For the last four Sundays, we've been receiving basic training - learning to put on each of the pieces of the full armor of God. We've learned what it means to have our loins girded with truth, to put on the breastplate of righteousness, to have our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, and to take up the shield of faith.
Today, we examine the final defensive piece of armor, which is the helmet of salvation.
Helmets really don't need much explanation, do they? Whether you're a soldier, motorcycle rider, bicyclist, football player, or construction worker, you are well aware of the purpose of a helmet: It protects your head and everything in it!
But unlike the concept of the helmet, the concept of salvation is not so universally understood. "Salvation" is one of those words which gets thrown around a lot in Christian speech, but is not often fully comprehended.
Salvation is a noun, a "thing." It is what you receive when you're saved. For example, if a fireman rescues you from a burning building, he is saving you. You're being saved from death. So what you receive from the fireman is salvation. Likewise, if a lifeguard sees you drowning, jumps in and saves you, he is giving you salvation.
Now, in Christianity, we talk a lot about being saved, about receiving salvation. Of course, we're not talking about a burning building or drowning situation. We're talking about being saved from... From what? That's what most people are confused about in regards to salvation.
In reality, the Bible says we are saved from all kinds of things that would kill us.
Simon Peter told the people of Israel that they needed to...
Acts 2:40 ..."Be saved from this perverse generation!"
If we participate in the practices of the generation around us, we are in danger of death from the outside in.
Paul told the Thessalonians that people who don't receive salvation are dying in their wickedness (2Thes. 2:10). If we are driven by wickedness, death will overtake us from the inside out.
Regardless of how we die in sin, we will ultimately stand before God, Whose wrath will then be poured out upon us. That it why salvation is so absolutely necessary, so that...
Rom. 5:9 ...we shall be saved from the wrath of God...
When we receive salvation,, God becomes to us...
Heb. 5:9 ...the source of eternal salvation
Salvation is so all-encompassing, that the Bible says Christians have been saved, are being saved, and shall be saved. We've been saved out of this perverse generation, won't die in our sins, and won't suffer the wrath of God.
Okay, so how is salvation anything like a helmet? Well, that's where people mix up the meaning of this piece of the full armor of God. It is not salvation which is the helmet. First of all, Paul is writing to Christians to "take up" the full armor of God. These are not things which Christians necessarily have already. And he says again...
Eph. 6:17 And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION...
Paul is writing to Christians - people who already have salvation. And they never took up salvation - they received it as a free gift of God. Fortunately, Paul has clarified exactly what he means regarding the "helmet of salvation." He told the Thessalonians that we need to put on...
1Th. 5:8 ...as a helmet, the hope of salvation.
Now it all begins to make sense! All Christians have salvation. But not all Christians have the HOPE of salvation.
Zooming back for a wide-angle view, the reason for the armor of God is that we can stand firm and resist the devil. When satan launches attacks at us, his intention is to get us to begin to waver and then fall down.
So when he aims at our heads, he is going for our thoughts, our minds, our intellect and reasoning. He wants us to think incorrectly, to begin to doubt and despair, to question, and ultimately to lose hope.
When Paul the apostle was a prisoner of the Roman Empire, he was being transported to Rome, Italy. The soldiers and prisoners took an Alexandrian sailing ship, but were encountering bad weather, for it was getting close to winter time. The captain of the ship convinced the centurion in charge that they should proceed to a certain harbor of Crete to spend the winter. It was the wrong decision.
A storm with a violent wind came up and the ship was driven along. Although they dragged the boat's anchor and undergirded the ship with cables, it was becoming clear that they were in mortal danger.
Acts 27:18-20 The next day as we were being violently storm-tossed, they began to jettison the cargo; and on the third day they threw the ship's tackle overboard with their own hands. Since neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small storm was assailing us, from then on all hope of our being saved was gradually abandoned.
These men lost their courage and became terribly afraid. Why? Because all hope of being saved had been abandoned.
Christians can easily become fearful, discouraged, and despairing when they lose the hope of their salvation. So the devil focuses his attack on their heads. He tries to get them to believe that God can't save them, won't save them, doesn't want to save them. He convinces them that they are such worthless sinners that they never even had salvation in the first place.
The way to keep this hope, the helmet of salvation on your head is to remember what we learned in chapter two:
Eph. 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
It is God Who has done the work, not you. Do you still have faith in Christ? Then you still have the grace of God.
Rom. 10:9 ...if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved
Let us do as Paul instructed us:
Titus 2:13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus