Nearly a century ago there lived a minister by the name of Donald Grey Barnhouse, who served as the pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1927 until his death in 1960. He led the church through the time when the mainline Presbyterians had begun to drift away from orthodox Christian doctrine and were embracing liberal teachings such as denying the Virgin Birth of Christ, the physical resurrection of Jesus, the exclusivity of Christ as the sacrifice for sin, and church order as described in the Bible. Dr. Barnhouse was determined to remain loyal to the inerrancy and sufficiency of the Scriptures, the Lordship of Christ, and to preach what the Bible taught about humanity's sinful state and the reality of an "invisible war" being fought between the armies of God and the forces of Satan for the souls of people.
Dr. Barnhouse led numerous Bible conferences around America and the world, always telling his audience to give up looking to the world for answers, to repent of their sins, and to receive salvation found only through the Lord Jesus Christ and surrender all to Him. He emphasized the importance of daily prayer, the study of the Bible, and the importance of fellowship with brethren in a church where the Scriptures were properly taught and that Jesus Christ was confessed as Lord (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Romans 5:6-11, 8:31-39, 10:9-10; Philippians 2:5-11). He also had a weekly radio broadcast on CBS, back when the mainstream media gave airtime to preachers and speakers. He stressed that there was a wide difference in having "religion" and a real relationship with Almighty God. This teaching was the foundation for what he referred to as "the Invisible War", first described by the apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:10-18.
Before his death in November 1960 from a brain tumor, Dr. Barnhouse had completed an initial draft of a book that he entitled "The Invisible War", a Biblical and historical examination of the unseen spiritual conflict around us. The conflict began when Lucifer, the highest of the archangels of heaven, rebelled against God and wanted to take over creation. A third of the angels joined in the rebellion, but they were all thrown out of heaven and fell to the newly created Earth. The evil persuasion of Satan, known as a serpent in Genesis 3, caused the first couple, Adam and Eve to fall into sin. As a result, God cursed the serpent, punished Adam and Eve for their disobedience but also gave them the promise of redemption and the crushing defeat of the devil and his schemes (Genesis 3:15).
This was the first of numerous Biblical prophecies foretelling of a coming Redeemer who would rescue fallen humanity from the curse of sin, death, and hell and make all things new. Satan set his focus on doing everything possible to thwart God's plans and prevent this promised Seed from appearing, including attempts to wipe out God's chosen people, pollute the bloodline, and empower rulers and renegades to kill the promised "Messiah". God would continue to frustrate and prevent Satan from carrying out his nefarious schemes, finally dealing His enemy the death blow through the work and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, who died on the cross bearing our sins upon Himself and Who rose from the dead to affirm that His mission of redeeming fallen humanity was a success. When the Lord Jesus returns at the end of history, He will consign the devil and all who have followed him to the Lake of Fire, where they will be punished for eternity and never return to cause havoc, sin, and death in the new heaven and earth (Revelation 21, 22).
Consider what this means in terms of our life in Christ as it stands now. The Christian life is not in any way, shape, or form a misguided belief that because we are now redeemed and secure in the salvation He gives to us that we can now sit back, attend services, sing hymns, and wait for the LORD to come back. When we look at the growing godlessness and rampant wickedness in the nation and world today, it shows that people tend not to be concerned about spiritual matters or where they will go once death comes for them. The new "religion" is built not on the Bible, but on a self-designed system of "good works", "right living", kindness, obeying the law, taking care of one's family, and other deeds that they believe will keep them in good standing with whatever deity or "force" that might be out there. They go every which way but towards the direction of the cross.
The Lord Jesus expects us to be engaged in warfare against the enemy, who keeps spiritually lost people away from the message of the Gospel. We are given weapons not only to fight the dark foes of God, but He is with us and gives us both strength and wisdom through prayer and the Word. We are not to go AWOL at a time like we see now. We cannot drop our weapons and let someone else do the fighting for us. Either option is intolerable and unbecoming of a true follower of Christ. However, we have to admit sometimes that we are getting weary in well doing and reinforcements from the King's headquarters seem to be in short supply. We who have been in the fight for awhile tend to look at the new recruits and wonder if they are truly prepared to pick up their weapon and continue the assault in the name and power of the LORD. Have we sufficiently trained our replacements to see that serving Christ is a call to the sacrifice and death of self-indulgence?
The Scriptures give us the overall scene of the Invisible War in the history of Israel and their relationship with God, which was a centuries old battle within the nation of either total commitment and devotion to Him, or to turn to the worship of idols and the demons that lurked behind them. The kingdoms of both Israel and Judah turned to horrid pagan rituals such as child sacrifice and the building of temples and shrines dedicated to foreign deities, all of which brought about severe judgment and punishment on both nations from God, wiping both of them out and exiling the people to foreign lands, some never tor return. The period of the exile into Babylon saw Judah totally rid itself of physical idolatry and recommit themselves to the worship of God when they returned to the land to rebuild Jerusalem, the Temple, and the surrounding towns.
The rejection of idolatry and the return to Scripture started out well, but over time the people and their leaders saw worship of God as more of a ritual and routine than a genuine time of intimacy with Him. By the time Jesus appeared on the scene, Judaism had become apostate, empty, and dead, focusing more on rule-keeping and a meticulous adherence to interpretations of the Law by past teachers and a near total negligence of the Scriptures. The Pharisees kept the people in a type of legalistic bondage and acted spiritual but were just as apostate as the rituals in the Temple. The ministry of Jesus brought the Bible back to the people, teaching its truths with power and authority, and showed a spiritually hungry and thirsty Israel that He was the prophesied Messiah come to save His people.
The Lord Jesus had won his showdown with Satan in the wilderness of Judea (Matthew 4; Luke 4) and would battle against the Pharisees, who had the demonic gall to say that His work was from the devil, a blasphemy that He would not forgive and that consigned them to hell afterwards. He condemned the Pharisees for their willful blindness, arrogance, and hypocrisy (Matt.23) and declared that the church He founded would withstand the attacks of the devil and his brood and be triumphant. His crucifixion was seen by both His disciples and enemies as a defeat and humiliation of His work and teachings, and in the darkness the Devil though that he had won the war. Nobody, especially the powers of evil, expected Sunday to arrive and with it, an empty tomb. The resurrection of Jesus Christ forever sealed the doom of Satan, insured his total and final defeat, and affirmed the promises of redemption, victory, the certainty of the final judgment and punishment of all evil deeds, demons, and deviants who foolishly followed the futile plans of an enemy who thought he could overcome God and His plans.
The war that we are fighting now has already been won and the issue settled. Jesus Christ is the Victorious Eternal King of Kings, who has triumphed over all forces of evil and malevolence. Those of us who have placed our faith in Him will be a part of the eternal victory parade and celebration that will go into eternity. Dr. Barnhouse never completed his book, and the published version has an abrupt ending as a result. Yet, he showed in the closing pages that the LORD he loved and served was the eternal winner of the Invisible War as the Scriptures declare and is the One who dictates the terms of peace with anyone who will surrender their lives to Him today. You bring nothing to the table but yourself. He gives you the spiritual pardon and restoration that no one else can ever do. On whose side are you now? Do not let the enemy whisper anything in your ear to the contrary. Jesus is the real and true Victor, now and forever. Come on over to the real winning side today.