“Spiritual Bravery”, Courage that comes from Faith (Waiting on God, Beloved, Assurance)

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

God’s Presence brings Courage to our hearts

I read a wonderful description of spiritual courage as being “fear that has said its prayers”. It is a quote by Dorothy Bernard that points our hearts to the truth that we need to turn to God for in complete reliance in times of challenge, struggle and fear. Prayer is the key to overcoming and we rely on His strength, not our own. The words “be not afraid” appear in Scripture 366 times.

The Greek word translated “courage” and “good cheer” means literally “boldness and confidence.” In the Bible, courage is the opposite of fear. When God commands us to fear not, to be of good cheer, and to have courage, He is commanding against fear, which is the opposite of courage.

Deuteronomy 31:8 “The LORD is the One Who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

And Courage Comes by Faith

This commentary on Acts 4:13 is by Charles Kingsley, Chester Cathedral 1871

Acts 4:13 “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled…

Now I think that the quality — the grace of God — which St Peter’s character and story especially force on our notice, is, the true courage which comes by faith. I say, the courage which comes by faith.

There is a courage which does not come by faith. There is brute courage, which comes from hardness of heart, from stupidity, obstinacy, or anger, which does not see danger, or does not feel pain. That is the courage of the brute. One does not blame it, or call it wrong. It is good in its place, as all natural things are, which God has made.

It is good enough for the brutes, but it is not good enough for man. You cannot trust it in man. And the more a man is what a man should be, the less he can trust it. The more mind and understanding a man has, so as to be able to foresee danger, and measure it, the more chance there is of his brute courage giving way.

The more feeling a man has, the more keenly he feels pain of body, or pain of mind, such as shame, loneliness, the dislike, ridicule, and contempt of his fellow men; in a word, the more of a man he is, and the less of a mere brute, the more chance there is of his brute courage breaking down, just when he wants it most to keep him up, by leaving him to play the coward and come to shame.

Yes. To go through with a difficult and dangerous undertaking, a man wants more than brute courage. He wants spiritual courage — the courage which comes by faith. He needs to have faith in what he is doing; to be certain that he is doing his duty, to be certain that he is in the right. Certain that right will conquer, certain that God will make it conquer, by him or by some one else; certain that he will either conquer honourably, or fail honourably, for God is with him. In a word, to have true courage, man needs faith in God.

Courage at a Cost

Proverbs 4:7 “Though it cost all you have, get understanding.

Henry Nouwen said that Courage is connected with taking risks. Jumping the Grand Canyon on a motorbike, coming over Niagara Falls in a barrel, or crossing the ocean in a rowboat are called courageous acts because people risk their lives by doing these things. But none of these daredevil acts comes from the centre of our being. They all come from the desire to test our physical limits and to become famous and popular.

Spiritual courage is something completely different. It is following the deepest desires of our hearts at the risk of losing fame and popularity. It asks of us the willingness to lose our temporal lives in order to gain eternal life.

Luther indicated that spiritual courage is a powerful indicator of the depth of our ability to be servants as bearers of God’s truth. It is easy to be steady during peace or when we have no personal effects that are at stake but when warfare begins- on God’s battlefield, it is a powerful faith and loyalty to God that equips one with courage.

John Piper says that “Christian courage is the willingness to say and do the right thing regardless of the earthly cost because God promises to help you and save you on account of Christ. An act takes courage if it will likely be painful. The pain may be physical, as in war and rescue operations. Or the pain may be may be as in confrontation and controversy”

And So We Pray In Faith

The Almighty God controls all things. It has been said that when we reach “the end of ourselves, we become closest to God”. (C.S. Lewis in the problem of pain) “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world”

E.M. Bounds said that “Our praying needs to be pressed and pursued with an energy that never tires, a persistency which will not be denied, and a courage that never fails.” 

So dear friends, if any of you are minded to be good men and women, pray for the Holy Spirit of God. First for the spirit of love to give you good desires; then the spirit of faith, to make you believe deeply in the living God, and then for the spirit of strength, to enable you to bring these desires to good effect.

Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.”

Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Quotes on Courage from Charles Spurgeon

“Be of good courage. There are few storms, after all, that are ahead, to those that have passed through many already. The further we are on the road, the less there is of it to bear”

“If you know the law of mental storms you may reach peace, and that law may be summed up in one line: Steer to God right away; fly to him, and you will find a peaceful shelter”

“Wait a little longer. Ah, beloved! How despicable our troubles and trials will seem when we look back upon them! Looking at them here in the prospect, they seem immense; but when we get to heaven, they will seem to us just nothing at all….Let us go on, therefore; and if the night be ever so dark, remember there is not a night that shall not have a morning; and that morning is to come by-and-by”

“There are storms of this life still to be met, so get behind Christ by following him in the path of duty. If you never go anywhere but where Christ leads the way, you need not be afraid of storms, for they will beat upon him more than upon you. When I was quite a young man, I was greatly reviled for preaching the gospel; and, sometimes, my heart would sink a little under the cruel slanders that many uttered; but I used to often go upstairs to my room, and after a season of sweet fellowship with my Lord, I would come down singing” 

“It little matters, you know, whether a man has no burden and no strength, or a heavy burden and great strength. Probably of the two, if it were put to the most of us, we should prefer to have the burden and the strength. I know I should. Now, there is generally this for you, that if you have little trouble, you will have little faith; but if you have great faith, you must expect to have great trouble. A manly spirit would choose to take the trouble, and take the faith too”

“Come then, ye tremblers, ye doubters, ye little ones, ye that think ye cannot have a part in the promise, come now, come nestle down under those great wings which seem so close to you. The wings that are lined with the feathers of the Eternal will be strong wings, as though they were bars of iron, through which no storms of trouble can ever beat; through which the enemy, though he come from hell itself, shall not be able to drive his darts” 

“The Courage of Faith-Walkers”, Albert Barnes on 2 Corinthians (The Eternal Kingdom, God’s Glory, Bold Faith)

We are living in times that ask that we deepen our ability to be Faith-Walkers. In 2 Corinthians 5:6-7, Paul describes that we are to live and walk in the Spirit of Truth conducting ourselves so that God’s purposes are revealed in our hearts as we walk forward in faith. We walk by faith, with hope, in confident expectation- for the promises of God are eternal. They rise before our hearts and our lives as the flag of Truth, the Banner that carries us home on our journey. Courage stirs from witnessing the greater crown of God’s Glory. We live in His Name and walk towards His Redeeming Love.

2 Corinthians 5:6-7 “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.”

For We Walk by Faith by Albert Barnes

For we walk –

To walk, in the Scriptures often denotes to live, to act, to conduct in a certain way; see the notes on Romans 4:12Romans 6:4. It has reference to the fact that life is a journey, or a pilgrimage, and that the Christian is traveling to another country. The sense here is, that we conduct ourselves in our course of life with reference to the things which are unseen, and not with reference to the things which are seen.

By faith –

In the belief of those things which we do not see. We believe in the existence of objects which are invisible, and we are influenced by them. To walk by faith, is to live in the confident expectation of things that are to come; in the belief of the existence of unseen realities; and suffering them to influence us as if they were seen.

The people of this world are influenced by the things that are seen. They live for wealth, honor, splendor, praise, for the objects which this world can furnish, and as if there were nothing which is unseen, or as if they ought not to be influenced by the things which are unseen.

The Christian, on the contrary, has a firm conviction of the reality of the glories of heaven; of the fact that the Redeemer is there; of the fact that there is a crown of glory; and he lives, and acts as if that were all real, and as if he saw it all. The simple account of faith, and of living by faith is, that we live and act as if these things were true, and suffer them to make an impression on our mind according to their real nature; see the note on Mark 16:16.

By Hope

It is contradistinguished from living simply under the influence of things that are seen. God is unseen – but the Christian lives, and thinks, and acts as if there were a God, and as if he saw him. Christ is unseen now by the bodily eye; but the Christian lives and acts as if he were seen, that is, as if his eye were known to be upon us, and as if he was now exalted to heaven and was the only Saviour. The Holy Spirit is unseen; but he lives, and acts as if there were such a Spirit, and as if his influences were needful to renew, and purify the soul. Heaven is unseen; but the Christian lives, and thinks, and acts as if there were a heaven, and as if he now saw its glories. He has confidence in these, and in kindred truths, and he acts as if they were real. Could man see all these; were they visible to the naked eye as they are to the eye of faith, no one would doubt the propriety of living and acting with reference to them.

With Confident Expectation

But if they exist, there is no more impropriety in acting with reference to them than if they were seen. Our seeing or not seeing them does not alter their nature or importance, and the fact that they are not seen does not make it improper to act with reference to them. There are many ways of being convinced of the existence and reality of objects besides seeing them; and it may be as rational to be influenced by the reason, the judgment, or by strong confidence, as it is to be influenced by sight.

Besides, all people are influenced by things which they have not seen. They hope for objects that are future. They aspire to happiness which they have not yet beheld. They strive for honor and wealth which are unseen, and which is in the distant future. They live, and act – influenced by strong faith and hope – as if these things were attainable; and they deny themselves, and labor, and cross oceans and deserts, and breathe in pestilential air to obtain those things which they have not seen, and which to them are in the distant future.

And why should not the Christian endure like labor, and be willing to suffer in like manner, to gain the unseen crown which is incorruptible, and to acquire the unseen wealth which the moth does not corrupt?

Courage

And further still, the people of this world strive for those objects which they have not beheld, without any promise or any assurance that they shall obtain them. No being able to grant them has promised them; no one has assured them that their lives shall be lengthened out to obtain them. In a moment they may be cut off and all their plans frustrated; or they may be utterly disappointed, and all their plans fail; or if they gain the object, it may be unsatisfactory, and may furnish no pleasure such as they had anticipated. But not so the Christian. He has:

(1) The promise of life.

(2) he has the assurance that sudden death cannot deprive him of it. It at once removes him to the object of pursuit, not from it.

(3) he has the assurance that when obtained, it shall not disgust, or satiate, or decay, but that it shall meet all the expectations of the soul, and shall be eternal.

Not by sight – This may mean either that we are not influenced by a sight of these future glories, or that we are not influenced by the things which we see. The main idea is, that we are not influenced and governed by the sight. We are not governed and controlled by the things which we see, and we do not see those things which actually influence and control us.

In both it is faith that controls us, and not sight.

Source: Bible Hub / Barnes Notes on 2 Corinthians

Albert Barnes

“Christian Courage”, From John Piper (Sovereign God, Hope in God, With God)

Christian Courage from John Piper

Christian courage is the willingness to say and do the right thing regardless of the earthly cost, because God promises to help you and save you on account of Christ. An act takes courage if it will likely be painful. The pain may be physical, as in war and rescue operations. Or the pain may be mental as in confrontation and controversy.

Courage is indispensable for both spreading and preserving the truth of Christ. Jesus promised that spreading the gospel would meet resistance: “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name” (Matthew 24:9). And Paul warned that, even in the church, faithfulness to the truth would be embattled: “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30; see also 2 Timothy 4:3-4).

Therefore, true evangelism and true teaching will take courage. Running from resistance in evangelism or teaching dishonors Christ. There is a kind of cowardice that tells only the truths that are safe to tell. Martin Luther put it like this:

If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point. (Quoted in Parker T. Williamson, Standing Firm: Reclaiming Christian Faith in Times of Controversy [Springfield, PA: PLC Publications, 1996], p. 5)

Where then shall we get this courage? Consider these pointers.

FROM BEING FORGIVEN AND BEING RIGHTEOUS – “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1). “Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, ‘Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven'” (Matthew 9:2).

FROM TRUSTING GOD AND HOPING IN HIM – “Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the LORD” (Psalm 31:24; see also 2 Corinthians 3:12).

FROM BEING FILLED WITH SPIRIT – “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31).

FROM GOD’S PROMISE TO BE WITH YOU – “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

FROM KNOWING THAT THE ONE WITH YOU IS GREATER THAN THE ADVERSARY: -“Be strong and courageous . . . for the one with us is greater than the one with him. With him is only an arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles” (2 Chronicles 32:7–8).

FROM BEING SURE THAT GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER THE BATTLES – “Be strong, and let us show ourselves courageous for the sake of our people and for the cities of our God; and may the LORD do what is good in His sight” (2 Samuel 10:12).

THROUGH PRAYER – “On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul” (Psalm 138:3; see also Ephesians 6:19-20).

FROM THE EXAMPLE OF OTHERS – “Most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear” (Philippians 1:14).

Source: Desiring God