We Must Do Better Than ‘Hold the Fort’
It was one of our favorite hymns in the church where I came to faith in late-1971. It was a word of encouragement in the midst of fierce attack. It was a promise of the Lord’s return to deliver His battle-weary people. As the chorus proclaimed, “‘Hold the fort, for I am coming,’ Jesus signals still; Wave the answer back to Heaven, ‘By Thy grace we will.’”
Somehow, though, we’ve got to do better than this. “Holding the fort” is a formula for defeat.
It’s the attitude that World War II General George Patton famously resisted, saying, “I don’t want to hear any reports that we are holding our position.” We should be taking ground. (This is one of the few quotable parts of his “salty” speech.)
The Exception: Persecuted Believers are “Holding the Fort” in a Positive Way
To be sure, there are persecuted believers around the world who, in a sense, are “holding the fort.” They refuse to compromise. They will not give ground.
You can threaten them. Imprison them. Torture them. Kill them.
They will not deny their Lord.
They are heroes of the faith, courageous warriors, overcomers and conquerors. They are examples to the rest of us, calling us to stand tall and firm.
And, in a real sense, their bold witness is doing more than “holding the fort.” It is lifting Jesus up before a hostile world. It is proclaiming the Gospel. It is advancing the kingdom.
Should We “Hang On” Till Jesus Comes?
But here in the West, we often have a “hold the fort” mentality in the worst sense of the phrase.
“Everything is crumbling around us! The darkness is getting darker! Hang on, and be strong. Jesus will rescue us soon!”
What kind of mentality is this? And how does it line up with the Lord’s words in Matthew 16, namely, that He would build His church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it? (See Matthew 16:18.)
Or what of the words of the Great Commission, which is anything but a manual for survival?
Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18–20).
Do you hear any defeat in those words? Any sense that we are to “hang on” until He comes?
We are Called to Take Ground, Not Live in a Reactionary Mode
Are we not to be taking ground through the Gospel? Are we not to be shining light in dark places? Liberating captives? Saving the lost? Healing the brokenhearted?
To be sure, we do not “take ground” the way the world takes ground. We do not use earthly weapons. Weapons of hatred or intimidation. Weapons of violence or revenge. Weapons of deception or seduction. Our weapons are spiritual. And, Paul reminds us, they are mighty.
As he wrote, “For though we live in the world [or, flesh], we do not wage war as the world [flesh] does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world [flesh]. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3–5).
All too often we find ourselves in a reactionary mode. We get active only when things get bad. We get energized when the battle is all but lost. We get engaged when it’s virtually too late.
Instead, as long as we have breath, we should be pursuing God’s heart actively, regardless of the climate of the society. We should be asking Him how we can make a positive difference. We should be training our children not merely to survive, but to thrive.
We are World-Changers, Called to Love God Regardless of the Cost
Hear again the words of Paul: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:35–37).
And listen to the language of John: “for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4).
In Jesus, we are overcomers. We are more than conquerors.
Through the Word and the Spirit we are world-changers, driving back the forces of darkness through prayer and the proclamation of the Gospel. And whether the society improves or collapses, either way, we stand strong, advancing the kingdom until He comes.
Even in dying for the Master, we are victorious. As the Book of Revelation describes our victory over Satan, “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death” (Revelation 12:11).
Let us, then, not merely “hold the fort.” Let us advance in faith and purity and goodness and truth and love and Holy Spirit power until the end.
Forward in Jesus’ name!
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Jezebel’s War With America: The Plot to Destroy Our Country and What We Can Do to Turn the Tide. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.