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The Helmet of Salvation and the Sword of the Spirit – Ephesians 6:17

03 Sep

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:17  )

I don’t remember where it was, but I was about to go down a stairway that had a low entrance. Above it was a sign that read, “Mind Thy Head!” It meant, “Look out or you will hit your head!”

I’m also amazed at how many Christians do not mind their heads. They swim in the currents of worldly ideas and entertainment without developing a Christian mind. They’re oblivious to the godless philosophic assumptions that underlie worldly thinking.

They buy into the postmodern idea that there is no such thing as knowable, absolute truth in the spiritual or moral realms. These careless Christians ignore, or sometimes even ridicule, the need for sound doctrine. They want experience, not doctrine. They want good feelings, not careful thinking. Because they do not mind their heads, they are not transformed by the renewing of their minds. Rather, they are conformed to this evil world (Rom. 12:1-2). God gives us the helmet of salvation so that we will mind our heads:

Just before going into battle, the Roman soldier would put on a helmet, either made of bronze or of leather with pieces of metal covering it. It also had cheek pieces to protect part of his face.

1. The helmet protects your head from the enemy’s attacks.

Your head is a very important part of your body, because it contains your brain, which controls everything. Your head determines how you think about all of life.

How you think in large part determines how you feel and how you act.

How you think determines your worldview, which also affects how you feel and act. A person with a postmodern worldview does not believe in moral absolutes. They do not think anything is absolutely evil. They do not believe in judging the behavior of others as wrong. That would be intolerant and judgmental.

B. Your head determines how you function in all of life.

If your brain is not working properly, it affects how other parts of your body work. A brain injury can affect motor skills or the ability to speak or think clearly. If a soldier got knocked unconscious by a blow to the head, he was probably doomed. He had to guard his head by having his helmet securely in place.

Spiritually, salvation determines how we live in this sinful world. We live as pilgrims who have been rescued from this present evil kingdom of Satan. We live in subjection to Jesus Christ as Lord and King. We view everything—values, money, entertainment, the arts, or politics—from the perspective of being saved people.

C. Your head determines how you relate to others.

Once you put on the helmet of salvation, you realize that all people are in one of two (and only two) camps: either they are saved and going to heaven; or, they are lost and going to hell.

If a person is not saved, then he cannot understand the things of God. They are foolishness to him (1 Cor. 1:18; 2:14). He is blind to much of his own sin. He is living for himself and his own futile goals. He has false views about death and eternity, thinking that if there is a heaven, he’s probably good enough to go there.

But because you have put on the helmet of salvation, you relate to people differently than you did before. You now love the people of God, whom you avoided before. You now view lost people with compassion and understanding, yearning that they would come to know God through Jesus Christ.

You do not view lost people as the enemy, but as victims of the enemy. While you can no longer join with them in their course of sinful behavior (1 Pet. 4:3-4), you pray for their salvation and look for opportunities to talk with them about the Savior. Putting on the helmet of salvation means that you relate differently to the world.

Believers Stand Firm by Taking Up the Sword of the Spirit

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:17)

The sword Paul refers to is the dagger (machaira), which varied in length from six to eighteen inches. It was the common sword used by Roman soldiers in hand-to-hand combat, and was carried in a sheath attached to the belt.[1]

A skillful soldier used it to deflect the blows of his enemy, and the Word of God must be used in this fashion. We get a picture of this when Satan attacked Christ in the wilderness (Matt 4). To each of Satan’s temptations, Christ responded with Scripture. Therefore, the Christian who does not know the Word of God well will have problems defending against the attacks of the devil.

A Proper View of Scripture 2 Peter 1:19-21

Most people know they need guidance for their lives. Just over a thousand randomly selected persons were surveyed recently on behalf of a life insurance/financial services company. 75% said they believed they were created by God for a purpose, but only 45% of those said they understood what that purpose was.

The questions more people in that survey said they would like to ask God than any other?

  1. “What is my purpose on Earth?”
  2. “Will I have life after death?”
  3. “Why do bad things happen?”

To some of us, it would seem strange that anybody would want to ask such things of God. We’d likely reply that he has already answered them.

Christians believe that God does communicate with the men and women he has created in his image and that the primary vehicle through which he does so is the Bible.

The Barna Research Group discovered a few years back that 10 % of the 1,000 people in one of its polls thought Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife, 16% were sure the New Testament contained a book written by Thomas the apostle, and 38% thought the Old and New Testaments were written a few years after the death of Jesus.

While it may be impractical and impossible for every Christian to be a genuine biblical scholar. It’s not unreasonable to expect that every Christian should be a regular reader and prayerful student of Scripture.

(2 Peter 1:19-21)  And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. {20} Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. {21} For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Paul had words of praise for the Christians at Thessalonica in that they received the gospel message, not as the word of men, “but, as it is in truth, the word of God” (I Thes. 2: 13).

This parallels Paul’s text about the Word of God: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

2 Timothy 4:2 (ESV)
2  preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort (encourage), with complete patience and teaching.

God enabled certain specially chosen individuals to know the otherwise unknowable or interpret the otherwise merely puzzling and communicate those insights correctly.  We believe the Bible in inerrant (without error) and authoritative.

Four propositions which I feel must govern our thinking as we approach the subject of the authority of the Scriptures in this 21th century

  1. We have no right to hold a different view of Scripture than that held by Jesus himself.

The authority of the Bible rests squarely upon the authority of Jesus Christ himself.

To be a Christian at all means that we have fully accepted the authority of Jesus. It is an utter inconsistency to say that we accept what the Bible says about Christ and reject what he says about Scripture.

  1. We have no right to views of Scripture which are different from the apostles’ view of Scripture.

The apostles, like our Lord, are our teachers. We are not theirs. It is Karl Barth who says, “We cannot stand and look over the apostles’ shoulders, correcting their work. It is they who stand looking over our shoulders, correcting our work.”

The apostles, in writing the New Testament, everywhere declare that their authority is simply the Lord’s authority. They, too, rest the authority of their words squarely upon the authority of the Lord Jesus.

These men who lived in the 1st century and associated with the Lord Jesus, who heard his words, and who so ministered in power throughout the world of their day as to transform the generation in which they lived, knew far more about what God thought and said than any man studying theology today.

  1. Scripture does not need to be defended, but simply declared.

No one today has access to divine truth by means of any personal interview with deity. God does not speak in dreams, visions, or by a supernatural illumination of the Holy Spirit.

Objective revelation has been made known through the completed Bible, and men will only be exposed to the message of the Scriptures as we distribute the sacred volume and proclaim its saving message.

Every single Christian must take seriously his obligation to teach the Bible consistent with his divinely appointed role, ability, and opportunity.

The whole testimony of this church is to the fact that it is the preaching and the exposition of the Bible that establishes its authority. We do not need to defend it, just declare it, proclaim it.

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (pp. 367–368). Chicago: Moody Press.

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2020 in ephesians

 

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