teachings and Devotionals
GOD'S SUPPLY LINES
by Ron Pearce
Perspective is Everything
“Spiritual warfare” is a popular subject in many Christian circles today. Definitions of this topic vary widely, but the common thread running through each of them is that disciples of Christ are in a daily spiritual battle against evil supernatural forces that surround us. What most believers are oblivious to though, is how spiritual warfare also relates to their participation in global missions.
We, as followers of Christ, become so engrossed in our own personal struggles that we sometimes lose perspective on Satan’s ultimate goal and his strategies. We often fail to remember that the moment we accepted Christ as Savior, we declared war on Satan’s kingdom and he declared war on us. Thus, we became soldiers in a global army of believers called the Church of Jesus Christ. And as you will discover in the next few minutes, we are winning this war, just as the Bible has promised, but at an enormous price and with some potential resistance along the way.
A Lesson from History
A good example of this comes out of World War II. As the allied forces advanced on Germany after D-Day, the supply lines from the French coastline to the advancing troops became very long and vulnerable to attack. If it were not for the air supremacy of the Allied Forces, the German Air Force would have enjoyed great success in bogging down the advance on their homeland because the troops would have run out of offensive supplies.
The same potential problem is true today in Christian missions. The advance on Satan’s territory is massive all over the world. For instance, an estimated 20,000 people per day place their faith in Christ in China. Since 1989, Vietnam has seen hundreds of thousands turn to Jesus, renouncing pagan worship and false religions. The evangelical Church in Ethiopia has grown to over 25 million since 1991 with a widespread revival sweeping the land. Cuba now has over 17,000 churches and house churches in full operation, whereas in 1991 there were only an estimated 1,100 throughout this communist nation. And the marvelous story of God’s Kingdom being established on earth continues to be written in dozens of other countries and regions. Despite the gloom-and-doom prophets of our day, Jesus continues to build His Church according to His Word.
"… I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.
Matthew 16:18 NASB
Never since the Early Church in the Book of Acts have we seen such an explosion of church planting, primarily in the countries with a low standard of living and where the physical persecution of His Church is the norm. Indigenous, or national, church planters are on the front lines of this advancement. They are led by spiritually anointed national church leaders who are modern-day apostles or “generals” of God’s armies.
But these generals and armies are greatly dependent upon the Western Church for the needed supplies and resources to keep up the fight: food, clothing, housing, Bibles, evangelistic literature, training and transportation. These resources are vital for the establishment of vibrant and self-supporting church plants. As western believers, living in the more prosperous regions of the world, pour in the resources through the “supply lines”, the national believers are strengthened and equipped, and the Church marches on in victory! However, these supply lines are susceptible to attack as well.
But what about Satan’s “Air Force”? Who is guarding the supply lines from demonic attack in the spiritual realm? For the proper perspective on this, we need to look back at the Garden of Eden.
In The Beginning
When Satan observed Adam and Eve fall out of close relationship with God and enter into a state of rebellion and sin, there must have been great rejoicing in hell. Because it was assumed that God’s eternal plan had failed, Satan and his demons believed their rebellion against God was complete. The euphoria was short lived however. Immediately, God confronted the situation in one clear statement. He declared war on Satan and gave a promise to mankind—a promise that would endure for the rest of human history. In Genesis 3:14 NASB, He said directly to Satan:
Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field; on your belly you will go,
And dust you will eat all the days of your life.
And in the following verse is the promise and the declaration of war, given to Adam, Eve, Satan, all the hosts of heaven and hell, all those who have lived upon the earth, and to those of us living for Christ today:
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed. He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.
Satan was put on notice that God was bringing into the world a man who would ultimately be his downfall. Who would this “seed” of Eve be? What would be his purpose? Remember that Satan and his demonic host are not all-knowing. Therefore, Satan and his forces were now on a “seek and destroy” mission.
At that moment, spiritual warfare was born.
Watching for the Seed
During the centuries that followed, Satan was on the watch for the chosen “seed” of God—that one who would be perfect to bring down Satan’s power and kingdom. As various personalities came on the scene of human history, Satan would be ever watchful. Was it Enoch—the man who walked so closely with God? Was it Abraham—the friend of God? Was it Moses—the great deliverer? He watched human history carefully and gave the greatest sighs of relief as each leader came and went.
As time moved on, Satan came to the understanding, through God’s promise to Abraham, that his nemesis would come through the offspring of this great patriarch of the faith. Therefore, Satan’s attempts to obliterate the nation of Israel and the tribe of Judah were manifold. Time after time Satan brought ungodly nations to make war with God’s chosen people, but time and again God brought deliverance to this people, even when Israel and Judah walked in rebellion and ungodliness. It was not until the time of the prophet Isaiah that Satan and the world received the clearest picture of who this great deliverer and Messiah would be. In Isaiah 7, God gave this Word regarding the coming Christ.
Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14 NASB
Now, Satan knew who to look for. Later, he would understand that the Child would be born in Bethlehem, and the nativity story is well known. After Jesus’ birth, Satan tried to wipe out the Christ Child by killing every young child born in that region. But God protected His Son and brought Him through the perilous times of birth, his youth, and up to the time of His public ministry. All the forces of hell could not stop His coming, His perfect holy life, or His work on earth to establish the beginnings of His people—His bride—His Church.
Satan’s Short-Lived Victory
Then we come to the Cross. At this point, Satan was sure that he had won. The Christ—the chosen seed—was beaten, bloodied, humiliated, and finally dead! For three days the party in hell must have been raucous. Then, in a moment of time that would mark the beginning of the final chapter of Satan’s demise, Jesus rose from the dead, descended into hell, proclaimed His victory, and led “captivity captive.”
Satan was so angry that he had missed the opportunity to kill the chosen seed of Genesis 3, that we are told:
So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.
Revelation 12:17 NASB
Evil’s New Focus
It was then that Satan came to the firm understanding that since he could no longer prevent the coming of the Christ, he must instead prevent the spread of His children around the globe. Genesis 3:3 was God’s declaration of war on Satan, so Matthew 16:18 was His proclamation of ultimate victory: “I will build my church.”
The last statement Christ gave to His followers while He was on earth in bodily form was “a call to arms.”
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Matthew 28:18 – 20 NASB
Satan knew then that the struggle was going to be different than it had been up to that point. It was no longer going to be this “seek and destroy mission” to eliminate the promised Messiah. In the future, it would be a full-out war on Christ’s followers that would entail distraction, disillusionment, resistance, persecution, and hopefully obliteration.
The satanic forces that had been in disarray, now focused on this new target—the Church! There was a renewed optimism in hell. What sadness must have shortly followed this scene, when satanic forces witnessed the establishment and phenomenal growth of the Early Church. Three thousand saved in one day; five thousand on another. Their losses were mounting quickly. And then a new plan emerged from hell itself—persecution! The Apostle John writes this:
For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them.
Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time. And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child.
Revelation 12:12-13 NASB
Persecution Leads to Dispersion and Growth
But as “the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood” (Revelation 12:15), God caused, as promised, “all things to work together for good” (Romans 8:28). This persecution of the saints was a blessing in disguise as the believers were propelled out to the farthest reaches of the Roman Empire, carrying with them a determination to spread the Gospel. The Early Church was firmly established. The invasion had shifted off the beaches and was now moving inland, sometimes with trench warfare and widespread persecution. But the Church could not be uprooted or destroyed.
The Importance of Supply Lines in the War Called “Missions”
I’ve wondered for years why so often those believers who live in the West and are sacrificially giving to equip the national churches of the world are experiencing hardship and persecution. Why are they the targets of so many assaults? Doesn’t God realize how vital these supply lines really are in expanding the Kingdom? I have watched while businessmen have given vast sums of money to print Bibles, only to see their businesses suffer major economic reversals right afterwards. I’ve watched elderly couples give what little they have to feed the poor and the persecuted only to see their children backslide. I’ve watched while young families have gone without in order to put food on the table for national church planters and then see their children hit by uncommon diseases. Why?
Satan absolutely knows how valuable these supply lines are to the Church’s war effort. In any war, those at home who are building the tanks and guns are just as valuable as those on the front lines. Satanic opposition on the mission fields of the world can take on the semblance of physical and mental suffering, martyrdom, sickness, hunger, and a long list of other observable forms. For those of us waging war at home, we can expect the exact same attention and hostility. We are just deluding ourselves with the thoughts that we are removed from the battle for souls in far-off places, and therefore we are totally protected by distance, with peace and tranquility being our lot in life. Many Christians believe that we can help from the safety of our living rooms and offices. But this just isn’t the case. When you give financially (from surplus or sacrificially) to the work of God around the world, then you can expect Satan to come at you as hard as any warrior on the frontlines. Your giving spirit and actions have been noticed in hell. So remember—Satan’s enemy is God, and you are standing in the way of his supposed triumph over Jesus.
A Different Form of Persecution in the West?
There is another subtle way that Satan is pouring a flood out of his mouth in the hopes of washing away the Church (Revelation 12:15). This form of persecution is not physical but rather spiritual and moral. A river of pornography, immorality, adultery, and sexual perversion has swept over the Western societies of the world. This river is not from the Throne of God, but rather from the pit of hell (Revelation 22:1). Coupled with materialism and an insatiable greed for comfort and wealth, this dynamic duo of sex and money have become a virtual global religion.
The most subtle and deadly weapon in hell’s arsenal is to totally distract and mesmerize the saints with the lusts and attractions of this world. The Church’s primary task of winning the lost from a Christ-less eternity has been overshadowed by a determination to live a life filled with pleasure and amusement. Overall, the buzzword in hell regarding Christians is “keep them busy, and let them play with their toys.”
Sadly, this trap of Satan is more the rule now in many gatherings of believers rather than the exception. But I have not given up hope, because regularly in my travels I have the pleasure of running into a remnant of Christians who possess a singular focus of walking with Christ in purity and winning the lost at all cost. They are proud of the Cross of Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and are willing to part with worldly wealth and pleasures in order to fund the great turnings to God that are sweeping the world today. These believers are valuable and cherished members of God’s supply lines.
If you are part of this remnant, I speak these words to you today as words of encouragement. As the Apostle Peter says to us: “…do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing…” 1 Peter 3:12,13 NASB. And I would say to you as well, don’t be amazed that you are being attacked and persecuted for your steadfast walk with God and your generosity. You are making a huge difference in extending the Kingdom of God by your giving. And this has not gone unnoticed in heaven or in hell. That is why you are being targeted for persecution, while at the same time being blessed in your relationship with Jesus.
How Do We Remain Overcomers?
How do we remain overcomers in this battle for godliness and souls? The answer is found in Revelation 12. The believers overcame the accuser of the brethren by:
- The Blood of the Lamb – A consistent and intimate walk with Jesus while trusting Him to protect us from satanic onslaught and supply us with all our needs.
- The Word of our testimony – Searching out every opportunity to share Christ with all people in our path. This will involve aggressive evangelism, discipleship and much fruitful labor.
- Not loving our lives even to death – Re-evaluating what is important in life and making Christ pre-eminent. Time and resource management based on Kingdom priorities and a servant mentality are foundational.
It all boils down to this:
- Millions of people worldwide are turning to Christ each year. It is the largest harvest of souls in the world’s history. Joel’s prophecy of a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit is here and now.
- Satan is convinced that the only way to crush the effectiveness of the national believers leading the charge on the battlefields of missions is to cut off the vital supply lines of tools and resources.
- Jesus is building and will continue to build His Church! The question is: Are you going to be a part of this battle for souls or not? Are you going to be a member of God’s “Supply Lines” or are you just going to sit on the “sidelines” and watch?
All Scriptures from the Updated New American Standard Bible
© Ron Pearce