In our continuing series of articles exploring "the Armor of God" as listed in Ephesians 6, we will now address the fifth in Paul's series of seven:
Wherefore take unto you the whole Armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand... And take the helmet of salvation,
Ephesians 6:13, 17
Helmets are a form of security. Most of us have used a helmet of one kind or another. In sports, on a bicycle or motorcycle, in the factory or on a construction site, or in the military. Failure to have the proper helmet can prove fatal.
There's also a difference between wearing a helmet and simply owning one. When things start falling, you can always tell the person with the helmet on from the one who merely possesses a helmet. One is on his feet; the other can be distinguished by all the bandages!
Our most critical "helmet" (whether we realize it or not) is the one that is absolutely essential for the combat we are presently engaged in! It is the helmet designed by God:
17 For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance [for] clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke.
18 According to [their] deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompence to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompence.
19 So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.
"Salvation" is a very common topic, and yet still subject to much confusion. Salvation is received, not earned.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
It is His gift; not wages. His salvation is for a purpose: to restore mankind to Himself. And it flows from a heart of love.
(Have you ever wondered why He bothered? The answer is in the verse just before the one above):
That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:7
Salvation is not an optional extra. The classic passage is John Chapter 3, where Nico-demus comes to Jesus by night.
We know a great deal about this influential character. The Talmud indicates he was one of the four richest men in Jerusalem. He was a Pharisee and a ruler-a member of the Sanhedrin.
He was a member of the aristocratic family that had furnished the Hasmonean King Aristobulus II with his ambassador to Pompey in 63 B.C. His son apparently was the man who negotiated the terms of surrender to the Roman garrison in Jerusalem prior to the final destruction of that city in A.D. 70.1
Nicodemus outranks each of us in every respect: he was among the most wealthy in that society; he had stature; he had knowledge-in fact, he was the teacher.2
Nicodemus was among the most respected and religious among the professionals of his culture. He was certainly ahead of any of us. Yet he was in desperate need. Jesus declared to him, "Ye must be born again."3 If he had a spiritual need, where does that place us?
Our Most Urgent Need
Why should God let you into heaven? You say, "I am as good as the next guy." Strike one.
"I am doing the best I can." Strike two.
"I'll try harder." Strike three.
"Nobody's perfect." That's the problem. Sin is a genetic disease; it has contaminated our very nature. Children never need a lesson in being bad. This genetic disease, sin, makes us ineligible for perfection; ineligible to be in the presence of a holy God.
Every one of us will exist forever. The real you-call it "soul," " spirit," whatever-has no mass. It is "software" not "hardware." Having no mass, it has no time dimension limitations. Time is a physical dimension. You are eternal-whether you are "saved" or not!
The problem is, where will you spend eternity? If you are perfect-totally free of sin-you will spend it in the presence of God. If not, you will be denied His presence. You and I cannot begin to grasp what that implies. For eternity: that's a long time.
Who Will Perish?
What separates those who will spend an eternity in hell from those who will not? Heaven will be full of people who have committed all kinds of sin.
Hell is a real place for real people.4 The one who told us the most about it was the Lord Jesus Himself. There are only two categories-those that perish and those that don't:
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18
Salvation is an arrangement by which His eligibility is substituted for our lack thereof. It is available to us because our debts have been fully paid. Our complete pardon has been purchased and paid for.
Even killing the Son of God was not severe enough to put those men outside the boundaries of God's offer of forgiveness.5
[Is there anything keeping you from accepting God's free gift of salvation right now? If there is any doubt in your mind, bring it to the Throne right now. You don't need an appointment. Don't even read on without nailing this one down... with Him. It's your highest priority over anything-everything-else.]
We don't become saved by acting saved. We don't become married by acting married. Faith bridges the gap between our need and God's provision. Faith is simply the way we say "yes" to His offer.
What are you trusting in? Christ, plus something? Or is your hope and your trust in Christ alone? He did the whole job. To imply something must be added is a form of blasphemy!
Your helmet was purchased just for you. You are entitled to it because of Him.
Wearing Your Helmet
With a helmet on, you're noticeable. If you just possess one, it won't be as obvious. Life after death is not the issue. Life after "birth" is. Are you living as if you are saved? Many of us don't live as if we're saved... We are difficult to recognize because of "blending in." We exhibit fear, anxiety, doubt, and hesitation.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.
What are the most important words in that verse? The first three: "And we know." Not just "suspect," or "hope," etc.
Realize who you are and that Christ paid the full price for your redemption. You have been redeemed, you have been paid for; you are no longer your own.
Put on your helmet; protect your thoughts by realizing who you are in Him. Nothing protects you more from a blow to your head than our "helmet of salvation." Each time you step out your door each day, realize that you have been redeemed.
You already have eternal life. No one can take that away from you. So Satan's darts can't reach you. Nothing, by any means, can hurt you. Re-read Romans 8:28-39.
Take your helmet off and you're vulnerable. Satan will put lying thoughts in your head. Remember this: How many of your sins were yet future at the cross? All of them.
Take the eternal perspective. When did God first start dealing with your problem? Before the world began!6 What a staggering insight! He knew and planned for your destiny from before the beginning of time! (We often joke: I'm glad he picked me back then. Looking at me now, He might change His mind!)
We also need to manifest our helmet. We need to alert others to their need for one and how they can obtain theirs. Make this, indeed, a "New Year!" Put on your helmet and let the world know of your security in Christ. Walk with your head up, free of fear and doubt.
Happy New Year, indeed!
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What could be more terrifying than the slightest concern over your place in eternity? There is no room for the slightest doubt on this issue. There are those who feel that their helmet is a perishable item; that once in hand it can be lost. That His grace is probationary. What do you think? Some of the controversies surrounding this issue will be explored in our next article in this series.