Just last week, America celebrated her 244th year of independence from England. It was cause for great celebrations and rejoicing. And many of us still celebrate the 4th of July from year to year.
But since 1776, things have not always been “peachy,” especially since 1960. We have been and are quickly losing our freedoms, and I think that one of the big reasons is that we have lost a key factor – – that of courage. When the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence took their stand, it was nothing short of an act of courage, and what we may well need in the future is that very same kind of courage!
As all of you know, I am not interested in political engagement; my function in life is not to engage in political matters, but to proclaim the Word of God. With that in mind, I would like to develop a biblical theology of courage.
But before we take a closer look at Scripture, I found a definition of “courage” in the Oxford English Dictionary (The Compact Edition, vol. 1, p. 582) – – It is “That quality of mind which shows itself in facing danger without fear or shrinking; bravery, boldness, valor.” And I might add, “… in spite of threats or intimidation.”
When we come to the Word of God, we find numerous examples of those who exercised this kind of courage. I would like to look with you at Three such prominent individuals (or groups):
I. The 1st example of courage is JOSHUA
A. Before Joshua took over the command of the Israelite’s from Moses, he had already displayed incredible courage:
- He was proven in battle (Exodus 17:8ff.) – – Soldiering
- He was positive in belief (Numbers 14:6ff.) – -Spying
- He was possessed in being (Numbers 27:18) – -Spirit-filling
- He was prepared in boldness (Joshua 1:2ff.) – -Strengthening!
B. Look at the encouragement Joshua received from the Lord after Moses died (Joshua 1:6, 7, 9,, 18)…!
Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. Joshua 1:6-7
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Whoever rebels against your command and does not heed your words, in all that you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and of good courage.” Joshua 1:18
C. This word for “courage” (amatz) is used some 41 times in the Old Testament, which speaks of being solid or hard. Perhaps a good English translation might be something like the word “tough!” Joshua be tough!
II. The 2nd example of courage we should consider is DANIEL
A. In Daniel chapter 1, Daniel wouldn’t eat unclean foods (v. 8), and in chapter 6, he wouldn’t eliminate unceasing prayer (v. 10).
B. Considering that he was violating the edicts of the most powerful king of the time (Nebuchadnezzar and Darius), his courage to demonstrate allegiance to God could have cost him his life! But “the rest of the story” is that Daniel would live through a total of 4 rulers over 70 years!
C. I recall a song we used to sing years ago, “Dare to be a Daniel” – – – – – – – – –
III. Our final example of courage will be found in the lives of THE APOSTLES (especially Peter and John)
A. If you would please look at Acts 4:19 and 5:29, you will notice an instance of disobedience to the religious leaders of their time:
But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. Acts 4:19
But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men. Acts 5:29
B. And as you read Acts 4:13, 29, 31 you will find the word “boldness.” This word, (parresia) is found no less than 12 times in the Book of Acts. It basically speaks of being outspoken.
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13
Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, Acts 4:29
And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. Acts 4:31
C. One definition given by The New Strong’s Expanded Dictionary of Bible Words, gives the primary meaning as “freedom of speech, unreservedness of utterance” (p. 1299).
D. On the 24th of February this year, I drove by an electronic billboard of a Baptist church. It stunned and amazed me to read the following: “Preach the Gospel – – use words if necessary.” REALLY?? Acts 2:40 exclaims, “And with many words he (Peter) testified and exhorted them, ‘Be saved from this perverse (or crooked) generation.'”
E. I guarantee you; the early church was known for its courage to speak out the Gospel message! They may have taken a beating, but they were not afraid!
Let me come to a conclusion:
- We live in difficult times, but that is not unique to our era.
- We have a work to do for the Lord and He provides us with the courage!
- Look at John’s testimony (Rev. 1:9)….! And for this he was exiled! I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. Revelation 1:9
I leave with you Psalm 27:1-3, 14; 31:24; 2 Timothy 1:7…!
The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked came against me To eat up my flesh, My enemies and foes, They stumbled and fell.
Though an army may encamp against me, My heart shall not fear; Though war should rise against me, In this I will be confident. Psalm 27:1-3
Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD! Psalm 27:14
Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the LORD. Psalm 31:24
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7