Spiritual Warfare, by Cecilia Estillore Oliver

Spiritual Warfare

by Cecilia Estillore Oliver

Dr Cecilia Estillore Oliver is a medical doctor who has a Bachelor of Ministry degree from the School of Ministries in Christian Heritage College (also Citipointe Ministry College) in Christian Outreach Centre, Brisbane.

 

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The Great Commission for worldwide evangelization was thrust into the hands of the early church by Jesus Christ prior to his ascension.  A study of the New Testament reveals several keys to fulfilling this mandate.  One of those keys is spiritual warfare and its relationship to the Great Commission and in particular, to revival and evangelism.

Cities are central to God’s redemptive strategy.  The Great Commission begins with a city – Jerusalem – and culminates when another city – the new Jerusalem – becomes God’s dwelling with his people.  In order to fulfill the Great Commission, we must reach every city on earth with the gospel.  In order for the gospel to reach every creature, The Church is called to engage the forces of evil.  The battleground is the heavenly places.  This is where the battle for our cities is won or lost (Silvoso 1994:21, 97

Warfare Principles

As Christians living in this fallen world we are caught in the spiritual war raging between the kingdom of darkness under Satan’s rule and the kingdom of God.  This spiritual battle is described by Paul in 2 Corinthians 10:3-4:

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.

The church, ministering in the power of God’s Spirit, has many answers to human needs and problems, including personal and community health and wholeness, if we take seriously the ministry of Jesus and how he has commissioned us to do what he did (Matthew 28:18-20).  This does not ignore God-given medical ministries and resources, but acknowledges they are only a part of God’s provision for our needs.

Satan is a master strategist in perverting God’s plan and purposes for the nations.  His kingdom consists of a hierarchy of principalities, powers, rulers and wickedness in high places which he has assigned over people, cities, and nations, veiling their eyes with deception and lies from seeing the truth of God (Ephesians 6:12; 2 Cor. 4:3-4).

Unfortunately, Christian ignorance and complacency have given the enemy ground to advance.  The New Testament exhorts believers not to be ignorant of the schemes of the Devil whose main aim is to kill, steal and destroy mankind and all creation.  Therefore, Christians are called to be proactive and militant in waging war in the heavenly places.

The real battle is spiritual and all evangelistic crusades regardless of their high technology will be minimally effective unless the battle is won in the spirit realm.

How then do we go about doing spiritual warfare?  In doing spiritual warfare a few basic principles need to be understood.

First, we need to understand that we must have a personal intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.  We need to be yielded and humbly submitted to his Lordship.

Second, we need to resist the devil and flee from his evil ways.  Holiness and purity of heart are important in maintaining strong armour as we advance into spiritual warfare (James 4:6-7; Ephesians 6:11-12).

Third, we need to know and understand our identity, position and victory in Christ Jesus.  In short, our worship of God should lead us to warfare against evil.

Delegated Authority

These principles must be backed up by our knowledge and understanding of the fact that Christ has won the victory through his death on the cross and his resurrection from the power of death.  According to Colossians 2:15, Jesus defeated and disarmed Satan and his cohorts and made a public spectacle of them.  Through our belief in Him, we are delivered from the kingdom of darkness and translated into the kingdom of light, forgiven and redeemed by the blood of the Lamb (Colossians 1:13-14).

With that same power over sin and death, we are also given the delegated authority and power over the devil and his kingdom just like Jesus modelled in his life and ministry.

With this authority comes responsibility.  According to Peter Wagner, “if we do not pray against our spiritual enemies, they will, indeed, prey upon us.”(1996:121).

Wagner identifies three levels of spiritual warfare, namely: ground level spiritual warfare which is involved in casting out demons from people, occult-level spiritual warfare which centres on warfare against the occult and, strategic-level spiritual warfare which deals with territorial spirits (1992:17-20).

Spiritual warfare is not an end in itself but just as Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8) it is a means towards the end of seeking and saving that which is lost (Luke 19:10).  Just as in any battle, spiritual warfare can lead to casualties.  Although everyone is called to intercede and pray, not everyone is called to do front-line strategic-level spiritual warfare.  Neither is it for the faint hearted and immature.

Warfare, Revival and Evangelism

Prayer and intercession are constant features of revival.  Prayer is the number one weapon of spiritual warfare.  Although not everyone prays for the lost, it has been proven that innovative strategic warfare for the lost has brought revival and societal transformation in many places all over the world.  In fact, revival has never been birthed without prayer and intercession, for God acts on the prayers of the saints.  Spiritual warfare creates the climate over regional areas, paving the way for God’s sovereign movement to come.

What is the relationship of revival and evangelism?  John Dawson says,

Revival is what the church first experiences; evangelism is what she then engages in.   Revival is periodic; evangelism is continuous.  Revival cannot last; evangelism must not stop (cited by Pratney 1994:17).

On the other hand, Roy Fish states that “the requirement for securing revival becomes the requirement for sustaining revival” which is supported by the saying that “what is gained by intercession must be maintained by intercession” (cited by Deiro 1998:27).  In other words, revival can be continuous.

Personally, I believe that revival can become ongoing just like the early church times.  Revival should not really be an exception nor should it be limited to being periodic.  Admittedly, history reveals its periodicity and it is a challenge for the Church to be in continuous revival.  As Vance Havner states, “revival is simply New Testament Christianity, the saints getting back to normal”(cited by Pratney 1994:15).

What is normal?  The New Testament Church says that the disciples turned the world upside down as revival broke out and Christianity spread.  The church was then in continuous revival and outwardly focused.  Today, the 21st century church is being pointed to a new apostolic wineskin of doing church.

Pablo Deiros supports this emerging perspective and states that “authentic spiritual revival cannot be separated from the mission of the Church.”  He considers three things that are instructive for revival movements: the destruction of spiritual strongholds over cities and nations, revival for the common people, and evangelism (1998:53).

In addition, Erickson says that the heart of the ministry is the Gospel.  He goes on to describe the example of the ministry of Jesus and how he was anointed to preach the Gospel.  Moreover, Jesus charged his apostles to continue his ministry and gave them the Great commission (1985:1059-1060; Luke 4: 18; Mark 16:15-18).

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:18-19).  “And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons…and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:1-2).

A study of the above scriptures and Luke 10:1-22 shows the relationship between spiritual warfare and evangelism.  Jesus actually trained his disciples to be aggressive in spiritual warfare and evangelism before he gave them the mandate for worldwide evangelism prior to his ascension.

Today, history records a startling convergence, beginning in the 1990’s, of the Church toward worldwide evangelism.  Currently, the 21st Century church is going on strong in fulfilling its Great Commission.  Unity and the love of Christ in the Body of Christ is becoming more visible and the Devil hates it.  He knows his time is short and he is launching his attacks on the Church from all directions especially on those involved in spiritual warfare and worldwide evangelism.  Nevertheless, the victory belongs to the Church and on this promise she will stand until Jesus Christ returns again.

Life and Ministry Application

We much to learn about the ways of God and the ways of humanity, including spiritual warfare, revivals, and evangelism.  We need to engage in spiritual warfare in the army of God.  My past and present ministries include this.

It’s not always easy but obedience is the key.  We need much discernment, wisdom, holiness, purity, humility, godly character and faith.  It is a lifetime process of learning and maturing but we must persevere until the end.  I cannot do it alone.  I have much more to learn from all those who are experts in the field and from the Lord.

In conclusion, the New Testament gives a lot of examples and scriptural basis for spiritual warfare.  Jesus modelled it and the early church lived it.  The disciples practiced all levels of Spiritual warfare, were mindful of the principles involved, and used it as a powerful weapon in bringing the continuous revival and the explosive spread of the Gospel in the early Church times.

Today, the believers still have the same delegated authority and power over the Devil as won by Christ Jesus on Calvary.  We are still called to engage in spiritual warfare which is a means to bring revival, win the lost, and fulfil the Great Commission.

References

Erickson, Millard.  1985.  Christian Theology.  Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

Pratney, Winkie.  1994.  RevivalIts principles and personalities.  Lafayette: Huntington House Publishers.

Silvoso, Ed.  1994.  That None Should Perish.  Ventura: Regal Books.

Wagner, C. Peter.  1992.  Warfare Prayer.  Ventura: Regal Books.

Wagner, C. Peter.  1996.  Confronting The Powers.  Ventura: Regal Books.

Wagner, Peter & Deiros, Pablo (editors).  1998.  The Rising Revival.  Ventura: Renew.

See also Learning Together in Ministry

©  Renewal Journal #17: Unity (2001, 2012)  renewaljournal.com
Reproduction is allowed with the copyright included in the text.

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   17  Unity,   18  Servant Leadership,   19  Church,   20 Life
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Contents:  Renewal Journal 17:  Unity

Snapshots of Glory, by George Otis Jr.

Lessons from Revivals, by Richard Riss

Spiritual Warfare, by Cecilia Estillore Oliver

Unity not Uniformity, by Geoff Waugh

Reviews: Transformations DVDs; Informed Intercession, by George Otis Jr.

Renewal Journal 17: Unity – PDF

Revival Blogs Links:

See also Revivals Index

See also Revival Blogs

See also Blogs Index 1: Revivals

GENERAL BLOGS INDEX 

BLOGS INDEX 1: REVIVALS (BRIEFER THAN REVIVALS INDEX)

BLOGS INDEX 2: MISSION (INTERNATIONAL STORIES)

BLOGS INDEX 3: MIRACLES (SUPERNATURAL EVENTS)

BLOGS INDEX 4: DEVOTIONAL (INCLUDING TESTIMONIES)

BLOGS INDEX 5: CHURCH (CHRISTIANITY IN ACTION)

BLOGS INDEX 6: CHAPTERS (BLOGS FROM BOOKS)

BLOGS INDEX 7: IMAGES (PHOTOS AND ALBUMS)

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Your Spiritual Gifts: to serve in love

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Your Spiritual Gifts
to serve in love

Your Spiritual Gifts – PDF

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Originally used for studies in an Australian National Christian Youth Convention (NCYC) in Adelaide, 1975. Updated and expanded, 2010. 

Blog: Chapter 1: Your Spiritual Gifts

Spiritual Gifts Questionnaire

CONTENTS

Introduction

Your Spiritual Gifts

They are gifts

They are spiritual

Body Ministry – in One Body

2  The manifold grace of God

Speaking Gifts

Serving Gifts

3  Motivational gifts from God our Father

Prophecy, Serving, Teaching, Encouraging, Leading, Giving, Showing Mercy

4  Ministry gifts from Christ Jesus

Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, Teachers

5  Manifestation gifts from the Holy Spirit

The power to know: word of wisdom, word of knowledge, discerning spirits

The power to act: faith, healings, miracles

The power to speak: prophecy, tongues, interpretation

Order of gifts: Administration

6  Make love your aim

The priority of love

The picture of love

The permanence of love

Unity in Community

Spiritual Gifts Questionnaire

Summary of Gifts Gifts, Check List

Conclusion: Jesus’ Example and Command

EXCERPTS

Introduction Scripture speaks of the Church as a body, a living organism that is to manifest the life of Christ from within.  To accomplish that God has so designed the body with many individual members who are equipped with unique gifts which have specific functions.  A proper understanding and use of spiritual gifts by each member of the body is essential if the body (the church) is to grow to maturity. ‘There is one body and one Spirit … But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gifts. And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the equipment of the saints, for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ.’    (Paul)

Body ministry grows as we use our spiritual gifts. So it is important to know how our spiritual gifts apply to our lives and ministry.  This book can help you learn how to discover and to exercise your spiritual gifts. Spiritual gifts can be studied in many different ways.  This study is a brief summary of the various gifts of the Spirit, not as boxes or categories, but as currents in the wind of the Spirit and currents in the river of God.

The studies cover: The manifold grace of God – speaking and serving gifts (1 Peter 4:10-11). Motivational gifts from God our Father (Romans 12:4-8). Ministry gifts from Christ Jesus (Ephesians 4:11). Manifestations of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:8-10).

Body Ministry – in One Body Each passage on the gifts of the Spirit stresses that we are one body in Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12‑13; Romans 12:4‑5; Ephesians 4:4). The whole context of Paul’s teaching on the gifts of the Spirit is one of unity with diversity; unity in community; one body with many parts functioning in harmony. Paul repeats many themes in the three key passages in 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, and Ephesians 4:

  • One body: The church is the one body of Christ on earth (1 Corinthians 12:12‑27; Romans 12:4‑5; Ephesians 4:4‑6).
  • Gracious gifts: They are given, not earned and not achieved (1 Corinthians 12:1, 4, 6, 8‑11; Romans 12:6; Ephesians 4:7‑8, 11).
  • All Christians have gifts: There are no exceptions; and each gift is important (l Corinthians 12:7; Romans 12:6; Ephesians 4:7).
  • Gifts differ: Value our differences; we need each other (1 Corinthians 12:4‑7; Romans 12:4‑6; Ephesians 4:7 8).
  • Unity: They function in unity and promote unity (1 Corinthians 12:12‑13, 25; Romans 12:4‑5; Ephesians 4:3, 13, 16).
  • Maturity: Spiritual gifts build up the body in maturity (1 Corinthians 12:7; Romans 12:9‑21; Ephesians 4:12‑15).
  • Love: Love is the top priority; gifts must be used in love (1 Corinthians 13; Romans 12:9‑10; Ephesians 4:4, 15‑16).

The book Body Ministry explores this in detail with many current examples. * Jesus’ Example and Command The cover photo and design portray Jesus’ example and command: Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. … So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. (John 13:3-5, 12-17)

* A valuable book for personal study and for use in small groups.

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 Living in the SpiritLiving in the Spirit
 
Fruit & Gifts of the SpiritFruit and Gifts of the Spirit
 
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GENERAL BLOGS INDEX 

BLOGS INDEX 1: REVIVALS (BRIEFER THAN REVIVALS INDEX)

BLOGS INDEX 2: MISSION (INTERNATIONAL STORIES)

BLOGS INDEX 3: MIRACLES (SUPERNATURAL EVENTS)

BLOGS INDEX 4: DEVOTIONAL (INCLUDING TESTIMONIES)

BLOGS INDEX 5: CHURCH (CHRISTIANITY IN ACTION)

BLOGS INDEX 6: CHAPTERS (BLOGS FROM BOOKS)

BLOGS INDEX 7: IMAGES (PHOTOS AND ALBUMS)

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Fruit and Gifts of the Spirit

Fruit and Gifts of the Spirit

Fruit & Gifts of the Spirit – PDF

Personal and group studies, 63 pages. (1992, 2010)

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A study and workbook to explore significant Bible passages on the fruit and gifts of the Holy Spirit. Each topic can be a relational sharing study of that topic or a personal study for reflection and application to life.

Contents:

Part I: Fruit of the Spirit

1. The Spirit of Jesus

2. Fruit of the Spirit

3. Fruit of the vine

4. Fruit and growth

5. Fruit and gifts

6. The way of love

Part II: Gifts of the Spirit

1. God gives – we receive

2. Gifts to serve in power

3. Gifts to motivate us

4. Gifts to minister in unity

5. Gifts to manifest the Spirit

6. Gifts to use in love

Appendix: Spiritual Gifts Questionnaire

See also
 Living in the SpiritLiving in the Spirit

a-your-spiritual-gifts2Your Spiritual Gifts

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