Boldness & Courage: The Historic Responsibility of the Pulpit and the People of God

On December 4,1873, the following quote from Charles Finney was published, and though much has changed in America since that time, I still believe what he said has great relevance. Here is his statement.

“Brethren, our preaching will bear its legitimate fruits. If immorality prevails in the land, the fault is ours in a great degree. If there is a decay of conscience, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the public press lacks moral discrimination, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the church is degenerate and worldly, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the world loses its interest in religion, the pulpit is responsible for it. If Satan rules in our halls of legislation, the pulpit is responsible for it. If our politics become so corrupt that the very foundations of our government are ready to fall away, the pulpit is responsible for it. Let us not ignore this fact, my dear brethren; but let us lay it to heart and be thoroughly awake to our responsibility in respect to the morals of this nation.”

Such a responsibility has been the task of prophets, preachers, and the people of God throughout the ages. And in the 21st century nothing has changed. Our approach may be a bit different than it was in Finney’s day, but our task is the same, and it is articulated and modeled clearly in the scriptures. We must be God’s courageous and bold people unashamedly declaring the truth of God in love without compromise.

Francis Shaeffer as far back as the 1980’s saw what was coming and offered this warning, “I believe the majority of the silent majority, young and old will sustain the loss of liberties without raising their voices as long as their own lifestyles are not threatened.” He warned that the greatest threat to Christianity in the West would be the temptation to trade freedom for personal peace and prosperity, but that is the fast track to losing all three: freedom, prosperity, and peace.

Lance Wallnau writes, “We can no longer assume our rights or freedoms are protected. We are entering church-state tension, much like the early Church; and like the early Church, we need boldness.”

Where did that courage and boldness in the early Church come from? They prayed for it. And we see the result reported in Acts 4:29-31… “And now, Lord, look upon their threats (by cultural opposition) and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” Do you see it? They “gathered together”, they prayed, the place was shaken, the Spirit of God filled them… and they continued to speak boldly! If there is a formula for boldness and courage, this is a good one.

It wasn’t about their education, it wasn’t about their ability, and it wasn’t about their positions. They were, by societies standards, common and uneducated people. But it was their proximity to Jesus that made the difference. And it was noticeable as Acts 4:13 points out, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” Do you want to be a courageous and bold believer? Get next to Jesus and stay there!

And remember, God is always trying to take us someplace new. I love being your Pastor!

For God’s Glory Alone,
Pastor Ray
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