Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Whole Armor of God, Part 9

Today I continue my series of articles commenting on the concept and principles involved in the Armor of God, which the apostle Pauldescribed in the New Testament. This is the topic of the Sunday school lesson I am currently teaching.

The Armor of God – Faith

4. Faith: Having the shield of faith. (Ephesians 6:16)

Faith requires something to believe in, as in the faithfulness of God. What He says does not change over time, nor does He change. "Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it." (I Thessalonians 5:24) "But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil." {II Thessalonians 3:3)

We must believe God without doubting. Jesus saw a fig tree with leaves and wanted figs, but there were no figs on the tree. Jesus cursed the tree, and it withered by the next day. Peter said, “(L)ook how quickly the fig tree is withered.” Jesus anwered, “Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.” (Mark 11:12-14;20-23)

Mark 11:24 – “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”

What words we say is important, and not to doubt is also important. If we say bad things believing what we say, then we can actually bring the evil that we say into our life. Also, when we doubt, we negate our faith. Peter walking on the water is a good example of this.

“In the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.” But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.” And Peter answered him and said, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.” And He said, “Come.” And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, “Lord, save me.” And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped Him, saying, “Of a truth thou art the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:25-33)

The promises of God are sure and steadfast. The rainbow is the sign of the covenant God has with the inhabitants of the earth that no flood will ever destroy the whole earth again (Genesis 9:8-17). He has kept that promise.

Faith in God is faith in someone Who is everlasting and has the power to care for each one of us. The following is a list of some of the things included as faith.

A. =Substance and Evidence - “Faith is the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) From this verse we learn that faith is both substance and evidence. Hope is necessary for there is an internal confidence that what one desires is going to come to fruition. Not seeing the outcome, faith is the evidence of the results. Often in sports people will say that the team has confidence, or a player has confidence. Then they win. I use faith when I pump gas into my car. I don’t look at the gas coming out of the nozzle before putting it into the tank. By faith I believe what I am putting into the tank is gas. A couple times the nozzle wouldn’t fit. Then I looked more closely at the product label and found it to be diesel.
B. Good Report - "For by it (faith) the elders obtained a good report.” (Hebrews 11:2). A good report from God is what we desire. In school it is always good to receive a good report from our teacher, but this good report comes from the Creator of heaven and earth. Several names are listed by God for honorable mention. Abel for offering a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. Enoch was translated so he did not see death for he pleased God. Noah, who was warned by God that a world-wide flood was going to take place moved with fear to build an ark. Notice that his fear was the result of faith in God. Abraham left his home to live in a strange land where he had been promised an inhertance. You, also, can receive a good report from God; by faith in Jesus Christ.
C. Impossible - It is impossible to please God without faith. “Anyone who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6) Faithlessness squelches the power of God in people’s lives. In Nazareth, the hometown of Jesus, He was limited from doing many mighty miracles because of their lack of faith (Matthew 13:58).
D. Quench Fiery Darts - “With faith we can quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” (Ephesians 6:16). The darts are fiery because they are intended to do more damage than just the puncture wound of the dart. Notice, we quench the fiery darts. This means that it is our responsibility to quench the fiery darts. We must use our faith. In warfare shells are fired with high explosives in them. The explosion does more damage than just the shell.
E. Peace of Mind - When a person thinks about God: His Love, His knowledge, and His power the obstacles in life appear less imposing. One can have peace of mind knowing that God is greater than our difficulties. “God will keep in perfect peace the person who’s mind is stayed on Him.” (Isaiah 26:3)
F. Cursed - The person, who believes in himself and IN his own ability to get something accomplished, is cursed. “Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.” Jeremiah 17:5, 6
G. Blessed - The person that trusts in God is blessed. “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7, 8
H. Fountain of Living Waters - God is the fountain of living waters. When a person believes in Jesus Christ they then have the Holy Spirit within them in the name of Jesus. A person, who believes, then has this fountain of living water dwelling within them. (Jeremiah 17:13; John 4:10, 14; 7:38)
I. No Evil Heart of Unbelief - Believing what God says is faith. Not believing what God says is unbelief and is evil. God does not want us to have a mind that does not believe Him. (Hebrews 3:12)
“Jesus said, except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and eat his blood, you have no life in you. He then said, whosoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood, has eternal life in himself. Many disciples said, this is a hard saying, and left following Him. Jesus asked the twelve disciples will you also leave? Simon Peter replied to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and are sure that you are the Christ the Son of the Living God.” John 6:50-69)
Earlier Jesus had said, “I am the bread of life: he that comes to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35) This passage indicates that going to Jesus is the same as eating His flesh and believing on Him is the same as drinking His blood.
At the Passover meal Jesus broke the bread and said, “This is my body broken for you. Take and eat it.” Then He took the wine and said, “(T)his is my blood, shed for you take and drink it.”” (Matthew 26:26-29) We do this in remembrance of Jesus and show the Lord’s death until He comes. (I Corinthians 11:23-25)
J. Walk by Faith - As Christians we walk by faith and not by sight. (II Corinthians 5:7) Not seeing Jesus we love Him and honor Him with our lives. Not seeing heaven we know and believe that we are citizens there. We live with the expectation that Jesus will come for us to take us to be with Him in new heavenly bodies (John 14:3; I Corinthians 15:51-54). We realize that what we do today will have an eternal effect on our lives and the lives of others; yet we cannot see eternity. (I Corinthians 3:10-15)
K. Saved by faith - People are saved by faith in Jesus Christ. There is nothing a person can do to add to it or instead of it. If there were, then, salvation would be by God’s indebtedness to a person. Salvation is by faith that it might be by grace. (Romans 4:1-9,16; John 3:16)
L. Overcome the World - “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” I John 5:4, 5
M. Jesus is the Author & Finisher - “Jesus is the Author and the Finisher of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2) Authors write and publish what they write for others to read. Each person’s life is a story in itself written with the life of each individual. Jesus is the Author. Cement finishers work with cement when it is wet to create a thing of strength and beauty, which will last. In the same way Jesus works with people to change them into His likeness to last forever.
N. Unity of Faith - Soldiers with shields in formation could present the front of the formation with shields locked together. The flanks of the formation could have shields locked together and the rear of the formation with shields locked together. The soldiers in the ranks could hold their shields over their heads shielding the formation from above. In the same way with the unity of several people praying in faith greater results can be obtained from God, than by one person praying alone. This is the reason for prayer meetings. The church in Jerusalem prayed, and Peter was let out of prison by an angel. In the Battle of the Bulge General Patton had two hundred and fifty thousand prayers distributed to the troops to pray for good weather and God granted him his request. During WWII Rev. Hague said that at his father’s church every day prayer was made for the ones in uniform from the church and everyone came home safely after the war. It was when one hundred and twenty were in one accord that the Holy Spirit arrived at Pentecost. Unity in faith is good.

If you are not united in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ, then you can invite Him into your heart today. A sample prayer is, “Lord Jesus Christ forgive me of my evil and cone into my heart.”

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