THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 9-2-07
LESSON TITLE: "THE CHRISTIAN'S ARMOR: HOW DOES ONE BECOME A SOLDIER OF GOD?"
Thank you for joining us today for The Living Word. I hope everyone had a great week. And I hope you are ready to begin this new week with a day of service and offering to your God.
As always, it is our commitment through this program to proclaim the simple truth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - which is confirmed for us in the Bible. I hope you all have your Bible's handy and I hope you are ready to worship God together as we sing praises to His name and study from His wondrous word. Now let's begin by talking to our Father in prayer!
We want to begin our songs of praise this morning by singing a hymn which reminds us of the majesty of God. So, at this time won't you join in with the congregation as we together sing, "I Stand Amazed."
(SONG # 1)
We just sang a song which reminds us of how wondrous our God is. Oh, how encouraging it is to sing about such magnificent things of God.
I also love many of the songs our young people sing today, as they strive to teach and edify one another as God commands. One song which they sing that comes to my mind at this time says, "Heaven is a wonderful place, filled with glory and grace, I want to see my Savior's face, Heaven is a wonderful place!" Then they boldly exclaim - "I want to go there!"
How comforting and true these words are, because we all are looking for a place in that eternal home at the end of time. We often read of a Celestial city, with golden streets and gates of precious stones. We also hear that a mansion has been made ready for us in that wonderful city of God. To top it all off we are told that there will be no more sickness or sorrow. The trials of this life will all be behind us. In fact, another song we often sing says, "no tears in heaven will be known." What a wonderful sounding paradise heaven is. Who wouldn't want to go there?
Another exciting part about heaven is that we will be there eternally. In 1 John 2:25, we read, "and this is the promise that he has promised us; eternal life." Imagine a place like heaven without any ending. Furthermore, imagine a place with no death! In the book of Revelation, John said it this way, "and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." So we have seen that heaven is truly going to be a magnificent place, with no more suffering or death. Nothing to cause us to shed a tear.
One more notable characteristic about Heaven is that God will be there. Think for a moment about meeting God for the first time, "face to face." In heaven we will be with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Again this existence will be forever and one of pure perfection. We will live eternally with an all powerful, all knowing God who created each and every one of us and all that we know and see on this earth.
A final song we sometimes sing says, "This world is not my home I'm just a passing through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue. The angels beckon me from Heavens open door, and I can't feel at home in this world anymore!" How many of us are ready and eager to go there and to be with our God? I know I am, because this is the greatest promise that God has given me - if I prove myself worthy of His grace!
This morning we will conclude our series on "The Christian's Armor." Our specific topic of study today will answer the question, "How Does One Become A Soldier Of God?" So, please continue with us this morning, and after our next song together I will return with this study from God's Word. Are you ready to join in the second hymn of the morning? It's name is, "Soldiers Of Christ Arise!"
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Ray Sullins
Thanks for staying with us and we now go back to God's Word to find out more about a soldier and the work that a soldier has in the service of Christ Jesus our Lord.
You might recall that for weeks now we've been looking from Ephesians chapter 6 and finding out there what it is that Paul instructed the Ephesian church in that they should equip themselves to be spiritual soldiers for God. We've seen many different types of armor, things that one must equip themselves with of a spiritual nature if they are to be able to stand strong, if they are to be able to keep the wicked one or the devil away and if they are to be able to work for God and to accomplish His Will in all things. Now you might notice though in the passage as we look together there in chapter 6 of Ephesians that he begins in verse 10 by saying, "Finally, my brethren..." You see again as we have clarified the letters being written to the church, the church at Ephesus, the letters being written to brethren, to Christians.
And so today, what I would like to do as we conclude our study in our series is to understand what made them such. What is it that Paul with confidence here writes to the church at Ephesus and addresses them as brethren? Why is it that we read here the concept of "the beloved" or the ideas of "the saints?" In fact, if you look in chapter 1 and verse 1 he says, "To the saints at Ephesus, to the brethren." He also mentions the word there in verse 1, "To the faithful in Jesus Christ." And so what we find over and over again is these individuals were in God. They were in Christ and they were doing what God asked and had done what God had asked in order that they would be considered as His children. So how do we take that step? How do we become someone who has left the world, who is no longer a soldier of the flesh of the world and now a soldier of God or a soldier of Christ? And so that will be our main focus this morning.
If you'll turn with me then I think it very fitting place in Acts chapter 10 we read about a soldier. And what is interesting about the man who is mentioned here, Cornelius, is that he's a religious man, but he has not yet obeyed Jesus Christ and the Will of God. However, he is obeying the old law. He's doing many things according to what he has learned about Judaism and about the God of Judaism, but he has not yet learned the perfect way or the proper way concerning Jesus Christ. So how interesting here that as we have talked about the spiritual soldier, here we meet a literal soldier and yet this soldier is not yet a spiritual soldier. If you'll look with me there in verse 1 of chapter 10 it introduces us to a man again named Cornelius. "A certain man," it says, "of Cesasera who called himself there Cornelius and who was a centurion." He was a soldier and he was over an Italian regiment. So he was a soldier over other soldiers. He was a captain over other soldiers, over a group of soldiers in the Roman army. Now again, how fitting because this man knew what being a soldier was all about. This man knew what the armor was all about, how significant every piece of the armor of God is. So now when we see here that he as a physical soldier is doing what God wants or at least searching to find out further what God wants, then he is going to learn the very things we've been studying, what it means to be a spiritual soldier. But if you'll look there this man was religious, "a devout man," verse 2 says, "and one who feared God, not only himself but all of his household." Now what does this tell us about Cornelius? He was not only a godly man, but he taught his family. He set the example for his family. So because of his faith, his wife and his children no doubt also had a faith in God.
What else did he do? He wasn't just a god-fearer, but he put the fear of God into action. In other words, because he respected God and he believed, he acted then on what God wanted him to do. How do we know that? Well the verse goes on to say that "he gave alms generously," that means he gave to the poor. It also says that "he was an individual who prayed always to God." We talked last week about the importance of prayer in the life of a spiritual soldier. Well here is a man who is a literal soldier who is not following Christ but the old way, and here we see that he still was praying to God. What is the reaction? Well, because his prayer was sincere, because his prayer was what we might see here in a moment a God-fearing concept and as well someone who had the desire to obey no matter what. We learn there in verse 3 that God sends an angel to him and the angel calls his name and says, "Cornelius," and then he tells him that "Your prayers and your alms have come up as a memorial before God Almighty." You see this man was striving to be faithful, yet out of ignorance he did not know truly what to do. God saw his sincerity. He saw his willingness and God knew what sometimes we don't, that if he would tell Cornelius the truth, Cornelius would be all too ready to obey and to do exactly what God commanded.
And so the angel of God tells Cornelius to send messengers to find Peter and others. So as we read the story and because of time we can't look at all of it, but as we read the story in Acts 10, Peter there is summoned by the servants of Cornelius and then he brings Peter to Cornelius. It's a beautiful place there in verse 24 as we read together when he is arriving there, "Now Cornelius was waiting," it says, and not only himself, not only his family, but it says, "he called all of his friends together." He knows that God has told him to bring righteous men who are going to teach them unto salvation, so he doesn't just want to be selfish or share with only his family, he calls everybody he knows, so there is a multitude. There is a crowd there. When Peter comes, he doesn't say, "You know I'm the captain or I'm the big man." What he actually does in verse 25 is that it says, "As he actually sees him coming, Cornelius goes to him and meets him and falls down at his feet and even worships Peter." You see here a humble man, a man who should have been puffed up, proud, a gentile, not even a Jew yet he's been following Jewish ways. He's been following the Jewish God and now after hearing from God he is willing to bow himself down to a Jew and even bowing himself down to worship him. Well, what does Peter do? Well, as we might go on to read, he tells him to stand up, but he says, "I am only a man as you are a man." Then he begins to preach unto him. What is it that he preaches?
If you'll drop down to verse 36, he doesn't just preach anything. Verse 36 it says that "He preached peace through Jesus Christ that He is the Lord of all." Well you see now, Cornelius was a man who believed in the Father. So what was it that Peter had to help him understand? Who Jesus was. See I believe the Father and I've heard so many people that have said that and admitted to that, but what about the Son? You can't believe in one without the other through Christ Jesus. And so he says, "I need you to know who Jesus is, the Son of God, the Lord of all." What was Cornelius' reaction? Well certainly, when he heard the Word proclaimed it says that "they believed." "They were individuals who believed," verse 43, and not only what they had heard before, but now what this prophet is they felt, this man of God was speaking with them about in connection to God.
We later learn in the same story that Cornelius and many others it seems may have received the Holy Spirit in a special way in order that Peter and others might know that the gentiles are also able to obey the gospel of Christ, are also able to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands.
But finally you might notice the reaction of these individuals. Cornelius had heard the preaching of Jesus. When he believed in all that was said, when he knew that God had delivered him the way unto salvation. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. he then reacts immediately to the teaching. And what does he do? In verse 48, "And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord, then they asked him to stay a few days." What was it in the culmination of this day that Peter challenges and charges these people of belief with in order that they might demonstrate their faith? He says, "I challenge you to confess the name of God, to repent," as we will see, and then here, "to be baptized." The only thing mentioned here is certainly that they did believe. It doesn't speak of confessions. It doesn't speak of repentance. However, we'll see in just a moment that certainly these were there. But now we see that baptism was something commanded.
Now as we go back and we think about why would he preach such? Well it is very easy to understand because when we look at the day the church began in Acts chapter 2, on the Day of Pentecost when people and Jews from all over the world were there and the Holy Spirit came with power and they heard in their own languages the truth of Jesus Christ and then as we read in verse 37 that they had just killed or crucified the man that the Father had made both Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It says, "They were cut to the heart." "They were cut to the heart," in verse 37 and they said, "what shall we do?" The same thing the rich man and others have cried out. What shall I do to inherit eternal life? The same thing that others have asked throughout all centuries, "God what would you have me to do?" The same thing Paul asked, "What shall I do?" as he spoke with Ananias. Then the answer is clear as they found out from Peter and the others what they should do in verse 38. Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized." I submit to you that these individuals had already shown their belief. How do we know that? They were cut to the heart and they said, "What shall we do? We believe He is Lord. We believe He is Christ." They believed and they confessed it.
No doubt, that is why we find in Romans chapter 10 verses 9-10 that, "With the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Well you see, "unto salvation." We confess to be saved, but we don't confess and then we are saved. There's more to it. For you and I know repentance is required. Is it not mentioned here? What must we do? Repent and be baptized. Repentance means that I acknowledge that outside of God I am a sinner. I am involved in sin, but I'm going to turn away and leave all of that sin and turn to the cross and Christ and I'm going to change. I'm going to be a new creature leaving the old man behind and being a new creation. You see, repentance. That's why even Jesus said in Luke 13:3, "Repent or perish." That's we read in places like the Corinthian letter that, "They were moved to a godly sorrow that produced repentance leading to salvation." For one must repent and leave the sinful life for a life of righteousness. So they confessed, and here they were told to repent, but furthermore they were told to be baptized.
Now notice why. He says here, "To be those who repent and are baptized," verse 38, "so that you might receive the gift of the Holy Spirit," but there is something else mentioned. "So that you might receive remission of sins." Do these things in the name of Jesus Christ that you might have forgiveness of sins. Doesn't that just make sense? Isn't that why we read in places like Revelation 1 and verse 5 that, "We are washed in the blood of Christ." The symbolic act of baptism is the concept of a cleansing, of a removal of not of the filth of the flesh but of the spiritual filth. Isn't that why Paul was told by Ananias as we have said, he cried out, "What should I do or what would you have me do, Lord?" Ananias said there in Acts 22 and verse 16, "Arise and be baptized and wash away your sin." Well, what was he talking about? He says, "You need to submit. You believe, obviously, you're here. You're asking me the question. You're ready to make the confession, you no doubt are repenting of the old things and now be baptized. You see, it is the culmination of those things.
I think one of the best places that we have in scripture to help us understand the concept of baptism is found in the book of Romans chapter 6 as we read there beginning around verse 3. Paul tells the Roman church, "Do we not understand that as many of you as have been baptized into Christ were baptized into His death?" Verse 4 says, "As we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father to walk in the newness of life so we are raised." Verse 5 says, "As we are united together in the likeness of His death, we are united together in the likeness of His resurrection."
So what does baptism mean? Well you see, it is a symbolic act that shows I am willing to die as Christ died. As He was put in the grave, He was buried and when He rose from the grave, He conquered death. He was new. Well, what do we do? Well, we die in baptism. We've already confessed the name of Jesus. We already have admitted that we want to repent so we die there and it says that we leave the sins in the grave. We bury that old man so that when we rise here we are a new creature. Isn't that what it says there in verse 6? "Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, it was buried and done away that the body of sin might be done away with and therefore we are made a new creation. We rise to walk in the newness of life. How interesting it is then that every example we have in the book of Acts always includes this step of baptism. Certainly yes, confession is essential. Repentance is essential. But we find every time baptism also being required as something that would be the final step to bring someone into full submission.
Isn't that what happened in Acts chapter 8? Remember the Ethiopian Eunuch there? As he was being taught Jesus by Philip and there as he was preaching, it says, "They passed a body of water and the Eunuch said, 'Here is water, what hinders me to be baptized?' and as soon as he said that, Philip said, 'If you believe with all of your heart, you may." Then he makes the great confession. You and I also believe he had to repent. But then it says, "They stopped the chariot. They went down in the water and he baptized him." Why? That he might die to the old man, rise to the new. It says, "He came out of the water rejoicing for he was a new creation in Jesus Christ."
I encourage us all to know that we are a soldier of Christ when we have submitted to the Will of Christ. Submitting to the Will of Christ is clearly found, if we want to be added by the Lord to His church, Acts 2 and verse 47, then we must confess the name of Jesus, repent and be baptized and be buried in the name of Jesus as He was buried and rise as He rose that we might be found faithful in the end, that we might receive the blessings of this life and that ultimately we might receive the great reward of heaven that is promised to those who are a part of the kingdom that God has established on this earth.
(SONG # 3 - "The Gloryland Way!")
What a wondrous time we have had together in participating in the things of God. I hope we all have been encouraged through our time spent together. Please remember, you are invited to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God.
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Have you submitted yourself to the Will of God and obey His command in order to become a soldier of the Cross? If not do what it takes today to obey and do things God's Way!