Death, Eternity, and the Armor of God


Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests (Eph. 6:14-18).*

This morning I was thinking about the breastplate of righteousness as a spiritual heart protector, but the helmet of salvation is a spiritual head protector. It is the covering that protectors our minds so that we do not become disoriented in the throes of spiritual warfare. The helmet of salvation blunts the blow of death. It enables us to view our circumstances from the perspective of eternity.

How different is postmodern culture which seeks to deny death by driving death into the closet, or by trivializing death treating it irrelevantly, or circumventing it through the use of cleaver clichés. In such sharp distinction, Christianity demonstrates that death is defeated. Cultural thanatologists may urge us to accept death as a friend, but Christian theology sees death as the enemy (1 Cor. 15:26).

That’s the message that radiates from the lips of righteous Job. Satan had wielded the sword of death with devastating fury. He had butchered Job’s livestock. He had murdered Job’s legacy. If God had permitted him to do so, he would have snuffed out Job’s life. The Devil’s devastation was so complete that Job’s wife lost all perspective, and with her mind careening out of control, she cried, “curse God and die” (Job. 2:9).*

Job, however, saw his plight from the perspective of eternity. He had donned the helmet of salvation. He was empowered, therefore, to say, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me (Job. 19:25-27). That ultimately was the perspective of Job. The certainty of salvation not only assured him that in his flesh that he would see God but it assured him that in his flesh he would once again see his children.

Thinking about all of that and more as tomorrow morning I am doing the funeral for my son-in-law who died at age forty-seven. The whole idea that I am going to be communicating is that life afterlife, afterlife is not a crutch. It’s not a copout. It is a certainty. As Christians, we stake our lives on the hope that God will transform our lowly bodies so that they would be like His glorious body (1 Cor. 15).

Death is the enemy. There is nothing wonderful about death. But, the Christian does not grieve like the rest of those who have no hope, because we know that Jesus died and rose again, and so we know that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in the end (2 Thess. 4:13-18).

I was taught that the belt of truth is the Bible. Can you give me more insight on this sword of the Spirit, I thought it is something about prayer, but I’m not quite sure?

The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. That is how the sword of the Spirit is defined by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6.

As far as the belt of truth is concerned, it is like all the other pieces of the full armor of God. It is an aspect of the nature of God Himself. Therefore, to put on the belt of truth is tantamount to putting on Christ (Rom. 13:14). As the Bible points out, Christ is truth (John 14:6), and as Christians we are called to be the bearers of truth (Eph. 4:25; Col. 3:9-11; Zech. 8:16). The moment we drop the belt of truth our view of reality becomes seriously skewed. The belt of truth, therefore, is essential to a realistic worldview. I often say, “When it’s buckle breaks, the covering crumbles, reality is clouded, and the unthinkable happens.” We live in a postmodern culture that denies truth, and in many cases, it makes truth nothing more than a social or cultural construct. But, truth is ultimately rooted in the person and work of Jesus Christ Himself.

In terms of the sword of the Spirit—as I mentioned earlier—it is defined by Paul as the Word of God. I’ve often talked about the ultimate spiritual battle where the Creator was alone and hungry and the most powerful creature in the universe poised and ready to strike. Remember Jesus had fasted forty-days and forty nights and sensing His vulnerability, the tempter seized the moment. The words are epic, the Devil said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread” (Matt. 4:2). Well, Jesus could have responded by unveiling His divine glory, but He did not. He took up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. I have often thought how that ought to be the template for us as well. What does that mean? It means that we should memorize the Word of God. We should meditate on the Word of God. We should mine the Word of God for all its wealth. The Word of God ought to be central in our life because ultimately we know what is true. We know that which corresponds to reality because we have a test for truth and it is the Word of God. Again, the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God.

—Hank Hanegraaff

This blog was adapted from the October 24, 2016 Bible Answer Man broadcast.

* All Scripture cited from The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), unless noted.