Faith in God

GPHI-SUMBER PENGHARAPAN INT. MINISTRIES
GADING NIAS KELAPA GADING 04/01/20
THE SHIELD OF FAITH STUDI 10

What is faith?
In Hebrews 11:1
“Now Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Faith is based on indisputable truth and is real. The Bible says that “…faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Consider that “substance” is concrete, and “evidence” is solid proof. Therefore faith is not an emotion based on feelings, but reality.

Romans 8:24-25
For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

Though it is based on solid evidence, that doesn’t mean faith comes naturally or easily. Paul here makes the obvious but necessary point: You don’t hope for what you already have. Faith involves a huge element of trust. We must examine the evidence and see that God has proved Himself to be unchanging and consistent, and then we must firmly believe that He will fulfill His promises to us.

Here is a biblical definition of faith that clears up some common misconceptions. If faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,”.

It is our faith, not needs, that moves God. Hebrews 11:6 teaches us that “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Faith is taking God at His word and acting on it!

Take the Shield of Faith
The shield of faith is part of the armor of God described in Ephesians 6:10–17. After summarizing the gospel and giving the Ephesians various instructions, Paul concludes his missive to them saying, in part, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:10–11). 

Up until now, Paul’s description of the armor of God has been limited to items we wear. We put on the belt, the breastplate and the shoes, and they essentially hold themselves up. The shield is different. Paul tells us that the shield is something we must take up, something we are required to raise. Just strapping it to our arm won’t do any good at all if we don’t make the effort to hold it aloft and use it.

About the shield, Paul writes, “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (verse 16).

How did the shield work in the Roman army?
The Roman shield—the scutum was a very large, slightly curved rectangular shield featuring at its center a large metal knob (called a boss).

The scutum was an impressive line of defense. Because of its sheer size (some were three and a half feet tall and almost three feet wide), soldiers were afforded a great deal of protection from enemies. Because of its slight curve, it was able to deflect attacks without transferring the full force of the assault to the man holding the shield. Because of its boss, it was able to deflect even the more vicious blows and function in a limited offensive capacity as a means of knocking an opponent backwards.

The Roman military had an inventive and very effective tactic that made use of their large shields. When enemies would begin firing arrows and other projectiles at the army, the soldiers would close ranks into a rectangular array—called the testudo, or “tortoise,” formation—and those on the outside would use their shields to create a wall around the perimeter. Then those in the middle would raise their shields over their heads to protect everyone from airborne missiles. The result was a formidable human tank that could be stopped only through a tremendous effort.

Ephesians 4:11-16
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

When the Roman army joined its shields together, it became an almost unstoppable force. And if we in God’s Church join our shields—that is, strengthen each other with our faith, building up and serving within the Body as we are able—we will become an unstoppable force able to take on any challenge.

A shield can incapacitate. When Christ was being tempted by Satan, His faith in the Word and commands of God repelled Satan for a time (Hebrews 4:15 tells us that Christ was tempted in all things, so this was certainly not the only encounter Christ had with the devil). The boss (the metal knob in the middle) on the Roman shields allowed soldiers to give their enemies a stun-inducing shove that would allow them to follow through with an attack. Our faith in God, as demonstrated by Christ, can also give Satan a good shove backwards and give us a chance to fight back by doing God’s will and work. Because God tells us that faith cannot just be in our minds, it must produce actions—works of obedience and service (James 2:20).

We must remember as we fight that this is not simply our battle. This is the battle of all our brethren, both near and around the world. And if we are to win, it will only be once we put our faith in God and stand side by side, contending earnestly and as one for “our common salvation…the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).

A shield deflects satanic attacks. Satan is always hurling his fiery darts of fear, doubt and worry in our direction, but the only time they can hit us is when we let our shield of faith down—when we stop believing that God is in control; that He is working everything out for our good; that whatever happens is for the ultimate best of everyone involved, however little it seems to be that way.

Matthew 14:28-31
And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

A shield is the first line of defense. While the rest of our armor helps protect us from Satan’s onslaught, it is not what you ideally want to be using to absorb every hit. You do not, for instance, go out into battle intentionally blocking everything with your head.

When our faith in God’s omnipotence and care is strong, it is impossible for Satan to break through our shield and land an attack. But when we allow doubt to creep in, as Peter did when distracted by the waves, we will start to sink. The rest of our armor will be battered, and so will we. But an actively raised shield of faith prevents this otherwise inhibiting fatigue.

Matthew 4:10-11
Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.'” Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.

WHY IS A SHIELD ASSOCIATED WITH FAITH?
The Bible, in Daniel 3, records the story of the burning fiery furnace: The three young men stood looking at the very site where they were to be put to death. The edict had gone out—they were to be thrown, alive and bound, into a furnace heated to seven times its usual fervor. Everyone watching understood: This was an execution. This was what happened when you disobeyed the king.

Just a moment, the three men had been given the chance to circumvent this ugly fate. With little more than a few motions on their part, they could have saved their own lives. But they refused. Why?

The king had previously set up a 90-foot-high golden statue. At various times throughout the day, which were to be prompted by music, he commanded that his people fall down and worship this statue. Out of the entire nation, we are given the names of only three men who had the courage to stand against this royal decree. And for that courage, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego were going to die.

When King Nebuchadnezzar became aware of their insubordination, he summoned the rebels and gave them an ultimatum: Worship the statue or be thrown into a fiery furnace. Their response is preserved for us in Daniel 3:16-18. “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.'”

The faith of these three men in God allowed them to stand up to the world’s most powerful man and refuse to follow his blasphemous orders. They were then thrown into the furnace and miraculously delivered unharmed by God. But perhaps the most amazing thing about their story is their unwavering dedication to God in the face of an unknown outcome. Their faith was strong enough to accept giving their lives!

Daniel 3:17-18
If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.

A shield guards. While a physical shield protects us physically, faith can protect our spiritual lives even in the middle of physical trials. When Satan (through Nebuchadnezzar) attacked the values and beliefs of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, they were able to stand resolute and unwavering because of their faith. In their response, they essentially said, “God is capable of delivering us from this fate. We don’t know if He will or not, but that doesn’t matter. He gave us His commands, and we are going to keep them regardless of the physical outcome. We know He can just as easily raise us from the dead.”

How to have faith
(1) Ephesians 2:8 By Grace
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.

(2) 1 Corinthians 12:9 (Spiritual Gifts)
to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gift of healings by the same Spirit…)
(3) In Romans 10:17(Hearing The word of God)
“So then Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”

INCREASE OUR FAITH
Following are five characteristics of the Shield of Faith, increases our faith

The shield is the first line of defense.
The shield “was used by the Romans to ward off the opening barrage from the enemy. Using bows or catapults, the enemy would shoot flaming arrows, throw fireballs, fling rough metal darts covered in pitch and set on fire, all for the purpose of overwhelming the other side, to create chaos and confusion.” The devil tries to do the same thing to us and the Church. Just look at the barrage of lies and attacks on the Church of Jesus Christ today.“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffers many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’ Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men”’ (Matt 16:21- 23). Jesus was not rebuking Peter, but Satan who was tempting both Him and Peter to disobey God’s will.

A shield guards us.
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).

A shield deflects the arrow of the enemy.
Faith in God and His promises causes Satan’s “flaming arrows” to bounce off, not able to penetrate our mind and soul, “Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised (those who believe in Christ), he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:17-19a).

A shield can incapacitate the enemy.
“Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”’ Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him” (Matthew 4:10-11).

There is strength in numbers of shields.
“The Roman military had an inventive and very effective tactic that made use of their large shields. When enemies would begin firing arrows and other projectiles at the army, the soldiers would close ranks into a rectangular array—called the testudo, or “tortoise,” formation—and those on the outside would use their shields to create a wall around the perimeter. Then those in the middle would raise their shields over their heads to protect everyone from airborne missiles. The result was a formidable human tank that could be stopped only through a tremendous effort” (The Bible Study Guides). “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12).

OUR FAITH MUST BE TESTED
Sometimes God tests our faith by allowing the devil to tempt us. Notes that in each of the following cases that bad things happened to good men in Scripture “it was a direct result of God allowing it.”

Job – “Does Job fear [you] for nothing?’ Satan replied. ‘Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.’ The Lord said to Satan, ‘Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger’” (Job1:9-12).

Christ – “Jesus was…led by the Spirit in the desert where for forty days he was tempted by the devil” (Luke 4:1b-2a).

Peter – Peter was allowed to be sifted like wheat, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32).

 “What does all this mean for me and you? Well, it at least means that we should not be shocked when we are attacked by the devil. It doesn’t mean God has forgotten us. Nor does it mean we’re doomed. In fact, these stories tell us that attacks from Satan are a part of God’s plan for each of our lives. Think of it like this. None of these men would have known the victory of God had they not suffered for God. 

None would have known the power of God had they not come to the end of their own strength.” “For the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chronicles 20:15b).

 “To me, the interesting thing about these three stories is how in each case Satan uses the flesh The Sinful Nature as his avenue of influence…When the devil comes with his ungodly suggestions, whether it’s to entice us by our desires or to flog us with our fears, our fleshly nature immediately agrees with his idea…The only way we know when Satan is trying to influence us is when we develop a sense of right and wrong so keen that we can instantly spot the source of all suggested actions. We need to know God’s character [and culture] so well that whenever a suggestion [thought or fear] pops into our minds, we can immediately know whether it comes from above or below…Which brings us back to the shield of faith. Often, Satan throws his ideas at us from a long way off. The shield of faith enables us to ward them off.” The “flaming arrows of the evil one” are no ordinary temptations. 

EXAMPLES OF MEN OF FAITH
In Abel, we have the worship of faith.
In Enoch, the walk of faith.
In Noah, the witness of faith.
In Abraham, the wandering of faith.
In Sarah, the waiting of faith.
In Moses, the work of faith.

Always remember that the armor of God enables you to “stand against the devil’s schemes” because “they have divine power to demolish strongholds!”

Satan knows how to shoot his flaming arrows at your vulnerable places. These include, but are not limited to: Anything to get you to disobey God. Why, because God’s blessings and protection are related to your obedience to Him. 

THE ARROWS OF SATAN
Blasphemous thoughts.
What if there is no God? God does not love you. God is not good. Would a good God allow all this pain and suffering? (Remember God delegated dominion over the earth to man, therefore whatever goes on here on earth is man’s responsibility. See Genesis 1:28-30.

Critical and hateful thoughts about yourself and others leading to breaking fellowship with God and man. “My command is this ‘love each other as I have loved you”’ (John 15:12).

Thoughts of lust, wrath, revenge, or despair which Parker says are “capable of burning themselves deeply into your very souls, and all of them weakening your ability to resist whatever strategy he (Satan) plans next.” Sudden fears, anxieties, panic attacks, a dull feeling like nothing is right, especially with God. Medical attacks, as in the case of Job. Questioning the inspiration and authority of the Bible, or the deity and atoning substitutionary sacrifice of Christ on your behalf, or your salvation by grace, through faith in Christ alone. Practically this means that as the devil flings evil thoughts our way; we turn them back with a quick application of God’s truth

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