Guidance, Calling And Ministry

We will have forsaken the world to follow our Lord Jesus if we are genuine believers. And surely we will want to find out the purpose of life that God has for us.  Eph 2:10 tells us that when we are created in Christ Jesus, God has prepared beforehand we shall walk in good works which we will surely want to discover.

Whenever we talk about God’s will, we are actually talking about His guidance, or calling or ministry for us.  The three distinct initiatives of God refer to His directing of our faith journey, His calling, and the service He places us in His Kingdom respectively.

(The material is gleaned from the book, The Disciple, by John Stott with Tim Chester and I took the liberty to paraphrase it.)

Guidance

It is essential to differentiate between God’s general and particular will first.  God’s general will for all believers is Christlikeness.  Rom 8:28-29.  Particular will concerns decisions such as finding life-work or spouse.  Though there are general guidelines or principles laid out in Scripture, specific answers are not given. Take the example of marriage.  There are principles concerning marriage, yet Scripture will not tell us whether you should get married or remain single, or which man or woman you should marry.

How can we discover God’s particular will ?

  1. Yield.  Without surrendering our will to God,  how is God going to reveal to us ?   God will only guide the humble.
  2. Pray.  How bad we really want to know ?  Only persistent and sincere prayer reveals our desire to seek His will.  And God grants us wisdom generously when we ask for it. James 1:5.
  3. Seek.  Wisdom can come from God through godly counsel :  parents or brothers and sisters in God’s family.
  4. Weigh.  Although we yield, pray and seek advice,  we must ultimately make the decision ourselves. God does not want us to be like horses or mules without understanding,  that is, without exercising our rational minds as we weigh the pros and cons.
  5. Wait.  From Scripture, we learned that most heroes of faith got their guidance after a lengthy period of time.  From experience, more mistakes are made in haste or rather than in delay.

Calling

God called us according to His purpose. Rom 8:28.  It is a more of a calling to a Person rather than to do something.  It is a wonderful fact that God cares enough to call us personally and individually. We are called to belong to Jesus Christ and to embrace and enjoy all blessings in our Lord Jesus. Like guidance, we have to differentiate between general calling and particular calling.

What is God’s general calling ?

  1. We are called to fellowship with Jesus Christ. Rom 1:6.  Eternal life is to know God and Jesus Christ.  God calls us to know and enjoy Him and Jesus Christ.
  2. We are called to freedom. Gal 5:13.  We are free from the condemnation of the law through God’s forgiveness and acceptance into Christ our Lord.  We are free from guilt, or a guilty conscience.  However it is not freedom to sin or freedom from social responsibilities. It is such a paradox that it is only through serving that we become free.
  3. We are called to peace. Col 3:15.  Scripture is not referring to peace of mind but to peace (shalom) of reconciliation with one another in the one Body of Christ. We are not only called to belong to Jesus our Lord but also to God’s people.
  4. We are called to holiness. Since God is holy, He also call us to be holy.  Holiness is not a false image of detached spiritual piety, but a lively Christlikeness lived out in the world.
  5. We are called to witness. We are all called to be missionaries.  Matt 28:19-20.  We have obtained mercy through the gospel of our Lord Jesus and we ought to share this blessing with the unsaved.
  6. We are called to suffering. Because we are called out of the world by our Lord, the world will hate us. John 15:18-19.  The world hates our Lord because He had testified against her evil works.  John 7:7.  We are called to share in the suffering of our Lord.  Rom 8:16-18.
  7. We are called to glory. It was through suffering that our Lord entered into glory and it will be the same for us.  If we share in our Lord’s suffering,  we will also share in His glory.  God is not calling us for this life only, but also for all eternity in the new universe to come.

In short, the Christian calling is to be called to belong to Christ in this life and beyond, to love one another in the peace of his new community, and to serve, witness and suffer in the world.

If God’s general calling is to be free, holy and Christlike, God’s particular calling relates to our individual different vocation.  1 Cor 7:20 and 24 tell us that we should remain in the condition in which we are called.   In the context of 1 Corinthian epistle,  Paul gave 3 examples of remaining in our domestic situation, whether married or single, in our cultural situation, whether Jewish or Gentile, and in our social situation, whether slaves or free.  Paul had to remind the Corinthian converts then because they believed they ought to change their situation since nothing in their old life could be retained after becoming a new creation in Christ.

Martin Luther said,”Those who are now called ‘spiritual’, that is, priests, bishops or popes, are neither different from other Christians nor superior to them, except that they are charged with the administration of the word of God and the sacraments, which is their work and office.”

Every believer must benefit and serve every other by means of his own work or office, so that in this way many kinds of work may be done for the bodily and spiritual welfare of the community.  1 Cor 12:14-26.

William Perkins, a Puritan, said,”The action of a shepherd in keeping sheep…is as good a work before God as is the action of a judge in giving sentence, or of a magistrate in ruling, or a minister in preaching.  Thus then we see there is good reason why we would search how every man is rightly to use his particular calling.”

These 2 callings should be pursued in balance to serve our Lord Jesus and to serve others.  We must bear in mind that God does not work in us only after conversion, but He is at work in us even before our birth in our genetic inheritance, and then later in our temperament, personality, education and skills.  God’s sovereignty over us is not only on our spirituality, but also over all sections of our lives.

Ministry

Discipleship is never an option.  We are all called to be disciples of Jesus our Lord.  As disciples, surely we will want to know how best we can serve in the Kingdom of our Lord.  Like guidance and vocation,  we need to distinguish between a general and a particular ministry.

  1. We are all called to ministry. That is, we are all called to serve.  It is the privilege of every disciple.  Due to the unbiblical clergy-laity divide,  it is sad that many believe ministry only belongs to the pastors and fulltime church workers.
  2. There is a wide variety of ministries. That is, there are many ways we can serve God and people.  In Acts 6:1-4, we learned that both distribution of food and teaching of word were considered as ministry.   Even for the distribution of food, we learned that 7 Spirit-filled persons were chosen for that responsibility.  There should be no distinction in all ministries whether one is spiritual or secular, superior or inferior, pastoral or social.  All believers need to see their daily work as their primary ministry in penetrating secular environment for Christ and glorifying Him in the process.
  3. The particular ministry to which we are called is likely to be determined by our given gifts. God is not a random Creator; He has not given us natural and spiritual gifts only to be wasted.  God has created us as individual unique persons.  So each one of us should ask ourselves how best we can serve Christ and others with the present gifts we have without them going to be wasted.

Cast The First Stone

John 8:1-11
but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

The scribes and the Pharisees should know the Jewish law and the Roman law very well :

  1. There should be at least 2 witnesses to bring a charge.
  2. The adulterous man should be tried as well.
  3. The witnesses should not bear false witness or they would face the same punishment.
  4. The capital offense could only be enforced by the Roman authorities.

So they were not really seeking the execution of the adulterous woman but was doing so to trap Jesus.  When the Lord Jesus said the one without sin could cast the first stone,  He was reminding these law experts, especially the witnesses, that they could do so if they had not flouted the Jewish Law.  Deut 17:7.

They were already bent on trapping and killing Jesus.  So when they went away, they were not feeling remorse because they realized they were sinners too,  but because they knew they had flouted the law.  A trap had turned into an embarrassing expose for them who were supposed to be experts of the law.

Jesus would not condemn the woman as He was not a witness either.  But He reminded her not to sin the same anymore.

The misuse of this passage to deride judgment of sin will contradict the direct command of judging serious sins in 1 Cor 5:9-13.  Most of the times, it is used to justify unrestrained sin and it is a terrible wrong in itself.

The Day Of Divine Retributive Justice

Heb 9:27

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.

Rev 20:11-15

11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

One last day before the new earth and new heaven are realized, all who were dead will be resurrected and re-embodied to face the judgment of our Lord on His great white throne on earth.  Rev 20:11-15.  It will be quite a scene as all the great people who have ever lived as well as small lowly people will stand before the throne of God.

Since there will be no second chance after physical death, why is there to have such a day to judge everyone who has ever lived ?  Why is one not judged immediately after death ?

This one day will a day of public vindication for many who are unjustly oppressed or martyred as well as retribution meted to be publicly shown to all who have ever lived.  God’s promise that vengeance is His will eventually be honored on that day.

God, Christ our Lord and all the true believers will be vindicated on this day.

  1. All who had mocked God throughout all history with all sorts of accusation and blasphemy will witness His retributive justice as their wicked deeds are exposed.
  2. Christ, who was crucified most unjustly as the worst criminal, will be worshiped by all who have ever lived. All knees shall bow and every tongue shall confess on that day that He is Lord.
  3. The believers, who have suffered injustice throughout all history, will be vindicated publicly in the presence of their wicked tormentors who will be banished forever to Hell.

Selfish Stewardship And Dishonest Acquisition Of Wealth Is Sin

James 5:1-8 NIV

Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you. Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.

Having wealth is not a sin, though wealth has its deceitfulness.  The above Scriptural passage tells us clearly that selfish stewardship and dishonest acquisition of wealth is sin.

  1. Hoarding of wealth.  James 5:2-3.

In the first century AD, the wealthy would store their wealth in oil, grain, silver and gold.  Oil and grain could rot away, and expensive clothes stored away could get moth eaten.  Storing away wealth was not helping anyone including the hoarder for the wealth might end up useless.

  1. Exploitation of the wages of workers for more gain.  James 5:4.

In the first century AD, the poor got no redress for such exploitation though they might protest. But God would avenge them.  Basically Scripture condemns gaining wealth through all dishonest means and not just paying inadequate wages.  Today, we have Christian landlords that exploit to increase rental in a tight property market for more gain with no consideration for the poor irking out a living by renting from them.  Or we have believers that deliberately short change their customers for more gain in a tight market.

  1. Absurd luxurious living.  James 5:5

Scripture actually condemns the unrestrained indulgence on self over helping the poor and especially the least of the brothers.  In today’s society, we see very wealthy believers who do not hesitate to squander wealth on luxurious limousines, expensive jewelry, exclusive branded clothes, epicurean foods and palatial homes, and yet they are indifferent to the plight of the poor in their midst.

Sharing The Main Facts Of The Gospel

On the day of Pentecost, St Peter shared the gospel and 3000 Jews believed.  Only a short message comprising of 23 verses from Acts 2:14 to 2:36 and the listeners were cut to the heart. This first sermon of Peter clearly demonstrated the power of God in the gospel for salvation to everyone who believes.  What are the essential facts in this gospel sermon ?  Four major facts could be gleaned from it.

  1. That Jesus Is Both God And Man.

In Acts 2:22,  Peter attested to the fact that the Jewish listeners had seen or known all the miracles, wonders and signs of Jesus, whom God worked through Him, when He came as a man among them.  And in Acts 2:34-36, fully aware that the Jews were familiar with OT Scripture, Peter mentioned that King David proclaimed the Messiah to be equal to God by quoting from Psalms.  And he ended the sermon by declaring that Jesus is both Lord and Messiah.

  1. That Jesus Died On The Cross According To God’s Sovereign Plan.

In Acts 2:23, Peter said that Jesus was handed over by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge and was put to death by nailing Him to the cross with the help of wicked men.

  1. That God Raised Jesus On The Third Day.

From Acts 2:24 to 33, Peter quoted Psalms 16 and explained that King David was speaking of the Resurrection of the Messiah whose body would not see corruption beyond 3 days.  And he and the other apostles were witnesses of His Resurrection and Ascension.

  1. That Jesus Is Now In Heaven And The Holy Spirit Had Come As Promised.

In Acts 2:33,  Peter said this,”…exalted to the right hand of God, He has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.”  The Jews would know of the prophecy of Joel, mentioned in Acts 2:16-21, after the Messiah had come.

The Coming Millennium

Why does Christ our Lord want to reign on earth for one thousand years and not simply usher in the new heaven and new earth straightaway when He returns ?  It is to reveal that even with a perfect government of peace, justice and prosperity under His reign in person, fallen men may not necessarily choose to put their faith in Him. Most still revolt with the devil against Him when the devil is released after being bound for the entire period of the Millennium.

Many do not want to read or hear from the book of Revelation for two reasons despite God’s blessing for doing so : the devil does not want all to know his demise, and also most do not want to hear adverse news of God’s judgments judging humanity after all.

During the Millennium, there will be no more budget spending on defense. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. Isaiah 2:4. And all the economic decisions for the nations will yield prosperity for all then.

Yet we learn that all such desires of prosperity and peace are not really what most men want ultimately when they still revolt at the end of the Millennium. What they really want is still freedom from the reign of God in their lives ! So believing in Christ and salvation can only mean one thing – that we really want to be in the kingdom of Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, and His rule in His kingdom over us. We cannot have it both ways – that we want to be saved but not His Lordship in our lives.

Another main reason why there will be a millennium reign of our Lord is His promise to reward His disciples. They will be rewarded for faithful service during their lifetime. Matt16:27; Matt 25:34; Rev 22:12. Sadly today, many believers still desire to gain the whole world and may end up forfeiting their souls at worst or losing all rewards at best.  Our Lord will appoint the faithful servants to govern all nations during the Millennium. And imagine how gladly surprised we are to see the most humble servants of our Lord, brothers in our midst today, become the greatest government officials on that day. Matt 18:4; Matt 23:11-12.

Imagine living then in our glorified bodies with no illness. There will be perfect justice, no war and no death for us. The sea is still around that we can have the opportunity to explore the depths, and the travel around the world that we always want to do. We will be able to keep the tiger, the lion and the panda as pets.

Rev ‪20:11-15‬
I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. This lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.

Everyone, who had ever lived, will be standing before God’s throne in our resurrected bodies and be judged. John 5:27-29. Imagine seeing all the great people like the Chinese emperors, Julius Caesar and all our country past leaders and the small insignificant people as well. I will be seeing all my forefathers.
God is not going to weigh our good deeds with the bad deeds. He is only looking at the bad deeds of breaking the law – every secret, every thought and every action throughout our lives. God will be very fair and He will only judge based on evil thoughts and action that we knowingly commit. Our conscience will either accuse or excuse us. Rom 2:12-16. The redeemed will have all their sins blotted out. Heb 10:14-18.

Hosanna in the highest !

The Church That Our Lord Desires

Reading the commendation and rebuke of the 7 churches in Rev 2 and 3,  I come away with these observations that these are the seven characteristics of a church that our Lord desires.

  1. A loving church (Ephesus). A church that continues to love the Lord and loving one another.  Rev 2:4-5
  2. A suffering church (Smyrna). A church that is prepared to suffer ostracism, tribulation and poverty.   Rev 2:9.
  3. An externally-uncompromising church (Pergamum). A church that will not yield and compromise with the excesses of the outside world.  Rev 2:14-16.
  4. An internally-uncompromising church (Thyatira). A church that will not tolerate false teaching within.  Rev 2:20-21.
  5. An unpretentious church (Sardis). A church that will actually complete her works instead of putting up enough just for her image.  Rev 3:1-2.
  6. A faithful church (Philadelphia). A church that stays the course despite having little power.   Rev 3:8.
  7. A humble church (Laodicea). A church that is not proud and living in prosperous and care-less ease.  Rev 3:17-18.

The Purpose Of God’s Warning About The End Times

According to David Pawson,  27% of the verses of the Bible contained a prediction about future events.  737 different future events were predicted in detail of which 80% have been fulfilled.   The balance 20% concerned events still in the future yet to be fulfilled.

We cannot come away after reading the Bible without seeing that God knew and planned the future events.  He alone decides the destiny of the world and the nations.  He decides the rise and fall of nations.

What is the purpose of God telling us what is about to happen ?   God wants to help us to meet the future and He aims to strengthen His people.

David Pawson gave us 6 reasons in his commentary on the book of Daniel and I took the liberty to para-phrase them with my own observation :

  1. God’s people will stand firm.   When the world is shaking, God’s people will stand firm.  Such times will differentiate the wheat from the tares, and the sheep from the goats.  The Christians will expect the Return of our Lord eagerly and they also know that hard times will precede His Return.
  2. God’s people will do exploits. God graciously allows His people to be His co-workers.  His people will want to do something to hasten His Return rather than be passive.  They will be up and running to obey God’s exhortation to care for His people as exhorted in the 4 parables in Matt 24 and 25.  They will be the wise servants who expect their Lord to return soon and invest in the talents given, the wise virgins who carry enough oil, and the sheep who care for the least of the brothers.
  3. God’s people will bring understanding. They will have a great ministry of teaching when the disturbances come. When the disturbances come, we can teach people who is in charge, why these events are happening, and where all these events are heading.  (Personally I am surprised how God has called me to galvanize the churches in the region to prepare to care for God’s people when the hard times hit, given the fact that I was not part of any ministry in any church from the start, and I have no seminary or church network to call upon.)
  4. God’s people will endure suffering. In the Book of Daniel, God mentioned about the coming persecution of the Jewish people and the desecration of the Temple by Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Seleucid monarch, before Judas Maccabee liberated them.
  5. God’s people will be refined. Suffering always bring the peaceful fruit of righteousness.  It will smelt and sift.  Dross will be smelted away and the true will be sifted from the false.  God’s people will be purged and purified.  Though one may find the church congregation halved,  take heart that those who are left will be the strong and faithful.
  6. God’s people will find rest. Knowing that redemption draws near,  God’s people know that their days of suffering will be over soon.  But sadly for those who do not believe or have fallen, their days of suffering will actually begin for all eternity, after all these tribulations have come to an end.

Practising Double Standards

It is sad to note that certain evangelical denominations practise double standards in opposing one issue while approving or condoning another when the reason given in the Scripture for the commands concerning the two issues is the same or is very straightforward and clear.

In this article, I am not arguing for or against the issues per-se but I am saddened by the double standards practised at such respectable evangelical denominations. Such practice of double standards will rubbish their moral authority of upholding truth.  It may also convey the wrong message that their own upheld biblical views on the side of pragmatism take precedence over the obedience of straightforward commands of Scripture.

Here are 2 examples.

1. The reason Scripture gave for opposing homosexuality as sin, and forbidding women to teach or have spiritual authority over men,  is the same –  it is simply God’s designed order.  1 Tim 2:12-14.  Scripture is not implying that one gender or one type of relationship is considered more superior than the other.   All men and women are created equal and all the saved men and women will be like angels in eternity. We have several examples of the excellent ministry of women in Scripture such as how Timothy was brought up in godliness by his godly mother and grandmother.  So we cannot trivialize the excellent and necessary ministry of godly women in the kingdom of God other than teaching and exercising authority over men.  (Scripture gives the qualification of overseer and deacon starting with the criterion of being husband of one wife.  If it applies to both gender,  such qualification ought to be specific knowing the confusion will happen in the future.)  On the other hand regarding homosexuality, I am sure it can be argued that homosexual relationship can also exercise fidelity and faithfulness in the union.  So I see no reason to continue to debate the merit of any held position;  since it is simply God’s designed order which should settle such issues.

2. Some of these churches may judge the sin of non Christians in the world by taking up action such as organizing political protest petition or event, but not judge the sin of believers in the church.   And end up violating God’s direct command in 1 Cor 5:9-13.

1 Cor 5:9-13

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”

 

The Armor Of God

The Christian life is no longer a bondage to sin, but it is still a constant struggle against sin.  Even after believing in Christ, the Christian will still face 3 enemies till our Lord returns – the world, the flesh and the enemy.  Sadly today with rampant false teaching, we tend to underestimate these enemies of our souls.  It will make no sense for Scripture to warn us incessantly of these dangers and the necessity to ward off such dangers if we cannot fall away.

The Christian is exhorted not to love the world, the outer foe, for loving the world is putting one at enmity with God.  James 4:4.   The principles of the world are power, greed, selfishness, ambition and pleasure and they appeal to 3 vulnerable spots of the old man in us  – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.   1 John 2:15-17.

The lust of the flesh is sensualism.  It is the obsessive craving and gratification of our senses such as gluttony or sex.

The lust of the eyes is materialism.  It is the covetous desire to own what we see, though not necessarily needful.

The pride of life is egotism.  It is desire to be better than others and the vain elevation and display of one’s reputation over another.

The Christian also has to contend against his own flesh, the inner foe, as well.  It is our fallen human nature with the propensity to sin.  We are born with this sinful nature.  The deeds of the flesh are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these.  Gal 5:19-21.

Lastly we have to contend against the devil, the cunning enemy, who will tempt us in all possible ways to succumb to our outer and inner foes through moral failure.  And his stratagems also include causing us discouragement, frustration, confusion and doctrinal error.

Scripture exhorts us to put on the WHOLE armor of God so that we can withstand the schemes of the devil.   We need to be disciplined to put on ALL elements of the armor and not be complacent by doing without one or more elements of it.

Eph 6:11-18

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,  praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints

The armor of God consists of :

  1. The belt of truth.
  2. The breastplate of righteousness.
  3. The shoes of the gospel of peace.
  4. The shield of faith.
  5. The helmet of salvation.
  6. The sword of the Spirit.

By using the imagery of armor, Scripture wants us to know we are constantly in a war, albeit a spiritual war, and we are actually soldiers fighting every day of our lives for our souls.  We need the whole armor and not just one or two of the elements as we are contending against demonic forces who wield tremendous power.

The first element is the belt of truth.  The belt also carries the sword which is the Word of God.  We must equip ourselves with the truth in the Word of God for the enemy is the father of all lies and we should expect deceptive lies at every turn.  The sword is an offensive weapon unlike all the other defensive elements of the armor.  Each time, we face doubt or deception concerning truth, we must quote Scripture to repulse them.

The breastplate protects our bodies.  We must put on the righteousness of Christ imputed when we believe to ward off the accusations of the enemy that we are not worthy.  We must rest in the finished work of Christ without feeling depressed by the lie of the enemy that we must work for our salvation.  And we have to clothe ourselves with practical righteousness in our lives  through the training by the Spirit of our Lord as well, so that the devil really has nothing to shoot at.

The combat shoes have spikes to help the soldier stand firm in the fighting.  We must be assured by the gospel of peace of our position in Christ that is not based on our worthiness but on the faithfulness of God.  God also expect us to move in the combat shoes and go on the offensive taking the gospel into enemy territory to as many people as possible.

The shield protects the soldier from flaming arrows of doubt from the enemy. The enemy will sow doubt of the faithfulness of God and His promises when the going gets tough.  Let the Lord strengthen and perfect our faith as we follow His example of patient endurance.  Heb 12:1-2.

The helmet protects the head, the seat of our mind.  By holding onto the plain gospel truth for salvation, our minds are protected from false gospels and false Christology.  And knowing our ultimate victory of salvation is sure (Rom 8:28-35),  our minds are prevented from being crushed by trials knowing no suffering can compare to the coming glory.