Paul tells us that the helmet we are to wear in our Christian warfare is salvation. This salvation cannot possibly be the same as to be a child of God by faith in Christ Jesus. That salvation we must possess before we go into the battle; otherwise we have nothing for which to fight. We believe that the salvation here spoken of is the goal of the battle.
To be saved by faith is not the same as having arrived at our heavenly home. If we are to get there we shall have to be in the battle until our last day; only he who is faithful unto death shall receive the crown of life. It is only after we have reached our home that we are completely saved.
Several Scripture passages show us the difference between being saved by faith and being saved in the sense that we have reached heaven.
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (I John 3:2).
“Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory; receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your soul.” (I Peter 1:8-9).
The helmet of salvation must be the hope of reaching the goal of our salvation. This is not stated here in so many words, but there are other passages which show it clearly.
“But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation.” (I Thess. 5:8)
To fight without having any objective will not do in the long run. When kings and rulers send their soldiers into battle they usually paint a picture of a glorious future for the fatherland; inspired by this hope of better times, the warriors go against the enemy.
All Christians have been given a promise of a reward. No earthly soldier has ever been given so great a promise of honor and reward as a Christian has. The Bible points to a large number of future objectives for us, greater than we are able to comprehend. We shall examine some of these; then we shall see that the helmet of salvation has been made of remarkable steel. We hope these passages will inspire a weary soldier of Christ with renewed vision and hope.
“Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all their tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.” (Rev. 21: 3-4).
“He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” (Rev. 2 1:7).
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (II Cor. 4:17-18).
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” (I Cor. 2:9-10).
For him who has the slightest faith in these words no battle will be too great. We know that these beckoning stars on the firmament of grace are not only able to sustain us in the battle but they cause us to rejoice for having been honored to fight for so great a goal. Thus out of the most arduous battle may rise the purest and greatest joy.
It is often seen that the Christians who have the heaviest burdens are the most joyful. Their gratitude is holy and true. Peace and inward joy shines in their eyes, not because it is delightful to suffer, but because the battle against evil releases the soul from this world and lifts it up toward God and the true fatherland.
When at last the war is won, And the cross becomes a crown, Then my soul in peace shall be Blessed throughout eternity.
Songs like these echo in the battle from the conquering Christian, because he looks into the heavenly land.
This vision is the helmet of salvation which the Christians wear.
In a Norwegian churchyard there is a gravestone upon which has been chiseled a picture of a man who carries a large stone upon his shoulders. The stone is so heavy that the man is almost crushed under the burden. Upon closer examination one will see a handsome face that is lit up by a peaceful smile. Under the stone, from the man’s shoulders and down, a pair of wings are ready to spread themselves out and carry the man upward as soon as the stone has been removed. The smile on the face has been called forth by the confidence that the stone shall soon be taken away.
This is a striking picture of a Christian’s struggle and victory; it shows how a person grows in grace under suffering and strife. The stone on the back forces the body toward the earth, but makes the soul rise up toward God. The goal calls forth the smile on the face, and the wings are made ready for flight.
In just a little while The foe I’ve vanquished Then have the battles wild At once all vanished. Then may I rest myself ‘mong roses blooming; And I shall always be With Him communing.
The hymnwriter, Brorson, sang thus out from his own experience; he knew what it was to be in battle. It is for this reason that there is a power in his battle songs, and an inspiration in every word he sings about victory. His eyes are turned heavenward, and he seems to see how the Lord rejoices every time the Christians are victorious. It must be a dull spirit which cannot be inspired by such words as these:
It seems to me I see How God rejoices, When we our enemy Break down victorious. Then shall there be an end of all that plagued us. The Crown we shall receive From Christ who saved us.
The great artist, Gustav Dore, has painted a picture called “The Valley of Tears.” It is based on Psalm 84:7. It shows a narrow valley. The road winds along between high cliffs. Far down in the valley the foaming river plunges over the precipice into the yawning abyss. The road continues for some distance alongside of this abyss; then it turns sharply and goes up the mountain at the end of the valley.
Many suffering people walk on this road. In the distance one can see groups of them who seem to have lost all hope. They stare into the abyss with wild-eyed fear. Some have thrown themselves upon the rocks by the roadside, and others wring their hands in woe. Farther along one can see people toiling. Many have backs that are bent from carrying crosses. Others carry chains. Cripples plod along on crutches, and the blind are groping their way. A dark-clad woman walks with her head down upon her bosom; she leads a little child by the hand. There is a clear, bright light in the eyes of the child, for the eyes of children see a wonderful light.
The procession moves along the narrow path up the mountainside; they are bound for the city on the other side of the mountain. The farther up they come, the more light they have. Even those who are far down in the valley receive a light when they lift their eyes to the hills. The reason is that in the distance, where the road ends, stands a being enveloped in light. He sees all who suffer, and stretches His arms out toward them. The light shines from His face upon their path. He is Jesus Christ.
Behind the Savior one can see rays of the rising sun. One can also see the spires of the New Jerusalem. Those who have walked through the valley of tears shall appear before God in Zion, and He shall wipe away all tears.
O blessedness, which no one can
Describe complete in sorrows land.
How good to reach the harbor
Of heaven’s peaceful rest, And not with woe belabor
Our song at Jesus’ breast.
It is a joy to enter the battle in the valley of tears when one has such a goal in sight. When one may see the Savior with outstretched arms, and farther on the shining city, he can sing even under suffering.
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People of God — you and I who live today — have we donned the helmet of salvation? Have we fixed our eyes upon the city of light? Do our faces shine because we have lifted our eyes to the hills? Do we have a heaven which draws us and cuts us loose from the world? Do we feel ourselves in kinship with the early Christians who had a desire to leave this world and to be at home with God? Or have we become so fond of the world that we would rather remain here? If so, we have lost the helmet of salvation.
Never has the world been more enticing for the Christian than now. Perhaps the Christian hope has never before been at such a low ebb as now.
Christian friends! Pause to ponder.
“Awake, awake; put on thy strength, 0 Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, 0 Jerusalem, the holy city. For henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean. Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, 0 Jerusalem; loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, 0 captive daughter of Zion.” (Isa. 52: 1-2).