Christians must exhibit both convictional and charitable courage in the face of cultural challenges, preached Brian Arnold, president of Phoenix Seminary, during a Feb. 3 chapel service at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“We need men and women with undaunted courage in this day,” Arnold said, preaching from 2 Timothy 1. He said Christians must remain steadfast in grace and truth as they prioritize the Gospel, recognizing that this will not be easy and will require Christian unity in the Gospel message.
“At a time of confusion and chaos,” Arnold said, “many of us are uncertain of what to speak, how to speak, and when to speak. What we need is a reorientation of what to speak, and it’s the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s going to take battlefield-like courage in the days ahead to preach the Gospel.”
Arnold acknowledged that this type of courage will inevitably present challenges for leaders and everyday Christians alike. This courage, he added, will at times put Christians at odds with the culture and even their own friends and family. But through the power of the Holy Spirit, they will be able to act with the necessary courage.
“Every single Christian in our ministries must be people who exercise courage, and if they are not seeing courage exercised at the top, then we can’t expect to see it in the pew,” Arnold said.
The temptation will be for ministers of the Gospel to shy away from the difficult topics out of fear and embarrassment of how any given truth might be received from the broader culture, and even people within their churches, Arnold said. He warned, however, that embarrassment is the first step in walking further from the truth of the Gospel message.
“My greatest fear for evangelicals in the coming years is that we will move from orthodox doctrine, not because we have a changing of heart, but because we will be ashamed of the Lord’s testimony,” Arnold said.
In the coming days, Arnold added, Christians must not fear holding firm to their convictions, but he also urged believers to do so with grace and charity rather than separate these qualities.
“This is not the approach that the Lord Jesus has called us to,” Arnold said. “It’s grace and truth. It’s love balanced with conviction.”
“Courage is not a synonym for anger,” Arnold continued. “Somehow we’ve missed that. We see pastors who really are brutal over their sheep and calling it courage. That is not courage; that’s just being a jerk.”
Arnold added that such an approach will require balance, not hesitating to preach the truth but doing so with a calm and compassionate voice that seeks to correct and instruct in love.
Arnold concluded, “When we have stood with convictional, charitable courage, and we have preached faithfully, we will be able to say with the Apostle Paul, I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith, and I have finished the race, and henceforth there is a crown laid up for me in glory.”