The Christian's Helmet
Shoes for Pilgrims
Shield of Faith
Sword of the Spirit
Master Sermon List
The Christian's Helmet
by C. H. Spurgeon
"And for an helmet, the hope of salvation..." I Thessalonians 5:8
The very mention of a HELMET serves to remind every believer that he is a soldier. If you were not soldiers, you would not need armor; but being soldiers, you need to be clad in armor from head to foot. The Christian soldier has been enlisted under the banner of the cross to fight against the powers of darkness until he wins the victory. But we all need to be reminded that soldiering in a time of war is never a pleasant occupation, and the flesh constantly attempts to give it over.
"For here we have no continuing city" (Heb.13:14) is a truth that we know, yet most of us try to make the earth as comfortable for ourselves as if it were to be our abiding residence. Too many believers act as if they could be the friends of the world and the friends of God at the same time. Settle the matter once for all that you are a soldier.
Did you dream that when you came to faith in Christ, the conflict would be over? Ah, it was only the beginning. Like Caesar, you crossed the Rubicon and declared war against your deadly enemy. You drew your sword, and you did not sheath it. Your proper note on joining the church is not one of congratulations that the victory is won, but one of preparation, for now the trumpet sounds and the fight begins. You are a soldier at all times.
Whether you sit at your table or go out into the world, you are a soldier. Never take off your armor; for if you do, in some unguarded moment, you may meet with serious wounds.
But keep your armor always about you and be watchful, For You are Always in the Midst of Enemies Wherever You Are:
Even when surrounded by friends, there are still unseen evil spirits, who watch for your halting. You must not put up your sword, for you are to wrestle in high places against principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness, against which you must ever be on watch.
Nor are you a soldier in barracks or at home, but You are a Soldier in an Enemy's Country:
Your place is either in the trenches patiently waiting for the battle to begin, or in the thick of the battle. More or less, according to your circumstances, you are exposed to the foe, and that at every period of your life.
You are in the country of a malicious enemy. If you fall, it is death. The world never forgives a Christian. It hates him with a perfect hatred, and it longs to do him harm. Let the world see you commit even half a fall, and it will soon report and magnify it. What might be done by others without notice, if it were done by a believer would be reported and misrepresented. The world understands that you are its natural antagonist. Satan perceives in you a representative of his old enemy, the Lord Jesus; and you may rest assured that he will take advantage of every opportunity to destroy you.
You have to fight with one too, Who Never Yet Made a Truce:
You may come to terms and parley, but the powers of evil never do. You may hang out the white flag if you like. The foe may seem for a time as though he gave you credit, but do you never give your foe any credit? He hates you when he seems to love you best. "Dread the Greeks, even when they bring gifts," said the tradition of old; and let the Christian dread the world most, when it puts on its softest speeches. Stand on guard, you warriors of the Cross, when least you fear. The cringing foe will come behind you and stab you, under the pretense of friendship. Your Master was betrayed by a kiss, and so will you be, unless you watch in prayer.
You face an enemy who never can make peace with you, nor can you ever make peace with him. If you become at peace with sin, sin has conquered you; and it is impossible, unless you give up the fight and yield your neck to everlasting thraldom, that you should ever be at peace for as much as a moment. Oh Christian, see how guarded you should be! How needful to be clothed with your armor! How needful to have it of the right kind, to keep it bright, and to wear it constantly! Heaven is the land where your sword should be sheathed; there shall you hang the banner high, but here we wrestle with the foe and must do so till we cross the torrent of death.
Right up to the river's edge must the conflict be waged. Foot by foot and inch by inch must all the land to Canaan's happy shore be won. Not a step can be taken without conflict and strife. But once there, you may lay aside your helmet and put on your crown; put away your sword and take your palm branch. Your fingers shall no longer need to learn war, but your hearts shall learn the music of the happy songsters of the skies. This, then, is the first thought: you are a soldier.
Protection for Your Head:
Soldiers, look to your heads. A wound in the head is a serious matter. Since the head is a vital part, we need to well protect it. The heart needs to be guarded with the breastplate, but the head needs just as much protection; for even if a man is true-hearted, if a shot should go through his brain, his body ends [up] strewn on the plain. There are Christians who get their hearts warmed and think that is enough. Give me above everything else a good warm heart, but oh, to have that warm heart coupled with a head that is well taken care of. Do you know that a hot head and a hot heart together do a great deal of mischief; but with a hot heart and a cool head you may do a world of service for the Master.
Have right doctrine in the head, and then set the soul on fire; and you will soon win the world. There is no standing in the person's way whose head and heart are both right, but many Christians have caused serious trouble by neglecting the head. They have been almost useless, because they have not taken care of their brains. They arrive in Heaven, but they have few victories; because they have never been able to clearly understand the doctrine, they have not been able to give a reason for the hope that lies within them. They have not, in fact, looked well to the helmet that was to cover their heads.
The text refers us to our head because it speaks of a helmet, and a helmet is useful only to the head. Among other reasons that we should preserve the head in the day of battle, let us give these.
The head is peculiarly liable to the temptations of Satan, of self, and of fame:
It is difficult to stand on a high pennacle temple as Christ did in His temptation without the brain beginning to reel. And if God takes a man and puts him on a high pennacle of usefulness, the man needs to protect his head. If a person has considerable wealth, there is a great danger in that wealth, unless there is a wealth of grace as well. If a man has a good reputation, his sphere may not be very large; but if everybody praises him, he also will need to have his head well protected. For the little praise, even though it might come from fools, would be too much for [even] a fool. The fining-pot [refining fire] for silver; and praise for the man!
A man who can stand commendation can stand anything. Probably the severest trial that a Christian has to bear is the trial that comes from his "kind but inconsiderate" friends who would puff him up if they could, by telling him what a fine fellow he is. If your friends will not do this, you probably have a "friend within" named self who will; and if you should forget to praise yourself, the devil will not, and hence the need of having a helmet; so that when you are successful, when you are getting on in life, when friends are speaking well of you, you may not get intoxicated with praise.
Oh, to have a good, cool helmet on your brain when it begins to get a little hot with praise, so that you may still stand fast and not be borne down by vanity. O Vanity, Vanity, Vanity, how many have you slain! How many who stood on the very brink of greatness have stumbled on this rock! People People who seemed as though they would enter Heaven , but that a little honor, some glittering bribe, or a golden opportunity has turned them aside; and they fell. Take care of your heads.
And is not the head Liable to Attacks from Skepticism?
Doubts assail from every possible angle, and bullets of skepticism are aimed straight at our brain. What then? As we cannot take Christians out of the way of bullets, we should give them a helmet to preserve them. He who has a hope of salvation, a good hope that he shall see the face of Christ with joy at last, is not afraid of all the quibbles of skepticism. He may hear them all and for a moment be staggered by them, as a soldier might be who had a sudden shock or even a wound; but after a while, he recovers himself and feels sound enough to enter into the conflict again. When a man gets a stake in Christianity, he gets to be very, very conservative of the old fashioned Truth. He cannot give up the Bible then, because it is a broad land of wealth to him. He cannot give up Christ, for He is his Savior. He cannot give up a single promise, because that promise is so dear to his own soul. The helmet of salvation, then, will preserve the head in times of skepticism.
The head is very greatly in danger From the Attacks of Personal Unbelief:
Who among us has not doubted his own interest in Christ? Happy are you who are free from such trouble. But there are seasons with some of us when we turn our title deeds over, and are sometimes afraid that they might not be genuine. There are times when, if we could, we would give the world to know that we are Christ's. This is very dangerous to our heads. But the man who has the helmet of a right, sound, God-given hope of salvation from the Holy Spirit, when these doubts and fears come, they may distress him for a while; but he knows the smell of gunpowder and is not afraid. In the midst of all Satan's accusations, or the uprisings of his old corruptions, or the threatenings of the flesh and of the world, this man stands calm and unmoved; because he wears as a helmet the hope of salvation.
Nor are these all the dangers to which the head is exposed.
Some Believers are Attacked by Threatenings of the World, ...which brings down its double-handed sword with a tremendous blow upon the heads of many Christians.
"You will suffer the loss of all things for Christ if you are such a fanatic."
"You will be poor; your children will starve; your wife will be worse than a widow, if you are such a fool."
"Ah," says the Christian, "I can afford to be poor; I can afford to be despised; but I have a hope of salvation." And the blow, when it comes, does not go through his head but falls on the helmet; and the world's sword gets blunted. So by use of this blessed helmet he is not destroyed by the threatenings of the world.
We want our young people to wear this helmet, too, Because of the Errors of the Times.:
Young people are tempted on the one side, then on the other. This and that you will have cried up. "Lo here" and "Lo, there," and there will be many misled who are not the people of God. But the elect are not deceived, because their heads are not vulnerable to these errors, for they wear the hope of salvation; and they are not afraid of all the "ites" and "isms" of the world. Once you get to know Christ personally, the world will count you stupid and obstinate; but you will stand firm and be able to resist all the world's sarcasm and ridicule. He who has made a refuge of Jesus Christ may stand safe, whatever errors may invade the land.
The truth is that the church of God can never be in danger. Every man in whom is the life of God would be as ready to die tomorrow for the Truth, as our forefathers were in the days of persecution. Rest assured there would be found men to stand at the burning stake still, if times required it; and our prisons would not long be without heavenly-minded tennants, if the Truth needed to be defended by suffering, even unto death.
There is always great danger in error. But there is no danger to the man who has his helmet on. No, let the arrows fly thick as hail, and let the foes have all political power, and all the prestige of antiquity that they may. A little group of true-hearted Christians will still stand out at the thick of the onslaught and cut their way to glory and victory through whole hosts, because their heads are guarded with the heavenly helmet of the hope of salvation. Soldiers, then, take care of your heads.
The Helmet Itself
"The Hope of Salvation!" This helmet is made up of actual HOPE that being already saved in Christ Jesus, you should abide unto Eternal Life. It is a personal HOPE founded upon a personal conviction, and is wrought in us by the Holy Spirit.
To begin with, let me describe this helmet.
Who is its Giver?
You ask the soldier where he gets his armor, and he answers "from the government stores." That is where we must get our helmets. If you construct a helmet of hope for yourself, it will be of no use to you in the day of battle. The true Helmet of Hope must come from the Heavenly Arsenal. You must go to the Divine Storehouse, for to God belongs Salvation; and the Hope of Salvation must be given to you by His Free Grace. A Hope of Salvation is not purchasable. Our great King does not sell His Armor, but gives it freely to all who enlist. From head to foot the soldiers of the Cross are arrayed by Grace.
Do you ask, Who is the Maker of this Helmet?
Weapons are often valued according to the maker. A known maker gets his own price for his articles. Amorers of old took much trouble with the ancient helmets, because a man's life might depend upon that very useful means of defense. So we have here the name of God the Holy Ghost upon this helmet. A Hope of Salvation is the work of the Holy Spirit in your soul. It is the Spirit Who brings us to Jesus, shows us our need of Him, and gives us faith in Him. It is the same Spirit Who enables us to hope that we shall endure to the end and enter into Eternal Life. We have a HOPE that is supernatural.
Would you inquire further, Of What Metal is this Helmet Made?
We are told that it is made of hope, but it is of the utmost consequence that it be good hope. Beware of getting a base hope, a helmet made of cheap metal. There were some helmets that looked very good, but were of no more use than brown paper hats; and when a soldier got into a fight with one of them on, the sword went through his skull. Get a good helmet, one made of the right metal. This is what a Christian's hope is made of: the Christian believes that Christ came into the world to save sinners, he trusts Christ to save him, and he hopes that when Christ comes, he shall reign with Him, that when the trumpet sounds, he shall rise with Christ [1_Thes.4:16], and that in Heaven he shall have a secure dwelling place at the right hand of the Father.
Some people have a hope, but they do not know where the received it from, nor do they know a reason for it. Hope must have its reason; it must have its weight. Such is the Christian's hope. God has promised to save those who believe. The Christian's hope is not a fancy, not a silly desire. It did not spring up in the night like Jonah's gourd, and it will not wither in a night. The Christian's hope is something that will withstand the crack from a club or a cut from a sharp sword. It is made of good metal. John Bunyan said of a certain sword that it was "a true Jerusalem blade," and I may call this a true Jerusalem helmet; and he who wears it need not fear.
Having shown the metal of which the helmet is made, let me now describe The Strength of the Helmet:
The helmet is so strong, that under all sorts of assaults, he who wears it is invulnerable. The wearer may stagger under a blow, but he cannot be hurt by it. Recollect what David said. All the troubles in the world attacked David at once and began to beat upon him, giving him many terrible blows. His enemies thought they had certainly ruined him, and David was bleeding and full of wounds. David himself half thought he should die, and he tells us that he would have fainted, except that he had a bottle of cordial with him called Faith. He says, "I had fainted, unless I had not believed." (Psa. 27:13) But just at the time when the false witnesses though he would faint and die, suddenly the old hero who slew Goliath made all his enemies fly before him as he cried, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God." (Psa 42:5) And he laid about him right and left, as he should: "for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance and my God." (Psa 42:11)
"Hope thou in God," Christian. Oh, that blessed word HOPE! New Zealanders call hope "the swimming thought," because it always swims. You cannot drown it; it always keeps its head above the wave. When you think you've drowned the Christian's hope, up it comes and cries again, "Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise Him!" Hope is the nightingale that sings in the night. Faith is the lark that mounts up toward Heaven, but hope is the nightingale that cheers the valley of darkness. O Christian, be thankful that you have so strong a helmet as this, which can bear all assaults and keep you unwounded in the midst of the fray!
This Hope of Salvation Is a Helmet that Will Not Come Off:
It is of great importance to have a helmet that will not be knocked off the first thing in the fight. The Christian wears a helmet that he cannot get off. There was once a good soldier of Jesus Christ, a good woman who was attacked by a skeptic. When she was very much confounded with some of his knotty questions, she turned around and said to him, "I cannot answer you, sir, but neither can you answer me; for I have something within me that you cannot understand, which makes me feel that I could not give up what I know of Christ for all the world." You see, he could not get her helmet off, and the devil himself cannot drag the Christian's helmet off, once it is buckled on. The world can neither give nor take away the hope of a Christian. Such hope comes from God, and He will never withdraw it, for His gifts and calling are without repentance. [Rom_11:29] Once his helmet is put on we shall hope on and hope ever until we shall see His face at the last.
I should like to inspect your helmet as the commanding officers of old did. The officers, when they went round the regiment, looked not only to see that the men had their helmets, but also to see that they had oiled them; for in those times they used to oil their helmets to make them shine, and to keep the various joints and buckles in good order. No rust was ever allowed on the helmets; and it is said that when the soldiers marched out with their brazen helmets and their white plumes, they shone most brightly in the sun.
David speaks of "anointing the shield." He was speaking of a brazen shield that had to be anointed with oil. When God anoints His people's hope, when He gives His people the Oil of Joy, their Hope begins to shine bright in the light of the Savior's Countenance.
What a fine array of soldiers they are then! Satan trembles at the gleaming of God's people's swords; He cannot endure to look upon the sanints' helmets. But some Christians fail to keep their Hope clear; they do not keep it bright. Their Hope gets rusty from disuse, and before long it gets to sit uncomfortably on their head; and they get weary with the fight. O Holy Spirit, anoint our heads with fresh oil, and let Your saints go forth terrible, as an army with banners.
Let it not be overlooked that the helmet was generally considered To Be [in] a Place of Honor.:
The man put his plume in his helmet, he wore his crest frequently there; and in the thick of the fight, the captain's plume was seen in the midst of the smoke and dust of battle, and the men pressed to the place where they saw it. The Christian's hope is his honor and glory. I must be unashamed of my hope. I must wear it for beauty and dignity, and he who has a good hope will be a leader to others. Others will see it and fight with renewed courage; and where he hews a lane of the foes, they will follow him, even as he follows his Lord and Master, Who has overcome and sits down upon His Father's throne.
Any Other Helmet:
The Lord Jesus provides armor only to those in His service. But Satan gives helmets too. His helmets are very potent ones. Though the Sword of the Spirit can go right through them, nothing else can. Satan can give a headpiece that covers your entire skull, a thick headpiece of indifference, so that no matter what is preached, you do not care.
Then Satan puts a piece in the front of the helmet called a Brazen Forhead and a Brow of Brass:"What do I care?" is your cry.
Next, Satan takes care to fit the helmet over your eyes, So that You Cannot See; ...though hell itself parade before you, you do not see it. "What do I care?"
Satan also knows how to fit the helmet so that it acts as a gag to your mouth, So that You Never Pray:
You can swear through it, but you cannot pray. Still you keep to your old cry, "What do I care?"
It is not likely that any Sword will get at your head! Arguments will not move you, for the question "What do I care?" is one that cannot very well be argued. I pray God the Holy Spirit to get at your head, notwithstanding that horrible helmet; for if not, God has a way of dealing with such. When you come to die, you will sing another song! When you come to that grim day when eternity is in view, you will not be able to say quite so gaily as you do now, "What do I care?" And when the trumpet rings through earth and heaven, and your body starts up from your grave, and you see the great Judge upon His throne, you will not be saying "What do I care?" Your head will then be bare to the pitiless tempest of divine wrath. Bareheaded, you must be exposed to the everlasting storm that shall descend upon you. And cares will come upon you like a wild deluge, when you are banished from His presence and all hope is gone.
Oh, I desire that you take off that other helmet! May God grant you grace to unbuckle it and never put it on again. Do care. It is only a fool who says, "What do I care?" Surely you care about your soul; surely Hell is worth escaping; surely Heaven is worth winning; surely that Cross on which our Savior died is worth considering; surely that poor soul of yours is worth caring about!
May Jesus Christ bring you to trust Him; and then, unbuckling all that evil armor, you will bow before His Cross and kiss His Hands; and He will put upon you the golden helmet of a Hope of Salvation, and you will rise, one of the King's own soldiers, to fight His battles and win an immortal wreath of everlasting victory!