Our next “gospel” text in the New Testament comes from the closing to Ephesians, in chapter six. It’s part of a longer text and I want to quote all of it:
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For
our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers,
against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and
against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore
put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you
may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything,
to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And
pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and
requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for
all the saints.
also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so
that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
What strikes me about this passage is the image of gospel living as a war — a battle with the evil one and systemic evil, violence, and injustice. Some today want to reduce v. 12 to the political realms of injustice but Paul’s theology — and this specific text — show that it is the coagulation of the evil one, a supernatural spiritual realm, with the systems of this world that become the opponent.
The battle is won in this text by wearing gospel items: a belt of truth, a breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace at our feet, shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit.
Gospel battle involves truth, righteousness, gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the Bible/Word of God.
And a yearning to preach it and a willingness to suffer for it and work at it ceaselessly.