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Thessalonians 5 v 8b putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

Please read Ephesians 6

From verses 6 – 8a last week we thought about

The Practical Character of the Children of the Light – they are READY and STEADY.

1. To be Ready and Steady

is to be – watchful and sober. But there were two other thoughts –

2. Danger of Belonging to the Night.

3. Necessity of Belonging to the Day.

Christians who are Children of the Light have many provisions from the Lord God. He is so gracious and kind that we are provided for in every way. As we come to the end of this marvellous section on the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ Paul tells us in verse 8b to 10 about three things that are ours as believers.

1. Our Armour.

putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.

2. Our Appointment.

9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

3. Our Assurance.

10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

Paul urged the members of the church in Thessalonica to prepare for the coming of the Day of the Lord, not by trying to fix the date, but by putting themselves on the alert. So it is natural that first of all he uses a military metaphor.

1. Our Armour.

8b putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.

We are in a spiritual battle every day and as Christians we have been enrolled as soldiers. 2 years ago almost to the Lord’s Day, in 2002, we were studying the passage that was read earlier from Ephesians 6 about the WHOLE armour of God. ‘Put on the whole armour of God’ were those memorable words!

As an ex-serviceman I remember the value of training and discipline, even though it seemed tedious at the time. Soldiers, sailors and airmen need training to keep their battle skills sharply in focus.

Imagine that there was a full time army of soldiers and support staff who trained once a week; but for the other six days were involved in the battle – fighting. But at the end of the first day’s fighting they are so tired that they don’t bother cleaning up or washing, neither do they clean their armour nor their weapons – but they merely carried on fighting the next day – and the next and the next. By the end of a week those soldiers were in a poor state and will be little or no use to their Commander.

There is a spiritual parallel here. If a believer is not careful and watchful, then he or she can live the Christian life like these soldiers. Some attend for our battle training each week on the Lord’s Day and occasionally, if we can make it, we turn up at the midweek meeting for a little more training. But with regard to the rest of the week some Christians’ lives go to rack and ruin. There is no washing in the water of the Word; no deliberate putting on of the armour. The lessons of the battle training are almost forgotten and the result is that when the Commander calls the believer to serve Him, to act for Him, he is totally unprepared and can even be a discredit to Him. What then is the answer?

Paul tells us here with the word PUTTING – putting on the breastplate and helmet in particular. The Greek word ENDUO can also be rendered ‘to clothe oneself with’ – the clothing is supplied – it is spiritual armour. Put your armour on and keep it on. It is a familiar theme for Paul. In 2 Timothy 2 v 4 Paul advises Timothy to get his priorities right –

4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

Keep your mind on the battle in hand – don’t be diverted by too many material or trivial things.

And in Romans 13 we find this –

12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.

Putting the armour on is putting Christ on in a spiritual sense. Each believer is engaged in conflict and is on the offensive. This is the thrust of the passage in Ephesians 6 where not only armour is described but the weapon, the sword is mentioned too.

But in this letter Paul is emphasising Defence rather than attack. These two principle pieces of armour are important when a soldier is acting as a guard – in a DEFENSIVE rather than offensive role. This fits with the teaching that we have had over the past few weeks about WATCHFULNESS. Sentries on guard and armed are in Paul’s mind. A guardsman in a Bearskin outside Buckingham Palace does not come across to the onlooker as an aggressive warmongering soldier – he is there to be watchful – to be alert – to bar the way to intruders who have no business being there.

So it is with the protection of the redeemed soul of the child of light. The exercise of calm and steadfast faith in and love for the Lord Jesus Christ becomes an aggressive testimony against the poisonous arrows of temptation. For this the soldier needs to be watchful and sober – ready and steady.

Let us dwell for a moment or two on these two items of the armour.

1. The Breastplate of faith and Love.

Breastplate is the Greek word Thorax. A breastplate is designed to protect the soldier’s body between his neck and waist. Breastplate occurs 4 times in the New Testament – twice it is used literally – an actual physical breastplate – both in Revelation 9 verses 9 and 17 –

9 And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.

17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.

The other two occasions are figurative. Besides here breastplate is of course in Ephesians 6 v 14

Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

The Breastplate is to protect the soldier’s HEART!

It is a breastplate of faith because is a matter of the heart. It is a breastplate of love because love too is a matter of the heart.

Faith is the proper attitude of the believer towards the Lord Jesus Christ.

Love is the proper attitude of the believer towards other Christians. This is born out by Paul’s words to the Colossians at the beginning of that letter

1 v 4 Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,

Faith then is the cause – and love the effect.

My friend if you fail to wear this breastplate then your heart is vulnerable and in danger. You can be tempted to believe in other gods who are no gods really – for there is only one God. But there are impostors who pose a threat. Satan sets up his own objects of desire and worship and calls you to trust in them – if you are not wearing the breastplate. He can gain access to your heart if you leave off the breastplate.

Similarly if that heart is not inflamed with love for Christ and for your fellow Christians it could be that your love has been stolen by another. He came and captured your affections – all because you were not wearing the breastplate of faith and love. Faith and love cause us to be watchful and sober and will hinder potential apostasy when trouble and temptation comes. Is your faith wavering? Is your love cold? Ask yourself, “Am I wearing the breastplate? Is my heart protected?” And take immediate steps to fasten on the breastplate of faith and love to protect your heart!

Secondly there is

2. The Helmet of the hope of salvation.

Helmet is PERIKEPHALIA – a protection for the head. Once more it is figurative as it is used in Ephesians 6 v 17

And take the helmet of salvation.

The helmet is to protect the soldier’s HEAD and the brain
and mind and thinking department contained therein. Paul says that something called the HOPE OF SALVATION will go towards protecting our heads. What does he mean?

The hope of salvation, or rather the certain knowledge of salvation, of being saved by grace, acts as a helmet when it protects the mind against doubt and despair. Doubt and despair can easily gain access to the minds of Christian soldiers without their helmets. Satan is looking for soldiers without helmets – those who can hear his words of suggestions. He loves to whisper that you cannot possibly be a real Christian since you are often sinning against God and failing to do what you should. He will tell you that “there is no hope of you ever being in heaven – no possibility of you ever being caught up with Him to meet the Lord in the air when He comes – all because you are so weak and sinful! What does God want someone like you in heaven for?”

My friends these are the thoughts that come to Christians when they are not wearing the helmet of the hope of salvation. When I was in the Air Force a cap or beret was to be worn at all times when out of doors. To be without was to be improperly dressed!

Are there any Christian soldiers improperly dressed here today – in a figurative sense? Are you wearing the helmet of the hope of salvation? Are you sure about the Lord living in your soul? Are you convinced that you are a soldier in Christ’s army? We are surrounded by so many influences in the world that would suggest how old fashioned and out of date religion is. Young people call it “un cool” to be religious. Older ones are far to busy to be a Christian. And these influences will threaten your godly mind if it is not protected by the helmet!

Wear your helmet all the time – put it on every day. Trust the word of the Lord Jesus Christ who has promised such wonderful things –

John 10 v 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

This is our armour – and we are to be putting it on and keeping it on.

Next Paul shows us why

2. Our Appointment.

9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

This week I went to the dentist. I went at 9am on Tuesday morning. 8.30 would have been too early 9.15 would have been too late. I had an appointment! It was fixed and it was mine. No one else could see or be treated at 9am by my dentist but me – I had an appointment with him.

Many Christians are apprehensive about the dentist! But even more are apprehensive about the Lord’s second coming – His glorious return in the clouds of heaven! They hope that all will be well with them when He comes – but they are nevertheless troubled with niggling fears about their souls’ safety on that day. There are several reasons for this – inadequate teaching in the past; natural timidity and some other reasons too. Whatever the cause Christians should not be plagued by a lack of assurance when they think of the Lord’s second coming. Paul is concerned about this and seems to have picked up from Timothy the worry that some of the Thessalonians felt about it. Paul, the pastor, wanted these believers to enjoy a steady assurance of approaching salvation as they waited for the Lord to appear. There are strong grounds for confidence that the day of the Lord will be for them – AND FOR US who believe – a day of triumph rather than a day a terror.

Our appointment my friends is with salvation. God has appointed us to salvation – he has not appointed us to wrath! And Paul carefully connects the armour with this next verse like this. The armour protects us, both hearts and heads, from fear and dread of wrath and judgement.

We who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are called by God to be delivered from the wrath of God – and that deliverance is through the Lord Jesus Christ. We are not destined to experience God’s wrath.

We need to understand this morning that our salvation proceeds from God’s appointment. Paul teaches this throughout His letters. Notice

Chapter 2 v 12 That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

And

4 v 7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.

It is a DIVINE CALL.

Paul also has taught before that the Lord Jesus Christ delivers His people from the wrath of God –

Chapter 1 v 10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

This is the fundamental difference between Christianity and all other religions.

In the last analysis other religions present people with something that they must DO if they want to be saved. Christianity ALONE tells us that all that is necessary has been done!

Our sins have been taken away through the blood of the cross of Jesus Christ – there is nothing more to pay! God has appointed us to receive a pardon. He has appointed us to receive forgiveness. It is a matter of Divine appointment that we have been called into this state of believing. We have not decided to follow Jesus – HE has decided that we should follow Him! Of course there is an exercise of the will when we trust Jesus Christ. But we do not trust Him with the same will that we had before he called us. We are so lost and depraved and dead in our sins that we have to be woken up, quickened first in order to have any power to call for His mercy and grace and forgiveness. Even our acts and exercises of repentance are gifts from the Lord God!

Our salvation rests on a Divine initiative. It is an appointment to salvation.

And it is not an appointment to wrath.

The modern world hates this term the “wrath of God.” The world wants a soft cuddly God who will give of His providence and bounty when people ask, but who will never be angry with them when they break His laws. God’s wrath is this – it is an implacable hostility to everything that is evil. God cannot overlook sin and wickedness. All sin is an abomination to Him.

1. For those who are not God’s people, the day of the Lord, the day of Judgement, will be a day of fierce wrath.

God’s wrath is not the same as our human intense anger that is often unbridled, uncontrolled and passionate.

Rather His anger is His response of His infinitely holy love to sin. God cannot look upon sin and be anything but passionately opposed to it. His word says so –

Habakkuk 1 v 13 Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity:

And

1 John 1 v 5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

His wrath towards unrepentant sinners is His just response to their sinfulness. My friends it is an awesome thought that the Day of the Lord will mark the end of God’s patience towards those who refuse to repent. Those who have despised His merciful provision of pardon through the Lord Jesus Christ and through Him alone will feel His just anger poured out on them.

Oh my dear friend sitting here this morning – you who are a stranger to God – an unbeliever. Can you hear these things? Do you not tremble when you think of the wrath of Almighty God coming upon your soul?

This text in 1 Thessalonians 5 says that one section of the human race IS APPOINTED TO WRATH and another section who is NOT appointed to wrath – God’s wrath!

Have you ever felt the wrath of a parent or a teacher because you have deserved it? Was your resistance to that person silenced by their anger and the justice of their cause? Did you not feel defenceless under their punishment? My friends all of us can recall such situations so much so that we probably shudder at the memory.

Yet I have to tell you that they do not and cannot compare with the experience of meeting the Lord God in the fury of His wrath on the day of Judgement! My friend I fear for you if you are not a Christian when that day comes! It is my duty to warn you that it is a day of awful dread to every unbeliever. If you die in your sins meaning that they have not been forgiven – or if you are still alive when Christ returns and you have not trusted Him – then you have an appointment with wrath. What a terrible thought!

2. Even though this sounds like bad news – and it is – yet there is good news too. For those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ the day of the Lord will be a joyful day! It will be the day when they receive the salvation that God has appointed for them. Here Paul is thinking of salvation in its fullest and final sense. We of course experience salvation and its blessings NOW through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ – but it is also true that our salvation is still something to come. It is that salvation that Paul says we will receive when Jesus returns.

If we merely think of salvation only in the sense of our enjoyment of spiritual blessing and God’s pardon for sin in the here and now then we fall short of the Biblical Picture in its full aspect. There is a restored universe to come – there is a perfect Kingdom to be realised when this old earth with all of its imperfection is dealt with. That will be when our redemption draws near and we experience the full weight of salvation.

Luke 21:28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

What a verse this is!

9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

Salvation is ours – not wrath – if we believe.
Salvation is ours – not wrath – when Jesus Christ is our Saviour.
Salvation is ours – not wrath – when God has appointed us to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.

What does it mean to obtain salvation?

Very simply it is this –

Our Salvation is planned, provided and placed in our soul by the Lord God. In eternity past He planned it; in His Son the Lord Jesus Christ and His sacrifice at Calvary He provided it; and by His Holy Spirit He placed it in our souls. This is God’s SOVEREIGNTY.

On the other hand we have the duty of “obtaining” it.

This is our RESPONSIBILITY. The two must always be held together as 2 sides of the same coin.

This is soldier like activity – alert, wakeful winning of salvation – which the Lord God desires us to win. This is being called to His own Kingdom and glory – the obtaining of our salvation. This is what we have been appointed to.

We are coming to a conclusion this morning and we haven’t touched on the 3rd of the “A’s”. Briefly then

3. Our Assurance.

10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

The Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins – on our behalf and for our benefit. Death is the penalty for sin and Jesus died that we might live. His death and our life are connected inseparably. Our life is due entirely to His death. My friends what a marvel! He died our death so that we may live His life! When He comes again for the Christian it will not matter whether we are alive or have died beforehand. We are going to live together with Him!

This is yet another wonderful text of promise for believers –

10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

The simplest elements of assurance are here in this verse – as John Calvin said – “There is only one way to have the assurance of salvation: that is to realise that we are condemned, and to be satisfied that the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ alone can wash and cleanse us. It is almost as if the Word of God must be written in red letters in the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

There is so much more that could be said about assurance – but our time is gone and will have to wait for next time – except perhaps to ask a question.

Are you sure of Jesus Christ as your Saviour?

Are you sure in your heart that it has been cleansed by the washing of His blood and the washing of the Word?

Are you sure in your mind that the life that you have committed to God in Christ will eventually be spent with Him forever after He comes again?

Are you sure that he is coming for you?

Positive answers to these questions will flow from the lips of true believers, real Christians who have been saved by God’s grace; who have repented of all their sins; who know personally the God of the Bible and who are resting in the wonderful knowledge that all of their sins are forgiven.

O may it be true of everyone here this morning – that each is wearing the spiritual armour, that each has been appointed to receive salvation and that each of us are sure of it.

If these things are not true of you my friend – then go to the Lord God in prayer and ask His mercy – ask Him to turn away His wrath – ask Him to save you.

Jesus said in John 6 v 37

All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.



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