I always knew that as we approached the latter days that Christianity would be challenged and believers would be mocked and persecuted for their beliefs. But I guess that I never thought it would happen this soon, especially in the United States of America. But today the culture is challenging all that we believe and believers are being mocked and even persecuted for standing for Biblical truths. Satan is alive and well and is on the attack. The truth of Ephesians 6:13 becomes more vital each day. "Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground." And yet so many believers just sit back hoping that this will pass and nothing will change for them. But centuries ago Charles Wesley (1707 - 1788) tried to wake up believers and challenge them to put on the full armor of God to stand against Satan. In 1747 he wrote "Soldiers of Christ, Arise", originally calling it "The Whole Armor of God, Ephesians VI.". At the time, Charles and his brother John had become leaders of the movement known as Methodism. The Church of England did not approve of the Methodists, however, and those associated with Methodism were persecuted. Their houses were vandalized. And even worse, Methodists were sometimes threatened, stoned, mauled, and dragged through the streets. Given the threatening environment that most Methodists faced, Wesley no doubt thought of very real battles as he wrote "Soldiers of Christ, Arise." Yet the hymn refers to more than just physical warfare, its more important theme refers to the spiritual warfare that all Christians face. As followers of Christ, we must put on the full armor of God and always be ready to battle Satan's forces. The original lengthy hymn contained sixteen verses, each with eight lines. In John Wesley's Collection of Hymns for the People Called Methodists, published in 1780, only twelve stanzas appeared, divided into three separate parts. Various arrangements of these twelve stanzas are used in churches today. The three-stanza version commonly used today dates from 1847. This hymn also became known as "The Christian's bugle blast" because of the military references and the apparent call to arms. Charles Wesley has often been called the "Bard of Methodism." His prominence in hymn writing may be judged from the fact that in the "Wesleyan Hymn Book," 623 of the 770 hymns were written by him. He also published more than thirty poetical works, written either by himself alone, or in conjunction with his brother. The number of his separate hymns is said to be at least five thousand. But this particular hymn of his, even though written centuries ago, is a powerful reminder to those of us living today that we need to equip ourselves with God's armor and face the attacks of Satan in the strength which God supplies. As the battle gets more intense, we have the assurance that victory over Satan and today's culture is assured. Believers, it is time to wake up, arise and put your armor on. The battle is at hand.
1. Soldiers of Christ arise,
And put your armor on,
Strong in the strength which God supplies
Thru his eternal Son;
Strong in the Lord of Hosts,
And in his mighty power,
Who in the strength of Jesus trusts
Is more than conqueror.
2. Stand then in his great might,
With all his strength endued,
But take to arm you for the fight
The panoply of God;
From strength to strength go on,
Wrestle and fight and pray,
Tread all the powers of darkness down
And win the well-fought day.
3. Leave no unguarded place,
No weakness of the soul.
Take every virtue, every grace
And fortify the whole.
That having all things done,
And all your conflicts passed,
Ye may o'ercome thru Christ alone
And stand complete at last.
You can listen to this hymn here. LISTEN