“And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the Gospel” (Ephesians 6:17-19).
When I was a kid, the boys in my community had read The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas. They all fancied themselves to be great swordsmen, strutting around with a wooden sword stuck in their belts, fencing with one another at a moment’s notice. Everybody wanted to be D’Artagnan, the hero, the best swordsman of the world. As I recall, most of us did not even know how to wield a stick, much less a sword! Sadly, in our conflict against the fallen archangel, Satan, and his evil spirits and demons, most of us Christians are like those boy-hood friends of mine; we don’t know how to wield our sword, our only weapon with which to wage war against the tempter.
In the sixth chapter of Ephesians, the apostle Paul describes the armor the Christian warrior must put on in his spiritual jousts against the tempter. You will notice that all of the items mentioned are defensive, such as the shield, the breastplate, the helmet, etc. Paul mentions only one offensive weapon; the sword of the Spirit. Do you know how to wield that sword? Do you know how to fight effectively against the tempter? Here’s how: “Take… the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying always…” There it is! That is our secret weapon! Take the word of God praying always. In other words, read the Bible prayerfully!
It is most significant that Paul reminds us that the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. God can wield it through us to defeat the tempter. It is not our sword, it is His. Only as we are totally surrendered to the Lord, controlled by the Holy Spirit, we can rest assured that He will wield that sword through us and put the tempter to flight. Otherwise, the Bible will become the dead letter that kills us, instead of the Spirit that gives us life.
God vividly illustrated this truth to me in my own personal experience. When I was 20 years old I began hearing weekly the preaching of a very intelligent and articulate missionary, with a very solid, fundamental, inerrantist theology. He explained salvation, redemption, and being born again so clearly that I soon understood these doctrines well. I came to the conclusion that I had become a Christian. But my sinful life was unchanged. For about a year I continued under that preaching. Then one day, I was invited to a Christian home to hear another man speak about God. Only a handful of us were sitting around a cozy fireplace in Montevideo, Uruguay, South America, on that memorable day when I heard a man of God, Fred Dabold, joyfully sharing his testimony. The joy of the Lord was bubbling in him. His cup was running over. I became deeply convicted that I did not have such a relationship with God, so I began to visit this man almost daily. I loved to listen to him tell me about the Lord Jesus. It was in this way that I was introduced to Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. I was born again and my life was changed, radically!
Things I had stolen, I returned. I confessed to those I had lied to. I was full of the joy of the Lord.
One year of listening to the doctrinal sermons of one man had left me unchanged. Yet only one personal testimony of another man gave me a deep longing to have what he had; a joyful, living relationship with God. What was the difference? I discovered it years later. The first preacher, although preaching the truth, all the truth and nothing but the truth, was preaching one thing and practicing another. He would preach “love one another” and then go home and beat his wife, even spit in her face! His sermons, sad to say, were merely the dead letter that kills, not the Holy Spirit that gives life.
The second man, however, was living true to God; he had a proper, loving relationship with his wife. His sermons were taught by the Holy Spirit and gave me spiritual life!
This made a profound impression on me. I realized that if I am to win others to Christ, my own personal intimate life, my home life, my job, and all my friendships, have to be surrendered to the Lord. My message, my testimony, and my sermons, must be 100% backed by a totally consistent behavior, exuding the very presence of God who was abiding and living in me. Otherwise, I would become one more hypocrite, floundering on the rocks of disobedience to God. Worse still, I would become a blind leader of the blind and my testimony, messages and sermons would transmit only the dead letter that kills.
So, take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, praying always. Read the Bible prayerfully, talking it over with the Author Himself. Read it conversationally, in an animated, living dialogue between you and the One who inspired it. In this way, the Word of God will become the Holy Spirit that gives spiritual life to you. Otherwise, it will remain the dead letter that kills.
Heavenly Father, You have emboldened me to take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, praying always. I will read Your Word prayerfully, read it by talking it over with You, communing with You as I read it, worshipping You, loving You.
You have unveiled to me the way in which You want me to talk with You. Speak to me as I read Your Word and I will speak to You as I find inspiration in Your Word to talk with You. Lead me to read Your Word by praying with all kinds of prayer and petition, always reading and praying in Spirit, praying at all times, praying without ceasing.
Keep me on the alert against the tempter, praying with all perseverance and petition for the believers with whom I am related.
I also pray for the preachers, and even for the author of this book, that You would give them the message to preach, so they will be bolder than ever to testify of Christ, of His crucifixion, His resurrection, and of His blood that washes away all sins. Help me and them to speak boldly, as we ought to speak.
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ I ask it. Amen.”
From Talking with God – Chapter 16
Updates from Cuba
Starting in the 1990’s Fred was significantly involved with Cuba. The Lord has continued to move strongly in Cuba through many brothers and sisters in Christ including some key workers who Fred helped to disciple. Since 2009, a project to evangelize the whole country has reached many Cubans with many new believers added to the house of God. The work is ongoing to evangelize the entire island country.