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Onward Christian Soldier - A Tribute to Jeff Ziegler

The Church Universal has only two divisions.

  1. The Church Militant – Ecclesia Militans – are those Christians living on earth. They are the Christian militia who struggle against sin, the flesh, the devil and “… the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).
  2. The Church Triumphant – Ecclesia Triumphans – are those Christians who are in Heaven. Although progressive sanctification takes place through this struggle on earth, those who pass on to be present with the Lord are made perfect “in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:52).

As much as anyone I have ever known, Jeff Ziegler was a man who understood the meaning of the Church Militant. On Tuesday, February 28, 2012, Jeff became part of the Church Triumphant. He has been relieved of all earthly struggle and has been made perfect in Christ.

Jeff had suffered a cerebellar aneurysm in late 2009 and had been recovering from what is certain death in about 97 percent of cases. Doctors called his recovery late December of that year a “Christmas miracle.” Last week, Jeff suffered a heart attack while doing work at the Ohio State House. This was apparently unrelated to the earlier episode.

I first met Jeff when he was a speaker in our church, The Boston Worship Center, in 1987. A group of us took him on a “revival tour” of northern New England visiting several of the churches where a hero in the faith, George Whitefield, had preached. Jeff later traveled to England and Scotland and was able to preach in one of the pulpits frequented by Whitefield. In the 25 years I knew him, Jeff was a man driven by a vision for Revival and Reformation.

He went through quite a theological evolution in his lifetime. However, in all my dealings with Jeff, he was always Jeff. In the early 1990s, after I came to Florida to work on The Forerunner. Jeff would contribute frequent articles, which I’ve posted links to below. Our phone calls often went on for a long time and covered every topic imaginable. Jeff had a huge impact on my thinking as a young Christian involved in full-time missionary and evangelistic work. I saw him whenever he came to Florida and visited Cleveland for two conferences he organized. Jeff was always very gracious, yet direct when he needed to be. For example, he used to call me when I was doing print version of The Forerunner to give me names of donors that were generous with him. He did that without my solicitation just trying to help me.

Jeff took a role in leading several organizations throughout Ohio for the purpose of direct action in reforming culture and politics. One of the former members of his church recently described him as “a gentleman of the first order … he lived what he believed, a rare commodity in 2012.”

He later took part in video productions I produced, including God’s Law and Society and the following clip as part of a World Changers Seminar on the Capitol Mall in Washington D.C.

One of the hallmarks of Jeff’s preaching is that he always threw his whole heart and being into his message, speaking with the same forceful tone and volume no matter if it were a crowd of hundreds or less than a handful of people in a small seminar. We recently worked together on the Statesman Global Initiatives website and blog. Jeff’s most recent book, Republic Restored, was accepted into the Library of Congress.

Recent years had more than their share of personal trials and medical turmoil that took a toll on this soldier for Christ, but he can rejoice that he has joined the Church Triumphant.

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