Against the Odds: The Helmet Of Salvation
So far as I can determine, this is a true story…
A brand new church was built up in the Midwest and one of the things the people decided to do was to put a Bible verse over each of the doors of the new building—a verse appropriate for that particular room. For instance, over the doors of the Sanctuary, they inscribed the words: “I was glad when they said unto me ’Let us go into the house of the Lord.’” Above the choir room door, they placed the words from Psalms 100: “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.” Over the door to the Men’s Bible Class, they put the verse from Timothy: “Study to show yourselves approved, a workman for the Lord, rightly handling the word of truth.” The youth department doorway carried the words from Isaiah 40: “You shall mount up with wings like eagles; you shall run and not be weary.” At the entrance to the children’s area, you will have guessed that they put: “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not for of such is the Kingdom of God.” Over the entryway to the kitchen, they placed the fourth Beatitude: “Blessed are those who Hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” But when they came to the nursery, they were stumped. They couldn’t think of a verse. Suddenly, someone said, “What about Paul’s great chapter on the resurrection, 1 Corinthians 15, yes, 1 Corinthians 15: verse 51?” Well, those are the words they put above the nursery door . Do you know what that verse says? It says: “Lo! I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed”!
Seriously, though, that verse captures what may be our greatest hope as Christians—the hope that we shall be changed, that we shall be saved, that we shall know eternal life. It is that hope of salvation to which Paul points as an essential piece of the Christian’s armor. He labels it “the helmet of salvation”. Of course, the head is a particularly vulnerable spot on the human body. A sharp blow to the arm or leg might break a bone; a sharp blow to the head can kill. That’s why football players and bike riders wear headgear. That’s why construction workers wear hardhats. And that’s why Roman soldiers wore helmets. Paul’s point is clear. Just as the helmet was essential for the soldier, so the hope of salvation is essential for the Christian.
Now, I think it might be helpful for us to understand that according to the Bible, salvation has three dimensions: Past, present and future. Let’s take them one at a time…
First, salvation has a past dimension—it delivers us from the penalty of sin.
This dimension of salvation carries with it the idea that at some point in the past, we were forgiven. We were cleansed of our sin. We were spiritually re-born and made eligible for heaven.
Next, salvation has a present dimension—it delivers us from the power of sin.
The reality is that when Jesus Christ takes up residence in our heart, we are changed. Our goals change. Our standards change. Our possibilities change. Our priorities change. We are changed until we can say with Paul, “It is not I who lives, but Christ who lives in me.” When we belong heart, mind, body, and soul to Jesus Christ, then we no longer live for ourselves and ourselves alone—and we are free more and more from the power of evil in us and around us.
Some years ago, a man called his minister and asked him to come to the hospital. The man’s wife had just given birth to a baby boy. The baby was fine except for one thing—he had no right ear. The auditory opening was there; all the parts of the inner ear were in place; but there was no outer ear. The doctors assured the parents that eventually transplant surgery could be performed but they would have to wait until the boy was fully grown and, of course, a suitable donor would have to be found. Years passed and the boy grew up without a right ear. It was not easy. His childhood was marked by unending taunts of cruel rejection from other children. As a result, the boy became withdrawn and largely uncommunicative. One day when he was a senior in High school, his father told him that at last a donor had been found and that he could have the corrective operation. The operation was successful. Ultimately, the young man went on to college and became a geologist working in the Texas oil fields; however, the scars from his painful childhood stayed with him. He lived mostly for himself and within himself.
One day he received a phone call from his dad telling him that his mother had suffered a heart attack. He rushed home but too late — his mother died before he could get there. His father insisted that they go to the funeral home together—just the two of them . As they were standing by the casket, suddenly the father reached down and brushed back his wife’s long flowing hair. And the young man saw for the first time that his mother had no right ear . His father said, “She made me promise never to tell you as long as she lived, but now I thought you ought to know that she was the donor who gave you her ear.” Confronting that kind of sacrificial love changed the young man. No longer was his life marked by selfishness, but more and more it was marked by the sacrificial love he learned from his mother.
That’s exactly what happens to us when we confront the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ on the cross—we are changed and, more and more our lives begin to reflect the beauty of living for Jesus Christ and living like Jesus Christ. That’s the hope that comes when you put on the helmet of salvation. Your present is empowered.
Then salvation has a future dimension—it delivers us from the presence of sin.
When Christ comes again—and He will—He will deliver us to our final salvation. All sin and evil will be destroyed and we will live forever in the presence of God. Just think of some of the promises we are given with regards to heaven. There we shall be filled with the glory of God. There we shall be presented without spot or blemish before the throne of God. There we shall be reunited with those who have preceded us in death. There we shall see the face of Jesus and there we shall be like Him. It takes your breath away when you stop to think about it.
C. S. Lewis once said, “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you will get neither.” Live then for the things of the next world. Put your hope in the things of the next world. This world is not our home. We are just passing through. We don’t belong here anymore than a fish belongs in the desert or a camel belongs in the sea. We belong to God. We belong in Heaven. And nothing in this world can begin to compare with the splendor that awaits us there.
I have been to the Grand Canyon but once in my life. It was when I was in college. I didn’t see it from where most people see it—the South rim. I saw it from the North rim. We arrived before sunrise. We were surrounded by the inky blackness of the night and we couldn’t see the canyon at all. Suddenly the tops of the mountains to the East were touched with golden glory. (That’s the promise that is ours when we are saved in Jesus Christ.) The canyon at our feet was still dark, formless, desolate and deep. As the light began to spill over the edge of the rim, suddenly barren walls were rendered wildly resplendent; dead gorges shrouded in mist, were transformed into shimmering cascades of light. Deeper and deeper the splendor spread as the sun caressed rocky crags and shape was brought out of shadow , beauty was brought out of ugliness. (That’s what Christ does as He grows and develops in us!) Then the whole canyon was flooded with light except for one great gaping gash at its deepest point. That was the last frontier of darkness. (That’s what death is like!) But then with scintillating splendor, the sun pierced through that last darkness and was reflected in brilliant glory from the surface of the Colorado River far below. (That’s the way it will be for us when we move into heaven’s glory!)
In this world we encounter tough times and we are surrounded by the darkness of evil. That’s why we need to put on the hope of the helmet of salvation. Our future is secured.
Well, let me finish with this personal witness…
I believe that God is the Creator of everything that is, and that this world is His and everything in it. I believe in His Son, Jesus Christ. I believe that He is God in human form and I believe that He came to this earth to die for your sin and mine. I believe His Holy Spirit is at work in the church, in us, and in the world about us orchestrating events, moving in hearts, changing circumstances, transforming lives and enabling us to become more and more what He wants us to be . I believe that the church is the Body of Christ in the world—His eyes—His lips—His voice—His hands—His feet—His heart—and as such, it deserves, the deepest commitment we can make to it. I believe that Jesus Christ will return, that God’s purpose will be fulfilled, that the curtain will ring down on human history, and that everything promised in scripture will come true. I believe that you and I—though we die, though we suffer, though we hurt, though there are things we do not understand, though there are questions we cannot answer, though there are problems we cannot begin to solve—I believe that you and I, one day, will stand before God in Heaven and there, we shall have our problems solved, our questions answered, and our hurts healed. I believe that.
And that’s why I want you to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ in a new and powerful way in your life. I want you to know what it’s like to live in obedience to Him, to feel His power, to experience His forgiveness and to enjoy His love. I want you to find, in Him, an unfailing guidance for the living of your life and an undying promise of God’s grace, until the day, when you and I, together, shall stand before God’s heavenly throne, and we will hear the angels sing, and we’ll see the face of Jesus, and we’ll know that the kingdoms of this world have become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ—and He shall reign forever and ever! Amen!
That’s what I want in my life and that’s what I want for your life, too…