Summary: To make use of the shield of faith against the evil one’s fiery missiles, we must know what to have faith in, and Who to have faith in. (#21 in The Chrisian Victor series)
“…in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one.”
There is significance to Paul’s usage of the phrase, ‘…in addition to all’. Looking at various translations will help to make it clearer. The NIV says “In addition to all this…” The Amplified reads, “Lift up over all…” The Darby translation says “Besides all these…”
The things Paul has been talking about, the girdle of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the footwear of the gospel message; these parts of the soldier’s uniform were worn on the body and would be on him most of the time when in any public place or performing mundane duty. Now the breastplate might come off and on more than the others, nevertheless, they were not only put on in times of battle.
But now Paul is moving on to the parts of the armor that would only be used for battle. The commander says it’s time to march, or there is a sudden cry to battle, and the soldier grabs his helmet and puts it on, then picks up his spear or sword and his shield, and he’s ready.
So in the first three pieces what we have is an analogy of the soldier’s personal preparation. His training, his fitness, his military discipline. Fundamentally, his readiness to be a soldier.
In 1969 I went through Basic Training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. After graduating Basic I was sent to Law Enforcement Technical School for twelve more weeks of training. When that was done, although I had no experience, I had the basics I needed for going out into the field and doing the work. I began with OJT (on-the-job training with an experienced Airman), but that was where I got my equipment for actual service in the capacity of Law Enforcement Officer. A revolver, a nightstick, a patrol car, handcuffs, etcetera.
In 1971 when I got my orders for Viet Nam, I was sent back to Lackland for six weeks of Combat Preparedness training. There I learned to use larger caliber weapons and more aggressive fighting techniques.
The Christian, having heard and responded to the gospel message, then begins to learn the truth of God’s Word pertaining to his salvation and the fundamental doctrines of the faith.
Once he is established and able to give an account for the hope that is in him by recounting the gospel to others, then he is ready to stand. Then it is time to use the tools of battle.
The first part is both armor and weapon. The shield of faith.
This is how the Romans in Britain website describes the shield of the Roman Soldier:
“These were semi cylindrical in shape, large enough to reach from the chin to the knees and protected half of the body. They were light enough to be carried in a long battle and made of layers of wood glued together. Each layer was at an angle to the previous one for strength. The edge was bound with light sheet bronze and the central boss was heavy bronze. As no intact shields have been found so far, we can only assume that the shield had a hand grip and an inner strap enabled the soldier to hold the shield close to his body and also leave his other arm free for other weapons.” www.romans-in-britain.org.uk/mil_roman_soldiers_weapons.htm
Before I go farther in, let’s stop here for a moment and observe something about the church as we know it and have seen it operate.
We’ve all discussed, not with glee or unkindness, but with some degree of sadness, the many people we have known to come in and out of the church and never seem to take root. We’ve talked about the condition of many who stay in the church, but there never seems to be growth or fruit evident in them.
And I think what we’re studying here, at least in part, is a process that many new Christians coming into the church today are not being put through. Now in some cases this is a failure of church leadership.
Pastors get in a rut, or they get lazy, or they get tired, and they stop thinking about the basic needs of new believers; they forget that all Christians need to be reminded often, of the fundamentals. What brought them to the faith, what happened spiritually when they were saved that makes them born again believers, the difference between them now and what they were when still in the world, and so on.
These are all topics that come under the umbrella of the basic doctrines of Christianity. The teaching of which is often neglected and even avoided.
Just because a person has been a Christian for 30 or 40 or 50 years, does not mean that he no longer needs reminding of these things.