Paul wrote in Ephesians six,
Eph. 6:10-13 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
The "full armor of God" is necessary in order to be strong, stand firm, and resist the devil. It consists of six items. We are examining one of these each week, in what I have termed "basic training." We have already learned what it meant to be girded with truth, and to put on the breastplate of righteousness. Today, we have before us the third item:
One of the aspects of Bible study that is the most difficult for me is having to add words to my limited vocabulary. Having grown in up in Southern California, I never had occasion to hear the word "shod" used. Of course, here in horse country, many people have heard the expression "a well-shod horse." As it turns out, it is a Middle English word, the past participle of the verb "to shoe," meaning, "having put shoes on." The definition of the Greek phrase Paul uses is quite close to that. It means, "having tied or fastened to your feet."
Like some of his other writings (1Cor. 9:7; Phil. 2:25; 2Tim. 2:3-4, Philem. 1:2), Paul is bringing to his readers' minds the concept of the Christian as soldier. Today, we think of combat boots as being a soldiers' footwear. But in his day, soldiers' shoes were much like everyone else's: leather sandals which were laced up the leg. The difference between a citizen's sandal and a soldier's sandal, however, was a pattern of hobnails - metal studs or spikes - sticking out the soles.
These provided superior traction and footing, enabling fast movement over rough terrain. Many historians actually attribute a large part of Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar's wartime successes to the superior footwear of their armies.
As Paul is telling us the secret to standing firm, we must realize that our shoes will be vitally important to that stability.
Of course, this being spiritual armor, we're not tying on literal shoes. In fact, we're supposed to shod our feet with the preparation of the gospel.
Preparation (het-oy-mas-EE-ah) means readiness. The same kind of readiness which Peter spoke of when he said,
1Pet. 3:15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;
Ready to give an account. Ready and prepared to preach the gospel of peace. Are you ready with the gospel if someone asks you about the hope you have in Christ? Are you ready to present it in a gentle, non-argumentative way? Are you prepared to share it with reverence - complete accuracy out of your respect for God?
Many of us are not prepared. Sure, we can give the basics, but how many of us are really shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace?
What exactly is the gospel? And why is it called "the gospel of peace?" The word "gospel" means "good news." And it's not just any old good news. The good news we're called to bring is that although man's sin has made Him an enemy of God, God has offered terms of peace.
The Bible makes it clear that every human being has made themselves God's enemy. Why? Because of sin.
Is. 59:2-3 ...your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; Your lips have spoken falsehood, your tongue mutters wickedness.
No matter what our sins are - whether it's what we've said or what we've done, they separated us from God.
But God doesn't want us to be enemies. He loves us. And so He made the ultimate sacrifice: He decided to take the penalty of our sin upon Himself. That penalty was death:
Rom. 6:23 For the wages of sin is death...
And so Jesus Christ died in our place. He...
Rom. 4:25 ...was delivered over because of our transgressions...
Rom. 5:8 ...God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
The gospel of peace is that even though our sins made us God's enemy, He offered to be our friend by taking our penalty upon Himself. And all we have to do is believe that He did - to simply have faith - and we will have peace.
Rom. 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
And so the Bible says,
Rom. 5:10 ...while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son...
That is the gospel of peace. We need to be prepared with it, or we won't stand firm. Yes, it is scary, yes it is nerve-wracking, to share the gospel with people, because we're convinced they don't want to hear it. They'll be angry if we tell them.
And to be honest, I sure wasn't happy to hear it at first. It annoyed me, offended me, and made me angry. But today, I'm so incredibly happy that it was preached to me. It is true, what Isaiah said,
Is. 52:7 How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation.