By Joshua Franks
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Bruceton
If you’re going to be an infantryman in the Army, then you’re headed to Fort Benning, near Columbus, Ga. There are other places that offer basic combat training, but only Fort Benning transforms soldiers into infantrymen. There, the soldiers go through rigorous training that lasts 14 weeks. At the end, they have a final rite of passage.
They march at night as people line the road and cheer them on. Eventually, they make their way to Honor Hill and pass through a gate that bears the phrase “Fortune favors the bold.”
It’s a fairly well known phrase that does contain some truth. For the most part, those who are bold find more success than those who are timid. Further, boldness is something that is required from all believers in order to live a successful Christian life. II Timothy 1:7 tells us that God did not give us a spirit of fear. He gave us a spirit of power. And we are to use that power to be bold witnesses for Christ.
But most of us are not naturally inclined to be bold. So how do we do that? What do we hold on to? What types of beliefs cause us to be bold?
In our focal passage Paul answers those questions and we see three requirements for all those who would boldly share the gospel.
First, a bold minister must have confidence in Christ, not in themselves (II Corinthians 3:4-5). If your confidence is in your own ability to achieve success, eventually you will fail. And when you fail, you’ll lose faith in yourself and become timid.
Paul, on the other hand, placed all of his faith in Christ. Confidence in Christ gave him courage. It gave him boldness. It was Paul’s confidence in Christ that allowed him to persevere regardless of how often he was attacked, assaulted, beaten, or broken. Confidence in Christ frees you to labor for the Father without fear of failure.
Second, a bold minister must have confidence in the message, not in works (vv. 7-11). False prophets had come into the church at Corinth and were preaching “a different gospel” (II Corinthians 11:4). It was a message that said, “We believe in Christ but He’s not enough.” These false teachers were pushing a message that required grace and works in order to be saved.
But there isn’t any power in a message that is diluted. The bold minister shares an unadulterated Gospel. They don’t add to it. They don’t preach rites and rituals. And they don’t take away from it in order to fit the culture and make it more palatable. The message is not up to us. It’s already complete. Boldly share what’s true.
Third, a bold minster must have confidence in the future, not in the past. II Corinthians 3:18 says, “We all … are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” This verse is the climax of chapter 3 and it presents a marvelous truth. Genuine believers are being transformed into the image of Christ. The law could only reflect His glory. We are to radiate it wherever we are.
That’s the goal. That’s our purpose. It’s the reason we were created. We are to grow day by day to look more and more like Jesus, to the point that the world can’t tell the difference … And “Since we have such a hope, we are very bold” (II Corinthians 3:12).