The Whole Armour of God

The Church is the army of God - remember there's a war on!

I’ve been doing a bit of preaching recently at Kingsgate Community Church in Great Yarmouth. They’re part of our family of churches and it’s been great getting to know a few of the people over there while helping fill a couple of preaching slots. If you’re in the area they’re a lovely group of people and passionate about Jesus.

The images above are from a Sunday a couple of months ago, speaking on Ephesians 6:10-20. They were going through a series called ‘we are’, looking at the various ways the church is described in the New Testament, and what that means for how we live and work. I was picking up the theme of the church as an army. It can be an underplayed theme – leading people to think of the horrors of the crusades, or the very present threat of militant religion – but the army the New Testament describes is of an altogether different sort.

This army is not about physical violence, or conversion by threat of force. The point of the military language in the passage is to open our eyes to the fact that there is a war on – albeit not the kind we’re used to. Ephesians 6:12 makes it clear that this warfare is spiritual, and that we ignore it at our peril. What I felt most strongly were two things – first, the need for reminder that we have an enemy; that there is a war on. If we’re not in that mindset, we won’t understand why we’re losing ground or struggling to get anywhere; why prayer is so hard; why you can feel called by God to do something but find tremendous challenge in trying to see it through. We are opposed! If we aren’t aware of that, how can we be ready for it?

Once we know what we’re facing, we know we need to gear up for the fight. We’re in a spiritual warfare waged by forces we hardly comprehend, let alone have any chance of resisting in our own strength. We know we need help – so secondly, I wanted to get across that whatever might be arrayed against us, we are on the side of the victor. Take a look at Colossians 2:15 or 1 Corinthians 15:20-26. We’re up against forces that are beyond us, but totally inferior to Jesus. Through his death on the cross, he sealed their fates once and for all – and it’s him that we turn to for strength in the fight. Where Ephesians 6 lists the full armour of God, each piece in turn leads us to rely more and more on our saviour. To get up each morning with a warrior mindset, but to trust that, as has always been true, every battle belongs to the Lord.

As a side note, I found Dr Martin Lloyd Jones’ The Christian Soldier: An Exposition of Ephesians 6:10-20 along with The Christian Warfare: An Exposition of Ephesians 6:10 to 13 extremely helpful in unpacking, understanding and applying this passage. I would recommend them very highly.