Our text begins at Ephesians Chapter 6 and verse 14. Here we are dealing with the 'armour of GOD'. In a previous article we were looking at verse 15 about the sandals one wears:
'having shod our feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace,'
and now we come to the
'shield of faith.'
The word principally means 'above all' or 'besides all these others',
'taking up the shield of faith.'
The 'shield' is the word from which we get the word 'thorax'. It was a body shield; 'thyreas' in Greek; it was door-shaped; it was four feet by two feet; four feet long, two feet wide. It was big enough to hide behind when the enemy threw his arrows. Not only that, but it was fire proof, because, although it may have been made of wood, it had metal lining on the front of it, to quench those fire arrows that the enemy shot at them. The 'breastplate' was the
'breastplate of righteousness,'
and that means, of course, that we are covered with the righteousness of Messiah. But we also need
'the shield of faith,'
and that shield of faith helps us to maintain our faith in GOD, and in the righteousness that He has provided.
In teaching us how to use the
'shield of faith,'GOD, also, will remove our props from us. He'll take away those things on which we depended, and which we are using as our crutches to our faith. He does so gently, but He does so faithfully. The Book of Proverbs says,
'Trust in the LORD with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. Be not wise in thine own eyes.' So we must learn to have faith in GOD only, because if we are going to have faith in our abilities, or hope that our present favourable circumstances will continue, and then things change; then we are floundering all over the place. The
'shield of faith'means implicit faith in GOD; and faith in GOD only. It is, of course, the opposite, the contrary of ignorance. Some people think that faith is a leap in the dark. Some people will tell you that faith means shutting your eyes and hoping you are going in the right direction. That's not what the Bible describes as faith.
Faith speaks like this:
'Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen.' Faith proceeds on knowledge; on information. Faith means that we know in Whom we have believed; He has demonstrated His truthfulness and His faithfulness to us. And therefore, we can trust Him for what we do not see. It's like someone who has been absolutely truthful to us, and then he tells us something that surprises us, but we are prepared to believe him because he has never lied to us. This is how it is with GOD.
'We know in Whom we have believed.' It isn't a blind leap into the dark.
It is also the contrary of unbelief. We read about Abraham, that when GOD promised him that
'his descendants would be like the stars in the sky,' the Bible tells us
'he did not stagger at the promise of GOD through unbelief. He was strong in faith, giving glory to GOD.' He had no children. His wife, Sarai, was not bearing any children; she was barren; she was childless. But when GOD said,
'Your descendants will be like the stars in the sky,'he believed in the LORD. He believed GOD. He said, 'I don't see it now, but because I don't see it, does not mean that it will not happen. I believed GOD as it was said to me.'
And so we find, also, in the Book of Hebrews, at the end of Chapter 10, we have this statement; Hebrews, Chapter 10, verses 38 and 39: faith is the complete antithesis of unbelief. Hebrews 10, verses 38 and 39:
'Now the just shall live by faith, but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.'
What is the difference between unbelief and weak faith? Unbelief says, 'I don't believe GOD; I refuse to believe Him. There is nothing He can say or do that will convince me otherwise. I'm convinced that I'm not going to trust GOD.' That's unbelief. Whatever He does, weak faith says, 'I wish I could trust Him more; I do trust Him, but I feel that my faith isn't strong; I wish I could depend on Him more; I wish I didn't have all these fears and misgivings.' That's weak faith. But it is faith. Just as you can have two children in a family; one is robust, brimming over with health; the other one needs tender, loving care because it's frail; it's susceptible to colds, to fevers, etcetera. Both of them are very much alive, but one needs more careful attention than the other one. That's the difference between strong faith, and weak faith. What we are talking about here, is: faith is faith, whether it is weak or strong.
Do you know that puzzle; that riddle? How many apples must an apple tree bear before it is an apple tree? The answer is: it is an apple tree - whether it bears apples or not; it's an apple tree. You can't change its nature. And the same with us. The child of faith is truly a child of GOD; and although their faith wavers at times, they are still hanging on by their fingernails if necessary. But they are still looking to GOD. That is faith. Whether it is weak or strong.
Who is the author of our faith? Is faith something that you and I generate from ourselves? No. The Bible speaks about YESHUA as the
'Author and the finisher of our faith.'