May 2-3, 2009
[Ed walks out with a surgical mask on in response to the media explosion about the swine flu. After joking, he removes the mask.]
I had something really cool happen to me when we first kicked of Fellowship Church. I got a call and an anonymous person had left this wardrobe for me, paid for, to pick up at a specific store. I was thinking, “Wow! That’s insane. Someone has purchased a wardrobe for me. All I’ve got to do is go to this store, try it on and it’s mine?!” I’m talking about an entire wardrobe.
I thought it was a joke, a hoax. But sure enough, when I found out about it, I went to that store and it was the real deal. And this person gave me a wardrobe. And I still have one of the shirts that I’ve worn for fifteen years. Awesome!
Now I would have been an idiot not to have taken advantage of that opportunity. I mean, if someone called and left you a message that said, “I’ve got a wardrobe for you,” even the most fashion unconscious guy here would say, “I’m going for that! It’s free ninety-nine! Quality clothing.” That’s a cool deal.
I believe a lot of us in this venue, and in all our other venues; I believe a lot of us who are watching on television, who will download this, who will watch this on the web; I think we’re in the same situation. Because there’s a wardrobe for all of us. It’s been paid for. It is by the ultimate designer. And all we’ve got to do is claim it and put it on. Yet, so many people I know don’t understand the wardrobe. They don’t understand the elements of it, and they’re not dressed in this wardrobe.
What wardrobe am I talking about? What wardrobe am I referring to? I’m talking about being clothed in Christ. Because the good news of Jesus Christ is that he wants to dress us from head to toe, from top to bottom, from bottom to the top. Jesus came from the top all the way to the bottom to bring us from the bottom to the top.
So when you talk about Christianity, you’ve got to talk about fashion. The Bible is a book about fashion. We’re on the runway of life 24/7 if we’ve been clothed in Christ. Jesus wore this seamless garment.
He set aside his seamless garment, put on your rags and my rags of unrighteousness when he died on the cross for our sins, thereby affording us the opportunity to lay aside our sin, our rags of unrighteousness and to clothe ourselves in his righteousness.
And we’ve been learning around here that when we’re clothed in Christ, we’re enveloped, we’re dressed from head to toe, from top to bottom, from bottom to top. We’re new creatures in Christ. We’re forgiven. We’re bathed in his unconditional love. We have a purpose. And the first step on this runway of life is this thing called baptism.
The Bible says, in fact in Galatians 3:27, “For all of you….”And we’ve seen tens of thousands of people from all walks of life, from all socio-economic levels, all colors, everything you can think of; we’ve seen people throughout the ministry right here get clothed in Christ. And then we’ve seen them don the wetsuit and to put on baptism. But it doesn’t stop there. It doesn’t stop with baptism.
I think it’s safe to say that a lot of people in the House aren’t really clothed properly. I think it’s safe to say a lot of us have a completion problem.
Have you ever seen someone who has the completion problem when it comes to getting dressed? I mean they’ve got all the right elements; they just can’t put it together. Do you know what I’m saying? Some of the ladies are thinking, “You’re describing my husband!” “You’re describing my boyfriend!” Guys, we have a struggle with this, don’t we? The completion problem.
Well, I would argue that there is a wardrobe out there that many people know about and a lot of people don’t even know about, that’s been paid for by the blood of Jesus, it’s designer. And it’s basically six elements of clothing that we need to clothe ourselves in every single day. So here’s your homework. When you get dressed (because we all get dressed) think about the clothing that God has provided for you.
Maybe you’re thinking, “What clothing?”
Well, I’ve talked to you about baptism. So what clothing? Six elements in Ephesians 6. It’s a great way to remember it. Ephesians 6 talks about the wardrobe that’s available for all of us. And this wardrobe, I’m telling you friends, will change your life. You’ll be able to make a fashion statement like you never, ever thought possible.
Because our desire to get dressed; our desire for clothing and color; our desire for clothing, I believe, is a microcosm of a greater desire, which is to be clothed in Christ. You can have the finest wardrobe in the world. But you’ll never be satisfied with your clothing until you wear the true under armor, which is available for us.
Now, hopefully I’ve talked long enough for you to find Ephesians 6 in the New Testament. And let me go through this. I’ll begin with Ephesians 6:11 and we’ll cruise through verse 15.
Ephesians 6:11, “Put on the full armor of God…”
I like that. Put it on, the full armor. The wardrobe is there. It’s been paid for. Put it on. And the writer, the apostle Paul, is going to talk about this faith fight that we’re in. We’re in a fashion fight.
I wonder why he used this whole terminology “the armor of God.” Well, he was chained to a Roman soldier. He was in prison. He was under house arrest. And he was looking at this guy and he was thinking, “Whoa!” And the Holy Spirit began to kick in and help him begin to connect the elements of the clothing of the Roman soldier with the kind of clothes that we should wear. Again, it’s true under armor. And the Apostle Paul is going to challenge us to get dressed from head to toe, from top to bottom, from bottom to top. So, put it on. It’s there for you; put it on. It’s paid for; put it on.
Then he says, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”
This word “devil” is a very interesting word. You want to know what it means? The accuser. That’s one of the purposes of the devil, to accuse you and to accuse me, to just give this steady stream of lies into your heart and my heart 24/7.
This word “stand” is a military term. It’s a term for victory. Back in ancient times, if you stood your ground; if you were the last man or woman standing, it meant what? That you were victorious.
So we have two types of people in all of our venues. Some of us here are fashion victims. You know what I’m talking about? You’re just a victim.
Others here, who understand the six elements of clothing in Ephesians 6, who get dressed, who put on the true under armor every day, you’re fashion victors.
And have you’ve heard me say many, many times, as believers, we don’t realize who we are. We aren’t fighting for victory. We’re fighting from victory. I’ve read the last page. We win! We’re dressed, we’re clothed in Christ. We win!
Let’s look at Ephesians 6:12-13. “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. Therefore put on the full armor of God.”
Use every piece of it; it’s your responsibility. Jesus is not going to make you or me get dressed. We’ve got to put it on. So every time you get dressed; every time you walk into your closet to get dressed, think about the real dress, which is the armor of God.
Ephesians 6:13 says, “So that when the day of evil comes you may be able to stand your ground….”
What does that mean? This whole vibe is referring to hand-to-hand combat. We’re in combat. It’s a personal, one-on-one thing. We’re fighting the enemy himself. And it doesn’t not take a rocket scientist to discover that there is an enemy out there, that there is a dark, sinister force wreaking havoc in our world. And as I travel, as I speak, as I talk to leaders I see the enemy. I can just see him!
The writer talks about the devil’s schemes. Do you realize the devil has plans to take you out and to take me out? The devil has methods, he has game plans to mess you up and to trip me up.
We have to realize the devil is not omniscient; he’s not omnipotent; he’s not omnipresent. God is. Jesus is. So again, we have the 4-1-1 on fashion. We understand true fashion. And when we get fully dressed, we’re ready to come against the devil’s schemes.
It’s a fight. It’s not a defensive thing. Yes, there’s a defensive aspect to it. But there’s also an offensive aspect to it. So put on the full armor of God so you can stand your ground.
Now we’re going to the KOA thing on Ephesians 6:14-15. He begins to talk about the six elements of clothing that all of us need to wear. There are six elements. We can’t skip on one or two, because we’ll be partially dressed. If we’re partially dressed, what’s the enemy going to do? Boom! He’ll attack you and me. One part is not a part of your wardrobe and boom! He’s in there.
So we’ve got to be fully dressed; we have got to be on point. We have got to be ready 24/7 to fight the fight and to claim victory. We’re not fashion victims, we’re fashion victors.
Ephesians 6:14 talks about the first thing we need to get into. It says, “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist….”
The belt of truth. On a Romans soldier’s outfit, the belt held everything together. There was a sheath on it to put the sword into, and it was buckled tight. It was buckled. Because when it was buckled, that meant he was ready for battle. If the belt was ever slack; if the belt was ever unbuckled, you know what it meant? The soldier was relaxed; the soldier wasn’t’ into the battle.
As believers, we can never have a slacking belt. As believers, we have to always keep the belt, this utility belt, buckled. The belt of what? Truth! Say it with me. Truth! The belt of truth.
Read here, integrity. We should live lives of integrity. This word “integrity” is where we get the word “integer.” Just articulation the word integer makes me break out in a cold sweat. I was terrible in math. But I do know that integer is a whole number, wholeness.
God wants us to live whole lives, holistic lives. But too many people, even believers, are giving out fractions as opposed to wholeness. So we have the belt of truth. Not relativism. The belt of truth. The Bible is our truth source. The Bible is absolute. It talks about truth. There are physical laws. And whether we believe the physical laws or not, they work. There are also spiritual laws. We stand on absolute truth.
Here’s what so interesting. In today’s world, so many people talk about relativism. It sounds so sexy, so cool, so p.c. “What’s true for you is true for you. And what’s true for you is true for you. What’s true for me is true for me. And as long as I don’t hurt anybody, I’m cool.”
That’s relativism. And here’s what is so hypocritical about the relativist. The relativist has a self-refuting worldview. Because the relativist is absolute about relativism.
We stand on truth. We stand on a foundation. And when you stand on truth, what is going to happen? You are going to get engaged and involved in the battle.
And that’s what is happening to our nation today, friends. We have a nation of relativists. There’s no more truth anymore. People aren’t standing on truth anymore.
They’re not standing on God’s truth anymore. They’re not standing on prayer anymore. They’re not standing on “thus sayeth the Lord” anymore. It’s all relativistic. It sounds so great, so hip, so “yeah, I dig it.”
But there’s only one problem. It will lead to a wheels-off mentality. The end result is chaos. Because when you take the absolutes out, you’ve got particulars. And when you focus on particulars, the result is chaos.
Look at our world today. Chaos. Look at our schools today. Chaos. Look at our government today. Chaos. Look at Hollywood today. Chaos. Chaos, chaos, chaos.
Why? They don’t realize it. They don’t understand it. I mean, they’re confused and they don’t realize they’re confused. Because if they knew they were confused, they wouldn’t be confused, right? They don’t understand it.
The Bible says they are blind. They don’t see it. They aren’t clothed in Christ. They’re not clothed in the belt of truth. The belt is important. I love the belt.
Illus: The other day I went to a party and Deion Sanders was there, just to name drop for a second. And you know what Deion said? I love this. He said, “When you dress good, you feel good. And when you feel good, you play good.” Now that was a brilliant statement.
Illus: Back in the day, I loved Batman and Robin. I mean the real Batman and Robin. Not this movie stuff. And my mother; she’s an artist and so kind—she made my brother and I Batman and Robin costumes. And here’s what so crazy about these costumes. I was Robin, and I’m a foot taller than Ben, and Ben is Batman! You might be thinking, “Ed, why in the world did you do that?”
It’s very simple. I liked the colors of Robin’s outfit. I’ve always been into fashion. I remember when I was two years old. You couldn’t buy pants with stripes down them; my mother would sew stripes on my pants. You couldn’t buy shirts with words and numbers; she would paint on them. I was two! I’ve always been into fashion. I love it.
I remember when I would dress like the Boy Wonder, I would just feel good! I could just take you out! Zowie! Pow!
That’s the problem. And that’s been the problem in my life as a believer. So often I’ve not been fully dressed, clothed in Christ, clothed in true under armor. And because I’ve not been dressed right, because I’ve not been dressed good. And if I’m not dressed good I don’t feel good. And if I don’t feel good, I am not going to play good.
So how in the world can you have the victorious mentality until you are fully dressed in the armor of God? Put on the belt. It’s the centerpiece of the outfit. But it keeps going. There’s something else.
The breastplate of righteousness.
Ephesians 6:14. “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place….”
That’s good. The breastplate would cover the vital organs—the front and the back. And here’s a good thing. God has got our back. Isn’t that good?
So we’re dressed, but we have this breastplate of something that a lot of us don’t understand. I have trouble wrapping my pea-brain around it. We’re dressed with the breastplate of righteousness.
So the belt is integrity; the breastplate of righteousness, you could call it, purity.
Let’s talk about righteousness for a second, because this breastplate covered the heart. It covers the emotions. The enemy likes to get in an attack your feelings and my feelings. But we don’t understand righteousness.
There are two types of righteousness. There is positional righteousness and practical righteousness.
Positional righteousness is, once I get dressed; once I get clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, then… Ok, let me give you an example.
Let’s say God the Father was standing right here. And let’s say I am sitting in one chair and Jesus is sitting in the other chair. And let’s say you walked up to God the Father and said, “God the Father, which one is more righteous? Jesus or Ed? Which one is more forgiven? Jesus or Ed? Which one is more pure? Jesus or Ed?”
You know what God the Father would say? “Both!”
“Ed, how can you say that? Give me a verse of Scripture that says that!”
2 Corinthians 5:21. This is going to mess some people up, because you don’t realize who you are. You don’t realize the wardrobe that’s out there. You’re walking around spiritually naked.
“God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Wow! So I’m totally and completely righteous because I’ve been clothed in Christ. The righteousness, the Bible says, has been imputed into my life. That’s positionally. Practically, the practical righteousness. I should live a pure life. Let me put it in laymen’s terms. This is God’s hood. So we’ve got to do good in the hood. Say it with me. We’ve got to do good in the hood.
Have you ever wondered why God wants us to live righteous lives, pure lives, and holy lives? Have you ever wondered why he wants us to only date people who are believers? why he wants us to only marry who are believers? Why he wants us to abstain from sex outside of marriage and save ourselves until we’re married? Why God wants us to bring ten percent to the local church? Why God wants us to serve in the context of a biblically functioning community? Why God wants us to be ministers of reconciliation? Have you ever wondered why, why, why?
Have you ever wondered why God does not want us to mess our minds up by going online and watching sexually explicit videos and websites? Have you ever wondered why?
Because God’s way works! It’s the best way to live! He’s the designer. And we’re designed for the designer. We’re designed to wear this amazing outfit, the clothing of Christ. Because when we wear it, our lives will work the best. And we’ll go to places we never thought possible.
So you either trust him, or you don’t. And I have got a long list of people who have not trusted him, who have not gotten dressed. And I can tell you sob story after sob story after sob story of how they’ve ended up in the deep weeds.
Conversely, I can tell you about people who have trusted this and who have gotten dressed and who have lived pure and holy lives. And what God has done through them is absolutely unbelievable!
So what’s your choice? I mean, I can’t get dressed for you. Practically, positionally, we’re righteous. The breastplate of righteousness. And it’s all outside of us.
The gospel is not inside of us naturally. We’re not born with the gospel inside of us. We don’t look inside of ourselves and try to muster up enough courage or disciple or faith. No.
The gospel is on the outside. And we have the opportunity to bring something from the outside to the inside. The wardrobe is on the outside. We have the opportunity to take the wardrobe and to get dressed.
Now I’d like to go through all the elements, but this will be the last one. I’ll finish up next week, because there are six elements, and I’ve gotten excited, you know? But let me do one more element. Are you ready?
Shoes! The belt’s got to match the shoes, right? Let’s talk about the shoes. The Apostle Paul talked about shoes. Anybody here like shoes? Oh, yeah. There’s something about shoes. Shoes are made for walking right? They’re not made to just stand there. Yeah, we do stand. But they’re made for walking, for movement.
You know this company Nike? Have you ever heard of Nike before? You know what the stripe means? You know what the word Nike means? Victory. Victory.
That’s the type of shoes we should be wearing. The gospel boots. So, the belt of truth – integrity. The breastplate of righteousness – purity. The shoes of the gospel of peace – stability. And I’ll add another one. Mobility. Stability and mobility.
Again, Ephesians 6:14-15, “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.”
We can march farther and faster with the gospel boots. And these boots that the Roman soldiers wore had spikes on them.
Illus: The first time I ever wore cleats. I go back to the era when I was Robin, back when I was five years old. You couldn’t buy cleats for kids. And my parents went out and they bought a Buster Brown pair of shoes. You remember those? Anyone?
And they went to a golf shop and screwed these big metal spikes on the bottom of these Buster Browns. And they gave them to me. I was so excited to wear cleats. I was thinking, “This is incredible!” Making big divots in the yard and running around.
Well, my best friend Robert Campbell, who in fact works at Fellowship Church, I’ve known since I was three years old. Robert didn’t have any cleats. So I thought, “I’m going to share my cleats with Robert!” So I took off one of the cleats and gave him a cleat. So he had a cleat on one foot and a tennis shoe on the other; I had cleat on one foot and a tennis shoe on the other. And we both had traction on one side. I love cleats! The sound of them.
That’s the stability we have when we wear the gospel shoes. We’re to go out and to use them, yeah, to stand against the devil’s schemes, because the day of evil will come; the testing will come; we’re to be mobile, we’re to be stable. Also, we’re to use the offensive energy to go places and to take the good news of Jesus Christ, the peace of the gospel to everyone. Peace!
When I say the word peace, some of you who have been educated in our relativistic school system say, “Oh, peace? I know what my teachers taught me about that. I know what my college professors taught me about that. Peace? That’s the absence of war, kind of this tranquility thing.” Wrong! There is a cost to peace! There is a price tag for peace. The reason we have the freedom in this country is because men and women have gone before us and spilled their blood to give us the freedom.
So if you talk about peace, you better talk about conflict. Because conflict and peace go hand-in-hand. We’re in a battle, we’re in a war.
Peace? Yeah, we can have peace with God. Check this out. That’s the gospel. We can have peace with God. Because we’re at war naturally; we’re at war against God. There’s a war going on in your life and mine against God.
But God sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins. And if we receive that and clothe ourselves in Christ, what happens? We can have, are you ready for this, the peace of God.
We make peace with God, we can experience the peace of God. And we experience the peace of God by getting fully dressed. Do you know the peace of God?
Illus: The swine flu. Everybody is talking about the swine flu. Wow. It’ll get you! That’s what the media tells us. Watch out!
Well, I have an announcement to make. There is a strain of another type of flu that is far worse than the swine flu. And Christians have it. It’s the whine flu. The Whine flue. You want some cheese with that whine?
Oh, we will whine and whine and whine. “Oh, the line is so long at church. Oh, the traffic. Oh, there’s a couple drops of rain. I’m not going to church; I’m going to do this or that.” “Oh, I made this money and I’m going to do this or that. I’m not going to return that to the House.” The whine flu. Somebody cough on somebody!
And a lot of Christians, because we don’t live in victory, we have this (mask) on all the time. We’re not sharing our faith. We don’t want to spread the germs of Jesus on anybody. We’re not touching anybody—the down and out and also the up and out. We’ve got the whine flu!
Do we have anybody in the House who’s got the whine flu? Forget the swine flu. Does anybody have the whine flu? Because I’m going to tell you something. You stop, you halt with the gospel boots of peace; you just stand there and kill grass; you don’t advance and do the stuff, you will never, ever, ever have victory in your life.
The most dynamic and the most liberated believers; the most well-dressed believers are those who share their faith.
So somebody cough on somebody! Christianity is contagious. Christianity is contagious.
So I’ve got to ask you. Are you dressed? Are you dressed? Do you have the belt on? You have the breastplate on? You have the gospel boots on? Do you?
I’ve got some good news for you. Somebody, not anonymously; Jesus has paid for your wardrobe. The call has come in. I’m the call today in your life. The wardrobe is there. You’d be an idiot not to go and put it on. It’s paid for; it’s done. It’s custom made for you. Put it on. Put it on. Put it on. That is the true under armor of God.
Do you receive that word today? You know, that’s a word that I need. That’s a word that everybody in the House needs. You know, I’ve been talking about life change, people who are clothed in Christ. And we’re going to see some evidence of that right now.
But before we get into that, I’ve got to ask you one thing.
Have you been baptized? Many of you need to get baptized today. And we can baptize you today. I’ll read the Scriptures again.
Galatians 3:27, “…for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”
If you’re wearing Jesus, it’s time to get baptized; it’s time to get advertised.
“What do I need to do to get baptized?” You need to repent. What does repentance mean? It means to change direction, to tell the truth about your condition before a holy God.
“God, I’m unrighteous; you’re not. God, I know you came from the top to the bottom to bring me from the bottom to the top. And right at this time I clothe myself in Jesus Christ.”
Have you made that decision? Hundreds last weekend followed the Scriptures, followed God’s command, and were baptized right here. Again, we make it easy for you. We’ve got shirts and shorts for you. We’ve got changing rooms.
But the book of Acts tells us that when 3,000 repented, they asked, “What do we do now?” And the Apostle said, “Get baptized.”
And 3,000 were baptized that day. Question. How can this day become that day for you? Get baptized.
That’s one of the first elements of being clothed in Christ. You’re going to tell me that you’re going to trust Jesus for your eternity, for your purpose, for your power in the midst of weakness and you’re not going to get baptized? Are you going to tell me what a celebrity told me years ago? “Yeah, Ed, I endorse all of these designers and make millions of dollars off them, but I’m not going to wear Christianity on my sleeve.”
If you balk at baptism, my friend, you’ll never discover victory in your life. Never. You will never get that breakthrough. You’ll never see clearly what God wants.
“Well, Ed, I was baptized as an infant.”
Awesome. Good for you. So was my wife. That was for your parents. You were a baby. You didn’t understand what it meant to get clothed in Christ. We’re not saying it didn’t take or wasn’t any good.
I’m telling you what the Bible says. Every baptism in the Bible was by someone who was old enough to know what it meant to get dressed spiritually. Have you clothed yourself in Christ? Now is your time.
“What about my hair?”
You got the whine flu? Don’t let the whine flu keep you from getting baptized. Come on now! Somebody cough on somebody! A lot of you need to get baptized. A lot of you were here last week and balked at it. A lot of you weren’t here last week and you need to get baptized. You’re prayed and repented and asked Christ to come into your life. It’s time to get baptized.
[Ed leads in spontaneous baptism and closing prayer.]