Friday, January 01, 2021

2021.01.01 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 6:17–20

Read Ephesians 6:17–20

Questions from the Scripture text: What is the next piece of equipment to take (Ephesians 6:17a)? What is the helmet? What is next? Whose sword is it? What is the sword? What are believers to do always (Ephesians 6:18)? With all of what two things? In Whom? Being what unto this end with all what? And all what? For all of whom? And for whom else specifically (Ephesians 6:19)? That what would be given to him? In order for him to do what in what way? In order to make what known? What relationship does the apostle have to the gospel (Ephesians 6:20)? Into what circumstances has his ambassadorship brought him? How does he wish to speak? Why?

The Christian’s mind is immensely important. As we battle a world whose days are evil, the way not to be conformed to it is to be transformed instead by the renewing of our mind (cf. Romans 12:2). Here, the apostle tells us what God employs for guarding our minds: His salvation. 

Our minds tend to be wrapped up in ourselves, our circumstances, even our enemies—almost anything but our Savior, the state of salvation into which He has brought and is bringing us, and the saving work by which He has done so.  But these are the very things with which our thoughts ought to be obsessed, if our precious minds are to be protected and preserved! This is the helmet of salvation (Ephesians 6:17a, cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:8, Romans 13:11).

Those who belong to the light and put on the armor of light (Romans 13:12, cf. Ephesians 5:6–15) are those who keep the eyes of their mind sharply focused upon the rapidly approaching completion of that salvation which Christ has won (Romans 13:11). The unassailable reality of who Christ is and what He has done for us guards our minds by the unassailable certainty of what He shall soon have finished doing in us and to us.

This is part of why the helmet and the sword are so closely connected here. With respect to the battle for our minds, we are like David standing over the giant whom he had just knocked down; we have no sword of our own, and must reach instead for that superior sword that belongs to a far superior Warrior (cf. 1 Samuel 17:45, 1 Samuel 17:50–51; 1 Samuel 21:9). The sword of the Holy Spirit Himself (Ephesians 6:17b)!

What’s interesting in the transition to Ephesians 6:18 is the manner in which this sword is to be wielded—really, the manner in which all of the armor is to be worn. 

We have seen in Ephesians 6:14-16 that there is a strong emphasis on the necessity of participation in corporate worship and the specific activities that God has commanded in it: hearing the truth of Word read and preached, addressing one another with it in songs of the gospel of peace, taking up together at the Lord’s table the breastplate of Christ’s alien righteousness and the shield of faith as the corporate meal shows forth His death and affirms the covenant in His blood.

But now in Ephesians 6:18, the apostle highlights prayer as the means by which this armor that is taken up in the public worship is applied at all times. “Praying always.” The main place that the Spirit leads us to employ His Word is before the face of God Himself. Everything that the Bible tells us about who God is, and what He has done, we are to be constantly bringing back before Him in prayer, acknowledging everything that the Bible tells us about who we are, what we are like, what God requires of us, and what we need in order to do so. 

All prayer. All supplication. What God tells us about Himself and about ourselves in the word of God must become the substance of our praying, for this praying is to be “in the Spirit” Whose sword has just now been mentioned in Ephesians 6:17. This is to be the constant condition of the Christian, as he tells us to pray “with all perseverance,” which he calls “being watchful” (literally, staying awake). The one who is not “praying always” from the Word of God, having God as his constant companion and God’s Word as his constant conversation, is asleep in battle! 

And the apostle immediately gives us a couple of examples of what Word-saturated prayer will be like. It will focus upon what God focuses upon: all of His saints. It will be broad and blanketing in its scope, thinking much upon the whole of Christ’s body. But this broadness will also aim with specificity at those things that Christ Himself has highlighted as necessary. 

The apostle’s mention of his chains carries us back to Ephesians 4:1, where he called himself a prisoner. But he doesn’t ask for an end to the chains. He asks for boldness despite them. He understands that them as reminders of his Ephesians 4:11–14 calling to equip, build-up, unify, mature, and stabilize God’s people in doctrinal truth. One of the main things to pray for, whether praying for the church around the world or specifically for ourselves, is that preachers would be given specific words (Ephesians 6:19, ‘utterance’ is literally “a word”) that they would proclaim in the holy boldness of the office to which they have been called (Ephesians 6:19-20).

So, guard your mind by being obsessed with Christ’s finished and ongoing work. Accumulate a thorough knowledge of Scripture, that becomes the substance of a constant conversation with God your constant companion. And pray especially for those who have been called to minister that Word to God’s people in all places.

With what do your thoughts tend to be consumed? How can they be more consumed with Christ? How do your prayers reflect a care for the church as a whole? How do they reflect a focus on Christ’s plan for His church?

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH244 “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”


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