This program is a rebroadcast from February 29, 2020.
Armor of God, Part 1
There is conflict all over the world. Conflict inside countries, families, even churches. Sometimes we can get so entangled in the details of conflict that we forget that there is something bigger going on that we can’t see, spiritual warfare. We’re starting a three-week study on the Armor of God. Chris is taking us to Ephesians 6 where we’ll learn how God did not leave us here on earth to battle alone. He has given us a strategy, a plan, a defense, and weapons.
We’ll learn about where this idea of standing against the schemes of the devil comes from and how to respond as a believer in Jesus.
Steve Conover: Welcome to The Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover, and with me is our host and teacher, Chris Katulka. Happy New Year from The Friends of Israel. We’re looking forward to another great year of programming. I’d like to encourage you right at the outset to visit our website, foiradio.org. There you can find out more about The Friends of Israel Today, and you’ll find our archive pages to listen to six years’ worth of Chris’s teachings. Again, that’s foiradio.org.
Chris Katulka: Steve, you know, with the new year, people are getting geared up. They’re ready. I know I’m ready, for maybe shedding a few pounds, getting my life ready and in order for 2022. There’s the physical side of getting ready, but there’s also the spiritual side of getting ready for 2022. And that’s what I want to focus on for the next three weeks. We’re actually going to be studying the armor of God. This is a great opportunity for us to get our minds and hearts engaged with God’s Word as we put on the armor of God so that we can fight against every scheme of the devil so that we can be prepared to serve the Lord.
Steve Conover: But first in the news, a staff member at a Washington DC school has been suspended after making third grade children reenact scenes from the Holocaust. The suspended staff member made students pretend to dig mass graves and shoot victims. The students were told the Germans were angry, “because the Jews ruined Christmas.” A Jewish student was cast as Hitler and told to pretend to commit suicide at the end of the exercise. And Chris, this is one of the more painful news spots I think to bring to our listeners.
Chris Katulka: I was actually really sad to have to put this at the front of the year, but I think it’s really important for our listeners to hear the direction our education is going in the public schools. At a time when Holocaust education is needed now more than ever, and actually more and more American students today know nothing about the Holocaust, this staff member made a mockery of one of history’s darkest moments. It’s the lowest of lows when a Jewish student is cast as Hitler. It’s disgusting. It’s wrong. Public schools have a history education problem and it’s time for the grownups to step in and to correct this nonsense.
Chris Katulka: The battle is real my friends, as a Christian, the battle is real. It's not a physical battle or a physical fight. It's so much deeper than that. In fact, in Luke's gospel, in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus is being approached by the soldiers and some of the leaders of the Pharisees because he had been sold out, bought by Judas. And seeing what's going on around him, Peter takes a sword and begins to defend Jesus and he attacks and cuts off the ear of the High Priest servant Malchus. And Jesus commands Peter to stop and I'm sure Jesus thought Peter was probably a better fisherman than a swordsman, but either way, Jesus knew this battle isn't a physical one. It's deeper than that. Jesus, according to Luke, heals the servant's ear and I think Jesus is trying to show us something here in this moment.
He's trying to show us, this isn't just a physical battle. We're not going to war physically, but this is a spiritual battle that we're in here. The battle is a spiritual one and it's multifaceted. It's outside of us. It's the schemes of the devil that are moving in and among this world on a macro level, big picture kind of stuff. Governments that are hostile towards Christians, other religions that persecute and kill Christians and Jewish people, a very external outside battle that is spiritually driven. In most of our issues of Israel My Glory, we actually take a moment to highlight and remember those brothers and sisters in Christ who were being persecuted for their faith in Christ.
In our most recent issue of Israel My Glory, we actually highlighted four stories of Christian persecution that come out of Nigeria, Uganda and Cameroon, and all of these acts of Christian persecution come from Islamic extremists. Folks, this is evil and behind the scenes it's really a spiritual battle. And yet at the same time, the battle is warring against us in places that we probably least expect it. The schemes of the devil can creep into your workplace. It can creep into your marriage, it can creep into your family, it can creep into the ways that you raise your kids. They can even creep into the way that you fellowship with other Christians. We can't overlook this battle. In the middle of the battle, any general that's worth his assault would organize a strategy, a battle plan to prevent a breach or to really push forward.
And what I love about God, the God that we serve is that he's given us a strategy. He's prepared us for the battle. He's identified the enemy, detailed the enemy's plan, and even put together a strategy to defend his people to withstand the enemy. And that's why for the next three weeks we're going to look at Ephesians chapter six particularly the section concerning the armor of God. God didn't save us from our sin and then send us out to be devoured by the evil one. No. Instead, he gave us a strategy and a plan, a defense and weapons to use in battle. We're going to be looking specifically at Ephesians chapter 6:10-20 over the next three weeks, and these verses naturally break down into three sections.
The first section is what we're going to look at today, and that's the reality that our battle is more than just a physical fight, it's a spiritual one. Events happening behind the scenes that have a direct effect on our Christian walk today. And I just want you to listen to what Paul says here in Ephesians chapter 6:10-13. He says this, “Finally, be strengthened in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Clothe yourself in the full armor of God so that you might be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers and against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. And for this reason, take up the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand your ground on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand."
Paul is opening this final teaching section in Ephesians with a very Jewish way of talking. It's Jewish language that goes back to the Old Testament. It's the idea of finding our strength in the Lord who enables us to overcome the taunts of the evil one. And this same idea was used of David when his enemies had carried off his family, his prisoners in 1 Samuel 30 and it was so bad for David then that even his own men wanted to stone him. And the text says after that, "But David drew strength from the Lord, his God." There is a prophecy in Zechariah chapter 12 that envisions the exiles of Israel returning to the land. And it says, "I will make them strong in the Lord."
And then finally, one of the most famous Old Testament verses from the book of Joshua, which says this about Israel, when they were about to take the lamb, "Be strong and courageous, the idea of finding our strength in the Lord who will protect and guard you." And so Paul is just referring back to this Old Testament concept as a Jewish believer in Jesus and encouraging the believers in Ephesus to understand that just as David found his strength in the Lord, just as Joshua encouraged the Israelites to find their strength in God as they were going into a conflict.
So we too, when we're facing the struggles, the spiritual struggles, we find our strength in the Lord. But see, Paul isn't just preaching platitudes here. He doesn't just say, "There are spiritual forces at work trying to get you to take your gaze off Jesus. So to answer this problem, find your strength in the Lord." No, Paul actually gives the believer the command. It's not an option. The verb there to clothe yourself is actually an imperative verb. He's saying, you must do this to survive. He commands to clothe yourself in the full armor of God.
Panoplia. Have you ever heard of that before? Panoplia? It's the Greek word that's used for the full armor. The word Panoplia is actually used three times in the New Testament and twice it's used here in Ephesians chapter six. The other one is found in Luke chapter 11. The Panoplia is the full coat of armor for a Roman foot soldier. And next week we're going to look into more detail of the Panoplia as we go through each piece. But for today, it's important for us to see that we've been commanded to put on this Panoplia, this full armor of protection, and notice where this armor comes from. It's God's armor. God didn't command you to make your own armor. He didn't demand you to fashion what you want together to protect yourself. No, he's already supplied it for you. In the work of the Holy Spirit, God provides the armor. It's his armor that he already has given to you, which opens us up to a very important word here in the passage. God provides the armor so that we can stand against the schemes of the devil.
It's so fascinating because all throughout the book of Ephesians, Paul was encouraging believers to walk in unity, to walk in holiness, to walk in love, to walk in light and to walk in wisdom. And again, this idea of walking is extremely Jewish. In Judaism, they have what's called Halakhic laws. Halakh means to walk. These are laws that describe the way that you're supposed to live your life as a Jewish person. And Paul is calling believers to live and walk in unity, holiness, love, light and wisdom, but now he's calling on believers as he ends his statements on walking. He ends by now saying, "Stand," and he uses this idea of stand three times in the short section in Ephesians chapter six to stand against the spiritual wickedness that is working against them.
See, walking is living and growing while standing is defending. See, I believe Paul ends this section on what it means to walk as a believer with the idea of standing in defense because he knows Satan will do all that he can to get into these walking commands to tear us down. Satan would love to break apart the unity of the body of Christ. Satan would love to enjoy tearing down the holiness in the church that separates us from the world. Satan would find pleasure in upending the love and the light that a Christian should manifest to unbelievers.
Satan would feel most satisfied when Christians no longer live by wisdom because the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. We have to be on defense. We have to stand against the spiritual attacks that seek to destroy the unity, the holiness, love, light and wisdom that is in each believer and also in the church as a whole. And this is why God calls us, put on the panoplia, the full armor that's provided by him. And when we come back, I want to look deeper into this spiritual battle that's warring against believers. Paul continues his explanation of the schemes of the devil. We have to know our enemy, my friends, so be sure to stick around.
Steve Conover: Let me ask you a question. If Christ were to return tomorrow, would you be ready? Join us online on March 4 and 5, 2022 for our free two-day conference where you will be encouraged to awaken and open your eyes to the promise of Christ’s return. Hear your favorite FOI speakers dive into first and second Thessalonians, and they’ll teach about how Christ’s imminent return can impact your life today. Visit lookup.foi.org. That’s lookup.foi.org to learn more. When will He come? What are the warning signs you should be looking for? And how can you live more expectantly and with great anticipation?
Chris Katulka: Steve, I’m excited about this conference. The Awaken conference. Yours truly will be emceeing the conference. In fact, I’ll be speaking about Christ’s return from First and Second Thessalonians, which I’m very much looking forward to. I think this is something that’s on the hearts and minds of our listeners. Expecting the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. Especially with the times that we live in today. There is a hope, there is a longing for the things that are wrong to be made right. And all of that takes place at Christ’s glorious coming. So that’s what we’re going to be studying as we look at First and Second Thessalonians.
Steve Conover: Register for Awaken today and you’ll receive a free one-year trial subscription to our digital Israel My Glory magazine. That’s for first time subscribers only. Prepare for the coming Day of the Lord. Visit lookup.foi.org to register or to learn more.
Chris Katulka: Welcome back everyone. We're talking about God's command to Christians to put on the Panoplia, the full armor of God. Why? Because the battle is real. There is a struggle out there, my friends, and it's not a physical altercation, it's a spiritual battle. And in the letter to Ephesians, Paul opens up his letter by actually peeling back the curtain and showing us the spiritual reality of what's going on in the heavenly places. First Paul opens up Ephesians by saying this in chapter 1:3, "Blessed is God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ." So right away you can see that Paul is identifying believers with the spiritual blessings that come from Christ, and these blessings originate from the heavenlies. But at the same time, the reality is, is the spiritual forces working against us are in the heavens as well.
And this is a hard concept to get our minds wrapped around that the spiritual forces working against us are in the heavenly places. But as the late Dr. Harold Hoehner, esteemed New Testament professor of Dallas Theological Seminary wrote in his very large Ephesians commentary. He said this, "although believers are blessed with all the spiritual benefits in the heavenly places and are seated together with Christ in the heavenlies, they do live in the present evil age. Hence, believers are presently both on earth and in the heavenlies. Furthermore, the devil and his followers are also present both on earth and in the heavenlies. It's from there that Satan seeks to continue this spiritual struggle. And the reason you need to put on the full armor of God is because our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil that are in the heavens as Paul says.
These are both angelic and cosmic rulers of darkness that are led by the devil who stand in direct conflict with Christ and believers in Christ's agenda. They have their place in the heavens and from there they extend their activity and authority to the regions below them." We see this come out really in the book of Job where Satan, he approaches God to indict Job claiming that the only reason that Job is righteous is because God's given everything to him that he could possibly ask for. And Satan requests God's permission to strip Job of everything to prove his righteousness is only as deep as the blessings that God has given to him. And so there you see Satan approaching God in indicting Job. And again, there's another picture of this warring going on in the heavenly places. Revelation chapter 12:7 a war breaks out in heaven.
And listen to what it says here in Revelation 12:7-9. It says, "Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and the dragon and his angels fought back. But the dragon was not strong enough to prevail. So there was no longer any place left in heaven for him and his angels." So that huge dragon, the ancient serpent, the one called the devil, and Satan who deceives the whole world, was thrown down to earth and his angels along with him. There is a spiritual battle that is happening around us. Are you suited up? Do you have on the Panoplia of God, the full armor of God to take a stand? Listen, next week we're going to come back to look at the different layers, the different pieces of the Panoplia, of the full armor of God. And we're going to see just how God has armed us for such a battle as this. So I hope that you join us next week.
Steve Conover: Israel, on the verge of becoming a state, a teenaged Holocaust survivor arrives on her shores alone. His name is Zvi Kalisher. Little did he know his search for a new life in the Holy Land would lead him to the Messiah. Zvi, enthusiastic to share his faith, engaged others in spiritual conversations, many of which can be found in our magazine, Israel My Glory. While Zvi is now in the presence of his Savior, his collected writings from well over 50 years of ministry continue to encourage believers worldwide. Now, Apples of Gold, a dramatic reading from the life of Zvi.
Mike Kellogg: Early last year, many of my co-workers seemed interested in asking me about the Lord. They wanted to know who he was and why such a long time after his death he was still remembered. They wanted to know what they called the “secret.” I told them, "There is nothing secret about the Lord. You can read about him in the Bible," but ask me whenever you like. I am not a Bible teacher, but the Holy Spirit always provides answers at the right times. One day, a new worker joined us, a man full of hatred, blindness, and jealousy. When he heard my friends ask me about the Lord, he grew angry and stirred much hatred toward me among the workers. The devil attacked me through this man for a long time, but I was not afraid and I prayed that all of them might truly come to know the Lord.
Finally, because of all the hatred he had created against me, I was told I must leave my job in five days. That night, he was taken to the hospital for emergency surgery. The next day, his wife came to the job site to ask if any of his work friends would give blood for him. It seemed as if everyone became deaf. Then I said, "I will give him blood, but he must know that it came from the Jewish believer whose Savior is the Lord Jesus Christ." The other men exclaimed, "What? After all that he has done to you. This is the time to get revenge." I told them, "Now you can see the difference between me, a believer, and you. All of you say you believe in God and call for revenge. The man needs to be saved spiritually." Then I went with the man's wife to the hospital and gave blood.
Five days later, I left my job because of him. About a year later, I was shocked to find knocking at my door, this man with his family. He apologized saying, "I have had no rest since you were fired. I asked many people where you live, but they would not give me your address. I cannot excuse myself and I am even prepared to be cast away from your home tonight." I told him, "I would not do that. The Lord has taught us to love our enemies." I then opened the New Testament, which this man despised, and I read Matthew 5:44, "Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you." I then read Romans chapter 12:20, "If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink."
After this with tears, he asked himself, "Can this be true after I was so bad to him?" I told him, "We can forget all of that because of the Lord who died for us and through him we can receive forgiveness of our sins as it is written in John 3:16, For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." After I said this, I could not believe my eyes. This man who before had no conscience, faith or humanity was now soft as butter. In the summer he asked, "What can I do for you?" "Nothing," I replied. “What you must do is for yourself. Pray to the Lord our Savior. He can give you that which no one else can give. What I did for you was done through His love.”
Chris Katulka: The impact of Zvi's life in ministry in Israel, it didn't end when he went home to be with the Lord. In fact, Zvi's legacy lives on. Our Friends of Israel Ministry representatives continue to share the gospel in Jerusalem, Israel, and really all throughout the world. We also serve Holocaust survivors and their families. We provide free food, medicine and clothing and we even promote the safety and security of the state of Israel and the Jewish people everywhere. So when you give to the Friends of Israel, your donation actually allows us to advance the gospel of our Messiah Jesus. You can give online by visiting foiradio.org. Again, that's foiradio.org you can click right there on our donate link. Also, be sure to let us know where you listen when you contact us.
Steve Conover: Thank you for joining us today and one last quick reminder to register for our free Awaken online conference this March. Vist lookup.foi.org to learn more.
Chris Katulka: Steve, next week we’re going to continue our study on the armor of God, which I think is a really encouraging message for us for 2022. Remember everybody, as we dive back into the armor of God is that it’s our responsibility to put it on. God gives us the armor, it’s our duty to pray and to put it on as we live our lives daily for him.
Steve Conover: Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione. Our theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong. Mike Kellogg read Apples of Gold. I'm Steve Conover, executive producer. Our mailing address is FOI Radio, PO Box 914, Bellmawr, NJ 08099. Again, that’s FOI Radio, PO Box 914, Bellmawr, NJ 08099. The Friends of Israel Today is a production of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide evangelical ministry, proclaiming biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah while bringing physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people.
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Apples of Gold: We Can Forget All of That Because of the Lord
Zvi was regularly sharing with his coworkers about the Lord and what He had done in his life. But when a new employee started, Zvi was met with complete hatred and persecution. It escalated to Zvi losing his job. Sometime later Zvi heard the man was sick and in need of blood. Zvi went to donate but told the person to let the man know that it was given by the Hebrew believer. What happened next was something only the Lord could orchestrate.
The Friends of Israel Today and Apples of Gold theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.
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