Put On the Gospel Shoes | Ephesians 6:10-20
Brian Hedges | February 17, 2019
Everyone, let’s turn in our Bibles this morning to Ephesians 6. Over the last several weeks, we have been talking about the good fight of faith, the war that we are in as believers in Jesus Christ. We’ve seen that we have this threefold enemy, the world, the flesh, and the devil; and that we are daily engaged in combat against these evil forces in our world; and that for us to stand we have to be well-armed, we have to be equipped with the gospel, with the whole armor of God, as Paul describes it here in Ephesians 6. We’ve started looking at the specific pieces of armor.
We’ve looked, so far, at the belt of truth, which includes both the word of truth but also a true heart, a sincere heart that embraces that word and lives according to it. We looked last week at the breastplate of righteousness, the foundation of that in Christ’s righteousness, which covers us, the righteousness of Christ imputed to us for our justification, but especially the breastplate of holiness as we live holy and righteous lives, and that protects our hearts and our conscience.
This morning we’re looking at the third piece of armor, found in verse 15 here in Ephesians 6, the shoes of the gospel of peace, or the shoes of the readiness of the gospel of peace; our gospel shoes.
I just want to begin, as we have each week, by reading the full passage of Scripture, Ephesians 6:10-20, and then we’ll dig in and try to understand what these gospel shoes are. So let’s look at God’s word, Ephesians 6, beginning in verse 10.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.”
This is God’s word.
So this morning we’re looking at the shoes, the gospel shoes. I think it’s helpful for us, first of all, to just think about the significance of shoes for the Roman soldier. We all know that shoes are important. Anyone come to church barefoot this morning? I see one hand up there! But most of us don’t. Most of us don’t. We know that we need to wear shoes as protection for our feet, and this is especially true on the battlefield.
I remember hearing — a few months ago I was listening to a book on tape (or, it’s not a tape anymore, you know, it’s on your phone) — listening to this, it was talking about the problem of trench foot in World War I and World War II, where soldiers spent so much in the trenches, in the cold, wet water of the trenches, their boots would get soaked through. They didn’t have extra socks, so they’d get trench foot, where the outer surface or layer of skin on the foot would begin to decay. Very painful and debilitating for soldiers. They weren’t able, then, to march.
This was true, of course, in the ancient world as well. The Roman soldiers, as Paul probably has in mind as he writes this, were equipped with footwear. They had leather sandals that were strapped to the shins and to the calves. The sandals had a thick, three-quarter-of-an-inch leather sole, and they were equipped with something like hobnails that would give them traction in battle.
Really, the soldier’s footwear served several purposes. They helped protect their feet, especially when they were in enemy territory and the ground was arrayed with various kinds of traps, such as spikes protruding from the ground. The thick leather sole would help protect their feet against those kinds of spikes and traps. The shoes would also give them traction when they were in this close, hand-to-hand combat in battle; they would have a firm footing. And the shoes were helpful for mobility as they had to march long distances. I’ve read that one of the geniuses of Alexander the Great, part of his military genius, was that he equipped all of his soldiers with shoes, and he was able, then, to maneuver them quickly, making him a great military tactician and giving him an advantage on the field.
In the same way, believers need gospel shoes, we need boots, we need war sandals if we are to stand against our enemy, the devil. Paul is using that metaphor in the passage that we’re studying this morning.
He says that we have shod our feet, we have clothed our feet “with the readiness given by the gospel of peace.” So we need to spend a little time trying to untangle this. What does he mean by the “readiness given by the gospel of peace”?
So, here’s the approach. I want us to think about:
I. The Gospel of Peace
II. How the Gospel Give Us Readiness
III. How We Put These Gospel Shoes On
I. The Gospel of Peace
So, first of all, the gospel of peace. We know that the gospel means “good news,” right? That’s the meaning of the word; it means “good news” or “glad tidings.” It’s especially the good news of salvation through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
You remember how Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 that he delivered to the Corinthians the same thing that he had received, this gospel which they have believed, they’ve received it, now they stand in it. Then he begins to define the gospel in these terms; he says, “...that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, he was buried, and on the third day he rose, in accordance with the Scriptures.” That’s the gospel. The gospel is the good news of God’s saving work through the death, burial, and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ. It’s good news of salvation! It’s good news for sinners, who will receive it. God is making an offer that he will save all who will trust in his crucified and risen Son.
So that’s the gospel, but Paul here calls it the gospel of peace. He calls it the gospel of peace because the gospel brings peace to us. It brings peace to us in several senses. Think of these different aspects of the peace of the gospel.
(1) First of all, it brings us peace with God. Did you know that there was one time in your life - if you’re a Christian today, there was a time in your life when you were not at peace with God. You were, rather, an enemy of God. You were the adversary of God. You lived in hostility to God. You were a rebel against God, who is your Creator, your Lawgiver, and your Judge, and you were under the wrath of God.
The Scriptures make this very clear, that those who do not believe are under the wrath of God; “the wrath of God abides in them,” because they do not believe and obey John 3. So it’s very clear in Scripture that we are born into this state of sinful rebellion against God, and that’s the condition of every one of us apart from God’s grace.
But the gospel tells us that God comes to his enemies in the person of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and he freely offers to save all who will trust in him, all who will come to him. That gives us peace with God.
Paul says in Romans 5:1, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” That means that this objective hostility that stands between us and God, that hostility is removed, it’s taken away, and that we are no longer considered by God as enemies, but we are welcomed as friends and even as children into the family of God, because God justifies us through faith in Christ. That means that he pardons our sins, he looks at us through the blood and righteousness of Christ, he counts us as righteous in his sight, he says as the divine judge, “Not guilty,” and then he receives us into his family, adopting us into the family of God, and from that time forward there is only and always peace between us and God, objectively considered. Once you become a Christian, once you’ve trusted in Jesus Christ, you are objectively at peace with God.
Now, I’m not talking right now about your emotional state; I’m talking about how God considers you. God is at peace with you and you are at peace with God if you trust in the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ.
Now, we know that this is what Paul has in mind when we just turn a couple of pages back to Ephesians 2; it’s, in fact, the passage I read as our assurance of pardon this morning. In Ephesians 2, Paul has reminded these readers that at one time they were without God and without hope in the world, they were strangers to the covenant of promise, they were alienated from God. But God, through Jesus Christ, has come and has brought peace, peace through the blood of Christ. In fact, he says that through the cross Christ has removed this hostility, and he uses the imagery of the temple, where, in the temple, the worshiper was separated from God by this thick, thick curtain, the veil in the temple. Paul says that it’s been torn in two. He’s divided this "middle wall of partition," this veil that divided us from God.
You remember that when Jesus died on the cross, do you remember what happened when Jesus cried out from the cross, “It is finished!” You remember the curtain in the temple was torn in two. It was torn in two to show that the way is open, that through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ we have peace with God, there is restoration, there is reconciliation, these great gospel words.
What is reconciliation? It just means that when once there was enmity and hostility, now there’s friendship, now there is peace. It means that are now on peaceful terms with God.
That means that we have peace of conscience. So there is this subjective aspect to it. We have peace of conscience. I love the old hymn of William Gadsby, where he says,
“Peace of conscience, peace with God,
We obtain through Jesus’ blood.
Jesus’ blood speaks solid rest;
We believe, and we are blest.”
I wonder this morning if you have experienced that. Do you know that you know that you know that you are at peace with God? Do you have peace in your conscience, and do you know that your sins are forgiven for Jesus’ sake? If you’ve never trusted in Jesus Christ, you can do so this morning. You trust in him, you look to him, you look to the blood of Christ.
We just sang it, didn’t we? “What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” You look to the blood of Christ to be your forgiveness, your cleansing, and to bring you into peace with God. That’s the first aspect of this peace, and Paul says we are to clothed with this gospel of peace, and it gives readiness to us in the battle.
(2) So, peace of conscience, peace with God; and then secondly, there is this subjective, internal peace that the Christian can experience in his or her life, and it’s what we call the peace of God. Slightly different, I think, than peace with God. The peace of God.
The key passage for this is Philippians 4:6-7, where Paul says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” So he’s talking about prayer. Don’t be anxious, but pray. And then he says, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
This is a further dimension of peace. It’s possible that you can be at peace with God and not be enjoying the peace of God in all circumstances. There’s something for us to do. We have to put on the gospel armor for us to enjoy the peace of God in our hearts and our minds in all circumstances, and the gospel helps us to do that. You remember how the prophet Isaiah said (Isaiah 26:3), “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”
So this is another question for you, Christian: do you know the peace of God in your circumstances? I’m not asking, “Are your circumstances peaceful?” I happen to know that many of you are going through storms right now. I know that there are storms of health, I know there are storms in finances, I know there are storms in family relationships, I know there are all kinds of circumstances that befall us and beset us in this world. We have trials, we have tribulations, we have suffering, we have affliction; but it is possible, Christian, for you to go through all of that and have perfect peace and tranquility, the peace of God. You have that as you prayerfully commit yourself to the Lord and you look to him and you clothe your heart, you clothe your feet with this gospel peace.
You remember that wonderful story of Horatio Spafford, a hymn-writer. He was a businessman in Chicago, he lost almost everything in the Chicago fire, I think it was near the end of the 19th century. He was headed to England, and he sent his family on ahead, and there was a terrible storm, and his four daughters were all killed in the storm. His wife sent a telegram back, “Saved alone.” She was the only one that survived.
Do you remember what he wrote in response to this terrible tragedy? That wonderful hymn:
“When peace, like a river,
Attendeth my way;
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot,
Thou has taught me to say,
‘It is well, it is well
With my soul.’”
That’s the peace of God that surpasses understanding — and it is beyond understanding! It doesn’t make sense, humanly speaking. Humanly speaking, it does not make sense to be able to have peace when you’ve just lost a child; but we’re talking about something that’s beyond human reason, we’re talking about the peace that God gives because of the assurance that we are made right with him through Jesus Christ.
(3) The peace with God (peace of conscience), an objective peace with God, and then there’s the peace of God; and then here’s a third dimension of this peace, what we call cosmic peace. It’s the future reconciliation of all things; we also read about that this morning in Colossians 1:19-20: “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”
There was a great Dutch theologian, Abraham Kuyper, who one time said that “there is not one square inch in all of planet earth over which the Lord Jesus Christ does not say, ‘Mine!’” He’s the Lord! He’s supreme! Because of his supremacy, he is committed to bringing a reconciliation to all things.
We haven’t seen that yet, but there is coming a day when all sorrow and suffering and sin, all wickedness and evil, will be banished once and for all from the face of the earth, where the earth will be covered with the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea, and where all things will be in perfect submission to the lordship and the supremacy of Jesus Christ. It is the ultimate, final, cosmic peace and reconciliation for which we wait; that’s part of our hope as believers.
So this is why it’s called the gospel of peace, because we get peace in every dimension! We get peace in all of these aspects through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Now, let me just say one more thing. The Scripture also says this, “‘There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘to the wicked.’” This morning, if you’re here and you are not a Christian, if you are here and you know that your life is marked by sin and by wickedness and you are living in rebellion to God, you have never personally embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ, you’ve never personally submitted your life to Jesus Christ, you’ve never repented of your sins, and you’ve never trusted in the blood-shedding work of Christ on the cross, there is no peace for you outside of Christ.
It is a terrible thought that those who perish outside of Christ will not experience eternal peace; they will experience exactly the opposite. It will be eternal misery and condemnation under the wrath of God. The doctrine of hell. It’s not popular, it’s a hard doctrine, but the Bible teaches it, Jesus talks about it more than anybody else, and so we would be remiss not to emphasize this. There is no peace for the wicked unless the wicked come under the blood of Jesus Christ and their sins are forgiven. So this is the gospel of peace.
II. How the Gospel Gives Us Readiness
Now, the question is, how does the gospel of peace give us readiness? How does it make us ready? What is this readiness?
This is the only time this particular word is used in the New Testament. You find it in the Greek version of the Old Testament, and you find cognates from the same root. But it essentially means to be prepared. It means to be ready, or something. It’s used, for example, in the book of Revelation, where the bride of Christ has made herself ready for the marriage supper of the Lamb. That’s the idea. It’s not exactly that word, but that’s the verbal form of the word.
The verbal form of the word is used by Paul when he talks about being “ready for every good work.” So, it’s the idea of being prepared.
You remember that passage in Exodus 12 about the children of Israel, when they’re given the Passover. We’ve already looked at this in this series. They were to have their loins girt, right? They were to be belted, they were to have their tunics belted, and they were to have sandals on their feet, so that they could be ready to march out of Egypt as soon as the Passover had taken place, as soon as they had received the word to go. So, this is the idea, the idea of being ready or being prepared.
I think there are several ways in which the gospel of peace gives us readiness, several ways in which it prepares us. Let me give you three.
(1) First of all, it gives us a readiness to stand firm against spiritual assault. A readiness to stand firm against spiritual assault.
Now, we’ve already seen in this passage that Paul, several times, says you are to stand. In fact, that’s the verb, that’s the command in verse 14, “Stand, therefore, having put on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,” and now, “having your feet shod with the preparation,” or the readiness, “of the gospel of peace.” The verb is to stand, and you stand having done this.
So, it is a readiness to stand. Now, what does it mean to stand? It means to have a firm footing in the truth of the gospel. We need to stand firm. Over and over again Scripture gives this command. Sometimes we read over these too quickly. Let me just give you a handful of them.
1 Corinthians 16:13, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” It’s very strong, military language. Stand firm in the faith.
In Galatians 5:1, Paul says, “For freedom Christ has set you free; stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Stand firm in the faith, stand firm in your freedom.
Then in 1 Peter 5, Peter talks about the “true grace of God,” and then he says, “Stand firm in it.” So stand firm in grace.
Philippians 1 talks about standing firm “in one spirit,” which can either be all the believers in the church of Philippi being united together in one spirit, or it could be mean that they all are to stand firm in the Spirit, in the Spirit of God. Either way, it’s a call for unity.
The Scripture calls us over and over again to stand firm in the truth, in the gospel, in the grace of God, in the freedom that the gospel brings, and to stand firm together, depending on the Spirit of God. We hold our ground!
This is exactly what Satan does not want. He’s going to come to divide and to conquer. He’s going to come with temptation, he’s going to come with deception. He’s going to try to get us off course, to neglect the gospel, or to distort the gospel, or to subvert the gospel. The word of God over and over again says, “Stand firm in it.” Stand in the gospel. Don’t lose your firm footing.
So, just as a Roman soldier, when he’s in hand-to-hand combat, these hobnailed sandals give him traction, so that as he engages in this close battle with an enemy, his sandals give him traction so that he’s not easily knocked over. That’s the idea, to stand firm.
(2) So it’s a readiness to stand firm against spiritual assault, and then secondly, it is a readiness to suffer for Christ, to suffer as a Christian. Paul, in Acts 21:13, is headed to Jerusalem, and the prophets in the church are saying, “If you go to Jerusalem, you’re going to be bound in chains and handed over to the Gentiles.” They’re begging him, “Don’t go.” They don’t want Paul to be imprisoned. “Don’t go.” Listen to what Paul says. He says, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned, but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” “I’m ready.”
I used to have a preacher friend named Jim Lawless. He was an older gentleman who attended sometimes the first church I pastored. Jim Lawless used to tell me; he said, “Every preacher needs to be ready to do three things: he needs to be ready to preach, to pray, and to die.” Well, the same could be said for every Christian. We should always be ready to do three things: to speak about Jesus, to pray, and to die. A readiness to suffer for Jesus’ sake as necessary.
Again, the gospel of peace equips us with this readiness, because if you have an assurance that you are at peace with God in the gospel, then you know that no trial, no tribulation, no affliction, no persecution, no pain, no sickness, no poverty, nothing that can befall you can ultimately hurt you! Because Romans 8 says, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” Nobody! If God is on your side, then none of the trials that you face in this life can ultimately hurt you or harm you.
Psalm 112 is a wonderful psalm about the man who fears the Lord, and in verse 7 it says that “he is not afraid of bad news, because his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.” Does that describe you? “Not afraid of bad news.” Come rain or shine, come riches or poverty, come prosperity or adversity - whatever comes, I’m not afraid. I’m not afraid of bad news. Why? Because my heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.
“Soul, then know thy full salvation,
Rise o’er sin and fear and care,
Joy to find in every station,
Something still to do or bear.
“Think what Spirit dwells within thee,
Think what Father’s smiles are thine,
Think that Jesus died to win thee;
Child of God, canst thou repine?”
When you reflect on the great blessings of the gospel, there’s no reason to despair, there’s no reason to be afraid, there’s no reason to be discouraged. The gospel of peace gives us peace within, even when we are not at peace without.
Here’s one way this happens. Have you ever noticed that sometimes in your suffering the worst aspect of it is what’s going on in your heart and in your head? So, you’re worried about something that is going to come that’s going to be bad, and actually, the period of worry and anxiety leading up to it is worse than when it actually happens.
Or you’re afraid of losing something, and the fear of loss is actually worse than the loss itself! I mean, some of us have faced some incredibly hard things; I’ve faced some hard things, and I know many of you face much harder things. You get through it, but before you encounter it, it’s hard to see how are you going to get through it. Well, the gospel of peace gives you a readiness, because it gives you the assurance that if God is on your side then every single thing that comes into your life comes filtered through the loving fingers of divine providence, through the hand of your heavenly Father.
The gospel of peace assures us of God’s love, and it assures that our worst trials are neither accidents nor punishments. They’re not accidents! The world is not out of control, it’s not out of God’s control. God holds sovereign sway over heaven and earth. They’re not accidents. Nothing befalls us that he does not permit. And they are not punishments, because the punishment has already fallen on Jesus Christ. So, every trial is sanctified as a loving, chastening, perhaps, but not in punishment. He’s not giving us so many trials for so many sins, but rather training us, instructing us, guiding us, helping us on our way to the celestial city. The readiness to suffer for Christ; we get it from the gospel of peace.
(3) Here’s the third thing: a readiness to share the good news with others. In 1 Peter 3:15, Peter’s saying, “Don’t fear persecution, don’t fear suffering, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason of the hope that is in you.” Always be prepared to make a defense, that is, to give the reason for this hope that you have. It’s a readiness to share the gospel.
Perhaps as Paul writes this in Ephesians 6 he’s thinking of Isaiah 52:7, which says, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news.” In fact, he quotes that verse in Romans 10, where he says that “‘...everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed, and how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard, and how are they to hear without someone preaching, and how are they to preach unless they are sent?” And then he says, “‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news.’” A readiness to share the gospel, to share our faith.
How are you doing with evangelism? Are you equipped and motivated and prepared and able to share your faith with others, to point others to Jesus Christ, to share with them the good news? The gospel of peace gives us that readiness.
Okay, so readiness to stand firm, a readiness to suffer, and a readiness to share the gospel with others.
III. How We Put On These Gospel Shoes
One more question: how then do you put these gospel boots on? How do you put on the gospel shoes? So we’re now down to the final application, and I just want to give you, again, just three quick application points, things that you need if you are to put on these shoes.
(1) First of all, you have to know the gospel. You have to know the gospel. I don’t take it for granted that everyone does know the gospel; I think a lot of people don’t know the gospel. I don’t even take it for granted that every Christian can clearly articulate the gospel, though if you’re a Christian you have believed it, you know something about it. But you need to be equipped. You need to know it, you need to know how to express it, how to articulate it.
There are lots of ways you can do this. There are lots of ways you can learn. The most important thing is read your Bible! Study the word. Regularly come to worship. Be instructed in a class, in a small group. Get yourself equipped to know the gospel well.
The charge, then, is on every preacher and teacher and small group leader in our church to be sure that we are centered on the gospel in all of our teaching, not interested in minutiae, not interested in trying to educate people in all the minutiae, the unimportant trivia. I want people to know the gospel. I want people to know what is important, what’s of first importance in Scripture, and that’s the gospel of Jesus Christ. We need to know the gospel.
Maybe one of the best short summaries of the gospel I’ve ever heard is from a little hymn, a little song called “The Gospel Song.” The words just go like this:
“Holy God in love became
Perfect man to bear my blame.
On the cross he took my sin;
Through his death I live again.”
There’s the gospel. It’s very simple. You know, a four-year-old can learn that, can understand that; but we have to know it. We have to know the gospel, and know it well. So that’s first.
(2) And then secondly, believe the gospel. Embrace the gospel for yourself, personally.
Listen, friend: It’s not enough to simply have heard the good news; you have to believe it. It’s like food. It’s one thing to have food in the fridge and to be hungry; it’s another thing entirely to actually eat the food so that you satisfy the hunger. Or if you’re thirsty, it doesn’t do much good to know that there’s a fountain of living waters if you’re out in the desert dying of thirst, but if you actually come to the stream and drink, then it will help you. Or if you’re sick, you can talk all day long about how good your doctor is, but if you don’t actually go to the doctor and take medicine and let your doctor help you, you’re not going to get well, right?
Jesus is the bread of life. Jesus is the fountain of living water. Jesus is the good physician. And if you are to be saved, you have to go and eat this bread, you have to drink this water, you have to listen to the physician, you have to come to him and trust in him with all of your heart. You actually apply the gospel! You say, “Lord, I’m the sinner, and my sins condemn me, and I deserve hell, and I can’t save myself, and I’m not looking to my works anymore, I’m looking to what Jesus Christ has done for me! I abandon all hope in myself, and I trust in you.”
Someone once defined faith in this way, with the acronym FAITH: "Forsaking All, I Trust Him." That’s the appropriate response to the gospel.
Again, I ask you this morning if you’ve done that. Have you personally embraced the gospel? Maybe you’re a teenager and you’ve grown up in the church, but you haven’t actually embraced it for yourself. Or maybe you’re someone’s spouse and you come because your husband wants you to come or because your wife wants you to come, but you haven’t really taken it to heart for yourself. Or maybe you just wandered in here this morning. If so, I’m so glad you’re here; I hope nothing I say offends you, but the word of God says that without Christ you’d be condemned. But the good news is that if you receive Christ, if you come to Christ, that you will be saved.
So wherever you are this morning, if you have not put your faith and trust in Christ, I hope you will today.
(3) Know the gospel, believe it, embrace the gospel for yourself, and then here’s the last thing: let the gospel shape you. Let it shape you, and let it shape your mind, your heart, your imagination, your values, your motives. Let it shape everything about you, so that you begin to take on the shape of the gospel in your heart and life.
Let me just give you one example of what I mean. I was reading my favorite preacher this week, Charles Haddon Spurgeon. I know you get tired of hearing Spurgeon — or maybe you don’t. I hope you don’t get tired of Spurgeon! I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of Spurgeon. I was reading Spurgeon this week. I read a wonderful sermon on “Putting on Christ” from Romans 13, and Spurgeon talks about how Christ is our example, but Christ also gives us new motives. These are motives that are different than legal motives, that is, motives based on the law. Gospel motives are different. Not fear, but love.
I just want to read to you what Spurgeon said, because this is how I think the gospel should shape us in all of our obedience to Christ. So here we go.
Spurgeon says, “We want not only an example, but a motive, an impulse, and constraining power to keep us true to that example. Let us go to the Lord Jesus for motives. Some fly to Moses and would drive themselves to duty by the thunders of Sinai.” He’s talking about the Law, the ten commandments given on Sinai to Moses. “Some fly to Moses and would drive themselves to duty by the thunders of Sinai. Their design in service is to earn eternal life or prevent the loss of favor of God. Thus they come under law and forsake the true way of the believer, which is faith. Not from dread of punishment or hope of higher do believers serve the living God, but we put on Christ, and ‘the love of Christ constraineth us.’ Here is the spring of true holiness: ‘Sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law, but under grace.’ A stronger force than law has gripped you. You serve God, not as servants whose sole thought is the wage, but as children, whose eye is on the Father and his love. Your motive is gratitude to him by whose precious blood you are redeemed. He has put on your cause, and therefore you will take up his cause. Go not to the steep sides of Sinai to find motives for holiness, but hasten to Calvary and there find those sweet herbs of love which shall be the medicine of your soul. Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, covered with a consciousness of his love, fired with love to him in return. You will be strong to be, to do, or to suffer as the Lord Jesus may appoint.”
Do you have gospel motives? Has the gospel shaped your motives? Have you been so deeply touched by the gospel, by the love of God in Christ for you, that it has lit a flame of love in your own heart for him? He is the bright, burning Sun of love, and we just light the little candle of love in the Sun, and that love, then, becomes the motivation for everything we do, for everything we suffer, for everything we share with others in the name of Jesus Christ, because we have been equipped with this gospel of peace he’s given to us through the Lord.
Has that happened for you? If not, let me invite you today to look to Christ so that you can be at peace with God.
Our gracious Father, we thank you once again for your love that is given to us in Christ. We thank you for the gospel. We thank you that there is peace with God for all who will repent of their sins and trust in Christ. I pray right now for any who have never done that, that they would do so right now, that they would humbly before you confess their need for grace and for salvation, and abandon all hope of saving themselves, and instead look to Christ.
I pray for all of us as believers today, that we would be well equipped with the gospel, that we would know it well, that we would embrace it with all of our hearts, that we would put on these gospel shoes, and that you would equip us so that we are ready to do and to suffer for our Lord Jesus Christ. Father, we confess our great need for you and for your grace; we pray that you would give it.
As we come to the table this morning, we come with our eyes on Jesus. We’re not looking to our works. We’re not even looking to our taking the bread and the juice; we’re looking through these symbols, these emblems to the invisible reality of Christ, the bread of life, and we come to receive from him all the fullness of salvation that is found in him alone. So give us hearts set on Christ this morning as we come. We pray in Jesus’ name and for his sake, Amen.