By: Stephen J. Nichols, Reformation Trust, 2017, 152 pp.
The title says it all. We are in a time where both confidence is needed and where confidence is available.
Confidence is needed because the cultural climate, in regards to Christians and Christianity, has become increasingly hostile. No longer do we live in a time where Christians dominate the various cultural spheres. Politics, media and corporate business have forsaken any ties they once had with the Christian religion. Where there was a cultural advantage to being labeled a Christian and becoming a member of a church, there is now a disadvantage. What we are experiencing is a cultural revolution opposed to biblical Christianity, and that is why we need confidence.
Where are we going to find this confidence? Is it found in changing our beliefs, morality, and practices in hope the culture will accept us in the name of relevance? Is it found in gaining popularity and a prominent voice in the culture to try persuading it in a direction favorable to Christianity? The answer is a resounding no.
Steven Nichols provides a simple answer. We find confidence in what we read in Scripture. The Bible, as Nichols displays, gives us five places to find confidence. God, the Bible, Christ, the gospel, and hope. They are simple because they are basic, and that comes as somewhat of an indictment against us.
We need to be reminded of the basics because of our proneness to wander. Anxiety, and everything which is opposite of confidence, so easily binds us and occupies our minds that we can think of nothing else. We are so easily consumed with worry when we look at, what to us seems to be, the impending doom of Christianity. In this state, we frantically search for answers and solutions. Where do we naturally turn? We turn to ourselves. Having been blinded by anxiety and worry, we do not naturally turn to God.
The reason I can say that with full confidence is because it is proven in the solutions we dream up. “If only we could do this, or be there, or have that,” we reason, “then we could impact the people for the gospel.” A certain method or an innovative idea is tried but to no avail. All we find is a compromise with the world and a departure from the gospel. How many times have we been told to remember the basic truths of Scripture?
In this book, we find just that, and it is as though the window to our stuffy apartment was opened, and a fresh breeze of air came through the window. No need to add anything, no need to try another new idea, no need to be bogged down with another method. Remember. Remember who God is, remember the authority of Scripture, remember Christ, remember the gospel, and remember the hope we have through this all.
Another refreshing aspect of this book is that Nichols does not seek to share his own opinion on these five points of confidence. Rather, he lets Scripture define and instruct us of each. In doing so, we gain a true sense of the sovereignty of God, the inspired and inerrant Word of God, the exclusivity of Christ, the power of the gospel, and the hope of a glorious future. All five combine to impart a confidence in the heart of the believer which cannot be shaken.
If we consider how Christians throughout the centuries have been treated, or even brothers and sisters in parts of the world that are hostile to the gospel, we know that the ease we have had is remarkable and quite unheard of. Yet, we also know that the hostility Christians have faced, and still do, has done very little to harm the Christian religion. Since the time of Christ, it has been recorded of how Christians have faced death with confidence – much to the astonishment of those who executed them. How do we find confidence like that today? Well, it is found in the same simple reminder this book gives us. This book is one that instills a confidence able to withstand the storms of hostility launched toward Christians by the world, the flesh, and the devil.