Tom Gilson

Today’s Spiritual Battle: Accept the Challenge, Start Your Training

Stack of books

I’ve started a series at The Stream on strategy against our culture’s current lies, distortions, and disconnection from reality. It’s only a start. My most recent article urges readers to train up to protect their loved ones from the looming threat of confusion, error, and potentially even spiritual death.

It’s serious. A commenter there chided me for using warfare language, but it fits. I’m not saying our fight is against flesh and blood; it’s against the true enemy, Satan, who is the deceiver, the father of lies (see 2 Cor. 10:3-5). He occupies too much ground in our culture, as evidenced by rampant distortion and confusion.

The first weapon we have to bring against him is prayer, and the first strategy is countering his deceptions with truth.

So I’ve been urging Stream readers to stand up and do the strategy, to understand the truth; to teach; to train others in it. Here I want to fill in a gap I left at the end of the last article. It was long enough already, but I need to explain why I recommended readers start their studies with the five books I listed there.

They’re all very readable. They’re very well informed. Each of them provides a different perspective on reality and its reasons, though.

The Story of Reality

Greg Koukl’s The Story of Reality is the place to start. In a world of unreality, reality is exactly what we need. I’ve reviewed the book at The Stream.

For the current battle, it sets a foundation of what’s true and real, starting with God at the creation of the world, and continuing through today, to the culmination he has in store for us. For a world that’s flailing to solve the problems we’re in, it fills in two crucial missing pieces: our problems’ ultimate cause, and the necessary key to their solution. We’re at each others’ throats because we’re alienated from God due to sin. Sin’s solution is found only in Christ.

And this isn’t merely “spiritual” or theoretical information. The world is trying to force alternate answers on us, through shaming, control, and even re-writing reality to make wrong seem right. We need a firm grasp on a solid core of truth so we can accurately assess what the world has to offer. This book is an outstanding, readable, thorough guide to those core truths.

So the Next Generation Will Know

This book’s full title tells what you need to know most about it: So the Next Generation Will Know: Preparing Young Christians for a Challenging World.  Authors Sean McDowell and J. Warner Wallace tell us how we must re-think the way we raise our children in these days.

The authors take a very practical approach. It’s a guidebook, a handbook, really, not only to protecting your children from deception, but to launching them into the world, fully equipped to face down the errors, ready to live and share the truth.

Here’s an excerpt to whet your interest.

Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels

J. Warner Wallace was a cold case homicide detective in Los Angeles County, and an atheist, until he applied his evidence analysis training to the accounts of Jesus Christ. This book tells the outcome of that investigation: There is more than enough reason to believe the accounts are true. Jesus Christ is real. The gospels tell the truth. This is crucial equipping for those who want to protect loved ones from lies. It’s not enough, after all, to say, “The Bible says so.” Every thinking person — and especially teens! — is going to want to know why we think the Bible is true.

There are many, many books that explain reasons for confidence in the Scriptures. I recommend this one, though. It’s written so clearly and plainly, any newcomer to these studies can pick it up and follow it. Yet it’s written so interestingly, I loved it in spite of the fact that I’m no newcomer. Wallace has an advantage, you see: He’s got awesome detective stories he can tell.

Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions

Tactics generally belong under strategies, and Greg Koukl’s Tactics certainly belongs on a list of equipping resources for Christian strategies. You and your loved ones will both face hard questions in daily discourse with the world. It’s not enough to know the answers to those questions. You need —  that is, we all need — to know how to answer in a clear, firm, yet loving and winsome way. And surprisingly, that’s nowhere near as hard as it sounds, even when you don’t know the answer. You can follow an approach Jesus modeled for us, one that takes genuine interest in the person you’re talking with, yet is easy enough you can use it with anyone.

Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side:40 Conversations to Help Them Build a Lasting Faith

Finally, Natasha Crain’s Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side provides another ultimate guidebook, a set of 40 conversations you can have with your kids to guide them into real understanding of the truth. You thought maybe it would be too had, too awkward, to talk about these things with your kids? Not with this guide helping you!

Get Equipped!

That’s my starter list for equipping yourself to help equip others with the truth. Read and study these four books, and you’ll be well on your way to understanding both the deceptions and the reality. You might even find yourself energized to keep on studying. By the time you read these books, you’ll know where to go next.

Image Credit(s): Kimberly Farmer/Unsplash.

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3 thoughts on “Today’s Spiritual Battle: Accept the Challenge, Start Your Training

  1. Hi Tom! Thanks for the reading list. My apologies for not yet getting through the advance copy of your Too Good To Be False book.
    A couple of your links in this posting (first and fifth books) are not working. I can, of course, still find the books. Thought you might want to know

  2. This article is so encouraging. Words cannot express how thankful I am for your challenge to study truth and to stand against our true enemy.

    I particularly loved your insight, “The first weapon we have to bring against him is prayer, and the first strategy is countering his deceptions with truth.”

    It reminds of something Pastor Philip De Courcy said about persisting in prayer, “let us not forget that when we remain steadfast in prayer our faith grows. Faith is like a muscle and the more it is exercised the stronger it grows. Prayer is an act of faith and persistent prayer is a stretching of our faith. After all, to pray once about a matter and then to forget it would be more a matter of presumption than prayer… Persistence in prayer is good for you and brings good to you! Therefore, keep Knocking” (

    Thank you so much for your uplifting instruction to study and to stand in the truth!

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