Sunday Sermon – ‘The Victorious Christian Life’ – The Gospel Shoes – Growing in Christ Series

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September 11, 2001 is a day that most of us will never forget. We’ll always remember how we felt when we heard that terrorists had hijacked planes and were crashing them into buildings. We will always remember the feeling of fear as well as the feeling of anger. We will also always remember how we felt when we heard about the courage of so many during such a difficult time. One person who stands out in my mind was named Todd Beamer.

Todd Beamer was a 32 year old Christian father of two small boys with a third baby on the way. He was on US Airlines Flight 93 that crashed in a rural area of Pennsylvania.  We don’t know all the details of what happened on that flight, but we do know that Todd and some other passengers rushed the hijackers to overthrow their plot to fly into possibly the Capital or Whitehouse. We also know some of Todd’s last words. “Are you guys ready? Okay, let’s roll!”  Todd Beamer lost his life that day, but his words will stick with us forever. His courageous words “Let’s roll!” have been used by many as we have fought against terrorism. I have also read that his two boys often say these words to their mom whenever they get ready to go somewhere. “Let’s roll!” has become the motto of the Beamer family. I believe that those words also help to capture the intent of the Apostle Paul as he wrote –

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace…

I.  The Gospel Armor

A. An Armor for Defensive Purposes

Satan and his demons are the ultimate terrorists. Through fear and intimidation they do everything they can to keep us from serving the Lord. Therefore we must do everything we can to stand against them. Note again vs. 13 –

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Through the power of Christ we can resist and march against Satan’s evil schemes.

B. An Armor for Offensive Purposes

Paul believed that we are in a great spiritual battle; yet he refused to let the devil have the victory. I like what Warren Wiersbe writes on this passage – “We do not fight for victory. We fight from victory.” Through Jesus Christ the victory has already been won. Therefore Paul wrote to young Timothy –

2 Timothy 2:3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

Today the Christian Faith is under great attack. More and more Christians are being viewed as the enemy. Therefore there is a great need for courageous Christians. We need courage not to be confrontational, but to boldly share the gospel with those who do not know Christ.  We must always keep in mind that America can be a Christian nation only when Americans become Christians.

Though we would like to blame most of our problems on groups like the ACLU, we must also take a hard look at what’s happening in the church.  In his book ‘The Unchurched Next Door’, Thom Rainer reports that 82% of those who don’t attend church indicate that they are somewhat likely to do so if they are invited. Yet in this same report we read that only 2% of those who attend church ever invite someone to church in a given year. Seven out of ten of those who don’t attend church have never been invited to church.” [1]

II. The Gospel Shoes

Ephesians 6:15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

There are a number of opinions as to what Paul was trying to say in this passage. Some believe that the peace Paul spoke of pertained to the peace of the believer.  I certainly will not argue that Satan seeks to attack our peace as the children of God; however, I believe that this passage refers to our need to spread the gospel of peace to a lost and dying world. As a matter of fact, I believe that the primary though Paul had in this passage on the spiritual armor was our need to be bold witnesses for Christ.

A. The Shoes of the Roman Soldier

As with the rest of the armor, Paul is making a comparison between the Roman and Christian soldier. What kind of shoes did the Roman soldier wear? Josephus, the 1st-century Roman-Jewish historian, reports that much of the military success of Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar was due to their development of a military shoe for their soldiers. What was the Roman military shoe like? It was a beefed-up sandal with thickened soles and nail-like cleats. Josephus writes that this specialized shoe equipped the Roman solider to quickly advance over almost any terrain.

B. The Shoes of the Christian Soldier

What is the shoe of the Christian soldier? What is our footing? Many things could be said but I believe that Paul’s primary thought was a ‘mindset of readiness to go into all the world and to share the gospel with everyone who will listen.’ Rather than being cowered down with fear through Satan’s tactics of intimidation, the Christian soldier is to march with courage.

In his study booklet on this passage, David Jeremiah writes  – ‘The shoes of the Gospel have to do with our willingness to advance the gospel into Satan’s territory, to be a beacon of light in his domain of darkness. There is no greater mindset of courage and resoluteness than the mindset of one who is boldly sharing his faith with the lost… who overcomes the fear of witnessing in enemy territory …’  [2]

The Apostle Paul was a man of great courage. He was not only willing to suffer for the cause of Christ, he was willing to die. The reason he had such great courage was because he had great conviction. Note what Paul wrote to the Romans –

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Paul’s two convictions were this:

1. God can save anyone and everyone who puts their faith in Christ as their Savior.

2. For people to believe, someone must share with them the gospel.

Many Christians have the first conviction. Only a few have the second. Why do we struggle so much with sharing our faith? I believe that the primary reason has to do with fear.

1. We are afraid that we might offend people (especially our friends).

2. We are afraid that we don’t know enough and might look foolish.

3. We are afraid that we might somehow suffer, primarily from ridicule and rejection.

Where does such fear come from?  It comes from the devil. Satan does everything he can to keep us silent. He silences us with fear, excuses, shame, disbelief and busyness.

We have as our church motto – ‘Whatever it takes for Jesus.’ Satan has as his motto – ‘Whatever it takes to keep us silent about Jesus.’ I wonder who is doing the best job in fulfilling their motto. There are two things that we need to keep in mind concerning our silence –

1. If we stay silent, those who haven’t heard will never hear.

2. If they never hear, they will never be saved.

There is an extremely powerful passage of scripture found in the book of Ezekiel concerning the sin of silence.

Ezekiel 33:8 When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way,  that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. 9 Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.

Will their blood be on our hands if we keep silent? That’s a very good question.

III. How Can We Put On the Gospel Shoes and Be Ready?

Whenever I read a passage of scripture I ask myself three questions: What? Why? and How? I’ve tried to share with you  -‘what? ‘and ‘why?’Let me now try to answer ‘how?’. Let me suggest three things that will help us be more effective in preparing ourselves  for battle:

A. Through our prayer life

We need to pray for those who need to know Christ. Two things are likely to happen when we pray for the lost.

1. God will speak to them.

2. We will be more likely to speak to them.

In addition, we need to pray for that we will have the courage to share our faith. Note Paul’s words –

Ephesians 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; 19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly , as I ought to speak .

Paul said – “Pray that I will have boldness.” Brethren, if Paul prayed for boldness, shouldn’t we?

B. Through the purity of our life          

One of the reasons many of us are not more vocal about our faith is because we don’t feel worthy. Satan silences us through shame and guilt. Do you remember how I told you that Satan cannot take away your salvation but that he can render you ineffective? Satan renders us ineffective by enticing us into sin and then binding us with shame and guilt. Consider what will happen when we have a dirty heart.

1. A dirty heart will be less concerned about others

2. A dirty heart will be less confident

3. A dirty heart will easily cower to opposition

The longer I am in the ministry the more I am convinced that Satan uses sin to rob us of much of our spiritual power. The writer of Hebrews refers to it as ‘the sin which so easily besets us.’ (Heb 12:1)

C. Through the purpose of our life

Very few Christians see themselves as bearing the responsibility to tell others about Christ. They believe that’s the job of the preacher or missionary. However, it is a statistical fact that most people who come to Christ, do so because of the influence of a close friend. Rarely does someone come to Christ and then grow as a believer without the involvement of a close friend or relative. Just think what would happen if each of us led just one person to the Lord this year and then invested our lives in discipling them?

Conclusion

The story is told of an old man who continuously warned his friends and neighbors about the terribleness of their sins. One day someone rebuked the old man by asking, “Why do you keep preaching to them about sin? Don’t you know that you can’t change them?” To which the old man replied, “Maybe I can’t change them, but I can keep them from changing me!”

This old man wisely understood that the best


[1] Dr. Thom Rainer’s new book The Unchurched Next Door

[2] David Jeremiah, Spiritual Warfare Study Booklet

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