Joop explains how we can get our feet shoed with the gospel.
We’re currently preaching a series on our spiritual armour from Eph. 6.
Just to remind us we’re living in a war zone: the war between light and darkness, actually between God and satan (which means opponent, adversary). Satan’s only aim is to destroy everything God has made. He started with seducing the first man and is busy since to destroy: to cause wars, hostility, to produce seduction, greed etc. all things that make our earth a place full of unrighteousness.
If you’re a Christian your life has been changed by God. So that we might be able to live as Christians and to perform Jesus’ Commission to proclaim the gospel through the earth, in order that people may be reconciled with God through Jesus and have their lives changed from sorrowful into joyful life.
Eventually in the end Jesus Himself will return to planet earth to take up dominion over everything and restore God’s original concept of a perfect world where people live with their God in full harmony and without end.
But in the meantime here on planet earth there is a war going on and we’re in the midst of it. Actually we”re partakers in it as the Bible says.
In Ephesians 6 the image of a soldier in full armour is pictured to describe the situation we’re in and how to live in this battle.
Because we’re Christians and want to perform Jesus’ Commission to proclaim the gospel through the earth, satan wages war to us. He tries everything to prevent us from doing what Jesus has said and he wants to destroy the church of Jesus.
However, this war is not a physical war but a spiritual war, not fought with literal weapons, but with spiritual weapons.
The battlefield of this war is mostly in our mind. That’s why the Bible says:
‘Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.’ (Rom. 12:2).
As a good soldier in this spiritual battle we need a good armour and that’s what our series is about.
READ: Ephesians 6: 10-20
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
In the previous weeks Emmanuel has preached on an introductory to this passage and also about the ‘belt of truth’ and the ‘breastplate of righteousness’.
Today we’ll look at the ‘shoes of the gospel’ (verse 15).
There are two ways in which we can look at this verse:
Walking in the truth of the Gospel of Jesus. In other words live (walk) according to the way the Bible describes Christians should live: walk by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who makes God’s Word alive for us and in us. We can’t live a Christian life without the Holy Spirit. He’s the One who directs us in the ways of the Lord.
The word ‘shoes’ refer to walking. And in the Bible we often see the phrase ‘walk in the Lord’, ‘walk in peace’, ‘walk in the truth’ etc.
But there is also a second reference to shoes: it is what you wear at your feet. This refers to the ‘word of our testimony’. Which is a more likely explanation here. This afternoon we will focus on that.
There is another passage in the Bible that talks about shoes.
What does it (righteousness in Christ) say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
As Christians we carry the Gospel of Salvation with us. It is like if we’re having enough food and water whilst crossing through a land in famine and thirst. Instead of keeping all the food and water to ourselves, in an ideal world we gladly share with others, so that they might live!
This is actually the case with the Gospel. God entrusted us with the liberating news of Salvation by Jesus. He made us ambassadors of the good news. But that won’t work if we’re not ready and willing to proclaim the word if needed.
If we don’t share, people will still starve.
Or, in the words of Romans 10: How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
If we want people to become partakers of the Kingdom of God, we must be willing to share the good news.
As the apostle Paul says to his young friend and fellow-worker: ‘preach the word; be ready in season and out of season’ (2 Tim. 4:2).
Or as the apostle Peter says: ‘always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you’. (1 Peter 3:15).
There is a story in the Bible (2 Kings 7) in which the king of Syria besieged the city of Samaria in order to force it to surrender. No one could get in or out. In the end there was no food or water left in the city, so much so that women were willing to boil and eat their children. But God had mercy on this city and was preparing liberation.
At the entrance of the city (near the gate) were four lepers, also starving. They had only two options: going into the city and starving like the rest or surrender to the Syrians and maybe stay alive. So they decided to surrender and went to the camp site.
But in the meantime God had performed a miracle and all the Syrians had fled leaving everything behind. So the lepers found riches etc., but also food and water. They started to eat and drink and store up of the treasures, but suddenly realised: ‘we are not doing right. Inside the city everyone is starving and we’re here sitting eating and drinking and gaining riches.’
So they went and brought the good news to the other people, although they were lepers and often mocked by the people and sent away. They had compassion with their brothers.
In the same way God has compassion with the world. Although people left Him and rejected Him He looked for ways to be reconciled again. And He did it through Jesus.
And in the same way, we as Christians, although people sometimes mock us, or refuse to listen to us, we also have compassion and put on our shoes of the gospel and share the good news…..
Normally, you wouldn’t walk out barefoot without putting your shoes on. Likewise as Christians we shouldn’t walk out into the world without putting on our shoes of the gospel.
What is our gospel?
Two weeks ago Emmanuel preached about the belt of truth and explained that nowadays many people claim that there is no absolute truth. Our response to that could be: Is this absolute? If yes, than you’re wrong, and if no, than you’re saying something wrong.
We must not be afraid to withstand the lies of satan and the world (that there is no truth) by the belt of truth and the shield of faith.
Someone said: there is more trustworthy evidence and information about Jesus Christ than there is about Julius Cesar (the Roman emperor), and yet people tend to believe more this than the story of Jesus.
The story of Jesus is found in the Bible, a collection of books written through hundreds of years. It has been copied over 1000 times and still is reliable. If you compare the different copies of the Bible that have been handwritten throughout the ages, then you only find minor differences or unclear things.
No book in history ever has been hand-copied so many times and stayed in tact like the Bible. In itself this is an evidence of the authenticity of the Bible.
The problem is, people tend to believe only the things they want to believe. That’s why Paul in Romans is citing Isaiah 53: “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” In this passage Isaiah describes the sufferings of the Christ for our behalf and exclaims: ‘who has believed…?’ In fact he says: can you believe this?
So often people only believe what looks good to them.
Nevertheless, we must make every effort to clarify to people the importance and the justness of the gospel of Jesus.
So, we must be able to articulate what we believe and be willing to explain the gospel to people.
For: ‘how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?’
Let’s not bypass the ‘famine’ of this world and keep all the treasures for ourselves, but let’s find ways to communicate the gospel of Jesus, both in words and deeds.
We do good to people, but somehow there comes a time that we have to explain what we believe and how people can be saved. So, put on your shoes…..!
The gospel of peace
Interestingly, this verse speaks of the ‘gospel of peace’. It’s not just a gospel; it is the good news that brings real peace to mankind.
Isaiah 9 calls the Messiah the ‘Prince of Peace’.
The effect of the gospel is that people are brought to peace with God. They are reconciled again with their Creator, after having left Him.
Reconciliation through Christ brings new life, brings peace in their hearts; in fact changes them into people of peace. The effect of that is wherever people are changed by the Gospel of Jesus, it brings peace. Jesus said: ‘Peace be with you’.
This peace is the hallmark of true Christians (Mark 9:50: ‘be at peace with one another.’). Peace means wholeness, restoration, reassurance, righteousness and joy.
This is what Jesus came to bring to the world, this is what the world will experience if Christ is Lord and this is what will happen when Christ returns: He’ll come to restore everlasting peace, joy and righteousness.
So we wage war in order to bring peace!
2 Peter 3:13:
But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, 3 and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 4 He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. 5 O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.