It is long past time for those of us who by grace through faith have trusted in Christ to acknowledge that we are “sojourners and exiles” (1 Pet. 2:11) living in a secular culture. At the same time, we face the fact that we are involved in a continual and irreconcilable spiritual war against the Evil One. Ironically, just as we become increasingly aware of these challenges, it is no longer fashionable to sing hymns about “Christian soldiers marching as to war.” What has happened? Are we to excuse cowardice by calling it humility?
G. K. Chesterton pointed out that it is a mistake to suppose that humility excludes conviction: “A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed.” Daniel could never have been held guilty of such an approach. He and his friends provide a challenging and encouraging picture of what it means to be brave by faith. In the early chapters of Acts, the authorities were struck by the boldness of the apostles, who, despite opposition, prayed that they might “continue to speak your [the Lord’s] word with all boldness.” That means to be candid and clear and confident. The apostles combined conviction about the truth with compassion for the lost. And so must we.
Church history records the impact for truth that was made by men and women who engaged with the culture by proclaiming truth and exposing and refuting error, often at great personal cost. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, William Wilberforce was an instrument in God’s hand to bring about a social, political, and spiritual change in Great Britain. In 1797 he wrote:
The only solid hopes for the well-being of our country depend not so much on her fleets and armies, not so much on the wisdom of her rulers, or the spirit of her people, as on the persuasion that she still contains many, who, in a degenerate age, love and obey the gospel of Christ.
This is in keeping with Paul’s exhortation to God’s people in Ephesus to pray at all times in the Spirit with all prayer and supplication. Let’s encourage one another to heed this call and to pray specifically for our children and our grandchildren that they may be enabled to take their stand against the schemes of the devil. Let’s ask our heavenly Father to preserve us so that we may proclaim His might to another generation, His power to all those to come.
I am keenly aware of the fact that “maturity” has its challenges. I do not aspire to become like Statler or Waldorf, the elderly Muppet characters known for their cantankerous opinions offered from their box in the balcony. Instead, our desire should be to be increasingly conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus. Graham Kendrick helps me to sing:
Teach me to love with Your heart of compassion,
Teach me to trust in the word of Your promise,
Teach me to hope in the day of Your coming,
Teach me to dance to the beat of Your heart.
Since I’ve mentioned Daniel and Ephesians, our book selections this month will be a good source for further study. Brave by Faith is a new book I’ve just released that draws from Daniel’s experience living in a pagan world. We can learn a lot from Daniel and his friends about how to live faithfully in a society that opposes God’s ways and God’s Word. Brave by Faith is written to encourage you to trust resolvedly in Daniel’s God, particularly when the wind of secularism and paganism is blowing hard against you.
Our second book, The Whole Armor of God, accompanies our series Strength for the Battle, a study in Ephesians 6, which begins on the program during the second half of June. The book gives excellent instruction for how to use God’s armor to protect yourself against the devil’s attacks in the battle of spiritual warfare. I think you’ll find it insightful and practical.
With my love in the Lord Jesus,
PS: Listen to Graham Kendrick’s song “Teach Me To Dance” at truthforlife.org/Kendrick
Topics: Letters From Alistair Begg