Building and Battling!
The very first time I heard Dr. Curtis Hutson preach was at a conference here in the Sword of the Lord auditorium. He was only thirty-six years old at the time, but he preached his now well-known sermon “Building and Battling.” The twin concepts of building and battling are birthed in two scriptural settings.
“They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon. For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me.” —Neh. 4:17, 18.
“For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him. Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” — Luke 14:28–33.
As the early church “went every where preaching the word” (Acts 8:4), they soon discovered that whatever “building” they did in the Lord’s work, they would also be “battling” against the enemies of God. Here in the late part of the year 2020 and with 2021 looming on the near horizon, it will be well for us to project our convictions boldly even as we assess our circumstances.
Here are some considerations as we contemplate the need to “build and battle.”
1. Some people build, but they are not willing to battle.
In this group are the folks who will preach the Gospel, but they will not stand for other Bible truths. Others of them will tell you that “I am just not a fighter.”
Some men, great preachers and great pastors, have been great “builders”; but they did little to no “battling.” As a result, those that they should have “battled” eventually overran them and destroyed everything that they had built. The fact is you can’t take a neutral position toward the adversary without paying a terrible price.
2. Some others will “battle,” but they are not “building.”
These folks are either in a fight, looking for a fight or determined to create a fight. They are not winning souls, discipling converts and building a church. They do find fault a lot and broadcast their findings incessantly. Their “battling” ultimately fizzles because they did no “building” along the way.
3. Some professing Christians will neither “build” nor “battle.”
Somehow they figure whatever is to be will be and they feel there is nothing they can do about either one. They may attest that they want to evangelize the world, but they will not take a strong stand. ‘Contending’ (Jude 3) is a part of the Bible they skip over.
4. But, thankfully, there are some folks who“build and battle” every step of the way.
They may have opposition, but they do not let it stymie their efforts.
They may be criticized harshly, but they do not ingest it deeply.
They may be discouraged, but they do not change course.
When you serve the Lord, shining His light into the sanctuaries of darkness, you can expect that the creatures in the shadows will react. They will oppose you and criticize you. They will do all they can to discourage you.
In 2020 you hear a lot about “returning to normal.” Well, all of this opposition is normal.
In the midst of the pressures and stresses of this normality, you and I need to continue to “build” (as we should) and “battle” (as we must). Every day, every step of the way, we must not take “our eyes off the ball.”
“Building” in the Lord’s work is the business of the Lord’s Great Commission (Matt. 28:19, 20). It is winning folks to Christ. It is baptizing them and discipling them. It is a local church doing the Lord’s business (Eph. 3:21) in a faithful, fruitful manner.
“Battling” in the Lord’s work can be both offensive and defensive. Sometimes we go on offense to combat evil things. At other times, we “battle” by maintaining vigilance, saying no, and keeping the adversary at bay. The ancient cities like Jerusalem built walls to keep the enemy out. If the enemy did attack, that wall provided a great defense against the aggressors.
So Let’s Keep Building!
The Lord’s New Testament plan is not complicated. The folks who are saved are supposed to band together in churches, tell others about the Savior and bring them into the church.
So we preach! We teach! We knock on doors! We work bus routes! We send out missionaries! We plant new churches! We start Christian schools and Christian colleges! We take a stand! We cry aloud and spare not! We “rescue the perishing” in our town.
And We Keep Battling!
We take a stand openly and vocally against anything and everything that has the fingerprints of Satan on it. We “battle” abortion, alcohol, drugs, pornography, etc., for the sake of our nation and its people.
If something has even the “appearance of evil” (I Thess. 5:22), we oppose it and urge our folks to do likewise.
What Nehemiah did to “build and battle” was absolutely necessary.
What Jesus advocated about “building and battling” is altogether important and absolutely essential today.
It is true that some people will hate you for it, but being a Christian has never been a popularity contest.
In the waning days of 2020 and with the dawning of 2021 a few short weeks ahead, the need is great for “builders and battlers” who will continue to “build and battle” without flinching, without fear and without fail.
—Dr. Shelton Smith