In order to stand firm, we must have the right protection for our feet. In Paul’s day, the Roman soldier wore sandals that were firmly fixed to his feet by leather thongs. On the soles of these sandals were hobnails to give the soldier a better grip on the ground. This is the image in Paul’s mind when he refers to having your feet fitted with readiness – it means a firm footing, a strong foundation, a good grip.
A soldier knows that if he is having trouble with his feet – if they are slipping all over the place, then he is not going to be able to stand firm and fight well.
But what is this ‘gospel of peace’ that we are meant to be fitted out with? The following passage gives us Paul’s definition: ‘Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Jesus dies for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and the to the Twelve disciples’ (1 Corinthians 15:1-5).
The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and the salvation he offers to us is what Paul calls the ‘gospel of peace’. Throughout his letters Paul emphasizes the importance of standing on the ‘gospel of peace’ – the message of God’s grace. Paul explains that we can stand with God in peace because we have been justified by faith: ‘Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through whom we have gained access by faith into his grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God’ (Romans 5:1-2).
Paul’s strongest words about standing firmly on the gospel are found in Galatians 1:6-8: ‘I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of God and are now turning to a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Jesus. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!’
There is only one gospel – and we must be careful to preach it exactly as God gave it to us. Knowing the true gospel of Jesus is so important, because if you have a false gospel then your beliefs concerning Jesus, and his reasons for coming to earth, will be wrong. This is the gospel – and as Christians, we must stand on it:
□ Jesus died for our sins.
□ All humans are sinners.
□ The good news is that no one has to stay the way they are.
□ Jesus paid the price so that we don’t have to pay any price.
□ The Holy Spirit is released into the lives of all those who put their faith in Jesus.
□ The Holy Spirit has the power to transform our lives.
What happens when we stand on the ‘gospel of peace’? Our lives become stable. Many people in the world today are unstable – unstable people are not grounded in the word of God. Like children, they believe everything they hear and are easily led astray because they don’t know the truth of God’s word. Instability is a serious problem that can hinder our life. for this reason, the Bible contains many warnings about being unstable.
James tells us that ‘…a double-minded man is unstable in all he does’ (James 1:8).
In Hebrews we read, ‘Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace and not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them’ (Hebrews13:9).
In other words, don’t believe every strange doctrine you hear – be careful of people who tell you that your heart will become stronger if you do this ritual or take part in that ceremony. The thing that strengthens our hearts the most is the grace and love of God – revealed to us through the life of Jesus.
There are people who know the television schedule for the weekend – people who know the batting averages of famous baseball players and other trivial pieces of information – but they don’t know the truth concerning the ‘gospel of peace’. They don’t know the one thing that will strengthen their hearts.
Just as the feet support the whole weight of our body – so the gospel of Jesus is the foundation of the Christian life. No soldier would think of entering a battle without his shoes on. Likewise, we should continually put on and remind ourselves of the gospel we are standing on.
If a soldier only wore one shoe into battle it would cause him to limp. Unfortunately, there are Christians who only wear one shoe – those who concentrate on one section of scripture and ignore the rest.
There are Christians who focus on only one part of what God has called them to do. For example, they focus on witnessing to unbelievers, but never take the time to pray. There are Christians who are always talking about the need for more modern worship songs and a better quality band, but they have little interest in seeing people enter more fully into God’s presence.
If we focused only on the love and grace of God, without balancing this important fact against the need to turn away from sin – we would never seek to change and grow. Our image of God would become more like a cuddly teddy bear, rather than a Father who corrects His child’s mistakes because He wants to see them grow into maturity.
In the same way, if we only focused on God’s hatred of sin, without balancing this against God’s love and abundant grace – we would end up constantly fearful of failure. Our image of God would become more like an angry headmaster who gets some kind of sick delight from punishing his students, rather than a loving Father whose love is constant, even when we make mistakes.
In order to be balanced as a Christian, we need a good understanding of all the Bible’s doctrines and teachings – or else we end up standing on one part of the bible and ignoring another – which is similar to standing on one foot. Remember, the devil cannot move a Christian who is standing on all of God’s Word, and not just a part.
Even the best prepared soldier will be killed if he stands in one place for too long. The Roman soldier’s hobnailed sandals were designed for mobility as well as for strength. They were light enough so that he could move and turn quickly. He was able to adjust and shift his position easily. The problem in some churches today is that believers are standing still. They are not willing to move from their position. However, you don’t wear shoes in order to stand still. Shoes are designed for walking and running in. We wear the shoes of peace, not just to stand our ground, but also to have firm footing when we need to respond to schemes of the enemy.
The one thing that hinders the work of God more than anything else is an unwillingness to change on the part of many Christians. This doesn’t mean that we should change our shoes – or change our gospel – it simply means that at times it is necessary for us to change our tactics and approach when sharing the good news with others. It is so important for our church and our congregation to remain adaptable. Our message never changes – but our methods for sharing it do.
The great old hymns, which were written many years ago – contain the same message our new worship songs contain – but what has changed? The style of presentation has changed. Why has it changed? Because different generations respond differently to different types of music styles. If we want the young people to enter our churches today, then we must be prepared to change our presentation – rather then presenting them with a church culture that is totally irrelevant to their lifestyle. The message must never change – Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever – but let us be mobile and willing to try new ways of presenting the same truths.
No soldier goes to war without knowing what he is fighting for. As believers, we need to keep our goal in mind. Our goal is more than simply standing our ground and maintaining our current position. We must also move forward into new territory in order to win new ground and spread the gospel.
‘…with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace’ (Ephesians 6:15).
There should be a ‘readiness’ in Christians – a readiness to witness to others on behalf of Jesus. It is interesting to notice that we are soldiers of peace. Our enemy is the devil – not people. We are to be known as ambassadors of reconciliation: ‘All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Jesus and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Jesus, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Jesus’ behalf: Be reconciled to God’ (2 Cortinthians 5:18-20).
The feet that wear the shoes of peace are beautiful because they carry the message of peace: ‘How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation…’ (Isaiah 52:7).
Paul quoted this same passage in his letter to the Romans: ‘How then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? How can they hear without someone preaching to them? How can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”’ (Romans 10:14-15).
Are you wearing the shoes of peace today? Do you have a readiness to share the gospel with others? God will give you the opportunity – but it is your responsibility to be ready. The kind of soldier who will be victorious is the one who is stable and balanced, the one who has good mobility and uses every opportunity to share the good news.