In our continuing review of the "Armor of God," we have been examining each of the elements listed in Ephesians 6. In this article, we will explore verse 16 in which we encounter the fourth of Paul's list of seven:
Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
The Roman shield was about 4 ft. high and about 2 1/2 feet wide. It was typically made as a curved laminate of three layers of wood strips and covered with leather. The edges were bound with rawhide stitched through the wood (or sometimes bronze binding was used).
The shield was the maneuverable part of the warrior's armor. It was designed to protect him from arrows and javelins, flaming and otherwise.
If the shield had any holes or damage, survival would depend upon fixing it before entering the battle-certainly not during! The diligent warrior would direct his energies to its repair as part of his pre-engagement preparations.
How does one exercise diligence with respect to his "shield of faith?" Are there any "holes" in your shield of faith? When is the proper time to repair it? You are already on enemy turf!
Faith in What?
At the 1993 Presidential Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C., Vice President Al Gore said, "Faith in God, reliance upon a Higher Power, by whatever name, is, in my view, essential."
This notion that every concept of god is equally valid was also reinforced when Pope John Paul II assembled snake worshipers, fire worshipers, spiritists, animists, witch doctors, along with Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims at Assisi, Italy, to pray for peace. He made the astonishing statement that they were all praying to the same god!1
While this is a common view among the ungodly, this is completely irrational and refuses to honor the one true God or even to acknowledge His existence.
This is the same fallacy which was explored in Alan Bloom's book, The Closing of the American Mind,2 which exposed the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of relativism and the current "political correctness" of denying even the existence of absolute truth. Modern pagan religions have built their appeal on this vacuum.
The mind reels in the attempt to understand the insanity of paganism. No one knows how much of the substance of life has been poured out upon the stained altars of gods who are not,3 and of demons who are.4
The evolutionist also takes his own irrational "leap of faith" and is committed to a contrary-to-fact catechism.
Robert Jas-trow, one of the world's leading astronomers, founder and director of the Goddard Space Institute, and an agnostic, shocked his colleagues by admitting, at a national conference of the Association for the Advancement of Science, that contrary to the articles of faith in the scientific profession, evidence seems to demand an intelligent Creator of the universe.5
The eminent scientist Sir Fred Hoyle also accused the evolutionists of defending their own religious faith:
"The [mathematical impossibility of spontaneous biogenesis] is well known to geneticists and yet nobody seems to blow the whistle decisively on the theory... Most scientists still cling to Darwinism because of its grip on the educational system... You either have to believe its concepts, or you will be branded a heretic."6
Whence Cometh Faith?
Faith should be a response to proven truth. Any faith which is not based upon reason supported by irrefutable evidence is the utmost folly. Gullibility is no help to true faith but actually its enemy. Skepticism is, in fact, essential as the first step toward true faith, so long as it doesn't hard-en into pride or become a cloak for prejudice.
No thinking person can embrace just "any god" as the Creator of the universe; the same Creator who has a purpose in our existence and who holds us accountable:
But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.
No one can have faith in God-that is, absolute and total trust in Him-without knowing Him. Thus, the path to growing your faith is simply to learn more of Him. How does one do that? First, by discovering the majesty and integrity of His Word, giving it its proper priority in your life.7
Second, by maintaining a continuing dialog with Him in your life.
How Then Shall We Live?
The classic, but practical, question of how we are to live is answered by Habakkuk:
The just shall live by faith.
It is interesting that the Apostle Paul wrote a trilogy of essays on this verse in three of his epistles.
Who are "the just?" Paul's Epistle to the Romans deals with how we are justified by faith alone. (Paul quotes Habakkuk 2:4 in Romans 1:17.)
How shall the just then live? Paul's Epistle to the Galatians deals with shedding the grave clothes of religious externalism and walking by faith. (Paul quotes Habakkuk 2:4 in Galatians 3:11.)
And, of course, the Epistle to the Hebrews continues as the epitome in dealing with the pillars of faith. (The writer quotes Habakkuk 2:4 in Hebrews 10:38.)
(This effective trilogy crafted around Habakkuk 2:4 is one of the many reasons we believe Hebrews, too, was written by Paul. If not, then the evident craftsmanship of the Holy Spirit is even more remarkable!)
More Than Belief
Faith is, of course, more than belief alone.
Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
Faith involves trust and reliance. I may "believe" that a stool can hold me. I exercise my faith in the stool when I rely on it by sitting on it!
There are also three primary "legs" supporting our faith: Prayer. His Word. And fellowship.
The Tortoise Formation
One of the provocative aspects in the exploitation of the Roman shields was their use in a combination which was called the testudo ("tortoise") formation. Twenty-seven soldiers would combine together: six in front and seven in each of three rows.
The ones on the outside edge would interlock their shields vertically; the insiders would form a roof with theirs. The composite was virtually impregnable as a sort of walking tank. They would test their skills in training by driving chariots over it (see sketch below).
This is suggestive to some in that it might have a parallel within the Body of Christ. By pooling our talents and gifts, we strengthen our composite positions when under attack from the myths and delusions assaulting us individually from "the world." (Cf. Rom 12:6-8; 1 Thess 3:10.)
If you are not making your spiritual gifts available to the Body, you are, in effect, defrauding us all.
This is the victory over the world, even our faith.
1 John 5:4
* * *Sources:
Hunt, Dave, In Defense of the Faith, (Harvest House Publishers, Eugene OR 97402, 1996); his latest book is another "must read." As is typical of Dave's books, this is an essential study for any serious Christian's library.