"...the sword of the Spirit. which is the word of God." Ephesians 6:17
The Armor of God contains an arsenal of weapons available to equip the soldier of Christ.
"Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand against the schemes of the devil." Ephesians 6:11
- The one common denominator of each of these items of armor is their defensive nature. With the exception of "The Sword of the Spirit," these weapons do not prepare the warrior to attack the enemy. However, they do offer ample protection from the attacks of the enemy.
- The soldier's dress code requires that the weapons be put on or taken up by those who intend to take their stand in the battle line. Undressed soldiers are more than an embarrassment to themselves. Harsh but true, ill-equipped soldiers are a liability to everyone around them.
- The key to effectiveness in battle against evil is the capacity of the saint to stand next to The Champion in the face of the enemy assault. The enemy is at a distinct advantage when the saintly soldier chooses to run from the battle. The armor provided for victory simply will not protect a soldier who is prone to retreat. The bearer of the armor must stand and face the adversary in order to receive the maximum benefit from these weapons of this kind of warfare. Jesus is the only one the enemy really fears. When the soldier stands next to Jesus, there is no fear of defeat. AWOL saints must find their confidence in the word of God, and obey the written orders of The Champion.
"...The sword of The Spirit is the word of God." Paul's use of the word "sword" to describe the word of God should not be underestimated. The Roman short sword had been used to conquer the known world. This side arm was the primary attack weapon of a solider in one of the vast legions of the Empire. Paul had ample opportunity to observe the weapon on the hip of his guards while they were chained to him in prison. It is no great stretch of the imagination to suggest that Paul took advantage of his close proximity to his guards to discuss the use of the sword with them. Paul was known to take an object of the Roman culture and communicate the Gospel of Christ to his audience. In Athens, he used a statue built to honor an unknown God to tell his listeners about Jesus. Soldiers assigned to him would receive the same kind of message, but with a different illustration. Paul's use of their sword as a word picture for the word of God would have a profound impact on them and they in turn would help him spread the good news of the Gospel.
"So that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else." Philippians 1:13
Spiritual Awakening and The Word of God:
"So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." Romans 10:17
The Puritans arrived on the shores of America with the Geneva Bible under their arm and a passion in their heart to build a "city on a hill." The King James Bible, though completed was not widely available in print. The early Puritan preachers started churches, built schools, and limited government. They established in the lives of their people a profound respect for the word of God. The Geneva Bible was taught in their churches, used in their schools, read in their homes, and guided their government. These first bibles brought to America were either New Testaments published in 1557 or an entire bible published in 1560. Surviving copies today are rare finds and difficult to read because of the oil stain residue from generations of hand prints and the tears that sank into the pages.
These bibles were the work of Protestant translators in Geneva Switzerland who had been under the tutelage and influence of John Calvin. They also contained margin notes that disturbed King James I of England to such a degree that he was determined to rid his realm of the Geneva Bible. The margin notes he hated the most had to do with references to limited government. These notes expressed the right and the moral responsibility of believers to disobey kings when their behavior and orders contrasted with the word of God. The Geneva Bible was a radical document in an age when rulers claimed to hear directly from God and King James I was determined to protect any erosion of his "divine rights."
Preaching and teaching from the word of God by Jonathan Edwards in 1734-35 seeded the fertile soil in the hearts of men and their families who would bear the fruit of the First Great Awakening. What broke out in Northampton, Massachusetts would spread throughout New England and then up and down the coast of colonial America through the ministry of George Whitefield.
Whitefield arrived in Philadelphia in 1739. His close friend, Ben Franklin, reported in his autobiography, "In 1739, arrived among us from Ireland, the Rev. Mr. Whitefield, who had made himself remarkable there as an itinerant preacher. He was at first permitted to preach in some of our churches; but the clergy taking a dislike to him, soon refused him their pulpits, and he was obliged to preach in the fields...It was wonderful to see the change soon made in the manners of our inhabitants. From being thoughtless or indifferent about religion, it seemed as if the whole world was growing religious, so that one could not walk through the town in an evening without hearing psalms sung in different families of every street."
For the next two decades until his death in America in 1760, Whitefield would crisscross the Atlantic Ocean 13 times as a tireless evangelist. He played a key part in the spiritual transformation of both America and Great Britain. In England he formed the first "Methodist" Society and passed the leadership baton of that fledgling movement to his friend, John Wesley. The ministry of John and Charles Wesley was a huge part in changing the spiritual climate of an empire and led to the eventual abolition of slavery in Great Britain.
The Geneva Bible had taken its first breath when it was birthed in the rare air of the city state of a small republic in Switzerland. The leaders of this small city were elected by the people and were responsible and accountable to them. The earliest founders of America had their hearts rooted in the word of God and their understanding that their rights came from God and not from the state. Their preaching and teaching led the generations to follow, but who were yet to be born to lead out in a theologically fed political awakening that impacted the concept of self- government with the American Revolution.
The sword of the Spirit is the word of God. It is the only offensive weapon in the hands of the saint in this battle against evil. The "devil" is identified by his very name as the one who "throws against" or "the accuser." His negative voice shouts insults in the ears of the followers of Jesus, and tempts them to recall every hurtful thing that has ever been said to them. The proactive saint will mute the evil one by opening the Word of God, and letting it drown out the lies and hate-speech of the voice of the evil one.
The Word of God is best heard, up close and personal. Saints achieve their tightest five finger grip on "The Sword of The Spirit which is the Word of God" when they hear it, read it, study it, memorize it, and meditate on it. Taking their stand next to The Champion gives them the confidence they need in the heat of the battle.
Hearing it leads to reading it. Reading it leads to heeding it. Heeding it leads to believing it. Believing leads to applying it. Applying it leads to seeing it... change a nation...one life at a time. The Word of God remains a powerful weapon of warfare for those who desire to take the field and experience the victory of the next great Spiritual Awakening. Suit up! Take up your sword. The battle is on.
TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!