Greetings, fellow young adult Christian Singaporeans! I recall with fondness the brief time I spent in Singapore almost two years ago, and I was glad when recently the Salt Shakers committee asked if I could contribute to your magazine. I thank you for this opportunity to communicate with you and pray that, if God wills, this article and the magazine as a whole may be blessing to you.
The topic at hand is biblical boldness. My intention is to write several articles on boldness, so a lengthier section in this article will be devoted to a broad, biblical introduction to the subject. True boldness may be defined as an unnatural confidence in the strength of Jesus that generally reveals itself in godly speech. Let us note several important aspects of this definition:
- Boldness is not natural to fallen man.
- The natural man behaves like Peter, the close disciple of Jesus, who at the end of Jesus’ ministry “began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man” (Matt. 26:74).
- The person who has confidence in his money or athleticism or good looks must hear the admonition of Scripture, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12).
- Because boldness is not natural to man, we must wait on the Lord for strength. Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord”.
- The source of boldness is the strength of Jesus Christ.
- Eph. 3:11-12 demonstrates that boldness is found in Jesus: “According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him”.
- Satan and his demons might appear bold, daring even to enter the lair of the enemy. Job 1 tells us the devil marched into God’s presence and requested permission to persecute the upright Job. However, the devil is not truly bold, for his apparent bravery is motivated by abhorrence of Jesus, not love.
- In the New Testament, Jesus gives boldness to all saints through His poured-out Spirit. Peter, who had earlier denied Jesus three times, was suddenly bold to preach as he received the Spirit of Christ (Act. 2:14ff). The crowds marvelled at such boldness: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus” (Act. 4:13).
- The person who does not have the Spirit of Christ is not bold but frightened, even afraid of imaginary troubles. “The wicked flee when no man pursueth, but the righteous are bold as a lion” (Pro. 28:1).
- As a general rule, boldness reveals itself in godly speech.
- “And now, Lord, behold their threatenings, and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word” (Act. 4:29).
- For more examples of boldness in speech, one might look up Act. 4:31, Eph. 6:19, and Phil. 1:14. There are more!
- There are exceptions. Joseph of Arimathea “went in boldly unto Pilate” to ask for the body of Jesus (Mark 15:43). But even here, the true character of Joseph’s boldness was not that he went into Pilate’s presence but the message Joseph delivered: “Give me Jesus”.
- Oftentimes, bold speech takes the form of preaching. Jesus preached with boldness: “For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the Scribes” (Matt. 7:29). The apostle Paul desired boldness in his preaching; “[Pray] for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the Gospel” (Eph. 6:19).
- At other times, bold speech takes the form of prayer. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).
- The devil hates godly speech, for “he is a liar, and the father of it”. He will use whatever means possible to prevent bold speech, for “he was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth” (Jn. 8:44).
Now, let us look more closely at how we might be bold in an age of sexual immorality. To do this, we will look at a familiar Old Testament figure: Elijah, a powerful and Spirit-filled prophet (Lk. 1:17). Most of us have heard the story of Elijah on Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18), where Elijah held a “competition” with the prophets of Baal. The rules of the competition were simple. Both Elijah and the false prophets were to prepare an altar, but neither side was to light a fire under the altar. Then, Elijah and the false prophets would each pray to their respective gods, and whichever god sent fire would be recognized as the true God.
What is less commonly known about this account is that the 450 prophets of Baal were not the only false prophets who participated in the event on Mt. Carmel. Also present that day were “the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table” (1 Kings 18:19). The “prophets of the groves” were those prophets who worshipped Asherah. Asherah was the goddess of sexual pleasure. Worship her, and she would fulfil the base desires of man’s heart in the way of sexual promiscuity, in adultery and whoredom and even same-sex relationships. Asherah’s followers were jealous for the goddess; she alone was to be worshipped. Her faithful adherents brought her images into the house of God (2 Kings 21:2-3 & 23:4), so that instead of worshipping the holy Jehovah God, Asherah alone would be worshipped!
In 2017, Asherah is not dead. And her followers have no less shame in worshipping her. From my experiences in America, I can testify that one does not have to look hard to find the goddess Asherah. She displays herself with the bright lights on the billboards and in the flashing images of TV programming and commercials. Asherah has become well-acquainted with social media, using Facebook and the “Featured Stories” of Snapchat to keep her followers faithful. Asherah’s worshippers are jealous that she alone be worshipped. To fulfil this desire, they have taken her into God’s house, and many churches now place their blessing on pre-marital intercourse, divorce and remarriage, and even homosexuality!
The prophet Elijah, in response to the widespread worship of Asherah (and Baal), was bold to confront the enemy. Ahab accused Elijah of troubling Israel, but Elijah replied with bold words to wicked king: “I have not troubled Israel, but thou and thy father’s house!” The altars of the contest were set up, and the false prophets went first, praying to their god for fire to come down. When nothing happened, Elijah was not afraid to show their utter folly in worshipping a false god: “Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud, for he is a god, either he is talking…or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked!” (1 Kings 18:27). After several hours had passed by and no fire consumed the altar, it became evident to all who were watching that Asherah was not god, nor was Baal.
But who was the true God? And would that God be bold to demonstrate in front of the crowds of people that He was the God? Elijah, filled with the Spirit, went boldly unto the throne of grace and prayed for help in time of need. He prayed to God that He would “let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant…and that thou hast turned [the Israelites’] heart back again.” The faithful Lord heard Elijah’s bold request, and He sent fire from heaven, consuming the wood and stone and even the water in the trench surrounding the altar. The people responded with one voice, “The Lord, He is the God!”
Let us be like Elijah, emboldened by the Spirit to confront the immoral Asherah. When Asherah deceives the young man so that he thinks he can resist by his own strength, let him be warned! “For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her” (Pro. 7:26). Like Elijah, we depend on God’s divine intervention to refute Asherah’s seductive advances. If Asherah has already broken down your defences and made you spiritually sick, even addicted, then “call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over [you], anointing [you] with oil in the name of the Lord” (Js 5:20). Asherah and her demons are no less progressive today than they were in Elijah’s day, but at the same time, Christ and His Spirit are no less powerful and faithful. Seek Christ’s strength in time of need, “so that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Heb. 13:6).
Written by: Stephan Regnerus | Issue 43