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As we celebrate ANZAC day this weekend, it is proper to take a pause, a moment’s silence, as it were out of respect for those who have died because of war, not just the wars of the 20th and 21st centuries, but of all the centuries since Christ said to His disciples, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the Earth.” For the men, women and children, who are buried in the Earth from all the wars that have ever been fought since God gave the church the power of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ Name, are all silent witnesses to the loss of that same power by the disciples of Christ when we chose to stop listening to Jesus, but instead began to listen to those who seemed to be someone of importance but really are not… men like James the Younger and Nicolas of Antioch who started the Nicolaitans.

For without the power of the Holy Spirit, not only could we not heal the sick, cause the blind to see, drive out demons, raise the dead, calm the storm, multiply the food and change water to good wine… it also meant we could not blind the armies like Elisha did, change metal to wood, gunpowder to dust and wither the arms of evil kings and men that they might fear God.  Instead, far from just not being able to stop wars, the truth is, the prostitute church started wars of her own with alliances forged with the kings of the world.  And when there were no external enemies to kill, we fell upon each other and killed and tortured those whose revelation, confession and practices differed from ours from the time when the bishop of Alexandria excommunicated the bishop of Antioch because they could not agree on the day to celebrate Christ’s birth… to the infamous inquisition of the Spanish to the massacres of the French believers by papal armies to the wars between the Roman church and those who protested against it… it is a sorry list.

How any person could think that He who commanded us to love our enemies could ever condone the torture and murder of anyone in His Name defies all common sense.  Are not the words clear?  “But I tell you:  Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” And the word for love is agape, not just phileo.

Sin must come.  Evil lives in this world.  There are always those whose greed will want them to kill and murder for that which another has.  The mark of Cain is upon men still to this day – the first man to kill another man because he did not have what the other had when the other did things differently from what he did.  Abel did not have the power of the Holy Spirit to protect him then, for Christ had not yet come, nor a disciple of Christ to protect him, and so Cain had his way with Abel.

That was not meant to be the way after Christ had risen and said to His disciples, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” For by the power of the Holy Spirit through the Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins, the new was to come and the old ways were to change.

The new way that Christ lived before us, even on the night He was arrested when Peter cut off Malchus’ ear to defend Him, Christ healed Malchus’ ear… to the moment He cried out, “It is finished,” so that even the Roman centurion and his soldiers said, “Surely this Man was the Son of God!” The new way where lepers are cleansed, sinners are forgiven, the hungry are fed, the unforgivable are forgiven and the unlovable are loved… possible only because of the power of the Holy Spirit.  You see, elect, Christ did not tell us to go and preach the gospel as men and women without the divine power of the Holy Spirit, but rather, He specifically commanded, “…but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” The power that would not only allow signs to accompany the gospel we preach, but the power that would penetrate the darkness like light does and neutralise those whose intentions are evil, wicked and murderous.  For Christ came to give life and life abundantly, not death.  As such, it is a travesty to Him and His Name if we are responsible for even one dead person.

Luke recorded for us the manner by which those who were enemies of the gospel died.  Ananias and Sapphira both dropped dead when they lied to the Holy Spirit when the power of the Lord was still with us.  And Herod was struck by an angel even as he stood there receiving praise from men and not giving praise to God, for Herod had earlier beheaded James, the brother of John, and also seized Peter.  As the church prayed earnestly for Peter, we read of Peter’s rescue by an angel.  However, was that what Jesus commanded that we should pray for when we have an enemy on our doorsteps?  Did He not also say, “…pray for those who mistreat you,” when He repeated the teaching and command for us to love our enemies?  What could have Luke recorded for us instead if the church prayed earnestly for Herod and not for Peter instead in Acts 12?  You see, if we pray for those who are dear to us, do not even the pagans do that?  So what credit is it to us?

Without the power of the Holy Spirit intimately embedded in every believer and disciple as it was intended to be, we gave way to fear and we feared our enemies.  We feared those who hated us, persecuted us, mistreated us and cursed us… and when that fear was confirmed by the evil that would be perpetrated on us, we replied in the same fashion.  When the martyring of Christians by pagan Rome stopped because Constantine converted Rome to Christianity as an official religion, then Christian Rome repaid the pagans with even greater massacres.  Conversions were made by the point of a spear or the blade of a sword… but few were made by the love of God manifesting in miraculous power as the pagans, our forefathers, had their sick healed, lepers cleansed, food multiplied and their gold treasures respected, even multiplied.

The history of the world since Christ ascended before witnesses from the Mount of Olives would have been very different if only we who call ourselves believers and disciples of Jesus Christ, who go by the nickname of ‘Christians’ as it was first given to the church at Antioch, had remained faithful in listening to Christ and believing in the One He sent – the Holy Spirit – so that we remained trustworthy custodians of His divine power.  The same power that came out of Christ which healed all He touched and all who touched Him.

Then perhaps… just perhaps… memorial days of wars gone by would be attended not only by the widows and orphans of soldiers who died, but also by those same soldiers themselves who were raised from the dead by a disciple of Christ, who were healed of grievous wounds by a disciple of Christ, and who were stopped from killing their fellow men by a disciple of Christ.

Sadly that is and was not the case, and memorials of wars gone by are attended by soldiers who survived and who had to live their remaining days dealing with the trauma of having killed or being killed by their fellow men, and the widows and orphans of those who did not survive… all with one common question – “Why?”  Was God’s arm too short that He could not save and stop those wars?  Was God too powerless that He could not intervene?  Was God so cruel that He allowed such wars?  Of course not… but rather, the truth is, those who were commissioned, called and chosen and entrusted with the power forsook the command to listen to Him, and so failed the world.

The multitude of white crosses in all the war graves commemorate the victory of Christ over sin and death, yes, as the dead await the resurrection when their lips will be purified by God that they may call upon the Name of the Lord and serve Him shoulder to shoulder after this world has been consumed by His jealous anger… but those same white marbled crosses, those headstones, also commemorate our failure to abide in Christ and His word so that the wars that killed the occupants of those shallow graves could have been stopped by one wish from us because of the power of the Holy Spirit.

So yes, the dead of the wars deserve a minute’s silence, a minute’s silence from the disciples of Christ so that in that silence, maybe, just maybe, they will hear the whisper of the Holy Spirit as He brings to their remembrance not of the days of horror, death and hollow victory, but brings to their remembrance these sacred words of God: “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!

So observe the minute’s silence!  For the dead are crying out, “Why?  Why?  Why didn’t you listen to Him?”

Selah.

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