Calvary Road Baptist Church

“PEACE AMIDST WARFARE”

Ephesians 6.15 

It Is easy to understand why the Holy Spirit moved Paul to liken the soldier of the cross to a Roman soldier. After all, the imperial Roman army was the most effective fighting machine the world had ever seen, comprised of the best prepared and most disciplined men ever mustered out to engage the enemy. Do not think, however, that the Roman soldier was necessarily the best fighter, as an individual warrior, because he wasn’t. History is replete with examples of battles that were lost by the Romans precisely because their enemies lured them into conflicts in which their individual warriors fought individual Roman soldiers and won the day.

Whether it be the Gauls or the Carthaginians, in the early years of Rome’s existence, or the Huns and Vandals in later centuries, the Romans were always and in every case outmatched man for man by their foes. But Pax Romana, the millennium during which Rome reigned supreme, was brought on by superior strategy and tactics, not by superior men, by superior discipline and training, not by superior strength and courage. So, too, with the Christian warrior who engages the unseen enemy. We are not stronger. We are not smarter. We are not more durable. But we have an unstoppable tactic and stratagem. We put on the whole armor of the God Who is omnipotent and supreme in every conceivable way, and we allow ourselves to be used by Him in waging the war that is His to fight. That done, my friends, standing shoulder to shoulder with other fully armored believers who are committed to the fight, we cannot lose. That done, we must win.

Part of the Romans’ success was their determination to properly establish their campsites in the field. Oftentimes, being in enemy territory, they would make camp and then the enemy would launch a surprise attack against the Romans and they would find themselves in a pitched battle that would be won if only they could withstand the assault. What a picture of the Christian life. We find ourselves in enemy territory. This world, after all, is not our home. The god of this world is Satan, who is determined to destroy us, if only he could. As we are gathered together with our fellow soldiers, comprising our camp, which is our Church, we find ourselves under constant attack.

Imagine yourself a Roman soldier. Earlier in the day we arrived at the campsite chosen by the centurion. While some stood guard, most of us worked feverishly to clear the top of the rise, chop down trees, build barricades. All of a sudden you hear the sound of a trumpet. Attack! As you run to your post to fend off the attack you step on something. “Ouch.” Having put all your armor on after bathing, except for your sandals, you’ve stepped on a sharp splinter and lacerated your foot. Now what are you good for?

Can you fight? Yes, but not effectively. When the enemy is put to flight can you run in pursuit? Not with a cut like that on your foot. Your failure to protect your feet has resulted in you being extremely vulnerable to the attacks of an agile enemy, unable to run to the aid of others, and unable to pursue an enemy put to flight to finish him off.

Feet are important. Your feet are important. A soldier's feet are important. Want to know how important your feet are? When he coached the UCLA Bruins and won all those NCAA basketball championships, John Wooden spent the first two practices of each season at UCLA explaining and showing his players how to care for their feet. Wooden used to say that a great player with a blister is an ordinary player.

In Ephesians 6.15, the Apostle Paul turns his attention, in this portrait he paints of a spiritual warrior, to the proper care of the feet. Please stand and read together with me Ephesians 6.10-15: 

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. 

I would like to make three brief comments about the Christian soldier having his feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace.

First, there is the picture of the feet. You and I might overlook any mention of a soldier’s feet, but a soldier knows how important his feet are. Roman soldiers lived on their feet. Even in our day of the mechanized military the feet are important. General Norman Schwarzkopf, of Persian Gulf War fame, achieved quite a bit of notoriety as a result of the desert combat boots he personally designed from his experiences in the middle eastern desert during World War II, when, as a teenager, he accompanied his father, who was an Army general serving as an advisor in Iran. Your feet, upon which everything rests, must be properly shod.

Second, there is the preparation to stand. In verses 11, 13, and 14 we see the word “stand” or “withstand” used four times. This lets us know that Paul is pretty intense in his concern that Christian soldiers know what they are supposed to do. What are you supposed to do, Christian? You are supposed to stand. What if it is inconvenient? Stand. What if the preacher makes you mad? Stand. What if your spouse seeks to pull you away? Stand. What if your kid is a distracting nuisance? Stand. What if you are confused or discouraged? Then stand. What must you do if you do nothing else? Stand.

Third, there is the peace of the Gospel. This is the preparation that enables you, being set in your foundation, to stand. What is the Gospel of peace? Gospel, of course, means good news. It is the good news that Jesus died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. The peace of the Gospel of peace is the peace with God that exists in the life of a child of God who has responded to the Gospel and has trusted Jesus Christ as his Savior.

Here you are, prepared to engage in spiritual battle against an unseen enemy, but you have no confidence that you are right with God. You have no confidence that peace has been made between you and the God you serve. That is like a soldier trying to stand his ground on smooth concrete that is covered with oil. You have no footing. You have no way to stand. There is no confidence that you can engage the enemy in battle. But once your feet are shod with the preparation of the Gospel, once your feet are well secured by the solid and sure footing of a Gospel that guarantees peace with God, you are ready to fight, you are ready to stand, and you can fight the good fight of faith without being all the time scared that maybe you are not really saved.

So, Christian, get your feet under you fixed up properly. Make sure, so very, very sure, that there is peace between you and God. Of course, the only way peace with God can be assured is through the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Imagine that. Peace amidst warfare. Peace with God, warfare against the devil.

Do you think that is perhaps the reason so many Christians do not stand? Not sure of their personal salvation. Want to know how confused Americans are?

Americans are so confused that we once elected a man president who actually traveled to the capital of our greatest enemy during the Vietnam war and participated in a protest against his own country, the United States. Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican is of no consequence to my observation. The fact remains: No country in history has elevated to its highest office someone who allied himself with an enemy in a public way during a time of warfare.

Yet we have done it again. We currently have as our nation’s leader a man who is demonstrably incompetent, who is demonstrably unpatriotic, and who is demonstrably suffering from dementia. We Americans are a strange lot. We have the shortest memories of any people in history.

United States citizens wonder why Mexicans hate the USA. Why do they hate us down south? All we did was send American citizens to Texas, where they swore allegiance to Mexico when they became Mexican citizens, and then started a war to secede Texas from Mexico to eventually become a part of the United States.

Why would Mexico hate and mistrust the USA? After all, all we did was send General Winfield Scott into Mexico for the purpose of starting another war so we could strong arm them into giving us New Mexico, Arizona, and California. It was such a travesty that Ulysses S. Grant, commander of the northern forces during the Civil War and later president of the United States, who served in that war under Scott, wrote in his memoirs that he felt the Civil War was God’s retribution against our country for that unjust war.

You are aware that my wife and I recently returned from a month in Greece, where I preached for our missionary, Taki Korianitis. After our arrival, Taki informed me that while his countrymen like Americans just fine, they are deeply suspicious and antagonistic toward our country. Why, I wondered. The year before our CIA orchestrated the overthrow of Iran’s democratically elected president to install the Shah as the leader in Iran, our CIA orchestrated a coup in Greece, with thousands of Greeks killed because they were a potential threat to the new regime.

Folks, we are so surprised that people are angry with us about so many things because we have no memory of anything we have ever done wrong. When we do admit wrongdoing, we want the offended party to just let bygones be bygones. “Let’s just pretend that it never happened. Let’s just start all over.”

Want to know why Islamic fundamentalists hate the United States? Because from World War II until the overthrow of the Shah of Iran we trained and equipped the Shah’s secret police to root out and torture and kill Shiite Muslims. They are now persuaded that it is payback time and they are not interested in letting bygones be bygones.

Latin Americans and American Indians and the Chinese during the Boxer Rebellion and middle eastern radicals aren’t the only ones who remember the things that have been done to them. God remembers the things that have been done to Him, as well.

But remember, God is good and God is holy and God is merciful and God is just and God has never done anything to merit anything from you and me but worship and adoration and praise and service. So, when someone does something wrong and by so doing strikes against God, shakes the fist against God, God remembers. By the way, there are a few differences between the USA doing wrong to so many who seethe with hatred toward us but cannot do much about it because of our superior size and might, and between individuals like you committing sin against God Who is outraged by personal affronts to Him Who can and does do something about it.

The Iranians would love to declare war against us and avenge themselves, but they dare not. Nicaragua and Colombia and Panama and Libya and Syria and a whole host of nations would love to have been able at one time or another to declare war against the United States, and would have had they any chance of winning. But do you realize that a state of declared war exists between you and God? For sinning against Him God has declared war against you.

But this message is about peace, not war. I want to preach about peace with God, the peace with God that comes only by the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Four facets of this subject of peace with God: 

FACET #1. THE NEED FOR PEACE WITH GOD 

It might seem too obvious to need any comment, but I have learned to take nothing for granted when dealing with spiritual issues. So, let me give to you two reasons why you need peace with God:

First, there is the need associated with folly. God is big. You are small. God is smart. You are ignorant. God is powerful. You are weak. Thus, it becomes immediately apparent to even the only vaguely perceptive person that it is unwise in the extreme to not desire and to not seek to have peace with Almighty God. Such passages as Proverbs 1.7 support this assertion: 

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” 

Elsewhere, in Proverbs 9.10, the Bible reads, 

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” 

Considering that God is the omnipotent Creator of all things, that He is committed to seeking vengeance against all who sin against Him, doesn’t it make sense, for no other reason than to avoid being a complete fool, to seek peace with God?

Second, there is the need for peace with God that is associated with your future. Heaven is a place where some few people go when they die. Hell is the place where most people go when they die. Those who go to heaven are those who are at peace with God. Those who go to Hell are those who are not at peace with God. Romans 5.1-2: 

1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 

These two verses show very clearly that those who have peace with God rejoice in hope of the glory of God. That is, those few who are at peace with God rejoice and celebrate the fact that in their future lies the glory of God, in their future they will be in heaven where God is. Just two of the myriad of reasons why each and every person needs peace with God. First, by reason of folly (it is utter foolishness not to seek peace with God). Second, by reason of the future (only those at peace with God go to heaven instead of Hell). 

FACET #2. THE ABSENCE OF PEACE WITH GOD 

How many times have I heard people say, “But pastor, there is certainly no enmity on my part toward God. I love God and would certainly never oppose God in any way.” You wicked snake in the grass. How dare you contradict God, Who alone is true? As Romans 3.4 declares, 

“Yea, let God be true, but every man a liar.” 

There exists no peace between you and God, as I shall establish in two ways:

The absence of peace between you and God is established by the declaration of Scripture. Take note, in Romans 5.8-10, of what Paul describes to his readers, the Christians in Rome: 

8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. 

God showed His love toward us. We were yet sinners. Christ died for us. This in verse 8. We shall be saved from wrath. This in verse 9. Now look at verse 10 again. Three times Paul uses the word “we.” He is establishing a commonality with his readers, showing that he and they are essentially the same in every respect. But the first “we” in verse 10 is what I want you to focus in on: 

“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God....” 

Before his conversion, before his reconciliation, Paul was God’s enemy. Before they were saved the Romans were, as well, God’s enemies. In like manner, where you now sit, not having been saved through faith in Christ, you are God’s enemy. You are so declared by the analogy of Scripture in this verse.

The absence of peace between you and God is established by the description of Scripture. Listen to these verses of Scripture which I am about to read. Don’t read along with me. Instead, close your eyes if you dare and listen to God’s description of the wretched souls who are too foolish to make their peace with God, too enslaved to sin to break free, too spiritually blind to see past the immediate gratification of their own lusts. Romans 3.10-18, 23: 

10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:

14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:

15 Their feet are swift to shed blood:

16 Destruction and misery are in their ways:

17 And the way of peace have they not known:

18 There is no fear of God before their eyes. 

23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 

The wrath of God awaits you. Why? Because there is no fear of God before your eyes. You consider sin and then you consider God. But since you do not fear the living God, you go ahead and commit your sin, you go ahead and violate His laws, you go ahead and ignore His will, you go ahead and defy His prohibitions. Do you think peace exists between you and Almighty God while you do your will and rebel against His, while you insult Him by behaving as though you know better than He what to do, as you pile up wrath against the day of judgment? Then think again: 

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption.”[1] 

You need peace with God. Despite your protests to the contrary, you have no peace with God. And without peace your destiny is a fearful matter to consider. 

FACET #3. THE GROUND OF PEACE WITH GOD 

Turn to Romans chapter 5 and let’s read three verses together. Romans 5.1, 6, 8: 

1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 

6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 

8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 

Now turn to First Peter 3.18: 

“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” 

Let me make some comments regarding the ground of peace, that which makes peace with God possible.

First, there is a person. The person, of course, is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the unique mediator between God and men, First Timothy 2.5. Romans 5.1 declares that peace with God is through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5.6 and 5.8 emphasizes that Christ died for sinners, on behalf of sinners. And First Peter 3.18 clarifies God’s reasoning in doing all of this; “the Just for the unjust that He might bring us to God.” The point being, the Lord Jesus Christ is the person Who makes peace between sinners and God.

Second, there is a plan. This is the Gospel. The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. But for what reason? Jesus took upon Himself the sins of all mankind and suffered God’s just punishment of those sins even though He Himself was without sin. That is what is meant by the “Just for the unjust.” That is God’s plan for punishing the sins that have been committed against Him, not the sinners.

Third, there is propitiation. First John 2.2 informs us that the Lord Jesus Christ is the propitiation for our sins. Propitiation means satisfaction. In other words, when the Lord Jesus Christ suffered and bled and died, when He was then buried and rose again on the third day, when He then ascended to heaven and there offered His Own precious shed blood for the remission of our sins ... God was satisfied. He was pleased. 

FACET #4. THE ACQUISITION OF PEACE WITH GOD 

Recognize that although Jesus suffered and bled and died for sins some 2000 years ago, people are still dying and going to Hell to this day. Why is this so? People are still dying in their sins and going to Hell because the ground for peace with God, the doing and dying of Jesus Christ, is not the same thing as the acquisition of peace with God.

Jesus died for the elect. His blood was shed. But not every sinner is saved. What distinguishes the sinner who is saved from the sinners who remain in their sins and suffer eternal torment? “Faith, pastor. You go to heaven if you have faith. Romans 5.1 says, ‘Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God.’”

You are right as far as you go. Justification is by faith. But faith must have the right object. Your confidence must be rightly placed. Many, many think they are saved because they believe. But what they believe is that Jesus died for them and rose again. And though that is true, such is not the proper object of saving faith. People who rely on that are lost.

Listen to the concise and clear instructions of Paul and Silas, as they answered a man’s question of what he needed to do to be saved. They said, 

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” 

This helps you to understand what is unstated but true in Romans 5.1: 

“Therefore, being justified by faith [in Jesus Christ] we have peace with God.” 

Faith in Christ is God’s means by which peace with God is acquired by sinners like you and me. 

You need peace with God in order to be safely delivered to heaven when you die. People who do not have peace with God go to Hell and then the lake of fire and suffer torments for all eternity. But you don’t have peace with God. You were born into this life in a state of spiritual conflict with God. God declares you to be His enemy.

Thankfully, Jesus died on the cross and shed His blood. What His sacrifice to provide for the remission of your sins? Perhaps. We will see. Will you trust the Savior before you pass from this life to the next? I do not know. At present you remain lost.

The means by which you can benefit from the doing and dying of the Lord Jesus Christ and have your sins forgiven is by trusting Him, by believing on Him, by faith with Him as its object. Trust Him and He will save you. Believe, only, that He died on the cross for you without trusting Him in a personal way and you will burn in Hell and then the lake of fire forever.

I would urge you to come to Christ for salvation full and free.

__________

[1] Galatians 6.7-8

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