Community Group Study Notes
Have someone in your group provide a brief, 2-minute summary of Sunday’s teaching.
Read Ephesians 6:11 and 6:16. What are the schemes of the devil and the arrows of the evil one that we heard about on Sunday? How have these shown up in your life recently, and what has been your response?
Read 2 Timothy 1:7. Does anything about your response to the arrows of the evil one need to change in light of this Scripture (and in light of this entire message)?
How can our community group help you take up the shield of faith? What are some ways we can increasingly “lock shields” with one another in the battles we face?
What is one action step you will take in light of what we talked about?
So if I were to tell you that I had a framed picture in my study in my office, what would be your guess as to what that picture might be? Now my guess is, is that the percentage chances of you getting this right are very, very low. Not just because you're thinking to yourself, I can't imagine what he has in there, but because what is actually in there that is framed. So let me see if you guessed this, here's the picture. A picture of Captain America. Maybe you guessed that, maybe you didn't, but there it is. And by the way, this is no new school, Captain America. Some of you are only familiar with the Marvel movies and that captain America, right? Chris Evans and all that. This is old school Captain America. This is cartoon Captain America and this is framed in my office. It's very special to me because of the circumstances surrounding why I got it. But that story is not for today, that story is for a different time.
But what you can't help thinking about when you think about captain America is his shield. Every time you think of captain America, that's what you think about. You think about his shield and his shield is awesome. It's made out of this special material that comes from this special place, this special planet in the Marvel Universe, and basically nothing can destroy this. Not withstanding in Endgame when Thanos was able to break it, but nevertheless. Generally speaking, this cannot be destroyed. It's an incredible shield that he can wheel around uses as an offensive weapon, uses it as a defensive weapon. It's incredible.
If we stayed in the Marvel Universe and talked about shields, we could also go to Wakanda, Wakanda forever. We could still go there and we could find this shield that protected the city that they were in, which was pretty awesome that kept everybody out. Now if we moved from fantasy and moved into reality, I could take you to Israel where they have something that they call the Iron Dome System. Now what the Iron Dome System is is this, is they have basically these battery powered missile defense systems that when they are taking incoming projectile bombs or missiles into Israel that these battery powered ground to air missile systems have a radar that detects them in the air, if there's incoming missiles, and has an algorithm that computes really, really fast as to whether this missile is headed to a populated area or not, and then sets up a missile to be able to intercept it in the air and they call it an Iron Dome or some that are in Israel actually refer to it as the shield over their country.
Now obviously, in the spiritual battle that we're talking about in this series, when we're talking about The Art of War, the spiritual battle that we find ourselves in, I know that many of us wish that we had Captain America shield or we wish that we had this impenetrable shield around us or maybe even this Iron Dome above us to keep us from the tactics of the enemy. But the truth is, is that as we're reading in Ephesians six and how Paul begins to unpack for us the resources that we have, he certainly does talk about a shield. In fact, in Ephesians 6:16 it says this, Paul writes, "In addition to all this," remember we've talked about the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness and the feet shod with the gospel of peace. He says, "In addition to all of this, take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one."
Now I find it interesting that he doesn't just say the flaming arrows of evil, he actually refers to the evil one. He's making this quite specific and quite targeted, talking about the enemy of our souls. And when he talks about this idea of a shield, there's a specific word that Paul uses in the Greek language to describe it and he could have used a different word. Now when we think of shield, we think of it in terms of probably Captain America's shield, right? We think of something that's nimble and circular and mobile that we can kind of run around with and do whatever we do with, right? That's what we think of. That's not actually what Paul was talking about here when he was talking about the idea of a shield.
In fact, he used a phrase or a word in the Greek language that has as its root, the word door and sometimes the shields that the Romans would use, they had different ones. They had ones that were circular kind of thing, Captain America, they had kind of nimble ones that were circular, but the one that Paul's referring to here, they often called the door or the shield. This shield was in the neighborhood of about four feet high and it was about two and a half feet wide such that you could kneel down behind it and it covered the whole of you.
That was the idea. Some of you have seen some of the movies of these types of shields before, right? And the shield was made up of wood as a base, but then on the outer side of it, it had multilayered tanned hides or leather that made up the outside and sometimes the edges were beveled with iron, but it was big and it was so big. In fact that in the Spartan War there was a phrase that said, "Use your shield or come back on it." Which meant the shield was big enough that when people were slain in battle, when soldiers died in battle, they actually sometimes used the shield to cart them back. To take them back to outside of enemy lines and get them back to their family.
So this was a reasonably big shield and what it did is it was able to absorb the arrows that would fly and certainly even flaming arrows. If you remember back in that day, they would sometimes make arrows that had combustible tips or they would actually light the arrows at the tips on fire when they were shooting them. But this shield had the ability to absorb those and to take them in and you could actually get your entire body behind the shield. So it's an interesting picture that Paul is giving to us here about this big shield that absorbs all of these flaming arrows.
Now this description is good news for us because what it tells us is that in our spiritual battle, we have an ability to be able to absorb all of the flaming arrows of the evil one and notice what the text says. It actually says that we can absorb, you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one, not just some of them, not just a handful of them, but you can extinguish all of them with this particular shield. And what does Paul say this shield is? Listen carefully, he says it's the shield of faith. He doesn't call it the faith shield, he calls it the shield of faith.
Now, important for us because Paul's saying something here and he's also not saying something here and we need to make sure that we understand what he is saying and what he's not saying. Paul is not asking us here or telling us here that our faith is actually in faith. Paul's not saying to us that the object of faith is actually faith. That's kind of a nebulous way to say something, isn't it? Faith is not an end in itself it actually has an object. So this isn't about faith in faith. We sometimes get that really bad counsel, don't we? From people in the world that we live in, right? Sometimes we're going through something in our lives and maybe some well-meaning person that doesn't know the Lord or maybe they do know the Lord, who knows? But they give us this advice and you just got to have faith. My question is always faith in what? Right?
Because faith in faith is not really accomplishing anything. You just got to have faith, right? All of a sudden, for those of you who are old like me, you get this reference. Now they're giving you George Michael advice, right? Just got to have faith, the faith, the faith, the faith, right? Or you take the idea of the lyricist for Journey who just says, "Don't stop believing." Believing what? "Hold onto that feeling." Okay, I have no idea what that means. That's basically ridiculous. Faith in faith or belief in belief is not actually going to accomplish anything for us and that's not what Paul is saying to us when he talks about a shield of faith.
Of course, some other well-meaning people might say it this way, "Well, I know you're going through some stuff. You just got to have faith in yourself." Faith in yourself is exactly what Paul is not talking about. Because when you read the very beginning of how Paul introduces us to this battle, faith in ourselves is actually the thing that he's saying, "That's not what you want." In fact, notice what he says beginning in verse number 10 and 11 he says, "Finally be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power." Not yours. Put the full armor of who God, not yours so that you can take your stand against the devil schemes. You see, the exact thing Paul is talking not about is about putting your faith in yourself, but instead making sure that the object of your faith is God Himself.
See what faith is. Faith is the vehicle that gets us to God. That's the vehicle, right? So faith isn't an end in itself. You don't have faith in faith, right? That's ridiculous. You don't have just faith in yourself, that's not what Paul's talking about. Paul's actually saying that the shield is of faith, which means that faith is the vehicle to get us to the object of our faith, which has God Himself.
In fact, we know this to be true about salvation. That faith is a vehicle. It's not salvation itself, but it's the vehicle that allows us to experience this salvation. Paul said that earlier in Ephesians, right? In Ephesians chapter two, "For it is by grace you have been saved through faith." Faith is the vehicle through which this happens, but it's actually by grace you have been saved. Is grace, some nebulous thing? No grace has been demonstrated in what God has done in and through Jesus Christ for the salvation of human beings. That's how we are saved. But how we, listen to this, how we apply that, how we receive that, how we engage that, is through the vehicle of faith. So when Paul talks about this shield that we have, he says that it is a shield of faith.
So Paul is using for sure the imagery of the soldier, and he uses a term that helps us to see not just a small circular shield, but a really large one. But Paul's communication here is not just about a soldier giving us this kind of imagery, but Paul is actually using Old Testament language to help us understand where he's going. He's already told us in Ephesians two that faith is a vehicle toward something. That it is through faith that we experience this grace. And I think that when Paul uses this terminology here, the shield of faith, he's actually still pointing us to the same object of faith and that is God Himself.
Part of the reason that I understand that is because of how well Paul knew the Old Testament. Paul knew the writings of Genesis. He knew the writings of David in the Psalms. He knew what was communicated around God Himself being our shield. In fact, when God was speaking to Abraham, listen to what He said in Genesis Chapter 15 says, "After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision. Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield. Your very great reward."
God says, "I myself, I am your shield Abram." And then notice what... this are actually David's words recorded in 2nd Samuel chapter 22 he says, "As for God, His way is perfect. The Lord's word is flawless. He shields all who take refuge in Him." God Himself as the shield. Then in the Psalms, here's what David says, "But you Lord are a shield around me, my glory, the one who lifts my head high." In another place in the Psalms in chapter 28 David says, "The Lord is my strength and my shield, my heart trusts in Him and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy and with my song, I praise Him." And then notice what it says in Psalm 91 which to be honest with you, I think is influencing Paul's language here when he talks about a shield of faith and arrows that fly, I think Psalm 91 is influencing what he is writing.
Says in Psalm 91, "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the most high will rest in the shadow of the almighty. I will say of the Lord, he is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust. Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers and under his wings you will find refuge. His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night nor the arrow that flies by day." This is Psalm 91 and I believe it is influencing what Paul is writing by the Holy Spirit here in Ephesians six when he says that we are to take up the shield of faith.
See, what Paul is trying to communicate to us, I think what Paul is saying to us is this, is that God Himself is our shield and how we engage God is through faith. This is what God does. God shields us from the flaming arrows of the enemy, but he does it as we engage God by faith. This is what informs Paul's writing and to be honest with you, I think it's what was informing Peter's writing as well. That Peter actually understood God as our shield also. Notice what Peter writes in 1st Peter one, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. And into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time." Who through faith are shielded by God's power.
Now I want to suggest this to you, for the handful of you that are in this room, which is very few of you, and to the many of you who are watching or listening elsewhere. To be shielded by God's power is to be shielded by God's person. God Himself is our shield. This is what Paul says, this is what Peter says, and we start to recognize that this is becoming even clearer to us on this side of the cross as we look to the life of Jesus. That God Himself is our shield. Now when humanity plunged into sin in the very beginning, through Adam's sin we plunged into sin, God knowing that we had done something that we could not get ourselves out of on our own, made a promise to Abraham and said, "Through your seed, I am going to bless and I'm going to rescue the world."
Now this was a promise that would be long in its fulfillment, but God said he was going to do it and he promised this would be the case. And he told Abraham when he made this covenant with him, "I am your shield." And so how did that actually end up turning out? Well, what God did is ultimately Jesus was born of a virgin and came to live and dwell among us as a second Adam and Adam that now would not fall prey to the flaming arrows of temptation of the evil one. And this second Adam would ultimately go to a cross to die for the sins of humanity, to shield us from condemnation so that all who believe in what he has done all who have faith in the grace that God has given to the world, will be shielded from condemnation. And far from this being a scenario, ladies and gentlemen, where a big angry God now puts to death his loving and kind and gracious son and this loving and kind and gracious son has shielded us from this big, angry God.
That is not what was going on because God, Father, Son, and Spirit were in this from the very outset. This wasn't a scenario of Jesus doing something against his will. This was Jesus doing the very will of God and willingly doing so. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. This is what God intended. This was God's actual plan. Father, Son and Spirit, God in his Trinitarian nature has enacted redemption for us so that all who believe in what God has done through Jesus Christ would be shielded from the condemnation and wrath of God. God Himself is our shield and faith is the vehicle that allows us to engage God's protection of us from the flaming arrows of the enemy. See, faith is spoken of so often in the scripture and we know that faith in one definition in the scripture it says that it's evidence of things not seen but know this, though faith is evidence of things not seen, faith is never blind.
The reason that it's not blind is because we know that the object of our faith is God Himself and when we trust God, when we have faith in God, we have a shield from the arrows of the evil one. Now, if I were going to help us define what we're talking about here, when we talk about this idea of faith and we're talking about the shield of faith, I would try to say it maybe this way, that faith is belief in what God has said and what God has done in Jesus with actions that give evidence of that belief. Let me say it again, faith is belief in what God has said and done in Jesus with actions that give evidence of that belief. Now, when I say that, I need to remind us that the reason I'm saying something like that is because functionally, that's what we understand when we read Hebrews 11.
Hebrews 11 gives us this kind of hall of fame of faith, right? It's this hall of faith of people and over and over and over again, they're described by their faith. Now, this is prior to the finished work of Jesus, but we know that those people were looking forward to God's promise of the Messiah. Those that had that promise available to them, but do you know what you see? What you see in those contexts is you start to read Hebrews chapter 11, here's what you see. You see people who believe God and acted on it. That's what you see. That's what we see about faith. You believed God and you acted on it. I mean, that's what Noah did, right? There had never been rain, there had never been a flood, God said build an ark and he did it. That's faith.
What about Abraham? God said, "I want you to move and I want you to go to a land that you don't even know." And you know what Abraham did? He did it and it would be his inheritance, by the way. What about Sarah? Sarah was told that she was going to have a child. Now her biological clock had detonated decades ago it seemed. She didn't have the opportunity she thought to have a child. She was very, very old at this point. God said, "You're going to have a child." And you know what she did? She believed God and acted on it. And God did what he said.
Abraham, Noah, Sarah, Moses, you could keep reading them. Moses was told by God, "I want you to leave Egypt and not fear the wrath of the Pharaoh, I've got you." And Moses did it. What is faith? Faith is believing what God has said and acting on it. That's what it looks like when we are people of faith. This isn't about faith in faith. This isn't about just believing in ourselves. This is about God as the object of our faith and that when we engage that faith, the Bible says that God Himself is our shield. So why do we need to be a people, ladies and gentlemen, that walk by faith? Well, according to Romans 14 and Hebrews 11 because whatever's not of faith is sin and whenever we don't have faith, we can't please God because without faith it's impossible to please him.
That's one reason we must walk by faith and you know what another reason is? Because the enemy is coming at us. That's why. We must walk by faith because the enemy continually comes at us. Look again at verse number 16 our focus texts today, "In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one." The flaming arrows of the evil one are similar to what Paul described a few verses earlier in verse number 11 he said, "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes." So in verse 11 he says, the devil's schemes, and in verse number 16 he says, the flaming arrows of the evil one. What exactly is he talking about when he talks about the flaming arrows or the devil schemes? If I were summing it up, it would be this temptation to unbelief. Temptation to unbelief. What rages against faith? Unbelief. That's what rages against faith.
We're not promised, ladies and gentlemen, that we will be shielded from things that can deepen our faith. We're going to be shielded against things which rage against our faith. And do you know what rages against our faith? Temptation to unbelief. Do you know what can deepen our faith? Hardship, suffering, sickness at times, heartbreak, trouble. We're not promised. Listen, we're not promised to be shielded from those things. They can deepen our faith. Sometimes you can see people's faith more clearly in the midst of tribulation than you can when everything is going really, really good. We're not promised that we're going to be sheltered. What we're promised is that this shield of faith, when we really trust God, that it will extinguish the arrows. Listen to this, it will extinguish the temptations to unbelief, that rage against faith in God because faith is the only way we can please him.
So what are some of these flaming arrows that come at us that the enemy wants to haul back and shoot at us? What are some of those and what do they look like? I could probably name a bunch of them as you could, but let me give you a few to consider. How about the flaming arrow of fear? Probably a good one to talk about today. The flaming arrow of fear. Now, ultimately what we've been told is that we've been given this shield of faith and we've defined that idea as belief in what God has said, and what God has done in Jesus Christ and acting on it. So part of what we need to do is we need to look at some of the fears that we have and ask ourselves the question, do we know what God has said about that? And do we believe what God has said about that? And are we willing to act in faith on what God has actually said?
Now, listen, we live in a world and that sometimes is chaotic and we live in a world sometimes that does create fear. I get it. I understand. And oftentimes where faith is needed is in the midst of fear. Faith and fear often co-exist, but we can't let fear win the day. We can't let fear win that day. Sometimes we what we fear is we fear the unknown, right? Maybe in the time that we're living in it just feels chaotic and we fear the unknown. Maybe I could remind you about what God said in Isaiah 41, "Do not fear for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." You've got a choice, believe it or don't, but if we want to be people of faith, we'll believe it, we'll lean into it and we'll begin acting like we believe it. That's what that looks like.
Some of us may be, we have a fear of getting old. In our culture, that's a real thing, right? We can't do the same things that we used to be able to do. We don't have the same flexibility. We don't have the same ability to engage the way that we wanted to be able to do that. Sometimes we fear because it means our mind has slowed down or our body has slowed down a little bit and we kind of think to ourselves, "I'll do anything to stay young." And we fear getting old. Well, fear it all you want, it won't change your birthday. Maybe we need to be reminded what the scripture says. Isaiah chapter 46, "Listen to me you descendants of Jacob, all the remnant of the people of Israel, you whom I have upheld since your birth and have carried since you were born, even to your old age and gray hairs, I am he. I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you. I will sustain you and I will rescue you."
Let the word of God bring faith. Trust what God has said and act on it. Maybe what we're scared of, maybe what we fear is death. I understand. Nobody's standing in line going, "You know what? I am looking forward to dying. It's going to be great. I'm excited about that." I get it. That we're scared of... It's the dying part, right? It's like I've said before, I'm not scared of being dead, it's the getting dead part that I'm not excited about, right?
But our fear shouldn't be so much of death. I know it seems mysterious in it's unknown and feels like a separation, but can I remind you of the gospel of what God has done in Jesus Christ, in his resurrection from the dead and what Paul said in first Corinthians 15, "But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead. The first fruits of those who have fallen asleep for since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man for as in Adam, all die, so in Christ all will be made alive." Those who are in Christ are going to be made alive again, but each in turn Christ the first fruits, then when he comes, those who belong to him. This incredible, extraordinary promise that we, even though we are all going to die if Jesus doesn't come, eventually we're all going to walk that road, but we have this incredible promise that we will be raised like Christ was raised when he ran turns. This is extraordinary for us and this engenders faith.
We fear a lot of things. A lot of us fear the Coronavirus. The situation that we're living in as a world. It's a pandemic. Obviously, you can't get away from it on television and I realized some of it feels a little bit fear stoking to us, in others we have to be careful not to be overly critical because they're also trying to give us information that is helpful for us that we need to know. Should we be wise about what we do and how we do it? Of course, that's what we're trying to do as a church. That's what we should do as people. Should we be good stewards of this time? Of course, we should be. Should we be considerate of other people around us? Of course, we should be. Should we in a mass panic, go and try and buy out every single thing in every single store and hold it for ourselves at the expense of people crashing over their carts and kicking them in the heads and doing all that stuff? No. Not what we should be doing because that's not really consistent with faith. That's consistent with fear.
By the way, your fear and your anxiety over this Coronavirus will not serve as any kind of vaccine or antibiotic. It won't serve to keep you from getting sick. In fact, it may contribute to your overall bad welfare. What I recommend is being reminded about what God has said in 2nd Timothy chapter one, "God gave us a spirit, not of fear but of power and love and self control." How do you access that? By faith, by faith. That's the vehicle through which that we get to God who shields us from the flaming arrows of the evil one who's shooting arrows of fear at us.
There's another arrow that I thought about and it's the arrow of doubt, the flaming arrow of doubt. I don't know if you've been in this position, maybe you have, maybe you haven't, but I've spoken to too many people who have doubted God's love for them. Artists, I don't know. Maybe it's because they've had these broken relationships in their world. Maybe it came from bad relationships with parents and they've never been able to kind of rectify that or figure that out in their own heart and mind. And so they feel like God is also fickle in his love. If I'm performing well, God loves me. If I'm not performing well, God despises me and puts me on the shelf. Can I remind you of what Romans chapter eight says? "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?" And you could keep adding to that or performance or whatever, right? As it is written for your sake, we face death all day long. We are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. No.
In all of these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I'm convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Sir, ma'am, ladies, gentlemen, it's true or it's not, and based upon what God has done in loving the world so much that he gave his only son in demonstrating his love for us in this while we were yet sinners, Christ still died for us. God has proven his faithful ever-lasting love to his people once and for all, and it continues. So believe what God has said and act on it.
Or maybe we've doubted God's word. Maybe we just start to go, "I don't know. Is this really? I'm not sure. I mean, I want to believe, but I don't know." And without going into detail about how God put together the Canon of scripture, how he used his Holy Spirit to inspire those who were eyewitnesses, to be able to write the New Testament that every book in the New Testament is written by an eye witness or the associate of an eyewitness, an apostle who walked with Jesus. Outside of all of that, that is easily definable. Remember the internal testimony of the word of God as well. Proverbs chapter 30 says this, "Every word of God is flawless."
And then just remember when Jesus was facing the flaming arrows of the evil one in the time where he was in the wilderness, being tempted, remember the words that came out of his mouth in Matthew 4:4 Jesus said, "To the enemy himself, it is written, man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." This is the son of God face to face with the evil one, the very one who's shooting flaming arrows at us. The son of God says, "Man will not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." Believe it and act on it.
Or maybe what we fear, the other flaming arrow is despair. We feel like we've been forgotten by God. We feel hopeless. We feel overwhelmed. Maybe it's overwhelmed by life, overwhelmed by relationships, overwhelmed by circumstances, and we feel forgotten and hopeless and overwhelmed, maybe even overlooked. I'll remind you of something, Romans chapter eight says this, "What then shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own son but gave him up for us all. How will he not also along with him graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died, more than that, who was raised to life is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us."
You're not forgotten. You're not overlooked, and by the way, you won't be overwhelmed because if God is for us, who can be against us? Believe it and act on it. You see, ladies and gentlemen, what we're being reminded of is this, is that God Himself is our shield and faith is the vehicle by which we engage God's protection against the flaming arrows that tempt us toward unbelief.
But I want you to notice in our text our focus text here in Ephesians 6:16, I want you to notice something else that said in there. It says, "In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith." Take up the shield of faith. Now, previous to this, what we've seen is we've seen things in the armor that we call the armor of God. Those things are fastened to us. We buckle the belt of truth. We put on and fasten the breastplate of righteousness. We put on and tie up the shoes, the gospel of peace. But this it says, "Take up." We have to actually pick this up and engage it. So what does it actually look like to take up the shield of faith? What does that actually look like in real terms? What does it mean to take up the shield of faith in this armor that we have in the midst of the battle that we're fighting?
A couple of ideas here. First is that we need to listen to and believe the word. Obviously, I've been putting my attention in that direction, but keep in mind that the internal testimony of the scripture gives us a reminder of that. In Romans 10:17 it says, "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the word about Christ." Faith comes by hearing. We have to listen to and believe the word. That means that as we have opportunity, and I know that now is a very different scenario because of the way that things are going in our world and the adjustments that we have to make, but gathering to be able worship and gathering to be able to be under the teaching of the word of God, do you know what it does? It actually is us taking up our shields of faith because faith comes by hearing the word of Christ.
This is really important in our lives, in our everyday living. We've got to make sure that we are taking time in the word of God to be able to spend time alone in listening to the word of God over our lives. Sometimes I will read the word out loud. I spend time in a book for a long period of time. I'm in Mark's Gospel right now and I'm spending lots of time there. Sometimes I read the same passage multiple days in a row and oftentimes I read it out loud to myself. Do you know why? Because I want to take up the shield of faith. I want to listen to the word and believe what it says. This is part of how we take up the shield. Let me give you a second thing. We act on the word.
I've been reinforcing this as well. This is a part of what I'm just trying to say practically. We act on the word. Listen to how James said it in James 1:22, "Do not merely listen to the word." It's important that we listen by the way, because faith comes by hearing. "Don't merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves, do what it says." You see, James says that this is actually two fold. It's not just about hearing. We have to be able to hear to engender faith in our lives, but we have to act on it. James says, "Don't deceive yourselves thinking that just because you've heard that, that's the end of the story." He says, "You have to hear and then you have to do what it says." What does that look like for you? What does it look like to actually listen to what God has said and do it?
What does it look like in the area of fear, like we talked about earlier? Are there some things that you're going to need to lay before the Lord? And by the way, being a person of faith over a person of fear doesn't mean that we're like boastful or braggadocious or that we're somehow like puffing our chests out and going, "Yeah, man, I don't know what's all the chaos. I don't know why everybody's scared about everything." Listen, some people have real issues that they're dealing with. They're immunocompromised, they're braggadocious older, and have respiratory problems. These are things that make them pay attention. It can be a scary time because we don't know what we don't know, right? These things can be actually truly scary.
So it's not about some false sense of braggadocio, right? That's not what we're trying to do here. It's about genuinely trusting God in the midst of the chaos, in the midst of the fear. Believing what he said and acting on it, right? This is a part of what it looks like to be people of faith, to take up the shield, to act on it. So maybe you've got some things to act on in relation to fear. Maybe you have some things to act on in relationship to money where we haven't really acted on the word. We haven't said in our hearts, we haven't set apart in our hearts that, "God everything is yours and whatever you'd like me, however you'd like me to use it, whatever you want me to do with it, God it's yours." And that God has called us to be people of generosity, right? But sometimes we become people who are holders instead of generous. We become stingy instead of generous.
Maybe we've got to start looking at what the text of scripture says, believing God when he tells us what he's got to say and then acting on it. I don't know, it could be a number of different things, whether it's fear or money or sharing our faith, right? In Philemon, we want to understand every good thing that we have through sharing of our faith, but sometimes we don't believe maybe that God's going to be with us, that we're out there on our own. "Man, I'm scared to death because I share my faith with somebody." And you feel all alone. "I was by myself." You're not by yourself. Jesus said, "I'm going to be with you till the end of the age. That I've given you an advocate, that the spirit of God lives inside of you."
You're never alone in this, and maybe we need to be able to trust God by faith that we're never alone in this or maybe we need to learn how to deal with believing God when it comes to forgiveness. Because in our hearts we've said, "Oh, that person that's done that particular thing to me or that particular thing to my family or that particular thing to my business. I can't, I just could never forgive them." Really? You could never do that? Because God says you can. It doesn't mean by the way, if they'd done something awful that you have to trust them, but you do have to forgive them. The gospel demands that, that we have to forgive. Listen to this, we have to forgive as we have been forgiven.
See, for us to put ourselves in a position that says we won't forgive is to suggest that we don't need it ourselves from God. I don't think that's the position that you and I want to be in. So what is it may be for you that you've got to act on when it comes to the word? We got to listen and believe the word and then we've got to act on the word. This is what it means to take up our shield of faith. Let me give you a last thing here. We've got to lock shields with others. Now this one I've kind of not really taken liberties with, but I'm reminding you of the picture that Paul painted. He actually had a choice between two words for shields and he didn't choose the one for the little circular one that's really nimble and you can move around. He actually chose the one that's more like a door, and do you know that with those shields, that entire battalions could actually put those shields together and get behind them and be able to keep themselves from the kind of the onslaught of the enemy?
Listen, here's the deal. Much like the paralytic who was carried by his friends through a roof and lowered to meet Jesus, and Jesus talked about their faith. Sometimes we've got to lock shields with others and they're going to need our faith when theirs is weak. And there's going to be times when you're going to need their faith when yours is weak. This is a part of how our faith helps to carry one another and helps to shield one another. This is a beautiful picture of community, this is a beautiful picture of the body of Christ and it's why we want the people of God to be connected to one another. Certainly, spiritually and obviously in physical proximity as well when there's not a Coronavirus going on at the time. But we need to lock shields with one another because we need each other.
And so maybe you're in a scenario today, you're sitting in your house and your concern and you struggle with fear, but you're hearing the word of God and what it's doing is it's bringing faith up in your heart. You feel faith rising in you. You know why? Because you are hearing the word and because you've got brothers and sisters whose faith is strong, even maybe when yours right now might be weak. And by the way, that doesn't make you lesser, we all go through those seasons. Sometimes our faith is strong, sometimes our faith feels a little weak. That's why we need one another and we need each other to pick up our shields so that we can face off with this enemy. The battle's real, but God is our shield and faith is the vehicle to be able to engage it. So ladies and gentleman, let's frustrate the tactics of the enemy by believing what God has said and what God has done in Jesus and acting on it.
Maybe you've not come to a place where you've actually surrendered your life in faith to what God has done for you to save you by his grace. Well, that vehicle that you engage is the vehicle of faith. Trusting that God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish, but will have everlasting life. That Jesus died for your sin, that he rose from the dead, and that by faith in him, you can be reconciled to God. But without that, our sin has separated us from God. And that we cannot be in fellowship with God unless it is through his grace, by our faith in what God has done in Jesus. If you've never come to that place in your life and you want to know what it means to receive Jesus, I know that I'm not there with you, but we have some resources for you online at thechapel.com/knowingjesus, thechapel.com/knowingjesus.
If you'll go there, it will give you some information about what it means to entrust your life to Jesus and then there will be a field there that you can fill in and then you can check off. Would you like a pastor to call and touch base with you? Would you like some more information about something? We would love to be able to follow up with you in that regard, but if your need is to trust and trust your life to Jesus, you have no greater need than that. And I can't think of a better time than right now to be able to do it. Or maybe as a believer, maybe you've been wrestling with some of these things.
I want to take a moment and pray for you and for all of us that we'll take God at his word and that we'll be people of faith, not who are walking around with our noses in the air, acting as if it's something that we've done, but that we realized that our strength comes in him, that it's his armor, that he's the one who gives us power and that he himself is our shield against the flaming arrows of the temptation to unbelief.
So father, I pray in the name of Jesus, our savior, that we would be people who trust you by faith, who believe your word and do what it says. And that we would demonstrate in this time and in this place with all the things that are happening in the world around us, with the things we're seeing on television. God, I pray that we would be people who are wise, who care deeply and pray deeply for those that are around us who may be scared, who may be at risk. God, would you show us grace to be people of Jesus in the midst of this, not people who are saying to ourselves, Well, we're young and we're healthy and we don't care so much. This doesn't seem to be all that big a deal." But it could be a big deal to some people.
And so may we be sensitive and caring and loving and show the grace of Christ and figure out ways in which we can minister and help and care for those who are scared or those who may end up being sick, whatever it looks like. Would you give us wisdom to do that and that we would be a people who, through the midst of this, people be able to look at those of us who are Christians and say, "There's something different here. They trust God, they believe what he said and they act on it." May we take up the shield of faith and extinguish all the arrows of the evil one for the glory of God. We pray in Jesus name. Amen.