Ephesians 6:15

Sermon preached on April 25, 2010 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.cantonnewlife.org/.

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

When I was a kid playing hockey, our hockey fights did very little harm. It was because it's very hard to fight with skates on. It's much different than regular fighting. On skates it's difficult to set your feet and punch accurately. I think that if you actually practiced fighting on skates, you would eventually get the hang of it, but we never practiced it. Our fights must have actually been funny to watch. A guy would wind up and throw a punch and he would miss completely and his momentum would carry him around in a circle and he might even fall down. At other times a guy would connect with punch, but many of those punches were ineffective because there was no weight behind them. If you were going to describe them to the guy who hit you, you'd say,

"You hit like a girl."

We didn't know how to set our feet for punching with skates on. So it was really much ado about nothing. Although we put a lot of energy into our fights, I can't remember any serious damage being done. Most times everyone involved came out unscathed. Our fighting was very ineffective.

We don't want to be like that in our fight for Jesus Christ and His glory. We want to be like the apostle Paul, who near the end of his life said, (2 Timothy 4:7)

"I have fought the good fight,
I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."

One of the essential ingredients in fighting the good fight is having your feet protected and well shod. Paul wrote, (REB)

"let the shoes on your feet
be the gospel of peace, to give you firm footing;"

We need to have good shoes to protect our feet so that we can move well. If someone has their feet injured they lose their mobility. They can't advance like they should. They can't stand and fight like they should.

In the 1
st chapter of the book of Judges we read about what an ancient king did to the kings that he defeated. It was rather gruesome, but it's noteworthy. This cruel king Adoni-bezek said, (Judges 1:7)

"Seventy kings with their thumbs
and big toes cut off have picked up
scraps under my table."

He used to cut their thumbs and big toes off. This was to make them powerless cripples who could not wield any weapon effectively. (Leon Morris and Arthur Cundall, Judges, p. 52)

So we need to protect our feet. A literal translation of our text would be,
"and put on your feet the readiness of the gospel of peace." In other words you are always to be ready to tell others about the gospel of peace. There are two great lessons for us here. First, this means

you are not to let anything stop you from being a good witness for Jesus Christ.

Don't let anyone stop you from going forth with the gospel of peace.

In Matthew 5:14–16 Jesus said to His disciples,

"You are the light of the world.
A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
Neither do people light a lamp
and put it under a bowl.
Instead they put it on its stand,
and it gives light to everyone in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before men,
that they may see your good deeds
and praise your Father in heaven."

You are to let your light shine. Nothing is more important for sinners than for them to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. It has been entrusted to you and you are to be bold in going forth with it. It is one of your main tasks. In 1 Corinthians 9:16 the apostle Paul said,

"Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel".

The same is true for you. You have an obligation to be a good witness for Jesus. In Philippians 2:14–16 Paul wrote,

"Do everything
without complaining or arguing,
so that you may become blameless and pure,
children of God without fault
in a crooked and depraved generation,
in which you shine like stars in the universe
as you hold out the word of life—
in order that I may boast on the day of Christ
that I did not run or labor for nothing."

And in And in 1 Peter 3:15 we see that Peter urged Christians to tell people about the good news of Jesus Christ.

"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.
Always be prepared to give an answer
to everyone who asks you to give
the reason for the hope that you have."

You are to let nothing stop you from doing that.

Many countries today have laws against Christian evangelism. In many Muslim countries Christians are not allowed to try to convert Muslims to Christianity. For example, Christians are prohibited from evangelizing under Iranian laws. I've heard that in China it's okay for native Chinese Christians to evangelize, but it's against the law for foreigners to come into the country to do it. Christians in Buddhist dominated Cambodia are officially banned from evangelizing because they "disrupt society."

How are Christians to respond to such bans? We have an example in Acts 4 and 5. In Acts 4:18–20 we read how the religious leaders of the Sanhedrin tried to stop the spread of the gospel. The Jewish religious leaders wanted to make cripples out of the apostles. They arrested Peter and John and put them in jail overnight. The next day the Sanhedrin,

"called them in again
and commanded them not to speak
or teach at all in the name of Jesus."

But Peter and John were not going to let an obstacle like that stop them. Like a fantastic runner in a steeplechase they soared over that obstacle. Peter and John replied,

"Judge for yourselves whether it is right
in God's sight to obey you rather than God.
For we cannot help speaking about
what we have seen and heard."

In the next chapter of Acts we read that the Sanhedrin was again upset with the apostles because they refused to stop telling people about Jesus. In Acts 5:28–32 the high priest said to the apostles,

"We gave you strict orders
not to teach in this name.
Yet you have filled Jerusalem
with your teaching
and are determined to make us
guilty of this man's blood."

But Peter and the other apostles replied,

"We must obey God rather than men!
The God of our fathers raised Jesus
from the dead—whom you had killed
by hanging him on a tree.
God exalted him to his own right hand
as Prince and Savior that he might give
repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.
We are witnesses of these things,
and so is the Holy Spirit,
whom God has given to those who obey him."

The Sanhedrin then had the apostles flogged and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus any more. But the apostles left the Sanhedrin rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the name of Jesus. They did not let beatings, imprisonment or other threats keep them from telling others about Jesus. They had their feet shod with the gospel of peace.

In our society Christian's aren't threatened with imprisonment or beatings when they tell others about Jesus. But they are trying (figuratively) to cut off our big toes. We see that in our society's attitude toward Christian evangelism. It's not politically correct to evangelize. Many in our society will tell you that Christians shouldn't proselytize. They will tell you that it's presumptuous and arrogant for Christians to claim that people need to believe in Jesus in order to be saved. They will tell you that differing religions are really just different ways to God and that they are all equally valid. So they urge Christians to just cool it and tell us that if we want to believe that Jesus is the way to heaven, that's fine, but don't be so ignorant and unkind as to tell others that your way is better than any other way. They will tell you that that's not being tolerant and open. They will tell you that if you believe that Jesus is the only way to God that you're so filled with pride that you're looking down on all other religions and are not respecting those who believe in them. That's what many in our politically correct society will tell you.

It is certainly true that we are not to be arrogant. It is certainly true that we are not to look down on people who believe differently than we do. Every human being is made in the image of God and deserves respect because of that. We Christians are sinners like everyone else and we have nothing to boast about in ourselves. So there's no place for pride, conceit or arrogance.

But we do have someone to boast about. And that is our Savior Jesus Christ. We should boast about Him and lift His name high because He is the only One that can save sinners and bring them to God. In John 14:6 Jesus said,

"I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father
except through me."

And in Acts 4:12 the apostle Peter said of Jesus,

"Salvation is found in no one else,
for there is no other name under heaven
given to men by which we must be saved."

The wonderful thing about Christianity is that offers the one thing that human beings need—relief from the curse of sin and a new life with God. In the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve were told that if they sinned they would die. The death that was involved was both physical and spiritual. After they sinned they lost communion with God. They were expelled from the Garden of Eden and not permitted to eat of the Tree of Life. Eventually they died. Their physical death was but a precursor to the awful reality of the second death, which the Bible describes as being cast in to the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:14) As we read in Romans 6:23,

"the wages of sin is death".

In practical terms what this means is that you can never earn your way into heaven by being good, by trying to keep the law, by trying to be worthy. The curse of sin is not that you have to be good for a certain number of years. The curse of sin is not that you have to make it up to God. The curse of sin is not that you do a great number of religious acts. The curse for sin is death. This means that we are lost on our own. There is no hope for us in our own efforts. The wages of sin is death. That's what is required for our transgressions.

But the wonderful news is that of John 3:16,

"For God so loved the world
that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him
shall not perish but have eternal life."

God sent His Son to die in our place. As Jesus said in John 3:14–15,

"Just as Moses lifted up
the snake in the desert,
so the Son of Man must be lifted up,
that everyone who believes in him
may have eternal life."

Jesus came and died for the sins of His people. Whoever believes in Him has their sins washed away. Whoever believes in Him has Jesus' righteousness put on their account. Jesus dealt with our problem exactly. He became our substitute. As we read in 2 Corinthians 5:21,

"God made him who had no sin
to be sin for us,
so that in him we might become
the righteousness of God."

So Christians, don't be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Be like the apostle Paul and know that it is the only way for people to be saved, that it is the only way for them to come to God. In Romans 1:16 Paul declared,

"I am not ashamed of the gospel,
because it is the power of God
for the salvation of everyone who believes:
first for the Jew,
then for the Gentile."

He also urged Timothy to be like him. In 2 Timothy 1:8 he wrote,

"So do not be ashamed
to testify about our Lord,
or ashamed of me his prisoner.
But join with me in suffering for the gospel,
by the power of God,"

John Calvin says of our text,

"We are enjoined to lay aside every hindrance, and to be prepared both for journey and for war. By nature we dislike exertion, and want agility. A rough road and many other obstacles retard our progress, and we are discouraged by the smallest annoyance. On these accounts, Paul holds out the gospel as the fittest means for undertaking and performing the expedition."

John Calvin, Calvin's Commentaries (Complete) (trans. John King; Accordance electronic ed. Edinburgh: Calvin Translation Society, 1847), n.p.

You are to be a good witness for Jesus whether or not it is easy to do so, whether or not it is politically correct to do so. Remember Paul's charge to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:1–5 [HCSB],

"I solemnly charge you
before God and Christ Jesus,
who is going to judge the living and the dead,
and because of His appearing
and His kingdom:
Proclaim the message;
persist in it whether convenient or not;
rebuke, correct, and encourage
with great patience and teaching.
For the time will come
when they will not tolerate sound doctrine,
but according to their own desires,
will multiply teachers for themselves
because they have an itch
to hear something new.
They will turn away from hearing the truth
and will turn aside to myths.
But as for you, be serious about everything,
endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist,
fulfill your ministry."

Johannes Blauw wrote, (From Stott, p. 20)

"Missionary work is like a pair of sandals that have been given to the Church in order that it shall set out on the road and keep on going to make known the mystery of the gospel."

Christians, remember that the world needs the gospel. Remember the great privilege that is yours in presenting it. As we read in Isaiah 52:7,

"How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion, 'Your God reigns!'"

Don't be ashamed of telling others about your wonderful Savior Jesus and how, they too, can find life in Him.

The second application we should take from our text is that

you are to remember that it is the gospel of peace that you are proclaiming—and let your conduct show that.

There is one thing that will greatly help you to have great success in moving forward with the gospel, one thing that will protect you in this endeavor—and that is by being a person of peace. As you tell others about the gospel, show them love, show them kindness, show them mercy, show them respect. That will protect your feet and nothing will stop you from moving forward.

Now we know that the gospel of Jesus Christ will bring opposition. In Luke 12:51–53Jesus said,

"Do you think I came to bring peace on earth?
No, I tell you, but division.
From now on there will be five
in one family divided against each other,
three against two and two against three.
They will be divided,
father against son and son against father,
mother against daughter
and daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against daughter-in-law
and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."

The gospel message is one of repentance. It preaches against sin and urges people to turn from it to turn to God. That invariably creates animosity against Christians. This has to be so. You'll remember how the world reacted to Jesus. It hated Him. As we read in John 3:19–20,

"This is the verdict:
Light has come into the world,
but men loved darkness instead of light
because their deeds were evil.
Everyone who does evil hates the light,
and will not come into the light
for fear that his deeds will be exposed."

So many will hate Christians when they preach the good news of Jesus Christ. There will be animosity against us.

But we must never have animosity against those who oppose us.

The gospel is one of peace and we are to be men and women of peace. It calls on people to repent and be reconciled to God. The gospel brings peace between people and God and between human beings.

We are to have this peace in us. In Philippians 1:27 the apostle Paul urged Christians to exhibit this character in all circumstances. He wrote,

"Whatever happens,
conduct yourselves in a manner
worthy of the gospel of Christ."

We are not to use the weapons of this world. Rather as the apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 6:3–10

"We put no stumbling block in anyone's path,
so that our ministry will not be discredited.
Rather, as servants of God
we commend ourselves in every way:
in great endurance; in troubles,
hardships and distresses;
in beatings, imprisonments and riots;
in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger;
in purity, understanding, patience and kindness;
in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love;
in truthful speech and in the power of God;
with weapons of righteousness
in the right hand and in the left;
through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report;
genuine, yet regarded as impostors;
known, yet regarded as unknown;
dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed;
sorrowful, yet always rejoicing;
poor, yet making many rich;
having nothing, and yet possessing everything."

We are to follow in the footsteps of our Lord. As the apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 2:20–24,

"if you suffer for doing good and you endure it,
this is commendable before God.
To this you were called,
because Christ suffered for you,
leaving you an example,
that you should follow in his steps.
'He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.'
When they hurled their insults at him,
he did not retaliate;
when he suffered, he made no threats.
Instead, he entrusted himself
to him who judges justly.
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree,
so that we might die to sins
and live for righteousness;
by his wounds you have been healed."

What a calling we have. As Jesus told us in Matthew 5:43–45,

"You have heard that it was said,
'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'
But I tell you: Love your enemies
and bless those who curse you,
do good to those who hate you,
pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be sons of your Father in heaven."

Sometimes we who are Christians behave very badly in that we give the impression that we hate those who sin. We preach against sin and sometimes that comes across as a distinct lack of love for those who sin. That should never be. As we read in 1 Peter 3:15–16

"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.
Always be prepared to give an answer
to everyone who asks you to give
the reason for the hope that you have.
But do this with gentleness and respect,
keeping a clear conscience,
so that those who speak maliciously
against your good behavior in Christ
may be ashamed of their slander."

Our attitude should be like that of Jim Eliot and the other missionaries who were killed while they were trying to reach a remote tribe (the Aucas) with the gospel in 1956. The Aucas slaughtered them. Eliot and four other missionaries died because they knew they were going out with the gospel of peace. Frank Drown, who was in charge of recovering the bodies of the five missionaries after they were killed, said that they could have defended themselves. He said of the missionaries, (From the film, Beyond the Gates of Splendor)

"They had guns with them. They had said they would never kill the Aucas even if they attacked them. Because they had made the straight statement, 'They're not ready for heaven, and we are.'"

What love they had for the Aucas. They would not strike back. That's the only way for those who go out with the gospel of peace to behave. We are full of love for others as we go forth with the gospel. We are to behave righteously, working not for our own interests, but for the interests of those we are trying to win. As the apostle Peter told us in 1 Peter 2:12,

"Live such good lives among the pagans that,
though they accuse you of doing wrong,
they may see your good deeds
and glorify God on the day he visits us."

Lastly, for those here who are not Christians, this means that

you should believe in Jesus.

There's only one gospel that brings peace—peace with God and with our fellow men—and that's the gospel of Jesus Christ. Ask Him to save you. He will not refuse. As He said in John 6:37,

"whoever comes to me I will never drive away."

Go to this glorious King of Peace.