Stand firm. Gear up. Get ready for training as we explore what it means to journey well as followers of Christ. In Ephesians 6 Paul gives us an explanation of what it takes to stand firm through the rigours of life. The items of the armour can produce confidence, longevity and other fruits in our lives. Paul saw fit to put these subjects together and present them as some kind of toolkit for journeying well for the long haul. There's no reason we shouldn't do the same.
The Belt of Truth
Where will your faith be in 5 years time? 10 years time? 50 years time? This is the challenge of worldly culture. If there's no resistance from us, there's a chance we may be moving. In Ephesians Paul gives us a visceral imagery of warfare - the armour of a Roman soldier - and reframes it as a toolkit for lifelong faith, starting with the belt of truth. Our faith is in Jesus, the white hot nucleus of truth, whilst our fight is against the enemy, the father of lies. Pete Sisson began our teaching series with the challenge: what are we feeding ourselves with? The truth of scripture or the world?
The Breastplate of Righteousness and the Sandals of the Gospel of Peace
Life is hard and we are in a battle against a real enemy, but the final victory has already been won by Jesus. Therefore in our resistance to the spiritual attacks and challenges of life, we are called to stand our ground. We are not called to run after the enemy - he will flee from us. The armour that is given to us to wear provides the tools to protect us in this battle.
The Shield of Faith and the Helmet of Salvation
Now, the truth is we can’t see God. But if we look, we can see the effects of God, the evidence that He is real - whether that be the beauty of creation and precision of the universe, whether that be answered prayers and miracles that we experience or hear about, whether that be the authenticity and credibility of the bible that recounts the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, or whether that be our own story of the difference that having faith in Christ has made in our lives.
The Sword of the Spirit
We live in a post-truth culture that places value on what we feel and doesn't believe in objective truth. Piercing through this perceived reality is the Sword of the Spirit - which is, of course, the Word of God. The Sword of the Spirit is the only offensive weapon in the Armour of God as described by Paul. The Bible, the Word of God, is an unmovable, unchangeable truth - a rock on which to build a life, a family, a community.
Pray in the Spirit at All Times
Too many Christians walk around with an unawareness of the Holy Spirit. A Spirit which leads us into all truth, convicts us of sin, empowers us with gifts and affirms us as sons and daughters. As we awaken to the reality of God's Spirit we partner with a Spirit of potential, a Spirit of resurrection. When we prayer in the Spirit we intercede into the world behind the curtain - a world not of flesh and blood but of spiritual forces. As Paul reflects on the armour the Roman Empire - a national and religious enemy that has him in chains - he gains a deeper revelation of his own freedom.
For The Long Haul
Slow down as you set up for the long haul. The armour of God is not fast fashion. It is crafted and built over time as the pilgrim dedicates themselves to the lifelong journey of faith. As we look to pursuing God for the long haul, three challenges emerge. The challenge to commit to Christ. The challenge to commit to church. And the challenge to commit to our own spiritual growth. ⠀
And After Everything, Stand Firm
Heather Crate and John Aust
Faithfulness; steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant. For the penultimate instalment of our teaching series, we interview Heather Crate and John Aust on what faithfulness and standing firm looks like for the long term.
Our lives are the accumulation of our small actions and thoughts, one way or another our choices add up to something greater than the sum of their parts. As we stand firm in life's difficult seasons, we must learn to stretch, to turn something tough into something transformational. Through the journey of life, we must learn to move away from the easy wins of quick comforts and rediscover times of reflection and solitude.