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Spiritual Doubt vs. Faith and Salvation

Sermon Series:


Ryan Kimmel
Ryan Kimmel

Lead Pastor

Peace Church

Main Passage:
Ephesians 6:16-17a


Today is the day that the Lord has made. So let us rejoice and be glad in it. And everyone said, wherever you are, whether you're in here, worship center, chapel, venue, online, everyone said Amen, Amen, and Amen.

So my wife and I built our house about eight years ago and not long after we moved in, we decided to buy a generator. Now, we live in West Michigan and whether it's a thunderstorm or snowstorm, the power goes out every now and again. And so we thought, hey, we got a new house, let's just make sure we always get to enjoy it. So we bought a generator and I put it in the garage. And there it sat. And about a year later, we had a, we had a pretty bad storm and the power And my wife looks at me and she said, hey, at least we got a generator now. And I said, yeah, about that. I never actually wired up the house for a generator. And she's like, well, what do we have it for? And I was like, don't worry, babe. The power never goes out for more than a couple hours around here. It's gonna be fine. And no sooner did I say that, did the power come back on? Thank you, Lord. And my wife looks at me and she's like, well, there was God's warning for you. Now you can get the house wired up. And I said, right you are, my helpmate. I will get right on that.

Well, about a year A very beautiful, but beautifully powerful, spring thunderstorm hit. And I knew this was a bad one. And the power goes out. And my wife says, Hey, at least we have a generator that we can use now, right? You know, I never, a year goes so fast, honey. Like this one really, no, it's not ready to go. And she gave me that look, like, we'll make it work, right? Like make it work. So I called my brother-in-law, Matt, who's an electrician. And I was like, Hey man, do you mind coming after work and help me get this thing wired up? And he's like, sure. Yeah, just, you know, go to Menards and make sure you have this, that, and the other thing. So I did. And he comes over and we hook it up and we walk inside and the lights are on and my family's like, yay! All the kids are very excited because the power's back on now. And I'm sitting there in this moment and I'm like thinking to myself, there's, Lord, there's got to be a lesson in this for me somewhere.

And here it is. Here's the lesson. When it comes to faith, it's amazing what God has given us, what's at our disposal, the power God has given us, what's available to us that we never use. That we know he's given it to us, but it sits in our spiritual garage, and we never use it until something bad happens, and then we don't know how to use it. And yes, there are many things I'm talking about here. I could be talking about the truth of God's word, what God has revealed in scripture. Far too many Christians spend far too not enough time in the Bible. And so we're not equipped with the knowledge of God's Word to face the day. I could say just simple, simply the gospel. God's given us the gospel, the power of the gospel, the good news that Jesus Christ died on the cross in our place for our sins so that our sins could be wiped clean. And then on the third day, he rose again from the dead, thus securing our eternal salvation. If that wasn't enough, God has also given us the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Trinity to come and fill and fuel us as Christians and as the church. Jesus said he came to be our comforter, that he was going to clothe us in power.

As if that wasn't enough, you know what God has also given us? Exactly what we are looking at in this sermon series, spiritual armor. Because God reminds us that our battle is spiritual and he's given us all this power and in addition to that He's given us an armor to fight the battles with And yet far too many of us we keep it in our spiritual garage Not clothed not ready for the battle and God reminds us that there is always a battle raging No, not a battle with our neighbor. No, not a battle with our fellow man. It's worse than that. It's with the spiritual forces of evil and the heavenly realms that are constantly attacking us. But we don't fight alone. God is with us and not only are we without weapons, God most certainly has weaponized us with the spiritual armor of God. This is all detailed in Ephesians chapter six.

So go ahead and start turning there now. If you are just joining us, we are in a sermon series called withstand as we are called to stand in the midst of such evil days that are about us and God has given us exactly what we are to stand with the armor of God. See in this letter the apostle Paul writes to this church in Ephesus and for a big part of the letter he's just talking about Christian doctrine. What are Christians supposed to believe and then he talks about the Christian ethic how Christians are supposed to live. And so he's talking about this Christian life that we are supposed to live out, and then he ends this awesome letter by reminding us of the spiritual battle that is raging all around us. And not just that, but how we are equipped with armor to fight these battles. Now, this spiritual armor is composed of essential aspects of our faith, and that's what we'll be looking at in this sermon series. And today, we'll be looking at the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation. So we're going to be looking at Ephesians chapter 6, we'll look at verse 16 and just the first part of 17. And so with that, would you hear God's word? God's word says this

Ephesians 6:16-17a

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,

This is God's Word. Let's pray, and we'll continue. Let's pray. Father, through the gospel of your Son, we have salvation in Jesus' name. Would you help us to know this at all times, ever be reminded of this, that this gospel truth will be our shield, that the salvation we have would be our helmet as we are defended from the ways the enemy wants to instill doubt and discouragement in our lives and in our hearts. Lord, would you help us by filling us with your presence and your knowledge. And Holy Spirit, we ask that you would continue to lead and guide us during this time. We pray these things in the name of our Lord and Savior, in the name of Jesus Christ. And everyone said, Amen and Amen.

And there's so many things we could say about this passage. So many sermons have been preached and until Jesus returns, so many sermons will be preached. But as we look at this today, here's what I'd have you take away. Here's your takeaway for today.

Don't wait for the devil to attack to get dressed in God's armor.

Don't wait for a storm to get your generator ready and don't wait for the devil to attack to get dressed in the armor of God. And as we look at this section, just two points here today. I didn't have a lot of time to prepare. So you only get two points here today. Two points as we look at this section. Number one, be dressed in God's armor because, number one, faith isn't for passivity, passivity is for activity. And secondly, be dressed in God's armor because salvation isn't for insurance, it's for assurance.

  1. Be dressed in God's armor because, faith isn't for passivity, it's for activity.

  2. Be dressed in God's armor because salvation isn't for insurance, it's for assurance.

1. Be dressed in God's armor because, faith isn't for passivity, it's for activity.

So let's jump right in. Faith isn't for passivity, it's for activity. So if your Bible's open, go back to verse 16, simply starts out by saying this, in all circumstances, take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one. Okay, the observation here is actually quite obvious. Paul starts with this phrase, in all circumstances, but I'm going to let you in on something. I'm going to let you in on a little translation secret here. I'm going to let you see behind the curtain here for a second. In this phrase here, the word circumstances, it's actually not in the original text. It's not in what Paul originally wrote. So what did Paul originally write? Well, he simply says in Greek, en pasen. En, which basically is a preposition that means in, on, or among. And pasen comes from the root word pas, which means, it's a very common word, means all or every so and pass in very simply says in all now we need to supply a word in English here to make the intended meaning clear that was clear in the original language you make it as clear in English and so what you'll find is different translations of the Bible will translate that phrase differently we use the ESV here the English Standard Version which simply says in all circumstances. The old King James says above all. The NIV says in addition to all this. A more recent translation called the CSB trustworthy, that's for the Christian standard Bible, that says in every situation.

But with en passin, again in all, I know that you get what Paul means here. He's basically saying all the time, in everything, in all things, Paul is saying always wear the armor, always remember you're in a battle, never drop your guard, the spiritual never sleeps and so we need to be guarded all the time. The devil will not stop, he doesn't sleep, he will always be attacking you and therefore in all circumstances take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one so spiritually speaking what are these spiritual darts or these fiery arrows well there are many things but they could be things like discouragement discouraging you making you doubt big one spiritual doubt that God is good or that he's got a good plan for you or maybe something like this a constant reminding you of old sins that God has already forgiven and which God has already forgotten the devil is constantly putting those old sins in front of your face or maybe the devil's age-old tactic of symptom simply making you question God's Word making you question if God's Word is good or sufficient. Maybe it's heavy, heavy things like demonic oppression. Whatever these fiery darts are for you, what I can tell you is that He will not stop, which is why we need to at all times, in all circumstances, take up the shield of faith and fight. Why? Because faith is not a passive thing, it's an active thing. We are called to fight.

In our next life we get to rest, but here and now we stand and fight as we withstand the evil day.

One of the things I love to do, especially when I'm starting to get to know someone, is I love to ask them what their favorite Bible verse is. Now if you've ever gotten a note from me, you'll probably see that I sign most of my cards with Philippians 3.14, which says this, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. I love that phrase, I press on. I know I'm a pastor, but faith's not like a natural, easy thing for me. I struggle through it. I need to press on. I press through when things are hard. I love this call just to press on. That verse has always spoken to me. It's my favorite verse. My second favorite verse, probably my second favorite verse is 1 Timothy chapter 6, verse 12. See, in that letter, the apostle Paul wrote that letter to a man named Timothy, a younger pastor that he was mentoring and coaching in life and ministry. And he says something to Timothy that I just love. And I'm willing to bet if you've been around church long enough, you've heard this, you've heard this verse. It comes from first Timothy chapter six, verse 12. Paul writes this and he says, fight the good fight of the faith and take hold of the eternal life to which you were called.

I read that again. Think about the passage that we're looking at today and then think about what Paul says here. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called to what when you read your Bible is have your eyes open. Keep your eyes open when you read the Bible. Do you notice how Paul here ties together faith in our salvation? He calls it eternal life here, but it's the same thing, just like he does in the past is that we're looking at the shield of faith in the helmet of salvation. Paul ties these together when he says, fight the good fight of the faith. Faith is how we fight in this world. And it's a good fight. Take hold of the eternal life. Take hold of your salvation to which you were called. Whether writing to Timothy or to a church, Paul's reminding Christians that faith... Turn around, there's more than a few people in here who only need to hear this very next statement. Faith is not to be a secondary thing in our hearts. Faith is not some minor aspect of our lives. It's not some dull, forgotten part of our existence.

Faith is to be the driving force in our life.

And Paul knew this, and he knew faith was a struggle. He knew the Christian life was hard, which is why he says, fight the good fight of the faith. Which is why in our passage, he's talking about our faith in the context of battle, that we are to wear armor. The devil is always trying to get at us and tempt us. Faith isn't easy, but it's amazing. But there's another reason I love this verse. He says, fight the good fight of faith, which I'm sure you've heard, comes from Paul's first letter to Timothy. But the last letter that we have from Paul, the very last written word that we have from Paul before Paul was executed, was actually his second letter to Timothy. And what's sobering about this letter is that he wrote it right before his impending execution. He knew he was about to be killed and martyred for his faith. Paul knew his death was coming, and he's sort of signing off with this letter that he writes to his young protege. And he says this in 2nd Timothy chapter 4 verse 7. He says this, mind you this is a man who knows he's about to die, says

2 Timothy 4:7

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

He knew that faith is how we fight, and faith is a good fight. But far too many Christians are missing out. They're not engaged because faith is a passive thing in their life, not an active thing. It's like that song, Need a Favor, by Jelly Roll. I only talk to God when I need a favor, and I only pray when I ain't got a prayer. We think faith is only a thing we need when we need something, when things get hard. But church, Paul put that notion to rest 2,000 years ago.

At all times, in all things, take up the shield of faith. Why? Because the devil does not stop. Faith is that thing that we hold out in front. It's that thing that covers the rest of the armor. It's that thing that is held out front. When the enemy advances, the first thing they see is that shield. And you best believe there's a bloodstained cross on the front of that shield as you advance against the forces of evil and as they seek to attack you. When the world looks at you, what do they see? They should see a soldier for God holding the shield of faith because faith is what covers us all. Too many Christians are missing out, not engaged because faith's a passive thing for them. Oh sure, it may be noted on our social media profile, but it's nowhere to be found actually in our social media. Too many Christians have a faith that's a backseat part of their lives. And you know what's going to happen? These Christians will get to the end of their days and they will look back with remorse and regret because they realize they did not put first things first. because faith wasn't out front and faith wasn't a driving force.

It reminds me of when I was a youth pastor. I was a youth pastor for 10 years. I gave a decade of my life to the throws into the trenches of youth ministry. And there's something that we did that I did as a youth pastor that I heard time and time and time again. See what I did every single year is at the end of the school year we would have the high school seniors get up in front, sit on stools in front of the rest of the youth group, in front of their underclassmen. And we would have them share their parting words of wisdom as they process the last four years. Now listen, this was always, I always felt like this was a really powerful time. Because what you have is you have a group of teenagers in a real sense of sobriety because they were looking at the real closure of an important time of their life and the start of a new season of their life. You better believe they were really looking at what that meant to them spiritually, what that meant to them as people, what they meant as far as like them following God and where he was going to take them. And so he'd have these seniors get up in front, they'd sit on stools, they'd pass the mic back and forth, and they would share their words of wisdom with the underclassmen.

And I'll tell you this, for 10 years I heard the same thing over and over and over. For 10 years, they essentially said this. I heard this every single time. They would say something like this. They would say, don't make our mistake. Don't let faith take a back seat because of everything else high school has to offer. They would say things like, don't miss out on youth group, go on all the trips, go on all the retreats. This is your chance to do these things and you'll never have this chance again. This moment of your life is a small window and it's closing, so soak it all up. Go to every single youth group, even when you don't feel like it. Don't let a boyfriend distract you. Go! Pursue God. They would say this with emotion and tears in their eyes, because they knew the season of life was about to end and they'll never get it back. And they stand up here on stools pouring out their heart with immense remorse and regret, begging, pleading these underclassmen not to make their same mistake for 10 years. The same message. Because these underclassmen never listened. And so what happens? Their senior year, they get up, they sit on the stools, and they say the exact same thing. And I'll be honest with you, like I love youth group. I love teenagers and love ministering to them, but every single year I hear that, I'll be honest with you, had a little judgment in my heart because I got sick of hearing it. And then it was my very last year of leading youth group, I knew it was my last year, and that very last senior class that I got to minister to, they got up and they said the same thing that I had heard for the last 10 years.

But I was dealing with a level of sobriety now because my life was about to make a transition. And so I heard with renewed ears and I'm not saying God spoke audibly to me, but there was a message that I think God brought to me from him that was loud and clear. And it was like, basically the message was this. You've heard this message over and over. Have you been listening? Because see, that little high school time is a microcosm of your entire life. Like when you get to the end of your time and you're sharing your parting words of wisdom with the next generation or your family or your grandkids, or if you're lucky, your great-grandkids. Will you share a message filled with regret and remorse of all the things that you wish you would have done? Will you stand there with sadness because faith wasn't the driving force of your life and you realize you didn't put first things first? Or will you change something? And will you stand and say, I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. Now you do the same. Because that's essentially what you're going to say to the next generation. You'll either say, follow my example or learn from my mistakes. Which message do you want to share? I think what the high schoolers gave us every single year, gave me, was a glimpse at the end of our life.

Don't get to the end of your life and look back and see that faith took a back seat because you followed the flimsy ways of the world when life could have been so much fuller if faith was at the forefront. Don't get to the end of your life and look back and realize that the enemy had just encompassed your life with fiery darts when he gave you a shield to defend yourself.

Because listen to me, an enemy only stops attacking once they've won. So if you're not being attacked, it's because you've already lost. But if you feel attacked, it's because you're still in the fight. So stand and fight. Take up the shield of faith. Hold it out in front, because that is how you extinguish the darts of the enemy. The thing about a shield is it's the thing that protects all the rest of the armor. This is why faith is that thing that's out in front. My friends, faith is not a passive thing. It is to be an active thing in our life, the most active thing. So be dressed with the shield of faith.

2. Be dressed in God's armor because salvation isn't for insurance, it's for assurance

And secondly, be dressed in God's armor because salvation isn't for insurance. It's for assurance. Go to verse 17. It says this and take the helmet of salvation. Now, I have no way to quantify this, but in my gut, I can just tell you the number one question as a pastor that I've gotten from Christians over my time, do you know what it is? I wonder if you could guess it. It's this. Here's the number one question I think I've gotten over my time. How do I know that I'm saved? I've gotten that question more times than I could possibly count, and I've tried to answer that over my time and over my time and I think now that I had a few miles on me I've come to realize something about that question.

That's not a theological question because a theological answer rarely satisfies the person who's asking. I've come to realize that's actually a practical question because I've come to realize what people are actually asking is they want to know if they are living the right way in order to receive heaven. Because here's the reality, in even the most ardent Christians, legalism still looms in our hearts. Legalism, in case you didn't know, legalism is thinking that you can earn your way into heaven by obeying God's law. Legal, legalism. So often the question of how do I know I am saved is really a question of am I living good enough to get into heaven? Am I doing the right thing? Now that's a question of insurance. People are really asking, like, I want to make sure that I am insured with the best policy, so what do I need to do or how much do I need to pay in order to ensure that I get to heaven when I die? But salvation is not about insurance. Salvation is about assurance. My friends, Jesus Christ did not die on a cross in your place for your sins and rise again on the third day for you to sit and wonder if you're going to heaven or not.

If your entry into heaven, I'll just say it like this, if your entry into heaven is based on your good life, pack your bags for hell. If you think you can earn your way into heaven by how good of a life you live, I hope you like a warm climate. Your good works will never, could never, will never earn you a seat in heaven. There is no way your good works will ever outweigh the sin that's in your hearts. We are saved simply and only by the grace of God through faith in what Jesus has done for us on our behalf. That is how we get into heaven. If your entry into heaven is based on your good life, plan on hell. But if your entry into heaven is based on Jesus' good life, then there is no greater guarantee in all of history. we sing the song, not just assurance, but blessed assurance. The Christian faith is the only religion to make this promise, that your salvation is not based on your good works, but on the good works of God.

How do you know you are saved? Because you recognize that you're not saved by anything other than the gospel, the goodness that Jesus died in your place, taking your sins to wash you clean. And thereby, we have salvation through grace. That's why we call it grace. It's something we do not deserve and this is attained through faith when we place our faith in Jesus. So don't let the devil make you question what God has made secure.

And I love how Paul ties this piece of our faith to this piece of armor, salvation and the helmet. It's like he's saying, get it in your heads, people. Jesus saves us, we don't save ourselves. In fact, we don't even add to it. Listen, that's like what a helmet does. You don't really work with a helmet, per se. You just kind of put it on, close your eyes, and let it do its job. That's how a helmet works. I love the fact that, I don't know if you know this, but Paul ties salvation and a helmet together in another passage of Scripture. But this time, he adds a little nuance to it. In 1 Thessalonians 5, 8, Paul says this, he says, And for a helmet, the hope of salvation. Now, unfortunately here, we have a little translation language barrier that we've got to address. In English, the word hope comes with a level of uncertainty. To say that I hope something will happen, in English, that means we are unsure if this will happen, but we desire it to be so. That's not how the ancients used the word hope. That's not certainly how Paul uses it here. For Paul's original audience, hope was not something they were unsure of. Hope was something they were certain of, something that just had yet to happen. And so the helmet, as the hope of our salvation, was to say, salvation is that thing that we can be sure of that hasn't come to its fulfillment yet. And I will tell you, of all the pieces of armor that you wear, you can't forget it when you're wearing a helmet. It's always on. You're always conscious of it. And so when the devil tries to slap you upside the head, make sure you are wearing the helmet of salvation.

That reminds you of who you are in Christ and where you're going when you die. You think the devil can do anything about that? See, this is what the devil does. He tries to sneak in with spiritual doubt. Too many Christians doubt throughout their entire life, whether they are good enough, whether God loves them enough, whether what's gonna happen when they die. This is not what the Christian faith is all about. The Christian life is not about insurance, it's about assurance. The devil whispers into our ear, making us doubt our salvation, making you doubt God's goodness, the trustworthiness of the Bible. This is why salvation is a helmet that we wear, it's secure. Don't make the mistake of thinking the devil only attacks your heart. You better believe he goes after your mind as well.

My friends, it breaks my heart when Christians ask me, how do I know I'm saved? Because here's the reality. If you've rejected, that means repented of your sins, and you've placed your faith in Jesus, guess what? You are saved. And now, and now, if you've truly done that, then now our lives are lived in obedience to what God has done, not because we're trying to earn our salvation, but because we love God and we are thankful for what he's done for us. How do you know if you are saved? Because you've taken your life and your salvation out of your hands and you've placed it into the hands of God. And now they're His. Your life is His and your salvation is His. And do you think anything in all of creation and all the universe could ever take anything out of God's hands? It's not about living a life good enough to get into heaven. It's about living in a way that recognizes you are already going there, as you seek to live a life that pleases God, rather than to seek to live a life that is trying to earn salvation.

So my friends, don't wait for the devil to attack to get dressed in the armor of God. Hold out the shield of faith and put on the helmet of salvation. So when the devil tries to get inside your heart, you're holding out the shield of faith, which defends our heart. And when the devil tries to get inside your head, put on the helmet of salvation which protects our mind. Because remember, as we said in week one, this is not the armor from God, this is the armor of God. That means it's infused with His power. And as we wear that on our exterior and we have the Holy Spirit inside of us, you're ready to face the day. You're ready to face the battles. Because the ultimate power is found in God. And because of this, we can have assurance. If the armor of God relied on our power, we're in trouble. But this is the power of the Almighty. It's found in the Holy Spirit, who fills and fuels and guides our lives, who Jesus said would clothe us in power if we would just let Him. And one of the ways that we are reminded of this assurance, one of the ways that we are reminded of the Gospel is by celebrating communion together, which is what we're going to do right now as we are dressed in God's armor which is what we're going to do right now as we are dressed in God's armor. Amen.

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