”And take the helmet of salvation…”
What does the figure of a helmet suggest to us as followers of Christ? It’s something to protect the mind, the intelligence, and the ability to think and reason. The breastplate protects the emotional life. When you put on Christ as your breastplate, you are assuming a position in Him which protects you from the sense of guilt and unforgiveness, which is the most common ground of disturbance to the emotions. The shoes protect us in the area of the will, as the shoes of Christ as our peace creates a sense of readiness and willingness within us. It is our motivations that are dealt with here. Christ as our peace motivates us and makes us ready to face life with all its challenges.
But the helmet is designed for the head, for the mind. This is something that Christ is doing in us and through us, in the world. The helmet can keep our thinking straight and preserve us from mental confusion and darkness. Is there anything more needful or relevant?
What is this helmet? What is it that keeps our thinking straight in the midst of a very confused world? The helmet of salvation is not talking about the salvation of the soul, regeneration or conversion. In other words he is not looking back at all. Paul is not speaking about a past decision which was once made, or even a present experience, but he is looking to the future. He is talking about a salvation which will be a future event. It is exactly what he is referring to in Romans 13:11 – “Now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed.” This helmet is further defined for us in 1Thessalonians 5:8 – “But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.” Here, salvation is a hope, something yet in the future – something not yet possessed or entered into fully. This future tense of salvation is described for us in a number of passages, but very plainly in Romans 8:18-25…especially in vv.22-25: “For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”
Paul is talking about the day of resurrection, the day of the coming of Christ, the day when creation will be delivered from its bondage, when Christ returns to establish His Kingdom. This helmet is the recognition that all human schemes and efforts to obtain world peace and harmony are doomed to fail. But through these failures, Christ is working out His own plan which will culminate in His appearing again and establishing His own righteousness on earth. This is the helmet that will keep you thinking straight in the hour of man’s utter confusion. But do not stop here, otherwise you will be guilty of extremism and imbalance. God is working through the events of history, but He is working out His purposes on a basis that is totally different from the aims and goals of men…that is the helmet of salvation. Christians are not to be taken in by the unreal and groundless expectations of the world, nor are we too isolate ourselves and withdraw from them. We are to be involved in what is going on in the world for wholly different reasons. We are involved in order to accomplish God’s desire to confront men everywhere – at every level – in all avenues of life – with the good news of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ. If we see that – it will save so much heartache, disillusionment, and confusion. We have a hope for the future! We know that God is working out His purposes and is not disturbed when human programmes go wrong and everything fails.
What shall we do then? Withdraw from life and build our own little castle complete with drawbridge and moat? Should we look forward to retirement and build our little nest egg? Should we fight all the injustice in the world or just let the world go to hell? God forgive us and help us! Salvation is coming and it is even now at work…this is what we need to know! Not merely that it will finally one day end right – but that the ending is being worked out now. History is not a meaningless jumble of random events but a controlled pattern and our God reigns!
Help the weak, love your neighbour, serve the sick, champion the underdog, visit those in prison, care for the old, clean up the environment, volunteer in the community, help relieve some of the social injustice – all this is possible only as we put on the helmet of salvation.