Christian Churches of God
The Shield of Faith
(Edition 1.0 20080731-20080731)
In this lesson we will look at the concepts of what a shield is, how is it used, what is faith, where does faith lead and why is it important.
The Shield of Faith
Ephesians 6:13-18 Therefore take the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench 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. Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. (RSV)
Faith is another feature of the armour of God. It is described as the shield of faith. The shield is held by our hand and we must hold it and move the shield as Satan sends his fiery darts at us. We must remain alert to what we are doing and what is going on around us.
Faith is something that we ultimately get from God. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.
Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (NKJV)
Faith is a fruit of God’s Spirit and also a gift of the Holy Spirit. When we listen to what God says, and follow in His ways, we maintain our faith.
It is interesting that the piece of armour that was chosen for faith was the shield. In order to survive in a world that is being ruled by Satan, we must use our faith in God as a protection from Satan’s fiery darts. When trials are upon us, and things get very difficult, it is our faith in God and his son Jesus Christ that allows us to endure. We have faith in God’s Plan and the wonderful things that await us in the future. When we use our faith we are able to block and defeat Satan’s attacks on the Church or us.
As we learn about the shield of faith, let us first look at the meaning of the word shield.
What is a shield?
A shield is some type of device that protects the part of the body it covers. A partial definition from http://www.yourdictionary.com/shield follows:
1. a flat, usually broad, piece of metal, wood, etc., carried in the hand or worn on the forearm to ward off blows or missiles;
2. any person or thing that guards, protects, or defends;
3. a heraldic escutcheon
We see it can be a piece of military hardware that the individual uses to protect himself or it can be a person, or God, or one of the loyal Host shielding or protecting the elect. Whatever the case, it is something or someone protecting us from harm or danger.
Let us look at the use of the word shield in the Old and New Testaments.
In the Old Testament, SHD 3591, 4043, and 6793 are primarily translated as shield. These words are also sometimes translated as buckler, gorget (which is a piece of armour for the throat) and spear.
In the New Testament, the word shield appears only once. It is SGD 2375 and it is used in Ephesians 6:17 – the armour of God passage. This word comes from SGD 2374, which means door. In John 10:9, Jesus says: “I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved”. Just as Jesus Christ is the door, the shield of faith that God gives us is like the door to salvation. We must have this faith in order to enter into eternal life.
Sometimes a buckler is also referred to as a shield. As a two-weapon combination, it is simultaneously defensive and offensive.
SHD 4043 is translated 9 of 63 times as buckler.
The International Bible Encyclopaedia states:
God is our ultimate shield or protector. Other scriptures that speak of God’s protection are: Deuteronomy 33:29; 2Sa 22:36; Psalm 5:12; 18:2,35; 33:20; 59:11; 84:9,11; 89:18; 91:4; and Proverbs 30:5.
Other uses of the word shield
In 2Samuel 22:1ff. David said this of Eloah:
2Samuel 22:1-3 And David spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul: 2 And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; 3 The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.
Here we see the elements of shield and protection being demonstrated by Eloah.
Also in Genesis 15:1 we continue to see the element of Eloah’s protection being stressed.
After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
We are told repeatedly that Eloah will protect and care for us as long as we obey and follow His Laws. Later we will see the concept of faith leading to the great reward of Salvation.
Now that we have a good grasp of the word shield, let us then look at how the Bible describes the word faith.
In Hebrews 11:1 the Bible tells us:
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (RSV)
The use of the word assurance is another way of saying that we have confidence or trust. And what we all have confidence or trust in is that God, through our faith in his son Jesus Christ, has promised us eternal life. The conviction of things not seen is saying that faith is like the evidence or proof of things that we cannot see.
A good analogy would be the wind because it is something that we cannot see. The things that happen when the wind blows, like leaves moving or our hair blowing, are the evidence that the wind exists. Faith is the same way. Even though we cannot see God, evidence of God is everywhere we look. The creation of the universe, the planet, man, answered prayers; these are all evidence of something that we cannot see.
So, faith gives us the confidence in our hope for eternal life, and faith allows us to see the evidence or proof of God even though we cannot see Him.
In the Old Testament faith and faithfulness are from SHD 530 and mean: firmness, fidelity, steadfastness, steadiness. The most frequent translations are faithfulness and faith; yet, 13 of 49 times it is translated as truth.
We see Psalm 89 used SHD 530 seven times. From Symbolism of Numbers (No. 7) we see 7 shows spiritual perfection. It reflects the work of the Holy Spirit as the power of God. It is also the period of return to God in rest and return to His Law, and that is why the Law is read in the Sabbath year of the cycle. Therefore, we see the faithfulness of Eloah depicted in His spiritual perfection. It is interesting that Psalm 89 is the last book of the Levitical book of the Psalms and has much focus on faithfulness and the sanctuary, and closes with a double Amen.
(Much of the following information in this section was summarized from Faith and Works (No. 86)).
Romans 1:17 tells us that the just shall live by faith. The Bible defines the just as those that are righteous, innocent, and approved of or acceptable of God. In a sense, this verse shows us the relationship between faith and living our lives in a way that is acceptable to God. In other words, faith is tied to keeping the Laws of God. It requires action.
In Matthew 23:23, Jesus told us that the weightier matters of the Law are justice and mercy and faith. Faith is a pillar of the Law of God. The first Great Commandment, to love God, summarises the First through the Fourth Commandment. The first three Commandments can be kept by faith, but works is necessary to the keeping of the Fourth, the Sabbath, which extends to all of the elements including New Moons and Holy Days. Moreover, the second Great Commandment, to love one’s neighbour, is only demonstrated by works. Faith and works are intertwined and must always go together.
James 2:17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. (RSV)
God gives us faith, but we must retain it through our obedience to His way of life – otherwise our faith will die.
Hebrews 11 is known as the faith chapter. It shows us two important concepts about faith:
1. Faith was the essential element for obedience to the Law of God; and
2. In spite of this faith, they did not receive the promise. Thus faith alone is not an assurance of salvation.
We cannot inherit the Kingdom of God by faith alone, since faith without works is dead. Similarly, we cannot inherit the Kingdom of God by works alone.
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God (RSV)
By God’s grace we have been saved through our faith. But, faith is only active with works. It is because of their faith that the elect walk in obedience to God within the Laws of God.
Therefore, as we think of the shield of faith, we can consider that obedience to the Law is the strap that we hold on to as we move our shield to avoid the darts of discouragement that Satan sends our way.
Romans 3:21-22 explains why faith is so important to every Christian.
Romans 3:21-22 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
Faith is essential and totally necessary for eternal life. It is one of the three elements of eternal life – i.e. knowledge of the One True God and his son Jesus Christ; faith in Christ; and partaking of Christ’s body and blood at the annual Lord’s Supper. (See the paper Significance of the Bread and Wine (No. 100).)
God is the Saviour of us all (1Tim. 4:10), man and Host alike. He calls (Jn. 6:44), He leads us to repentance and He gives us to Christ (see Jn. 6:44). Jesus Christ is our personal saviour. He was the one chosen by God to save us. God the Father is the saviour of Jesus Christ and, by extension, the saviour of us all. That is why Jesus Christ is the instrument of salvation. His sacrifice covers all points of the sacrificial law, so that there is now no need to kill an animal. The sacrificial law is suspended or on hold since Messiah’s death.
Remember, in the paper Sacrifices and Offerings of Eloah during the Millennium (No. CB121), we learned that some sacrifices will be re-instituted under Christ's rule in the Period of Just Rule.
1Peter 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (RSV)
The outcome of our faith is Salvation (1Pet. 9:10).
See the paper The Relationship between Salvation by Grace and the Law (No. 82) for more details.
Hebrews 12:2 tells us Jesus is the author and instrument of perfection of our faith. Faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit from 1Chronicles 12:9.
Who are examples of being faithful?
Messiah is probably the best-known example of a faithful witness.
Revelation 1:5-6 … and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us, and released us from our sins by His blood, 6 and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father; to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Even Christ had to live by faith. He was given Abraham to develop. He had to have faith in his Father that Abraham would not fail. Abraham lied about his wife being his sister, failing to trust God as his protector. It was only when Abraham was finally willing to trust God regarding the sacrifice of his only son, Isaac, that Christ knew Abraham would succeed.
Genesis 22:12 He said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." (RSV)
Christ did not second-guess God; he kept working with Abraham no matter how many times he failed the test. This example gives us all great hope in the patience and obedience of Christ. He will not lose one that God has given to him.
John 18:9 This was to fulfil the word which he had spoken, "Of those whom thou gavest me I lost not one." (RSV)
There are numerous examples of pillars of the faith such as Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Isaac, Jacob, etc.
The outcome or reward of our faith is salvation.
1Peter 1:9 As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls. (RSV)
We understand that God’s system is revealed and followed through faith. The men and women of old were known by their acts of faith; such as, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah and the list continues (Heb. 11:1-40).
Some were tortured for refusing to turn from the Faith so that they might rise again to a better life. All of these people demonstrated their faith but did not receive what was promised since God had something better for them. They will rise with Messiah at his return and receive their reward of the First Resurrection (Heb. 11:39-40).
For more information see the Oracles of God (No. 184).
We have seen that faith comes from the hearing of God’s word; faith is a gift from God.
As Psalm 89 states, a day in the house of the Lord is better than a 1000 days without.
Psalm 84:9-12 Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed. For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.
Let us all have the faith and trust in Eloah that He will bring His Plan to pass. Let each of us do our part to demonstrate faith to the world while we carry the Gospel to all.
Let it never be said of us that we have too little faith; as the scriptures of the Bible describe (cf. Mat. 6:30; 8:26; 14:31; 16:8; Lk. 12:28). Let Messiah never describe us as the people in Matthew 16:8.
Rather, let us be of those of the elect who keep the Commandments of God and the Testimony of Faith of Jesus Christ (Rev. 12:17; 14:12).
How can we know that someone has faith? By the works they display through the love of God and their neighbour – i.e. the two Great Commandments.