Ephesians 6:10-18 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints…”
As I was preparing for this topic of the Helmet of Salvation I began pondering the set of armor as a whole. If I were going out to battle I would want the strongest metal available. Do you know what the strongest metal is? We know that gold while very valuable, is a weak and soft metal. Not one of you would want to take that into battle. Adamantium, perhaps? This is the fictional metal that appears in the X-Men universe. This metal is practically indestructible. It’s most common appearance is in Wolverine, where this metal was infused into his body and bonded to his skeletal system. It became one with him. And really when you think of it, isn’t that what happens upon salvation for us? The Holy Spirit comes upon us, becomes one with us, and is an indestructible force within us. I found that there isn’t one metal that is ideal; in order to create a metal strong enough to withstand impact, tension, or forces that may try to bend it or squish it you have to combine metals. Much like the whole armor of God. It’s not one attribute that keeps us protected and ready to fight, it’s the whole of them. However, there is one you must have in order to obtain the rest. The Helmet of Salvation.
But, what is salvation? What does is do for us as followers of Jesus? And why is it likened to a helmet?
Salvation, comes from the Greek word sōtér (so-tare), which is derived from sózó. Sózó means to deliver out of danger and into safety. Sōtér, the word used here in our text means the Savior, Jesus Christ Himself, who saves us from our sin, and delivers us into His safety.
God, from the very beginning, has been striving to save us. Even before sin entered into the world He was coming up with solutions to save us. Man was the first one needing saving, and woman was the solution. Genesis 2:18 “And the Lord God said, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make him a helper comparable to him.” You see, man needed to be saved from loneliness. As we move through the book of Genesis alone you can see the many moments of salvation and redemption: the blood sacrifice needed for Adam and Eve’s sin (Genesis 3:21), God seeking out Cain and his attitude before he even killed his brother (Genesis 4:6-7), God gave another son to Adam and Eve after Abel was killed (Genesis 4: 25-26), the world wide flood (Genesis 6-9), God’s promise to Abram (Genesis 12), Lot’s physical salvation (Genesis 14)….on and on and on in Scripture God is faithfully saving us. And every bit of Scripture points to His ultimate Salvation plan.
Even the priestly garments pointed to the coming of the Messiah. Look at Exodus 28:36-38. The turban was fitted with a plate of gold that read “Holiness to the Lord.” It was set on the front, that the high priest may bare the iniquity of the children of Israel. And it shall always be on his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord. Ok, let’s unpack this a bit. The turban, which the High Priest wore, was a picture of the sin of the people that he took onto himself. God said in Exodus that the turban, which represented the Holiness the High Priest carried to the Lord on behalf of the people, would be continually on his head, so that the people of Israel and their offerings would be accepted before the Lord. Our High Priest is Jesus (Hebrews 5:9-10), He took on our sins (1 Peter 2:24, Romans 4:25, 1 John 2:2), and He bares the mark continually of our sins (John 20:27). So, if Jesus is the High Priest, and He is, He bore our sins, and we have accepted this as truth, then Jesus is the holiness that sits on our head so that we may be accepted by God the Father. The helmet of salvation. What the High Priest wore physically, Jesus now is. Done through the cross, resurrection and ascension.
This is what salvation is, then: Jesus Christ, a free gift of grace from God (Romans 6:23). Even Merriam-Webster Dictionary agrees, salvation is “deliverance from the power and effects of sin.” [This is what they have to say about Jesus, “the Jewish religious teacher whose life, death and resurrection as reported by the Evangelists are the basis of the Christian message of salvation.”] Look at John 1:12-13, salvation is the act of believing. John 3:16-18, salvation, or believing, is rescuing us from condemnation. Jesus Himself is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). He is salvation, not condemnation as many would say He is. Romans 10:9-10, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart of a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth confesses, resulting in salvation.” You can claim God all you want, but until you believe His Son is the Way, the Truth, and the Light then you won’t be saved, for even the demons believe and shudder (James 2:19).
Look again at John 1:12-13. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” When we have faith, believe, and confess, then we are given the right to be called children of God.
But if it’s a right, then it is simply a right, right? Wrong.
Examine for yourself what a right is. It is not automatic. There are qualifications that come with the right-either you are born into the right, or you have somehow earned the right. Citizenship for example. You are born into the citizenship, or you prove through processes and tests that you have earned the citizenship. John 3 is the account of Nicodemus coming to Jesus in the night. In verse 3, Jesus says this, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” One more verse, Philippians 3:20, “For our citizenship is in Heaven…” So you see, upon salvation we are born as a citizen into Heaven, therefore earning the right to be called Child of God. Daughter of The Most High.
[As a citizen of Heaven then, we are ambassadors unto this world. Therefore, it is our responsibility to represent Christ appropriately. To quote Pastor Mike, “Do you see people or a problem?”]
I have been so moved by this extraordinary, indescribable love that He has shown, not only to me, but the entire world. He has loved the world so much that He has given us the choice. But on top of that choice, He gives us every opportunity to chose correctly. When Jesus was entering Jerusalem on the back of the donkey, and the crowds were praising Him, the Pharisees tried to tell Him to make them be quiet. But how did He respond? “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” (Luke 19:40). Can you imagine that? If no one on Earth was praising Him, the very nature He created would be shouting His praise. Romans 1:20, in fact supports this. “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” Nature itself holds, represents, and points to the power of God, so that no one is without excuse when they meet Jesus face to face. What love! I am astonished and marveled at this love. I pray that I could one day love an inkling of this kind of love.
What a beautiful picture of God’s pursuit of us, love toward us, redemption and salvation offered to us.
If God pursues and loves us so, then why are we not all taken to Heaven? Why do people go to Hell?
In short, God is just, and He must judge justly. If you appear before Him with the promised Holy Spirit, and Jesus’ blood running through your veins you are saved. If you present before Him with anything less, you are condemned. However, that being said, God did not intend for us to be sentenced to an eternity of damnation. He created us to commune with Him. 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 “For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him.” It’s important for us to know that God didn’t create this world to condemn it, but to save it, to love it, to love us. God doesn’t force this decision on us. He waits so patiently for us to turn to Him.
Although God does not force us to make a decision to love Him, we will eventually face Him with the choice we have made on Earth. Just as I said before, if we choose to love Him and follow after Him this side of eternity we choose Heaven. If we don’t make that choice, we have then abdicated. We have given up our right to be co-heirs with Christ. We have given up our right to live in God’s presence forever, and we are to live eternity in the complete absence of God. When we choose God, what happens after that?
John 14:15-17, 26-27. From the very lips of the One who went to the cross for you, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you…But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be trouble, nor let it be fearful.”
What else does Holy Spirit do for us upon faith, belief and confessions? John 16:13, He will speak to you and through you, He will guide you in the truth. 2 Corinthians 3:6b, Spirit brings life; verse 17 brings freedom; verse 18 He transforms. Keep your finger here, we’ll revisit this passage in a moment. We are also sealed with Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13).
Unfortunately, with salvation we are not given perfection or untroubled lives. How often do we hear this said, but then grumble against our circumstances? John 16:33, we have trouble but we also have hope in Christ who has already overcome this world. 2 Corinthians 1:3-6, 9 answers that question we often ask in the midst of troubles: why? We are afflicted for the salvation of others, and we are afflicted so that we may trust in God rather than trusting in ourselves.
What are some other benefits of salvation? Of course eternal life as we’ve already mentioned (John 6:35-40). We walk in light, not darkness (John 8:12). If you’ve ever struggled with depression than this is a great reassurance. Here’s one for everyone: we are set free from the bondage of sin and death (John 8:31-34). This reminds me greatly of some of Jesus’ most spoken words, “Your faith has made you well.” The last benefit, so to speak, that I’d like to talk about, but certainly not the last mentioned in the Bible, is the idea of God’s glory being unveiled within us. Turn (or click) to Exodus 34:29-35. Here is the account of Moses, who after spending time with God, had a glowing face. This frightened the people, so he made it a habit to put on a veil after spending time with God. Now turn to 2 Corinthians 3:6b-18. Here we see several things, but what I would like to point out is that through the work of the Spirit and His righteousness the veil covering our heart is removed, we are given freedom and life, and we are being transformed. This is the mark that we wear when it’s said that someone should be able to simply look at you and know you’re different.
How are these marks portrayed in our lives though, how does it look? Look at Galatians 5:16-26, paying attention to verses 22 and 23.
Can we agree then, that salvation is the biggest decision you will EVER make in your life? Here’s how I imagine it: upon salvation God fits you with your helmet, signaling to all those who see, you are His child. Not only are we fitted with tailor made armor, we are also a new creation; the old you is gone, replaced with new you. Ezekiel 11:19, 36:26 both talk about God taking out our heart of stone and replacing it with a heart of flesh. If we are also a new creation, then I would think that before salvation we are fully made of stone. Upon salvation we are a new creation, made of flesh, which is why we are immediately fitted with God’s armor. Am I inferring too much, maybe…but if the armor fits, wear it…
If you think about the heavenly realm being this kind of “parallel universe.” I imagine that there are things of this realm which are present, but we can’t see in our physical world. As believers walking around in this realm we are marked by our armor in the spiritual world. And the helmet is the key piece to being clothed in all the other pieces. Because without salvation, we can not have a breastplate of righteousness, or the shield of faith, or any other piece of God’s armor. Now I would venture to say that there are varying degrees of what our helmets and armor look like: some are shiny and well taken care of but weak (someone who plays the plastic Jesus game), some are beaten and worn but strong (those who are walking the walk and talking the talk), some are rusting and essentially useless (those who have walked away, or are apathetic in their faith).
How our armor looks is a picture of what we are doing with our salvation and call to holiness. [2 Timothy 1:9 “[He] has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity…”]
So, then, this begs the question: what does your armor look like?
Remember what the beginning of this passage in Ephesians says? Our armor is for the purpose of this heavenly realm. To stand against the schemes of the devil (Ephesians 6:11), and that our fight is against the dark and evil powers and rulers and authorities of this heavenly realm (Ephesians 6:12). So if this picture I’ve painted of a “parallel universe” is accurate, then our enemy can see the state of our armor.