of the world to shape our attitude and priorities. Do you realise that your attitude and priorities may be the very thing that is bringing you much sorrows and frustrations in your life. And worse, it may in fact be very displeasing to the Lord because when you are unaware of the war of ages going on, you may land up fighting on the wrong side without realising it.

I trust the lectures we will hear will reset our focus and give us courage to live a life that the world is not worthy of.

And sixthly, I trust that they will also…

6. Shape And Enlarge Our Prayer Life

When our eyes are open in regard to the war of ages, we cannot help but begin to pray more broadly about the things in the world and the things that are happening in our lives.

If you return from this conference, and your prayer life is not affected, then I dare say that the words have fallen by the way side and Satan has plucked them away.

For I believe that a proper meditation on the reality of the war of ages and the fact that much of the battle must be fought by God’s saints on their knees must shape our prayer life.

It is no coincidence that in the vision of the seven seals that the apostle John saw, the first seal reveals Christ riding on a white horse conquering and to conquer (Rev 6:2), while the last seal reveals half an hour of silence until the incense of the prayers of saints ascend up before God (Rev 8:4).

God has appointed that we should participate in the on-going cosmic battle through payer.

Therefore, seventhly, these lectures about the cosmic battle should also…

7. Enable Us To Fight Our
Personal Battles More Effectively

Now, this conference as I mentioned is not just about the spiritual war that each one of us will have to fight individually. It is, rather, about the cosmic war in which the personal battles that we fight are but little parts of the greater battle.

But as we are all part of this great battle, it is necessary for us to learn about the grand battle—for otherwise, we would fight aimlessly and blindly.

When you are in the army, it is important for you to see what your role is if you are to contribute to the battle effectively.

If you are a platoon commander, but because you do not know your role, will you not endanger the lives of the soldiers under your care by hiding in the trench and doing nothing in the thick of the battle?

Or what if you are a truck driver, but you imagine yourself to be the captain of the convoy and decide to take your own decision on where to drive the troop; will you not endanger the lives of the soldiers in your truck?

Therefore as you hear the lectures on the war of ages, do not merely let it tickle your mind. But meditate on it, and try to see how you fit into the whole battle in order that you may fight more effectively. Realise, for example, that though we all must fight the personal battle, your role in the larger battle may be different if you are a father, or a mother or an officer of the church, compared to a child or a young member in the church.

Listen and take orders.

But eighthly, the lectures we hear should, God willing,…

8. Give Us Confidence To Persevere On Fighting the Good Fight

There are a number of wars going on in the world, for which we cannot see the end. We do not know, for example, if the US army will withdraw from Iraq in shame or whether the insurgency will be quelled and there will be peace in the land.

But as the war of the ages is unfolded before us, you will realise one thing, and that is: the victory for Christ and His seed has been secured right from the beginning. In fact, the battle has already reached a definite conclusion at the Cross of Calvary, for there on the Cross, Christ meted out a crushing defeat upon Satan. When the Lord said "It is finished!" (Jn 19:30), He was essentially saying that the major battle is over. Victory is secured. All that remains is mopping up of the battle to eradicate the insurgency. And unlike, say, in Iraq where victory has been declared by the US Army, and yet there is no certainty whether the insurgency will triumph, we have the full assurance that when the insurgency has served its purpose as allowed by our King, it will be completely obliterated. Victory is secured!

Now, the knowledge of this truth would surely give us a renewed confidence to persevere on in the fight especially when the battle gets tough.

As long as we know we are fighting faithfully, seeking first the kingdom of God, we can have the firm assurance that the God of peace shall bruise Satan under our feet shortly.

But conversely, in the ninth place, a reminder of the healing that will happen in that day should…

9. Give Us Fresh Hope & Yearning
For Future Glory

Today we are fighting the battle; tomorrow we will be in glory. The apostle Paul says:

"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2 Cor 4:17)

Does not this thought make us yearn for the conclusion of the battle and the future glory? God willing, by the work of the Spirit in our heart though the word preached, we shall not only be instructed on the war but made to yearn for the glory of all who would fight the good fight.

But finally, I trust that the series of lectures that we will hear, will…

10. Stir Our Hearts To Praise Our God & King

The war of ages involves people and the systems, processes and things of the world. But ultimate, it is not about these things, but about the exaltation of Christ as King of kings and Lord or lords.

The war of ages is a war between Christ and His seed, on the one hand; and Satan and his seed, on the other hand. Satan and his seed will lose the battle.

In the day when the battle is concluded, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

In that day, the defeat of the enemies of Christ and of His church, and their eternal punishment will highlight the justice and longsuffering of God.

On the other hand, Christ will be greatly magnified. His seed will for all eternity bear testimony of the redeeming love of their Saviour.

Beloved brethren and children, as you learn about the war of ages, and as you apply it to your life, will you not remember to look to Christ, the captain of your salvation and rejoice in Him that you are counted worthy to fight on His side?

Here then are the 10 reasons again. If we will prayerfully take earnest heed to the things that we will be hearing in this conference, and we spend time to meditate on them, we could, the Lord willing, benefit from the studies in at least 10 ways:

A fresh insight to a reality unseen

A better understanding of Scripture

A new eye to interpret world history and events

A biblical perspective toward God’s creation

A realignment of attitude and priorities in life

An enlargement to your prayer life

A more effective strategy to fight your personal battles

A renewed confidence to persevere on in the good fight

A recovery of hope and yearning for future glory

A reminder to praise our God and King

Beloved brethren and children, will you not take prayerful and earnest heed to the things you will hear?

Will you not be much in prayer to make sure that the words preached will be owned by the Lord and will have free course?

Will you not pray that the Spirit of Christ will speak to you personally according to your spiritual maturity and present circumstance in life?

Will you not pray that Christ the captain of our salvation will be greatly magnified not only in these lectures but also in our lives corporately and individually when we leave this conference on Friday? Amen.

—JJ Lim