Christian, please accept my deepest apologies for the delay in this correspondence. I received your letter recently. I hope this letter finds you well and experiencing the fullness of our Lord daily.
I agree in your previous dispatch with your call to spiritual arms. It is clear that we need to:
“…be strong in the Lord and 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.
What does Paul mean when he calls the Church in Ephesus – and all believers – to “be “strong”? Is he speaking of our might and strength? No. As we both know, we are powerless to change our spiritual condition. 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 craftsmanship, 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 human efforts propel them as in Paul’s day). However, the wind transforms the ship into a powerful and valuable vessel.
On the other hand, Christian, let us not forget this vessel can also be overcome by this very same power unless a captain or a pilot appropriately controls it. 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 ” power source.” Only then can the ship be utilized for its whole purpose.
The human 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 as “power”? Thus our passage could read – “in power (endunamoo) in the Lord and the power (kratos) of His power (ischus)”? Please forgive the loose rendering of this verse, my old friend, but the repetition highlights 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 is? 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 power. (Acts 19:11-16).
As you rightly know, Christian. We need His power because only then will we be able to stand against the devil’s schemes.
To arms and battle in His power!
In warmest affections,
Adonijah Butler, Esq.