It was simply called ‘the bomb.’ The most powerful weapon ever devised in military history was about to be unleashed upon human beings for the first time.
Since 1942, more than 100,000 scientists of the Manhattan Project had been working on the bomb’s development. At the time, it was the largest collective scientific effort ever undertaken.
On July 16, 1945, scientists carried out the first trial of the bomb in the New Mexico desert. Following the successful test, Robert Oppenheimer, physicist and wartime head of the Manhattan Project, stated, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” Oppenheimer borrowed those words from the Hindu holy book called the the Bhagavad Gita.
Only weeks later, the atomic bomb was dropped first on the Japanese City of Hiroshima on August 6. Then, three days later, a second bomb detonated over Nagasaki. Shortly following those devastating blows, Japan formally surrendered on September 2, 1945, ending World War 2.
While the untold physical effects of that most powerful physical weapon are well chronicled, we will do well as followers of Jesus to remember the most powerful spiritual weapon we possess. For you and I are on the front lines of another conflict in the midst of a spiritual war of cosmic proportions. What is that weapon, you wonder?
Andrei Sakharov was a Russian nuclear physicist, anti-Soviet dissident and human rights activist, put it well. He became renowned as the designer of the Soviet Union’s “Third Idea,” a codename for Soviet development of thermonuclear weapons. The USSR successfully tested their own atomic bomb in 1949. Late in his life, the man who gave the Soviet Union the bomb stated, “The most powerful weapon in the world is the truth.”
While bombs bring about physical devastation, the truth brings about spiritual deliverance:
“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
The Apostle Paul, in exhorting the Corinthian church, illustrates the power of our spiritual weapons (including the truth) in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5:
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”
When Paul wrote of the spiritual war in Ephesians 6:10-20, he uses a military motif. In Ephesians 6:11 he exhorts the Ephesian church to ‘put on the whole armor of God that you may stand against the wiles of the devil.’
In the evangelistic endeavor, we often think of Satan and his minions striving against our efforts to share the gospel with people. Yet, on the flip side, we need to also understand that our spiritual enemy is also waging war against those we’re seeking to reach with the gospel:
“But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).
As we think about our witness to others, we must cultivate our ability to utilize the ‘Sword of the Spirit, which the Word of God’ (Ephesians 6:18). Why? Because, “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).
In our day of media abundance and technological tools, how we share can be varied: Facebook and other social media, email, books, tracts, personal notes, through audio and video recordings and links. In addition to these means of communicating God’s Word, we can also share His Word in a traditional fashion, reading the Bible person to person. There is no end to the available delivery systems. The goal is to share the Word of God and let it do what it does—accomplish His will:
“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10-11).
In the midst of various methodologies and a desire to appropriately contextualize the gospel in witnessing, may we as soldiers in the army of our God always pick up and wield the ‘sword of the Spirit.’
For it is the truth that delivers people from error. It is the truth that delivers people into spiritual safety – that is knowing the Lord Jesus. And it is the truth which is…the most powerful weapon!