I had a key in my pocket, but there were coins in my pocket too, and so I had some trouble finding the key. I pulled out a piece of gum, but when I finally found the key, it didn’t really matter. That was because I had a box as well…I mean the box wasn’t really mine, it belonged to the person who owned the key also. You see, I didn’t actually own the key either, even though the key was in my pocket. But the key was supposed to be put into the box, so that I could get what was in the box out. I didn’t own the key or the box, but what was in the box was mine, even though I hadn’t bought it, or had ever seen it before.
But there was a window as well, and I could see through the window which made me realize that I didn’t have to put the key into the box so that I could get into the box in order to get what was in the box out of the box. But then this man came by, and well, he had things in his box, and I felt kind of stupid just standing there, so even though there wasn’t anything in my box, I decided to put the key into it anyway so I could get nothing out of the box. So there I am with the key stuck into the box and nothing actually in the box.
Do you understand what I am saying? It sounds like nonsense, right?
I was talking about getting mail out of a PO Box. I’ve got a key, and a little box and a little window, and I stick the key in to get the mail out. But because of how muddled and confused and garbled I was, none of you understood what in the world I was talking about. Right?
Well, sadly, that is how we all too often come across to people when we share the Gospel with them. We use words and phrases they don’t understand. We are often unclear ourselves what exactly the Gospel message is, and by the time we get done “sharing the Gospel” they are person is looking at us like we’re some sort of raving lunatic.
We are unsure of the Gospel ourselves and so we slip and slide around it, and the person doesn’t get saved because we were so vague, and we feel depressed because of how horrible we did. But, just like getting mail out of a PO Box isn’t difficult, so also sharing the Gospel isn’t difficult. We just need a little bit of instruction. And that is what I hope to provide for you today as we talk about putting on the third piece of spiritual armor—the sandals of the Gospel.
We’re in Ephesians 6, and we’re in this section about spiritual warfare, and we are learning about the different pieces of spiritual armor which God has made available to us. So far, we have talked about the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness in Ephesians 6:14.
Today, we look at Ephesians 6:15 which tells us about the putting on the sandals of the Gospel. Verse 15 says, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
Obviously, when Paul says “having shod your feet” he’s talking about sandals. In understanding this verse, we will look at three things. First, how the sandals were used by the Roman soldiers in battle, secondly, how we as Christians are to use them in spiritual battle, and finally, how we as Christians can put on this third piece of the armor.
So let’s begin with the sandals for the soldier.
The Sandals for the Soldier
The sandals which the soldiers wore were made out of leather, and would often lace around the ankle and part way up the calf. I have this familiar picture of the Roman Soldiers here for you to see this more clearly. It looks like a fairly normal sandal they wore back then.But there was one thing very different about the sandals which the soldiers wore and the sandals which the average person wore in the marketplace. The sandals which the soldiers wore were fitted with spikes on the bottom of the sole.
The purpose of these spikes should be obvious. The soldiers had to battle in all kinds of terrain, in all kinds of weather, and at all hours of the day. So the spikes helped them maintain their footing. The spikes allowed them to—in the words repeated four times in verses 10-14—Stand firm in the battle.
Often times, if they were fighting in grass, the grass would maybe have some dew on it if the battle was going on in the morning, or it would be wet from rain if they were fighting in the rain, or—as frequently happened in this kind of battle, the ground would become slick with blood. The spikes on the bottom of the sandals helped the soldier maintain his footing in battle. It helped the soldier stand firm.
It is real similar to sporting events today. Track, soccer, football and baseball shoes all have some sort of spikes or plastic knobs on the bottom to help the athlete keep better footing while playing on the field. So it was the same exact thing here. The sandals didn’t provide much in the way of protection, but they certainly helped the soldier stay on his feet. And a soldier on the ground has a great disadvantage over a soldier who is still on his feet.
So that is what the sandals were for on the soldier. Let’s move now to what the sandals are for on the Christian in the spiritual battle we find ourselves in.
The Sandals for the Christian
The sandals, as Paul tells us in verse 15, are the preparation of the gospel of peace.
Just as the sandals helped keep the soldier on his feet in battle, being prepared to share the Gospel with others will help you stay on your feet as a Christian. If you are not really clear what the Gospel is, and if you don’t really know how to share the Gospel with others, then in all likelihood, you don’t really know if you yourself have believed the Gospel, or if you have believed the right thing, or believed enough.
All of this leads you to a lack of assurance. If you don’t know what to tell others on how to be saved, then you don’t really know yourself how to be saved, and if you don’t really know yourself how to be saved, then you can’t really be sure you are saved. You do not have assurance. You do not know for sure you are going to heaven when you die. And if that is the case, then you are on very slippery ground indeed. In order to get firm footing on this slippery ground, you need to put on your sandals. You need to get those steel studded soldier cleats so that you can have firm footing and not slip around in fear and uncertainty while on the field of battle.
There is nothing Satan likes more than for Christians to not know for sure whether they are saved or not. It stifles their evangelistic efforts. It dampens their zeal for Christ. It makes them afraid to serve others, because they are afraid they might do or say the wrong thing.
To be effective on the field of spiritual battle, Christians need to get their sandals on, which means they need to know what the Gospel is—how they themselves are saved, and how they can share the saving message with others as well. This is what Paul is talking about in verse 15. It says that the sandals are the preparation of the gospel of peace.
Let me first explain to you what the gospel of peace is.
The word gospel is a word that means “good news.” The good news, the Gospel, is that while God is holy and we are sinners, and sin deserves punishment, God, out of His great love for us, sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ to die in our place for our sin so that anyone who wants eternal life in heaven with God can simply believe in Jesus Christ for it and it will be given to them. As proof that Jesus did all that was necessary, and that His promise of eternal life can be trusted, he rose from the dead and is now in heaven with God. That, essentially is the gospel…the good news.
It is good news that God is offering us salvation, that God is offering eternal life to all who simply believe in Jesus Christ for it. It doesn’t matter how good or bad we’ve been—if we simply believe in Jesus for eternal life, we receive it. What better news could there possibly be? This is definitely good news!
But notice specifically here that Paul refers to it as the gospel of peace. It is a gospel of peace because God has made peace with us through the death of His Son Jesus on the cross.Though as unbelievers, we were at war with God, He is offering peace to all those who believe in Jesus for eternal life. That is why it is called the gospel of peace. The gospel of peace in verse 15 is the good news that peace has arrived.
But there is something else in verse 15 that I want to point out. I think that most of us, in reading through this passage in the past, or in hearing someone else teach on it, have thought that the sandals are the gospel.
But notice that the sandals are not precisely the gospel itself. Rather, the sandals are the preparation of the gospel.
This means that putting on the sandals is not accomplished just by knowing what the Gospel message is, but rather by having prepared a plan to share the Gospel with other people. You put on the sandals, not only by knowing what the Gospel is, but by preparing and planning to share it with others.
So to help you in that regard, let’s turn thirdly and finally to putting on the Sandals.
Putting on the Sandals
Again, just like with all the other pieces of spiritual armor, we need to know that Paul is not just coming up with these pieces of spiritual armor out of thin air. He knows his Old Testament and each piece of the armor is found in the Old Testament—mainly in the book of Isaiah. And the sandals are no different. In Isaiah 52:7 we read, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things.”
Notice from that verse that the feet are connected with bringing good news, or the gospel, and the gospel is a message of peace, all of which we have talked about already. Notice as well that the verse doesn’t say “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who has good news, or who knows good news” but rather, “who BRINGS good news.”
So there’s that emphasis on the preparation of the gospel. Putting on the sandals is not just knowing what the gospel message is, but rather having a plan to share it with others.
And so I want to spend the rest of my time this morning helping you become prepared to share the good news.
Again, like last week in the discussion about the Breastplate of Righteousness, I have a little pneumonic device, an acrostic of sorts, to help you remember these points.
The acrostic is KISS. K-I-S-S. The first three words are similar to what many of you have probably heard in the past, but I’ve changed the fourth word to better accommodate what I’m trying to say this morning, and to keep this particular acrostic from being so rude. Anyway, the acrostic I’m using this morning, KISS, stands for Keep It Simple, Scriptural. Let’s take these one at a time.
First, Keep it Simple
I think sometimes when we try to share the Gospel, or think about the content of the Gospel, we are not very clear. We muddy the water when we try to share it with others because often, we ourselves are unclear about what the Gospel is. So let me try to clear things up a bit for us all this morning.
There is one and only one essential element to the Gospel message. The one essential element of the Gospel is this—a person must believe in Jesus for eternal life. That’s it. That is the key element. That is the essential ingredient. That is the bulls eye. That is the defining characteristic.
Whatever else you might want to include, if you don’t have this, you don’t have the Gospel. Faith alone in Christ alone is the center and essence of the Gospel. I hope that clears things up a bit. If you can’t remember what to say when witnessing, at least remember the phrase “believe in Jesus Christ for eternal life.” That is the centerpiece of the Gospel.
Let’s look at this another way. If a person believes that there is a God, and they believe that they are a sinner, and they believe that Jesus Christ is God who cam in the flesh, was born of a virgin and lived a sinless life.
If they believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of all mankind, and if they believe that three days after his death, Jesus Christ rose from the dead and if they believe all of these things, but don’t believe in Jesus for eternal life, that person is not saved. That person has not been declared righteous by God. That person had not been justified. You can believe all of those things about Jesus and God, which are good things to believe, but if you don’t believe in Jesus for eternal life, none of it matters. As they say, you’re close, but no cigar.
If you want the bottom line, if you boil the Gospel down to it’s essential ingredient, if you want to simplify the Gospel message as much as possible, you end up with the single statement—whoever believes in Jesus for eternal life has it.
Now please don’t misunderstand. All those other things are important. The fact that there is a holy God and the fact that we are sinners shows us that we need a Savior. The fact that Jesus Christ is God’s Son and lived perfectly as a human shows us that Jesus Christ was qualified to be the Savior. The fact that Jesus died on the cross shows us that He paid the penalty as our Savior. The fact that he rose again from the dead shows us that His sacrifice as our Savior was acceptable to God. But none of these facts save a person who believes them. Rather, they all point to the fact that anyone who believes in Jesus for eternal life has it.
That’s it. That is keeping it simple. Believe in Jesus for eternal life. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.
But now let’s move on to the second part of KISS, keeping it Scriptural.
Second, Keep it Scriptural
If people today are unclear on how to share the simple Gospel message, I think that people are even more unclear on how to share the Scriptural Gospel message. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard on the radio, or have read in books, or have listened to people share their testimony, and the way they present the Gospel is completely unscriptural!
Aside from all the modern and unscriptural practices of walking an isle, raising a hand, signing a card and saying prayer, there are numerous unscriptural phrases and terms which people use when sharing the Gospel. And, just so you know, I’m not immune to this either. Up until about seven years ago, I doubt very much if I EVER shared the Gospel simply and Scripturally. It has only been in the past three years that I have really solidified in my own mind what the Bible says about the Gospel.
Let me tell you what I mean with some personal examples, and maybe some of these will ring true with you. I don’t know how many times in the past I used to tell people to “ask Jesus into their heart.” I think I’ve mentioned this in previous sermons, but that phrase is very unclear and very unscriptural. Nowhere in the Bible are we told to “ask Jesus into our heart.” I came to this understanding when I read a great piece of literature available for free online called “Seven Reasons not to ask Jesus into your heart.” It is available online at www.duluthbible.org if you want to read it for yourself. Basically, aside from being unscriptural, the article says that such a statement is potentially misleading and confusing.
What makes it worse though, is that a person can ask Jesus into their heart and not be saved. Bob Wilkin, the president and founder of the Grace Evangelical Society, whose house I stayed at two weeks ago when I was in Texas, told of a time many, many years ago when he was witnessing to a man, and Bob told the man that to be saved, he needed to ask Jesus into his heart. So the man did. But later, in talking to the man, Bob discovered that he was part of the Bahai faith, and Bahai’s, kind of to cover all their bases, ask all the prophets to come into their hearts. Along with Jesus, he had previously asked Mohammed to come into his heart and Buddha to come into his heart. So you see, a person can ask Jesus into their heart, and not be placing faith in Christ alone.
Asking Jesus into your heart is probably the most prominently misused phrase today in evangelistic efforts. But on the back of your sermon notes, I have about twenty others that I have used in the past, or have heard others use which are just as unscriptural.
The Unscriptural Gospel
Believe and ___________ (Repent, confess, be baptized, etc.).
Accept Christ as your Lord and Savior.
Repent of your sins.
Confess your sins.
Be sorry for your sins.
Be willing to give up your sins.
Accept Jesus as your personal savior.
Commit/submit/surrender your life to Christ.
Put Christ on the throne of your life.
Turn your life over to Christ.
Give your heart/life to Christ.
Let go and let God.
Believe in God.
Believe that Jesus died on the cross.
Ask/invite Christ into your heart/life.
Pray this prayer.
Walk an isle.
Raise your hand.
Sign this card.
So if none of these are Scriptural ways of presenting the Gospel, what is the Scriptural way? The Scripture is very clear about how to receive eternal life. The Bible says that anyone who believes in Jesus for eternal life receives it. Jesus guarantees eternal life to anyone who believes in Him for it. That is what the Scripture teaches. In fact, in the New Testament, there are 185 references to the fact that the only way to receive eternal life is by believing in Jesus Christ for it.
The Bible is very clear. A person receives eternal life simply and only by believing in Jesus for it. Faith alone in Christ alone. That has always been and always will be the clear Gospel message. I think this handout makes that crystal clear.
But knowing the Gospel is not putting on the sandals remember? According to Ephesians 6:15, putting on the sandals is the preparation of the Gospel. You put on the sandals when you prepare and plan to share the Gospel. And there is so much I could teach you on this, and so much more I still need to learn. But let me just share with you what I have found in the past several months works the best for me. Let me share with you how I have prepared to share the Gospel.
First of all, I pray for God to send evangelistic opportunities my way. This, I have found, is a prayer request God loves to answer. Even during weeks when I barely get out of my study, someone calls me on the phone, or stops in at my study and I somehow get an opportunity to share a little bit of the Gospel with them.
So prayer is the first step of preparation. Pray for God to send people to you who need to hear the good news. And then, be watching for them to appear. But when God does send somebody your way, you need to be ready to share. (Two steps for Two Sandals)
And again, while there is a lot of freedom and liberty here, we are talking about keeping it Scriptural, and so I have found that by far, the best thing I can do is use Scripture. The Word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword. And we know that the Word of God does not return void.
The best words to use when sharing the Gospel are Scriptural words, and the phrase you definitely want to include whenever you share the Gospel are the words, “all you need to do is believe in Jesus for eternal life.”
If you were going to pick a single book of the Bible which most clearly presented the Gospel, just from looking at the references, which of the books do you think would be best to use? The Gospel of John is the only book of the Bible where it’s stated purpose is evangelism. The Gospel of John, unlike any other book of the New Testament, was specifically written so that those who read it would believe in Jesus for eternal life. That is why it contains the message of eternal life by faith in Christ so frequently.
So when I am talking with someone, I will often take a little gospel of John, I prefer the ones called Living Water since they have little notes that remind me what verses are key, and what the verses mean, and in just a minute or two, can show a person from Scripture that to get eternal life, all they have to do is believe in Jesus for it.
And if you start making this a practice of yours as well, then you also can have firm footing on the battlefield of life. To have firm footing, you must know that you have eternal life by faith in Christ, and you must know how—and be ready and willing—to share this message with others.
This is how you shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Knowing the Gospel and having a plan to share it will greatly aid you in staying on your feet during spiritual battle. It will keep you from becoming muddled and unclear as you bring good news of peace to a world that needs to hear.