The subject that I want to present to you today could be something that is self-centered—which is not what we want to do—but I believe that it is an important subject. It is a Bible subject, and I’ve wanted to present it to God’s people for a long time. I have never preached about this before in my whole life! The Bible has so many subjects to preach that you can’t cover them all. If you preached every day your whole life you could never cover them all.
The title of my few remarks this morning is “The Soldier’s Motto.” Open your Bible to the Song of Solomon 6:10. It says, “Who is this that looks down like the dawn, Beautiful as the moon, Pure as the sun, and awesome as an army with banners.” Who is that? Does God have an army? Yes, God has an army. His army is organized; it is worldwide, and very soon it is going to triumph.
We are told in Inspiration about that triumph. Ellen White says that we need to study the pouring out of the seventh vial; that is the seventh plague. She says that when that vial, that bowl, that plague is poured out on this earth, “the armies of the living God will take the field.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 19, 160. Isn’t that encouraging?
Now let me tell you something else, just so you won’t get deceived. Up until that time, it is going to look like the devil has won the great controversy. It is going to look like God’s cause has been defeated. But it is not going to happen. And it is because I believe that I have chosen to be a soldier in that army—in the Lord’s army.
Paul was a soldier in this army. He says, in Romans 1:14–16, “I am a debtor.” To whom am I a debtor? Whether you are wise or unwise, whether you are rich or poor, whether you are a Greek or a barbarian or whoever you are, I am a debtor to anybody who doesn’t know the Gospel. And I’m ready to go clear to Babylon or to Rome itself; I’m eager to go to proclaim the Gospel to you, too, because I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul was a soldier; he belonged to the fellowship of the unashamed.
I am not ashamed of that for which I stand. I’m a soldier of the Lord Jesus Christ. I’m not ashamed of it. I’m not timid about it. I have chosen to cast the net on the right side of the ship. That is the side that Jesus is on. I’ve chosen to step over the line onto the side of faith. I’ve chosen to cast the die for a permanent color. I’ve chosen to make my decision for Jesus Christ and to be baptized and to become a member of His army. So, now, I’m a man under authority; I am a disciple. The Lord Jesus, who is my General and Chief, has called me. However, I am also in subjection not only to His Word, but also to His people, who love the Lord and keep His commandments. I receive marching orders and battle orders from the Word of God.
I don’t have any confidence in my flesh or in anything that I can do. My confidence is in Him, and my General and Chief has appointed me certain weapons of warfare of which I use daily. I have a defensive weapon, which all the powers of hell cannot conquer, because the shield of faith will quench every weapon that the devil aims at me. That is what the Scripture tells me, so I know it’s true. I have something to wear. When I make request to headquarters, I receive power that can conquer all the powers of the devil. I also have what we would call today guns, or a sword—the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. The Holy Spirit is my Teacher, and I have learned that whatever state I am in to be content.
In Matthew 3:11, John the Baptist said, “I baptize you with water unto repentance, but there is One coming after me who is stronger than I, of whom I am not worthy to bear His sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” As a soldier, I am to be baptized with fire. My General has tested me. My General is testing me, and my General will test me, by trial, adversity, and fire. This is all part of my life as a soldier. By His grace I will not look back. Jesus said, “He that takes the plow and turns back is not worthy of the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62.
Neither will I let up, because my General has told me to forget the past. I’m to press toward the mark, so I’m not going to let up. I’m not going to slow down, because my General has given me strict instructions that in the days in which I’m living I am to step fast and redeem the time, because the days are evil. I’m not going to back away, because my General has told me to go forward. I’m not going to quit, because my General has told me that I should preach what He has given me from the housetop, so all men will hear.
I was not drafted. I’m a volunteer in the army. I have voluntarily enlisted, and I have enlisted for eternity. By the grace of God, I will never retire; I will never be absent without leave. I will never fail to show up for duty when my General calls. My General, Jesus Christ, is to me the chiefest of ten thousand. He is to me the Rose of Sharon; the One who is all together lovely. He’s the Lover of my soul. He’s my life and my salvation; He’s my Lord and my kin; He’s the bright and morning Star, from Bethlehem. He is my Shepherd, and He is the Almighty, the Prince of Peace in whom I live and move and have my being.
Because He is everything to me, my constant prayer is that the great deceptive adversary will never be able to deceive me into choosing another master. I am confident that my General will answer my plea. I am confident that by His grace I will never get out of His army. I will never be persuaded to sell out like the prodigal son or the rich young ruler or Demus. Because my complete confidence is in His grace and power, I can trust that nobody will ever be able to talk me out or push me out of the Lord’s army.
I’m not proud of my past, but my past is redeemed, and it is forever in the past. That is why I am finished and done with low living, with walking by sight, with smooth knees, with colorless dreams and tame visions and worldly talking and cheap giving and dwarfed goals. My past is redeemed, but my present makes sense. In the present, I am pressing toward the mark; I’m walking by faith; I’m making straight paths for my feet. I have a vision about eternal victory, about a victorious final battle when, during Armageddon, the army of the Living God will take the field.
Since I am one of the soldiers, I will get to participate in that victory, that final and everlasting triumph. I have a vision of a completed plan of redemption, when the warfare will finally be over, but for now my conversation and meditation is in heaven, from whence I receive orders for the battle. I have given my heart, and I am willing to give my life. Everything I have is for the cause of my General.
My goal is to be perfect—a perfect reflection of the character of my Chief Commanding Officer. My goal is to glorify and magnify His name and to finish His work. In II Timothy 2:3, it says, “Suffer hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” No one entering the army entangles himself with the affairs of this life in order that he might please the one that he is enlisted to. So, as a soldier, I’ve accepted this Scripture in my life. These are the orders for my life. Because I have accepted these orders by faith in Jesus my Lord, He can depend on me to be faithful, to be reliable in service. As I pray and trust that He will answer my prayers, He will make me capable by His grace to do everything that He has told me to do. He can trust me to be dependable, because I’m commanded, in I Corinthians 4, that it is required among managers for a man be faithful. If He needs me to teach the Sabbath school class to children or to work with youth or to teach or help with adults or if all I can do is to just sit and listen and learn, He can depend on me, because I’ll be there. I am there; I am present whenever the army of the Lord is called to study or for prayer or for worship or for special convocations or for meetings or for duty in the field. I am present and accounted for. I can be depended on to visit and assist wounded soldiers, and I will never tear up the wounded, but I will always make attempts to bind up and heal those that are wounded and discouraged.
My General can depend on me never to cause division or fragmentation in the army but to always work for perfect unity and harmony, so very soon we can be brought to the victory. My General can depend on me at all times to be loyal to His work and to seek to bring the entire army into subjection and obedience to every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. My General can depend on me to never use the enemy’s tactics or methods, to never execute the will of my Commanding Officer with the devil’s methods. Therefore, I have forsaken all the practices of the enemy such as evil thinking, evil surmising about other soldiers, evil speech, tale bearing, gossip, all the divisive and quarrelsome behavior, all the doubtful, vain, flattering, worldly speech, such as we just read in II Timothy 2.
I am commanded to endure hardness as a good soldier. I do not need to be pampered or petted or primed or picked up or pepped up, because I am a soldier—not a wimp or a baby. No one has to call me or remind me to go to church or write me or visit me or entice me or lure me. I’m a soldier. I’ve already enlisted, and I’m committed. I’m determined, by the grace of God, to always be in my place, honoring and praising my King—having deliberately chosen to be His faithful servant, to be loyal to Him, to live by every word that proceeds out of His mouth and to work to build up His kingdom. No one has to send me flowers or gifts or food or cards. They don’t have to give me any handouts. Nobody has to cuddle me or cradle me or care for me, because I’m a soldier. I am committed, and I’m not ashamed of what I am committed to.
Because I’m committed, by the grace of God I cannot be bought or sold. By the grace of God I cannot be compromised or lured away or turned back or delayed. I’m determined, by the grace of God, to finish my course, having a clear conscience that is faithful to duty.
Romans 6 talks about the past life of the person who is enlisted to be a soldier. It says, in verse 6, “This knowing that our old man was crucified in order that the body of sin might be destroyed that no longer we might be slaves to sin.” It goes on to say how there was a time when we were slaves to sin, but when we enlist in the army of Jesus Christ, we are set free from that bondage. My dear friends, I’m telling you the truth. I know what it is like to be set free from that bondage.
There is nothing in this world as wonderful as having the Lord set you free. He says there used to be a time—you can look in the latter part of this chapter—when you were slaves to sin and you didn’t know anything about righteousness, but now you have been set free from that bondage in which you were held. You have died to self. The old man has been crucified.
Because my past has been redeemed and I have chosen to die to self, to crucify the old sinful nature and to walk after the Spirit, I do not require that others believe that I’m right. I don‘t have to be first. I don’t have to be at the top; I don’t have to be recognized; I don’t have to be guarded or rewarded. I no longer need preeminence. I don’t need prosperity or position. I don’t need promotions or applause or popularity. My face is set.
Isaiah 50:7 says, “The Lord Jehovah will be a help to me; therefore I am not ashamed; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I will not be confounded.” I know that I’ve set my face like a flint! The Lord is going to help me. That is what it says. So, my face is set like a flint, and I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice. I will not hesitate in the presence of the enemy.
Rather, whether in season or out of season, my job is to tell men and women what they must do to inherit the gift of eternal life. My step is fast because my Redeemer has told me to “redeem the time because the days are evil.” I, along with the rest of the army, have the calling—commanded to take the Three Angels’ Messages to every human being on this planet, and I am pressing towards the mark.
Matthew 7:13 and 14 says, “Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and spacious is the way that leads to destruction, and many there are which enter through it. Because narrow is the gate and restricted is the way that leads to life, and few there are who find it.” The way that I am going is narrow and difficult, but that is the way that I have chosen, and I’m happy to be on the narrow road—even though it is difficult and rocky,—because I have left the city of destruction. I have forsaken both Egypt and Babylon, and I’m on the narrow way. The rest of the soldiers, along with myself, who are on this narrow path, are a peculiar, special people.
We don’t dress like the world; we don’t talk like the world; we don’t eat like the world; we don’t drink like the world. We do not go to worldly entertainment, whether at home or in the city. We don’t go to the drama or the movies or the opera or to the races or to the gambling casinos. We do not attend so-called gentlemen’s clubs or read their literature. We do not go to entertainments involving pride, passion, cursing, joking, nudity, or frivolity. I’m a soldier, and I’m pressing up the narrow way with great joy at the privilege of following my Master and enjoying His presence along the way.
My way is rough. It is rough, because my General has told me that through much tribulation I am to enter the Kingdom of God. So, I expect rebuke, chastisement, and discipline, because I’m a soldier. No other person—I say this because by the grace of God, not because of any ability that I have—can hurt my feelings enough to cause me to leave the army. Because of the grace of God, nobody can make me so discouraged as to turn me aside. I cannot have so many troubles or losses that they will cause me to quit, because nothing can make me sad when Jesus makes me glad with His presence.
When He called me into the army, I committed myself to Him forever, for better or worse. “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God, and when Christ shall appear, who is your life, then also you with Him will be manifested in glory.” Colossians 3:3, 4. My future is secure. Peter also describes it in I Peter 1:9. My future is secure, because it does not depend on what happens to the stock market, to real-estate prices, to business or political conditions. My future is not dependent on the outcome of elections or court rulings or wars or revolutions. I have no risk of employment or loss at the end.
It’s exciting friends! There is nothing like it in the entire world. I have no risk of loss or disappointment at the end because the gain of Godliness is sure and certain.
On a negative note, for right now, my companions are few. In Luke 12:32, Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid little flock. It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” So, for right now, my companions are few, but one time, my General faced a situation where He said, “You are all going to leave me alone. But I’m not alone.” My companions are few, but I don’t have to worry about that, because I will have many friends from all lands and all ages, when the battle is over. “We will know, as we are known.” I Corinthians 13:12.
On a positive note, my Guide is reliable. It is written, “Take heed and beware of covetousness and be content with such things as you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’ So that we may boldly say that the Lord is my helper and I won’t be afraid what man does to me.” You will find that in the Old Testament and in Hebrews 13.
I have no fears of reaching my destination, since my General has never lost a case that has been fully committed to Him. My mission is clear. By the grace of God, I will win in the war against sin and evil, because it is written, “He will always cause me to triumph.” I Corinthians 15:57, 58. No matter how I’m beset from within or without, He has promised me that I will overcome by His grace. He has said, “My grace is sufficient for you.” II Corinthians 2:12.
It is written, “ I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:8. It is also written, “My God will supply all of your needs,” so He has promised to supply everything I need. He promised me that in the battle—in my life—by His grace, love will win; it will be the victor over hate. (See Romans 8:38, 39.) We have the promise that love will win over hate, so I will not give up. I will not shut up, because my Master has told me to confess Him. My General has commanded me to confess Him before men. I will not let up, but I will press towards the mark. By His grace, I plan to stay working and watching and praying, storing the Word of God in my mind, praying in the love and spirit of God, and preaching the “good news” as long as probation lasts and I have breath. Because it is written, “I know in whom I have believed.” I am confident that He will hold secure that which I have committed to Him until that day. I’ve committed everything.
By the grace of God, I am determined to finish my mission. I’ve determined to keep the faith, to fight the good fight while it shall last. The devil and his entire host can not defeat me, because my General has told me that if I resist the devil he is going to cause him to flee from me. You can read that in James 4:7. People cannot disillusion me, because my eye is on Jesus, my Leader and my Commander—not on people. The weather cannot disillusion me or discourage me, because I follow my Leader both in the darkness and in the light.
Sickness can’t stop me either, because my Leader can heal all sickness, and He has promised that, when He comes again, all mental and physical problems are going to be gone forever; we’ll never experience them again. The battle cannot be beaten, because my General always wins the battle. Money cannot buy me, because my General owns everything.
The governments of this world cannot silence me, and hell itself cannot get control of me. The devil cannot destroy me, because the One to Whom I’m committed is above all those things. He has promised me that if I die before He comes, He will give my life back to me again, when my Lord returns, provided I stay a good and faithful soldier in the army. When He comes again, He’s going to promote me to a position in His central government. He’s going to bring me back some day to this world to sit on the throne with Him. He told me that already.
I’m a soldier in the army of Jesus Christ, and I am battling against sin and evil every day. I am claiming victory in Christ every day, and by the grace of God, I will not give up. By the grace of God, I will not turn back. I’m a soldier, battling and marching, heaven bound. I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ. I must go on as long as I have breath or until He comes. I will give the fight, by the grace of God, everything I have. I will preach until all have heard and work while I have my being.
As Martin Luther said, “I cannot submit my faith either to the Pope or to the councils.” It is as clear as the day that the conferences have frequently erred and contradicted each other. That was not a misstatement. I spoke advisedly. Unless, therefore, I am convinced by the testimony of the Scripture, I cannot and I will not retract or retrieve, for it is unsafe for a Christian to act or to speak contrary to his conscience. Here I stand. I cannot do anything else. May God help me. My General has appointed me as a recruiter in His army.
If you have been living a life of sin, the Bible says, in I John 3:8, “He who sins is of the devil.” So, if you are living a life of sin, you are in the devil’s army; you belong to him. He is telling the whole universe that you belong to him. “The wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23. I want to tell you something: you can change sides. I’m here to invite you to change sides, if you have been in the devil’s army living a life of sin. You could change sides in the great controversy between Christ and Satan. You could decide today to become a soldier, like I’ve decided to do. You could decide to be a soldier in the army of the Lord. You could share in the final victory that is coming very soon to God’s army.
Now, if you decide to join the army of the Lord, you will have to give up everything Luke 14:33 says: “Except a man give up all that he has and forsake all, he can not be my disciple.” You have to give up everything. I know what that is like; I went through that struggle. I’ll never forget when I went through that struggle. You will have to go through that struggle. I can’t go through that one for you. Let me just encourage you, though, if that is the struggle that you are going through right now, let me tell you something. You will gain much more than what you give up, even though you give up everything. Because He has much more to give you than you have to give up. Let me tell you, it is wonderful!
You will gain what the Bible calls a peace that passes any comprehension of the understanding of man. You will have peace. Jesus said, “My peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you.” Jesus was a soldier too. He was the head of the army, and He fought the battle and conquered the hosts of hell all by Himself, when He was here in this world. He had trouble all the time on the outside, but He had peace all the time on the inside, and He said, I’m going to give that to you, that same peace as I had, you are going to have. Not only will you have the acceptance, not only will you begin to comprehend the love of Christ, not only will you have the joy and peace, which this world can never give you and which they cannot take away, but you will even have pleasures.
Now soldiers aren’t supposed to have pleasures, but you are going to have pleasures. When the battle is over, it says, in Psalms 16:11, “In your presence there is fullness of joy at your right hand; there are pleasures forever more.” You are going to have pleasures. In fact, every need that you have, now or in the future, is going to be completely and abundantly supplied—not necessarily in this world, but if not in this world, in the next world. Every need that you have, every want that is not a sinful want will be abundantly supplied.
When I get to thinking about this, I get excited. Please forgive me, but this is the best deal in the world! There isn’t anything else like it. That is why, friends, that all true wise men—the Bible talks about three wise men that came to see Jesus when He was born, but all truly wise men from the beginning of time—have chosen to be part of this army. If you chose to join, you will have these fellow soldiers as your close, personal friends forever.
I’ve chosen to join.
Do you want to join? If you are still making up your mind, let me quote to you the words of Joshua. Joshua 24:15 says, “If it seems evil to you”—if there is something wrong in your mind about serving the Lord, if there is some disadvantage—“choose who you will serve.” Get out your own pencil and paper. Draw a line down the center of the paper and list all the advantages and disadvantages of both decisions so you can figure it out. Get rational. Put down what all the advantages are and what all the disadvantages are of serving the Lord. Put down what all the advantages are and what all the disadvantages are of serving the devil. Then make up your mind.
You don’t have forever to make up your mind. Joshua said, “Choose you this day who you are going to serve.” If there is something wrong in your sight about serving the Lord, well, make up your mind. There is one frustrating thing about being a soldier in the Lord’s army today, and I will tell you what it is. We are living in the most passive generation I believe that has ever existed since the beginning of the world. People today have a terrible struggle making up their minds.
Don’t let that happen to you. If you don’t make a decision, you have already made a decision! Don’t let your life pass you by. As Ellen white said that many will be lost while hoping and desiring to be saved, because they do not now choose to be Christians. They don’t choose to join the Lord’s army. They want to join. If you talk to them, they would say, “Yes, I want to.” They might even say, “I plan to.” I’ve seen that happen so many times. Don’t let that happen to you. Don’t die while you are hoping and desiring to be saved, but you’ve never made a decision.
The Bible says, choose. I say this reverently, but even God will never choose for you. Choosing is something that you have to do. God gave to you, as a free moral agent, the power of choice. You can choose which side you want to be on. God will honor your choice. If you are the greatest sinner in this world and if you choose to follow the Lord and make that choice known, the Lord will not only hear but He will work on your behalf.
There are a lot of people that just can’t figure out why the Christian life just doesn’t work—but they have never chosen. They have never decided to join the army. They are just lackadaisical; they are spectator Christians, and spectator Christians will never be part of the victory. If you want to be part of the victory, you are going to have to become a soldier. You are going to actually have to get in with the fight. The promise is, if you get in the fight of the Lord’s army, you are going to win. What is holding you back?
I will tell you a story in closing. Many years ago, when I was a young pastor, I was working with a very talented, experienced evangelist. He himself had not become a Christian until he had been an adult. He knew what it was like to come out of the world and to become a soldier in the Lord’s army. He had to forsake everything in his previous life. His father was a new-car dealer. He had been a very successful car salesmen in his father’s company and would have been in a position to become very wealthy as a car dealer.
One day, when I was coming back from overseas, I was sitting in one of those big planes in the Los Angeles Airport. A couple of men right next to me were talking about car dealerships. One of them worked for Toyota, and he started to quote the number of millions of dollars that the different Toyota dealerships were making in the Los Angeles area. He knew it all, because he worked for the company; he worked for all of them. Anybody that has been in that kind of business knows that there is big money in it.
This evangelist had left all of that when he became a soldier in the Lord’s army. He left all of that and became a preacher. I was working with him in a series of evening meetings, and during the daytime, we visited people in their homes. I remember going to one house. We had already covered some of the testing truths of God’s Word for the last generation. We visited in this house, and as we talked to them, I saw that these people had no objection to the truth. I was used to dealing with people who have objections. I know what the common objections are to doctrines and to what the Bible teaches. But these people had no objection to anything. When asked, do you believe the seventh day is the Sabbath? They said, “Yes.” They knew! Talk to them about any doctrine, and they would say, “Yes, we believe it.” I listened to the conversation between this evangelist and these people. We had a very friendly conversation, but I saw and he saw that we could not get them to make a decision.
When we left I was a little confused, so I asked this evangelist what was going on in this place. These people didn’t have any objections; they believed everything, but they wouldn’t make a decision. He had already let me know that we weren’t going back to that house; it was just a waste of time. You have to make decisions like that. It is just like in wartime. When you have a whole bunch of people that have been shot, you look over the situation, and the people that are dead, you just leave and go to take care of the people that are dying. You may even leave them and go to take care of the people that you think you can still save. You have to do that in evangelism. You can’t spend all your time with the people that won’t respond. You have to spend your time where you are going to get some results. The evangelist gave a very simple answer to my question: “The world has a hold on them.”
Oh, friend! How is it in your life? Do you want to be a soldier in the Lord’s army, but you can’t because the world has a hold on you?
In The Desire of Ages, Ellen White says that the devil knows that if a person has chosen to serve himself or herself, he’s got them. Oh, friend, don’t lose your soul by something like that. Don’t let the world rob you of eternal life. There is nothing here in comparison with what I’ve been describing. Choose to go up the narrow road, the rough path, the difficult way to accept Jesus Christ as the Lord and General of your life—to follow Him, to obey Him—forsaking everything in this world. You are going to lose it all anyway, very soon. If you are a soldier in the Lord’s army, you are going to gain more than the whole world put together. Joshua said, “Choose you today who you are going to serve.” Don’t lose eternal life while hoping and desiring to be saved, because you haven’t made a choice.