“And take the helmet of salvation…”
All-embracing is the significance of the shield of faith. Through it we receive and stand in the unspeakably blessed consciousness of our righteousness in Christ before God and we have peace with God and therefore with all things. Through this shield of faith we also lay hold of the helmet of salvation and are able to take up the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Indeed, faith is the victory that overcometh the world, the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen.
We now call attention to the helmet of salvation. This scripture must surely remind us of Is. 59:17 and possibly also Is. 61:10. Only, in Is. 59:17 it is the Lord Who has this helmet upon His head; in this text we must put it upon our heads.
Does this salvation in this text refer to salvation in the eschatological sense of the word, the salvation as it shall be revealed at the end of time, in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ? Or, does it refer to salvation as we possess it here, in this life, having been called out of darkness and death into God’s marvelous light and life?
How wonderful is salvation! To be delivered from the greatest evil and become a partaker of the highest good! Two scriptural passages are particularly pertinent in this connection. We read in I Thess. 5:18: “But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.” We may note that the apostle here speaks of an helmet as the hope of salvation. And although it is true that this salvation here must be explained eschatologically, it is also true that the hopeof this salvation we possess in this life. And in Is. 59:17we read: “For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon His head; and He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak.” This “He” in Is. 59:17is the Servant of Jehovah, Jehovah revealed as the God of our salvation in our Lord Jesus Christ. He has put on the helmet of salvation, the salvation of His people. In that work of salvation He will walk in the way of righteousness, fulfill the will of God, execute vengeance upon His enemies, and be filled with a holy passion and zeal. The salvation of His own and the destruction of the world go hand in hand.
Now we can understand the idea of this salvation in this armor of the Christian warrior. First, this salvation must be principally the same in all these three passages. They all speak of it as an helmet. Secondly, the salvation of Is. 59:17 surely must refer to that wholly divine and tremendous work whereby the Lord translates His people out of sin and death into the heavenly and immortal life and glory of His eternal covenant. Thirdly, as far as I Thess. 5:8 is concerned, the hope of salvation must surely refer to this salvation as in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. Besides, it is only in that day that we will truly be saved, delivered from all sin and death and translated into life and glory. However, we also read in I Thess. 5:8 of the hope of salvation. And this hope is something we possess now, in this life. Consequently, the helmet of salvation is surely the salvation of our God as we possess it already in this life, in principle, and ultimately will possess it in perfection in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation! Deliverance from the greatest evil! So often our greatest evil is merely that which we suffer as contrary to our flesh, our natural distresses and miseries, not sin itself but the results of sin. We, then, fear wars and rumors of wars, catastrophes and calamities. . . . However, the greatest evil is sin. There is, first of all, the guilt of sin. Sin is the greatest evil because it lies at the bottom of all the results of sin, of all miseries and sorrows; it separates us from and deprives us of the unspeakably blessed fellowship with God which is eternal life. This sin as guilt is the greatest evil because its power lies in the unchangeable righteousness of God which denies to every sinner the blessed fellowship with God unless His justice be fully satisfied. And, secondly, sin is the greatest evil because, as a spiritual power, it holds us relentlessly in its grasp, is a band or chain of iron and steel, which no man can possibly break. And now we are delivered from this sin, legally upon the Cross of Calvary, and also spiritually by the power of the grace and Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Salvation! To become a partaker of the highest good! Indeed, we will know what this good is only if and when we know what the greatest evil is. This highest good is blessed fellowship and communion with God. Can one conceive of anything higher than that the living God, the only adorable God, the God of eternal and infinite goodness and beauty, should call us His own, make us His children, assure us of .His love, grant us the privilege to love and to praise Him, to declare His praises! And, this is the highest good! O, not the highest to which we could possibly attain. But this is the highest which God can possibly give us, fellowship with Himself in everlasting and heavenly immortality and glory.
Indeed, without this helmet we cannot fight. Are you carnal? Do you cleave to sin and things that are below? Are you more interested in the results of sin than sin itself? Are you lukewarm to the power of sin and evil, indifferent to the temptations of sin and attracted to the lusts of the eyes and of the flesh and of the pride of life? Do the pleasures and treasures of this world appeal to you? Salvation, we understand, is, first of all, deliverance from sin. Besides, are you indifferent to the things that are above? Salvation is also to be a partaker of the highest good. Is your position in the midst of the world such that the hope of eternal and immortal life and glory lives and throbs in your heart and soul? Are you so earthly and carnal that you have little time and longing for the new heavens and the new earth? My hatred of sin and the longing for the city that has foundations are inseparably connected and related. Let us take inventory of ourselves.
Indeed, without this helmet of salvation we can never fight. Then we have no desire to be delivered from sin and evil. Why and how should and can we bear the reproach and ridicule of sinful men and of a world that lies in sin and darkness? Of what interest, then, are to us the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace and the shield of faith? How, then, can we believe and confess that it is a privilege, not only to believe on Jesus, but also to suffer for His sake? And, satisfied with the life of this world, we cannot experience any desire for the life that shall be. Indeed, our evaluation of the wonderful salvation of God in Jesus Christ will surely determine the position we assume in the midst of the world!
How different things become with this helmet of salvation. Now we will fight this battle of faith because we have been delivered from sin and iniquity. We have learned to hate sin. The love of God in Christ Jesus has been shed abroad in our hearts and minds. We have learned to hate the filthiness and corruption of sin and evil. The empty husks of this present time we have learned to understand in their true significance. And we will also recognize the purpose of the enemy, to lure us away from the blessed fellowship of God and lead us into the mire of sin and evil we have learned to know and hate. Indeed, with this helmet of salvation we will fight. We will refuse to return into the mire of corruption from which we have been delivered. We will rather sacrifice, including our lives, than to return to the filth we have learned to hate and despise.
And we will also fight because we have in our hearts the blessed hope of life and glory everlasting. Already in this life we experience the blessed fellowship with God and His service, and we know it to be inexpressibly sweet. And we surely look forward to the future, to gaze upon the city that has foundations whose builder and maker is God. Standing in this salvation, with the helmet of salvation resting firmly upon our heads, we look over the battlefield, turn our attention to the enemy, and realize that his sinister and diabolical purpose to deprive us of life and glory will surely fail. We know that nothing shall ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. How important and wonderful is the helmet of salvation!
“And take the helmet of salvation.” Indeed: be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might; put on the whole armor of God; gird yourselves with the girdle of truth; put on the breastplate of righteousness; shoe your feet with the shoes of the preparedness of the gospel of peace; take the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation.
This word, “take,” in verse 17 emphasizes more the idea of “receive.” This does not mean that God offers it and we must accept it, as some would explain the text. But it is true that salvation is a gift of God and we must take this helmet as freely given of God, and place it upon our heads.
Indeed, we must surely do something. Of course, we must not do something as prior to the work of God and upon which this work of God depends. Yet, as people of God we must do something as the fruit of grace. To receive the crown of victory in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ we must surely fight the good fight of faith that no man take our crown.
We must take the helmet of salvation. We must appropriate it unto ourselves, every day anew, the unspeakably blessed and sovereignly free gift of salvation. We must stand in the consciousness of our deliverance from sin; we must know our sin, study the Scriptures, increase in our knowledge of them, and we must ever hate and flee from evil even as we learn to hate it more and more. We must stand in the consciousness of the hope of eternal life, must grow in our desire and longing for it, appropriate it unto ourselves by a true and living faith, increase in our hatred of and rejection of the things that are below and in the blessed longing for that which is above. This we must do, never in our own strength, but always in prayer, that the Lord may lead us and finish the work He has once begun in our hearts. In this consciousness of our salvation we must grow and increase. Hence, take this helmet of salvation, appropriate it unto yourselves, always setting before us the Word of truth, in the personal assurance that Jehovah God, in Christ Jesus, suffered and died for you, that you might live, even forevermore.
This is our calling as Christian warriors, soldiers of the cross.
Put on the whole armor of God, also this helmet of salvation.
And your defense will be sure.