September 29, 2021

September 29, 2021

Author: Pastor Gordon Cook
September 29, 2021

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 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, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.”

Ephesians 6:10-20

This is a picture of the church. The New Testament has at least five major pictures: the family, the temple, the bride, the body and the armor of God. This is the most aggressive picture of the church. The church must fight. There is no easy Christianity. I don’t believe this passage was written to discourage us or to impress us, but certainly to help us face life realistically. Also to remind us that we are fighting a war that we cannot lose. I think that is the point. Paul is ending Ephesians on a triumphant note. He starts off reminding us that we have God on our side, we are not fighting this battle on our own. We fight together as a church and we fight with a triune God on our side.

Notice how that is stressed in verse 10, “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” We have that wonderful hymn by Luther, A Mighty Fortress is our God. I wonder if Luther also had this particular portion of scripture in mind. I know that he had Psalm 46 in mind because that is quoted in terms of what he says, but stanza two of that great hymn, “Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing,” that ties into Ephesians 6. Then stanza three, “Though this world with devils filled.” Do you ever think of that? That also ties into Ephesians 6. Not just the devil himself but he has these principalities and powers or demonic forces. The devil is not omnipresent, he is not God. At times it seems he can be everywhere present. He has an army and can marshal out forces almost anywhere at anytime and anyplace. What gets stressed here is that God has given us all the armor we need in terms of fighting against these enemies.

We have the armor of God. He specifies here that we may “stand against the schemes of the devil.” He lets us know something about the devil. He is a schemer, he is a deceiver, he often tries to trick us and manipulate us. Then the apostle gives a description of the armor. Here is where there is some debate on how many pieces there are. There are at least six pieces of armor. The shield of faith, the sword of the spirit, the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, etc. Then you go to the very back end and notice what he mentions, prayer. He gives something of an expansion in verse 18. Now here is the question, “Is that simply another weapon?” I think you could argue it is. We often hear of the weapon of prayer. It could be the seventh piece of armor, but I am not convinced that it is.

I think in all likelihood here is the point he is trying to make, all the other pieces of equipment are useless without prayer. Or you can’t use them effectively without prayer. Prayer is the critical component of our warfare. When it comes to fighting this war, you cannot effectively use the other pieces of armor unless you are praying. You can’t use the sword effectively unless you are praying. You can’t use the shield effectively unless you are praying. Listen to Dr. Joel Beeke, “This explains that prayer is critical because each piece of Christian armor is useless without it. Prayer is like oil. Just as any part of an engine is useless without oil, so every part of Christian warfare is vain without prayer. Fighting Satan without prayer is like David fighting Goliath in Saul’s armor; the armor doesn’t fit and it is ineffective against the blows of the enemy.”

I would like to ask you, how many battles do we lose and how many wounds do we have because we have not prayed?

Notice the Apostle Paul gets very specific about prayer and he asks for prayer in verse 19. He asks that he would have them pray for him that he might preach the word of God faithfully, boldly, you could even translate it plainly. I want to preach the Word the way the Word of God is, I want to preach it plainly. I don’t want to preach it in a cowardly fashion, not timidly, not reluctantly, but boldly or plainly. That is certainly what we need today, plain bold preaching.

I received an email this past week from a brother who is asking about Grace Baptist Church. Here is what he said, “Good day. Four days ago I was exposed to the doctrines of grace in the vein of R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, James White, Alistair Begg, and Paul Washer. I am looking for a church that truly preaches from the Word, who follows orthodox Christianity and recognizes the five solos of Scripture, preach the Word and what it actually says without flinching.” What does he want? What is he looking for? Bold preaching. We should be thankful for bold, plain preaching and that is what we heard this past Sunday. We need to pray for this kind of preaching and make good use of prayer as we put on the whole armor of God.