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Sunday, August 29, 2010 pm 

SERMONS IN SONG
Soldiers of Christ Arise, #225

Tonight we want to examine the words of another song that we sing from time to time.  We know it well and it is my hope that we give consideration to its meaning. This song is a call to battle.

 

It was written by Charles Wesley, who founded what would become the Methodist Church.  The lyrics were written in 1749 and originally entitled, “The Whole Armor of God, Ephesians VI”.    When it was written, it was a lengthy song with 16 verses, each containing 8 lines.  The tune was different than what we sing in our song books and each verse contained the equivalent of two verses in our version.  It’s length was reduced when it was reduced to 12 stanzas, which was divided into three separate hymns (24 stanzas if you consider how it is tuned in our books).  Our version of music was composed by William Bradbury in the mid 1800s.S

 

It is said that this song was written as Wesley and his brother John faced opposition from the Church of England as Methodists were begin persecuted.  He wrote this song to encourage members to stand faithful, even in the face of persecutions. 

 

While written, by a denominational teacher, we shall see that the message is true and thus the song has a scriptural message with which we can teach and admonish one another in song (Eph. 5:19).   In fact, if you examine the text of Ephesians 6:10-18 you will find that this song is based upon that text.  Let us begin by reading this text.

 I.                    Vs. 1 – Soldiers of Christ arise!

a.        Soldiers of Christ arise! - The “battle cry” – Eph. 6:10-12 tells us that we are at war.  Such is something we must constantly remind ourselves of.  Satan is the general of our enemy and he is out to defeat us and the Lord’s church.  Therefore, we must ARISE and go to battle.
2 Corinthians 10:3-6 also describes this spiritual battle that we are engaged in as well.
Continually the Bible makes references to battle and fighting for the right cause

b.       Put your armor on Ephesians 6:13-18.  The armor is described, and it is NOT described piece by piece, but THE WHOLE armor.

c.        Strong in the strength which God supplies through His beloved Son
In this battle we need to rely upon our God.  Prov. 3:5 tells us to “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
There are so many passages that describe the strength of God in our lives: Ephesians 1:15-20 speaks of the greatness of His power (vs. 19) giving us knowledge and understanding and hope through Jesus.  Ephesians 3:14-19 - in prayer, Paul’s desire is that He grant us, according to the riches of His glory strength in the inner man (vs. 16), that Christ may dwell in our hearts and that we comprehend His love.

 

II.                  Vs. 2 - STRONG in the Lord of hosts

a.        Strong in the Lord of hosts - This verse elaborates on our strength being found in Jesus.  1 Cor. 16:13 calls upon us to be strong.  2 Tim. 2:1 says, “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

b.       The idea of “the Lord of hosts” is God or Lord of all creation.  This truly applies to the Godhead.

c.        Consider Eph. 6:10, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”

He is a source of strength that cannot be matched with anything in this world.  

d.       Who in the strength of Jesus trusts? Do we have the faith and trust in Him we ought to have?  
Paul told Timothy, “For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially in those who believe…” (1 Tim. 4:10)
2 Cor. 1:9-11, speaks of Paul trusting in the living God because he had “delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us…”
 Phil. 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ…”

e.       Is more than conqueror – with Christ on our side, we cannot lose. 
Rom. 8:31, “IF God is for us, who can be against us?  Rom. 8:37, “Yet in all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
1 John 4:4
says, “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

 

III.                Vs. 3 – STAND then in His great might

a.        Stand then in His great might -

Eph. 6:10-11 continues, “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

Since our Lord gives us strength, we need accept it.  We need to STAND FAST with it.  Again 1 Cor. 16:13 says, “Watch, stand fast in the faith,… 
Galatians 5:1 says, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

b.       With all His strength endued – a phrase meaning to take advantage of EVERYTHING you have available through Him. 

c.        But take to arm you for the fight, the panoply of God – In our text, Paul proceeds to emphasize the importance of putting on the WHOLE armor.  He mentions it twice in our text (11& 13).  We understand the need for complete armor in man’s army, what about God’s army?  IF we are going to fight in this battle and successfully resist the devil, we need every piece of armor God gives us.
Panoply, “1. a wide-ranging and impressive array or display.  2. A complete suit of armor.”  Dictionary.com, Random House, 2010

d.       One observation that I make with this verse is the reminder that our battle is fought on two fronts – one at home where we defend the truth and stand our ground against impurities AND where we go out and ENGAGE the enemy.   Our Lord helps us with both.

 

 IV.           Vs. 4 – Leave no unguarded place, no weakness of the soul

a.        Leave no unguarded place - A key lesson to consider the in this verse is that we cannot let down our guard anywhere. 
In our text, Eph. 6:11-13 we are told the nature of our battle, we “struggle…not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places…” have to fight this battle everywhere, INCLUDING within.  Like so many other elements of the Christian life, our success begins with purity at home.  “Every virtue and every grace” will help to fortify us.

b.       No weakness of the soul - To resist the devil we have to overcome weaknesses in our lives.  Romans 12:21 says to not be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good.  1 John 2:13-14 speaks of those who have overcome the wicked one.  1 John 5:4-5 says, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” 

c.        A key continually emphasized in this is to take every virtue, every grace.  This is descriptive of doing the good things and developing the attributes found in 2 Peter 1:5-7, Galatians 5:22, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, Matthew 5:3-10, etc.   In fact, consider in our text how we are to put on truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, hope of salvation and prayer.

d.       And fortify the whole - With such, you can fortify or build up, the whole body.  To fortify something is to strengthen it.  Oh how much we need good living to overcome evil living.

 

V.                   Vs. 5 – That having all things done

a.        That having all things done – in this song, with its call to battle, the final verse answers the question: “Is it worth it?”  The answer is obviously, YES!

Eph. 6:13 says, “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.”

b.       And all your conflicts past – In this life we know we will face all sorts of conflicts, but as Christians, we have hope.  In this phrase I see one who as Paul said in 2 Tim. 4:7 said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  We should be looking toward a time when we will no longer have to fight this war.  A time of eternal peace. 

c.        You may o’ercome through Christ alone – while we need one another, Christ is our ultimate source of victory.  He will be with us through this life and He will be with us as we leave to stand before God -  if we have been faithful
1 Corinthians 15:57 says, “But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Rev. 12:11,and they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”

d.       And stand entire at last – when a war is over, there is a victory ceremony and celebrations.   This was very prevalent as the New Testament was being written, and it is usually true today as well.   Those who come home, do so to a hero’s welcome.  At last, they can rest with the pride of victory.
Paul, as he wrote of our spiritual battle always looked toward that victory.  That is why Paul after telling Timothy he had finished the good fight he said, " Finally there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Tim. 4:8).
in Colossians 4:12, Paul commended Epaphras to the brethren noting that he fervently labored, “that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.
What a day that will be, when we finally stand before God (in judgment) and having done all we are able to stand (having passed the test for eternity).

 

And thus we find another song with its message for us.  Many of the songs we sing remind us of this war against Satan that we are engaged in.  When we consider these songs, may it motivate us to a more devoted service in His army, seeking to please Him first.  2 Tim 2:4-5, “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.”  Are we pleasing our Lord in this battle?  Let us sing!