Summary: Armor of God. Link inc. to formatted text, audio.
Shield of Faith
"Above all" = more important than the other articles in the armor as we dress for success. But why?
But without faith it is impossible to please him:
When you put on the breastplate of righteousness you are putting your faith in the God of righteousness. Shoes of the gospel? Only by faith in the God of the gospel. Girdle of truth? There is no truth outside of the God who is truth!
It is the shield that protects the rest of the armor...out in front, it is the operating force which makes the rest possible. When properly placed, v. 16 says the shield will quench ALL the fiery darts of Satan. So, the devil has no strategy, tactic, or device, that the shield of faith which God has given us will not defeat! That's saying a lot, because Satan has quite an arsenal, a quiver full. And when they hit their mark, we can become a casualty, suffering loss or even defeat.
A wounded soldier is not the same as a dead soldier. You may know someone who is a believer who has been hit. They are down, wounded, and suffering. What do we do now? Kick them in the side with guilt over why they've fallen away from God? Or a helping hand up? How about the first aid of compassion and understanding, and forgiveness, knowing it could be us!
Wounded doesn't mean you can't be used. Sometimes when we cite the qualifications of pastor or deacon we accidentally give the mistaken idea that these things apply to everyone. Listen, we're a hospital for sinners, not a display case for saints. This is where people are to be healed, not turned away because they aren't healthy enough!
The Roman shield was quite large, about 2' x 4' - made of wood, and covered in tough leather. Sometimes the leather would be soaked in water before battle, to help resist the effect of fiery arrows. The edges of the shield were beveled so they could be interlocked together with other shields. A row of soldiers could kneel beside each other, lock in, and literally form a wall!
Imagine what we would do as a church if the worst happened ... doomsday. Though we are safe from the wrath to come, Scripture indicates the shadow of what's to come will cast to this side of the rapture. We may not be immune from some of the hardships of the end. I imagine we would help one another. I imagine we would pool our resources. I imagine we would protect one another. I imagine we would lock shields!
So, let's do so now! Is there not a cause? Is there not doom falling around us? Are we not in a battle?
Paul says pick up the shield of faith. What kind of faith? Well, it all begins with saving faith, but Paul is talking to believers. Perhaps he's referring to daily, practical faith in our daily lives.
For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Daily faith for the believer is the assurance that God is with us, and His Word is true. It is reliance and confidence! And the basis of our faith must always be the Word of God. [recent FB blogging] We can't pick and choose which parts of the Bible we believe, cafeteria style.
1. Daily faith is rooted in fact, not feeling.
It's not about emotions and inner impressions. "I just have faith this is gonna work." God wasn't in it, and they say, "Maybe I didn't have enough faith." The problem wasn't in the amount of their faith, but in the object of their faith.
ill.--Sometimes a little child will run out on an iced over pond...sometimes they get a surprise...sometimes it ends tragically. The problem isn't in their faith, they had a lot of faith...too much, actually! The problem was in the basis of their faith...they placed faith in the wrong object.
We need to place our faith in facts, not feelings. Don't trust your instincts on things the Bible is specific about. God will never contradict His Word. "Feelings come and feelings go, for feelings are deceiving. My trust is in the Word of God, naught else is worth believing."
Three men were walking on a wall,
Feeling, Faith and Fact.
When Feeling took an awful fall,
And Faith was taken back.
So close was Faith to Feeling,
He stumbled and fell too,
But Fact remained,
And pulled Faith back
And Faith brought feeling too.
2. Faith has nothing to do with probability.