(Photo: Rob Ventura)
Two pastors, who are scholarly theologians as well, want to make sure that Christians have a biblical and balanced perspective when it comes to the reality of spiritual warfare and the devil. Their passion has led them to co-author a yet to be released book on the subject that has as its central theme Ephesians 6-10.
Pastors Brian Borgman from Grace Community Church in Minden, Nev., and Rob Ventura, one of the pastors at Grace Community Baptist Church of North Providence, R.I., say that while some churches rarely talk about the subject of battling evil, other churches go over the top. Although their book, Spiritual Warfare: A Biblical and Balanced Perspective, is scheduled for release early next year, the co-authors provided The Christian Post a sneak peak.
"In some churches it's like almost all you hear about is the devil and then in other churches it's like you almost never hear about the devil," Ventura told CP. "So the book really challenges both sections of the Christian spectrum, saying look, not everything is the devil, however, there is a real devil."
Borgman, who has also written My Heart for Thy Cause and Feelings and Faith and holds degrees from Biola University, Western Seminary and Westminster Seminary, explained why he had a desire to write the book and why the two pastors decided to collaborate.
"I preached from Ephesians a number of years ago and just felt in light of Paul's ministry in Ephesus … the way that he wraps up the book of Ephesians with his emphasis on the armor of God and spiritual warfare that it's always been viewed by me as a really important subject," Borgman said. "On one hand, [the subject] is almost completely ignored. On the other hand, it's been so over emphasized to the point of being very unbiblical at times and so I had in the back of my mind a desire to put something in print based on Ephesians 6 [10 through 20]."
Ephesians 6:10-20 states:
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
"Both of us have a burden, which is seen in the subtitle, which is 'A Biblical and Balanced Perspective,' Borgman explained. "I think our burden is to help Christians see the importance of spiritual warfare, but to see it in biblical perspective, not in science fiction perspective."
Ventura said he believes that churches that try to be more conscientious and more biblical, ironically, are the ones most likely to neglect the subject of spiritual warfare. Churches are "kind of at both ends of the spectrum," said Borgman, who also co-authored A Portrait of Paul and is a graduate of Reformed Baptist Seminary SC.
At one point in the preface of the book, the pastors make the comparison that if a person was on the battlefield in Afghanistan and didn't know there was a war going on, that person "would be in serious trouble and in deep trouble."
"I think that for us as Christians, it's not that spiritual warfare is the controlling factor of absolutely everything, but it is a significant part of our worldview that we don't wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers," Borgman said. "We do have to live in the reality of what Christ has provided for us and if we are not consciously thinking about those things then we will either be fighting the wrong battles or not engaged at all."
Ventura added, "Paul in 2 Corinthians 2 speaks about us not being ignorant of the devil's devices and sometimes we can be ignorant of his devices. For the Christian, firstly, to know that he's in a real warfare with a real devil who hates him and would love to see him trip up at every point. To be ignorant of that battle is a horrible thing.
"As Christians we need to know who that enemy is and how we can stand against him."
He also emphasized that both pastors were "not the experts on demonology" and they don't claim to be, "but we are pastors who preach the word of God week in and week out to our people. We don't speak on this subject every week from our pulpit, but we do often."
Both also agree that many of today's ailments on a personal and social level have a spiritual warfare element to them.
"I think that one of the benefits of this book is not only giving people a sound exposition of Ephesians 6, but I think there really could be a use for counseling as well because there's a lot of counseling issues that come down to at least having an aspect of spiritual warfare in them," Borgman said.
Ventura added, "Over the years, as I have counseled people, there are many reasons for people's ailments – spiritual and physical – but as we deal with the souls of people, often, in recent years I have asked people the questions, 'Have you thought about what the devil may be doing in this situation, like bringing it to spiritual warfare?' [Also,] 'Have you thought about the fact that there's a real devil that would love to see you fall in life?' and 'What have you thought about Ephesians 6 in terms of your circumstances?' Again, not that everything is the devil. Not that the 'devil made me do it,' that type of thing, but to just to put this teaching side by side with many other things that could be giving a believer trouble, but not to leave this piece out."
The book will be available through Reformation Heritage Books.