Battle Plan

As the world grows ever darker, Bill Stacey doesn’t worry. In his nineties, he knows the darkest times will be ahead when he may not be here, but he doesn’t worry about those he loves either. “God provided for these times,” he said. “We’ve already been through times worse than these, and we have the blueprint for how we survived events which may have been even harder.”

He turned to Matthew 5-6. “This is the battle plan. Before we came to Earth we went through a terrible war in heaven. I used to wonder what kind of war it was. Were there bombs and guns and swords I heard about when my dad and others talked about World War I? In my mind I could see my dad in France at the end of the war, and imagined the same kind of war in heaven with spirits flying around trying to kill other spirits who didn’t agree with his point of view.

No, I don’t think so. I think it was the kind of war being waged on the righteous right now. It was a war of words and ideas, a war of love versus hate, kindness versus meanness, Christ-like behavior versus anger, retribution, disobedience and the inability to forgive others. Those who won the War in Heaven came to Earth, but many forgot the ideals which helped them choose the Lord’s side of the battle. They may be living their lives displaying the very character traits they fought against in heaven–selfishness, anger, hate, envy, pride. If they had shown those destructive character traits in heaven, we might not have won the war.”

Courtesy Friend Magazine, August 2013, p. 30

Courtesy Friend Magazine, August 2013, p. 30

Urging all to learn the principles which won the War in Heaven, Bill reads Matthew 5-6 often. “We’re all under pressure from other people,” he said. “Life is filled with situations which try the soul. Yet we have the blueprint for behavior now, just as we had it for the War in Heaven. When you realize that even though the war stopped once Satan had been cast out of heaven, Satan never stopped fighting. It helps you understand the war never really was over. It’s still being waged in the only way Satan knows how to fight–using pride, anger, hate, retribution and selfishness to inspire people on Earth to solve problems his way instead of the way their Father in Heaven taught them long ago. We see the results of that all around us when people compromise principle to gain personal advantage or when they hurt others to gain their own objectives. Usually they don’t even know they’re doing it. Sometimes they think doing the wrong thing to achieve a righteous goal is acceptable. They respond in a way that drives away the spirit and invites Satan’s constant feedback.”

Jesus Christ taught his Sermon on the Mount over 2,000 years ago; then repeated it for his disciples in America. Someday we’ll learn of other places it was repeated. He wanted each group of people to have the blueprint, the guidelines they learned long ago when they were being challenged with a war in heaven. They probably didn’t understand that conflict any better than they understand what is happening to their families today. God’s way of responding to conflict doesn’t resemble what happens among mortals. He has only the personal growth of each of his children at heart, and has provided for them a battle plan which, if followed, will result in divine nature for all who are obedient. For those who take retribution and fight with any of Satan’s methods, the result will not be the same.

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Christ began by saying we will be blessed in His Kingdom if we are meek, merciful, pure and peaceful. Obviously He had more in mind than only an earthly kingdom because meekness and mercy are not generally rewarded on earth. He reminded us that we are to be a light to the world and that “thy whole body shall be full of light.” (Matt. 5:16, 6:22) Since Christ is the light of the world, we will have become like Him. But there’s more. Some of us think being nice is more important than believing what Jesus Christ said about the commandments. Bill’s son Darrell tells his own story about that.

Darrell was a doctor for the Air Force on Okinawa for several years. One day when he was on call he received word a plane had gone down in the Pacific Ocean. They immediately left in a helicopter to get to the crash scene, and found pieces of the plane all around the area. They also found the pilot’s life raft, which gave hope he was still alive.

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A pilot has extensive training in safety before he ever flies. He wears gear which will protect him in almost every emergency. For months he trains with that gear, learning to follow rules, obey the commandments of safety, so they will become second nature to him. His gear is actually strapped to his flight suit so nothing can separate him from the safety net he has learned to use. There is a parachute and a life raft secured to his flight suit so if he has to eject without warning, he has everything with him. He even has a small knife in a place on his chest which he can easily access if he parachutes into the ocean and he gets entangled in the cords so he can’t get away from the wet parachute.

A pilot was tethered to his life raft

A pilot was tethered to his life raft

Everything has been planned ahead, but the rules have to be followed in order for the pilot to be safe. As the helicopter came to the life raft that day, they discovered the pilot wasn’t in it; nor was he anywhere nearby in the water. The helicopter was joined by other planes which searched the area for hours, but the pilot was never found.

No one could understand what had happened until someone was actually lowered into the raft. He found the cord which had been strapped to the pilot had been cut. All they could think of was that as he became entangled in his parachute, the pilot frantically cut all the cords, and severed the cord which held the raft. In his anxiety he had cut the very cord which could have saved his life. By the time he discovered his error, it was too late to save himself.

Obedience to the laws and commandments laid out long ago will not only protect us; it will change our nature. The commandments are as important to us as those safety rules are to a pilot. Each one was given for a reason, and keeps us safe from Satan’s entrapment. None of the commandments are to be discarded and considered unimportant or unnecessary. If we neglect any of the commandments, we can be taken down like that pilot who lost the connection to his life raft.

Jesus set forth the additional rules of turning the other cheek, being kind and generous, loving even our enemies. (Matt. 5:39-44) That and other counsel leading to lofty goals and aspirations, and to sincere prayer and forgiveness are usually unnoticed in a worldly environment. Indeed, the reward for such behavior is often even more sacrifice and suffering. But those qualities become literally our character–traits rewarded as “treasures in heaven…for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matt. 6:20-21) And where your treasure is, there is your character also.

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Learning the lessons taught by the Savior in the Sermon on the Mount will help us fight the battles of the final days of the Earth. That’s how we’ll win the battle: because we will have learned the way to fight from Jesus Christ Himself. Seeking “first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (Matt. 6:33) is the only battle plan employed by God against an adversary which can turn everything to his advantage except our determination to live a Christ-like life.

Those of us who haven’t honed our character to recognize and live the principles taught by Jesus Christ on the Mount will not be ready. Some who have lived by other principles will not recognize God’s Battle Plan. Those who have been obediently living God’s law all along, who have listened to the Spirit and know God’s voice, who have done their best to be an example of God’s love, will be willing and able to follow the plan into the conflict of the last days. The conflict may not be with bombs and guns. Just like the War in Heaven, it may be a war of words and ideas, a war of love versus hate, kindness versus meanness, Christ-like behavior versus anger and retribution, disobedience and an unforgiving nature. Whatever the future holds, they’ll be ready.

Bill Stacey knows because he’s been working on it for more than ninety years.