December 1, 2019

Peace

Pastor:
Passage: Ephesians 6:10-18
Service Type:

Bible Text: Ephesians 6:10-18 | Pastor: Craig Wilson | Series: Ephesians The Riches of God’s Grace | I would like to invite you to, invite your attention to the sixth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. And we will read verses 10-18 and we will focus our attention on verse 15 this morning. But let’s read the verse in context. Paul writes: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 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 firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.” Father I pray that you would bless both the reading and the preaching of your word. Lord we believe but help our unbelief.

I will take the opportunity once again to remind you that the life of the Christian, the life of the Christian who strives to live their lives for the glory of God, will find themselves will frequently find themselves, the target of the rulers, the authorities, the cosmic powers and the spiritual forces of evil that Paul describes here in this passage. And with such a powerful array of forces aligned against us as Christians how are we to survive the attacks and the onslaughts of these dark spiritual forces? Well, there’s really only one way and that is by being strong in the Lord and in the strength of his mind and by putting on and taking up the whole armor of God.

When you and I put on the whole armor of God you have God’s word that you will not suffer defeat and that you will be able to stand, however severe the attacks launched against you may be. You have God’s word that you will be able to withstand any and all attacks in what Paul describes as these evil days. When you are in the midst of spiritual conflict, when you are in the midst of a spiritual battle, you are confronted with two possibilities. You are confronted with two options. One possibility is through your trust in God’s strength and God’s armor your resulting actions will bring honor and glory to God. When you find yourself in the midst of a spiritual battle against forces who are much more powerful than you and you trusting God and you take your stand, your actions glorify God. When you trust the God of the armor to protect you and deliver you, you glorify God. And you prove to yourself, you prove to your enemies, and most importantly, you prove, you show God exactly what you think of him. When you choose the first option, when you trust Him, when you say I am strong in the Lord and in the strength of his mind. When you do put on the whole armor of God, you’re saying, God, I trust you.

What’s the other option? Well, the other option is you don’t avail yourself of God’s strength. You don’t take advantage of God’s armor and you dishonor him and rob him of the glory that he rightly deserves. I know, I know that our default mode is to worry, to become anxious, to try and work our way out of whatever jam we may find ourselves in or whatever battle we may be facing. Please understand this. When you try and take it upon yourself to do what only God can do, you dishonor him. Do you realize that you rob him of the opportunity of glorifying himself through you? Paul wasn’t just whistling Dixie, when he said hey, whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you drink, whatever it is do it to the glory of God. See? So those are the two possibilities.

So I have to ask you, have you put on the whole armor of God? Have you taken up God’s armor? Are you taking spiritual warfare and spiritual conflict seriously? Are you prepared to stand? Now, I think in the phrase “the whole armor of God” implies for us that God provides complete protection. And I think we clearly see this in the fact that Paul describes the footwear that God provides for us as part of the armor. Let’s look at verse 15 again: “And shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.” Now, protecting the feet may seem like less of a priority than protecting the chest and the stomach area as we looked at the breastplate of righteousness last week. But it’s important that the feet be properly protected for us to stand. What do we stand on? Our feet, we stand on our feet. Listen, you can be the world’s strongest person, the most skilled warrior. But if your feet are hurting, and you can’t walk on them, you’re easy prey for the enemy.

So we don’t want to minimize the fact that Paul says, hey, as shoes for your feet, put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. If your feet hurt, or if they’re injured, you’re going to be severely limited and not able to stand. Now if you’re a fan of the NFL, why you wouldn’t be I don’t know, but anyway, if you’re a fan of the NFL you may have heard or probably have heard of a condition that some players get called turf toe. Now it sounds kind of strange and sounds kind of funny. But sometimes when a player gets something, we hear players diagnosed having turf toe we think well how bad could it be? He’s just stubbed his toe he’ll be back in the game in perhaps next quarter or maybe next week or a couple of weeks. But the reality is a diagnosis of a turf toe has ended more than one career of an NFL player, some that are in the NFL Hall of Fame. See the injury to their feet did more than send them to the bench. It sent them into retirement.

We know there are all kinds of shoes. There are shoes designed to be fashionable. And there are shoes designed to be functional. Well, the shoes of the soldier were not designed to be fashionable. They were however designed to be functional. And today probably because most of us have multiple pairs of shoes we probably don’t think much about them and what they let us do. But when we turn our attention to the whole armor of God, we learn that the shoes that God provides play an important role in our ability to stand against the schemes of the devil. So again, Paul draws here on the imagery of the Roman soldier. The Roman soldier wore specially designed shoes, really sandals, to help them be an effective soldier. The shoes were, as I said, more like sandals. They had nails or short studs on the soles. And the reason they had to have their feet protected, there’s several, but one was there were times when their enemies would take a piece of wood and they’d whittle down the end to a point and then they would bury them in the ground. So as the Roman soldier was marching, if his feet weren’t protected, he would stab himself in the foot, and basically, he’d be taken out of the game. And once that happened, they were of no use to the army anymore. And what happens when an army begins to lose soldiers? It gets weaker, it gets weaker.

What happens when Christians don’t put on the shoes of the gospel of peace? They fall on the battlefield. And guess what? They’re no longer in the battle. Now let’s apply this to a local congregation. When one or two of God’s people fall on the field of battle the church is weakened. The Bible clearly teaches that we’re all in this together. Now let’s think this through. That means I need you, for my safety, to put on the shoes of the gospel. Your brothers and sisters in Christ need you to put on the shoes of the gospel, to put on the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness. See, we need the strength and the protection you bring as being an active, strong member of the body and not a sidelined member of the body. Do you see that? We’re all in this together. And if you go down, if somebody else goes down, guess what? Collectively we are weaker. I need the protection and the strength that your participation provides. You need the protection and the strength that my participation provides.

It’s not a light thing to disregard the whole armor of God. So again, I ask you are you putting on the whole armor of God? I want you to do something, look around you. That person beside you, that person in front of you, that person behind you, you know what they need? They need you in order to be protected. Okay? So what are you to put on? The shoes of the gospel of peace. Why must you put them on? For your own good, for the glory of God, and for the good of your brothers and sisters in Christ. Well, what do these shoes provide? Or say it another way, what is the effect or the result of putting on the shoes of the gospel of peace? Well, let’s look at verse 15 again: “And as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.” So when you put on the shoes of the gospel peace you put on readiness.

Now this is a key word for us to understand here. The apostle Paul use the same word when he wrote to Titus in Titus 3:1. He said, “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work.” To be ready for every good work is to prepare yourself to take immediate action. In other words, in the heat of the battle, you don’t have any time to waste. You don’t have any time to go looking for your shoes. You don’t have any time to go looking for the belt of truth. You don’t have any time to go looking for the breastplate of righteousness. You need to have it on. You need to be ready to go. Many of you probably some of you, all of you, I don’t know, I just throw it out there. You perhaps you went someplace for Thanksgiving dinner. We went to Amanda’s this year. It was a wonderful, wonderful dinner. And perhaps you said to your husband or your wife, are you ready to go? Now what’s implied in that? Are you ready to go now? Right? Not 10 minutes from now, not 20 minutes from now, are you ready to go now? That’s what we’re, that’s the picture we’re looking at here. Paul, are you ready to go now? Paul says are you ready to go now? Not in 10 minutes, not in 20 minutes You may not have 10 or 20 minutes. Are you ready to go now? Readiness. Preparation. Ready to stand. Ready to take your stand. Are you prepared to take your stand for Christ? Are you resolved to take your stand for Christ? Could you stand shoulder to shoulder with the reformer Martin Luther and say, “Here I stand, I can do no other.” Well, you won’t be if you don’t have the right shoes on. But you will be if you put on the gospel of peace.

Let me just talk just about making a stand for just a moment. Taking a stand requires knowledge. You must know what you’re standing for. Okay? Please, do not be like the double-minded man that James describes who’s tossed here and there, hither and yon, by every wind of doctrine. Every fad that comes along nowadays we want to jump after it. I’m sufficiently old enough to remember that the prayer of Jabez. Some of you may remember the prayer of Jabez and that Bruce Wilkerson, I think that was his name. He sold a bazillion books on this prayer from the Old Testament, the prayer of Jabez. And you’ll just pray this prayer of Jabez, you will be you know, whatever you want to be or whatever the case may be. So it was it was a crazy phenomenon back in the 90s I guess it was, maybe early 2000s. Books, bracelets, water bottles, t-shirts, necklaces, earrings, it didn’t matter. Pray the prayer of Jabez. Boatloads of Christians bought into that. And it was bogus. It’s bad exegesis, bad doctrine. We could point to other things. Know what you believe. Know why you believe. If you don’t think that many Christians are ignorant, I don’t say this I don’t say this to demean anybody, but if you don’t think there’s widespread ignorance among Christians out there, just look at some of the junk on Facebook. Yeah. I mean people, honestly people that I grew up with, I want to say, have you not read? Do you not know? No. Know why you believe. Know what you believe.

So putting on the shoes of the gospel of peace enables us to stand firm. They provide us with confidence and assurance. Confidence and assurance that we are sufficiently equipped to stand against the schemes of the devil. That we are prepared to withstand the attack of these cosmic powers. I cannot emphasize enough. This is real. These battles are real. They’re not made up. They’re not in the Bible to scare you. They are in the Bible to prepare you. Okay? So what peace is Paul referring to? Well, Paul is referring to the experience of the grace of God that brings peace with God, brings peace with others, and brings peace with yourself. So let’s try and define peace as we work towards the ultimate goal here. So let’s begin as, the good doctor likes to do, I’ve learned this from him, let’s begin with the negative or let’s look at what peace is not.

There’s three things that peace is not, maybe more, but at least three. Peace is the opposite of restlessness. Augustine famously said “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds his rest in thee.” The prophet Isaiah wrote “But the wicked are like the tossing sea for it cannot be quiet and its waters toss up mire and dirt.” Do you realize despite the claims of the unsaved person, despite the facade that they may put up, they can never know peace. And all that they can experience is restlessness. All that they can know is restlessness. They can’t really relax. They can’t really enjoy life. They’re anxious about life. They look at the circumstances of their life and those circumstances robs them of peace. Do you realize that people’s boredom, of which we have a lot of bored people, robs them of peace?

Peace is the opposite of unhappiness, that’s a second thing. There are so many unhappy people in the world today. Many people don’t look forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas because they know they’re going to have to spend time with their families and there’s so much unhappiness that exists within families. And the problem with chasing happiness is that it’s so elusive. That despite your best efforts you never lay hold of it. Thirdly, peace is the opposite of strife and uncertainty. Again, our world is filled with strife. Strife among family, strife among politicians, strife among nations. And as badly as this world desires, peace, all we have is strife.

And then there’s this uncertainty and let’s just focus on one area of uncertainty that many people are concerned about. And that is this question that hangs over our heads the entirety of our lives and that is: what happens to me when I die? They want to know is there a place called heaven and if there is, what does it take to get me there? And if there is a place called hell, what can I do in order to not go there? Uncertainty. Anxiety. How can you even begin to claim that you have peace when you have no idea of what is going to happen to you after you die? We can shove it back in the recesses of our mind. We can entertain ourselves so that we don’t have to think about it. We can’t deny that God exists so therefore, if there is no god there, there’s no eternity there’s nothing for us worry about. We’re just here for 70 or 80 years if we’re lucky and then we die and we’re just, that’s it. But despite people telling themselves that and telling themselves that and telling themselves that, they cannot ever come to peace with that. They know that’s not real. They know that’s not genuine. God has put eternity in their hearts. So none of these things bring peace.

But for the Christian, I love this, the Christian, but for the Christian who has been given a peace that surpasses understanding is a peace which the world cannot know nor can it take away. It’s a peace which our enemy cannot take away. All these things become nonissues. I don’t worry about happiness. I’m content in Christ. I don’t worry about peace. And I’ll show you why here in a few moments. I don’t worry about strife and uncertainty. Uncertainty is a part of life. But I don’t worry about it because I know who’s controlling my life, who’s guiding my life. Who’s watching over me, who knows exactly what’s best for me. So to worry, again is to dishonor God. Okay? See, the Christian is the one who enjoys peace with God. And some of the sweetest words to ever fall on a Christian’s ear was pinned by the apostle Paul in Romans 5. He said, “Therefore, since we have been justified with by faith,” we have what? “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” If you are in Christ, if you have been justified by faith, guess what? You have peace. Now you may be doing everything you can to rob yourself of peace, but that doesn’t change the fact you have peace. See before a person is justified, they are not at peace with God. In fact, the Bible says that they are at war with God. Paul in Romans 8 says, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot.” It’s not will not, it can’t. It can’t.

If we think back to what Paul has already taught us here in the book of Ephesians, particularly back to chapter two, Paul has described the situation that every unbeliever finds themselves in. For instance, the unbeliever finds themselves separated from Christ and all that is provided for those who are in Christ The unbeliever’s alienated from Christ. The unbeliever is a stranger to the covenants and the promises of God. Paul says the unbeliever has absolutely no hope. But you know, I don’t want to focus on the unbeliever, I want to focus on you the believer and the peace that you have. What does peace with God mean for you as a believer? Well again, Paul in Ephesians 2, he describes our condition now that we are in Christ. First he says “You have been brought near.” And how are we brought near? Not by our works, but what? By the blood of Jesus. Ephesians 2:14 Paul says that Jesus himself is our peace. Sherri and I, I think it was probably when Ben was born. Of course, it was all new for us and we didn’t know what to expect and they were taking Sherry to the the room where she was going to give birth to Ben. And as we’re going down the hall we heard this woman in some serious discomfort, obviously, because all she kept saying was “Help me Jesus! Help me Jesus!” That is a great prayer. Jesus is our peace. Jesus is our peace.

So Paul says Jesus himself is our peace and that he has made both Jew and Gentile one. And in his flesh, he broke down the wall of hostility that existed between the Jew and the Gentile. Then in verse 16, Paul says that Jesus has reconciled both Jew and Gentile to God through the cross, and I love this phrase Paul uses, thereby killing the hostility. And he says he came and preached peace to both those who were far off and those who were near. So what’s a Christian? It’s one who experiences peace. Who knows the reality of peace. You know, during this Christmas season, many people will sing “peace on earth and goodwill to men.” But sadly, for many, many, many of those people those words are hollow. And they’re devoid of reality. There’s no reality attached to them. But you as a believer, you know the reality of those words. The believer knows that they have peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. They have experienced, you have experienced, the peace on earth that the world can only sing about and hope for and dream about. You have it, you’re experiencing it. And Jesus said that the piece that he gives can never be taken away. Now think about that. You think about the worst day of your life. God’s peace is yours.

So what is the peace of the Christian? Well it’s the absence of restlessness, it’s the absence of unhappiness, it’s the absence of strife and uncertainty. It’s the elimination of the hostility that existed between us and God. Jesus said I can give you a peace that no one, no thing in this world can ever take away. And again, my mind just keeps going back to Romans 8 because Paul said, “For I am sure that neither death nor life nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, or anything else to all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Nothing, nothing. The peace that Jesus provides for you, gives for you, that he is for you cannot be taken from you.

I want to circle back to Paul’s words that I mentioned a few moments earlier where Paul said that the believer knows, has a peace that surpasses understanding. And we find this in Philippians 4 where Paul writes “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard,” see that? “will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Now I know those words have created a certain level of confusion in the minds of many. They wonder how can we know peace, if it exceeds our understanding? Well, the first thing I want you to notice is what does this peace do? It will guard your heart and your mind. What does armor do? Guard you. What guards your heart? The breastplate of righteousness. What guards your mind? That helmet. Armor protects you, guards you. But still, how can we know anything about it? If you haven’t listened to me as of yet, give me two or three minutes.

You can only begin to understand Paul’s words best in those times you need them most. You can only begin to understand Paul’s words best in those times you need them most. There will be events and episodes in your life when you will desperately need the peace of God. We have a paramedic in the room asking or maybe you already know. There will be events and episodes in your life when all you have to cling to are the promises of God’s Word. God will let you experience times of turmoil so that you can experience his peace that surpasses understanding. God will let you experience life and death situations so that you can experience the peace that surpasses understanding. God will let you face times of uncertainty so that you can know the certainty of his peace. God will let you experience circumstances that threaten to undo you so that you can experience his peace that surpasses understanding.

Many Christians think the best experience of God’s love is when he keeps them out of trouble. But I think the best experience of God’s love is in the midst of trouble. And he says to the wind and the waves, “peace be still”. And that verse says everything became calm. You know what this? Peace, it’s peace. See, you can stand against the accusations of the devil. You can stand against the schemes of the devil because you are at peace with God. You stand because you have put on the shoes of the gospel of peace. Whatever the devil tries to accuse you of, whatever lie he tells you, just look at your shoes. When the kids were little and they got a new pair of shoes, they were like magnets for their eyes. It’s just about a year ago I took took Daniel and bought him some dress shoes. And poor little fella they were too big. That’s what happens when you send grandpa to buy dress shoes, amen. They were too big, but he loved those shoes. He looked at those shoes. He wouldn’t take those shoes off. Have you ever looked at the shoes of the gospel of peace? Have you ever fixed your gaze on them? Have you ever appreciated them? Have you ever given much thought to them? When you look at those shoes, remember, they represent the good news that you are at peace with God. Stand in the confidence of God’s love for you. Stand in the knowledge that you have been eternally united with Christ and nothing, not even death, can break that bond. Stand with confidence knowing that God has committed to fight for you. To fight on your behalf. To protect you, to preserve you, to deliver you. And all God’s people said, Amen.

 

I would like to invite you to, invite your attention to the sixth chapter of Paul's letter to the Ephesians. And we will read verses 10-18 and we will focus our attention on verse 15 this morning. But let's read the verse in context. Paul writes: "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 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 firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints." Father I pray that you would bless both the reading and the preaching of your word. Lord we believe but help our unbelief.

I will take the opportunity once again to remind you that the life of the Christian, the life of the Christian who strives to live their lives for the glory of God, will find themselves will frequently find themselves, the target of the rulers, the authorities, the cosmic powers and the spiritual forces of evil that Paul describes here in this passage. And with such a powerful array of forces aligned against us as Christians how are we to survive the attacks and the onslaughts of these dark spiritual forces? Well, there's really only one way and that is by being strong in the Lord and in the strength of his mind and by putting on and taking up the whole armor of God.

When you and I put on the whole armor of God you have God's word that you will not suffer defeat and that you will be able to stand, however severe the attacks launched against you may be. You have God's word that you will be able to withstand any and all attacks in what Paul describes as these evil days. When you are in the midst of spiritual conflict, when you are in the midst of a spiritual battle, you are confronted with two possibilities. You are confronted with two options. One possibility is through your trust in God's strength and God's armor your resulting actions will bring honor and glory to God. When you find yourself in the midst of a spiritual battle against forces who are much more powerful than you and you trusting God and you take your stand, your actions glorify God. When you trust the God of the armor to protect you and deliver you, you glorify God. And you prove to yourself, you prove to your enemies, and most importantly, you prove, you show God exactly what you think of him. When you choose the first option, when you trust Him, when you say I am strong in the Lord and in the strength of his mind. When you do put on the whole armor of God, you're saying, God, I trust you.

What's the other option? Well, the other option is you don't avail yourself of God's strength. You don't take advantage of God's armor and you dishonor him and rob him of the glory that he rightly deserves. I know, I know that our default mode is to worry, to become anxious, to try and work our way out of whatever jam we may find ourselves in or whatever battle we may be facing. Please understand this. When you try and take it upon yourself to do what only God can do, you dishonor him. Do you realize that you rob him of the opportunity of glorifying himself through you? Paul wasn't just whistling Dixie, when he said hey, whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you drink, whatever it is do it to the glory of God. See? So those are the two possibilities.

So I have to ask you, have you put on the whole armor of God? Have you taken up God's armor? Are you taking spiritual warfare and spiritual conflict seriously? Are you prepared to stand? Now, I think in the phrase "the whole armor of God" implies for us that God provides complete protection. And I think we clearly see this in the fact that Paul describes the footwear that God provides for us as part of the armor. Let's look at verse 15 again: "And shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace." Now, protecting the feet may seem like less of a priority than protecting the chest and the stomach area as we looked at the breastplate of righteousness last week. But it's important that the feet be properly protected for us to stand. What do we stand on? Our feet, we stand on our feet. Listen, you can be the world's strongest person, the most skilled warrior. But if your feet are hurting, and you can't walk on them, you're easy prey for the enemy.

So we don't want to minimize the fact that Paul says, hey, as shoes for your feet, put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. If your feet hurt, or if they're injured, you're going to be severely limited and not able to stand. Now if you're a fan of the NFL, why you wouldn't be I don't know, but anyway, if you're a fan of the NFL you may have heard or probably have heard of a condition that some players get called turf toe. Now it sounds kind of strange and sounds kind of funny. But sometimes when a player gets something, we hear players diagnosed having turf toe we think well how bad could it be? He's just stubbed his toe he'll be back in the game in perhaps next quarter or maybe next week or a couple of weeks. But the reality is a diagnosis of a turf toe has ended more than one career of an NFL player, some that are in the NFL Hall of Fame. See the injury to their feet did more than send them to the bench. It sent them into retirement.

We know there are all kinds of shoes. There are shoes designed to be fashionable. And there are shoes designed to be functional. Well, the shoes of the soldier were not designed to be fashionable. They were however designed to be functional. And today probably because most of us have multiple pairs of shoes we probably don't think much about them and what they let us do. But when we turn our attention to the whole armor of God, we learn that the shoes that God provides play an important role in our ability to stand against the schemes of the devil. So again, Paul draws here on the imagery of the Roman soldier. The Roman soldier wore specially designed shoes, really sandals, to help them be an effective soldier. The shoes were, as I said, more like sandals. They had nails or short studs on the soles. And the reason they had to have their feet protected, there's several, but one was there were times when their enemies would take a piece of wood and they'd whittle down the end to a point and then they would bury them in the ground. So as the Roman soldier was marching, if his feet weren't protected, he would stab himself in the foot, and basically, he'd be taken out of the game. And once that happened, they were of no use to the army anymore. And what happens when an army begins to lose soldiers? It gets weaker, it gets weaker.

What happens when Christians don't put on the shoes of the gospel of peace? They fall on the battlefield. And guess what? They're no longer in the battle. Now let's apply this to a local congregation. When one or two of God's people fall on the field of battle the church is weakened. The Bible clearly teaches that we're all in this together. Now let's think this through. That means I need you, for my safety, to put on the shoes of the gospel. Your brothers and sisters in Christ need you to put on the shoes of the gospel, to put on the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness. See, we need the strength and the protection you bring as being an active, strong member of the body and not a sidelined member of the body. Do you see that? We're all in this together. And if you go down, if somebody else goes down, guess what? Collectively we are weaker. I need the protection and the strength that your participation provides. You need the protection and the strength that my participation provides.

It's not a light thing to disregard the whole armor of God. So again, I ask you are you putting on the whole armor of God? I want you to do something, look around you. That person beside you, that person in front of you, that person behind you, you know what they need? They need you in order to be protected. Okay? So what are you to put on? The shoes of the gospel of peace. Why must you put them on? For your own good, for the glory of God, and for the good of your brothers and sisters in Christ. Well, what do these shoes provide? Or say it another way, what is the effect or the result of putting on the shoes of the gospel of peace? Well, let's look at verse 15 again: "And as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace." So when you put on the shoes of the gospel peace you put on readiness.

Now this is a key word for us to understand here. The apostle Paul use the same word when he wrote to Titus in Titus 3:1. He said, "Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work." To be ready for every good work is to prepare yourself to take immediate action. In other words, in the heat of the battle, you don't have any time to waste. You don't have any time to go looking for your shoes. You don't have any time to go looking for the belt of truth. You don't have any time to go looking for the breastplate of righteousness. You need to have it on. You need to be ready to go. Many of you probably some of you, all of you, I don't know, I just throw it out there. You perhaps you went someplace for Thanksgiving dinner. We went to Amanda's this year. It was a wonderful, wonderful dinner. And perhaps you said to your husband or your wife, are you ready to go? Now what's implied in that? Are you ready to go now? Right? Not 10 minutes from now, not 20 minutes from now, are you ready to go now? That's what we're, that's the picture we're looking at here. Paul, are you ready to go now? Paul says are you ready to go now? Not in 10 minutes, not in 20 minutes You may not have 10 or 20 minutes. Are you ready to go now? Readiness. Preparation. Ready to stand. Ready to take your stand. Are you prepared to take your stand for Christ? Are you resolved to take your stand for Christ? Could you stand shoulder to shoulder with the reformer Martin Luther and say, "Here I stand, I can do no other." Well, you won't be if you don't have the right shoes on. But you will be if you put on the gospel of peace.

Let me just talk just about making a stand for just a moment. Taking a stand requires knowledge. You must know what you're standing for. Okay? Please, do not be like the double-minded man that James describes who's tossed here and there, hither and yon, by every wind of doctrine. Every fad that comes along nowadays we want to jump after it. I'm sufficiently old enough to remember that the prayer of Jabez. Some of you may remember the prayer of Jabez and that Bruce Wilkerson, I think that was his name. He sold a bazillion books on this prayer from the Old Testament, the prayer of Jabez. And you'll just pray this prayer of Jabez, you will be you know, whatever you want to be or whatever the case may be. So it was it was a crazy phenomenon back in the 90s I guess it was, maybe early 2000s. Books, bracelets, water bottles, t-shirts, necklaces, earrings, it didn't matter. Pray the prayer of Jabez. Boatloads of Christians bought into that. And it was bogus. It's bad exegesis, bad doctrine. We could point to other things. Know what you believe. Know why you believe. If you don't think that many Christians are ignorant, I don't say this I don't say this to demean anybody, but if you don't think there's widespread ignorance among Christians out there, just look at some of the junk on Facebook. Yeah. I mean people, honestly people that I grew up with, I want to say, have you not read? Do you not know? No. Know why you believe. Know what you believe.

So putting on the shoes of the gospel of peace enables us to stand firm. They provide us with confidence and assurance. Confidence and assurance that we are sufficiently equipped to stand against the schemes of the devil. That we are prepared to withstand the attack of these cosmic powers. I cannot emphasize enough. This is real. These battles are real. They're not made up. They're not in the Bible to scare you. They are in the Bible to prepare you. Okay? So what peace is Paul referring to? Well, Paul is referring to the experience of the grace of God that brings peace with God, brings peace with others, and brings peace with yourself. So let's try and define peace as we work towards the ultimate goal here. So let's begin as, the good doctor likes to do, I've learned this from him, let's begin with the negative or let's look at what peace is not.

There's three things that peace is not, maybe more, but at least three. Peace is the opposite of restlessness. Augustine famously said "Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds his rest in thee." The prophet Isaiah wrote "But the wicked are like the tossing sea for it cannot be quiet and its waters toss up mire and dirt." Do you realize despite the claims of the unsaved person, despite the facade that they may put up, they can never know peace. And all that they can experience is restlessness. All that they can know is restlessness. They can't really relax. They can't really enjoy life. They're anxious about life. They look at the circumstances of their life and those circumstances robs them of peace. Do you realize that people's boredom, of which we have a lot of bored people, robs them of peace?

Peace is the opposite of unhappiness, that's a second thing. There are so many unhappy people in the world today. Many people don't look forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas because they know they're going to have to spend time with their families and there's so much unhappiness that exists within families. And the problem with chasing happiness is that it's so elusive. That despite your best efforts you never lay hold of it. Thirdly, peace is the opposite of strife and uncertainty. Again, our world is filled with strife. Strife among family, strife among politicians, strife among nations. And as badly as this world desires, peace, all we have is strife.

And then there's this uncertainty and let's just focus on one area of uncertainty that many people are concerned about. And that is this question that hangs over our heads the entirety of our lives and that is: what happens to me when I die? They want to know is there a place called heaven and if there is, what does it take to get me there? And if there is a place called hell, what can I do in order to not go there? Uncertainty. Anxiety. How can you even begin to claim that you have peace when you have no idea of what is going to happen to you after you die? We can shove it back in the recesses of our mind. We can entertain ourselves so that we don't have to think about it. We can't deny that God exists so therefore, if there is no god there, there's no eternity there's nothing for us worry about. We're just here for 70 or 80 years if we're lucky and then we die and we're just, that's it. But despite people telling themselves that and telling themselves that and telling themselves that, they cannot ever come to peace with that. They know that's not real. They know that's not genuine. God has put eternity in their hearts. So none of these things bring peace.

But for the Christian, I love this, the Christian, but for the Christian who has been given a peace that surpasses understanding is a peace which the world cannot know nor can it take away. It's a peace which our enemy cannot take away. All these things become nonissues. I don't worry about happiness. I'm content in Christ. I don't worry about peace. And I'll show you why here in a few moments. I don't worry about strife and uncertainty. Uncertainty is a part of life. But I don't worry about it because I know who's controlling my life, who's guiding my life. Who's watching over me, who knows exactly what's best for me. So to worry, again is to dishonor God. Okay? See, the Christian is the one who enjoys peace with God. And some of the sweetest words to ever fall on a Christian's ear was pinned by the apostle Paul in Romans 5. He said, "Therefore, since we have been justified with by faith," we have what? "peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." If you are in Christ, if you have been justified by faith, guess what? You have peace. Now you may be doing everything you can to rob yourself of peace, but that doesn't change the fact you have peace. See before a person is justified, they are not at peace with God. In fact, the Bible says that they are at war with God. Paul in Romans 8 says, "For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law, indeed it cannot." It's not will not, it can't. It can't.

If we think back to what Paul has already taught us here in the book of Ephesians, particularly back to chapter two, Paul has described the situation that every unbeliever finds themselves in. For instance, the unbeliever finds themselves separated from Christ and all that is provided for those who are in Christ The unbeliever's alienated from Christ. The unbeliever is a stranger to the covenants and the promises of God. Paul says the unbeliever has absolutely no hope. But you know, I don't want to focus on the unbeliever, I want to focus on you the believer and the peace that you have. What does peace with God mean for you as a believer? Well again, Paul in Ephesians 2, he describes our condition now that we are in Christ. First he says "You have been brought near." And how are we brought near? Not by our works, but what? By the blood of Jesus. Ephesians 2:14 Paul says that Jesus himself is our peace. Sherri and I, I think it was probably when Ben was born. Of course, it was all new for us and we didn't know what to expect and they were taking Sherry to the the room where she was going to give birth to Ben. And as we're going down the hall we heard this woman in some serious discomfort, obviously, because all she kept saying was "Help me Jesus! Help me Jesus!" That is a great prayer. Jesus is our peace. Jesus is our peace.

So Paul says Jesus himself is our peace and that he has made both Jew and Gentile one. And in his flesh, he broke down the wall of hostility that existed between the Jew and the Gentile. Then in verse 16, Paul says that Jesus has reconciled both Jew and Gentile to God through the cross, and I love this phrase Paul uses, thereby killing the hostility. And he says he came and preached peace to both those who were far off and those who were near. So what's a Christian? It's one who experiences peace. Who knows the reality of peace. You know, during this Christmas season, many people will sing "peace on earth and goodwill to men." But sadly, for many, many, many of those people those words are hollow. And they're devoid of reality. There's no reality attached to them. But you as a believer, you know the reality of those words. The believer knows that they have peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. They have experienced, you have experienced, the peace on earth that the world can only sing about and hope for and dream about. You have it, you're experiencing it. And Jesus said that the piece that he gives can never be taken away. Now think about that. You think about the worst day of your life. God's peace is yours.

So what is the peace of the Christian? Well it's the absence of restlessness, it's the absence of unhappiness, it's the absence of strife and uncertainty. It's the elimination of the hostility that existed between us and God. Jesus said I can give you a peace that no one, no thing in this world can ever take away. And again, my mind just keeps going back to Romans 8 because Paul said, "For I am sure that neither death nor life nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, or anything else to all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Nothing, nothing. The peace that Jesus provides for you, gives for you, that he is for you cannot be taken from you.

I want to circle back to Paul's words that I mentioned a few moments earlier where Paul said that the believer knows, has a peace that surpasses understanding. And we find this in Philippians 4 where Paul writes "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard," see that? "will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Now I know those words have created a certain level of confusion in the minds of many. They wonder how can we know peace, if it exceeds our understanding? Well, the first thing I want you to notice is what does this peace do? It will guard your heart and your mind. What does armor do? Guard you. What guards your heart? The breastplate of righteousness. What guards your mind? That helmet. Armor protects you, guards you. But still, how can we know anything about it? If you haven't listened to me as of yet, give me two or three minutes.

You can only begin to understand Paul's words best in those times you need them most. You can only begin to understand Paul's words best in those times you need them most. There will be events and episodes in your life when you will desperately need the peace of God. We have a paramedic in the room asking or maybe you already know. There will be events and episodes in your life when all you have to cling to are the promises of God's Word. God will let you experience times of turmoil so that you can experience his peace that surpasses understanding. God will let you experience life and death situations so that you can experience the peace that surpasses understanding. God will let you face times of uncertainty so that you can know the certainty of his peace. God will let you experience circumstances that threaten to undo you so that you can experience his peace that surpasses understanding.

Many Christians think the best experience of God's love is when he keeps them out of trouble. But I think the best experience of God's love is in the midst of trouble. And he says to the wind and the waves, "peace be still". And that verse says everything became calm. You know what this? Peace, it's peace. See, you can stand against the accusations of the devil. You can stand against the schemes of the devil because you are at peace with God. You stand because you have put on the shoes of the gospel of peace. Whatever the devil tries to accuse you of, whatever lie he tells you, just look at your shoes. When the kids were little and they got a new pair of shoes, they were like magnets for their eyes. It's just about a year ago I took took Daniel and bought him some dress shoes. And poor little fella they were too big. That's what happens when you send grandpa to buy dress shoes, amen. They were too big, but he loved those shoes. He looked at those shoes. He wouldn't take those shoes off. Have you ever looked at the shoes of the gospel of peace? Have you ever fixed your gaze on them? Have you ever appreciated them? Have you ever given much thought to them? When you look at those shoes, remember, they represent the good news that you are at peace with God. Stand in the confidence of God's love for you. Stand in the knowledge that you have been eternally united with Christ and nothing, not even death, can break that bond. Stand with confidence knowing that God has committed to fight for you. To fight on your behalf. To protect you, to preserve you, to deliver you. And all God's people said, Amen.