Helmets. I see them constantly on my walks around Valley Forge Park. They are worn by men and women, girls and boys. Why do I see so many sporting such unfashionable headgear? Why are bicycle riders required to wear helmets? That’s right—to protect their heads. In the same way the helmet is probably the most important part of the armor. A soldier might be able to survive and continue to fight with wounds to other parts of the body, but most wounds to the head are either fatal or crippling. “The Roman soldier’s helmet… was usually made of a tough metal like bronze or iron. ‘An inside lining of felt or sponge made the weight bearable. Nothing short of an axe or hammer could pierce a heavy helmet, and in some cases a hinged vizor added frontal protection.’ Helmets were decorative as well as protective, and some had magnificent plumes or crests” (Stott).
Here Paul compares salvation to a helmet. Why is salvation in general such an important part of the armor of God? How can this helmet offer such protection? It might help if we consider the three “tenses” of salvation. Every true follower of the Lord Jesus can say, “I was saved; I am being saved; and I will be saved.
Today, we will consider four past blessings of salvation. The first is election. For reasons known only to God, he decided to save a people from the wreck and ruin of human sin. God could have justly passed by all humanity, allowing all of us to perish, as he did the angels that rebelled against him. But to magnify the fame of his name, God chose to save some from the guilt and pollution of sin. This election was of people in relation to Christ from before the creation of the world without any regard for anything they might do (Ephesians 1:3-4; 1 Thessalonians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Romans 8:33; 1 Corinthians 1:27-29; James 2:5). Everyone who follows Christ should gain confidence from the Bible’s teaching of election. God wanted us to be his people, and we need to hear this when the enemy or our doubts cause us to wonder about that. Before the first seraph ever cried out, “Holy, holy, holy!” God had chosen us to salvation in Christ.
The second blessing is redemption. Jesus Christ died on the cross and shed his blood as the ransom price, and so he redeemed us to carry out God’s eternal purpose. In every way the Lord Jesus Christ has the honor of saving us (Ephesians 1:7). His redemption set us free from the penalty and curse of sin, from our slavery to sin, and from bondage to the law. He has bought us and now we are his bondservants. See 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. Redemption teaches us our liberty in Christ (Galatians 5:1). When the enemy attempts to fill you with false information that you are in slavery, assert your freedom in Christ!
The third blessing speaks of the application of redemption: regeneration (the new birth from above) and effectual calling. Securely bound in the darkness of sin and dead in sin, God made us alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:5). When the Spirit of God made alive spiritually, we received the gifts of repentance (a change of mind) and faith, by which we turn from the pursuit of sin and trust in the Lord Jesus alone for salvation. A battlefield becomes filled with corpses, and the evil one may tempt you to think that you will share that fate. But do not give in to such thoughts. The great promise of salvation is that the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).
The fourth blessing is justification. Having believed, we are declared right with God (Romans 5:1). We have already talked about Christ as our righteousness in the article about the breastplate. Again the great goal is confidence for all followers of Jesus. We are on God’s side and fully accepted by him! He has saved us, and we have a new relationship with the living God. More on this relationship next time, God willing.
Grace and peace, David