Introduction Michael Ngubane
Brethren, we greet you wherever you are. We thank the Lord for every opportunity He grants us. It is our prayer that God will remember you. We cannot forget that it is God who keeps us. He cares for us. He nurtures us. God is doing amazing things on a daily basis which words fail to describe. We thank each one who is praying for us at the mission. We experience your support and prayers, and we experience God’s presence with us. Please continue and may God continue to support and carry His work. Your prayers mean so much to us.
Lord willing, we will host an online youth conference in December in the same way we did in July this year. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we will be unable to have a physical gathering. This conference will take place from 11-17 December. The first service will take place at 7pm on 11 December. Further times and details will be confirmed. Spread the word. Encourage people to tune in from that date. Young people, we encourage you to purchase data for that period in order to livestream some of the services. The conference will be broadcast on Radio Khwezi. Parents, please assist your children so that they will be able to attend the conference.
We thank God for the vision He gave Reverend Stegen and how He inspired him to reach everyone with the Gospel. This vision has not dimmed. He continues to support every means to spread the Gospel so that souls can be saved.
When I stand in this pulpit, I tremble because I know that this is Reverend Stegen’s pulpit for which the Lord anointed him. I do not take it for granted and by God’s grace I never want to take it for granted.
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armour 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 armour 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, 15and 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. Ephesians 6:10 – 17
When I read this word my heart was stirred. So much was revealed to me but I will attempt to be brief.
The apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church in Ephesus which was one of the smaller churches that Paul ministered to. Paul spent more time teaching this church than with other churches.
In this text Paul says, Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. It seems as if this is Paul’s final word, a word of farewell, through which he wants to strengthen and encourage them in the Lord. He encourages them to put on the whole armour of God that they may be able to taken their stand against the evil one. Paul knew the people would face a different time and he encouraged them. He wanted to make the most of the opportunity because a time would come when he would no longer be able to communicate with them or be with them. He wanted to make it clear to them that the battle cannot be fought with physical weapons - it is a spiritual battle. He wanted them to understand that a time would come when the children of God would face this spiritual battle and need to be armed with these spiritual weapons.
13 Therefore put on the full armour 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. Paul wanted to ensure that they put on the whole armour of God in order to stand on the evil day. He spent time teaching this church, almost treating them like little children to ensure that they understood the meaning of what he was saying, mentioning each weapon.
How does one obtain these weapons? 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Mathew 6:33 We should seek God with all our hearts to obtain this armour. We should seek God and all His righteousness. The Bible says that if we do this then all the other things will be added to us. If we seek God with all our hearts and only Him and when we find Him, He will make sure we are equipped with everything we need. When we are founded upon God, He is the main pillar of strength in our lives.
Paul says, stand with the belt of truth around your waist. Paul knew that in order to stand and be a true church of God, we must be girded with a belt of truth. Paul taught all the people in the church - men, women, children - how they should live for God. In many cases today if you look at people who call themselves Christians they have not put on the belt of truth. If you look at their lives, there is immorality and loose living among young people. They have never reached the place where they are obedient to this word: gird yourself with the belt of truth. Young men are in church on Sunday but from Monday to Saturday they live their own lives and they do not have the truth as Paul taught. Preachers preach on Sundays but during the week they live loose lives and they are not belted with truth. Their sermons are quite a performance but during the week it is clear that they have never trained their flesh to be self-controlled. They live in any way. Have you reached that place where you have received the belt of truth and put it on?
The breastplate of righteousness is a covering that protects your chest. What is it that comes from your heart, your chest young person? In the chest cavity are important organs that sustain life: the heart, lungs and other important organs. When Paul he speaks about the breastplate of righteousness he refers to the heart of man. The Bible says the heart is evil, incurably so, who can understand it? Paul knew that if God gives you that breastplate of righteousness it will protect your heart, that heart which the Bible says is so evil. That which comes from your heart, does it build up or break down? Is it a sweet fragrance or a rotten smell? There are people who say, “I will only tell you, don’t tell anyone else.” Then their mouth spews rotten sewerage and evil gossip that does not build up. Paul says one should put on that breastplate of righteousness because he knew that believers sometimes embrace each other outwardly but inwardly they are not one. A person makes as if they embrace you but as you disappear around the corner you become evil in their sight. How many people have you not embraced but today you are bitterer than gall to them? Paul says we should put on this breastplate of righteousness. When we have done that, even the words we speak will show that it comes from a person wearing the breastplate of righteousness. A heart which is protected in that way will build others up and bring a sweet fragrance to whoever you are with and before God it will be acceptable. Can people see that you have the breastplate of righteousness on and that you are clothed in Christ?
You must put the shoes that are ready to proclaim the gospel of peace on your feet. It must be the gospel of peace, not just any gospel. Paul understood there are many different gospels that is why he distinguishes that they must be shoes of readiness to preach the gospel of peace. He knew that others preach a gospel, not of peace, but of friction and fighting. Some claim they have been called to preach the gospel but their gospel brings about division. They proclaim their gospel but not one that brings about peace, but unrest and division. Why? They have never put on the shoes of the readiness given by the gospel of peace. Are you dressed in those shoes? Are you walking ways that please God? Can the Lord say that your feet are covered with that which the Lord Jesus prepared on the Cross? This world so full of turmoil. It is at loggerheads with itself. There is so much division and God has called us to proclaim the gospel of peace. Are you and I there to bring the gospel of peace in our church that is in turmoil? Are your feet prepared in this manner? We are going into the festive season where young people do their own things. Young person, are you fitted with the shoes for the gospel of peace? When others take a break, are you someone who is ready for God to use? Where people are drinking, living wildly and immorally, are you ready to be used by God to bring the gospel of peace or do you put aside the armour and enjoy the time together? When others feast and party do you also put aside your Christianity and say you will put it on again after New Year?
17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. It is as if Paul directed these words to the present church. Ensure that you put on the helmet of salvation. You will not put a helmet on your feet or on your chest, you put a helmet on your head. Your mind is in your head. Your thoughts are there and that is what needs to be protected. Many people today are spiritually dead because they never surrendered their minds to God. They never allowed God to put the helmet of salvation on their heads so that their minds and thoughts can be saved. That is why many young people wallow in the filth of pornography. They have never put on the helmet of salvation. Mature men who are married with families, some even preach, have never put on the helmet of salvation. The helmet of salvation can protect your mind from the lust of the flesh. People are unprotected because they have never put on the helmet.
Paul knew that all the various parts of the armour needed to be put on so that we may be protected as an honourable church that lives to the honour and glory of God. Paul never held anything back from them. He provided them with everything they needed to be an upright church.
Have you put on the whole armour of God? If you have not, God’s mercy and grace is available to you even today. You can come to Him and say, ‘Lord, I haven’t put on that breastplate of righteousness.’ You can come and say, ‘Lord, I haven’t put on that helmet of salvation. My mind and thoughts are not protected.’ Before the sun sets, you can run to the cross, throw yourself down and say, ‘Lord, have mercy on me because in my marriage and family things aren’t as they should be because I have never girded myself with the truth.’ If you see that things are not as they ought to be in your life, run and ask a child of God to pray with you. Young people, come to the Lord and say, ‘Lord, take my mind, take it captive, I surrender it to you.’ If you do that we will see young people of a different calibre. Everyone does as they like today. Young girls fall pregnant as if it is the fashion but if we would have young people wearing the belt of truth, they would be totally different. Young men today have become like wild animals filled with uncontrolled lusts to the extent that they get involved in bestiality because they have never put on the helmet of salvation. You may have been a Christian for years but you have never submitted to God, you have never allowed God to clothe you with the full armour of God. I plead with you, do not look at the many years you have been a believer and rest on your laurels – if you realise this then cry out to God that He will have mercy on you.
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. You cannot go into this battle unprepared and unequipped. Above all, you need the shield of faith. When you go into this battle you need each piece of this armour, you cannot leave any piece out and above all you need the shield of faith. Paul speaks about the flaming darts or arrows that you need to defend yourself against. Satan has shot off his flaming darts and if ever they have been fiery, it is today. What protection do you have against them? These fiery darts are shot off by the evil one on a daily basis at the church of God, instead of decreasing in number, they are increasing. In what do you put your trust? What protection do you have against them? If you have to face these fiery arrows and you are not protected, you do not have the armour, the shield of faith, how will you survive? Each individual needs to put on this armour. A child cannot depend on their parents’ armour. A wife you cannot depend on her husband’s armour. Each person must put on the armour. A person must have a personal relationship with God. If that is not the case we are to be pitied. We are so-to-say, naked without this armour, without this shield of faith.
Conclusion Jabulani Dube
As a young person I carried a stick before I had this armour that we read about in the Bible. I understand the idea of weapons and the shield. As a young boy I fought with the sticks and I overcame three opponents at a time. I boasted that I was called Israel.
Christians need to put on these spiritual weapons. We need to put on the full armour of God. If you have your weapons, your shield, your stick, you can defend yourself. If something is aimed at your chest, you can use your shield. If it is aimed at your head, you can use your stick to defend yourself. The Zulu people understand this well. These spiritual weapons will help us fight spiritual battles. These weapons will enable us to stand against the schemes of the devil.
If you still get angry and have grudges you are not armed. If you are still ruled by pride, you have not been equipped. So Christian, examine yourself and see whether you have this armour on. Saul became a Paul when he met with that light. The word we have received today came from such a man.
We have been labelled as a cult. How can you as a Christian call other Christians a cult? We are still heading for heaven where we will face judgement and many will cry, ‘Woe unto me!’
When you pluck a chicken’s feathers, the wind spreads the feathers so that one cannot gather them all. Some feathers land in the river, some are washed down to sea. Through the way in which some people speak, they are plucking feathers. Later they will have to gather them again. How will you ever be able to gather them before your day of death? Death is coming. Some people think that God does not exist but He is alive.
Paul encourages this little church of Ephesus to be strong in the Lord and in His might. Put on His armour. “Finally, I say to you, be strong in the Lord.” Often when a person has died people want to know what his last words were. The final words are always important. Paul emphasises this: Be strong in the Lord. Stand against the devil. Brethren, be strong in the Lord so that you can take your stand against the schemes of the devil. Satan goes around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. If this time requires you to cry, do so. If it requires you to pray, do so. If it requires you to remain silent, do so. If it requires you to preach, listen, obey, do it. Put on the whole armour that the devil may not find a place in your heart.
Today there is a spirit of rebellion. There is bloodshed, violence and all manner of crime. Very few people put on the armour of God to take their stand against the devil. The devil has been able to creep up on some, grab them and get hold of them. Some he has got hold of in this way – they no longer believe that they need to confess their sins and bring them to the light. The Bible is very clear on this – confess sins one to another, pray for each other that you may be healed. Such a person has put his armour aside. He is unprotected and Satan can play cat and mouse with him. Such a person is ruled by evil spirits and he opposes the Bible. We cannot go against God’s word. We must abide by God’s word. If you ask someone with whom they counsel and their answer is ‘with God’, where does that person stand? Where will they end? In hell. Like a stone in a deep pool that is bone dry on the inside, is a person who is in the midst of revival but has not been touched by it. They still go their own way, advanced in years, even older than me. The Lord will fetch such a person soon. Where will they end? They are hiding on the mission and abuse the facilities because they do not have to pay.