Christian, please accept my deepest apologies for the delay in this correspondence. I received your letter of recent. I hope this letter finds you well and experiencing the fullness of our Lord daily.
I am in agreement in your previous dispatch with your call to spiritual arms. It is clear that we need to:
“…be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Eph. 6:10-12 NASB
What does Paul mean when he calls the Church in Ephesus – and all believers – to “be “strong”? Is he speaking of our own might and strength? Clearly not. As we both know, we are powerless to change our spiritual condition. Plainly, the great Apostle is pointing us heavenward – to the divine Spirit of God. Our “power” is not inwardly generated. It is His power working through us. (Eph. 3:20)
As an example, Christian, a ship can carry many men and great weights of cargo. Yet, without outside forces it is of little value. Regardless of its armor or beautiful craftmanship, it is of little practical use without water, currents, and the wind. Ships are designed to traverse the great oceans, but without the wind they are powerless (unless they are propelled by human efforts as in Paul’s day). However, the wind transforms the ship into a powerful and useful vessel.
On the other hand, Christian, let us not forget this vessel can also be overcome by this very same power unless it is properly controlled by a captain or a pilot. Otherwise, the ship will be driven and tossed by the wind. Thus, it is not just the presence of the wind? No, it is the proper understanding of the power, and the relationships between the ship, the pilot, and the source of the “power.” Only then can the ship be utilized to its fullest purpose.
Plainly, the humanly concept used here cannot be said of our Lord. We do not control or manage Him – although, we know individuals who claim and act as they do – a dangerous position. Nevertheless, if we easily understand this practical application on an earthly scale, can we not utilize the illustration as a bridge to ask, “Is not the Lord calling us, through the great Apostle Paul to recognize the source of our power on the spiritual level – one with eternal implications?” Of course.
As a further illustration, as you know from your theological studies, Christian, cannot the Greek words ischus, kratos, and dunamis be rendered or translated “power”? Thus our passage could read – “in power (endunamoo) in the Lord and in the power (kratos) of His power (ischus)“? Please forgive the loose rendering of this verse, my old friend, but the repetition serves to highlight the source of the power – the Lord.
Therefore, with His power we are to, “put on the “full armor of God.” (v. 11a). The purpose? ..”so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” (v. 11b). To stand on our own – powerless. To do so, we, as the ship, will be of little value – potentially suffering great harm. Recall what happened to the seven sons of Sceva who went out in their own power. (Acts 19:11-16).
As you rightly know, Christian. We are in need of His power, because, only then will be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
To arms, and to battle in His power!
In warmest affections,
Adonijah Butler, Esq.