Onward, Christian Soldiers

spiritualwarfare

“Spiritual Warfare” by Ron Dicianni

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
Forward into battle see His banners go!
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.

At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee;
On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!
Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise;
Brothers lift your voices, loud your anthems raise.
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.

Like a mighty army moves the church of God;
Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.
We are not divided, all one body we,
One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.

What the saints established that I hold for true.
What the saints believed, that I believe too.
Long as earth endureth, men the faith will hold,
Kingdoms, nations, empires, in destruction rolled.
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.

Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane,
But the church of Jesus constant will remain.
Gates of hell can never gainst that church prevail;
We have Christ’s own promise, and that cannot fail.
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.

Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng,
Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song.
Glory, laud and honor unto Christ the King,
This through countless ages men and angels sing.
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.

Words by Abine Baring-Gould, 1865
Music by Arthur s. Sullivan, 1871

 


You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.
2 Timothy 2:1 – 4

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God,so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Ephesians 6:10 – 17

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Ephesians 4:3 – 5

Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Matthew 16:16- 18


 

War is a terrible thing.  There is no question about that, but there are times when it has become necessary.  It is an issue of which we all have different views. Some have been distant from the events, some have been in the middle of them, some have anxiously awaited the return of loved ones and some have never had loved one return.  No, war is a terrible thing, but unfortunately it has been a reality for time immemorial.

But no matter our view of war, we should all have respect for those who have chosen to serve their nation in the military.  Those who have been willing to give everything for the land and people they love.  They are soldiers.  Men and women who have chosen to place the needs of others ahead of themselves. No matter what you think of war, soldiers deserve our respect.

But war is hated.  It is this hatred of war that has led many to dismiss songs that seem to glorify war, especially when those songs are done under the banner of the Christian faith.  This is the case with “Onward Christian Soldiers.” How can those who claim to be followers of a loving God hold up war as a standard?  But that is not the case.  The focus is not on war but on soldiers, people who have sworn to faithfully follow their leader.

Baring-Gould writes, “Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the Cross of Jesus going on before.”  You see the image is not the war, but the faithful soldiers. An imagery that Paul himself reminds Timothy of in 2 Timothy 2:3 – 4 when he writes, “Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.” As followers of Christ we need to avoid other things getting in the way of following Christ.  We need to keep our focus on the cross of Jesus that is before us.

Yes, the imagery of a soldier is clearly established, but the fact is that Paul reminds us that we are, indeed, part of a war.  A war that 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.”  We are in a spiritual war, “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57) It is for this reason that Baring-Gould writes, “At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee; On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!”

Therefore, as a victorious army, we must remember that “We are not divided, all one body we, One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.”  A reminder of Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:3 – 5, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

Yes, we are soldiers in a war, but a war for which the victory is sure.  We faithful follow the lead that Christ, Himself, has set before us.  So we do join the happy throng, and and lift our voices in the triumph song, “Glory, laud and honor unto Christ the King, This through countless ages men and angels sing.”

 

 

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