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Should a Christian Fight?
Good News Magazine
October 1960
Volume: Vol IX, No. 10
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Should a Christian Fight?
Leroy Neff   
Church of God

Born: November 20, 1923
Died: January 28, 2014
Member Since: 1951
Ambassador College: 1959
Ordained: June 7, 1958
Office: ACE - Evangelist

Wars and rumors of wars are increasing. They are affecting you and your family more and more. Should you, as a member of this Church, bear arms? Should you come under the military authority in a non-combatant capacity? Here is God's teaching for members of this Church.

   WAR IS BIG BUSINESS today. Every home is affected by it one way or another. It has become a very serious problem to many of you in God's Church. For that reason, it is necessary for you to read this important article.
   Men in God's Church have been sentenced to prison terms because of their sincere convictions about war. You, too, may not be exempt.
   Such sentences can usually be avoided by our young men, if they have CORRECT KNOWLEDGE; if they ACT QUICKLY enough; and if they ACT DECISIVELY with that knowledge. You need to know the answer to this vital question NOW so that you and those of your family may act correctly, and in a true, Christian manner.
   But first, before this important question is answered, you need to know what the Bible and history say about war!

The Cause of War

   History is a CHRONICLE OF WARS. It has been said that every nation is either preparing for war, in war, or recovering from a war. Man has not yet learned that wars HAVE NEVER SOLVED HIS QUARRELS OR PROBLEMS! Wars only bring misery, pain, death and destruction. They cause, and are caused by, hate and evil, wrath and envyings. THESE ARE WORKS OF THE FLESH! (Gal. 5:17-21.) Exactly OPPOSITE is the life of a Christian who has God's Holy Spirit!
   In spite of all the wars of mankind, NONE HAVE BROUGHT PEACE. If any war did bring peace, then THERE WOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN ANOTHER WAR. No war between the nations of this world will ever bring peace! They are utterly wasteful and useless.
   What is the real CAUSE of war? Politicians and students of international relations have a multitude of ideas, but most are wrong. God knows, and His Word gives the root cause PLAINLY AND CLEARLY. "From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your own LUSTS that war in your members? Ye lust and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet YE HAVE NOT, because ye ask not" (James 4:1-2).
   Here is the reason why all mankind continually suffers the terrible scourge of war. Man is not satisfied with what he has. He craves for more! He lusts after what his neighbor has, nor content with what he has produced and with what God has given him. This violates God's command "Thou shalt not covet."
   We are not to take part in the LUSTS of wicked rulers and the WARS they cause, even though the nation in which we live as pilgrims and ambassadors is the one attacked and on the defensive. "Dearly Beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, ABSTAIN from FLESHLY LUSTS, which WAR against the soul" (I Pet. 2:11). Lust is an exact opposite of Christian love, which we must have.
   Christians are not OF THIS WORLD. They are sojourners. They are ambassadors of Christ.
   If we as Christians participate in the wars of THIS WORLD, we are participating in the politics of this WORLDLY SYSTEM! We are commanded TO COME OUT OF this system, Babylon the Great (Rev. 18:4). We are directly rebelling against God's GOVERNMENT when we take part in war or in politics. We are forbidden to become a PART OF THE WORLD, to engage in ITS conflicts, ITS goals CONTRARY to God's realm (James 4:4, I John 2:15).

God's Church Is Different!

   Most of the religions and churches of this world not only approve and condone war, but some have CAUSED wars by their lusts. The so-called "Holy Wars" of mankind have been among the most bloody, and yet they DID NOT BRING PEACE. They only brought physical and spiritual enslavement.
   To further their own desires and ideas regarding war, many so-called "New Testament Churches" go to the Old Testament to EXCUSE their beliefs or activities in war. In other Bible questions, they DISCARD the Old Testament entirely. When it suits their own purpose, they wrest and twist the Old Testament scriptures to justify their own wicked actions.
   They have gone to such extremes that one modern clergyman has stated, "I believe the only people that should go out and do the fighting are Christians."
   This belief is not based on the Holy Word of God! God has not taught His Church to participate in the wars and politics of man. GOD'S CHURCH IS DIFFERENT. God's Church is composed of the "called out ones." We are not a part of this world, but of the Kingdom of God the World Tomorrow.
   We must not use human reason to decide on this vital matter. We must go to the Word and Law of Almighty God. We must examine both the Old and the New Testaments of the Bible on this question, and not use our own human reasoning or our own carnal lusts. We are to live by every word of God.

Ambassadors for Christ

   Paul stated in II Corinthians 5:20 that we are ambassadors for Christ. We are God's representatives here on the earth. As ambassadors of a HEAVENLY kingdom, we cannot enter the politics or the wars of earthly kingdoms. Ambassadors dwelling in foreign countries are not permitted to enter the armies or politics of that country. In the same way, a Christian, as an ambassador of the Kingdom of Heaven, or the World Tomorrow, cannot take part in such activities!
   As ambassadors and representatives of God, OUR SPIRITUAL CITIZENSHIP is in heaven. We await a heavenly kingdom. The inheritance of this kingdom will be brought by Christ when He comes. "For our CITIZENSHIP (Greek) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Phil. 3:20).
   A private citizen of the United States cannot take part in the wars between other nations or his citizenship will be revoked. Before an alien can become a naturalized citizen of the United States, he is required to sign a statement that he will never fight against this country, nor will he ever enter the Armed Forces of another government. If he violates this agreement, he automatically LOSES HIS CITIZENSHIP!
   A private citizen of the United States travels to another country by permission of the State Department, and carries with him a passport. He is strictly forbidden to take part in warring activities of other governments. In the same way, the Christian is forbidden by his Government, the Kingdom of God, to participate in the wars of the nations of this world.
   A soldier of an earthly nation who enlists and fights for another country would be shot for treason by his own country. He would be violating HIS ALLEGIANCE TO HIS OWN NATION. As Christians, we are SOLDIERS for a HEAVENLY KINGDOM (II Tim. 2:3-4) and therefore cannot under any circumstances fight for a worldly kingdom!
   You may be asked: "But ought not you to help DEFEND this country when it is attacked when it is the lust of an aggressor nation which caused it?" The answer is that a true Christian cannot. If a United States citizen, or a British subject, is residing temporarily in Russia, and China should attack Russia, he could lose his citizenship if he joined the Russian army. The Christian will lose his citizenship in God's Kingdom if he enters the armed forces of any nation of this world.
   We need to decide here and now WHERE WE WANT OUR CITIZENSHIP! Do we want to inherit an incorruptible kingdom which will not fade away (I Pet. 1:4)? Or, do we want to inherit one of the kingdoms of THIS WORLD which will very soon pass away. If we want to be a citizen of this world, then we had better FIGHT for this world and ITS NATIONS. But if we do, we become traitors to the Kingdom of God. We lose our heavenly citizenship and inheritance in God's Kingdom. If we want to continue as citizens of the Kingdom of God, we should fight the "good FIGHT OF FAITH."

Obey God

   God is Supreme Ruler above all government in heaven and on earth, and it is only by His permission that any government or rule of man is permitted. Since He is above all, we must obey Him whenever there is a conflict between the laws of man and the laws of God. Peter said: "WE OUGHT TO OBEY GOD RATHER THAN MAN" (Acts 5:29). We must be obedient to God first and always.
   The Christian is instructed to be SUBJECT TO the powers that be, and to be ready for every GOOD WORK (Titus 3:1). He should be gentle, meek; not fighting or brawling (verse 2). We must be subject to or submit to worldly authority, yet we can obey only in those things NOT IN CONFLICT with the laws of God. We must be willing to submit to punishment when we cannot obey man's God-defying laws, and we must take it patiently.
   As representatives and citizens of Christ's Kingdom, and as ambassadors to a foreign country, we should abide by the regulations and rules of the country where we are guests. And yet, we cannot take part in such a government or its wars. As ambassadors of Christ we are to be subject to the civil rulers over us, and to obey them except when they command us to disobey God. The civil rulers even though they sometimes are unjust are permitted by God. If we resist their authority and do not submit to their penalty, we resist God. We are commanded to give respect to whom respect is due, AND PAY TAXES TO WHOM TAXES ARE DUE. The 13th chapter of Romans explains these points in more detail.
   Since we are NOW ambassadors for the Kingdom of God, we relinquish the right to vote or to take part in the politics or the government of this world. If you have further questions on this subject, write immediately for the article, "How Would Jesus Vote for President?"

The TRUE Christian Warfare

   Christians are not to participate in the wars of this world, and yet a Christian must fight.
   But what kind of a warfare is this? The Apostle Paul explains this, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not WAR after the flesh" (II Cor. 10:3). In other words we DO NOT MAKE WAR like the nations and people of this world. "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal (physical) but mighty through God... casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and BRINGING INTO CAPTIVITY EVERY THOUGHT TO THE OBEDIENCE OF CHRIST" (verses 4 and 5). In the Christian warfare, even every wrong thought must be brought into captivity and subjection. We MUST control our thoughts in obedience to Christ. We must RULE our thoughts, not let our thoughts or our desires and carnal nature rule us.
   A Christian is a soldier of Jesus Christ but He does not become entangled with the affairs of this life. "Thou therefore endure hardness, as a GOOD SOLDIER of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the AFFAIRS OF THIS LIFE; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier" (II Tim. 2:3-4). A Christian cannot be a good soldier of Jesus Christ and still be a soldier in the wars of this world.
   This spiritual warfare is explained in detail by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:11-18. We must put on the whole armor of God. That armor is not physical, consisting of the military weapons of man, but consists of spiritual weapons. Instead of guns, bullets, bombs and machines, the Christian's weapons are truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, the Spirit and Word of God, and in addition, praying always.
   The warfare of a Christian is not against the people or this world (flesh and blood, verse 12), but it is against the wicked spirits who influence nations and people in positions of power.
   Our war is also against the "self," bringing it under subjection, in obedience to God's ways. We cannot continue in lawlessness and disobedience to God (Rom. 7:23).
   Even the Apostle Paul was in this fight to bring his body, that is his carnal physical desires, under subjection. He did not want to become a castaway, after having preached righteousness to others (I Cor. 9:26-27).
   A Christian cannot participate in this spiritual warfare, as a citizen of a heavenly kingdom and at the same time participate in a physical war with one of the nations of this earth. He cannot serve two masters, because he will love one and hate the other (Matt. 6:24).

Taught to Hate

   A Christian must have real SPIRITUAL LOVE. This is an exact opposite of what is needed for a good soldier of this world. As a matter of fact, military men know that HATRED is necessary to make a good soldier. How can a man kill, cause violence, and fight under such extreme conditions as in warfare, unless he hates those he is fighting against?
   Especially during the time of war, soldiers on both sides are taught to hate each other. There is always a great deal of propaganda given to the people, and especially to the servicemen in each country, which is calculated to produce hate. Officials of the military services educate their men toward this goal. This is exactly contrary to the teaching of Jesus Christ, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Mark 12:31). It is impossible to love your neighbor, whether national or international, and at the same time hate or kill them.
   The Apostle Peter stated: "Finally, be ye all of one mind, having COMPASSION one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: not rendering EVIL FOR EVIL or RAILING FOR RAILING: but contrariwise blessing; knowing you are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing" (I Pet. 3:8-9). A person participating in warfare is not following these commands that God inspired through the Apostle Peter.
   Christ said: "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, LOVE YOUR ENEMIES, bless them that curse you, and do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you" (Matt. 5:43-44).
   From such scriptures as this and Matthew 10, it is apparent that some true Christians will not escape the violence and persecution of unrighteous men. We should take these trials patiently. We must realize that a Christian may be subjected to violence, but should not cause it. If a Christian is attacked violently, what should he do? He cannot strike back, nor harm the other person, but he can sometimes use restraining force to keep the other person from causing injury or harm. He can also try to escape the violence. Christ was able on one occasion to slip through the crowd and escape His attackers and those who wanted to kill him.
   A Christian should look forward to the JOY that is set before him in God's soon-coming Kingdom. Violence or severe trials then seem so insignificant by comparison, that they can be endured.

Vengeance Belongs to God

   The Bible states that sin is the transgression of God's law (I John 3:4) and a Christian should not sin. One point of God's law states "Thou shalt not kill" (James 2:8-11). The correct meaning of this word "kill" is MURDER. In other words, the Christian is to do no murder. That includes murder in war!
   Instead of harming others, it is better for us to be defrauded or harmed. (I Cor. 6:1-7).
   Before learning that God condemns our committing violence, the Apostle Peter resorted to physical violence trying to protect Jesus! He cut off the ear of the High Priest's servant. Afterward we read: "Then said Jesus unto him, Put up thy sword into his place: for ALL THEY THAT TAKE THE SWORD SHALL PERISH WITH THE SWORD" (Matt. 26:52). There should be no doubt from this text. Unless you want to perish by the sword (including war) do not take up the sword!
   Christians are forbidden to take vengeance on others. God is our Avenger. He will avenge His own elect (Luke 18:7). That prohibits our participation in the vengeful wars of man. "Dearly beloved, AVENGE not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good" (Rom. 12:19-21). It is not for us to take things in our own hands. God will take care of our problems for us. He WILL fight our battles for us. We should show kindness and good to those who hate us.

Why Did Peter Take a Sword?

   Some ask, "Why did Christ instruct His disciples to buy swords if He did not believe in warfare?"
   Just before His crucifixion, Christ instructed His disciples to take swords with them (Luke 22:36-38).
   What was the reason Jesus Christ instructed His disciples to take a sword? Was He going to use force to protect Himself? Does this particular scripture contradict all of the other scriptures that we have already seen, which show that God forbids us to fight?
   Christ answers the question for us in Luke 22:37. "For, I tell you, that which was written must be completed in me: 'That he was also ranked among the outlaws;' for indeed, what has been written about me will have fulfillment" (Fenton translation).
   The ONLY reason Christ instructed His disciples to take swords was that this SCRIPTURE might be fulfilled that the Jews might have the excuse to reckon Jesus as an outlaw. Christ was not here sanctioning the use of such weapons to injure others. In fact, when Peter did use the sword, Christ immediately rebuked him for it and healed the man who had been injured (verse 51).
   Christ did not want those swords to take life, "For the Son of man is not come to DESTROY men's lives, but to SAVE them" (Luke 9:56).
   Another question that is frequently asked is this: "Didn't Christ whip the money-changers out of the temple?"
   NOWHERE IN THE SCRIPTURES DOES IT SAY THAT JESUS WHIPPED ANYONE! When He drove the money-changers out of the temple He did not so much as lay hands on anyone, or do any physical violence in any manner whatsoever. The common idea that He lashed and whipped them is COMPLETELY FALSE.
   Read the account in your own Bible (Matt. 21:12-13). The scripture states that He "CAST OUT all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers." It does not say He whipped or beat them! It does not say HOW He put them out. He simply overturned their tables, not laying a hand on them, and then COMMANDED them to leave, and they left because of the authority with which He spoke. In the language of the Bible, that is CASTING them out. He cast them out by an authoritative command of His voice.
   This same event is also recorded in Mark 11:15-17. In this place the Fenton translation makes more clear HOW He cast them out. It says, "Then Jesus SENT OUT of the temple all the buyers and sellers." And in Mark 11:15, "Jesus... began to EXPEL the buyers and sellers."
   When a child is expelled from school we do not assume he was beaten, whipped, and physically driven out of the building. Jesus explained the temple was God's house, a house of prayer. The Bible teaches that the elders are to rule the house of God, so far as order, reverence, etc., are concerned. What He did was scriptural in putting out those who were profaning the temple.
   IT WAS TO DRIVE THE SHEEP AND THE OXEN out of the temple (John 2:15) that Jesus made a scourge of small cords.

Warfare in the Old Testament

   Many today cannot understand why men in Old Testament times, such as David, did fight in war. Nor can they understand why ancient Israel fought. Have you wondered about this?
   Surprising as it may be, THE ANSWER is found in the New Testament. Jesus said, "If my KINGDOM were of this world, then would my servants fight" (John 18:36). For many centuries God did establish a KINGDOM on this earth, a kingdom which was entirely physical. That kingdom, the Kingdom of Israel, was originally ruled by God, by His laws and by His rulers.
   But the nation Israel was one of the kingdoms of THIS WORLD. Its people had no SPIRITUAL citizenship in the heavenly Kingdom. They were not ambassadors of Christ. Jesus said that if His Kingdom were of THIS world, then His servants would fight. Israel was a kingdom of this world. It did fight.
   GOD DID NOT OFFER THEM SALVATION! He only gave them physical, temporal promises. They were carnal people without the indwelling presence of God's Holy Spirit. They were concerned with the letter, and not the Spirit and intent of God's law. Since they were not offered salvation at that time, and did not have God's Holy Spirit, they had not been begotten BY God's Spirit as heirs of the Kingdom of God.
   Since the Canaanites were so terribly wicked, God commanded His servants, His EARTHLY Kingdom, to exterminate them. God had been patient in times past, because their iniquity was not yet "full" (Gen. 15:16). The Canaanites were committing the most evil deeds that man could imagine, even sacrificing their own children to gods of wood and stone. They practiced every conceivable perverted act. God waited until ALL PHYSICAL HOPE for them was lost, before commanding that they should be slain.
   As the Creator and Giver of life, God has the authority to take away life. But God has not given MAN that authority. Formerly God had done this by use of supernatural force on nature.
   He took away the life of all men except Noah and his family, in a world-wide flood. Later, it became necessary for God to exterminate the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their extreme wickedness (Gen. 19). God destroyed by supernaturally intervening in the course of nature. God did not work through a kingdom of this earth at that time, nor was any kingdom on this earth HIS KINGDOM.
   Later, God established the nation of Israel. God then used the physical nation to carry out such punishment. They acted in that official capacity AS DOES AN EXECUTIONER OF THE STATE TODAY, WHO MAY HAVE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF EXECUTING THE DEATH PENALTY.
   God has the right to choose in any way He pleases, how He deals with man. He can decide who should die and when, if that becomes necessary. God says, "See now that I, even I, am He, and there is no God with me, I KILL, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand" (Deut. 32:39).
   After Israel rebelled and would no longer listen to God, His prophets, or His teachers, God rejected them. They are nor carrying out His work today.
   Since that time, God doesn't have any of the kingdoms of this world as His own Kingdom. Today He may use various nations to indirectly accomplish His will, but they are of this world and of this time, and not of the WORLD TOMORROW.
   Today God is dealing with mankind through His Church. Notice I Peter 2:9, "But ye (Christians) are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."
   God is using His Church to preach the good news (gospel) of the soon-coming Kingdom of God to the whole world as a witness. When that work is completed, the end of this age will come, and a new age of peace will dawn.

God Has Final Authority to Decide about War

   Only God, as Creator and Giver of life, has all authority to destroy or command nations to be slain. Since God is Creator of all things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, these things were created for His own purpose. "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure [purpose] they are and were created" (Rev. 4:11). Since God has made all things, including all mankind, all governments and authorities, He is also Supreme RULER. He is over and above all (Eph. 4:6). He is the Lord meaning RULER or MASTER of heaven and earth (Matt. 11:25). Since God is Ruler and Master of heaven and earth, He also has the right and power to make laws. God has made all spiritual and natural physical laws.
   In addition to ruling over all, God is also the judge of all (Heb. 12:23). It is God who will judge all mankind. He will pass final sentence, depending on whether a person's deeds are good or evil. "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God, and the books were opened: another book was opened, which is the Book of Life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works" (Rev. 20:12).
   God alone is able to destroy both the soul [life] and the body [flesh] of man in the final Gehenna fire (Matt. 10:28). The wicked will be utterly destroyed in that fire.
   Since God alone has such SUPREME AUTHORITY, only He can tell man what to do about warfare. Only He can say whether man should or should not make war.
   He has also revealed to man, through His Word the Holy Bible those laws by which man should live. He has not given man the authority to establish laws contrary to His.
   Only God can judge when a nation must be destroyed or punished. When a nation itself decides to make war against another, whether it be an aggressor or a nation attacked, that nation takes upon itself this prerogative of God. Unless God PERSONALLY commands a war, in which a nation of THIS WORLD acts as an OFFICIAL EXECUTIONER, as He did to ancient Israel, any man who takes up arms against his neighbor takes the authority of God upon himself. THIS IS IN DIRECT DISOBEDIENCE TO GOD! Any person who takes part in such a war is in defiance of God and His laws and is guilty before Him!

God Will Fight

   Even though God is not now dealing directly with the nations of this world through the Kingdom of Israel, the day is soon coming when God will step in again. He will intervene directly in the course of human affairs. God is not fighting against the nations of the world today, but He will then. In the day of the Lord, all nations will be gathered against Jerusalem. "Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle" (Zech. 14:3).
   God will not wage war unrighteously but He will make war in righteousness, bringing retribution and vengeance on those that fully deserve such severe punishment.
   "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called faithful and true, and in righteousness he doth judge AND MAKE WAR" (Rev. 19:11). God is waiting now. The sins of man have not yet come to "the full," but the time is soon coming when man will destroy himself if God does not intervene. When that time comes, God will intervene, fight against the nations of this world in the most effective way that man has ever seen. All rebellion and wickedness will be put down.
   At that time the Kingdom of God will be here on this earth. Then Jesus' Kingdom will be a Kingdom of THIS WORLD. Then His servants WILL supernaturally intervene to put an end to war! (John 18:36). At that time, true Christians will be changed from mortal to immortal beings. They will no longer be flesh and blood. They will be like God divine, perfect. They will have the prerogative to give and to take life. Though Christians do not participate in wars between nations now, they will participate with Christ in STAMPING OUT WAR at that time.
   "Let the saints be joyful in GLORY: let them sing aloud upon their beds. Let the high places of God be in their mouth, and a TWO-EDGED SWORD IN THEIR HAND; to EXECUTE VENGEANCE upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; TO BIND THEIR KINGS WITH CHAINS, AND THEIR NOBLES WITH FETTERS OF IRON, to execute upon them the judgment written: this honor have ALL HIS SAINTS. Praise ye the Lord" (Psa. 149:5-9).

What About Servicemen?

   Many servicemen have come to learn God's ways through the WORLD TOMORROW program and by proving in their own Bibles the things heard. Sooner or later they are faced with the question about military service. They write, asking: "Is it wrong to be in service?" "Should I get a discharge?" "What does God expect of me if I am going to be a Christian?"
   In the time of John the Baptist, soldiers came to him and asked him what to do. "And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, what shall we do? And he said unto them, DO VIOLENCE TO NO MAN, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages" (Luke 3:14). A person who is in the military service, and then becomes a true Christian, is not to harm or do violence to anyone. The meaning of the original Greek word here translated "violence" means "to intimidate." That would include violence or any action where advantage is taken over any other person. A Christian should not continue, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, to have an active part in killing or harming others. Neither should he disobey God's other commandments in any way. If his superiors demand him to disobey God, he must obey God and submit to whatever penalty is imposed.
   Other examples of soldiers are those of Cornelius found in Acts 10, and the centurion who met Christ (recorded in Matthew 8). Did God expect these men to continue on in their military careers?
   Since the Bible does not give us everything about one subject in one place, we must look elsewhere in the Bible to find out what a person should do in such circumstances. This is very plainly explained by the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians. "Were you a slave when called? Never mind. But if you can GAIN YOUR FREEDOM, avail yourself of the opportunity" (I Cor. 7:21, RSV).
   A man in military service is in the same status as a slave. He is not free to decide his life entirely for himself. He has sold himself as a slave to the military for the term of his enlistment. A serviceman is governed by different laws than civilians, has few rights, and comes entirely under the jurisdiction of military authorities. He is the slave of the military. He cannot remove himself from under that authority, unless the military authorities release him. Until his enlistment expires, and he is discharged, he is not a FREE MAN.
   Since we have this instruction by the apostle Paul, a serviceman who comes to the knowledge of the truth should try to gain his freedom. If a person is a FREE MAN, in the sense that he is not in military service, he is forbidden to become a SLAVE of the military by entering service. "You were bought with a price; DO NOT BECOME SLAVES OF MEN" (verse 23). This one verse alone, coupled with the fact that a soldier is not a free man, PROHIBITS A CHRISTIAN FROM ENTERING INTO MILITARY SERVICE IN ANY CAPACITY, COMBATANT OR NONCOMBATANT!
   If you are now in military service, there are means by which you might obtain your freedom, but you need competent advice. Do not act unwisely without that advice.

Many Are Being Helped

   We have learned from practical experience that men who have taken strong and persistent stand have usually been able to receive discharges from military service. Since there are certain recommended procedures in obtaining a discharge, a serviceman should write to us for this information.
   In addition, we also counsel with many of our members who have Selective Service or draft problems. We assist them in giving the Bible teaching, and also concerning the procedures and laws of the Selective Service System. Obtaining a conscientious objector standing can be very trying. A Christian is sometimes given difficult and tricky questions to answer. There are answers to these questions.

Is Noncombatant Service Wrong?

   Some ask if it is right for a Christian to enter a war-making organization in a noncombatant capacity. A noncombatant status is that of a serviceman who will not engage in the actual shooting or killing. Such a person may be in the medical corps and may help the wounded, but he does not carry or use weapons. Or, he may work behind the lines in support work. Men drafted to this particular capacity are selected from the group who are classified I-A-O by the Selective Service System.
   Some people reason that such a position is not wrong since it does not require active participation in killing others.
   The Bible states that if a person brings a different doctrine than the true doctrine of Christ we should not receive him into our house. Nor should we bid him "Godspeed." Otherwise, we become a partaker of his evil deeds (II John 10-11). A person who participates in a military organization, or who produces weapons for the military, becomes a partaker of the evil deeds of men and machines that take life.
   Paul told Timothy that he should not be it partaker of other men's sins, but should keep himself PURE (I Tim. 5:22). A person in service cannot keep himself pure, since he is a member of a killing organization. Participation either in a COMBATANT or a NONCOMBATANT status is equally wrong in God's sight. You make yourself the slave of the military, which you are forbidden to do. (I Cor. 7:23).
   If a Christian is forced into military conscription, he cannot serve. He muse obey God rather than man, and accept whatever PENALTY or imprisonment man might impose.
   There are provisions in Selective Service laws concerning such men who are termed by the world CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS, or PACIFISTS. The law recognizes such beliefs, but each registrant muse prove satisfactorily to the Selective Service officials that he is sincere in his belief, and that he is in actuality a conscientious objector and not just a "draft dodger."
   For such men, who are "conscientious objectors," the United States government has a special work program. A man who is eligible for service, and who is a conscientious objector, is assigned to special civilian work for a 24-month period. This work is for an approved agency or nonprofit organization. Such a firm is primarily engaged either in a charitable activity, conducted for the benefit of the general public, or in carrying out a program for the improvement of the public health or welfare.
   Even though it is sometimes difficult to find suitable employment with such an organization, it is possible for a Christian to serve conscientiously under this program. If there is any question about the kind of employment that is permissible, write Mr. Armstrong before making a final decision.

The Church Stand on Military Service

   It has become necessary for the Radio Church of God to have an official stand in the matter of military service. It is recorded in the Constitution and By-Laws of the Radio Church of God, Article X, Section 2, on file in Washington, D.C. It states as follows: "It is the conviction and firm belief of this Church and its membership that Christian disciples of Christ are forbidden by Him and the commandments of God to kill, or in any manner directly or indirectly to take human life; by whatsoever means; we believe that bearing arms is directly contrary to this fundamental doctrine of our belief; we therefore conscientiously refuse to bear arms OR TO COME UNDER THE MILITARY AUTHORITY." That is the true Bible teaching, and the teaching of God's Church.
   You as an individual are responsible to God for obeying what God expects of you. We have given you here in this article a summary of what God expects of you. You should be totally sincere about your belief, know what you do believe, and be able to back up your belief with proof from your own life, AND THE SCRIPTURES.

Here It Is in a "Nutshell"

   The whole question about warfare is explained clearly by one verse in your Bible. This verse explains why ancient Israel DID make war with other nations. It explains why the Christian cannot participate in the wars of this world now. It also explains why Jesus Christ, at His return (with the holy angels, and with those saints who are then made immortal), WILL MAKE WAR. That scripture is found in John 18:36. "Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world (this order or age): if my kingdom were of this world (age), then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence (this time)." Ancient Israel was a kingdom of this world, IT DID FIGHT! Christians are ambassadors of the soon-coming Kingdom of God. Therefore, we as the servants of Christ, do not fight for one nation against the people of another nation of this world. When Jesus Christ does return, Christians will then be immortal, spirit beings, and will BRING PEACE TO THIS EARTH.
   The kingdoms of this world are warring kingdoms (Micah 4:1-3) since they do not know the way of peace (Rom. 3:16-17). We, as Christians, are learning the ways of peace (Psa. 119:165) so that we may instruct all nations in the way of peace during the next 1000 years! the Millennium!
   We look forward to that time of peace and happiness, to the time when nations "shall bear their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, NEITHER SHALL THEY LEARN WAR ANY MORE" (Micah 4:3).
   The world today is involved in physical, carnal warfare. The Christian is now fighting in a spiritual warfare. You must fight in one war or the other. To get into God's Kingdom, you must now fight the good fight of FAITH!

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Good News MagazineOctober 1960Vol IX, No. 10
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