God and Benjamin Franklin

God and Benjamin Franklin

A Story by Austin Smith
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A description and exploration of Ephesians 6:13

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            I was sitting in Generation X class at church on September 19th, 2010, where my mind wandered to other parts of the room besides the board with a drawing of a yoke on it. I don’t know when it happened, but I soon laid eyes on a poster. It was an illustration of a man in a suit of armor. On the bottom, it had a quote from Ephesians 6:13. Here’s the quote, taken from the RSV Bible:

 

“Therefore take the whole armor of god, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

 

            After looking at each part of the man’s armor, I couldn’t help but notice that salvation is a helmet. Isn’t salvation supposed to be something offered to us, and once we have it, we live morally correct lives? If so, wouldn’t that be more like a breastplate? It got me to thinking for a moment, and then I started to wonder why the other pieces are what they are. I attempted to work out these little conundrums, and I soon discovered that the whole concept of the armor of God seemed vaguely familiar . . .

            It made me think of Benjamin Franklin.

            In 11th grade, I was under tutelage of a one Mr. Aaron Albrecht, who taught English. He assigned us to read one of Benjamin Franklin’s works, in which he described thirteen virtues that would produce a perfect human being if practiced. The thirteen virtues he listed, in order, are:

1.      Temperance

2.      Silence

3.      Order

4.      Resolution

5.      Frugality

6.      Industry

7.      Sincerity

8.      Justice

9.      Moderation

10.  Cleanliness

11.  Tranquility

12.  Chastity

13.  Humility

He proposed that if one practices these virtues in order, then one will eventually

reach perfection. I was so entranced by these thirteen virtues that I once created a comic for it. That comic is no longer with me, unfortunately, but it was a joy for me to create.

            Of course, the Bible states that no man is perfect; Benjamin Franklin admitted that he never perfected his third virtue, Order. He also admitted that he enjoyed working countless hours trying to perfect himself. Going back to Ephesians 6:11, I believe, through some time in meditation, that the same principle can be applied. If we slowly don the armor of God, piece by piece, then we will be protected from the evils of this world (and possibly the next, in the battle of Armageddon).

            Following this introduction, I will attempt to describe why each piece of the armor of God is important, and I will attempt to offer a way to easily put on each piece (although nothing is easy when we’re trying to change for God). I will use Ephesians whenever I can, but most of this will be self-argumentation.

            The first two articles of clothing that the Bible lists as part of the armor of God are the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness.

14Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; . . . (KJV)

14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, . . . (NIV)

            The third item is the shoes of the gospel of peace.

. . . 15and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; . . . (KJV)

. . . 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. (NIV)

            Following these three items is the shield of faith.

. . . 16above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. . . .  (KJV)

16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (NIV)

            In the 17th verse, the last two items are listed: the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit.

. . . 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: . . . (KJV)

17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (NIV)

            Putting on the armor for any battle in the past consisted mainly of a breastplate, a skirt, a helmet, a sword and shield, with a belt to hold the skirt and shoes for rough terrain. Only six of these seven are listed in Ephesians 6:14-17, but I’d actually like to start with the battle skirt, since it was probably the first piece that soldiers and warriors put on.

            The Warrior’s Skirt

            Let’s say that, like the skirt was the most basic protection, humans with the skirt of God are the most basic human being. They know of God and, according to his law, what is right and what is wrong; like the man with the skirt, he can move freely between right and wrong. If this person were to fight in a battle for God with only this skirt, then we would probably die after fighting five men.

            And even if one has a battle skirt, it would be almost useless without a belt.

            The Belt of Truth

            Does anyone ever wonder why truth is represented as a belt? If truths come from the mouth or the heart, then why isn’t it a breastplate or a mask? I’ve dwelt on that for some time, and here’s what conclusion I’ve come to:

            Knowledge of the Lord is paramount in understanding him. He wants us to understand Him, whether through the Bible or meditation or observation. Garbing ourselves in a skirt, proverbially, gives us a basic set of rules for us to follow. Without any checking basis, however, we would walk around all willy-nilly and sin to our hearts’ content, which is not what God wants. If we’re honest with ourselves, then we’ll know what we’ve done wrong, and we’ll know how to correct ourselves.

            Benjamin Franklin focused on improving himself and others with his thirteen points, and he had to be honest with himself in order to make the improvements. I believe that God’s armor works in the same way: we start with a basic knowledge of what He wants (thus, the skirt), and we try to be honest with ourselves and others in order to help each other on a path to improvement (thus, the belt). The belt seems to be the foundation of the armor, as it holds up the skirt, and is an integral part of the armor. Truth is the foundation of the Christian faith, as it keeps us in check and sets us on a path to godliness, fit to be a warrior of God.

            Of course, a fastened skirt isn’t really much protection; an enemy can easily ram us in the chest. We would naturally need a breastplate.

            The Breastplate of Righteousness

            Have you ever heard of the expression “Heart of the Lion?” This usually refers to someone with a lot of courage. Courage and righteousness are both similar and different: righteousness arises when someone feels that they can do something while courage arises when someone feels that they must do something, yet both are feelings that come from the heart. If one wears a breastplate that tells people that he is righteous, then people will know that not only can he do something right, but he is ready for the chance.

            Righteousness and courage may not be the same, but they go hand in hand in a battle. If one doesn’t have courage, then their truth, their righteousness will be all for naught. Fortunately, God created a piece of armor for us to wear, to give us courage. They are . . .

            The Shoes of the Gospel of Peace

            I haven’t really understood what the Gospels of Peace were until recently. I had always thought that they were just a few books in the Bible, like Psalms and Proverbs. I’ve done some research, though, and found out the gospels of peace are what bring the Good News to people. I’d suppose that since we’d hear the Good News, and it would bring us peace to hear it, we’d be able to walk easier in life. I suppose that that’s why the Gospels of Peace are represented as shoes; so we can stand and walk in the hard times of life, the hard times of battle.

            Something has just occurred to me: will the Good News bring us peace only if we’re truthful (the belt) and righteous (the breastplate)? Being shod, after all, was mentioned third in the armor of God. Could it be that those that are true and righteous, but are nonbelievers, can still receive the Good News, but those who’re deceivers and unrighteous, whether it be from corruption or slothfulness, not be able to receive it? I’m not sure. I suppose it’s anyone’s call.

            The Shield of Faith

            I see it as all too natural that faith is represented by a shield. Those who do believe will be attacked for their beliefs, and the Bible does say that we must stand firm in our faith, although I don’t remember the exact verse in the Bible that says this. We are shielded from attacks by our faith, and we can stand tall and continue on in life.

            What does confuse me, though, is why the shield is put on before the helmet, unless the helmet is put on with one hand. I’ll try figuring this out by describing the helmet now.

            The Helmet of Salvation

            Most of the time in battle, one shot to the head will kill people. I’d suppose that since the mind controls the body (mind over matter), using a shield to guard yourself in case something goes wrong while you put on a helmet seems logical. I’d also suppose that faith is what shields you while you gain salvation. Salvation is a helmet because it comes from the mind, from belief; John 3:16 makes this clear:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.(KJV)

            After one’s all set with truthfulness, righteousness, peace, faith and salvation, now is the time to do God’s work. You’ll need to rush out to battle with a powerful weapon. Taking the last of God’s armor, we now have

            The Sword of the Spirit

            I once read that when the time arises, the Holy Spirit will come into us and help us say the right things and do the right stuff. That’s probably why the Spirit is the sword; it’s what’ll help us conquer evil and win souls for God’s kingdom.

           

            Well, that about covers it up from me. We start out with nothing at all, and then don a skirt for basic protection. Once we are truthful with ourselves and each other, we put on the belt to hold our armor together. A strong heart wanting to do right will go one step higher in putting on the armor, as one will be given the breastplate of righteousness. To prepare for the journey, one must put on the shoes for a peaceful trek, and a shield will protect one from dangers that can’t be ran from, just as the shield of faith does. The helmet of salvation is the last possible protection from evil, and the Sword is the offense.

            So here’s how I believe we can use God’s armor, or at least the concept of it, to better ourselves in the eyes of God: We can start with a verbal/mental change by telling the truth to each other, for there will be no deceit within ourselves and around each other. We can toughen up our bodies to prepare for how we can help other people by having a change of heart (Righteousness). Then we can take confidence in our minds and our bodies, and walk with peace with God by reading the Gospel of Peace and taking confidence that the words are true. Once we establish faith in Jesus (or God), we can finally see in our minds that we will be saved. We are liberated on this world and are ready to spread the joy of God to others, and rid people of evil.

            I’m not sure how much of this makes sense, but it’s just musing. And just as Benjamin Franklin sought after a way to make humans perfect, I have tried to use the armor of God to find a way to become closer to Him.

© 2010 Austin Smith


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Austin Smith
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You are very good at telling stories

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Added on October 24, 2010
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Author

Austin Smith
Austin Smith

Grand Terrace, CA



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I've decided, with the conclusion of my time at a community college, to launch myself fully into the experience of writing. I shall no longer beat around the bush, methinks. more..

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