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).
John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
CHARLES SPURGEON ON PSALM 46:10 “BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD.”
Verse 10.—”Be still, and know that I am God.” The great works of God, wherein his sovereignty appeared, had been described in the foregoing verses. In the awful desolations that he made, and by delivering his people by terrible things, he showed his greatness and dominion. Herein he manifested his power and sovereignty, and so commands all to be still, and know that he is God. For says he, “I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” In the words may be observed,
1. A duty described, to be still before God, and under the dispensations of his providence; which implies that we must be still as to words; not speaking against the sovereign dispensations of Providence, or complaining of them; not darkening counsel by words without knowledge, or justifying ourselves and speaking great swelling words of vanity. We must be still as toactions and outward behaviour, so as not to oppose God in his dispensations; and asto the inward frame of our hearts, cultivating a calm and quiet submission of soul to the sovereign pleasure of God, whatever it may be.
2. We may observe the ground of this duty, namely, the divinity of God. His being God is a sufficient reason why we should be still before him, in no wise murmuring, or objecting, or opposing, but calmly and humbly submitting to him.
3. How we must fulfil this duty of being still before God, namely, with a sense of his divinity, as seeing the ground of this duty, in that we “know” him to be God. Our submission is to be such as becomes rational creatures. God doth not require us to submit contrary to reason, but to submit as seeing the reason and ground of submission. Hence, the bare consideration that God is God may well be sufficient to still all objections and oppositions against the divine sovereign dispensations.—Jonathan Edwards.
WE ACKNOWLEDGE THE DIVINITY OF GOD.
Verse 10.—”Be still, and know that I am God.” This text of Scripture forbids quarrelling and murmuring against God. Now let me apply as I go along. There are very few, and these very well circumstanced, that find themselves in no hazard of quarrelling with God. I think almost that if angels were on earth, they would be in hazard of it. I will assure you, there are none that have corruption, but they have need to be afraid of this. But many give way to this quarrelling, and consider not the hazard thereof.
Beware of it, for it is a dreadful thing to quarrel with God: who may say unto him, “What doest thou?” It is a good account of Aaron, that when God made fire to destroy his sons, he held his peace.
Let us then, while we bear the yoke, “sit alone and keep silence, and put our mouths in the dust, if so be there may be hope.” Lam 3:28-29. Ye know, the murmuring of the children of Israel cost them very dear. “Be still,” that is, beware of murmuring against me, saith the Lord. God gives not an account of his matters to any; because there may be many things ye cannot see through; and therefore ye may think it better to have wanted them, and much more, for the credit of God and the church. I say, God gives not an account of his matters to any. Beware, then, of drawing rash conclusions.—Richard Cameron’s Sermon, preached July 18th, 1680, three days before he was killed at Airsmoss.
It teacheth the soul to set his almightiness against sin’s magnitude, and his infinitude against sin’s multitude; and so quenches the temptation.
The reason why the presumptuous sinner fears so little, and the despairing soul so much, is for want of knowing God as great; therefore, to cure them both, the serious consideration of God, under this notion, is propounded:
“Be still, and know that I am God;” as if he had said, Know, O ye wicked, that I am God, who can avenge myself when I please upon you, and cease to provoke me by your sins to your own confusion; and again, know, ye trembling souls, that I am God; and therefore able to pardon the greatest sins, and cease to dishonour me by your unbelieving thoughts of me.—William Gurnall.
Verse 10.—”Be still, and know that I am the Lord.” Not everyone is a fit scholar for God’s school, but such as are purified according to the purification of the sanctuary. Carnal men are drowned in fleshly and worldly cares, and neither purged nor lifted up to receive the light of God, or else indisposed by prejudice or passion, that they cannot learn at all.
WE WILL NEVER SAVINGLY KNOW HIM, TILL OUR SOULS BE FREE OF THESE INDISPOSITIONS.
Among all the elements the earth is fitted to receive seed of the sower; if he cast it into the fire, it burneth; if in the air, it withereth; if in the waters, it rots, the instability of that body is for producing monsters, because it closes not straitly the seeds of fishes.
Spirits of a fiery temper, or light in inconstancy, or moving as waters, are not for God’s lessons, but such as in stayed humility do rest under his hand. If waters be mixed with clay in their substance, or their surface be troubled with wind, they can neither receive nor render any image; such unstable spirits in the school of God lose their time and endanger themselves.—William Struther.
Verse 10.—“Be still, and know, etc. As you must come and see (Psalm 46:8), so come and hear what the Lord saith to those enemies of yours.—John Trapp.
In the Christian life, we must “desire nothing but His glory!” nothing but to “please Him!” The truth is, there is nothing so gracious as God’s method of accountancy.
Be prepared for surprises in this Kingdom.
The truth is, you never know what is going to happen! The last shall be first! What a complete reversal of our materialistic outlook – everything in God’s kingdom is upside down!
When Jesus separates the “sheep” from the “goats” on judgment day (Mt 25:31-40), He will say to us His sheep, “To the extent that you served one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you served Me – come inherit the Kingdom prepared for you!” We will be totally surprised by many of our acts of kindness and service.
This life is all of grace! “By the grace of God we are what we are!”
The secret of a happy Christian life is not only to realize that it is all of grace, but to “rejoice in that fact!”
Jesus asked His disciples, “Where is your faith?” The whole issue here is the problem and question of the nature of faith. Many believers are often troubled because they have never clearly understood the nature of faith.
Remember all believers have been given the “gift of faith,” that enables us to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, but that does not mean that they fully understand the nature of faith.
Though faith is given as a “gift,” from there on we have to do certain things about it – there is a vital difference between the gift of faith and the walk of faith or the life of faith.
“We walk by faith, not by sight!”
God starts us off in this Christian life and then we have to walk in it – “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7). When Jesus rebuked the disciples during the storm that raged on the sea of Galilee, He did not rebuke them because of their alarm or their terror, but for their “lack of faith.” Jesus marveled at their “unbelief.” The disciples had done everything they could in the storm, but it did not seem to be of any avail.
Here is a critical point: Jesus rebuked them for being in that state of agitation and terror while He was with them in the boat! A Christian should never, like the worldly person, be depressed, agitated, alarmed, frantic, not knowing what to do.
Paul said, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I’m in” (Phil 4:11). That is what the Christian is meant to be like. The Christian is never meant to be carried away by his feelings, and “lack self-control” – whatever his circumstances. That is why the disciples were so alarmed, agitated, miserable and unhappy.
The disciple’s condition also implied a “lack of trust and confidence in God”
– Jesus said in effect: “Do you feel like this in spite of the fact that I am with you? Do you not trust Me?” Remember the words of the disciples: “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mk 4:38).
Such a response shows a lack of faith in Christ’s concern and care for us – as such, we become agitated and disturbed. It is the same response as the unbeliever.
The issue is this: We must never allow ourselves to be agitated and disturbed whatever the circumstances, because to do so implies a “lack of faith and confidence in Christ” – at this point we simply do not believe God.
A Trial by Faith
One might call this kind of situation “the trial of faith.” Take the eleventh chapter of Hebrews – every one of those men was “tried.” They had been given the gift of faith and great promises, and then their faith was tried. Peter says the same thing: “Though you are distressed by various trials, the reason for the trials is that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, though it be tested with fire, might be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 1:6-7).
That is the theme of all Scripture.
Storms and trials are a vital part of life for the believer – they are allowed by God for a reason. . . our faith is being tried – proven – tested – purified. James says, “Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials” (Jam 1:2). Paul writes, “Unto you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Phil 1:29). Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation; but take courage, I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33).
Likewise Paul also says, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). When everything seems to be against us; when the Lord Himself appears to be utterly unconcerned; when we are fearful and desperate; when we may even be in danger of our lives – that is where the real trial of faith comes in.
In just such circumstances, follow the words of the Christian poet –
When all things seem against us To drive us to despair, We know one gate is open One ear will hear our prayer.
What is the nature of “your faith”?
Observe our Lord’s response when dealing with His disciples in the midst of the storm – He knows perfectly well that “they have faith.” The question He asks them is this: “You have faith – but where is it at the moment?”
That gives us the “key” to understanding the nature of faith. First, faith is not merely a matter of “feeling” – it can’t be, because our feelings change from one minute to the next; as such, our faith would be there one minute, and gone the next. Faith involves the “mind,” the understanding – it is a “response to truth” (truth implies intelligibilia). Faith is not something that acts automatically or magically. Faith has to be exercised. Faith does not come into operation by itself, you have to put it into operation.
So, how does one put faith into operation? The first thing you must do when you find yourself in a difficult position is to refuse to allow yourself to be controlled by the situation – that was the disciple’s problem; they allowed the situation to control them. Faith is a refusal to panic.
That is the very nature of faith – it is a refusal to panic, come what may. Faith has been described thus: “Faith is perpetual unbelief kept quiet” – faith does not allow unbelief to surface. Genuine faith does not entertain the temptation – it immediately rejects the temptation – by considering temptation, you allow it to “take root” in your heart.
“Faith is perpetual unbelief kept quiet”
Believers do not have the capacity to fully consider temptation and then turn away from it, because it “engages the flesh!” Satan isn’t stupid! He knows if you will just “listen” to him and consider what he has to say – he’s got you!!!
Faith immediately responds to difficult situations with these words: “I am not going to entertain these thoughts! And I am not going to be controlled by these circumstances!” Right out of the shoot, you take charge of yourself! and pull yourself up! and control yourself! You do not let your thoughts wander into Satan’s territory! You assert yourself! Now is the time to control your thinking! You need to remind yourself immediately of what you believe and what you know!
Faith holds on to reason, to the foundations Truth – God’s Word.
That is faith – it holds on to truth and reasons from what it knows to be fact. That is the way faith reasons. The foundation stone of faith is Truth – God’s Word – Scripture. Faith reasons, “All right, I see the waves and the billows. . . BUT (and then you remind yourself of ultimate reality – “truth” – God is God, and He is in charge).
To reiterate, one of the most critical steps you can take when faced with a difficult situation, is to “immediately reject the temptation and refuse to consider it,” and then “affirm what you know to be the truth,” including the acknowledgment of your own weakness. Faith agrees with everything God says about reality – and that includes the need for you to be utterly dependent upon Him.
Here is an example of what to say –
God, all things seem to be against me to “drive me to despair.” I don’t understand what is happening, but this I know – I know that You so loved me that You sent Your only begotten Son into this world for me. You did that for me while I was an enemy, a rebellious alien. I know that Jesus loves me and gave Himself for me. I know that at the cost of His life’s blood I have salvation and that I am now Your child and an heir to everlasting joy and peace. I know that.
Faith logically argues “the exceedingly great and precious promises”.
Faith argues like that – it amounts to “logically thinking through what we know to be true.” Faith reminds itself of what the Scripture calls “the exceeding great and precious promises.” Faith says, “I cannot believe that He who has brought me so far is going to let me down at this point. It is impossible, because it would be inconsistent with the character of God.
So faith, having refused to be controlled by circumstances, reminds itself of what it believes and what it knows to be true. Jesus in effect said to His disciples, “Where is your faith? You have it! Why don’t you apply it?” Bring all you know to be true of your relationship to God to bear upon it – then you will know full well that He will never allow anything to happen to you that is harmful.
Remember the words of Paul: “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God.” Not a hair of your head shall be harmed. He loves you with an everlasting love.
You may not have a full understanding of your predicament, but this you know for certain – “God is not unconcerned.” God permits everything that happens to you because it is ultimately for your good. That is the way faith works – but you have to exercise it. You refuse to be moved. You stand on your faith.
“This is the victory that overcomes the world – your faith!” (1 Jn 5:4).
David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (20 December 1899 – 1 March 1981) was a Welsh Protestant minister, preacher and medical doctor who was influential in the Reformed wing of the British evangelical movement in the 20th century. For almost 30 years, he was the minister of Westminster Chapel in London.
source: Spiritual Depression by Martin Lloyd-Jones (Chapter One)