My notes from the morning session on Day 4 of the FIEC Leaders’ Conference. John Stevens was preaching from Ephesians 6:10-20.
We have forgotten that to follow Christ is to fight. We mustn’t forget this. And this is where the letter of Ephesians ends with the reminder that Christians are in a war, a battle, and they are going to have to fight.
We need to know that the power of God is available to us to fight, stand and triumph, and the way the power of God is realised and applied is through the ministry of the gospel and prayer. That’s what Paul wants these Christians to grasp.
Paul gives three imperatives in Ephesians 6:10-20:
1. Put on the full armour of God (v10-13)
This is a call to get ready for battle. Put on all the equipment you need to go out onto the front line. You’ve got to clothe yourself in the full equipment God has provided for the spiritual battle. Don’t be caught out of your equipment.
Why? Because we are in a spiritual battle against devil and his forces who are trying to disrupt God’s plans and harm God’s people. Yes, Jesus has been enthroned, but spiritual forces are still active in this world. There is a spiritual struggle we are involved in. We’re involved in hand to hand combat with the spiritual forces of evil.
The battle for unity in the church is a spiritual battle. The battle for godly living is a spiritual battle.
What hope have we got? Our hope is in the power of God. God has provided the full equipment that we need.
2. Stand firm in the full armour of God (v14-17)
God provides everything we need to win the victory. The armour given is both for protection and fighting. The protection is the blessings of the gospel that are outlined for us in chapter 1 of Ephesians. The weapons we fight with are the gospel message and the gospel ministry.
The picture is of every Christian being fitted to proclaim the good news of God’s coming kingdom. The Holy Spirit brings power to the Word of the gospel as he convicts, converts, challenges and change people.
Appropriating the gospel and proclaiming the gospel in the power of the Spirit is how we fight this battle. God never sends us into battle, into the front line ill equipped.
What does winning look like? Winning may not look glorious in the eyes of the world. Victory is recognising that God’s grace is sufficient and God’s power is at work in weakness and keeps on going in his ministry of the gospel.
3. Pray in the Spirit to use the full armour of God (v18-20)
All Christians have received the Spirit. All Christian prayer is in the Spirit. This is just what we would call prayer.
Pray for 2 things:
Pray for each other to fight the spiritual battle. A vital reminder that we fight this battle not alone but together. We so often individualise it. We must not and should not be fighting it alone.
Are you going to keep praying for people in the church? Are you going to keep on praying for other local churches?
Pray for yourself. Paul asks for prayer for himself. He needs prayer because he needs to stand, to put on the full armour. He needs prayer that he will engage in his gospel ministry and preach the good news of Jesus. He needs God’s power through the prayers of God’s people.
We have a responsibility to fight for our flock and lead them in fight. Don’t think something has gone wrong because we are in a battle and we are called to fight.
We are a tiny minority. We need this confidence in the power of God. Confidence that this power will enable us to stand and win the victory. God has provided all we need in the blessings we have in the gospel and the message of the gospel that we proclaim and apply.
Go back to your churches and fight. It will be tough but God’s power will enable us to stand and triumph and His purpose to be accomplished.
We didn’t follow Christ just for the fun and for the fulfilment. We follow Christ also to fight. But the victory will be won and God gives us the power to stand and to triumph.