Summary: PART ONE of THREE This three part sermon series was presented at a men's camp. It also comes with a Bible study based on the series.
"Battle Royal - When World's Collide"
Session One: The Celestial Showdown
Isaiah 46 (Bibles open for readings throughout the message)
(Showed movie clip "300" and the section before battle where the warriors were told by King Leonidas to "SEARCH YOUR OWN SOUL"
We are at war. Some are warriors who are willing to fight to the death and are exhausted in battle. Others are prisoners of war some of which seek escape from their imprisonment while others are trying to figure out a way to find solace in their prison surroundings. These feel escape is impossible and a way out is beyond reach, so let’s make the best of a bad situation. Still there are others who have no idea they are prisoners. Their current reality is so normal to them, so “the-way-it-has-always-been” that they have no idea there is something better on the horizon; that where they are is not the way God intended things to be. As we begin this weekend together, I believe God calls us to search our own soul. At the end of our search we will decide where we stand before Him and how we need to move.
We've been at war since before the beginning of time, when Lucifer, the bright and morning star, the exalted holy being of Holy God, desired equality with God and was cast out of the Majesty’s presence, cursed for all time. It might have been something like this mythological depiction of THOR. He intentionally violated his father’s will, King Odin, invading another world taking innocent lives through war and bloodshed. The result is facing the consequences of his choices so that he is cursed and cast out of his rightful place as a son of the king. (CLIP: CAST YOU OUT scene in the movie THOR)
And so since that day, Battle Royal continues. World’s colliding; not the minuscule concept of earth and space but what the apostle Paul speaks of in Ephesians 6:12, “For 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.” The problem, brothers-in-arms, is that sometimes we don’t understand the gravity of the situation we’re in or the forces we contend with. Too often we are completely unconscious of the fact that there are spiritual forces working against us and breathing down our necks. Frank Peretti is a well-known author for his fictional work on the spirit world. Much of it can be favourably argued as a way things work in the flesh and blood versus dark world battle that is around us every day. I remember one of his stories where believers are gathering for Sunday worship but the scene is captured from the spiritual forces dimension. Angels – holy and evil – are gathered for worship, all wondering how the day will fare. If believers gather with faith and use the weapons of prayer and the Word of God, evil will be routed and run for their lives. If not, the holy angels will have a battle on their hands to ward evil off and prevent it from disrupting worship any more than they already have. If they escape without losing souls it will be a good day.
We not only fail to understand the reality of the evil we contend with but we forget – or are completely oblivious to – the counter-punch power of God that resides in us, his men, to combat the evil that is prevalent around us. It is the power that inspired St. Paul to say to us with unapologetic confidence in Romans 8:32, “We are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” More than conquerors so we are not condemned by the flesh, bound by the law of sin and death; more than conquerors to set our minds on the Spirit’s desires; to experience his life in our mortal bodies because his Spirit lives in us. We can view our sufferings against the incomparable richness of the glory to come; more than conquerors to say with confidence, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Verse 31) Guys, we can live as warriors so at the end of the day and in all points in between, we can declare with Paul in verses 35-39, and know it! – “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?...Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
This weekend marks the beginning of a Celestial Showdown. If in fact you are not currently engaged in battle, you are going to engage in battle because your soul – your mind, emotions and will – longs for holiness and obedience. Your soul is tormented when it walks in unruliness (unholiness) and disobedience; you want this, as the battle for the mind and heart is a daily, reciprocating reality. The human spirit has been trying to get back to Eden (back to unbroken, tranquil relationship with God) from the day we left and we should not – we must not rest or give up the fight until the day when we “will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for.” (Philippians 3:12)