Eph. 6:16 The Shield of Faith (part 1) What is Saving Faith? Today we come to the 4 th piece of the Christian s spiritual armor. It is the shield of

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1 1 Eph. 6:16 The Shield of Faith (part 1) What is Saving Faith? Today we come to the 4 th piece of the Christian s spiritual armor. It is the shield of faith. In v. 16 we read: In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one. This piece of the armor comes right in the middle of the rest of the armor. Gurnall says this piece stands as the heart in the body. It is as if Paul is saying, This one raises above the others. I believe this is true. For without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God. Faith connects all the rest of the armor together. This is why the KJV says, Above all, take up the shield of faith. For it is the shield of faith that will block and extinguish all the fiery darts of the evil one, which I believe to be temptations in this life. With this in mind, we cannot say enough about faith. And, before we consider why faith is compared to a shield, and how faith overcomes temptations, we must be clear about the nature of this faith. This is our topic for today. What kind of faith is Paul talking about? There are lots of faiths in this world. We hear all the time, Keep the faith. It is of vital importance that we know what kind of faith actually helps us. Otherwise, there is really no help at all! We enter the battle without a shield. Is it merely a historical faith that quenches the fiery darts of the evil one? Absolutely not! James tells us the demons believe (James 2:19). Yet, this kind of faith does not help them. There is no shield. Is it a temporary faith? No! When tribulation or persecution comes from this world, temporary faith falls away (Matt. 13:21). There is no shield. For those who endure to the end will be saved (Matt. 24:13). Is it a miraculous faith? Did not Judas himself cast out demons and perform miracles with the other apostles. Yet, Jesus says to him (and others like him), Depart from me... I never knew you (Matt. 7:23). There is one kind of faith that is able to quench the temptations of this life. It is justifying faith, that is, faith that pleases God, faith that saves. This is the only faith that will make us a match for Satan, and even overcome him. The apostle John said, And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith. Today, I would like for us to consider briefly what this faith is NOT. Then, we will consider positively what this faith is. I. What Saving Faith Is NOT. For this first part I have two particulars. 1. Faith that saves is not a naked assent to the truths of the Gospel. In other words, faith that saves certainly includes the truths of the Gospel. But, simply believing them doesn t necessarily mean a person is saved. Probably the biggest example from the Bible is Judas. Who was Judas? He was one of the original apostles. He followed Christ. He believed the truths of Christ. He knew the Scriptures. He was a zealous preacher of the Gospel, but I believe he never had one ounce of saving faith in his soul. Concerning Judas and others like him Jesus said in John 6:64: But there are some of you who do not believe. (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) He was without the armor of faith we see here in Ephesians. Satan himself believed the truths of the Gospel. He even tempted Christ with truths from the Scriptures. But, this was not saving faith. Assent to the truth of the Word is something that happens every day in this world which people and demons exercise. Gurnall says, faith that justifies (saves) is a compounded habit and has its seat in both understanding (mind) and in the will. Therefore, this kind of faith is called in Rom.

2 2 10:10 believing with the heart, and in Acts 8:37 (KJV) believing with all the heart. This belief, this faith, is with all that we are. Our mind says, This is true. I want it. Our will says, Yes, I will follow. As the promise of the Gospel is true and we understand it, we then receive it an embrace with all we are. To see the Gospel partially and to sort of like it for the benefits it may bring is not saving faith. It s like looking at protein filled steak, knowing it is able to nourish your body, but not eating it. 2. Faith that saves is not assurance. Saving faith and assurance are not the same thing. If so, John would not have written I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:13). In other words, believing comes first. Then, comes assurance. The candle must be lit before we see the light that comes from the candle. The child must be born before he knows he is a child. There must be a root before there is a flower. It is the same with faith and assurance. One of the reasons I stress this point is because there are so many people out there who say they have great assurance that they are going to heaven, when in all likelihood, there is no saving faith. This assurance comes because of so many things. They were raised in a Christian home. They made a profession of faith. They walked an aisle. They were baptized. They are a member of a Christian church. They had some religious experience. The glory bumps come when they hear their favorite Christian song. But, let s go back for a second to the verse from 1 John 5:13. John said, I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may KNOW that you have eternal life. If you remember the context of 1 John, John is giving tests that they may have assurance their faith is a faith that saves. Do you remember the tests? Do you love God s Word? Do you love his commandments? Do you love the church, God s people? Do you love your brother and your sister? Do you love God? I know this can be subjective and we can t always know who has true faith, but I believe assurance may not be immediate. Now I do believe there can be a degree of immediate assurance. But, our assurance comes through time after much communion with God and acquaintance with the Scriptures, and with the Spirit of God dealing with our souls. Assurance does not come just because somebody tells me to remember my profession, or some good work I have done in the church. This doesn t make much sense when the things John said about assurance (loving God, loving his people, loving his word) is not evident in my life. And, I would dare to say, that even in certain times of the Christian s life, there may be lack of assurance. But, this doesn t mean there is no saving faith. Many times we just don t know! My point is that mere assurance is not saving faith. As cream comes from milk, so assurance comes from saving faith. Now, let s turn to the positive by asking, What is Saving Faith? II. What Saving Faith IS. I have 2 points. 1. The object of Saving faith is Christ. The object of saving faith is CHRIST, his person, who He is. The object of saving faith is not something about Christ, or some benefit that comes from Christ, but Christ himself. The object of assurance is what Christ gives. In other words we might say, I have assurance my sins are pardoned in Christ. But, faith says, I believe ON Christ for my forgiveness. The object of saving faith is not in the gifts, but in the one who gives the gifts.

3 3 The object of saving faith is not in the promises of God, but in the ONE in whom the promises are found. The Word of God directs our attention to CHRIST ALONE. Matt. 11:28: Jesus said, Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. John 1:12: But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. Over and over we read this kind of language. The object of saving faith is the person of Christ. All the promises of God to save are found in Christ Himself. Here is an example. When young people think about marriage, they look forward to the love, the companionship, the security, maybe financial advantages, physical pleasantries, children, etc. But, all of those things are not marriage itself. All of those are great motives. And, they are benefits. But, they are not in and of themselves the marriage. Those promises only come through the actual marriage union. Another example. Sometimes ladies like to serve tea in beautiful cups. Even in our house, we have some beautiful cups from all over the world. Well, these cups, as beautiful as they may be, are not the tea themselves. They simply hold the tea until it is drunk. It is the same with the promises of God. The beautiful tea cup is but the dish in which Christ, the true food of the soul, is served. And if we only look at the tea cup because of its beauty, but never drink the tea, there is no real benefit. The object of our faith must be Christ. All the promises of God are found in Christ. 2 Cor. 1:20: For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. So when we look at the precious promises of God, they find their meaning and fulfillment in Christ. This has to be one of the most beautiful verses in all the Scriptures. Listen to the praises of the Apostle Paul when he thought of promises of God. Eph. 1:3-14: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit... ALL the promises and benefits we enjoy are in Christ. But, those things are not our motive, not our basis for salvation; Christ is! How do we apply this in our Christian culture? For example, if the object of your faith is salvation, safety from hell, advantages that come from being in the Church, like good moral

4 4 instruction, or good role models for you family, or even the forgiveness of sins, or an inheritance one day, or any number of BENEFITS, then this is not saving faith. NO! Promises are dead branches apart from Christ This is why I say so often, May Christ be more beautiful to you; not the promises and the benefits. They are the overflowing springs of living water. If your faith is merely in the promises of God, it is not faith that saves. And, if Christ is not the object of your faith in the way I have described, Pray that God would give you this desire. Saving faith has always been a gift from God in response to the divine promise that whosoever believes in Christ will be saved. 2. The object of saving faith is Christ crucified. Now, we mustn t stop with simply the person of Christ. According to the Scriptures we must consider Christ crucified. The object of saving faith is Christ crucified. Just to look upon Christ in all his glory as He has always existed as God in the glorious Trinity is not enough to save our souls. Saving faith looks to the cross, namely the death of Christ on the cross. Paul said to the Corinthians, I preach Christ crucified (1 Cor. 1:23). And a second time, he says, I decided to know nothing among you except Christ Jesus and Him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2). Though it was a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles, this was his message. Why? Because this message, according to the Word of God, is the place where salvation is found. Faith that saves grabs hold of Christ crucified. So what does this look like? The promise of God is that whosoever believes on the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved. So faith observes how Christ performed this great work, that is, how can a holy God save sinners like us? It is through the death of Christ. When faith beholds the cross and the death of Christ, it is the most beautiful act in the history of sinful men. Saving faith doesn t simply see Christ as a good man, or merely an example of love, kindness, humility, grace, and all the other good adjectives language can produce. Saving faith sees death. And not just any death, but the death of Jesus Christ. All the previous acts of Christ in his incarnation were preparatory to the Cross. Jesus came here to die. Jesus said, For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). A couple weeks ago at a soccer game one of the parents asked me what kind of preacher I was. I didn t know what he was looking for, but I said, I preach about Jesus, his death, and resurrection. And, I know it is foolishness to the world, but it is precious to those who are being saved. If we do not preach Christ crucified, then we take away the very object upon which faith must behold. For it is in the death of Christ that wrath is removed for those who believe on him. God punished Him, not me. You and I deserve death and separation and eternal punishment for our sins. Christ did not deserve it. It was on the cross that a sufficient amount of wrath and punishment was poured out. And, concerning this death, Isaiah says, Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities (Is. 53:10-11). Another translation says that it pleased the Lord to crush his Son. Why? Because the death of the Son is the place where saving faith finds rest. Without the death of Christ there is no salvation.

5 5 There is no redemption except through the blood of Christ. There is no church if there is no purchase price. Christ did not redeem and save poor souls by sitting in majesty on his heavenly throne, but by hanging on the shameful cross, under the tormenting hand of man s fury and God s just wrath. And so saving faith is not simply upon the person of Christ, but also the work of Christ. Christ crucified! And let me end this morning by going one step further, which I will not develop into another point. But here it is. Saving faith also rests upon Christ crucified for pardon and life. In other words, we believe in Christ crucified as the one who died for our sins. This is why I ask those whom I baptize, Do you believe Christ died for YOUR sins? This is like the old illustration of knowing the chair will hold you up, but still not sitting in it. In the end, saving faith believes in Christ... crucified... as the one who died for MY sins. Can you say affirm these things today?

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