King's Business - 1940-07

TH E K I N G ’ S B U S I N E S S

July, 1940


Holy Boldness By VANCE HAVNER*

ing and the people are imagining vain things. Once again the kings of the earth are standing up and the rulers are gathering against God and His Christ. And there is no question of greater moment today than this: Will Bible Christians let the hostility of this world frighten them into toning down their fervor and softening their speech that it might be more acceptable to this, untoward generation, or shall we dare, like the saints of old, to claim from heaven the grace to live and testify boldly and hilariously and dangerous­ ly? I am not thinking just now of the dangers of modernism and worldliness. I am not so much afraid that we shall fall into false doctrine on the one hand or into dancing and card-playing on the other, as I fear a more subtle peril. I fear that we shall decide, "After all, we might as well be clever and diplo­ matic and come at the world in a dif­ ferent way. Isn’t it a better policy to stay on good terms with the world and, as preachers and churches, impress men with our success and popularity, and feed them the gospel in flavored capsules? Isn’t that better than the blunt, direct way of the Acts of the Apostles that keeps us living in a storm of persecution all the time? They lived in hot water, and some were even literally boiled in it to meet a martyr’s death! That is too dan­ gerous.” So we are in danger of revising the prayer of the early church to read, “Lord, grant unto Thy servants to be •more discreet in their testimony that with all caution they may speak Thy Word so as not to offend the powers that be.” That is the crisis, and if we present-day Christians allow ourselves to be intimidated into such a compro­ mise as this', we might as well write “Ichabod” — '“there is no glory” — over our churches. Holy Boldness Seen by the World The need of the hour is holy boldness. In this fourth chapter of the Acts, you will observe, first, boldness seen by the

^ T ^ H E fourth chapter of the Acts re­ cords a crisis in the life of the 1, early church. Peter had preach­ ed his second great sermon. The first persecution had begun. Peter had made his address to the Sanhedrin. He and John had been forbidden to preach in the name of Jesus. They had answered in those memorable words: “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” The Crossroads Then Peter and John reported their experiences to the church, and then and there the church came to a crossroads. If they had decided, “Well, perhaps af­ ter all, we are going about this too dan­ gerously; there is no sense in making the world angry with us; maybe we should modify our method and change our technique”—if on that historic oc­ casion the early Christians had decided to put on the soft pedal and to tone down their enthusiasm until they stood out less distinctly against the back­ ground of that ungodly age, they might have saved their necks, but Christianity would have died of dry rot and the gos­ pel inevitably would have gone into eclipse. But I thank God that they were given grace to pray as they did pray, quoting first God’s own Word in Psalm 2, and then moving on to plead, "And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word.” Thank God, they did not pray, “And now grant unto Thy servants that hereafter we may be more careful with our re­ marks, more diplomatic so that our ser­ mons shall not give#offenae!” Had they prayed like that, we would not read next that the place was shaken and that they \*ere all filled with the Holy Ghost and spake the Word of God with boldness! We have come to another crossroads today. Once again the nations are rag-

world: “Now when they saw the bold­ ness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus” (v. 13). The very boldness of Peter and John, as well as their mes­ sage, was a testimony. Instead of the world’s being driven away by such bold preaching, it has always been impressed by it. And it has been impressed to the glory of God for “they took knowledge of them, that they had been' with Jesus” ! Boldness has been a mark of God’s men through thé ages. Moses could not deliver Israel until he forgot his own handicaps and summoned couragè to .face Phwoah. Joshua was continually exhorted to be strong and of a good courage. When Samuel came down to Bethlehem, the elders trembled at his coming, and asked, “Comest thou peace­ ably?” It is time today fo r 'a prophet to come to town before whom even the elders shall tremblé! Elijah was accused of being the troubler of Israel for his bold condemnation of sin. Jeremiah must be made as a fenced, brazen wall, and Ezekiel’s face was made as adamant against the faqes of his generation. God’s watchmen who stand in the gap to warn men of sin and judgment have been accused through the ages of being calamity howlers and hoot-owl preach­ ers, pessimists mourning in the dark. Well, Micah said’ he “would make a mourning like the owls (Micah 1:8), and thùs there is Bible precedent for it. Bet­ ter be God’s hoot owl than the devil’s mocking bird! Our Lord knew that fear would be the great bugaboo through the ages, and He kept exhorting against fear: “Fear not them which kill the body . . . Fear not, little flock, . . . It is I; be not afraid . . . Be not afraid; go tell my brethren . . . Fear not; I am the first -and the last.” Paul preached boldly at Damascus arid at Jerusalem aryl in Iconium. He asked the Ephesians to pray for him that he might open his mouth boldly to [ Continued on Page 256]

*Fastor, First Baptist Church , Charleston, S. C,

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