“The pen is mightier than the sword” is an early 19th Century adage first coined by English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton for a play about Cardinal Richelieu. Variations on the theme have been used by politicians and script writers ever since.

Apostle Paul, whom I believe to be the author of the book of Hebrews in the New Testament, wrote: “for the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”. (Hebrews 4:12). Apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Ephesus also wrote: “And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).

The sword has traditionally been associated with might and power. With its invention it became the weapon of choice for warriors everywhere: Roman gladiators, Japanese Samurai warriors, French Musketeers and English Knights of the Roundtable. The Giant Goliath in the Bible was said to be unbeatable because of his great size and height, added to the fact that he had been trained to use the sword from his youth. He nevertheless was defeated by the Shepherd boy, David, for the Lord was with him.

In modern times the sword is no longer the weapon of choice; the gun is now the preferred choice.

In the New Testament, before the crucifixion, there is a scene in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus goes to pray, accompanied by three of his disciples, and before he is arrested. After prayer soldiers invade the tranquillity of the garden with their swords and course behaviour. Judas, also a disciple but now a traitor, for by now he had sold out his leader for thirty pieces of silver, went up to Jesus and in an embrace of mock affection “kissed Jesus”. This was the sign he had conspired with the soldiers to identify Jesus by. Upon the identification the soldiers moved forward and arrested the Saviour who had done no evil but good: healing the sick, restoring life to the dead, befriending the outcast and rejected of men. As Peter looks on he is full of rage and he seizes a sword and strikes at the High Priest’s servant and in the process cuts off an ear. Calmly and authoritatively, Jesus rebukes Peter with these words: “put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword”. (Matthew 26: 52).

Here begins the test of true faith in Jesus Christ. No more violence, no matter the cause. Jesus had won the battle over his own feelings of injustice and the burden of the sins of mankind, in prayer. His battle was not with flesh and blood but the spirits that lay behind the opposition. This message over time would transform a world characterised by bloodshed in arenas for entertainment and on the battlefield in wars. For through the message change came to large swathes of the world. The message was met with cruelty and many became unwilling martyrs. Unwilling not because they were afraid to die for their faith but they did not become Christians to die; life for them was what they lived for. They were however, prepared to die to live that life as Christians.

Friend, Christianity is about life now and in the world to come. That is why abortion is wrong, why euthanasia is wrong. It is for this reason also that murder is wrong. Jesus willingly died so that we might live. The sword Jesus wielded was his words. Go! Said he into the entire world and preach the Gospel (Good News) and I will be with you.

The early church went, starting at Jerusalem, then throughout Judea; then into Samaria and into the then known world. Their instrument or weapons of conversion was not the sword that draws blood or takes life but rather the sword of the Spirit that brings healing and gives life, namely the WORD of God.

They preached and taught the word in large as well as small groups; in buildings and on the street. They wrote letters on doctrine, on personal conduct and one on the early life of the church and over time the New Testament. All this was done at a time of very limited means with very difficult mode of transportation and rough terrains. Christianity, well certainly not biblical Christianity, would not have survived if it were not for the fact that they taught as well as wrote. God would not however, leave himself without a witness.

With the invention of the modern printing press the word of God in its original form and through commentaries and other forms of literature has spread to the four corners of the earth. Today, with new and more efficient forms of communication the church is in an excellent position to propagate the gospel. Let us do so and do so now!

There are perhaps more bibles in the world than people, the issue is not more bibles but it’s about: preaching and teaching; in short the communication of its content. Having a collection of bibles on the shelf or on computer software or mobile telephone is not the answer for what’s the point the book has no intrinsic value it’s the content that matters. As a preacher I have had occasion to throw away an old torn bible for it had been used to the point of destruction. I simply went and bought another bible to use. People have been killed for ‘desecrating’ a holy book by accident or on purpose in the name of religion or a god. My next blog is titled Holy Writ in which I build on the above point.

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6: 10 – 20).

Finally, if you or anyone you know is in need of help: prayer, someone to talk to or write to, then do get in touch by email, telephone or by ordinary letter. My email address at the church is: pastor@rrfluton.org.uk; or 90, Dunstable Road, Luton, Bedfordshire, LU1 1EH, UK; Tel: 01582 391503.

God save the UK. Our platform is the world and our congregation the people.

The Lord’s servant

Apostle Lloyd Denny

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