How Bold Should Christians Be?

The following is an edited transcription of the audio.

How bold should Christians be?

Is a Christian navigating his life so as to avoid conflict? That would be one of the chief evidences that boldness is missing.

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It is true that boldness isn't listed among the nine fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5, but we are commanded to "Fear not, for I am with you" (Isaiah 41:10), and we're told to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). Clearly, boldness is set forth in the Bible as a virtue that we should aspire to.

The evidence of boldness is whether or not a person is making choices throughout the day that revolve around their desire to avoid conflict. If so, then that is a clear sign that cowardice is winning out over courage.

Likewise a person should ask if, in their personal walk with God, they avoid the Scripture passages that call for radical boldness. If that's the case then the defeat is there before you even hit the streets.

Therefore we need to expose ourselves to the difficult parts of Scripture-the ones that call us to do tough things-as well as the more comforting parts.

Why are men like Martin Luther so few and far between in church history?

I don't know for sure, but it seems to have been the case throughout all of church history and not just during the Reformation or our day.

In fact, it seems to be that way in the Bible too. Consider people like Moses, Joshua, Caleb, the judges, kings, prophets, Jesus, the Twelve, etc. The existence of few leaders isn't just a sign of weakness: it's a sign of divine design as well. God leads by leaders.

We shouldn't always be saying that the church is weak because there is only a Moses or a Joshua. Rather, God seems to enjoy raising up spokesmen from time to time to do his special work. And he expects the rest to rally to the call of an apostle Paul or Peter.

I don't want to excuse everybody and say that nobody else should have courage or vision. But as I think about it, raising up special leaders seems to have been God's way even in the Bible.

I would supplement this thought with one thing. Today, on this side of the cross, and as I see it in the Bible, anybody God raises up as a leader should be really praying, thinking, and strategizing for the multiplying of leaders.

No leader should say, "I like being a leader. I like being the one." The mark of a good leader is that he is a leader-maker. That's why so many leaders have founded schools, because they desire to see more men and women come along who can exert an influence on our culture and the world.

Sin does play a part in there being a lack of leaders: there are cowards in the world. But God has also designed to raise up leaders from generation to generation.

Does a lack of leaders comes from a lack of good theology?

There is no doubt that the Reformation was entirely a work of God's sovereignty and grace, but God always uses means. The means he uses accord with truth, and doctrine summarizes truth. Therefore a clear, biblically true grasp of Christ is what will set a person's heart on fire so that they cannot rest until they have done everything they can to advance his glory.

I am a tremendous believer in doctrinal preaching and doctrinal study. We have a lot of doctrinal classes at our church, because when people have a clear view of the truths of Scripture then they are much more bold both to live and speak for his glory than if things are all foggy and unsure.

As an end in itself, however, theology can be very dangerous. The most ironic thing in the world is that a totally God-exalting theology can be taken by a depraved human heart and made a means of boasting. Isn't that strange? Yet it happens.

We can take any kind of theology-considering how subtle, corrupt, and fallen the human heart is-and make it a way to beat up others and exalt ourselves. No theology is a guarantee of humility and boldness. But bad theology is less a guarantee than true theology.

God loves his truth. And he means to use it to humble people, exalt his Son, and turn wimps into bold, humble, broken-hearted people.

Copyright 2010 John Piper. Website:

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