GNB 2.97

April 26, 2023


Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.”(Revelation 3.10-11)


Let’s review the first six “connections”:

Put on the belt of truth and keeping it in place” with the charge of Christ to the Ephesian faith community which said “return to your first love.”

Put the breastplate of righteousness in place” with the call of Christ to the Smyrna faith community which we could reference with Psalm 119.11, “The word of God I will hide in my heart that I might not sin against Him.

Put on your feet shoes fitted with the gospel of peace” with the call of Christ to the Pergamum faith community which said “Repent of tolerating the teaching of Balaam and Nicolatius in your midst leading you to idolatry. I am coming with a double-edged sword to fight against all those who stand allow it.

Hold fast to the shield of faith” with the call of Christ to the faith community in Thyatira which said “Do not hold to false teachings and ‘hidden truths’ of Satan but have ears to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Take [with you] the helmet of salvation, …which is the word of God” with the call of Christ to the faith community in Sardis which said “Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.”

“…and [take with you] the sword of the Spirit which [with the helmet of salvation] is the word of God” with the call of Christ to the faith community in Philadelphia which said, “since you are holding fast to the faith I will establish you as a pillar in the temple of God which shall never come down and write upon it My Name and the name of ‘the city of My God.’

Now as we have read, studied and considered the description of Paul concerning the “whole armor/armament of God” and for the purpose of study and focus aligned it with the word/s of Christ given to John for the instruction of the seven churches in Asia Minor under his pastoral supervision, we will recognize there is a deficiency. Not that the word is lacking do I suggest there is a deficiency but that there are six elements of the whole armor of God and seven churches. It is at this point that I will use an illustration again from a science-fiction movie. This time it is from that great non-theological presentation Stargate. Of course, as is the case for all science-fiction genre, there are elements of truth included to more engage the audience. Hearing elements of history which are known and accepted as true, the audience is invited to listen further to what else is presented. There is a “moral” to every story and data-driven information which helps to connect the mode to the message. In this case, I am alluding to a “point” of destination. The premise of the “stargate” itself is a transport venue from one place to another. What is in hand in the movie are six symbols when the necessity is seven. The seventh symbol represents the point of origin so that a return could be provided. Without the seventh symbol there would be no transportation at all. Thus the crisis is presented in the movie because once they reached the destination of the found stargate, they could not find the seventh symbol to return from the point of origin- where they were. So, what is the “seventh” element in Ephesians 6 which connects the seventh community of faith found in Laodicea? One has to look outside of the six presented elements to find it (much like what was necessary in both the transport to and the transport back in the movie.) What is outside the six for Paul as he writes to the church in Ephesus, I suggest, as I did in the first series of studies on the “full armor of God” is prayer. In the Revelation, the first church is Ephesus and thus, for John and the seven churches themselves, becomes the point of origin. How do we come full circle? We do so with prayer which is our true point of origin in all of our journeys in life.

Understandably, you will recognize the power of prayer which Jesus embraces not only as the vehicle of communication with God His Father but as the discernment of truth for all people. The call which Jesus issues often in the course of healings was to “go and show yourself to the religious leader/authority.” That seat of spiritual truth is the ultimate point of origin. It is the “going back to God” which is far more impactful than “getting back to God.” We see it in the story of the Prodigal Son. We see it in the healing of the ten lepers by the side of the road. We see it in the instruction of the angels to the women who carried the directive back to the disciples in the Upper Room. We can most certainly come up with any number of examples; the least of which is not Mark 9.39ff telling us why the disciples could not heal the man’s son upon his request. I am not sure what the disciples were doing in ministry at the foot of Mt. Tabor while Jesus, Peter, James and John were at the mountain vista where Jesus was revealed in glory with Moses and Elijah. Perhaps they were practicing the laying on of hands or speaking some “catch phrases” as spiritual incantations. Maybe they were praying but not with the kind of faith that it would take to move mountains. When the disciples asked, “Why could we not do this thing?”, Jesus replied “This demon can only be driven out by prayer.” Confusing? What was so special about this demon that “prayer” was the only answer? I believe the answer is revealed in the conversation between Jesus and the boy’s father. In that conversation the father confessed “I believe; help me in my unbelief.” Sometimes the struggles we face in life are so great that we entertain some element of doubt as to whether God can heal in the extreme situations in our lives. The limit is obviously not with God as His will will be done. The limit comes in our belief in believing. The question comes not in prayer but in what we believe about praying with believing. Confusing? So are our prayers at times as we fill them with a sense of our weakness and propose a “currying of favor” to stand in its place. One example is the excessive invocation of God’s name in our prayers as if the number of times we can say “God, Jesus, Father, Christ, etc.” improves the efficacy of our prayer. Whenever I am asked about this, I simply refer to the example of prayer by which Jesus led His disciples in daily living as authentic believers. They did, after all, plead with Jesus to teach them authoritative prayer. We call it “the Lord’s Prayer” and we know it by heart. If we know it, then why don’t we invoke it daily? If we know it, then why don’t we pay attention to its vocabulary, purpose and authority. In it, Jesus does not refer to Himself but makes one introduction to “Abba, Father” and then affirms what belongs to each one of us because of the Father’s will from daily bread to the authority of ministering. Even the call to “pray in Jesus’ name” is not intended to put Jesus’ name into action as if it was a postscript. Rather, to pray in Jesus’ name is the call to pray as Jesus prayed. The best examples of that are “the Lord’s Prayer,” “the Garden Prayer” and “the Prayer from the Cross.” In those prayers and others, Jesus show no “middle ground.” He is fervent for God and against the mindset of those who propose they know better than God and thus make themselves hypocrites who call others hypocrites because they do not follow them instead of following Him.

I hope you can see then the connection to the church in Laodicea where Jesus speaks “Be hot or be cold but never lukewarm lest I spew you from my mouth as tepid drink.” Jesus is not a fan of tepidity nor timidity. He does not have time for either of them nor for “dancing around the elephant in the room.” So, why then shouldn’t we as disciples of Christ live, serve and pray (worship) in Jesus’ name as Jesus did, would, does and will continue to do on earth as it is in Heaven? Without prayer and the administration of the “prayer of believing” which confesses those places where unbelief still exist but is called out to be dealt with honestly and conclusively, what power do we have to “return to our point of origin”? What is that point of origin but the very presence of God Himself who is in our midst whether we see Him or not and whether we confess it or not and whether we believe it or not! It was the point of Jesus ministry to return to God and not empty-handed. He intended and intends to bring back those who are lost and proclaim them as being found whole and blameless by the Shepherd who laid down His life for them. In that there is power just as in Peter’s confession, Jesus said “You have spoken with rock solid confidence a truth which does not come from people but God alone in His Word by His Spirit. I will make you the head of the Church which I am building not to rule over it but to shore up the foundation.” So, it is with the word to Laodicea that the word returns to Ephesus and the circle becomes unbroken. The full armor of God is put on in “spirit and in truth” which is nothing less than the word of God that is righteousness.

Let those with eyes to see, perceive; and with ears to hear, listen for truth.


Thank You, Father, for loving us in the Son of Man and God. Thank You for showing us so great a love as that so we, too, might walk in its light of truth and find our lives bounded as with a belt of truth, protected by the breastplate of righteousness, fitted for our walk to be peacemakers, shielded by faith, helmeted with salvation, empowered by the Spirit of the Word which is from God and is of God and is God indeed who invokes our presence with prayer and the power of believing in us so that we can believe in ourselves and Him. We go now into our spheres of influence girded with truth and fitted for service to bring the word to others and glory to You in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

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