(NOTE: This is the concluding installment at the Rev. Mr. Brink’s stirring analysis of the Biblical doctrine at the inevitable, God-ordained antithesis between the Kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of Satan.)
2. A Dangerous Movement Today!
Those two worlds are today going through a two-fold movement—a movement which is desperately dangerous to the very existence of the Christian church.
That movement is toward a unification of those two worlds, hand-in-hand with a revolt against God.
That two-fold movement need not take us by surprise. That has been the pattern of Satanic strategy from the very beginning. Far back, near the dawn of history, just after the enmity between the “seed of the woman” and the “seed of the serpent” was established by God, we find those two “seeds” becoming evident in a great cleavage in the human family: the children of Seth went in one direction, while the children of Cain went in the opposite direction. Then we read, “And the sons of God took them wives of the daughters of man at all whom they chose.” This passage indicates the two-fold movement: mixed marriage was bringing about one world, but the spirit which brought about the unification was characterized by an unwillingness to take into account God’s will. It was “of all whom they chose.”
This brought about such an abysmal degradation of human life that the only remedy was that of extermination by the flood. But right after the flood at Babel—that man-made mountain of human conceit built on the plain of Shinar—Satan was busy again. The dwellers upon the post-deluvian earth said, “Let us build a tower that will reach toward heaven, and we shall live within sight of that tower.” The obvious attempt was to bring all mankind within reach of that huge tower, built so high that even God couldn’t send another flood that would be mighty enough to destroy them all. They had no faith in God’s promise to Noah that there would be no flood, but they were determined to guarantee their own survival by the age-old method of unified effort, utterly without God.
Unification Against God
And it is interesting to note that while God, from that point on, operated with one chosen nation, Satan paralleled God’s work with a series of world dictatorships, all of which opposed the very existence of that chosen nation. Again and again, Satan tried to swallow up that little chosen nation in one of his great world empires. Before Israel came to national status, the world power was Egypt and Satan tried to lose Israel among the Egyptians but God retained their distinctiveness by making them slaves with whom the Egyptians would not intermarry. When Israel came to prominence as a nation, one after another greater and broader world empires arose beside them and tried repeatedly to swallow them up.
There was Babylon, then MedoPersia, then Macedonia, then Rome. And as soon as God abandoned the nation of Israel in favor of the worldwide church which interpenetrated every nation, Satan’s strategy shifted and Rome fell into decay to be replaced by the decadent Roman church heirarchy. And when democratic principles arise in history and Protestant Christianity becomes more prevalent than Roman Catholic, Satan begins operating through gigantic inter-denominational councils and voluntary international organizations. But the pattern is essentially the same: unification in revolt against God.
This whole course of history was strikingly revealed to the prophet Daniel through the miraculous vision of the great image in the night-visions of King Nebuchadnezzar. One image represented this whole series of world empires, from Babylon to beyond the regime of Rome. But that image was the image of a man. Everyone of those empires arose to glorify man as against glorifying God. But who is man that he should glorify himself? The futility of the whole scheme is so clearly shown in that the image stood upon feet that were made of iron and clay. There was something of the strength of iron, but it was mixed with the weakness of human clay, and that weak foundation is the thing upon which the entire structure rested. And when God cut out of the mountain the stone that represented his kingdom, and it rolled down into the valley of history, it struck that image “at its feet.” Christianity’s first impact is always made by showing the sinful weakness of human nature. And beginning thus, the stone crushed the image to powder, and then grew until it filled the valley. “The kingdoms of this world, become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.”
World Empire in Our Time
In our own day, Satan has tried to revive the old world empire idea. Hitler’s Nazi movement was a revival of old Nordic paganism and Prussian ideals of world conquest, but it fell into terrible defeat. Japanese Shintoism was one of the most ancient pagan philosophies, having existed undisturbed for centuries, but it was unable to stem the Christian forces. Russian Bolshevism has been building up for a whole generation and is gaining ground in many parts of the world. But it gains ground only in so far as Christian consciousness is weak. If Christian ideals grow much weaker in America, we may yet become an easy prey for this new force for world domination and its revolt against God.
Meanwhile the United Nations has come into being. And in a far more subtle and thus dangerous form it is the old satanic strategy in operation. It aims to unify the world by voluntary cooperation. But never once has the U.N. dared to acknowledge God in prayer. Instead, it sends out as its propaganda and educational arm, UNESCO, “United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization,” headed by the most outspoken atheists and agnostics that can be found. And the dread virus it spreads is the idea that education must be the work of united human effort and thus it must be militantly neutral and secular and that militant secularism that “will not have God in their knowledge” is being forced down the throats of all men all over the world.
Unity…but in revolt against God!
3. Today’s Most Important Person
Against that two-fold movement that is desperately dangerous to the very existence of Christianity, stands the most important person in the world today. And now I want to pay you a tremendous compliment. That most important person is vou. No–I don’t mean you collectively, as a congregation, as a group, as a denomination—I mean YOU, second-person-singular! For the Devil can control and has controlled nations, councils, churches, congregations, and group forces of every kind. But there is one citadel against which Satan has absolutely no weapon: it is the saved and utterly consecrated individual human soul.
But if you are to stand against this dangerous set of forces, you must stand ready to give an answer to two questions:
“To which of these two worlds do I belong?”
“Which of these two worlds am serving?”
These are two questions. They are not the same question in two different forms. There are people who by birth and training and profession belong to the world which is Christ’s world, but by their miserable weak-kneed compromising and their unwillingness to live really devoted lives, are serving the world which is the Devil’s world. And you cannot avoid serving one or the other! “He that is not for me is against me!” You can be breaking down the Kingdom of the Lord by simply not “taking sides!”
I am pleading that YOU may give back into the faces of the on-rushing forces of darkness
the force of an aroused christian conscience.
All over the world, the problems between men and nations and classes and groups are being complicated by a wide-spread disease of moral incompetence. National and international leaders do not dare to ask, “What is right?” or “What is God’s wiIl?” But the decisions that shake human history are made on the basis of, “What is the smart thing to do?” or “What is the politically advantageous course?” And so long as we, the terrible meek, allow the leaders of men to go on with their miserable toying with the basic issues of life—taking our dearest values and prostituting them to selfish end—and we say nothing in protest—it is our fault if the world goes down into progressive degradation. God has set us as watchmen and if we do not sound the trumpet of warning the blood of the fallen city will be required of the watchmen’s hands.
But behind that aroused Christian conscience must go a really consistent consecration to God. Our witness is being sapped and our power is being frustrated by our own compromises with worldliness. I do not mean worldliness in the restricted sense in which it has come to be defined among us. That is altogether too simple! There are too many of us who never indulge in those forms of worldliness but who are detrimentally worldly-minded just the same! “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. For if ye love the world the love of the Father is not in you.” That is certainly clear enough. But it is so clear and so inclusive that it makes our neat little definitions and limitations look a little sick. Unless we begin now to live by the only standard with which God will have anything at all to do—the standard of perfection—we might as well stop mouthing prayers to God for his help. He has never offered to help an iniquitous and perverse generation!
I am pleading for:
the courage of a great christian conviction.
We shall need that courage to overcome our deadening sense of inferiority. We are constantly, as Bernard Iddings Bell puts it, “enervated by timidity.” “What can we do?” we lament.
We aren’t being asked to do it. But God has ordained to do it through us. But not without us!
There is a great fund of reserve power in certain doctrines that are distinctive to the Reformed faith such doctrines as divine sovereignty, irresistable grace, predestination, and the Covenant. But when these become combined with the smug complacency that still infects multitudes of our middle-aged folk who grew up in the bland Coolidge era of American history, they are perverted to become a mostly deadly curse! These doctrines were elevated to their throne by our forefathers in days of persecution when Christians were being hounded for huddling together upon a barn floor for worship. In such settings, these doctrines are able to release their tremendous reserves of power. But today, in the midst of the false prosperity and peace that is blinding our eyes, we need something else.
We need to see our duty and then see that God will supplement our impotence with his matchless omnipotence.
Centuries ago God’s people stood before an impossible dilemma. The Red Sea before them, the might of Egypt behind them and trackless des, ert wastes on either hand. Then they cried unto God in rebellious unbelief. And God’s answer came tumbling like burning torches out of highest heaven: “Why criest thou unto me…I will get me honor upon Pharaoh—Say ye to the children of Israel that they GO FORWARD!”
Of course—God must do it and he will. But that is all the more reason for our fearless willingness to advance. And that is the thing I’m pleading for finally:
the fearless advance of Christian faith.
For years we have berated Modernism and the “Social Gospel” for its attempt to build a “brave new world” without considering the necessity of a true Christian faith to found that world upon. But what of ourselves if we build the foundation and then fail to build upon it?
I would close with a parable:
Two men set out to build houses by the river side. Both men knew that the house should have a firm foundation if it were to stand against the floods that occasionally swept down the valley. But one man was impatient and simply proceeded to build. The house looked beautiful, but when the flood of a global war swept down the valley of time and when the sun set red in the western sky, its rays gleamed balefully upon the wreckage of a once fine house, now twisted timbers low in the valley.
The other man went to the everlasting hills and quarried stone and built a strong foundation and then sat down to contemplate his foundation. And when the sun set red in the western sky it gleamed fitfully upon a man complacently sure of his foundation but having built nothing upon it.
When the flood sweeps again down the valley—surely the foundation will stand. But what of the man who built it? Shall he be swept away because he built no home for himself?
“Let us work, then, while it is day. The night cometh when no man can work.”