This Means War!

Dr. Ralph Winter wrote an article entitled “In Pursuit of the Full Gospel” on October 26, 2004.  He starts off by asking what is inadequate about the statement, “The over-arching vision within the Frontier Mission Fellowship (FMF) group of projects is to see all unreached peoples reached with the gospel and the kingdom to come among them.  In evangelical terms we can know when a group is reached when there is an indigenous church planting movement among them.”  Winter says that this well describes the perspective when the FMF was founded, but now things are both simpler and more complex.  While the priority is still to reach people groups with no access to Christ, merely witnessing a church planting movement among them has never been all God desires accomplish.  The Kingdom coming among them is helpful but woefully unspecific.  In his current thinking, Winter speaks of four levels of strategy and purpose.

Level 1—Seeing people “saved”

Level 2—Winning them to the Lordship of Christ as members of His family

Level 3—Glorifying God

Level 4—“Distinguishing evil from God and fighting ‘the works of the Devil’ as a means of glorifying God, that is, understanding the lordship of Christ as involving us in an all-out war against evil, disease, corruption, a war in which we can expect suffering, hardship and death.”

Winter writes that his point of view has changed regarding the shift away from a focus on man vs. God, a polarization that enabled religion to be commercialized during the Reformation and before and after.  Religious functionaries in many societies would sell a service that for the fee allows an improved relationship with God or the gods.  Yet the New Testament presents two sides, the god of this world and God with man working together to destroy the works of the Devil to reclaim the full glory of God.  The “salvation of man” emphasizes a balanced view of the serious division between Satan and God, a dichotomy in which man was created to be on God’s side.

Winter goes on to admit that Satan has corrupted man and acquired his help in opposing God such that man could be on either side of the battle.  Much of the conflict between man and man is explained by an absence of a clear understanding of the greater war between Satan and man and Satan and God.  Winter believes the nations of man would be immediately and dramatically unified if the great enemy Satan is suddenly exposed.  He states, “If humans could wake up to the fact that their far greater enemy is rampant in the form of disease germs they might well rally around that common enemy rather than fight each other.”  In war times the fighting is not for status, position, and fame but due to the far greater looming common enemy.  Logically, Satan strategically influences humans by leading them blindly to downplay and ridicule or at least misconstrue his very existence, meaning the existence of an intermediate being with awesome power who wickedly opposes God and man.  If human beings concentrate fully on their own waywardness toward God, this tactic easily monopolizes their consciousness and minimizes their awareness of the larger battle.  Most theologizing concerns “getting man right with God” but Winter is confident it should be restoring full glory to God by differentiating His works from Satan’s.  Otherwise, Satan’s final achievement is the human delusion that evil is from God due to His “mysterious purposes.”

War Scene

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