Soldiers of Christ
Shannon S. Shaffer
Ephesians 6:13 "Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."
A glowing picture is painted of the soldier of Christ as he stands prepared for battle in Ephesians chapter 6. His waist is girded with truth which "holds it all together." For without truth the battle would be vanity. The breastplate which protects the "vital organs" is righteousness. The soldier lives rightly as the commander instructs, giving no occasion for the enemy to attack his character. The soldier's feet are properly shod for steadiness, protection, and maneuverability. He can stand on the truth of the gospel, protect it from attack and charge into the fray with its message of peace. His most important piece of defensive equipment is his shield which will "quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one." His shield is faith. It will defend, protect, and save. The soldier's defensive armor is topped with a helmet the crowning promise of salvation after the battle is done.
There is yet one more piece of armor. It is an offensive weapon. It is a two-edged sword, sharper than any surgeon's scalpel. "The sword . . . is the Word of God." The soldier of Christ who wields the word with ac-curacy and precision cuts through the hardened hearts of the enemy laying bear tender flesh that will be changed by the power of the gospel. The "enemy" defects from the slavery of Satan to the ranks of the soldiers of Christ. The days of the commander of the wicked are numbered. He is set for defeat and destruction. The Great Commander who has already gained the victory orders his troops from the vaulted sky. The soldier "stands on his knees" with prayer, poised for victory in Christ Jesus the Lord.
The battle rages. Be strong, soldier! Stand!
As we look about the battle field it is strewn with fallen soldiers. Some have fallen because of cowardice. The wicked one pierced them with a fiery dart as they turned their backs to the battle and fled. Dishonor in death is their epitaph. There are those who have "fallen on their own sword," failing to heed the Commander they have devised their own hurt.
There are those who fell in the heat of the battle. In their prime, they were removed from this battle field for a better service.
And, then there is the old soldier of the cross. He does not just fade away without notice. But his time comes to lay down his armor. The armor is battered and worn but still usable. It has served well and been well used. It is evidence of hard fought conquests. There are notches in the shield, scratches and slash markings in the breastplate, and a dent in the helmet. The soldier has met the enemy one-on-one. Even in death the soldier's hand clings to the sword. The fingers will not release. It will go with him; for it is the eternal word of God that has brought him this far and will see him over the chilling tide of death. He has fought the good fight . . . he has kept the faith. He looks forward to a crown of righteousness to replace the battered helmet of salvation which gave such hope for victory.
As faithful soldiers pass from this scene, hope for future battles is not lost. There are others enlisting in the army of the Lord. They will prepare themselves and put on the glistening armor of the King. They will learn to "handle accurately" their sword and use its power. The battle for truth and right will continue.
To soldiers who are still in the battle field stand watch fight. To the old soldiers who are laying down their armor despair not rest. Victory in Christ is ours! Praise be to the Great Commander and Savior of our souls who alone is King of kings, and Lord of lords!
Guardian of Truth XLI: 13 p. 10