Matthew 11.12 says that from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force.
Some things have to be taken by force. Not because God does not want us to have them – in fact, we know it is the Father’s pleasure and joy to give us the kingdom (Luke 12.32), but because there is always resistance in this world to you walking in your dreams and goals, especially when those dreams and goals extend the kingdom of Heaven. The people of earth and their structures fundamentally do not want to be ruled by heaven, and the god of this world hates you and wants to destroy you, so to bring the kingdom of God about on this world we need to be violent and use some force!
The Greek word for violent here is biastes and it means people who are strong, forceful and eager and enthusiastic. To change the world needs some eagerness, some enthusiasm – it cannot be done by wet kippers, it needs people with some backbone, some drive, some presence, some vision, some violence!
In 1 Peter 5.8 we all know the devil is compared to a roaring lion, but Peter also in that verse calls him our adversary. That means he wants to make your life adverse! He is defeated with a crushed head, and all he has is a roar, but that doesn’t mean you can just walk on by and make it, you need some fight inside you. Satan hates your dreams! He hates especially your kingdom dreams so you have to walk in some faith, you are going to have to have a word with yourself when you feel like quitting and keep going, you are going to have to have some discipline, some fervour, some heat about you to win and conquer and extend the kingdom.
And what I want you all to realize is that as much as the devil is your adversary, we are his. Whenever we do something, we are hacking apart his kingdom. When we pray in tongues, we are dismantling his kingdom of discouragement and encouraging ourselves. When you phone another Christian and tell them you love them and you encourage them, you are destroying his kingdom of strife and discouragement. When you win someone to Jesus, that’s one less person for satan. We are going to harm the devil today, and every day.
I love reading about David in the Bible – he had drive, he had vision, he had eagerness and enthusiasm. He wanted to rule from Jerusalem, Saul didn’t want to change, but David wanted a giant new headquarters for his nation that he was king over. I love that kind of drive. There was one small problem – the Jebusites lived in Jerusalem. So David attacked them and beat them and took the city by force. God never handed the city of Jerusalem over to His people on a plate, David had to get in there and fight for it.
You are not going to be handed your dreams on a plate, you are going to have to seize some things through force. There are people like the Jebusites who do not want you walking in your dreams:
4 David and all the Israelites marched to Jerusalem (that is, Jebus). The Jebusites who lived there 5 said to David, “You will not get in here.” Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion—which is the City of David.
6 David had said, “Whoever leads the attack on the Jebusites will become commander-in-chief.” Joab son of Zeruiah went up first, and so he received the command.
7 David then took up residence in the fortress, and so it was called the City of David. 8 He built up the city around it, from the terraces to the surrounding wall, while Joab restored the rest of the city. (1 Chr. 11.4-8 NIV)
Look at what the Jebusites said “You will not get in here”. I bet you have heard that about your dreams, your healing, your ministry, your future, your prosperity before. I bet someone has said to you “You will not get in there”. You need some eagerness that when they say “You will not get in here”, it doesn’t discourage you, it fires you up, it puts you on attack mode. It makes you go “yes, I am getting in there”.
On VE Day last week, it amazed me the hate I saw for Winston Churchill on social media. I mean jaw droppingly stunned by the vitriol on there for someone who saved our nation. There were nations in Europe appeasing Hitler, they had no eagerness for the battle, no force, no backbone. But Churchill said:
We shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone. That is the resolve of his majesty’s government, every man of us. That is the will of Parliament and the will of the nation. The British Empire and the French Republic, linked together in both cause and need, will defend to the death their native soil, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strenght. Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous states have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of the Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail.
We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills, we shall never surrender.
That is biastes, that is force, that is strength, that is enthusiasm. Never give up, never surrender. That is the attitude that so many in our generation, and sadly so many Christians do not have, which leaves the church vulnerable to attack. Pastors – part of your calling is to defend the church God has called you build, elders – your calling is to defend your pastor and defend the church. And Christian, you have to defend the pastor, the elders and the church. And we need to do it in a way that is full of life and force and strength. If you think nothing bad can happen to a church, you are very immature and inexperienced! You are going to be attacked. Your church will be attacked. Satan hates your fruit. Satan will come at your church with nice looking people in nice looking suits. He is wicked, heartless, merciless and he wants to destroy the church. So we need some drive!
You have to put on your armour and fight. Once you build the church you cannot then sleep. Nehemiah knew this, he divided the population into workers and fighters, there will be those who leave a church and try to knock it over before they do to make themselves feel better about their carnal decision to leave, there will be those who pretend to be something they are not to get power they would never otherwise have, there are those you are just disloyal, those who are Absaloms in the house of David, those who are ignorant, those who just love accusing people more than walking with Jesus.
When it is time for battle, gentle, nice, kind behaviour is not enough. Homosexuality is actively invading the church of Jesus Christ, and we love people, and we show kindness to peopel, but we have to come against ideas that are perverse and destructive, and affect the whole church. Grace people have become so complacent in their grace they do not want to go and change the world – they are happy in their grace and some do not even go to church. Those people are utterly ignorant of the battle we are in. The church must be defended against secularism and unspiritual teachings. We must not become a centre of nice talks!
The power of the Holy Spirit is for witnessing. To win people to Jesus. That is what Jesus said in Acts 1 and He is right and anyone who disagrees is wrong. The mission of the church is to win people to Jesus, to show people the truth about Jesus. It is not to be the happiest people, the most excited by petty things people, in the nicest places in the world. We need to go to the outcasts, the dying people, the lost and share Jesus with them. There is something safe about living in the wilderness, but right now God is speaking to you and to me, and like He spoke to Joshua thousands of years ago, He is saying “Get up and cross over, go to the land I have given you”. It is time for us to take new ground, invade new lands, plant new churches, reach new people, disciple new people, change more lives, hurt satan more – but that will take a fight. It is much easier to enjoy where you are than advance the kingdom! But it is a good fight, so put a smile on your face, get eager, get enthusiastic and start advancing. We are going to change cities!
You cannot do that with two hymns and a chorus. You cannot so that with a sing song, you need some faith, you need some boldness. I love worship, I am not criticising worship, but our worship should be an encounter with the glory and goodness of Christ that inspires us to share Him with others.