What is Cathedral Made Of People?

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Photo By: Michelle Pearson Photography

Welcome to my blog. The title comes from a song by the band, Downhere, and is on their album, End from The Beginning. I chose this title because it sums up what my overall message is in these upcoming blogs. The chorus of the song says:

We are a cathedral
made of people
In a kingdom that
the eye can’t see
We’re a house, we are the bride
Where God’s Spirit lives inside
And nothing ever
can stand against her

The decision to start this blog was born out of an event in my life in 2010. My wife and I had moved to a small, North Florida town to help my mother, and God called us to plant a church there. The town only had about nine hundred people, and already had four churches, so most people thought we were crazy. If we had been opening a business, like the fourth McDonalds in this town, I would have to agree that this was a dumb idea, but the church isn’t a business. I started checking around, and these four churches all run thirty-five to forty people, so that’s between fifteen and eighteen percent of the population. I started asking the locals why they didn’t go and got the same answer over and over. You see, a large part of this town’s population were alcoholics and addicts, and when I would ask them, they would say, “I don’t feel welcome in any of them.” Now, I hope that wasn’t a conscious effort from those churches, but it was very real. Here’s the thing, if you don’t feel comfortable in church, that’s the Holy Spirit convicting you, but if you don’t feel welcome…that’s on us.

So, in starting this church, I asked God how He wanted me to do it, and He told me to look at the first church, so I did. I spent about a year studying the first church, and do you know what I found? They were a family, and everyone was welcome. There were no denominations, they were one body, in fact, one of the key themes of the New Testament is the unity of the Body of Christ.

After this, I started talking to many pastors from all over the country and asking them why they chose the denomination they were part of. The answer I kept getting was staggering. Over and over, they told me that they chose the denomination based on the way they interpreted Scripture…did you get that? The way they interpret scripture. Every one of those pastors said that they believe the Bible is the verbally inspired, inerrant, infallible word of God. So, here’s the problem, we are not infallible, we are not inerrant, so when we put our fallible and errant interpretation on the perfect word of God, it is no longer perfect. The Bible was never meant to be interpreted. It must be taken literally, but in context, and as a whole. Not just in the context of that chapter, because the Bible wasn’t written in chapter and verse. Not just in the context of that book, but in the context of the whole Bible, as well as historically and linguistically. So, what I’m trying to say is that it takes work, but in today’s technological age, there is no excuse. On my phone, I have Greek and Hebrew dictionaries, lexicons, and the Bible in any translation I want to look at. I firmly believe that, if every Christ-follower took this approach, there would be no need for denominations. We may still see some minor things differently, but we would all agree on the major issues.

I am, by no means, saying that I have all the answers, but the Bible does. If you disagree with something I have written, feel free to contest it, I could be wrong, but anything you write, must be directly from Scripture and taken in context…so do the work. I have had people try to contest Scripture using a book on Baptist Polity before, you can imagine how that went over. So please, read and join in on the discussion. I look forward to growing together in Christ.

A Lesson In Prayer

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Photo by Michelle Pearson

A Lesson on Prayer-Part 1

In my last series, we talked about putting on All of Gods Armor from Ephesians chapter 6. I ended the last post with verses 18-20 where it just says over and over again to pray.

In these few verses, Paul says a lot about prayer. He has just finished telling us to put on all of God’s armor, now he tells us to Pray in the spirit at all times. He tells us to pray for All believers everywhere, that’s right, even the ones you don’t particularly like. He tells us to pray for him, or any of our Church leaders, and goes on to tell us what they need prayer for. First of all, that God would speak through them. We don’t need to hear what they think the Bible is saying, we need to hear what the Holy Spirit wants them to say. And then he says to pray for boldness, and that applies to every Christ follower. We need to be bold to speak the Gospel. In 2 Timothy 4:2 he says, “Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.” What he is telling us takes boldness. You have to be bold to correct, rebuke, and even to encourage people, whether the time is favorable or not. This is especially true in our society where everyone is offended at everything. The time is definitely not favorable to correct and rebuke people today. So we need boldness. But, of course, when you boldly correct, rebuke or encourage people, always do it in love and from scripture, not your own opinion. And, don’t miss that one word that precedes it all…Patiently.

So, today we are going to start looking at prayer. The words pray, prayer, praying and prayed appear 436 times in the Bible, not to mention the number of times it talks about speaking to God or meditating on His word or any of the other references to prayer without actually saying the word. Prayer and Bible study are the most important parts of the Christian life. They are our link to God. The Bible is His letter to us, His instruction manual if you will. And, prayer is our personal link to Him. It always amazes me how we have a direct line to God. I couldn’t speak to the President of the United States if my life depended on it, but I can talk to the God of the universe, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, anytime I want. I hear people say all the time, “I don’t know how to pray.” Well, if you are one of those people, this is your lucky day, because I’m about to show you what the Bible says about prayer. And, if you do know how to pray, this will still be good for you, because sometimes we miss things in the Word that can be a huge blessing.

Now, I’m not saying that I’m some kind of expert on prayer or on the Bible, I’m just saying that I might catch something that you have missed, and vice versa. The Bible says, Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” We are all here to sharpen each other, and that’s exactly why I am writing this blog, to help sharpen others. I will always strive to back everything up with Scripture, and not my opinion of what it is saying. Also, at the end of this blog, I will include some links for some great Bible study aids.

When speaking with people about prayer, both believers and non-believers alike, the 2 biggest questions I hear are; “Does God even hear me when I pray?” and “How do I know that He will answer my prayers?”. They want to know if God really has time to listen to their prayers and if He really cares. These are valid questions, but once you know what the scriptures say, it is extremely clear. We also need to ask one more question, not just is God listening to us, but am I listening to God? Andrew Murray said, “Prayer is not a monolog, but dialogue. God’s voice in response to mine is its most essential part.”

So, let’s take the first question. “Does God hear me when I pray?” The Bible clearly says he does hear us, but if we really want to be heard, we are given steps to follow.

STEP 1: To be heard, you must be righteous. Proverbs 15:29 says, “The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayers of the righteous.” And in Proverbs 15:8 “The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but he delights in the prayers of the upright.” We learned in the last blog that the Body Armor of Righteousness comes from studying the Word of God. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;”

STEP 2: Our loyalty cannot be divided. James 1:6-8But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.” Are you truly loyal to God, or is your loyalty split between God and the world? Romans 12: 2Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Also in James 4:4You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.”

STEP 3: Does what we ask for, please God? 1 John 5:14And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him.” It’s just like with your earthly father. If you ask him for the keys to his car so you can go buy some drugs, chances are you won’t get the keys. But, if you ask him for the keys so you can go buy your mom a birthday present, he’ll probably do that, because it pleases him.

STEP 4: We must call on Him in Truth. Psalm 145:18The Lord is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth.” And, where did we learn truth comes from in the last blog? The word of God IS truth, John 17:17 and Psalm 119:160.

We’ll continue this discussion in the next installment. We’ll pick up by looking at the question, “Does God Answer Our Prayer?”

A Lesson on Prayer-Part 2

Now for the second question, does God answer our prayers? 1 John 5:15And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.” Also, in Matthew 7:7-11 we read, “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him”. And in Jeremiah 29:11-1211 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen”. There are many more verses on God answering prayer, but suffice it to say that He does.

In the New Testament, Jesus gave us an outline for prayer. Many people call it “The Lord’s Prayer”, but The Lord never Prayed it, in fact, the real Lord’s prayer is found in John chapter 17. This was simply an outline to teach his disciples to pray. We find this both in Matthew 6:5-18 and Luke 11:1-13. We know that it is just an outline and not something to be religiously quoted, by reading verses 5-9. In verses 5-8 He is telling his disciples not to pray like the religious people who pray for show, and not to pray like the pagans who just babble on and on, but to get alone and sincerely pray to God. Then in verse 9, He says “Pray like this:”. Notice He doesn’t say pray these words, He says pray like this. So let’s look at the outline.

  1. Vs. 9Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.”
    1. Start by praising God
  2. Vs. 10aMay your Kingdom come soon.”
    1. Pray for His second coming…soon.
  3. Vs. 10bMay your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”
    1. Pray for His will to be done in your life, and to be done here just like it is in Heaven.
  4. Vs. 11Give us today the food we need,”
    1. We are to pray for today’s sustenance…not next years, not for the rest of our lives…TODAY’S.
  5. Vs. 12and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.”
    1. Notice He didn’t just say, “forgive our sins.” He said to forgive our sins the way we forgive others. So, if you hold a grudge, you’re asking God to hold a grudge against you…just sayin’.
  6. Vs. 13And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.”
    1. Do you have a sin in your life that you have trouble letting go of? I know I do. We need to remember that our willpower isn’t enough. We can’t resist temptation without God’s help. Pray that God will not let you yield to that temptation, and name the temptation. News flash, God already knows what that temptation is, He just wants you to admit it.
    2. Then ask Him to deliver you from the evil one, and He will.

Next time we will answer the questions, like: When Should I Pray? How Should I Pray? How Long Should I Pray? And, What Should I Pray For?

A Lesson on Prayer-Part 3

Okay, we know that He hears and answers our prayers, so let’s move on to the mechanics of prayer. We need to answer questions like, When Should I Pray, How Should I Pray, How Long Should I Pray, What Should I Pray For, Should I Pray Alone or With Others, and that nagging question, What Is This “Praying in The Spirit” All About?

When Should I Pray?

This one is pretty simple. 1 Chronicles 16:11 “Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him.” Always, there is never a bad time to pray. Prayer isn’t just asking God for the things you want, God’s not a genie. Prayer is our link to God, it is meant for us to commune with him. Just talk to Him, all the time. Talk to Him about how your day is going. Talk to Him about the guy that just cut you off on the freeway. He wants us to spend time with Him, He wants a relationship with us. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, 16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”

How Should I Pray?

We should pray with an alert mind and a thankful heart, Colossians 4:2 and Psalm 95:2. We should pray earnestly, 1 Peter 4:7. We should pray boldly, Hebrews 4:16. We should be thankful to God when we pray, 1 Corinthians 1:4 and Philippians 1:3-4. Sometimes, we need to pray to God privately, Matthew 6:6. And, we should pray in the Spirit which we will talk about shortly, Ephesians 6:18. We should pray with lifted hands…that’s right, get those hands up. 1 Timothy 2:8 “In every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy.” And, Psalm 141:2 “Accept my prayer as incense offered to you, and my upraised hands as an evening offering.” That’s right, it’s not just for the charismatic crowd.

 

How Long Should I Pray?

Of course, everyone says “Pray without ceasing”, 1 Thessalonians 5:17. The problem is that it’s not that simple. What are you praying? Are you just babbling on and on? Matthew 6:7 tells us, “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles (or pagans) do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.” To “never stop praying” is talking about that relationship with God I mentioned earlier. Don’t just repeat words…talk to Him.

Luke 6:12One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night.

Luke 18:1One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up.

Romans 12:12Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.”

Matthew 7:7-8 Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”

What Should I Pray For?

The simple answer is found in Philippians 4:6, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Pray about everything and thank God for what you have. We should pray for wisdom, James 1:5If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” I learned to take this verse literally from my youngest son. Caleb is one of the wisest young men I know, so one day I asked him about it. He said he read this verse when he was about 13 years old and has prayed for wisdom ever since. Matthew 5:44But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!” and Luke 6:27-28 27 But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.” Enough said. As it said in the model prayer, pray that you won’t be tempted, Matthew 26:41Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”. Pray for others, Romans 15:30Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to join in my struggle by praying to God for me. Do this because of your love for me, given to you by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 1:11And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety”, especially our leaders…yes, even the ones you don’t agree with, 1 Timothy 2:1-21I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.” Don’t just pray when you are in trouble, but be ready when you need to; Psalm 50:14-1514 Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. 15 Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.” And, most importantly, pray for your loved ones to be saved, Romans 10:1Dear brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is for the people of Israel to be saved.

We’ll finish up this talk on prayer in the next installment by answering a few more questions, like; what does the Bible say about praying alone as opposed to praying with others, and the big one, what is this “Praying in the Spirit” all about? See you then.

A Lesson on Prayer-Part 4

Should I Pray Alone or With Others?

The answer to this question is yes…The Bible talks a lot about praying in private, like in Matthew 6:6 where it says, “But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” But, it also has a lot to say about praying together or corporate prayer. In Acts chapter 1 we see the beginning of the first church, and the first thing they did together wasn’t to sit down and listen to a sermon, it wasn’t to have a potluck dinner, it wasn’t even to take up an offering, it was to meet together and pray. Look at verse 14, “They all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus.” And then in the very next chapter, we see an outline of how their meetings went. Acts 2:42 “All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.” Prayer is extremely important in the Christian life, but it is equally important to the life and health of the body of Christ, the Church.

What is this “Praying in The Spirit” All About?

This is a question that has caused a lot of controversies, and even divided church bodies. The reason this question has been so divisive is that so many church members, and even church leaders, try to interpret the scripture, they don’t take it literally and in context. So, what does the Bible say about “praying in the Spirit”? Ephesians 6:18 says, “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”

So, praying in the Spirit means to always be in a prayer attitude and constantly pray for all believers everywhere, but is that all? No, there is much more to it than just that. If you look at Romans 8:26, you’ll see this; “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” This is saying that praying in the Spirit is also letting the Holy Spirit intercede for you when you don’t have the right words to say, but there is more. 1 Corinthians 14:15 says, “Well then, what shall I do? I will pray in the spirit, and I will also pray in words I understand. I will sing in the spirit, and I will also sing in words I understand.” This passage, along with others, is clearly talking about praying in an unknown language, not a foreign language, but the language of Angels, 1 Corinthians 13:1 “If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” The languages of earth and of Angels…that isn’t French, or German, or even Hebrew, it is an unknown language to us. But when we let the Holy Spirit intercede for us, He prays through us in the language of angels.

What are the Results of Prayer?

Well, as we’ve already seen, He hears and He answers our prayers, but there is so much more than that. The first benefit of prayer is Peace. Philippians 4:6-7 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” He’ll show you things to come, Jeremiah 33:3 “Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.”

So, as it says in Ephesians 6:18-2018 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. 19 And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike. 20 I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.”

For more on prayer, also read James chapters 4 and 5…Oh yeah, I promised some study aids. Well, here they are:

Bible Gateway

Blue Letter Bible

The Linked Word Project

Bible Study Tools

Bible Tools

You Version

Here are a few more quotes on prayer:

“Those persons who know the deep peace of God, the unfathomable peace that passeth all understanding, are always men and women of much prayer.” ~ R. A. Torrey

“You may as soon find a living man that does not breath, as a living Christian that does not pray.”  ~ Matthew Henry

“Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer.”  ~ John Bunyan

 

Put on All of God’s Armor

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Photo by Michelle Pearson

Put on All of God’s Armor-Part 1

In 1 Samuel 17, we read the story of David killing Goliath, but I want to look specifically at verses 38-40. They say, 38 Then Saul gave David his own armor—a bronze helmet and a coat of mail. 39 David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what it was like, for he had never worn such things before. ’I can’t go in these,’ he protested to Saul. ‘I’m not used to them.’ So David took them off again. 40 He picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine.” There were a couple of problems with Saul’s armor. First of all, it was the wrong armor, Saul’s armor was made for Saul, a man who stood head and shoulders above everyone else. Secondly, David didn’t know how to put it on or how to wear it. David was just a shepherd boy; he didn’t have any idea how to put on armor.

I have read a lot of commentaries on Ephesians 6:10-20 and heard many different pastors preach on it, but I have never heard anyone talk about where to get the armor. So today I want to look at the importance of wearing the right armor and how to put it on.

In Ephesians chapter 6, starting at verse 10, the Bible tells us to put on ALL of God’s armor:

“10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.”

In these first three verses, the Apostle Paul tells us twice to put on all of God’s armor. He doesn’t say to put on some of God’s armor, or just to put on what feels good, he emphasizes ALL, so this is the first thing we must understand. The Church today feels entitled. we think we can pick and choose what we want to believe and what we want to obey. If we are to be effective for Christ we have to completely surrender to Him. We must quit picking and choosing and start obeying. I know in our privileged and entitled society this is not a popular statement, but it is the truth. Matthew 4:4 says, But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”” Did you get that? Every word, that means we can’t pick and choose, we can’t decide which parts we want to believe, we must believe and live by the entire Bible…every word.

So, once we have surrendered ourselves to His will and realized that putting on all of God’s armor is a prerequisite, the next question is, where do I get it?

Let’s see what Paul tells us in verse 14 “Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.” So, in this verse, he first tells us to stand our ground. So, we can’t waver, we can’t be wishy-washy, we must stand firm, and in order to stand firm, we have to know what it says…all of it. Then it gives us the first two pieces of the armor. He says to put on the Belt of Truth. In armor, the belt wasn’t just there to hold your pants up or to hang your cell phone on, it was to protect your gut. It was usually made of thick leather and covered your stomach and bowels. And in God’s armor, your gut is covered by the belt of truth. Have you ever had a gut feeling that something was wrong? We know the truth in our gut. So, where does this belt of truth come from? John 17:17 says, “Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.” and Psalm 119:160 says, “ The very essence of your words is truth; all your just regulations will stand forever.” So clearly, the belt of truth comes from reading and knowing God’s Word, because His Word IS truth. Notice it doesn’t say that His word teaches the truth, or that His word tells the truth, it says that His Word IS truth. The word of God is, by its very nature, truth itself. It embodies truth, it doesn’t merely speak the truth.

The second part of verse 14 says to put on the body armor, or breastplate, of God’s righteousness. So, we are to have God’s righteousness covering and protecting our heart. This is extremely important in every aspect of the Christian life. Proverbs 4:23 tells us “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” The profit Malachi tells men twice to guard our hearts to stay loyal to our wives. And in Philippians 4:7 it says, “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” So, this body armor of righteousness is obviously important. His righteousness guards our heart, which keeps us loyal and determines the course of our lives. So, without it we are lost, but where do we get it? 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;” So, all scripture is profitable for training in righteousness. So many believers think that once they have accepted Christ they are righteous. This could not be further from the truth. We need to be trained in righteousness and that training only comes from reading, memorizing, meditating on, studying and living the word of God. Psalm 119:11 “ I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

This takes us to verse 15, which says, “For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.” So, the next thing is to cover our feet. Our feet do the work, they take us where God sends us. This one is pretty clear cut. It says to cover our feet with the peace that comes from the Good News. The definition of the word Gospel is Good News. In fact, some translations say it, cover your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace. We are to go in peace, but be ready for war. And, to prepare for going in peace, we must know the Gospel…we have to be well versed in the Good News that we are taking. In 1 Peter 3:15, the Apostle Peter tells us, “Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.” So how can we always be ready to give an answer? We have to know the Gospel; we have to know the word of God. Are we seeing a trend here? So far we have learned that, in order to have the belt of truth, the body armor of righteousness and the shoes of peace, we have to know what the Word of God says. We’ll pick up in verse 16 in our next installment and see what else we need to do.

Put on God’s Armor-Part 2

In our last blog, we looked at the first three pieces of armor. The next verse goes on to say, Verse 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.” The devil is constantly shooting flaming arrows at us, so we had better have a shield to stop them. Sometimes when we think of shields, we think of a small shield that straps to the soldier’s arm, but that shield is to defend yourself against a strike from a sword. The shield that stops arrows, especially flaming ones, is a large shield that you can crouch down behind and it covers your whole body. This shield is the shield of faith. Now, faith is something we need to talk about because faith is paramount in the Christian life. The Bible tells us in Hebrews 11:6 that it is impossible to please God without faith, but many in the Church today have started worshiping the faith itself instead of the one we are to have faith in. As my wife often says, “faith does not move mountains, God moves mountains, but we must have faith that he can do it.” Quite frankly, God can move mountains whether we have faith or not. But to ward off the fiery arrows of Satan, God tells us to use the Shield of Faith. So, where does this Shield of Faith come from? I thought you’d never ask. Romans 10:17 says, “ So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” Okay, so faith comes from hearing the word of Christ, and where do we hear the word of Christ? The Gospel, the Good News, The Bible. So, to have the Shield of Faith, we must hide the word of Christ in our hearts. We must crouch down behind our faith and trust God to protect us from those fiery darts. Matthew 23:37 says, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me”. God wants to protect us under His wing just like a chicken protects her chicks. The only way we can let Him is to have a relationship with Him and have true faith that He will be there.

Verse 17 goes on to say, “ Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” This verse gives us 2 more. The first one is to put on Salvation as our Helmet. Without the Helmet of Salvation, the rest is completely useless. Without salvation, all the faith in the world won’t help you. There are more verses on salvation than I can list, but here are a few:

  • Hebrews 2:3 “So what makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus himself and then delivered to us by those who heard him speak?”
  • 2 Samuel 22:47 “The Lord lives! Praise to my Rock! May God, the Rock of my salvation, be exalted!”
  • Psalm 18:46 “The Lord lives! Praise to my Rock! May the God of my salvation be exalted!”
  • Psalm 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation— so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?”
  • Jonah 2:9 “But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the Lord alone.”
  • When John the Baptizer’s father, Zechariah prophesied over him, he said, Luke 1:76-78 76And you, my little son, will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will prepare the way for the Lord. 77 You will tell his people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins. 78 Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us.”

As with every other piece of the armor, we cannot get salvation without the Word of God. In Romans 10:14 we read, “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” Also in 1 Corinthians 1:18, “The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.” And in 1 Corinthians 1:21, “Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe.” So, the Helmet of Salvation comes from the preaching of the Word. Again, I can’t stress enough the importance of salvation. Notice it is the helmet, it is the top thing, the most important, it protects our head. Without the Helmet of Salvation, the rest of the armor doesn’t matter. Acts 4:11-12 says, 11 For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says, ‘The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’ 12 There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” In today’s world, I constantly hear people say, “it doesn’t matter what you believe in as long as you believe in something.” That is nothing but a lie from the Devil. It is exactly what Satan wants us to believe, but the Bible makes it perfectly clear that salvation is only through Jesus, the Christ.

So, what is salvation?

  1. Admit that you are a sinner and in need of salvation.
    1. Romans 3:23For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”
    2. Romans 3:10As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous—not even one.”
    3. Romans 5:12When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.”
  2. Realize just what that means.
    1. Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
  3. I’m not worthy! That’s right, none of us are.
    1. Romans 5:8But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”
  4. What do I need to do?
    1. Romans 10:9-10 “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.”
  5. How do I know if it worked?
    1. Romans 10:13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
  6. Now What? Live it!
    1. Matthew 5:16 “In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”

I’m going to let you chew on that, and we’ll finish this up in our next blog. See you then.

All of God’s Armor-Part 3

Up to this point, we’ve looked at the Belt of Truth, the Body Armor of Righteousness, the Shoes of Peace, the Shield of Faith, and the Helmet of Salvation.

The next piece, in the second half of verse 17, is the Sword of the Spirit, and he gives this one away because he says, “which is the Word of God”…pretty cut and dried, right? In Hebrews 4:12 it says, “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” Our weapon is the Word of God. Everything listed up to this point is defensive, it is all for protection, and it all comes from the Word of God, but our weapon is the Word itself. Have you ever watched one of those “swashbuckler” movies where a guy picks up a sword but doesn’t know how to use it? It never ends well, does it? So again, we have to be well versed in our weapon, it has to become an extension of our arm, we have to become one with it. But this verse doesn’t end with the Word of God is a sword, it goes on to say, it divides the soul and spirit, joint and marrow, and it exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. The Word of God cuts deep it exposes who we really are, it strips away any pretense.

Sadly, there are so many phonies in the church today. People that make it all about them, they constantly talk about the “gifts” they have and the miracles they have performed. If they truly got into the Word, it would divide their soul and spirit. It would expose their innermost thoughts and desires, and then…and only then…could they be used.

So, to recap, we are to put on all of God’s armor:

  • The Belt of Truth = The Word of God
  • The Body Armor of Righteousness = The Word of God
  • The Shoes of the Preparation of the Gospel = The Word of God
  • The Shield of Faith = The Word of God
  • The Helmet of Salvation = The Word of God
  • The Sword of the Spirit = The Word of God

But it doesn’t stop there. Verses 18-20 go on to say, “18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. 19 And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike. 20 I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.” So, he says to pray in the Spirit at all times, be persistent in your prayers for all believers. Then Paul says, pray for me that God will give me the right words to say. Then he ends it by saying, pray that I will keep on speaking boldly.

Paul starts out by telling us to put on all of God’s armor, which, as we have seen, means stay in the word, then he says to pray, and pray, and pray, and keep on praying. So the formula for protecting ourselves from Satan’s fiery darts is to study, memorize and meditate on the word of God, and then pray. Pray for each other, pray for our spiritual leaders and pray for ourselves. We’ll go more into prayer soon.

This passage is one of many examples that show us how Christianity is not about showing up at church every Sunday. It is not about having your “quiet time” every day. It is not about religion! If you study the New Testament, you will see that every time religion is mentioned, with the exception of one verse, it is mentioned in a negative light. Paul kept saying how he left the religion of his father to follow Christ. The people that Jesus had problems with were the religious leaders. The only time that religion is mentioned in a positive light is in James 1:27 “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” So, what God sees as true Religion is caring for widows and orphans and keeping yourself pure from the world. It’s not about where you “go to church”, or the organ, or the stained glass windows. It is about a relationship with God. Relationships only work when we put work into them. If I spent one hour a week with my wife, our marriage wouldn’t have lasted a year, and yet so many people who call themselves Christians do just that with God, they give him one hour a week. God doesn’t want our leftovers, He wants everything, and the only way we can cultivate that relationship is to spend time with Him. Spend time studying and memorizing His word, spend time talking to Him and listening to His voice.

So, put on ALL of God’s Armor, and be ready…the enemy is out there. 1 Peter 5:8, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”