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13 Contrasts Between American and Biblical Christianity

By Joseph Mattera

It has been evident to numerous Biblical scholars that often (if not most of the time) believers (including preachers) interpret the Bible through the lens of their culture. This has resulted in many beliefs, doctrines and practices prevalent in the church that are not in accord with the clear teaching of Scripture. Sadly this is the often the case with the evangelical church in the United States.

Since the United States is so influential, American evangelicals have exported a gospel replete with an American cultural paradigm that is not in line with the Hebraic paradigm of Scripture. Consequently, sometimes in the U.S. pulpit, preaching can come across more like the “American Dream” than sound, biblical teaching.

The following are some of the contrasts between American Christianity and biblical Christianity:

1. American Christianity focuses on individual destiny. The Bible focuses on corporate vision and destiny.

Most of the preaching in today’s pulpits in America focuses on individual destiny, purpose and vision. However, a quick look at the Bible shows us that in the Old Testament the emphasis was always on the nation of Israel, and in the New Testament the emphasis was always on the church. Every promise of God in Scripture was given to the community of faith as a whole. Hence if a person was not flowing in the context of the church, or the nation of Israel, they would have never even known Scripture since the average person did not own a Bible and only heard the Word when they assembled with the saints on the Sabbath. Of course, believers had to apply the Word of God as individuals, but they could not conceive of doing this if they were not part of the corporate body of faith. In the Old and New Testaments, there was no such thing as “individual prophecy” since every prophetic word given to an individual had to be walked out in the context of their faith community and/or had to do with the life of their community.

2. American Christianity focuses on individual prosperity. The Bible focuses on stewardship.

Much American preaching today focuses on “our rights in Christ” to be blessed. However, in Scripture the emphasis regarding finances has to do with being blessed by God in order to be a blessing by bringing God’s covenant to the Earth (Read Deut. 8:18; 2 Cor. 9:10-11). Jesus promised material blessing only in the context of seeking first His Kingdom (Matt. 6:33).

3. American Christianity focuses on self-fulfillment and happiness. The Bible focuses on glorifying God and serving humanity.

The Great Commandments are to love God and love our neighbor (Matt. 22:37-40). It seems to me that much of the focus from the American pulpit has to do with individual fulfillment and satisfaction.

4. American Christianity appeals to using faith to attain stability and comfort. The Bible encourages believers to risk life and limb to advance the Kingdom.

Much of the preaching in American churches regarding faith has to do with using faith so we can have a nice car, home, job, financial security and comfort. The biblical focus on faith is on risking our physical health and material goods to promote God’s Kingdom (read Phil. 2:25-30). Most of the original apostles of the church died as martyrs as did the Apostle Paul, and the hall of faith shown in Hebrews 11 equates faith with a life of risk and material loss for the sake of Christ. Much of the preaching on faith in contemporary churches would seem foreign to biblical prophets and apostles.

5. American Christianity usually focuses on individual salvation. The Bible deals with individual and systemic redemption.

Jesus’ first sermon text in Nazareth was a quote from Isaiah 61 (read Luke 4:17-19). American preachers usually interpret these passages in an individual manner only. However, when you read Isaiah 61:1-4 you will clearly see that the gospel not only saved and healed individuals but also transformed whole cities! The biblical gospel deals with systemic sin not just individual sinners.

6. The American apologetic focuses on human reason. The Bible’s apologetic focuses on the power of God and experience.

Americans have been trained to defend the faith utilizing scientific, archaeological and linguistic historical proofs to validate the resurrection of Christ and the historic accuracy of the Scriptures. This is because the Enlightenment trap that promotes human reason as the highest arbiter of truth has captivated the American church. However, when we read both testaments, we see the prophets, the apostles and Jesus never based the propagation of their faith on the latest scientific research or human reason but on the anointing, authority and reliability of God (1 Cor. 2:1-4; Heb. 2:1-3).

Of course, biblical faith is the most rationalistic, reasonable faith in the world since it comports with reality more than any other philosophy or religion. However, if the foundation of your faith is human reason, then the first person that has more knowledge than you in science could talk you out of being a Christ-follower. Truly, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, not human reason (Prov. 9:10; 1 Cor. 1:17-23).

7. American believers have a consumerist mentality regarding a home church. The biblical emphasis is being equipped for the ministry.

Americans shop for a church today based on what meets their personal and family needs the best. It is almost like a supermarket mentality of one-stop shopping. While it is good if churches attempt to meet the practical needs of families and communities, the focus should be upon equipping the saints for the work of the ministry (Eph. 4:11-12). God may lead a family to a new church plant instead of a megachurch even if the megachurch has more programs to offer. Biblically, it is all about assignment and equipping. If a person is doing the will of God, they will be fed by God anyway (John 4:34).

8. American Christianity promotes a culture of entertainment. The Bible promotes the pursuit of God.

In the typical growing American church, there will be an incredible worship team, visual effects and great oratory. Consequently, we are often catering to the American obsession with entertainment and visceral experiences, which can promote a culture of entertainment instead of cultural engagement. Biblically speaking, some of the greatest examples we have of intimacy with God come from the Psalms in which the writers were in dire straits, with no worship team, and alone somewhere in the desert (Psalm 42 and 63).

Biblically speaking, we should not depend on a great worship experience to experience Yahweh, but we should have intimate fellowship with Him moment by moment, way before we even get through the church doors!

9. American Christianity depends upon services within a building. The biblical model promotes a lifestyle of worship, community and Christ following.

Most of the miracles in the book of Acts and the gospels took place outside a building in the context of people’s homes and in the marketplace. In Acts 2 and 4, the churches met house-to-house, not just in the temple. The man at the gate was healed before he went into the temple (Acts 3), which caused an even greater revival to take place.

10. American Christianity is about efficiency. The biblical model is about effectiveness.

Often, the American church is modeled more after the secular corporate model rather than the biblical model. The church is not an organization but an organism that should be organized! In many churches, every aspect of the service is timed to the minute, and there is no allowance for the Holy Spirit to move. What good is an efficient service if people leave congregational assemblies with the same brokenness they had before they came in?

11. In American Christianity the pastor is elected. In the biblical model God calls the pastor.

Many American churches are run more like a democracy than a theocracy that is under God and Scripture. Hence, many denominations vote on their pastors and elders. However, there is not one instance in the Bible where God allowed the people to choose the leader of His people.

The example some use to justify congregational votes for pastors is in Acts 6. However, this passage has to do with the people electing deacons, not apostles or church overseers. However, in 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1, years later, after the church was more developed, Paul instructs his apostolic sons (Timothy and Titus) to choose the deacons and elders themselves (no congregational vote here).

12. In American Christianity the individual interprets the Bible. In the New Testament the hermeneutical community interprets the Bible.

In the New Testament, when they were grappling with Scripture, they called a council and had dialogue to discern what the Spirit was saying (Acts 15). Paul went to the Jerusalem elders (Peter, James and John) to make sure what he was preaching was of God (Galatians 1 and 2).

Often, American preachers get unique interpretations of a passage and come up with a different angle on Scripture based on their own subjective paradigm and/or spiritual experience. Most of the time this turns out OK, but sometimes (as in the case of some like Bishop Carlton Pearson, who preaches a form of universalism and ultimate reconciliation of all) this can have heretical effects.

13. American Christianity trains its leaders in Bible colleges. Biblical Christianity nurtures leaders through personal mentoring.

Biblically, leaders were not sent outside of the context of a local church to be trained for the ministry. They were nurtured personally in the context of congregational life by church leaders acting as mentors (as the Apostle Paul did with Timothy; as Aquila and Priscilla did with Apollos in Acts 19; and as Barnabas did with John Mark in Acts 15).

Unfortunately, the American church attempts to nurture its top leaders by sending them outside of the local church to a theological seminary, which can only equip/grade them on an intellectual level.

Joseph Mattera is overseeing bishop of Resurrection Church, Christ Covenant Coalition, in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The above article, “13 Contrasts Between American and Biblical Christianity” is written by Joseph Mattera. The article was excerpted from: www.chrismanews.com web site. August 2014

The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.

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The Armor Of God

By: Roy Moss

A. FREEDOM – John 8:32
B. JUSTIFICATION – Titus 2:11-12
C. PEACE WITH GOD – Matthew 11:28
D. FOUNDATION FAITH – Hebrews 6:1
E. INITIAL SALVATION – Acts 2:38

TRUTH
(Girdle)

“Stand therefore, having your loins gird about with truth. . . .”

INTRODUCTION

“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (I Peter 2:2). “I have not written unto you because
ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth” (I John 2:21).

A babe in Christ desires the milk, or simple doctrines of the gospel. One characteristic of the babe is that he knows some things for sure. He knows that his sins are forgiven through Jesus’ name (I John 2:12), that he has received the Spirit (I John 4:13), and who the Father is (I John 2:13).

I. THE GIRDLE OF TRUTH

The girdle of the soldier was a wide belt or sash bound about the loins or midsection. This belt was necessary to bind up the loose flowing clothes which they wore so they would not get in the soldier’s way as he fought. The girdle performed many tasks. It protected and strengthened the midsection for the blows of battle. It usually had within it pouches for carrying money, writing instruments and so forth. It was from the girdle that the sword was hung. The girdle was designed to keep every part of the armor in its proper place. Thus the girdle
was the first part of armor donned and all the other attached to it.

II. THE MILK OF THE GOSPEL

Milk is about all that a baby in the natural can handle. Anything more would choke him. But as the milk goes to his midsection, the same area protected by the girdle, it strengthens him and causes him to grow. Thus by putting in the milk, naturally or spiritually, it becomes possible to advance and add more and more protection and armor.

III. THE SPIRITUAL GIRDLE

The truth of the gospel is like the girdle of the ancient fighter. It is a continuous belt. If it is severed in any one place it loses its strength. So it is with the gospel: “. . .no lie is of the truth.” If as babes, allow error to become a flaw in our lives or doctrine, even though it is out of sight (in the back or at the side), it will cause any other armor we don to be out of its proper place and possibly even completely lost. It is necessary to be sure that our girdle of truth is whole in every part and has no breaks in it. “And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: that ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:11-12).

The babe needs to learn to bring his mind into subjection to the Spirit. Like the loose clothes of the old soldier, our ungirded minds will be tossed by every wind, or even slight breeze, of doctrine which flows by and hinder our fighting. “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:13).

Error will blow about the babe in Christ. Whenever one starts to live for God there will be an assault from the powers of darkness against him. Scripture will be twisted and misinterpreted. Passions and carnal lusts will be appealed to. The girdle of truth will hold everything in its proper place while you fight. The truth of God’s Word will prove false doctrines to be insubstantial. Truth will restrain the natural
man until the whirlwinds of desire have passed on. To be gird about with truth will cause you to be found still standing after the storm
has passed over.

Every part of our armor must be anchored in the girdle of the truth of the gospel. All of the right actions in the world, and mighty faith do not qualify as real protecting armor unless they are firmly in the truth of repentance, baptism in Jesus’ name, the baptism of the Holy Ghost and the other tenets of faith.

IV. SPIRITUAL MILK

Apostle Paul’s initial efforts with the gospel in a new area were based on the ministering of the milk of the Word. “And I brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech, or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified” (I Corinthians 2:1-2). The milk of the salvation story is what the babe needs. He will grow by learning first the basic principles, the relatively simple and easily grasped and accepted doctrines of Scripture.

These principles are enumerated in the book of Hebrews: “. . . repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment” (Hebrews 6:1-2). We are admonished to go beyond, leave, these principles, but we cannot leave what we have not yet come to. It is a terrible thing to be a bottle baby all of our Christian lives.

Paul dealt with some people like this in the church at Corinth. “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able” (I Corinthians 3:1-2). These people were still living in the first verse of I Corinthians 2 and had not grown with the use of the milk. The purpose of drinking the milk of the Word is not so we can merely survive, but so that we can grow thereby. We are to advance from milk to meat. There is no place to settle down and be satisfied with what we already know or have attained. We must not retrogress and be spiritual infants, unable to take strong doctrine or stout correction when necessary. There is work to do and a world to reach. We do not need old timers in the nursery sucking on a bottle; we need workers in the field. “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe” (Hebrews 5:12-13).

RIGHTEOUSNESS
(Breastplate)

“. . . And having on the breastplate of righteousness. . .”

INTRODUCTION

“If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him” (I John 2:29). “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).
The babe in Christ has found righteousness beginning to act in his life. In the baby stage he perceives of righteousness in the form of justification. For him it is JUST as IF I had never sinned.

I. THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

The breastplate of the soldier was a harness similar to a shirt of metal or leather and metal. It covered the warrior from the neck to the thighs and thus protected the vital organs of the body. The breastplate needs to be solid, with no gaps where the enemy can get through.
“And a certain man drew a bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the harness: wherefore he said unto the driver of his chariot, Turn thine hand and carry me out of the host; for I am wounded” (I Kings 22:34). An open access place in the breastplate of King Ahab caused his death. Even so, a gap in the righteousness which we put on will leave us open to the attacks of the enemy of our souls.

II. JUSTIFICATION

Justification is not something which we can attain or earn on our own merits. It is granted freely by God to those who will believe Him
and accept His blessing. Justification, being made just or righteous in the sight of God, was indeed earned or purchased, but not by
us. It was bought with blood at Calvary. “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus”
(Romans 3:24).
“For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness, But to him that worketh not, but believeth in him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him: but for us also to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead: who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:3, 5, 6-8, 22-25).
By justification,  the babe in Christ is made just as righteous in the sight of God, without works of righteousness, as the saint who has labored for God faithfully for many years, walking in the path of righteousness.

III. HIS PROTECTION

The breastplate of righteousness protects the most vital parts of the body, We could still live and even fight if wounded in the arm, leg, or in some instances with a slight hand wound. But if the heart is smitten, all of the fight against sin will be gone. “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
Righteousness must overlay and control and protect our emotions. If our emotions and desires are not kept protected by righteousness
we will very quickly suffer a fatal blow. The breastplate of righteousness will protect you from improper alliances and companions. Righteousness over your heart will keep you from even desiring to have a sinner boyfriend or girlfriend. Justification will remove the hunger for the things of the world, just as though you had never acquired a taste for them.

IV. OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS

“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….” (Philippians 3:9). It is possible for us to go to battle without the righteousness of God. But to do so will leave us actually unprotected and an easy prey to the devil. Whereas the righteousness of God imparted to our lives is a strong and protecting breastplate, our own goodness and righteousness actually provides no more protection against Satan’s wiles than would a dirty shirt. “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away” (Isaiah 64:6).
When a person becomes lifted up and proud of ‘his’ standard and ‘his’ holiness, looking down on others as though they were some sort of lower life form, he does not have the real righteousness. What he is really wearing is an old, dirty shirt of self-righteousness. Instead of being a sweet-smelling savor, they are really become a stench in the nostrils of the Lord (Isaiah 3:24) and an offensive ambassador to the world.

V. HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS

To get out of the baby state of righteousness, we need to keep on the breastplate, fight evil while within its protection and continue to grow in that which has been committed to us. “But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God…by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left…” (II Corinthians 6:4,7). We need to keep all aspects of our lives protected by the breastplate. “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (II Timothy 3:14-17). To continue on in the righteousness imputed to us
through justification will lead us to the further steps of sanctification and perfection by our walking in the way of the Word.

PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL
(Shoes)

“And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace….”

INTRODUCTION

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). “There is no peace,
saith the Lord, unto the wicked” (Isaiah 48:22). The peace of a babe is his newly found peace with God. His obedience has brought a ceasing of the conflict between his unrighteous nature and the holiness of God. This inner peace should be communicated to the world around you so that they, too, will know where to find peace.

I. THE SHOES OF THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE

A soldier would be foolish to set out to war barefooted. His shoes, or boots, afford him a protection, an advantage and a means. The shoes, or hoots, of the soldier provide him double protection. The soles provide a protection from the stones, burning ground, numbing cold and throns of a long march. This protection causes him to be able to reach the place of battle still able to get around and fight. The uppers afford a protection from assault from above. A low thornbush, a protruding object, about toe stubbing height, or the stamping foot of the enemy are repulsed and their damage lessened by a good pair of boots. The ancient soldier’s boots also afforded him an advantage by the
spikes on the soles. These dug into the ground and gave him a firm footing during the conflict. These strong points kept him from slipping at a crucial moment. The soldier’s shoes also provided him a means of good transportation from point to point and made his walking easier.

II. UNIVERSAL CALL TO PEACE

God gives a universal call to all men to partake of the peace he has made available. “To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear” (Isaiah 28:12). Isaiah also prophesied about the coming of our God to bring this peace: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
When the angelic host announced the birth of Jesus, they pointed out the fact that His advent was closely allied with His work of peace. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14). He has put on His armor and bought peace for us by His shed blood at Calvary. “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” (Colossians 1:20). The gospel of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ
is God’s preparation to make peace between Himself and the human race. It is His will for us to be at peace with Him.

III. A PERSONAL PEACE

We can have a personal peace with God. To the babe just beginning to live for God the new-found peace with God is an overwhelming experience. Through repentance and justification he now is removed from the category of the enemies of God and translated into the kingdom of His dear Son (Colossians 1:13). On a very subjective and personal level, the babe learns the meaning of peace as he has never perceived it before. “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119:165). “The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace” (Psalm 29:11). “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3).

From the above scriptures we detect that the source of true peace with God is found in a right relationship with Him. Putting on the shoes of peace involves getting right with God. Rebellion against His plan and will brings confusion and chaos, which is the opposite of peace. Submission to Him brings harmony and peace. Another way to express this would be to say that you cannot put your shoes on backwards and hope to have a good fit. There is only one way to properly put on your shoes. Some look for peace with God through ritual or philosophy. Others seek him through the medium of self-will. Real peace with Him is attained by following His plan (Acts 2:38). “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink: but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17).

IV. THE WITNESS OF PEACE

Be prepared. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ” (I Peter 3:15-16). When a person experiences the change in his life that finding peace with God brings, then he will surely be faced with questions about the difference. Then he needs to have his shoes on. It is
not required of newborns that they be able to handle the Word as skillfully as an old warrior. But they do need to constantly be ready
to tell of how God has given peace to them. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” (Isaiah 52:7). You may not be beautiful and your feet may not be beautiful. You may not be an accomplished orator, but the beauty is in the message of peace which we have for this world.

V. STRONG GOSPEL POINTS

Just as the soldier’s boots protected his feet from troubles from above and below, so our being prepared with the gospel of peace will
give us protection in the march and in the conflict. Knowing what you believe and why you believe it will protect the soles of your feet from the burning trials and sharp thorns over which we must march in the gospel work. Our peace with God will protect us from the
attacks of those who would try to stamp out our message. The gospel is its own best protection, and also protects him who wears it.
Like the spikes in the warrior’s boot gave him firm footing during the strife, so our knowledge of the strong points of the message can stabilize us when the enemy might otherwise prevail. A babe will know only a little and doctrines he does not know how to counter with the Word will push strongly against him. But if he can dig in with the strong points which he knows well from his own experience, he can stand until he learns to overcome. Let the points you do know seal you to the battlefield immovably. “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13).

FAITH
(Shield)

“Above all, taking the shield of faith….”

INTRODUCTION

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God” (Hebrews 6:1). The faith of a babe in Christ is the ‘bud” of faith which develops if properly nourished. The faith of a babe is first that of seeking God. It is necessary to realize on a personal level that
God is really concerned about you and will hear your cry. We must not be satisfied to stay with only baby faith in our lives. We should leave, not forsake, this by developing more advanced stages of faith. However, it is impossible to leave where you have never been.
First, we must establish the principle of faith toward God in our lives. Then we can grow from there.

I. THE SHIELD OF FAITH

The shield of the warrior was a very versatile piece of armor. It was usually curved to cause blows to be directed to the side rather than allowing them to come straight on. While the other pieces of armor were used to cover a specific part of the body, the shield could be used to protect any and all of it. It was even adaptable enough to be raised overhead or shifted behind the back to ward off attacks from those quarters. The shield could be large or small, heavy or light, depending on the strength of the warrior and his needs. It could be used to deflect sword blows and shunt aside flaming darts which would otherwise stick and burn the clothes, flesh, and armor of the soldier. When highly polished it could at times be used to blind the enemy. Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered it and there was no one there.

II. FOUNDATION FAITH

Our lives and warrings for God must be built upon a solid foundation of faith. First of all, we must know that we have been saved. Without that fundamental faith, the fiery darts of doubt will soon bring us down. “And God which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness,
giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us: and put no differences between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:8-9). This purifying by faith can be equated with the girdle of truth which is allied with forgiveness when we bring our lives out of the darkness of the devil’s deception and into the light of God’s purity. Then foundational faith is also allied with the righteousness of justification and peace with God. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). As a soldier without a shield is ill-equipped for battle, even so a saint has lost a layer of protection if he does not go in faith. Faith
reinforces each of the other parts of armor and makes it doubly hard for the enemy to prevail. “Cast not away therefore your confidence,
which hath great recompense of reward” (Hebrews 10:35). The Roman legionnaires used to be instructed to “Come back with your shield or on it.” Do not throw it away in the battle. If you keep it you will have a much better chance to be victorious than if you somehow let it get away.

III. GROWING FAITH

Our faith must grow and develop. God gives to each person a ‘bud’ or measure of faith. It holds within it the potential of great and
effectual faith, but it must be nourished and developed. “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among
you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think: but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man
the measure of faith” (Romans 12:3).

God first gives a measure of faith, and then that faith grows. “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you toward each other aboundeth; so that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure” (II Thessalonians 1:3-4).
How does faith grow? James let us know that the very thing we shrink from is what will cause our faith to grow. We do not like trials and we do not like to have our patience put to the test. “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience” (James 1:2-3). As your faith grows it becomes more and more of a protection for you until your shield approaches the protecting ability of a wall. Faith also grows by mixing it with the preached Word. “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it” (Hebrews 4:2). “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Faith comes by the Word and grows by the Word.

IV. FIGHTING FAITH

“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Faith is militant. It contends, struggles and fights for truth and righteousness. “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong” (I Corinthians 16:13). This kind of faith will not only be militant, it will be triumphant! “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that  overcometh the world, even our faith” (I John 5:4). Fighting faith is a shield to our souls. As a natural shield can be moved from place to place to protect the various parts of the soldier as he comes under different kinds of attack. In like manner our faith can protect whatever aspect of our lives and walks with God that is coming under attack.

V. ADVANCING FAITH

As a baby grows and develops, so does our faith. When we leave the baby stage in the natural we still retain what we have learned
there, even though we are no longer babes. So faith has further developments for us. As we advance we build on what we have received
and learned without destroying it. We leave the stage, but not the learning. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the
power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God
revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16-17).

SALVATION
(Helmet)

“And take the helmet of salvation….”

INTRODUCTION

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9). And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 10:22). “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if we do these things, ye
shall never fall” (II Peter 1:10). Today we crown the studies of the week with the helmet. We can be saved and know that we are saved. Salvation to the babe in Christ means initial salvation. He has not yet attained heaven, but he is on the way! God has made a way for him to win over any foe: salvation.

I. THE HELMET OF SALVATION

The soldier’s helmet plays the very important role of protecting his head from the blows of The Enemy. This is especially important when we consider that the enemy we fight tends to try to sneak up on you and hit while you are not looking. There is no time when it is safe to take off the helmet during battle. The helmet also sometimes plays the important role of identifying which army a soldier belonged to. A distinctive design, color or type of ornamentation made it easier to recognize friend from foe in the heat of conflict.

II. INITIAL SALVATION

“And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins” (Luke 1:76-77). “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Salvation is not a guess so, hope so deal. We can know that we have been saved from our sins. As the helmet covers the head, so our knowledge of what God has done for us gives us protection in our minds against the lies and deceitful denials of the devil. No one can be saved without remission of sins. And remissions of sins comes through repentance and baptism in the name of Jesus (Acts 2:38). Salvation is ours with obedience and faith by the baptism of the Holy Ghost (Acts 5:32). There is no need to guess. We know if we have been baptized. We know if we have received: the Holy Ghost. We have a knowledge of salvation. An infant may not understand all about the world and family into which it has been born, but it knows there has been a change. Salvation identifies. There are some marks and designs that distinguish the saved. “But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation…” (Hebrews 6:9). One of the great identification marks of salvation is that we know who the Savior really is. “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation” (Isaiah 12:2). Our helmet of salvation is none other than the mighty God of eternity, the Jehovah of the Old Testament and the Jesus Christ of the New. With such a helmet protecting us, why should we ever fear?

III. HOPE OF THE HELMET

Salvation includes hope. Though the babe in Christ has salvation, he yet hopes for further developing of that salvation. “But let us,
who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation” (I Thessalonians 5:8).
“For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?” (Romans 8:24).
A soldier cannot fight well if he does not have the hope of victory. He may have won in the past, and be winning in the present, but if he has not prospect of ultimate victory the advance of the present will soon turn to a retreat. “But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord: he is their strength in the time of trouble” (Psalm 37:39). What a strength and hope it is to realize in the midst of the battle that our hope is not in carnal weapons or in our own strength. Our hope is in Jesus. He will see us through.

IV. THE HELMET INSIDES

The Christian soldier’s helmet is in some ways different from the gear of the regular soldier. The Christian’s helmet not only protects
his head (or mind), it also changes and reforms his thinking processes. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed
by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2). “For to be
carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:6). The helmet inside makes radical changes in the
way we think and act. No longer are we motivated by a ‘have to’ religion, but a new Spirit has taken residence and given us a feeling of ‘want to’ and a realization of the privilege to “get to’ live for God. “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life” (II Corinthians 3:6).

V. A CROWN OF LIFE

A wonderful thing about the helmet of salvation is that it is the predecessor and source of the crown of life. It is the will of God that His soldiers know the joy of life as well as the rigors of battle. To the babe He holds out the initial reward of salvation–a crown of life. “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
When we put on the helmet of salvation we have also put on a new kind of life. It is a type of life that brings us trials and tribulations, but also a glorious future. Natural life reaches a peak and then runs downhill to the point where many actually welcome death. This better life is like the miraculous wine at the marriage in Cana: the best is saved until the last. “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when
he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him” (James 1:12). “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Revelations 2:19).

Posted in AIS CD - Featured Stories, BS - Bible Studies, BSVL - Victorious Living0 Comments


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