The Armor of God, Part Four: Faith

Posted on 12/01/2013 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

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TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***


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HE HAS MADE ME GLAD

I will enter his gates
with thanksgiving in my heart
I will enter his courts
with praise
I will say this is the day
that the Lord has made
I will rejoice for
he has made me glad

He has made me glad
he has made me glad
I will rejoice for
he has me me glad!


HIS BANNER OVER ME

He is the vine and we are the branches
His banner over me is love (x3)

His banner over me is love

He calls us to his banqueting table
His banner over me is love (x3)

His banner over me is love


YOU ARE MY ALL IN ALL

You are my strength when I am weak
You are the treasure that I seek
You are my all in all

Seeking you as a precious jewel
Lord, to give up I'd be a fool
You are my all in all

Jesus, Lamb of God
worthy is your name
Jesus, Lamb of God
worthy is your name

Taking my sin, my cross, my shame
Rising again I bless your name
You are my all in all

When I fall down you pick me up
When I am dry you fill my cup
You are my all in all

Jesus, Lamb of God
worthy is your name
Jesus, Lamb of God
worthy is your name


I LOVE YOU LORD

I love you, Lord
And I lift my voice
To worship You
Oh, my soul rejoice!
Take joy my King
In what You hear
Let it be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ear


*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***


For the past few weeks, we've been talking about the armor of God, that armor which we must put on daily if we are to stand against the deceitful trickery of the devil. And I said we covered this series three years ago, but it was actually more like a year and a half, and again three years before that. I haven't sued myself for plagiarism yet, but I'm seriously thinking about it. Anyway...

So far, we've taken a look at Truth, Righteousness, and The Gospel -- our belt, our breastplate, and our shoes. As I mentioned two weeks ago, the parts of the armor are arranged in the Ephesians passage in a very interesting and meaningful pattern. Let's take a look.

First and last are Truth and the Word of God. Jesus is the truth, and Jesus is the Word of God. Jesus also is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end, so it makes sense that He is listed as the first part of the armor and as the last part.

And He isn't just first and last with a big gap in the middle; rather, if He is first and last, then He is all the way through. This is similar to the Hebrew concept of "first" as "central." They did not prioritize in a list like we do, but in the concept of circles, where the "first" thing is the center, and everything else revolves around that.

For example, the verse which says "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness" could also be read as "Seek central the Kingdom of God and His righteousness," meaning that His kingdom and His righteousness are the central thing, and everything else revolves around that.

Using that concept, we could envision Jesus, the first and the last, as both the center and the surrounding -- that around which everything in our life should revolve, and the one who surrounds us and in whom we must abide.

Without Jesus at the center, the words "righteousness," "the gospel," "faith," and "salvation" have no meaning.

And then, we also noticed that the remaining four parts of the armor are listed in pairs. Not one right after the other, but overlapping, or woven together like a cord of four strands.

The four parts in the middle are Righteousness, The Gospel, Faith, and Salvation. But Righteousness and Faith, and The Gospel and Salvation, are the two pairs, and they overlap like teeth in a zipper or laces in a shoe. They are intimately interwoven, and they are meant to all be worn together -- they just aren't effective with any of them missing; you need them all.

Last week we talked about The Gospel, and next week we'll talk about Salvation. Week before last, we talked about Righteousness, and this week we're going to talk about Faith.


Ephesians chapter 6, verses 10 through 16 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;
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
(KMV)

And the title of today's message is, "The Armor of God, Part Four: Faith."


Week before last, we saw in the Scriptures that Abraham's belief in God, his belief which was so strong that he was willing to sacrifice his only son, his son of promise, was counted to him by God as righteousness. And when the New Testament speaks of the disobedience of the Israelites which kept them from entering God's rest, it uses unbelief and disobedience interchangeably: "They did not enter in because of their disobedience," "They did not enter in because of their unbelief."

We considered that disobedience begins in the heart as unbelief, and the fruit of belief is that we obey.

So the beginning of righteousness is belief.

And today we're going to talk about the other piece of that pair, which is Faith.

Romans chapter 1, verses 16 and 17 says this:

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one who believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
17 For the righteousness of God is revealed in it from faith to faith; as it is written, "The righteous will live by faith."
(KMV)

Here we see righteousness and faith, our matching pair of parts of the armor. The righteous lives by faith, just as belief is counted as righteousness. Do you see the pattern there?

This passage starts by saying the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one who believes, and then says the righteous shall live by faith.

In these two verses, we see the two pairs -- the four middle parts -- of the armor of God: The Gospel and Salvation, and Righteousness and Faith. And they are wrapped up, surrounded by, and centered in the Truth and The Word, Jesus Christ.

And just as Salvation cannot come without The Gospel, so Faith and Righteousness are intimately woven together.

Last week we talked about The Gospel, presented to us as shoes, or something we wear on our feet. It is something we walk out, and something we prepare ourselves to take to others.

And according to this passage, it reveals to us the righteousness of God, from glory to glory, from faith to faith.

2 Corinthians 3:18 says this:

18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are changed into His image from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord.
(KMV)

Just as the Holy Spirit transforms us into the image of Christ "from glory to glory," so the Gospel reveals to us the righteousness of God "from faith to faith."

And just as we are changed from glory to glory as we behold the glory of the Lord, so we are brought from faith to faith as the righteousness of God is revealed to us by beholding the Gospel.

And the Gospel isn't just John 3:16, but it is found from Genesis to Revelation. As we continue to read and study the Scriptures daily, we'll continue to see new aspects of our great need for a savior, and God's great love for us in sending Jesus to save us from our sin and to reconcile us to God.

And as we study the Gospel, realizing that it requires repentence and is a life-long journey, a new way of life, then new facets of the righteousness of God will continue to be revealed to us, from faith to faith.

Righteousness creates faith, and faith is counted as righteousness.


So what exactly is faith? Well the first chapter of the book of Romans explains it quite well.

Romans 1:1

1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Faith is not LIKE the substance, but it IS the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen. It is as tangible to the one who posesses it as any solid physical thing.

Faith is a spiritual substance. And it is evidence, proof positive, of that which we cannot see with our physical eyes.

How can you explain faith? Certainly not better or more concise than that, "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

The critic demands something of substance that can be seen and touched. They demand evidence, verifyable proof.

Well, we have it. But we can't give it to them. Only God can do that. And they have to receive it.

They would respond by saying that's circular logic, that we have to just blindly believe; but faith is not just belief. It is more solid than a conviction. It is more sure than knowing something is so. I could believe that I can fly, totally convinced and without a single doubt. But jumping off a tall building would be a very deadly learning experience indeed, and the results would not be changed by what I believed.

Mere belief or conviction cannot command a mountain to be removed and cast into the sea, and have it obey. But Jesus said if we have faith as small as a mustard seed, nothing will be impossible.


Let's read a little more about faith.

Romans 1:1-25

1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.
3 Through faith, we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.
4 By faith, Abel offered to God a greater sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained the good report that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and by it, he, being dead, still speaks.
5 By faith, Enoch was taken away so he would not experience death, and he could not be found, because God had taken him; for before he was taken, he had this good report, that he pleased God.
6 But without faith, it is impossible to please Him; for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
7 By faith, Noah, being warned by God of things not yet seen, in reverence and fear, prepared an ark, resulting in the saving of his household. By this, he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
8 By faith, Abraham, when he was called to go out to a place which he would later receive as an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.
9 By faith, he lived as a stranger in the land of promise, as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.
10 For he looked for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
11 Through faith, Sara herself also received strength to conceive, and gave birth to a child when she was past childbearing age, because she considered Him faithful who had promised.
12 Therefore, even from one, and him as good as dead, sprang a multitude as numerous as the stars in the sky, and as innumerable as the sand which is by the sea shore.
13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them from afar, and were convinced of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.
15 And truly, if they had held the memory of that country from where they came, they would have had opportunity to return.
16 But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared for them a city.
17 By faith, Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac; and he who had received the promises, offered up his only begotten son,
18 Of whom it was said, "In Isaac your descendants will be called."
19 He considered that God was able to raise him up even from the dead (from where he received him, figuratively speaking).
20 By faith, Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things yet to come.
21 By faith, Jacob, when he was dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning upon the top of his staff.
22 By faith, Joseph, when he died, made mention of the exodus of the children of Israel, and gave commands concerning his bones.
23 By faith, Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child, and they were not afraid of the king's command.
24 By faith, Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter,
25 Choosing instead to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.
(KMV)

And this keeps going for 14 more verses. It says that through faith, they subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, in weariness were made strong, and valiantly turned the enemy armies to flight.

It says women received their dead raised back to life.

Then verse 37 says, "They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were killed by the sword, they wandered around in sheep and goat skins, being destitute, afflicted, and tormented.

Woah, that's a rough turn there. Doesn't having faith mean we will become wealthy and will live comfortable, safe lives?

Well, if faith were what we think it is, then it would mean all that and more. But it's not.

You see, we cannot create our own faith. It is a miracle gift from God. And just as it comes only from God, it is not ours to control and direct as we please.

"From faith to faith." Faith has a purpose. It is not just some belief or flight of fancy; rather, it is a subtance, a proof, of a specific hope, of something in particular that cannot be seen with the physical eyes.

The first faith is the faith of Salvation. We believe God exists and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him. So we begin to seek Him, knowing that He will reveal himself to us if we don't quit.

And then He gives us the gift of faith -- not a blind acceptance of a general system of belief, but a supernatural substance of something very specific.

We are given the faith in Jesus that results in our repenting of our sins and accepting His Lordship and His Salvation.

Are you born again? Then you have faith. But does that mean that when you pray for someone's healing, they recover? Not necessarily. You see, the faith for salvation is specific for getting saved. "From faith to faith."

Let's take another look at verse three:

3 Through faith, we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

This holds a very important key to understanding what faith really is. First of all, this verse compares faith to God's creation of all things by His word. It is through faith that we know all things were framed by the word of God, and that creation was an act of things being made from things which cannot be seen.

God's word was the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.

And His words were specific. He spoke specifically into the darkness and created the light. He spoke words aimed directly at creating dry land.

He did not say, "Let there be everything," but rather, "Let there be light. Let there be a firmament. Let there be dry land. Let there be trees bearing fruit with seed in them. Let there be animals reproducing after their own kind."

And it's worth noting here that God did not have faith. Instead, He had his word. Or perhaps "instead" isn't the right word. Maybe there isn't really any difference.

While that sinks in a little, I'd like for us to notice what this verse says, "the worlds were framed by the Word of God." What does that word "framed" mean?

Well, it can mean to form or to make. It can be the structure that supports something that will be built. It can mean to conceive or imagine. It can mean to give utterance to. It can mean "to shape for a particular purpose." And it can mean "to form with the lips, as if enunciating carefully."

Let's consider those last two meanings.

To shape for a particular purpose. God's words are never aimless. They are never idle. They are shaped for a particular purpose.

And then, to form with the lips, as if enunciating carefully.

God does not mumble. He speaks clearly. He enunciates carefully. We tend to not mind being a bit sloppy with his word; but He enunciates carefully for a reason.

When He said, "Let there be light," it was very carefully enunciated, it was very specific, and it was perfect. It wasn't a light that would overpower, nor one that was too dim to see by. It was a light that could be delivered by the sun, and reflected off the moon. It would shine from fire and decorate the night sky with signs and seasons.

And His word, that which created everything from that which could not be seen, that word is reflected in and is the creator of faith.

Romans 10:17 says this:

17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
(KMV)

Do you hear God? If you're not feeding on His word and putting it inside you by applying it to your life, then you can't hear God, even if you think you do; for the verse goes on to say that "hearing (comes) by the word of God."

Do you see the connection? The word of God, the perfect image of faith, enables us to hear the voice of God, and the voice of God creates faith within us -- a specific faith for a specific purpose.

Have you ever prayed about a situation and suddenly God dropped a nuclear bomb inside your spirit? You knew beyond the shadow of any doubt that it would be done. Well that was faith. And it might have included instructions, such as, "Command that cripple to rise up and walk!"

It went far beyond a strong belief. It was a spiritual substance of something yet unseen. It was given by God, delivered by the voice of His Spirit. And the ability to hear His voice came by the Word of God.

And it is this faith with which we will be able to quench all the firey darts of the wicked. Not just some of the darts. And not even most of them. But ALL the firey darts of the enemy.

Are you holding up the shield of faith? It is made of all the bits of faith God gives you as you are able to hear his voice because of His word.

And one of the firey darts of the wicked is unbelief. That's a big one. Unbelief creates disobedience. Unbelief is unrighteousness. And Unbelief is quenched by the shield of faith.

Are you listening to Oprah more than to the word of God? Are you listening to music that speaks God's word, or that which comes from a life centered on self? Are you conditioning your day by starting with reading the Bible and spending time in the presence of the Lord so He can speak to you and so you can listen?

The more the word of God is crowded out of your life by other things, the more susceptible you are to doubt, because the less faith you will have.

Faith is proof positive. It is substance you can wrap your hand around and thereby know that the purpose of that faith is a sure thing, a done deal.

Faith leaves no room for doubt. Do you doubt that God can or will heal you or set you free? Then pray for faith, and fill yourself with the word of God, spending time every day to wait quietly in His presence, listening for His voice.

Faith is so very important. Ephesians 6:16 says, "Above all, take the shield of faith." Above all. Most importantly. Faith is vital. Romans 1:6 says, "Without faith, it is impossible to please God." You must have faith.

Faith results in a good report, a report that says you please God. And faith comes only from God.

So above all, seek faith. Fill yourself with the Word of God. Choose to believe it. Strengthen that belief by acting on it, putting it into practice, obeying it in all things. Set aside time every day doing nothing except being in the presence of God. Let Jesus, the Word of God, be the center of your day and of everything you do.

And if you do this, then I can promise you faith will begin to grow in you. Do your part and it will come in God's timing for God's purposes. And when God gives you that faith, that substance of what you hope for, that solid evidence of what you can't see, then you will speak to that mountain, commanding it to be cast into the sea, and it will be done. And nothing will be impossible.


Let's close today's service with a time of prayer and ministry.


Do you lack faith? Start right now a lifestyle of dilligently seeking after God, of feeding daily on His word, of starting every day praying, worshiping, and spending time with God.

And if you choose to make that commitment today, then you're invited to get out of your seat and come to the altar, and get this worked out with God.

If you don't know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then today is the acceptible day of Salvation, and I urge you to come running to the foot of the cross while He is calling. You can't come to Him if He's not drawing you, and He won't struggle with you forever. Turn from your life of sin and come to Jesus right now.

This altar is open for prayer, worship, and ministry, and you're all invited to get out of your seat and come gather at the front, as we spend time together in the presence of the Lord.

If you'd like someone to pray or speak with you, feel free to instant message one of us.

Whenever you need to leave, you're dismissed. And if you can stay until after this time at the altar, you're invited to join us in the Fellowship Room up the stairs to your left, where we'll meet in a few minutes for a time of fellowship.

Lord, thank you for your Word, and that you have given us all the gift of faith. Help us to seek after you more diligently, and help us to hear your voice so faith can arise in our hearts.

You know the needs that we have today, and I ask that as we apply your Word to those situations in our life, that you would speak to us, giving us the faith to move those mountains.

And we ask these things in Jesus' name.

Come, let's gather at the altar, and spend some time listening for the voice of the author and the finisher of our faith.