Helping Christians be conformed to the image of the Son of God.
One of the many “pictures” of the Church in the New Testament is that of a “soldier.” The writers of the New Testament, especially the Apostle Paul, used that terminology. Paul and his readers were very familiar with the military concept in their lives. There were various degrees of military occupation in the provinces of the Roman Empire in the First Century. Some provinces required more military presence than others. Palestine was one of the most volatile places in the Empire so there was a large military presence there.
It was with this mindset that Paul penned these words in 2 Tim. 2:3-4: “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.”
One of the great hymns of the Church starts off this way: “Soldiers of Christ, arise and put your armor on…” The hymn writer (Charles Wesley) reminds us that it is in the strength of the eternal Son of God that we live our lives today.
The Christian “soldier” must, like the Roman soldier avail himself of all the equipment needed to be effective as a soldier. Because of our faith in, and obedience to the Gospel, we are now in the Lord’s Army! Jesus expects us to “let our light shine” and use the training we receive to not only help us be better soldiers for Him, but to help others in the same manner.
Charles Wesley wrote, “Stand then in his great might, with all his strength endured, and take, to arm you for the fight, the panoply of God.” If we will do this we will fulfill the words of Paul in 2 Tim 2:3-3. Because we have our eyes on Jesus at all times (Heb. 12:1-2), we will not as Paul says, “get entangled in civilian pursuits.” One of the songs we sing goes like this: “More about Jesus I would know, More of His grace to others show; More of His saving fullness see, More of His love who died for me.”
Christians must strive to be the best soldiers we can be. We can rest assured that our Commander, the Lord Jesus, is leading us by example and is out in the forefront of the battle. He has provided all that we need to fight the spiritual battle. We only need to be willing to “take up the whole armor of God.”
Many times in his writings the Apostle Paul used military imagery in describing spiritual things. One reason for this was that in many parts of the Roman Empire, the presence of the military was out in full force. Paul used illustrations and terms that the people were accustomed to.
In Ephesians 6:10-17 he wrote about “taking up the whole armor of God.”. What did he mean? Paul was using the imagery of the different parts of the Roman soldier’s armor to illustrate some very important ways that a Christian can be equipped for service to the Lord Jesus.
Most of the armor is of a defensive nature and some offensive. The Roman government provided their armies with everything they would need to do battle. They were equipped for service to Caesar. How much more should the child of the King be equipped for service to the Lord.
Paul took the different parts of the soldier’s armor and made spiritual application. In Ephesians 6:10 he says “be strong in the Lord…”. Paul reminds us that our battle is not against an enemy we can see on the battlefield, but on a spiritual one, that is, Satan, himself. If we will let Him, the Lord will equip us for this battle. One important aspect we must understand up front is that we cannot win the battle in our own strength, but can, with the help of the Holy Spirit, win the battle. It is as the Word of God says, “greater is He. Who is in you than he who is the world.”
Verses 14-17 speak of defensive weapons by which we can protect ourselves in this battle. It is in the later part of verse 17 that we are introduced to the offensive weapon, the “sword of the spirit which is the Word of God.”
The Word of God is powerful! Paul told us in 2nd Timothy 3:16-17 that the Word is inspired of God. It is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
If we are willing to not only read God’s Word but to study it, mediate upon it, and tell others about it, we will “grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ,” – we will be able to help and encourage other believers as we serve in the Lord’s army.
The hymn writer, Sabine Baring-Gould penned these famous words, “Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before; Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe, forward into battle, see His banners go.” Let’s go forward lifting up the Name of the Lord Jesus before a lost and dying world, reaching the lost with the Gospel and strengthening the saved
Place: Cherry Street Church of Christ,NewAlbany, IN
Date: Sunday, April 21, 2013
Sermon Title: “Wake Up and Remember” Notes