THE SHIELD OF FAITH
TEXT: Ephesians 6:10-17 AFinally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles 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 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye 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 ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:@
Intro: THERE ISYNo salvation without FAITH! No peace without FAITH! Nothing solid or eternal accomplished by the Christian without FAITH.
Jesus said, AIf ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.@ Matt 17:20
Every Christian needs Amountain moving faith.@ In the work of the church, and in a Christians progress, there are mountains made of doubts to banish; obstacles in the way of progress to remove; indifferences of others to persuade; unbelief of some to convince; and satanic attack which hinder to squelch. In times of weakness and distress I remind myself to have Afaith in God@ because, Athe just shall live by faith.@
Every Christian ought to be familiar with the Armor mentioned in Eph 6. To be a successful Christian, we must put on this spiritual Armor because, Awe wrestle not against flesh and blood.@ In the spiritual battle we face as Christians, God has chosen our weapons: 2 Cor 10:3-4 says Athough we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)@ Meaning not of our flesh like swords and spears; but spiritual weapons that work to remove our material or physical problems.
From the helmet of salvation to the shoes of the gospel of peace, we are to be protected and armed fora conflict that depends not on human strength but on faith in the power of God. If we realize the nature of the warfare and the forces against us, it's foolish to enter the conflict with anything except our God-given weapons.
In Eph 6 the Holy Spirit reveals to us that one piece of this armor is more important than all the rest. He says, AAbove all, taking the shield of faith.@
FAITH is the Christian=s shield with which we defend ourselves against the fierce attacks of our adversary. This shield of FAITH is able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. Skepticism and doubt, voiced by an unbelieving world, are often used by Satan to shake our FAITH and cause us despair and doubt.
I.e. the claim that the bones of Jesus and his family have been found in Israel was designed to shake the faith of Christians around the world. What they found was first discovered 25 years ago. If the findings were what they claim, which they say is the most amazing discovery of modern times why would they sit on this discovery for so long before announcing it? NO way!!! The Di Vinci code drew them out. Paul warns that there will be those, AWho concerning the truth have erred…. and overthrow the faith of some.@ (2Ti 2:18)
My opinion is that if ones faith can be overthrown, it was only cerebral, not a real faith to begin with.
I want to show you some fundamental truths about FAITH in the Christian life. These must be understood if we are to survive the conflicts of life.
I. WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND WHAT FAITH IS!
1. Faith is believing and trusting God. Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” What is it we hope for? Eternal salvation, a new body, a heavenly home, rewards for service, etc, these are what the “substance,” and the
“assurance” is. Faith in them is the “evidence” that it is all true, though unseen. Faith believes what it can’t see! We possess the gift of Faith, given to us by God, which is an assurance of what can’t be proven by being touched or felt.
Psa 37:1-7 AFret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. 2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. 3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. 4 Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. 5 Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. 6 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. 7 Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.@
2. Faith is taking God at his word, realizing that it is through His Word that He reveals Himself and His plan for the ages. 1 John 5:13 AThese things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.@
Rom 15:4 AFor whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.@
Heb 11:3 AThrough faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God,..@ We accept the verification of Noah=s flood because Jesus authenticated it as real. Biblical faith isY
(1) Believing without seeing. Heb 11:1 ANow faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.@ Jn 20:29 “…blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”
(2) Hearing and then believing. Romans 10:17 ASo then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.@
(3) Believing then taking action. Romans 10:13 AFor whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.@
The Bible instructs us on how to use our faithY
1. To WALK by faith. Ephesians 2:10 AFor we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we shouldwalk in them. 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation (Gr. the calling we received from God) wherewith ye are calledY@
2. To WORK by faith. 1Th 1:3 ARemembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;@
2Th 1:11 AWherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of [this] calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of [his] goodness, and the work of faith with power:@
Are we known by others for our work of faith? I.e. Helping the elderly widows had to meet this qualification: 1Ti 5:10 AWell reported of for good works;...., if she have diligently followed every good work.@
3. To GROW in faith. Lu 17:5 AAnd the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.@ 2Co 8:7ATherefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, ....@ The word Aabound@ in the Greek means: Abe in excess, be superfluous; to cause to super abound or excel: have in abundance, be the better, enough and to spare, exceed.@ Now, is that the kind of faith we have?
Beloved, the more we make ourselves USE the faith we have, the more it is that we WILL GROW in that faith and our ability to turn to it in times of trouble. It was in a time of great losses that Job was forced to turn to faith in God=s plans for him. It all turned out good in the end.
II. WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND WHAT FAITH IS NOT! There are many disappointed & disillusioned Christians in the world because they have misunderstood how FAITH is to work in their lives. They enter the Christian life with a naivety about the cost of living by faith. But, in order to avoid injury and deception, by the enemy, we need to know what FAITH does not do.
1. FAITH does not shield us from physical suffering.
Some of our sufferings are from ways we have abused our own bodies, i.e. the damages from smoking, alcohol, risky behavioros We could be better to ourselves than that. Amen? Other suffering comes from those who mistreat us, hate us, or wish to cause us physical or mental harm and anguish. We can=t change that!
I.e. 2 Cor 11:24-27 AOf the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.@ We can’t stop what others do to us; but we can control our reactions.
2 Corinthians 4:9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;”
2. FAITH does not shield us from loss of earthly possessions. Everything is NOT always coming up roses. The sun does not always shine brightly. Phil 3:7-9 ABut what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:@
Hebrews 10:32 But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated (Gr. came to know the truth), ye endured a great fight of afflictions (Gr. pain and sufferings);” BUT, they suffered it with a strong faith, v 34 AFor ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.@
We aren=t going to take any of it with us when we leave here! We use it to meet our needs in this life. Job 1:21 A.. Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.@
3. FAITH does not guarantee us a life of ease and luxury. Heb 11:8-10 ABy faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country,dwelling in tabernacles..@ tents, which were non-permanent shelters.
This song says it well:
Am I a soldier of the cross, A
follower of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own His cause, Or blush to speak His Name?
Must I be carried to the skies On
flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize, And sailed through bloody seas?
Are there no foes for me to face? Must I not stem the flood? Is this vile world a friend to grace, To help me on to God?
Sure I must fight if I would reign; Increase my courage, Lord. I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain, Supported by Thy Word.
Thy saints in all this glorious war Shall conquer, though they die; They see the triumph from afar, By faith’s discerning eye.
When that illustrious day shall rise, And all Thy armies shine In robes of victory through the skies, The glory shall be Thine.
Why did Abraham sacrifice a home built on a permanent foundation? ”10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” He saw something better yet to come.
It is said even by Jesus, Lu 9:58 AAnd Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air [have] nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay [his] head.@ He did have a place in Nazareth until he began his ministry at age 30, after that he slept as do the homeless. Whatever he needed, he borrowed or bought, to mention a few: the lad’s lunch of 5 loaves and 2 fish to feed 5,000 plus; the donkey for his triumphful ride into Jerusalem; the borrowed upper room to observe the Passover; the coin in fishes mouth needed to pay his taxes; even his grave was borrowed, but, amen, he didn=t use it long enough to get it dirty.
4. FAITH does not shield us from grief. 1 Peter 5:8-9 ABe sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.@1Pe 2:19 AFor this [is] thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.@ It happens a lot to the people of God. But these are the times we are to let our faith express itself and “shine.” Don’t dwell on the negative; live in the positive affirmation that God rules over all and faith will be victorious. 1 John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” A born again Christian has a vital source of power for the darkest times. He needs to rely upon it. Jesus gave us unquestionably sound advice when He said, “Have faith in God.” Mk 11:22. Faith is a mountain mover.
III. WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND WHAT FAITH DOES!
1. FAITH Saves. Eph 2:8-9 AFor by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.@ Some churches list several things in order to be saved: i.e. Faith, repentance, confession, baptism, church membership and holding out faithful unto the end. That in final analysis is salvation by human effort. The truth is stated simply by the Apostle Paul, Acts 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”
2. FAITH Justifies. Romans 5:1 ATherefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:@
3. FAITH Strengthens. Philippians 4:13 AI can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.@ Do you think you are a weak Christian? You are stronger than you allow yourself to know, Paul stresses, “I can DO….” Christ in us is greater than any task we face.
4. FAITH Reaches out to others. In part, Acts 26:14-19 A.... I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 15 And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. 16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witnessY 18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins,Y@
CONC: Lyrics of “Living By Faith”
1. I care not today what the morrow may bring, If shadow or sunshine or rain, The Lord I know ruleth o=er everything, And all of my worries are vain.
2. I know that He safely will carry me through, No matter what evils betide; Why should I then care though the tempest may blow, When Jesus walks close to my side.
3. Our Lord will return for His loved ones some day, Our troubles will then all be o=er; The Master so gently will lead us away, Beyond that blest heavenly shore.
Refrain: Living by faith in Jesus above, Trusting, confiding in His great love; From all harm safe in His sheltering arm, I=m living by faith and feel no alarm.
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Revelation 11:17 "Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned."
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