The Armor of God, Part Three: The Gospel
Posted on 11/24/2013 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)
*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***
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I will bow down
hail you as king
I will serve you
give you everything
I will lift up
my eyes to your throne
I will trust you
I will trust you alone
I will give you all my worship
I will give you all my praise
You alone I long to worship
You alone are worthy of my praise
IT IS YOU
As we lift up our hands
will you meet us here
As we call on your name
will you meet us here
We have come to this place
to worship you
God of mercy and grace
It is you we adore
It is you praises are for
Only you, the heavens declare
It is you, it is you
Holy holy is our God Almighty
Holy holy is his name alone (yeah)
Holy holy is our God Almighty
Holy holy is his name alone
As we lift up our hands
as we call on your name
Will you meet us in this place
by your mercy and grace
TO HIM WHO SITS ON THE THRONE
To him who sits on the throne
and unto the Lamb
To him who sits on the throne
and unto the Lamb
Be blessing and honor
and glory and power forever
Be blessing and honor
and glory and power forever
HOLY HOLY HOLY
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
holy holy is he
Sing a new song to him who sits on
heaven's mercy seat
Holy holy holy is the Lord God Almighty
who was and is and is to come
With all creation I sing praise to the King of Kings
you are my everything and I will adore you
Clothed in rainbows of living color
flashes of lightning, rolls of thunder
Blessing and honor, strength, glory and power be
to you the only wise king
Filled with wonder, awestruck wonder
at the mention of your name
Jesus your name is power, breath and living water
such a marvelous mystery
*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***
For the last couple of weeks, we've been talking about the Armor of God. Last week we talked about the Breastplate of Righteousness, and we considered that it is not something we can do or earn, but it is God's perception of us. We also pondered the fact that Abraham believed God to the degree that he was willing to sacrifice his only son, simply because he believed God's promises and His words to be true, and that this belief was credited to him as righteousness.
Just in case it wasn't made clear last week, I'd like to stress one important thing about righteousness, and then we'll move on to today's part of the armor.
Jesus himself is our righteousness. Nothing we can do can make us righteous, it is only Him, as he cleanses us by his blood and makes us perfect in the eyes of God.
If you heard last week's message and thought to youself, "You know, I don't think my belief is very strong, so I can't put on the Breastplate of Righteousness, because I think I have some unbelief," Then I'd like to give you a word of encouragement today.
It's not about you. It's not about how much belief you can muster. It's not about how much unbelief might be lurking in the hidden parts of your soul.
Instead, it's about Jesus. It's about the substitutionary sacrifice He made on the cross. It's about HIS righteousness which He has traded with you in exchange for your unbelief and your sin.
Just keep walking in His righteousness. When you fail, when you fall, come back to Jesus and ask Him to forgive you and to change your heart so you do better next time.
In 1 John 1:9, we read this:
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
So we're not left to clean up our unbelief alone. Yes, we need to diligently guard what we allow into our heart. Yes, we need to fill ourselves with the Word of God and spend time every day seeking after the Lord so that faith and belief can arise in our hearts. Yes, planning to sin and then ask forgiveness later, or simply not turning from our sin, is evidence of unbelief and results in holes in our breastplate.
But Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith, and we just need to keep our eyes on Him. And if we keep our eyes on Jesus, we will continue to become more and more like Him.
Jesus is your righteousness. Put all your hope and all your faith in Him.
Now, if you were here three years ago and you have a good memory or took good notes, you've probably been thinking the last couple of messages sound awefully familiar. And if you were here six years ago and are thinking the same thing, then that's because I'm re-using my sermon notes from our series on The Armor of God, which I've re-used one other time before. But this is important stuff, and I think it's very much worth our while to go back over it again. And if you're still here three years from now, we just might go over it again. Just so you know.
In Ephesians chapter six, we read about the armor of God, and how important it is for us to put on the WHOLE armor of God so that we will be able to stand against the deceitful trickery of the devil.
Ephesians 6:10-15 says this:
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armor of God, so you may be able to stand against the deceitful trickery of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 For this reason, put on the whole armor of God, so you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
The title of today's message is "The Armor of God, Part 3: The Gospel."
So our loins are girded with the Belt of Truth. We are studying, meditating upon, and memorizing the Holy Scriptures. We are applying them to our lives, obeying the Word and the voice of God. And we are ready to lay down any doctrine we may hold dear if we see something in the Bible that suggests it might be wrong, digging deep into the Word of God for the truth of the matter. We know what we believe, and we believe what the Word of God says, and we're willing to tell the truth in love even when it might offend someone or make them "feel bad."
Next, we are wearing the Breastplate of Righteousness. We are strengthening our belief, which is counted to us as righteousness, by filling our hearts and minds with the Word of God and with things that please God and are consistent with His nature as described to us in both the New and Old Testaments. Our belief is revealed in our obedience to the word and the voice of God; and any time we fall, we confess our sins to Jesus, and He wipes away every trace of unrighteousness.
And now, with these things firmly in place, each one interdependent upon all the others, we shod our feet with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace.
Without shoes, you're not going to be very effective in a battle. And if you go into a battle without shoes on, your feet are going to become all bloody, and they could become badly infected. Without shoes, the enemy only has to aim an arrow or a boot at your bare feet, and could very easily take you out of the battle completely.
Not only that, but none of us like to be laughed at, especially not by our enemies. But just imagine a soldier all clad with armor, but he has bare feet. That's a pretty funny picture.
But satan and his demons don't laugh because they have a sense of humor; rather, our enemies laugh at us when we're missing parts of the armor because we're easy prey.
And if we don't have our feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace, then how do we think we were saved?
If you don't really know the Gospel, then could you be trusting in having been baptised? Could you be trusting in having said a sinner's prayer? Could you be trusting in your own goodness and the fact that you don't think you're a bad person? Or could you be trusting that God is so good and loving that He would never send anyone to hell?
You need to know the Gospel. You need to know it so well that you can share it with someone else without a moment's notice.
First of all, we need to notice that this verse doesn't just say "Gospel," but it says "Gospel of Peace." You see, without Jesus, we cannot have true peace, and we cannot be at peace with God.
In John 14:27, Jesus says this:
27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
The world can't give you the peace of salvation which comes only through Jesus. So if you think people can be saved through good works, or baptism, or going to church and going through religious rituals, or perhaps through some other way besides Jesus, then you don't know the Gospel of Peace and you're walking around barefoot.
And we should consider that the fact that without Jesus we cannot have peace, means that we who have not been born again are in turmoil, even if, due to the fact we've never known peace, we think we are at peace.
The Buddhist who gets up from a long time in deep meditation may look and feel as though he is at perfect peace. But he or she is enjoying only a partial peace, limited to the body and mind, and not the complete peace that comes through Jesus Christ. God's peace is a peace that goes beyond body and mind; it transcends the realms of the soul, and those realms many people think are spirit. It is a truly spiritual peace. It is a peace that comes from knowing that our sins have been forgiven, and we no longer need to bear our guilt. Anyone who thinks their sins are gone without Jesus, is experiencing a counterfeit peace that's based on lies.
Another thing we should realize about the Gospel of Peace is that it not only brings peace to our soul, but it also makes us at peace with God.
This means that outside of Christ, we are not at peace with God. We are separated from him. We owe a sin debt that we will never be able to pay. And the end of our life means the beginning of the judgment and wrath of Almighty God.
And it's not because God just decided one day that He didn't like us and felt like cutting us off from fellowship with Him so that we would spend eternity in hell. No, our lack of peace with God goes back to the Garden of Eden and the fall of mankind.
Now, some people think the Garden of Eden is a symbolic place in a symbolic time, and I won't even mention what some people think the forbidden fruit really was.
But it's important that we know the truth about why we're in the mess we are. So let's ponder whether the Genesis account was symbolic or literal.
First, let's consider the days of creation. Some believe they are literal days, while others believe they are symbolic days. The latter might quote the verse, "With the Lord, a day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as a day."
But God didn't leave this at the mercy of our speculations. Instead, He put the answer to this question all throughout the first chapter of Genesis, as six times, once for every day of creation, He added the phrase, "And the evening and the morning were the first day, and the evening and the morning were the second day," and so-on.
And just in case we might wonder how far apart evening and morning were at that point, on the fourth day, he created the heavenly lights, and said, "let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years." So days and years were already an established measure in God's mind, and after those measures of days, and of evenings and mornings, He continues to say, "And the evening and the morning were the fourth day, and the evening and the morning were the fifth day, and the evening and the morning were the sixth day."
And it was after this time that the sun and moon were showing the evening and the morning, just as they are today, that God created all the animals, from the fish in the sea to the birds of the air to all the animals that populate the dry land. And He created them all as the sun moved across the sky, marking evening and morning as one single day.
So if God created the sun and stars to show us what He meant by "evening and morning," and then created all the animals in one of those days, and created mankind in the next one of those days, then we just don't have any room to think that perhaps we might have evolved from a little speck of green ooze; for we were miraculously and quite literally created in a single day, we and all animals in two.
And this sets the stage for the rest of the account of the first days, weeks, and years of life on this earth, as we move from a literal record of the creation to a literal record of the fall of mankind.
This relates very closely with being at peace with God. You see, in the beginning, God walked with man in the cool of the day. He fellowshipped with man. And after man had fallen, God is seen as calling out to him, "Where are you?"
Before sin entered the scene, man was at peace with God. But his sin changed all that, and man was separated from God. His peace with God came to an end.
We don't read any more about God walking with Adam. Instead, we read page after page, chapter after chapter, book after book about the results of the curse of sin.
You see, sin is the problem. Sin is that which separates us from God. Sin is what has destroyed our peace with God.
And Salvation is what destroys sin, the power of sin to control us and to force us to be separated from God, regardless of the good works we might do.
So it's not just that Jesus points us to enlightenment, or that He points us to peace, or that He helps us re-connect with God. Rather, He makes us at peace with God only by His blood, only by the fact that He bore our sins upon himself, and in doing so, He paid the price for our peace.
Peace of the soul and peace with God can come no other way but by Jesus Christ, the blood that He shed at Calvary, and the miracle of the New Birth that He performs in the spirit of every single person who believes upon Him.
And the fact that Jesus purchased our peace by bearing our sins, reminds us that sin is the problem. And that reminds us that sin came through one man to the entire human race. And that tells us that no one is exempt, and therefore every single one of us is separated from God, without true peace, and on our way to eternal judgment and the wrath of God that is poured out upon all unrighteousness.
Not one single sin goes unpunished. Not one. The wrath of God is poured out upon every single transgression. And unless it's somehow paid for you, you are the one who must pay that price.
The thing is, the price of sin is death. The price of just ONE sin is death. And death is separation from God -- ETERNAL separation, not just separation for a time. That means we all have earned hell, and if our next breath is our last, and we awaken to never-ending torment, that is just what we deserve. We've earned it. It's the only acceptable sentence from a truly just and perfectly fair judge.
And there can be no peace in that. There can be no peace in realizing that we cannot fellowship with God, that we can not come up with some deal that will get us out of trouble, and that we are just waiting for our heart to stop so we can pay for our sins forever.
But then we heard the Good News. We received the Gospel of Peace. It wasn't an invitation to a country club, or to join some religion in hopes of helping our spiritual evolution along. Rather, it was the answer to our desperate cry for help.
"O God! Somehow you've shown me a glimpse of just how sinful I really am! And I know that unless you do something, I am completely without hope!"
And it is when we realize how desperately we need Him, that we are willing to surrender our lives to Him, letting go of our sin which separates us from Him, and instead, believing upon, trusting in, following, and obeying Jesus Christ, the author of the Gospel of Peace.
So the Gospel message, the message of peace, is not just one that makes us feel good. It isn't one that makes us feel good about ourselves. It isn't one that makes us comfortable living in our sin. It isn't one that presents all systems of belief as equal. It isn't one that is non-confrontational, non-offending, and politically correct.
Instead, the Gospel message begins with the realization that we are sinful and depraved, wicked and dark inside, spiritually dead and condemned to eternal punishment for our sins in hell.
Of course that's not the Good News. Instead, that's what makes the Good News so incredibly good!
Isaiah 52:7 says this:
7 How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, proclaiming peace; who brings good news of wonderful things, declaring salvation; who says to Zion, "Your God reigns!"
A proclaimation of peace means something only when you realize there is no peace. And the good news of salvation means something only when you realize you desperately need someone to save you.
And this is the Gospel of Peace, visible for the miracle it is only when seen against the backdrop of our miserably hopeless condition without Christ.
Glory be to God, who saw our hopeless condition and knew the eternal price we would have to pay, and who loved us enough to send his Son into the world to take our place on the cross; and Jesus, coming willingly, and being completely without sin Himself, was able to pay for our sins on the cross, so that we, who were dead in our tresspasses and sins, could be made alive; we, who were criminals condemned to eternity in hell, could be made sons and daughters of the righteous king of the ages, heirs of His righteousness and of all the riches of the kingdom of God.
Do you know the Gospel of Peace? If not, come to Jesus today. Lay down your life at His feet and receive forgiveness for and deliverance from your sin, and become a child of the King!
Before we have a time of ministry at the altar, there's one final thing I'd like for us to consider about the Shoes of the Gospel of Peace. And that one thing is this:
Shoes imply movement. They imply walking, taking steps on some sort of journey.
Salvation isn't just a one-time event. It's not the end of the journey, but rather it's just the beginning.
Philippians 2:12 says this:
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
The word translated "work out" could also be translated "perform," or "to render one fit for a thing." This doesn't suggest the path of saying a sinner's prayer and then living a life of presumption, assuming that our one-time experience with God is all we need.
Instead, this suggests that salvation is something that lasts our whole lives, and we should be careful to live in a way that is fitting for one who has been saved from sin.
And the next verse gives us a clue as to how it's possible to live in a way that pleases God:
13 For it is God who works in you both to will and to do that in which He delights.
The word there for "will" can also be translated "to desire," "to be resolved or determined," or "to take pleasure in," or "to love."
The truth is that we simply don't do what we have no desire to do. Sure, you might not want to get up in the morning and go to work, but you do it anyway because you desire the end result of getting paid. But if you had no motivation, no reason, nothing to cause you to have the will to go to work, would you still go?
The same is true for living a life that is pleasing to God. Our desire to compromise with sin is often much stronger than our desire to please God, so we fall.
But this last verse we read is part of the same thought as the one that tells us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
And it says "work out your salvation with fear and trembling, FOR it is God who works in you both to will and to do that in which He delights." It doesn't say, "Nevertheless," or "Nonetheless," suggesting that while we should work out our salvation, we don't really have to worry about that because it's God who does it.
Rather, this word "for," leads us to view this passage like so:
"You should live in a way that is fitting for one saved from sin, and this is why you can: because it's God who works in you to will and to do that in which He delights."
We can wear the shoes of the Gospel of Peace, walking out our salvation, because as we walk with God, he is working inside of us, giving us the will, the desire, and even the love for that which pleases him, and then giving us the power to act out that God-given desire.
And the more we feed our spirit man and refuse to feed our flesh, the stronger our desire will be to do what is right. And when our desire to please God is stronger than our desire to please our flesh, we will be free from the power of that sin.
You know, if you need some type of long-term medical care, but you seldom go to see the doctor, or when you see him you don't get close enough to him for him to work, then you can't expect to see any positive results.
And the same is true with God. We need long-term spiritual care. And we need daily treatments. How often do we spend time with God? And do we get close enough to him for him to do the work he wants to do in us? It's a good work. He wants to work in us so we have the will to live a Godly life. And He wants to give us the power to do the things that please Him.
Let's get as close to Him as often as we possibly can. Unlike an earthly doctor, His treatments never fail, and we will start to see a real difference in our lives.
So walking the walk is part of wearing the Shoes of the Gospel of Peace. And there's one more thing that wearing the shoes suggests to us, and then we'll close. And that thing is this:
We are to be those feet upon the mountain, bringing the Good News of the Gospel of Peace to those in need of a savior.
You know the Gospel Message, and you are walking in it by cooperating with God and living in a way that is fitting one who's been set free from sin. And that brings you to a mountain, a place of visibility, a place where people will take you seriously.
Sure, you'll be laughed at. Sure, you'll be rejected. Sure, you'll be called a hater, an extreemist, a radical, a bigot, and an old-fashioned, close-minded Bible thumper. But those who are truly searching for the truth will be drawn to you, because you're the real deal.
You proclaim the real, undiluted Gospel of Peace, not cowering from the truth that their sin must be judged in hell, and not tiptoing around the fact that they have one hope and only one, and His name is Jesus Christ. And if they're ready to accept the truth and to give their life to Jesus and accept Him as both Savior and Lord, then He will forgive them for their sins and will set them on the path of life.
And so your feet are shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace -- knowing it completely, walking it out by living in a way that is fitting, and being ready at a moment's notice to share it with the world.
Are your loins girded about with the Belt of Truth?
Are you wearing the Breastplate of Righteousness?
And are your feet shod with the Shoes of the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace?
You're invited to get out of your seat right now and make your way to the front, and let's end today's service with a time of prayer, worship, surrender, and ministry.
If you'd like someone to talk or pray with you, you can instant message one of us; or if you're listening later in the week or outside of Second Life, you can go to almcyberchurch.org, click the Prayer Room or Pastors' Offices link, and contact us there.
Whenever you need to go, you're dismissed, and if you can stay until after this time at the altar, you're invited to make your way up the stairs to the room on your left when you're ready, and we'll have a time of fellowship.
Come, and let's dedicate ourselves to wearing and walking in the Shoes of the Gospel of Peace.
*** listen to the audio for the closing ***