AGCC Sun. a.m. 7/11/99
"A GOOD FOOTHOLD"
"THE SECURE SOLE (SOUL)"
TEXT: Eph. 6:15; Isa. 52:7-12
INTRO: No doubt you have heard this expression: "I have good news and bad news"
GOOD NEWS: Church offerings increased 25% this last quarter
BAD NEWS: Both money and the treasurer are missing!
GOOD NEWS: Mr. Troublemaker is finally leaving the Church,
BAD NEWS: He is taking half the congregation with him!
GOOD NEWS: The elders voted to give the Pastor a $3,000 a year raise,
BAD NEWS: They also voted to get a new Pastor!
The Gospel is GOOD NEWS (the very meaning of the Greek word euaggelion (euaggelion) is "good news" or Gospel). The bad news is that sin destroys, but our good news can destroy the bad!
The soldier of Jesus Christ is instructed by Paul to be sure to have on the sandals of the Gospel of peace. Considering that the sandals worn by Roman soldiers had large nails or pegs on the underside of the sandal is instructive to what Paul is trying to say. These "hobnail" sandals enabled the soldier to have sure footing in shifting sand and on slippery slopes, it gave sure footing as well as insulating the soldier from the dirty world beneath his feet. The Gospel is good news to the soldier because it provides sure footing in a world of shifting sands and slippery places, and it also insulates our lives from this world so we can walk with God. It is also good news in the sense that our mission is to announce "PEACE" with God through Jesus Christ, which of course is the essence of the Gospel!
We live in a world of spiritual warfare, and having our feet fitted with the Gospel of peace will enable us to stand against the spiritual enemies of this world.
ILLUS: An unbelieving lecturer gave people an opportunity to reply to him after his oration, and he was of course expecting that one or two rashly zealous young men would rise to advance the common arguments for Christianity, which he was quite prepared, by hook or by crook, to battle with or laugh down. Instead, an old lady carrying a basket, wearing an ancient bonnet, and altogether dressed in an antique fashion that marked both her age and her poverty, came up on the platform. She began by saying, "I paid threepence to hear of something better than Jesus Christ, and I have not heard it. Now, let me tell you what religion has done for me. I have been a widow thirty years, and I was left with ten children. I trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ in the depth of poverty, and he appeared for me and comforted me, and helped me to bring up my children. None of you can tell what the troubles of a poor lone woman are, but the Lord has made his grace all-sufficient. You say that's all nonsense. Those who are young and foolish may believe you, but I know there is a reality in religion. Tell me something better than what God has done for me, or you have cheated me out of my threepence." Such a mode of controversy was new to the lecturer, and therefore he gave up the contest, and merely said, "Really, the dear old woman was so happy in her delusion he should not like to undeceive her." "No," she said, "that won't do. Truth is truth, and your laughing can't alter it. Jesus Christ has been all this to me, and I could not sit down in the hall and hear you talk against him without speaking up for him. I've tried and proved him, and that's more than you have." The testing and proving of God, getting his love really shed abroad in the heart, is the great internal evidence of the gospel. -- Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc, 1990
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that the soldier of Jesus Christ is equipped to bring a message of peace and good news to those who are slaves to sin, we have GOOD NEWS of deliverance and peace in Christ our Lord.
I. PROPER FOOTING Eph. 6:15; Isa. 52:7
A. Secure Sole (or Soul!) Eph. 6:15
1. A soldier was doomed on the battlefield if he lost his footing, so special sandals with hobnails were developed to ensure solid footing on difficult and dangerous ground.
a. In shifting sands the hobnails offered security and stability
b. On slippery slopes the hobnails gave a firm grasp so the soldier did not fall.
c. The hobnail sandals also provided a layer of insulation and protection for the soldier from the dirty earth.
2. It is easy to see why Paul used the "GOSPEL" as this image of hobnail sandals:
a. In the shifting sands of ideas and philosophies, the Gospel offers a stability that cannot be found in this world.
b. On the slippery places our walk with God is made secure by the Gospel of Christ, we are not likely to fall if we stand on the Gospel of Christ.
c. The Gospel insulates our walk through life from the filth of this world, it calls us to a holy walk with God.
3. There is no substitute for the Gospel as good news for a sinful world!
a. The Gospel is the only good news for mankind!
b. The Gospel alone has the power to change the eternal destiny of all.
ILLUS: In 1829 Alexander Duff and his young bride set sail for India, the first missionary of his church to go to that land. He was a brilliant scholar and he had selected a large library of books and manuscripts to assist him in his work. On the way they were shipwrecked and all the books but two were lost, a Bible and a hymnal. The man who had intended to enter India with a library entered with only two books, but they were the very books he needed the most. -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).
4. Nothing protects the soul as does the Gospel, it gives sure footing in a fallen world. It is the only power on earth that can alter the eternal destinies of mankind.
B. Soldiers of Salvation Isa. 52:7
1. Since our walk is to be equipped with the Gospel, we are not only soldiers fighting a war but we are also messengers of peace!
a. This is an ironic image of the soldier, to proclaim peace in war!
b. We not only fight for peace, we proclaim it in Christ.
2. We must not simply be relieved to have our own life protected with the Gospel of Christ, we must proclaim this freedom and peace to those who are ravaged by sin.
a. Satan is a defeated enemy, but proclaiming victory is part of the good news of the Gospel, people need to hear there is victory!
b. Isaiah said that those who brought good news had beautiful feet … an image of great joy to those who have been afflicted and were waiting for some good news.
3. No soldier fights for only his own freedom, we must not be content to have the good news for ourselves and not share it with others.
ILLUS: Luigi Tarisio was found dead one morning with scarce a comfort in his home, but with 246 exquisite violins, which he had been collecting all his life, crammed into an attic, the best in the bottom drawer of an old rickety bureau. In his very devotion to the violin, he had robbed the world of all that music all the time he treasured them; others before him had done the same, so that when the greatest of his collection, a Stradivarius, was first played it had had 147 speechless years. Yet, how many of Christ's people are like old Tarisio? In our very love of the church we fail to give the glad tidings to the world; in our zeal for the truth we forget to publish it. When shall we all learn that the Good News needs not just to be cherished, but needs to be told? All people need to hear it. -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 492.
4. With our feet clothed with the Gospel of peace we are prepared to march across rough terrain to shout the good news that Christ has indeed made a way of escape from the enemy called sin.
II. POWERFUL FREEDOM Isa. 52:8-12
A. Shouting & Singing 52:8-9
1. Isaiah describes the scene in Jerusalem when news arrived of God's peace for His people - they broke out with singing and shouts of joy!
a. Who says there were no Pentecostals in the Old Testament!?
b. The fact is that such good news can hardly be accepted unemotionally.
2. The Gospel of Christ is our message in a war torn world, a message of such good news that can cause rejoicing when it is accepted.
a. As soldiers of the cross we must not "walk" through life with our bare feet, but have them shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace … people are hungry to know that there is real peace for their soul.
b. There is great rejoicing over great news!
ILLUS: I recall one night very late in the evening when I was called to the hospital. As I was walking down the semi-dark hall, with no people around, a man suddenly ran out of one of the patient rooms. He ran up to me--I had never seen him before--and he said to me with joy in his face, "She's going to make it. She's better. She is going to make it," and then he made his way on down the hall. I have not seen the man since. I do not know who he was talking about. I assume it was someone very near and dear to him, and he had just received good news. He could not wait to share it. He did not even have to know the person with whom he shared it; it just flowed from him because he had received good news, and good news is to be shared. Don Mckenzie -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 490.
3. The soldier had the freedom to walk and even run on treacherous ground when his feet were probably protected.
a. He did not have to worry about his feet being injured.
b. He did not have to worry about stumbling and falling.
c. He was free to enjoy his freedom on difficult ground.
B. Salvation & Sanctification 52:10-12
1. The purpose of such sandals was to allow for constant walking or running with freedom.
a. The Gospel not only saves us initially, it calls us to walk a holy life all through our lifetime.
b. The Gospel saves us to live out a life of faith daily.
2. We must keep the sandals of the Gospel on our feet at all times, throughout our lifetime!
a. Remember Israel in the wilderness, their shoes NEVER WORE OUT NOR THEIR FEET SWELLED during the 40 years of wandering on hot desert soil and shifting sands! (Deu 8:4 "Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years." Deu 29:5 "During the forty years that I led you through the desert, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet."
b. God preserved their sandals supernaturally so their walk was secure during their entire journey in the wilderness.
c. The Gospel never wears out either, and it will preserve our walk the entire journey through the wilderness experiences of this life.
3. The Gospel can only do this however if it is applied to our lives, it is not enough to make the Gospel like those bronze shoes we wore as a child, now only a trophy on a mantle somewhere, we must wear this footgear!
a. The power of the Gospel needs to be applied everyday in our "walk" - we cannot afford to be barefoot on dangerous ground!
b. The soldier PUT ON the hobnail sandals every day, he was not properly prepared for battle unless they were on!
ILLUS: A soap manufacturer and a pastor were walking together down a street in a large city. The soap manufacturer casually said, "The gospel you preach hasn't done much good, has it? Just observe. There is still a lot of wickedness in the world, and a lot of wicked people, too!" The pastor made no reply until they passed a dirty little child making mud pies in the gutter. Seizing the opportunity, the pastor said, "I see that soap hasn't done much good in the world; for there is much dirt, and many dirty people around." The soap manufacturer replied, "Oh, well, soap is only useful when it is applied." And the pastor said, "Exactly, so it is with the gospel." -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 354.
4. How well prepared are you to do spiritual warfare?
a. Can you maneuver the slippery places?
b. Can you stand surefooted on shifting sands?
c. Is your walk in this world insulated by the Gospel of Christ?
d. Do you apply the Gospel every day to your walk with God?
e. Do others consider your feet "blessed" because you bear them good news?
5. The only guarantee the soldier had of properly maneuvering the tough ground was proper foot gear, for us it is the Gospel of Christ.
6. Like the sandals Israel wore in the desert which never aged or wore out, the Gospel of Christ is the only proper attire to allow us to successfully navigate the wilderness experience, be sure to have "your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace." (Eph. 6:15)
CONCLUSION: The world is a war zone ravaged by sin! We however have sure footing with the Gospel of Christ in a world of shifting sands and slippery slopes. The Gospel of Christ is the news of "peace" in the midst of war. No wonder Isaiah said "how beautiful on the mountains are the feet of them who bring good news." Do you have on the sandals of salvation?