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Description: Put on the Helmet of Salvation
Put on the Helmet of Salvation
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Please open your Bibles to Lamentations 3. And it is that piece that begins with what I think is
part of what Paul is getting at in Ephesians 6:17 as you will see when we get to it. Lamentations
3:22 is really another example of God continuing to be faithful, and then doing everything to make
us aware of that, and then continuing to be faithful after we have rebelled of course. “The
steadfast love of the Lord ‘never’ ceases.” And you really have to take that very seriously. It
‘never’ ceases. “His mercies ‘never’ come to an end.” And you cannot question. It is “Never.”
(cid:9)”Never come to an end;
They are new every morning;
(cid:9)Great is thy faithfulness.
‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul,
(cid:9)’Therefore I will hope in him.’
The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
(cid:9)to the soul that seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
(cid:9)for the salvation of the Lord.
It is good for a man that he bear
(cid:9)the yoke in his youth.
Let him sit alone in silence
(cid:9)when he has laid it on him;
let him put his mouth in the dust—
(cid:9)there may yet be hope;
let him give his cheek to the smiter,
(cid:9)and be filled with insults.
For the Lord will not
(cid:9)cast off for ever,
but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
(cid:9)according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
for he does not willingly afflict
(cid:9)or grieve the sons of men.
To crush under foot
(cid:9)all the prisoners of the earth,
to turn aside the right of a man
(cid:9)in the presence of the Most High,
to subvert a man in his cause,
(cid:9)the Lord does not approve.
Who has commanded and it came to pass,
(cid:9)unless the Lord has ordained it?
Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
(cid:9)that good and evil come?
Why should a living man complain,
(cid:9)a man, about the punishment of his sins?
Let us test and examine our ways,
(cid:9)and return to the Lord!
Let us lift up our hearts and hands
(cid:9)to God in heaven:
‘We have transgressed and rebelled,
(cid:9)and thou hast not forgiven.
‘Thou hast wrapped thyself with anger and pursued us,
(cid:9)slaying without pity;'”
[Pastor interjects:] All to bring us back to our senses.
“‘Thou hast wrapped thyself with a cloud
(cid:9)so that no prayer can pass through.
Thou hast made us offscouring and refuse
(cid:9)among the peoples.
All our enemies
(cid:9)rail against us;
panic and pitfall have come upon us,
(cid:9)devastation and destruction;
my eyes flow with rivers of tears
(cid:9)because of the destruction of the daughter of my people.
‘My eyes will flow without ceasing,
until the Lord from heaven
(cid:9)looks down and sees;
my eyes cause me grief
(cid:9)at the fate of all the maidens of my city.
‘I have been hunted like a bird
(cid:9)by those who were my enemies without cause;
they flung me alive into the pit
(cid:9)and cast stones on me;
water closed over my head;
(cid:9)I said, ‘I am lost.’
‘I called on thy name, O Lord,
(cid:9)from the depths of the pit;
thou didst hear my plea, ‘Do not close
(cid:9)thine ear to my cry for help!’
Thou didst come near when I called on thee;
(cid:9)thou didst say, ‘Do not fear!’
‘Thou hast taken up my cause, O Lord,
(cid:9)thou hast redeemed my life.
Thou hast seen the wrong done to me, O Lord;
(cid:9)judge thou my cause.
Thou hast seen all their vengeance,
(cid:9)all their devices against me.
‘Thou hast heard their taunts, O Lord,
(cid:9)all their devices against me.
The lips and thoughts of my assailants
(cid:9)are against me all the day long.
Behold their sitting and their rising;
(cid:9)I am the burden of their songs.
‘Thou wilt requite them, O Lord,
(cid:9)according to the work of their hands.
Thou wilt give them dullness of heart;
(cid:9)thy curse will be on them.
Thou wilt pursue them in anger and destroy them
(cid:9)from under thy heavens, O Lord.'”
Of course it is just bewildering as you read the whole Old Testament, because there is account after
account like that where you read “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.” And then God
appears to forsake his people. And it seems it is the same experience in our own lives. His love
never ceases. But he does allow many things to come to us to cause us to think again. And he
allows all kinds of things to happen to bring us into a likeness of his Son.
So you have to see those times all with a background of “The steadfast love of the Lord never
ceases,” and the fact that that is a fact. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. However it
may appear to you at different times, you need to hold onto that: the steadfast love of the Lord
never ceases. It goes on forever.
So that’s the background, loved ones. And I hope to make sense of it in the passage that we are
studying, Ephesians 6:17. I believe that God will graciously enable me to say something sensible.
Of course it is this piece, you remember, “We fight not against flesh and blood, but against
principalities and powers.” And it is that truth that we are fighting against a whole spiritual
world. And we are very conscious of it in our present world. We are very conscious of the general
chaos that is everywhere. Well just the dear pope resigning is almost part of it. The chaos of the
Middle East is another part of it, and the chaos in Syria and Egypt. And then the chaos in our own
society is part of it. We are aware that there are forces of all kinds that are almost indifferent
to us as people. And there is an ‘impersonality’ that is coming into life with of course the old
robot calls and the machines that answer instead of people when you call somebody on the phone. It
all conspires to bring home to us that there is a world of principalities and powers that seem to
make people almost inhuman with each other and bewilder them. And we see that increasingly in not
only the shootings that take place, but in the dreadful crimes that take place, and in the obvious
attitudes that people have to one another that lie under those crimes.
So there is every evidence for us every time we say, “How could they do that?” “How could they
possibly do that in that nice little time?” or “Why would that happen in that school?” or “Why would
people take this attitude?” or “How could this person kill this person?” the blade man that has
apparently shot his girlfriend, “How could it happen?” I think what we’re facing is the reality
that there are principalities and powers abroad in the world that serve, by deception, to make
people forget that they are people; make them forget even their ordinary humanity with which they
were brought up.
So of course that is what these verses are talking about, how you tackle that. And Paul is saying
— God through Paul is saying, of course, you put on the whole armor of God. Ephesians 6:17, “And
take the helmet of salvation.” The helmet is “perikefalaian” [Greek] “peri” is “about,” and
“kefalaia” is “regarding your head.” That is how the “helmet” comes: it is a covering for your
head. “sotaeriou” is the word for salvation, and that comes out in “sotaer”, “Savior”. If you look
at the literal meaning of the Greek word, “sotaeriou” or “sotaerion”, it actually is “save” and
“safety”. In the Bible, particularly, it has become translated as “salvation”, but the literal
meaning of the word is “safety”. And you might say like a bicycle helmet, a safety helmet. He is
saying, “Put on your safety helmet.” “Put on the helmet that keeps you saved and keeps you safe.”
And that is what, it seems to me, is a very appropriate paraphrase of it. It is the helmet that
keeps you safe. It is a safety helmet; it keeps you safe. And in the midst of all this deception
that is around, he is saying, “Put on the helmet of safety, the safety helmet.”
And that is in your head. It is important, how big a factor this is in your life. The head is a
place where God has put things that will keep you safe in your life. And when everything is
rocking, these things will keep you safe.
It is quite interesting. I was just remembering in connection with definitions of faith that Wesley
has really the best one. It is one that I haven’t quoted to you, I’m sure for years. But he says,
“Faith is not just a speculative rational thing, a cold lifeless assent, a train of ideas in the
head.” So faith is not just a speculative rational thing, a cold lifeless assent, a train of ideas
in the head, but a disposition of the heart. But here it is important to see it isn’t ‘just’ a
speculative rational thing. And that is the weakness, of course, of most of the evangelicalism that
we face. It is primarily a speculative rational thing, “What do I believe about this? What so I
believe about the Bible? What so I believe about abortion? What do I believe about politics?” It
is a speculative, rational thing. It is a cold lifeless assent, often just a train of ideas in the
head, far from being a disposition of the heart.
But it is interesting that he says, “It isn’t ‘just’ a speculative, rational thing.” And that
implies, “But it is a speculative, rational thing.” So it is important to see that. He is not
playing down — and you could guess that, almost as a fellow of Lincoln College Oxford, he would not
play down the whole importance of the mind. But he certainly doesn’t. He simply says, “That’s not
all that faith is. But it isn’t just a speculative rational thing, but it is at least a
speculative, rational thing.”
And that ties up with the helmet of salvation. The head has a contribution to make to the stability
of your daily walk. Now, where is that? Well, I’ll show you. You’d be surprise. Ephesians 2:4.
“But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us,” Here it is verse 5,
“Even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you
have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in
Christ Jesus.” “Even when we were ‘dead’? No, no, no. Surely it is after we come alive
spiritually, then he made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and then he
raised us up with him and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. [Shouts] But
he is not going to make Hitler sit there in Christ Jesus if he is dead in his… ‘sins’? Is he?” O
well, that is what it says. “God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved
us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you
have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in
Christ Jesus.” “Yes, yes, but not Hitler, right?” Well “Christ died for all, therefore all died”
[2 Corinthians 5:14]
It is important for us to see that our Father saw the whole thing from the very beginning, and he
knew that he had made it possible for us to choose ‘nothingness’ if we decided to do that, or to
choose him. And he had to decide what to do if we did either or both. And he could say to us,
“Well, look. If you do this and you do that then you can come into my Son, and you can come and
live with us, but if you’re not going to clean up your act first, you are not coming in with us.
I’m not going to ask my Son to bear your sins.”
So what do you think he did? [pause again] … Well, he bore our sins. And this is what happened.
You may — the whole issue of whether they enjoy it or whether they appreciate it, or whether they
experience it, that is a different matter. But as far as the work done is concerned, the atonement
Now you may say the salvation is not universal. You may say, “Well, it is through faith. And they
cannot experience it unless they believe it.” Well, yes, yes. But the fact is the whole thing is
done. The whole thing has been done. He has gone ahead of us. He has done everything that is
needed. Now it is up to us whether we receive that, experience it, believe it, live in the midst of
it. But the thing itself is done. God, in his love, has nothing against any of us, even Hitler.
[long pause, then says with emotion] And that is a great love. [pause again] That is a great love.
We can just think of a drunk man, just an ordinary drunk coming to the door here and wanting in,
especially if he is dirty or he has been sleeping out on the streets. And think of this carpet.
But that is what this verse says. “Even when we were dead through our trespasses, God made us alive
together with Christ,” because he put us in Christ. He made us in Christ. He said, “My Son, they
are all going to be inside you. You have to bear what they do. And I will bear it with you. But
that is the situation. The only way that they have any hope is if we put them inside you so that
they partake of the same life that you have.”
And then — the Savior wouldn’t say it, but if he said, “How long, Father?” It seems he says, “As
long as it takes.” No one can finally say that, but since he says, “The steadfast love of the Lord
never ceases.” But let’s say, “As long as it is my will.” And the Son said, “Alright, Lord, I will
But the helmet of salvation is holding on to the truth in your head, or this Ephesians 2:4, that we
are not trying to battle to get in to some where we are not. Where we are is in his arms, in his
beloved Son, at his right hand. And the only question is, are we living in the joy of that, and the
delight of it and the peace of it? That is the issue.
If you say to me, “What is going to be the issue on judgment day?” Jesus, himself said, “No one
knows what happens then.” But you are left with the truth that “The steadfast love of the Lord
never ceases.” However complex a system God has worked out for that time, that is in his hands and
is something that we cannot tell ourselves, but we can be sure of this, that God has made us alive
together with Christ and has raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places,
and that that is the truth for everybody that we meet and know. Now, it is up to them whether they
live in the light of that, but what we have to hold onto in out heads is, this is not something that
needs to be done sometime. This is something that has been done. This is where we are and it is
where they are. And our main job is to live that before them and be able to explain that to them,
if they ever catch some of the truth from our lives.
But the helmet of salvation is the sure fact that we have been raised with Christ, and made to sit
with God in the heavenly places. And that is where we are now. It is not something we have to
obtain; it is not something that we have to get into. That is where we are.
And of course what it does is, it changes your whole attitude to obedience, because, “Here I am!”
“You mean it is all settled?”
“You mean I’m in my Father’s arms, and that this very moment that is where I am? And that is his
attitude to me, that I am his dear child, and he is simply putting his are around me and saying,
‘Now I’d like my Son to have an opportunity to do in this world what I have planned for him to do,
and to do it inside you? Now will you join me in that?’?”
And that is what obedience is. It is just cooperating with a dear Father who has shown us nothing
but generous love and kindness and mercy. And, “Sure, Lord, that is what I would like to do.”
And I was saying to Irene the other day, “It is such a different attitude from the feeling, ‘Obey!
Trust and obey! I have to obey. After all he has the whip hand so you have to obey. What else can
you do? He is the elephant in the room. So you have to obey.'” (Or what is it? The 10 ton gorilla
But it is such a different attitude from that grudging kind of resentful, “Yeah, you have to obey!
I have to obey!” Rather than the dear Father’s arms around you saying, “Would you? I’d like my Son
to do some things through you here on earth. Is that OK?” Because you can’t think of saying, “I
suppose you will throw me out if I won’t.” Because it would stick in your throat.
So it is real, the helmet of salvation. Put on the helmet of salvation. Put on your safety helmet!
Put on the helmet of safety! Put on the helmet that will save you, just the right thoughts, the
truth, just your understanding in your head of that statement in Ephesians 2:4 “That God who is rich
in mercy, out of the great love with which he has loved us, has made us alive together with Christ
and raised us up with him and made us sit with him in the heavenly places.” And that is where I am.
Let us pray.