Summary: Paul calls us to stand in the Lord’s strength; but we’re not just observers either (#14 in The Christian Victor series)
“Finally be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is clearly divided into three main subjects. The divisions are so distinct, that most commentators who have taught from this letter have developed their entire outline accordingly. I have even broken this study of Ephesians down into three series. I’ve called Chapters one and two, “Every Spiritual Blessing”, chapters three and four, “The Unfathomable Love of Christ”, and chapters 5 and 6 “The Christian Victor”.
Now the divisions are not clearly made at the chapter breaks. Paul’s transitions are smoother than that. But his structure, basically, is that he teaches us first about our relationship with God, then goes on to teach us how our interpersonal relationships should be as believers under Christ our Head, and then finally, and what we are now entering into, the warfare of the Christian.
Therefore we take note that whereas an earthly army trains for battle by running, climbing over walls, firing weapons, studying field tactics and the like, the Christian’s basic training is in coming to full knowledge of what Christ has done and brought us to, and growing in maturity to a place of relating to one another in the Spirit of Christ. Only then are we ready to enter into spiritual warfare, with Christ as our Captain.
After all, an army that knows its leaders well, knows itself and its mission. And an army must be united in purpose with one another, soldier to soldier, in order to ever be effective against a common enemy.
E. K. Simpson wrote:
“There is a holy war afoot with the powers of darkness; and who so qualified to animate the sacramental host of God’s elect as this scarred veteran of the cross, himself no carpet-knight, but versed in all the strategy of the campaign and cognizant of all the tactics of the enemy?”
As I began to contemplate this final portion of this epistle, and how it should be applied to us, it occurred to me that in making personal application, and relating it to our congregation, it would be wise to take a look at where we are, before venturing to move forward.
A well-trained soldier, in the field and about to engage in battle, will first stand very still and take in his surroundings. His senses will be heightened. He will consider his back trail, sights and sounds all around him, the strength of his allies at his side and the intelligence information he has received concerning the strength and position of the enemy he is about to engage.
So in an attempt to put myself into this mindset for the purpose of sermon preparation, I stopped for a moment and considered our back trail.
Over the last few weeks something has happened that I think directly relates to this passage we’ve come to.
You are all aware that we gathered with the Olathe (Oh-lay-thuh) congregation, and their pastor, Jay Crenshaw brought us a very powerful sermon concerning prayer and spiritual warfare.
You also know now that the sermon I had prepared for the following week, unbeknownst to Jay, was on the same topic, from a different passage of scripture.
Now we all recognize that without our conscious planning of it, the Spirit of Christ had led Jay and I to bring the same fundamental message to our combined congregations for two weeks, one after the other.
At the end of our services two weeks ago, Jay made a very interesting point to me. This is not an exact quote, but he reminded me that when Jesus wanted to impress upon His hearers that He was about to say something they should give heed to and listen very carefully, He would say, Truly, truly, or ‘verily, verily’. In other words, the double usage of the word was an alert to their ears that He was going to say something very important.
Well, said Jay, He has said something to us twice.
So, fellow-believers, fellow soldiers, we need to realize that it is no chance coincidence that Jay and I were inspired to bring those messages about spiritual warfare and the authority of the believer in prayer, just as we here at Cornerstone were about to enter this final phase of our study of Ephesians.
Here we stand. Our back trail shows us something pertinent to where we are and how we got here. That God has gotten our attention and made us alert to the fact that we are here, at this time, for some purpose of His. Over past months, maybe longer, He has been drawing people to prayer, all over this region. Little pockets of people suddenly, almost irresistibly, coming together for intercessory prayer; and out of those prayer meetings are coming desires for new areas of ministry and outreach.