Bible Question Box
By Bill Townley Jr.
In Ephesians 6:13-17 we read of the Christians armor, including “the breastplate of righteousness” (v. 14), but in Thessalonians 5:8 d it is designated “the breastplate of faith and love.” What is the reason for this difference?
It seems that the Apostle in 1 Thessalonians 5: 8 is giving a more condenced viewpoint, in which he desired to include faith, hope and love, the greatest of the fruits, or graces, of the holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 13:13; Galations 5:22,23; 2 Peter 1:5-8.) Accordingly, hope is likened to the helmet, and faith and love to the breastplate of the soldier.
But in Ephesians 6:13-17 the Apostle gives a more expanded viewpoint, saying,
“Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Here, as in Isaiah 59:17, righteousness, duty love to God and the neighbor, one part of love, is likened to the soldier’s breastplate whereas in 1 Thessalonians 5:8 not only faith but also unselfish, disinterested love (agape) is meant, which should not be exercised contrary to duty love. Thus the Apostle here seems to supplement his Ephesians 6 description of the Christian’s armor by including disinterested love. Let us all seek to put on and keep on “the armour of light” (Romans 13:14)!
The Remitting Of Sins
What is the meaning of Jesus’ statement to the Apostles in John 20:23, “Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained?”
Jesus’ words are not to be understood after the manner in vogue among many Roman and Greek Catholics—that a priest by virtue of the sacrifice of the mass, or otherwise, is able to remit sins. The thought rather is as follows: The 12 Apolstles in particular, and less particularly all the Lord’s true footstep followers while in the world, would be under the influence, guidance and instruction of His holy Spirit to such an extent that they would know the terms and conditions on which it is possible for God to forgive sins.
Of course Jesus could do this. For example, looking forward to His completing the sacrifice for sins, He declared to the man sick of palsy, “Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee” (Matthew 9:2). According to our text, the Apostles were given this privilege.
All the consecrated have this privilege to some extent. It is exercised as a ministry of comfort (Isaiah 61:1-3). The Scriptures set forth plainly the understanding that forgiveness of sins is based on faith in Jesus as Savior and His death on the cross for sinners. A simple statement along this line is found in Acts 16: 30-34.
We may assure anyone who gives evidence of heart-repentance, restitution to the extent of ability, faith in Christ and an obedient desire to walk according to His ways. We do not ourselves have the power to forgive another’s sins against God, but, being intimate with the vaster and knowing His mind on the subject we can speak for Him as His mouthpiece. As such we may declare and. explain the terms of reconciliation.
Those who have been forgiven know well now to direct others to the same blessing. We should assure the penitent one by pointing to the blessed assurances of the Scriptures. A good sample text is Micah 7:18, 19:
Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will for ever, because he dilighteth in mercy. He will turn again, he wll have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
As one writer has said, we are not to purl up our past ns and be vexed and tormented in conscience by them. ‘We should put up a. big sign with NO FISHING on it. We should not fish up our own sins nor go about fishing up the sins others.
Whoever comes with us receives a blessing, and in urging any to come with us, we receive a blessing, because our own faith and obedience is encouraged and stimulated. Shall we say to others, The Lord will do thee good, and not experience good ourselves and not realize the blessings we are receiving day by day from Jehovah’s hand?
And if they come with us, the fact that we have suggested the matter and promise them a blessing would help to keep as from murmuring, complaining, and from manifesting anything other than the good we are continually receiving from the Lord. We do well, then as Spiritual Israelites to follow Moses’ example in our appeals to those under our influence—to quote to them the promises of the Lord, and to show our faith in the same.
We should help to make a place for our friends in the Lord’s service, assuring them of a share in the reward. Some may be attracted to the Lord’s people by the opportunity for rendering service. We should remember, however, that there are varieties of service. The lord’s people should recognize that it would not be appropriate to elect to places of prominence in the church those who have not made a full and complete consecration to the Lord. Neither should they repel them, but rather be willing to use each and all to the extent of their willingness to serve and co-operate in the Lord’s work.
Every morning in their services, when in obedience to the movement of the cloud, Israel Every morning in their services, when in obedience to the movement of the cloud, Israel started forward in their journey, there was a simple service. Moses would proclaim in the ears of the leaders and through them in the ears of the people:
“Rise us, Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee” (Numbers 10:35). In the evening, when the camp settled from the journey of the day, again Moses’ voice rang out in the words, “Return, O Lord, unto the many thousands of Israel.”
What was thus done every day be the Lord’s direction in natural Israel surely takes place with equal regularity in Spiritual Israel. All who will be found faithful, Israelites indeed, as they go forth every morning to the journey of life, to the battle of life, to the trials and testings by the way, must surely learn to look unto the Lord as the Captain of their Salvation. He is the only one through whom Satan and his hosts can he defeated. The only One through whom we can have the victory. “Rise up, Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee free before thee.” Let us who love ghee and abide in Thy love and under Thy protecting care be safeguarded from every experience that would do us real harm, and be kept by the power of God through faith.
Living As “Israelites Indeed”
What Spiritual Israelite can afford to retire at the close of the day without retrospectively ailing mind the goodness of the Lord and desiring His continued favor and protector in the shades of night? What true Israelite will long remain an Israelite indeed if he fans acknowledge the Lord in all his ways. As the Apostle Paul says, whether we eat, or whether we drink, or whatsoever we do, all should acknowledge Him (1 Corinthians 10:31; Proverbs 3:6).
At the close of each day, may each one of us employ language somewhat similar to that of Moses and say to the Lord, Abide, O Lord, with all the thousands of thy true Israel everywhere. Keep us, guard us, according to Thy wisdom and Thy love in Christ Jesus! (Comp. Numbers 10:36.)
The spirit of faith and reverence which permeates the Divine Word is attested most grandly in the character of those whom the Lord has used prominently in His service in the past. It gives even the babes in Christ a confidence and assurance lacking in words from other sources not inspired nor infused by the Spirit of the Lord. As a grand example of these Biblical benedictions note the words recorded in Numbers 6:24-26. With these words, the high priests of Israel (vs. 22, 23) were to bless the people:
The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:
The LORD make his face shine upon thee,
And be gracious unto thee:
The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee,
And give thee peace.
Article “Bible Question Box” written by an Bill Townley Jr. is excerpted from The Bible Standard the 2000 July edition.