Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Boldness of a Child

How approachable do we view our Father?  Is he on a throne in the midst of heaven beyond reach?  Probably not to most of us.  But how approachable is he?  Do we quickly, readily and regularly come to him with our cares, concerns, conversations, and dreams?  Do we regularly partake in communion with him - not the wafer and juice, but the fellowship of souls, the intimate knowing of persons?  When we fail/fall/sin do we immediately run to him? 

My study in Ephesians 3 has the word "boldness" sticking out today.  In 3:12, the New Living Translation states "Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God's presence".  You won't find much of that in the Old Testament.  As a matter of fact, you find a lot of people dropping dead when they violated the regulations about coming in contact with God's presence through the Ark and the Holy of Holies.  The High Priest, when he entered the Holy of Holies in his annual sacrificial prayer, had a rope with bells tied onto it and if those outside heard it stop jingling, they knew the priest had been struck down and would drag the him out.  I digress.  Christ's work was so all sufficient that all of the price of sin was so overwhelmingly paid that the sin barrier was wiped away removing all obstacles between us and the Father.  AMEN!

Back to "boldness".  This passage is similar to Hebrews 4:16 in which we are admonished to "come boldy to the throne of grace".  Boldness is laced throughout the New Testament as a characteristic indicative of one who has embraced the totality of Christ's work at the cross, who has been filled by his Spirit, and who now freely comes before the Father to obtain help and mercy.  I decided to do a little word study on "bold", "boldly", and "boldness" and here's what I found. 

In the New Testament there are three greek words or concepts for boldness that are used.  The first is the word "tolmao" and it means to dare to do something terrible and fearful.  It is used when Joseph of Arimathaea went with "boldness" before Pilate to obtain the body of Jesus for burial.  He overcame his fears, probably risking his own life and/or reputation to ask this Roman governor for an executed criminal's body.  I think many people approach God in this manner yet today, and yet this is not the boldness that we are instructed to approach him with in Ephesians or Hebrews.  How many of us have attempted this kind of "boldness" when we've tried to witness to others - you know, the kind where the words get stuck in your throat and your heart races as you try to overcome your concerns about your reputation, and potential ridicule as try to do the right thing and project the light of Christ's love to the world around you?  Sadly, too often this is the "boldness" that I've attempted and I don't think this is what the apostles walked in.

Another kind of boldness is listed in Romans 15:15 where Paul is telling the Roman church that he is writing to them in a more stern/bold form.  This word is "tolmeros" and means "to bear one's self boldy, to deal boldy with".  Paul is basically explaining to the Romans that though he knows them to be filled with good works and good things, he is having to be very frank and bold with them in his writings - to the point, not pulling any punches.  In a way he is prepping them for the fact that though they have things that are praiseworthy, he is also chastizing them with honesty and bold statments of truth.

The final word/phrase and the one that characterizes most of the uses of the term in the New Testament is the word "parresia".  This means "freedom in speaking, unreserved speech, free, fearless, confidence, cheerful courage, assurance".  A derivative that is also used is the word "parresiazomai" meaning "free spoken" and "to assume a bold bearing".  Parresia is how we are to approach the throne of grace.  It is the word used in Ephesians 3:12.  Parresia is how we can pray to the Father because of the work at the cross and Jesus sacrifice.  When Peter spoke at the Day of Pentecost, he was parresiazomai - free spoken, with a bold bearing. 

Boldness is the characteristic of the believer who has grasped their position in the kingdom; boldness to speak to their Father,  boldness because of who resides within them, boldness because of the fact that the blood was shed and all sin forgiven.  These disciples were fishermen, not eloquent speakers and theologians.  Peter was a man of action, not words.  When they came to arrest Jesus, he didn't dialogue, he whipped out a blade and swung, taking the ear of a servant.  After the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, though, Peter's boldness and speech marveled the multitudes.  Free spoken - bold bearing.  This is not arrogance.  Arrogance is drenched in self-pride and none of us has claim to anything that permits pride, for nothing of ourselves is deserving of the grace and mercy that God has lavished upon us.  Arrogance is what cast Lucifer from heaven and we can expect no audience with the King with arrogance in our hearts.  Boldness is assurance, confidence in HIS work and in our position as he has defined it - not listening to the lies of the enemy as to our unworthiness, but to the truths of the Father and his Word as to the total sufficiency of his sacrifice.  God himself has commanded us to come into his presence with this kind of boldness - unashamed, confident, secure, with cheerful courage.

My own children give no second thoughts for asking me of every want and desire on their hearts as I'm sure most of yours do.  They do not cower in fear when they hunger, they do not agonize over whether they are worthy to approach when they are cold and in need of additional clothing.  They simply and "boldly" proclaim "I'm hungry; when's dinner?" or "I'm cold - can I put on a sweater?"  In many instances, they very often help themselves.  They are confident in the knowledge that they are my children, that I love them, and that I care to see their needs met.

We are God's children.  How infinitely more does he love us?  Didn't Jesus ask the crowds this same question "you know how to give your children good things, how much more will my Father give to those who ask?"  God expects us to come to him with "parresia"; with the boldness of a child.

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