“Let us not ascribe that which is the effect of [God’s] truth, only to the good-will of men; it is God’s act, ‘not by might, nor by power’ nor by weapons of war, or strength of horses, ‘but by the Spirit of the Lord.’”
— Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God, “A Discourse Upon God’s Knowledge.”
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It’s difficult to understand the current love affair with weapons on the part of so many people, especially those who claim to be disciples of the defenseless Lamb of God. Surely there is only one way to explain this baffling phenomenon: it’s yet another example of the infiltration and corruption of New Testament values by good old-fashioned Americanism.
This is not the way of the Pilgrim. The Pilgrim professes not only to believe in a Savior who clearly eschewed violence, pugilism, and all forms of worldly power, but to follow His example in everyday life and all kinds of practical situations. We are talking here about the example of a Man who “gave His back to the smiters and His cheeks to those who plucked out the beard;” of whom the prophet Isaiah writes that “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.”
It’s not surprising, of course, that some of the denser among His disciples thought He had changed His mind on this point when, in speaking figuratively about the hardships that lay ahead, He said, “Let him who has no sword sell his garment and buy one.” Apparently they were already one step ahead of Him. “Look, Lord!” they cried, stumbling over one another to show off their foresightedness. “Here are two swords!” His reply? “It is enough.”
If Christ had seriously intended that His followers should arm themselves, it’s hard to see how two swords could possibly have been “enough.” Two is certainly not “enough” for today’s worldly-minded weapons enthusiast. If anyone had had the slightest doubt about whether Jesus meant His words to be taken literally, that uncertainty should have been forever dispelled when, about an hour later, one of these armed heroes drew one of the two swords and used it to cut off the right ear of the high priest’s servant. The Master’s response at that critical moment was the same as before: “Enough! Put away your sword, for those who take the sword will perish by the sword!”
He was right. Enough is enough. For those who desire to live the Pilgrim life, it’s time to recognize this fundamental truth and remember that “the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.” It’s time to say with the psalmist, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will trust in the name of the Lord our God.”
Let’s be perfectly clear. This is not a political issue. It has nothing to do with “liberalism” or “conservatism,” “Democrats” or “Republicans.” It’s a spiritual rather than a constitutional problem. At heart, it’s a question of making up our minds where our confidence really lies. It’s a matter of staying faithful to the One who is our only true Defense.
As for Americans and their government … well, they must do what they think best. But where the Pilgrim is concerned, there are no two ways about it: he has no choice except to part ways with those who put their trust in the weapons of this world.