Watch & Stand Fast in the Faith
One evening recently, as this writer was considering the myriad reasons underlying his desire to experience the return of Christ, reasons stemming from the pains and limitations of “old age” to the countless and demonstrable evil manifestations throughout the world as seen daily through the proliferation of mass media, the following thoughts crossed his mind: Christ never promised an easy road in living for Him! Quite the contrary! All He promised was difficulty, hard times and suffering.
(This truth may be confirmed by reviewing the following passages of Scripture: Matthew 5:11, 12; 16:24; 23:34; Luke 6:22; Acts 5:41; 14:22; Romans 5:3; 8:17; 2 Corinthians 12:10; Philippians 1:29; 2 Timothy 2:12; 3:12; James 1:2, 3, 12; 1 Peter 3:14; 4:14.)
And with this in mind, this writer couldn’t help but come to the conclusion that Christ expects His children to stand firm against the onslaught by Satan and his minions, a position reflecting deep gratitude for all that Christ has done and continues to do for mankind, in addition to exhibiting the only means in which a Christian can achieve the salvation of his soul, i.e., become an “overcomer,” one who will qualify at Christ’s Judgment Seat to participate as part of the “bride of Christ” and rule and reign with Christ during the coming Messianic Era.
In summation, this writer couldn’t help but realize that he was being somewhat childish and spineless in his outlook and life for Christ, a shameful position indeed. But on the positive side, it was this evaluation that led him to a wide expanse of Scripture passages revealing the correct stance each Christian should adopt and maintain throughout his mortal life, chief of which would be expressed by the apostle Paul.
The apostle Paul when writing to “the church [assembly] of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:2) ended his letter in a positive manner in which he included the following emphatic instruction:
Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave [mature], be strong.
(1 Corinthians 16:13)
In this one verse is God’s expectation for every Christian during his lifetime, the elements of which follow and are best explained by Scripture:
1) Watch (perceptive, discerning, sensitive [to spiritual matters])
Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. (Matthew 24:42)
Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming. (Matthew 25:13)
Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.
Preach the Word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. . . . But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:2, 5)
2) Stand fast (firmly grounded and with endurance [in spiritual matters])
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you – unless you believed in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:1, 2)
(An examination of this passage within its context reveals that Paul is speaking specifically of the “salvation of the soul” – a salvation applicable only to Christians [those in permanent possession of eternal life based solely on the work of Christ and obtained solely by faith in Christ] and which has consequence only during the coming Messianic Era [the thousand year reign of Christ over the earth, which will be instigated at His soon return])
Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel. (Philippians 1:27)
Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved. (Philippians 4:1)
For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 3:8)
3) In the faith
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)
I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find [the] faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8)
(This is simply a description of the same conditions that Christ had called attention to several decades earlier during His earthly ministry: “. . . when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith [‘the faith’] on the earth?” (Luke 18:8b). And the manner in which this question is worded in the Greek text designates a negative response. The Son of Man will not find “the faith” (an expression peculiarly related to the Word of the Kingdom) being taught throughout the churches of the land at the time of His return.
The Word of the Kingdom, taught universally throughout the first century Church at the beginning of the dispensation, will be completely absent in teachings throughout the Church at the end of the dispensation. Instead, in some quarters (possibly “many”), that more closely aligned with the “doctrines of demons” will be taught (1 Timothy 4:1-3; ref., chapter 7 in this book). The working of the leaven throughout the dispensation (fourth parable) will have gradually wrought this change, bringing this change to a terminal point, leaving Christendom completely leavened in relation to the Word of the Kingdom at the end of the dispensation. [Taken from Mysteries of the Kingdom by Arlen L. Chitwood, Chapter 10])
So then [the] faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. (Romans 10:17)
Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is [resting] in you? – unless indeed you are disqualified [lit. rejected]. (2 Corinthians 13:5)
For by grace you have been saved through [the] faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8)
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastor-teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect [mature] man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ – from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:11-16)
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. (Galatians 2:16; cf. 3:11, 24)
4) Be brave – Gk. literally mature
5) Be strong – Gk. literally be strengthened
Standing – a Matter of Faith
2 Corinthians 1:24
Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are fellow workers for your joy; for by faith you stand.
Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear.
1 Corinthians 15:1
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received [by faith] and in which you stand [by faith].
2 Corinthians 5:7
For we walk by faith, not by sight. (cf. Colossians 2:6)
As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord [by faith], so [in the same manner] walk in Him. (cf. 2 Corinthians5:7; Ephesians 3:17)
Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10:4)
Regarding the weaponry (i.e., “the whole armor of God”) mentioned by Paul in Ephesians 6 (above), the following is taken from Chapter 3 of The Spiritual Warfare by Arlen L. Chitwood:
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God has placed pastor-teachers in the Church to lead Christians from immaturity to maturity in the faith, and the revealed reason is given in Ephesians 4:14:
That we should no longer be children tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.
In the epistle of Ephesians, instruction provided by pastor-teachers would, of necessity, have to center on:
1) One’s positional standing “in Christ” in the heavenlies (1:3, 20).
2) The “inheritance” awaiting Christians (1:11, 17, 18).
3) The very purpose for one’s salvation (2:6, 7).
4) The “fellowship [‘dispensation’] of the mystery” (3:1-11).
5) The necessity for maturity in the faith (4:11-16).
6) The necessity for being filled with the Spirit (5:18-20).
7) The spiritual warfare at hand (3:10; 6:10ff).
Concluding his epistle with the exhortation, “Put on the whole armor of God” (6:11), the writer uses similar wording in the Greek text to that which he had used in Ephesians 4:14.
This earlier verse (4:14) concerns proper preparation through spiritual maturity in order to avoid being led astray by the “cunning craftiness” of those who “lie in wait to deceive” (KJV). And the later verse (6:11) concerns one being clothed in “the whole armor of God” in order that he might be able to “stand against the wiles of the devil.”
The thought in both instances has to do with a settled plan, a systematic strategy used by those who have set about to deceive and lead Christians astray relative to matters surrounding their calling, as revealed in Ephesians; and Christians, in both instances, are to be properly prepared for such deception.
Instruction is progressive throughout Ephesians (and elsewhere in Scripture), and the concluding exhortation in Ephesians 6:10ff is really for Christians who have attained an element of spiritual maturity in their lives. This is very evident from what is stated in the passage.
There can be no such thing as a spiritually immature Christian being “strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might” (v. 10); nor can there be any such thing as a spiritually immature Christian being able to properly clothe himself in “the whole armor of God” and “stand against the wiles of the devil” (v. 11). Spiritually immature Christians have little to no understanding of the warfare, much less how to properly clothe themselves.
This can be easily demonstrated from an Old Testament type, which is the central type in the Old Testament dealing with this subject – the Israelites under Moses at Kadesh-Barnea, in a position to go in, take the land, and realize an inheritance therein.
The march from Egypt to Kadesh-Barnea was by way of the wilderness of Sinai, where detailed instructions from the Lord were given to the people of Israel through Moses. And when the Israelites subsequently reached Kadesh-Barnea, spies were sent into the land ahead of the nation to gather information concerning the land and the inhabitants therein. These spies spent forty days and nights in the land, traversing it from one end to the other, and returned not only with information concerning the land and its inhabitants but with actual samples of the fruits of the land itself.
The people of Israel had received the Word of God at Sinai. They had then heard the report concerning the land and the inhabitants therein, and they had tasted the actual fruits of the land at Kadesh-Barnea before thought was given to entering the land and combating the inhabitants. That is, the people of Israel had been led from a rudimentary knowledge of their salvation in Egypt (through death and shed blood, where the death of the firstborn occurred by means of a substitute) to a mature knowledge concerning God’s plans and purposes relating to the nation at Kadesh-Barnea (where a revealed inheritance lay before the people). And the entire matter had to do with the Israelites going into the land, warring against the inhabitants, being victorious over the inhabitants, and realizing God’s purpose for the nation, within a theocracy.
And that which this overall type foreshadows, seen in the antitype today (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:6, 11; Hebrews 3, 4), is exactly the same. Growth from immaturity to maturity in the Christian life is likewise for a purpose (Hebrews 5), and that purpose has to do with being able to achieve victory over the enemy and to one day realize an inheritance in a heavenly land within a theocracy (Hebrews 6, 10, 12).
Christians are to be fully capable of clothing themselves in the whole armor of God that they might be able to “withstand in the evil day.” The word “withstand” is a translation of the Greek word anthistemi, which is a compound word comprised of anti (“against”) and histemi (“to stand”). Thus, the thought, beginning in verse ten, is to be “strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might [note where one’s strength lies – not in himself, but in the Lord]”; and in conjunction with an exhibition of this type of strength, one is told, “Put on the whole armor of God,” for only by so doing will he be able to firmly stand against the settled plan, the systematic strategy of Satan, holding his ground and giving no place to the enemy.
1) Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth (v. 14a)
Following the events of the Passover in Egypt during the days of Moses, 3,500 years ago (Exodus 12:1ff), the people of Israel were to be led out of Egypt in order to realize an inheritance in another land. They were to be removed from Egypt and established in the land covenanted to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And the people of Israel were to be established in this land in the position of God’s firstborn son (the nation that God recognized as possessing the rights of primogeniture). As God’s firstborn son, Israel would be the ruling nation within a theocracy, and the Gentile nations would then not only be ruled by Israel but these same nations would also be blessed through Israel (Genesis 12:2, 3; 22:17, 18; Exodus 4:22, 23; 19:5, 6).
Exactly the same things apply in relation to Christians, except a heavenly land is in view. Christ has died, His blood has been shed; and the firstborn has died vicariously, through the provided Substitute. And, exactly as in the type, an inheritance in another land is in view.
That is to say, an individual has been saved for a revealed purpose, and that purpose in the antitype is the same as seen in the type.
Then He brought us out from there [out of Egypt], that He might bring us in [into the land to which they had been called], to give us the land of which He swore to our fathers. (Deuteronomy 6:23)
Christians, from a typical standpoint, have been saved in Egypt (a type of the world) to realize an inheritance in Canaan (a type of the heavenly land to which they have been called). That is, Christians have been saved in the world in order to one day be established in a heavenly land as God’s firstborn son (that “holy nation” that God recognizes as possessing the rights of primogeniture [Hebrews 12:23; 1 Peter 2:9]); and as God’s firstborn, Christians will rule as co-heirs with Christ, within a theocracy. The Gentile nations will not only be ruled by Christ and His co-heirs but these same nations will also be blessed through Christ and His co-heirs (Genesis 22:17, 18; Ephesians 1:3; Philippians 3:20; Colossians 1:5; Hebrews 3:1; 1 Peter 1:4).
(Spiritual blessings in that day can and will flow not only from Christ and Israel on earth [Christ seated on David’s throne, in the midst of the Jewish people] but through Christ and His co-heirs in the heavens as well [Christ seated on His own throne, with His bride], in complete accordance with Genesis 12:3; 22:17, 18.
And this can be true because all those associated with Christ in this manner [both on earth and in the heavens] will be of the seed of Abraham [Galatians 3:29], the seed through whom God has decreed that all spiritual blessings are to flow.)
The Israelites in the type had been led from Egypt through the wilderness to the borders of the land of Canaan at Kadesh-Barnea. They were in possession of the Word of God received at Sinai, they had heard the report of the spies who had traversed the land of Canaan, and they had tasted the actual fruits of the land that the spies had brought back with them. The Israelites had moved from a simple knowledge of the rudimentary things surrounding the death of the firstborn in Egypt to an extensive knowledge concerning the plans and purposes of God for the nation (which centered on the land of Canaan and the purpose for Israel’s calling).
In the terminology of Scripture, the Israelites had moved from a state of gnosis (“knowledge”) to a state of epignosis (“mature knowledge [especially as it related to the things surrounding the purpose for their calling]”). They were now ready to enter the land, combat the “giants” inhabiting this land (Numbers 13:32, 33), and possess the land in accordance with their calling and God’s promise.
Their seeming inability to conquer the “giants,” who were far stronger, was to be of no consequence. They were to recognize that the battle belonged to the Lord (1 Samuel 17:47) and that circumstances were not to be viewed from a naturalistic standpoint but from a divine viewpoint. They were to know that the enemy could not be overcome within their own strength (Numbers 14:42-45) but, rather, through the strength of the One dwelling in their midst.
Such was the attitude exhibited by Caleb and Joshua (two of the twelve spies) as they sought to present the truth of the matter to a people who had been troubled by the preliminary report given by the spies concerning the land and its inhabitants (Numbers 13:26-30). And this is what is in view in Ephesians 6:14 when Christians are told to have their waists “girded . . . with truth.”
“Truth” in this passage is not a reference to the Word of God. A person clothing himself to enter the conflict with the inhabitants of the land wherein his inheritance lies occurs, as in the type, at Kadesh-Barnea when he enters the conflict, not back in Egypt. At this point, the person properly clothing himself could only have previously moved from an immature understanding of the Word to one that would allow him to grasp various things about the spiritual warfare at hand. That is, such a person would not only be in possession of the Word but he would be in possession of an understanding of this Word, particularly as it relates to things surrounding the battle for the land and Christians ultimately holding regal positions therein.
Taking and using the Word already in one’s possession is seen later, in verse seventeen, not at this point in the instructions, in verse fourteen.
“Truth” in this passage is a reference to entering the conflict after the same fashion Caleb and Joshua were exhorting the people to enter the conflict during their day:
Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.” (Numbers 13:30)
“Truth” with which one enters the conflict, in this respect, is sincerity, earnestness as the person goes forth, relying upon the Lord (“. . . be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might” [Ephesians 6:10]).
One has to, first of all, be sincere and earnest about the conflict in which he finds himself engaged. This battle isn’t something that one can enter after any type of frivolous fashion. There is a systematic, well-planned effort on the part of Satan to bring about a Christian’s defeat; and a Christian, to be victorious in battle, must exhibit the same type of attitude as manifested by Caleb and Joshua.
(The “giants [Hebrew: nephilim, ‘fallen ones’]” inhabiting the land during Moses’ day were the offspring of a cohabitation of the sons of God with the daughters of men – the offspring of a cohabitation between fallen angels in Satan’s kingdom and female members of the human race. Thus, the battle set before the Israelites for possession of the land, as the battle set before Christians for possession of a land today, involved things beyond the natural, requiring God’s supernatural intervention on behalf of His people.)
2) . . . having put on the breastplate of righteousness (v. 14b)
The girdle is the first piece of armor mentioned in Ephesians chapter six; and a warrior arraying himself for battle was to put the girdle on first, for other pieces of the armor were attached to the girdle.
The breastplate, the next piece of armor mentioned, was normally attached to the girdle in both the front and the rear, making the girdle necessary for the breastplate to be held firmly in place.
The thought is that there must first be a “Caleb and Joshua” type of attitude on the part of the Christian before going beyond this point in properly clothing himself. One must first have on the girdle of sincerity, earnestness and truthfulness before the breastplate can be properly affixed.
It is a simple thing to see that the breastplate can have nothing to do with the righteousness of God that has been imputed to every believer. The righteousness of God is a righteousness with which God clothes us at the point of salvation, as He clothed Adam and Eve with animal skins following their fall (requiring death and shed blood).
The righteousness in view in Ephesians 6:14 is a righteousness that the Christian himself is to put on. It is a righteousness to be put on by the one already in possession of the imputed righteousness of God.
This is the personal righteousness mentioned in Revelation 19:8, associated with the wedding garment. This garment is made up of “the righteousness of saints.” The word “righteousness” is plural in the Greek text and should be translated “righteousnesses,” or “righteous acts.” These are the justifying acts referred to in James 2:21-25.
A man is first justified by faith (Romans 5:15-18), being clothed in the righteousness of God (spoken of in a singular sense – one justifying act [performed by Christ]); and the man is then to be justified by works (James 2:24), clothing himself by righteous acts (spoken of in a plural sense – justifying acts [performed by the one already justified by faith, justified through the act of Another]).
Righteous acts performed by Christians simply have to do with exercising faithfulness within the scope of one’s particular calling, fulfilling his particular responsibility as a servant in the Lord’s house. And, as one exercises faithfulness, waiting upon the Lord, righteous acts will be the natural outworking of faithfulness as the person follows the leadership of the indwelling Spirit.
That is to say, in relation to that which is seen in Ephesians 6:14, after one exhibits the proper attitude toward the battle at hand, he is then to exercise faithfulness as a servant in the house. Such will result in works, righteous acts, allowing that person to have on (he will have put it on himself) the breastplate of righteousness and allowing that person to one day be clothed (actually, he will one day clothe himself) in the wedding garment.
(For the proper relationship that faith and works occupy in relation to one another, refer to the author’s book, Salvation of the Soul, Chapter 5, “Faith Made Mature,” and the Appendix, “Faith and Works.”)
3) And having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace (v. 15)
Note the emphasis in verses eleven, thirteen, and fourteen relative to standing as one goes forth to battle: “to stand” (v. 11), “withstand [lit. ‘stand against’],” “to stand” (v. 13), and “Stand” (v. 14). One must have solid footing to stand upon. Both feet must be firmly planted, “having shod your feet with the preparation [‘readiness’] of the gospel of peace.”
There are two aspects to the gospel in Scripture. One appears in connection with “peace with God,” and the other appears in connection with “the peace of God.”
“Peace with God” comes about through justification by grace through faith, as seen in Ephesians 2:8, 9. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). This peace results from one being placed upon the foundation, with the most sure, steadfast footing possible, apart from which there can be no conflict.
However, distinctions between “peace with God” and “the peace of God” are not what is in view in Ephesians 6:15, for availing oneself of the proper footwear (for both feet) is something that, contextually, occurs following salvation.
In a parallel passage to that which is in view, the latter part of Romans 10:15 states,
How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!
The feet are seen as the vehicle of transportation for the messenger, as he goes about proclaiming good news concerning peace. Within the overall scope of the good news, as previously stated, there is a facet of the message having to do with “peace with God” (for the unsaved [Romans 5:1]) and there is a facet of the message having to do with the “peace of God” (for the saved [Philippians 4:5-7]). The contextual emphasis in Romans 10:15 though has to do with the saved, not with the unsaved.
Exactly the same thought is in view regarding the armor in Ephesians 6:15. Having one’s feet properly shod has to do with proper preparation relative to the good news concerning peace, as it pertains to the saved, exactly as seen in Romans 10:15; and this would be based on the person already having “peace with God,” as seen in Romans 5:1.
The messenger’s feet being properly shod shows a proper preparation of the messenger as he goes about proclaiming this message concerning peace. And this message of peace would have two facets – the peace of God now (having to do with the present aspect of salvation, the outworking of the saving of the soul), culminating in a future peace when the Prince of Peace is Himself present (having to do with the future aspect of salvation, when the salvation of the soul will be realized).
4) Above all, taking the shield of faith . . . (v. 16)
The weakness of the average Christian is lack of faith, wrought through the neglect of prayerful study and meditation in the Word of God.
“Faith” is simply believing God, and God speaks to us today through His Word. This is the reason that “faith comes by [‘out of’] hearing, and hearing by [‘through’] the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). We find what God has to say about a matter in His Word; and we can then either exercise faith by believing that which He has said, or we can fail to exercise faith through unbelief.
Caleb and Joshua at Kadesh-Barnea exercised “faith.” They believed that which God had to say about entering into and possessing the land of Canaan (Exodus 2:24, 25; 3:7, 8; 6:4-8; 13:5, 11, 19; Numbers 13:30). However, the remainder of the nation, led astray by the “evil report” presented by the other ten spies, failed to exercise “faith.” They didn’t believe God concerning entrance into the land, and they even went so far as to consider appointing a new leader (someone other than Moses) and returning to Egypt (Numbers 13:31-14:4).
Exactly the same thing confronts Christians today: Will you exercise faith concerning that which God has to say about entrance into the land (in line with that manifested by Caleb and Joshua)? Or, will you fail to exercise faith concerning that which God has to say about entrance into the land (in line with that manifested by the remainder of the nation)?
Caleb and Joshua possessed “the shield of faith”; the remainder of the nation though didn’t possess this shield. The “shield of faith” is put on by and through simply believing that which God has to say concerning entrance into the land. It is put on by trusting the Lord to see you safely through the conflict with the world-rulers of this present darkness, resulting in your realizing an inheritance in the land during that coming day.
Possessing the shield of faith would be synonymous with earnestly striving with respect to the faith in Jude 3 or striving in the good contest of the faith in 1 Timothy 6:12.
5) And take the helmet of salvation . . . (v. 17a)
This is something that a person already in possession of salvation is to, himself, put on; and it is to be put on in view of a warfare. Thus, it can be easily seen that putting on “the helmet of salvation” has to do with things beyond that which is foreshadowed by the death of the firstborn and application of the blood in Egypt. Continuing with the type, it has to do with being properly arrayed (by having arrayed oneself) at Kadesh-Barnea, with a view to entering the land and combating the giants.
1 Thessalonians 5:8 reveals that “the helmet of salvation” is the hope of salvation:
But let us who are of the day [Christians waiting and watching for their Lord’s return (vv. 6, 7)] be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love and for an helmet the hope of salvation.
The “hope of salvation” is a reference to the salvation that will be revealed at the time of Christ’s return – the salvation of the soul. The “hope” is something that may or may not be realized (cf. Luke 23:8; Acts 16:19; 27:20). And the salvation of one’s soul, inseparably connected with hope, has to do with realizing an inheritance as God’s firstborn son in the land to which Christians have been called – something that Christians, individually, may or may not realize.
A Christian can forfeit his inheritance and lose his soul, which itself has nothing to do with his presently possessed eternal salvation. Again, bear in mind, this is something (as seen in the type) that occurs at Kadesh-Barnea and beyond, not something that occurs back in Egypt.
One clothes himself with the helmet of salvation – the hope of salvation – in view of achieving victory over the inhabitants of the land to which he has been called. His hope is that of being victorious – being an overcomer – and one day being privileged to ascend the throne and rule as co-heir with Christ in this land.
This is a hope that results in purification in a believer’s life and is a hope that should be on the lips of every believer, as a ready testimony surrounding the purpose for his salvation (1 Peter 3:15; 1 John 3:3).
(See the author’s book, Salvation of the Soul, chapter 6, “Hope, Inheritance, Salvation,” for a more comprehensive discussion of this subject.)
6) . . . and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (v. 17b)
A Christian having his waist “girded with truth,” having on “the breastplate of righteousness,” having his “feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace,” taking “the shield of faith,” and having on “the helmet of salvation” is then to take “the sword of the Spirit” – the Word of God – as he goes forth to combat Satan. After being properly arrayed in all the other revealed fashions, he is then to take the one thing that God has provided as a weapon to be used against the enemy.
2 Timothy 3:16 in the KJV reads,
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God . . . .
The words, “given by inspiration of God,” are a translation of one Greek word, Theopneustos, meaning “God-breathed.” This is a compound word comprised of Theos (“God”) and pneuma (“breath” in this particular usage [this is also the word used for “Spirit” in the New Testament – the Holy Spirit, man’s spirit, and the use of spirit in general; also “wind” in John 3:8]).
That which is meant by and the implications of Scripture being God-breathed are given in a somewhat simple manner in Scripture, but one has to look at and compare related parts of both Testaments before he can really begin to see and understand that which is involved. A person has to reference passages in one Testament, then passages in the other. He has to compare scripture with scripture, i.e., he has to compare “spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:13).
First note Hebrews 4:12:
The Word of God is quick [lit., alive], and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword . . . .
Why is the Word of God “alive,” “powerful,” and “sharper than any two-edged sword”? The answer: Because of its origin. The Word is “Theopneustos”; the Word is “God-breathed.”
But, what does that mean? And why is the Word “alive” because of its origin? This is where one has to go back to beginning points in the Old Testament and find the first mention in Scripture of God bringing a matter to pass through the use of His breath.
This is necessary not only because of the need to compare scripture with scripture but also because of a principle of biblical interpretation called, The First-Mention Principle.
This principle has to do with unchangeableness, and it centers on an unchangeable structure of the Word given by the unchangeable God. Because of the inherent nature of the Word, the first time a subject is mentioned in Scripture, a pattern, a mold is established at that point that remains unchanged throughout all subsequent Scripture.
Remaining within this principle, the first time one finds the breath of God mentioned in Scripture is in Genesis 2:7, where life was imparted to man by and through God’s breath. And, consequently, at this beginning point, this verse connects life with the breath of God after an unchangeable fashion.
God formed and fashioned man from the dust of the ground, but man was not created alive. Life was subsequently imparted through God breathing into man’s “nostrils the breath of life,” resulting in man becoming “a living soul.”
Thus, in Genesis 2:7, the unchangeable connection between God’s breath and life in relation to man is established and set. Only God can produce life, and any time life is produced beyond this point it must always be through the one means set forth at the beginning, revealed in Genesis 2:7.
There is nothing more powerful at a Christian’s disposal than the Word of God. It was this Word that Satan chose to use against Christ in the wilderness, and Christ used this same Word as He countered Satan (Matthew 4:1-11).
And going forth, properly arrayed for battle, using the Word as a weapon against the world-rulers of this present darkness, a Christian, at the same time, is to constantly be “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (v. 18).
If the provided instructions are followed, victory after victory in the present spiritual warfare will ensue. But, if the provided instructions are not followed . . . .
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Why Must Christians Stand?
Christians should understand that they are in a continuous spiritual warfare. The following passages of Scripture speak for themselves:
1 Peter 5:8, 9
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.
Matthew 24:5, 11, 24
For many will come in My name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and will deceive many. . . . Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. . . . For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law” – to whom we gave no such commandment. (cf. Acts 15:1, 5)
Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.
Romans 16:17, 18
Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.
2 Corinthians 2:17
For we are not, as so many, peddling [lit: corrupting] the Word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.
2 Corinthians 11:12-15
But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.
I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation!
2 Thessalonians 2:3
Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition.
1 Timothy 4:1, 2
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron.
2 Timothy 3:1-5
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
2 Timothy 4:3, 4
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
2 Peter 2:1
But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.
2 Peter 3:3
Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts.
1 John 2:18
Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.
1 John 4:1
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
2 John 1:7
For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
Jude 1:4, 18
For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. . . . how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts.
A review of the passages within this study should cause one to come to the following conclusion, which is that Christians, who will most assuredly and perpetually be sought out and attacked by Satan and his minions during this (temporal) lifetime, will only be able to successfully survive spiritually, i.e., achieve the salvation of their souls, if they take the courageous position of standing firm in the faith, a station of spiritual maturity that may only be obtained as one studies and absorbs the meat (i.e., “Word of the Kingdom”) of God’s Word. By so doing, Christians will be able to dress in “the whole of armor of God” and be able to routinely defeat evil on every hand; and, one day soon, be able to be rewarded by Christ at His Judgment Seat (1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10).