Without a leader of spiritual courage, this Work of God would just wither and fragment. That’s proven through almost the two-millennia history of God’s true Church.
There are basically three types of courage: raw physical courage, moral courage and spiritual courage.
In order to understand just what spiritual courage is, it is helpful to understand how it differs from physical and moral courage. Let us examine each in turn.
The Oxford Dictionary defines courage as the ability to disregard fear. Synonyms for courage are bravery, valor, boldness, intrepidity, heroism, nerve.
Webster’s defines it: “that quality of mind which enables one to encounter danger and difficulties with firmness, or without fear, or fainting of heart.”
Most examples that are used to describe courage in action—the type that is celebrated as stimulating heroic acts on the battlefield or in sport—are of physical courage.
A paper published by the Institute for Global Ethics quotes the thoughts of a military general, a film star and an explorer to assist in understanding the meaning of courage. “Gen. William T. Sherman (after whom the tank is named) [called it] ‘a perfect sensibility of the measure of danger and a mental willingness to endure it.’ John Wayne put it with characteristic bluntness: ‘Courage is being scared to death—and saddling up anyway.’ Sir Ernest Shackleton, seeking adventurers to join him on his South Pole exploration, described it nicely in an advertisement: ‘Men wanted for hazardous journey, small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness—constant danger, safe return doubtful—honor and recognition in case of success.’” It’s the type of courage that Sir Winston Churchill called on the British to display in his famous speech to the House of Commons in Britain’s darkest hour during World War ii: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, sweat and tears.”
For countless generations, children have thrilled to tales of derring-do, of the triumph of heroes against insurmountable odds. Physical courage has been an attribute that Western society has portrayed as one of the most desirable of character traits.
Perhaps the pre-baby boom generation was the last to be brought up in a society where children were encouraged to develop courage as an innate characteristic of their makeup. Ever since the dawning of the age of self-fulfillment, which, since the 1920s, has progressively replaced the pre-World War i concept of the value of self-sacrifice for the benefit of others, emphasis on the qualities of heroism and physical courage have increasingly taken a backseat in our education systems. In tandem with the de-emphasis on, in particular, male heroic examples, even the creation of opportunities to develop physical courage have greatly diminished in our culture over the past century. Corporate and other group retreats are more likely to stress the importance of participants voluntarily “bonding,” promoting the “everyone is equal” feel-good concepts of our liberal-feminist, politically correct society, rather than creating opportunities for the true testing of character and the promotion of tests of courage that develop true leadership.
Even the technological advances in society now mitigate against many of the opportunities which our forebears had to test their mettle. As the president for the Institute for Global Ethics explains, “Physical courage is less in demand than it once was. Where once the frontier loomed mysterious and uncharted, global positioning satellites now take us right to our mark. And where once beasts, bugs, underbrush, storms and topographical obstacles made travel dangerous, there is less now to fear—and less need for physical courage. Even war, which Aristotle thought was the only place to find true courage, has become less dependent on the physical courage of the individual warrior and more dependent on technology, information, and weaponry launched from a safe distance.”
The reduction of opportunities to learn of the meaning of courage and of opportunities to test our own degree of personal courage has also meant a diminution in the quality of moral courage expressed within society. Glaring indicators of this are the multiplicity of giant corporate and banking frauds that have dominated the first decade of the 21st century.
The lack of integrity demonstrated by corporate moguls making decisions of convenience to benefit themselves has been mind-boggling in its scope. Even more so has been the lack of corporate integrity involved in the huge payouts to the tune of multiple millions of dollars, the golden handshakes, given to forcefully retired senior executives who have presided over the failure of grand schemes that have lost countless sums of investors’ funds. This cavalier approach to business—to acts of huge social consequence—is but the effect of a society that has lost its moral compass.
Moral courage may be described as daring integrity. It’s the kind of integrity of character that refuses to compromise conscience for personal gain or for decisions of convenience. This quality of moral courage has diminished in direct proportion to the rise of the liberal-socialist-feminist, politically correct ideologies. It has arisen in direct association with the de-emphasis on male heroic models in our homes, schools and institutions of higher learning.
Whereas raw physical courage can be simply stimulated by the intensity of the emotion of the moment—sheer adrenaline flow that leads to one ignoring physical danger thus putting one’s self at risk of personal harm or even death to save others from harm—moral courage is calculated. It involves a deliberate decision, a well-thought-out and deeply considered course of action taken against odds that may lead to negative personal effects. It means holding to one’s innate convictions, uncompromising under any influence that might tempt one to go against deeply held personal beliefs.
Winston Churchill was a prime example of this. On occasion he would cross the floor in Parliament to vote with a party other than that which he was a member rather than compromise with his convictions by supporting his own party’s line if he did not agree with it. It was the possession of such moral courage that led Churchill to resist Nazi tyranny against all odds.
There is a third type of courage of which the world is generally in ignorance—spiritual courage. This is a quality of character that can only be stimulated by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is, indeed, a gift of God.
Spiritual courage is an extra dimension of courage only open to the elect of God. It’s also one of the greatest needs of the Church in this day and age. Without spiritual courage, we just can’t do the Work of God. The loss or lack of spiritual courage is the reason why those who have departed from all things restored to the Church through Herbert W. Armstrong are incapable of truly doing the Work of God in these latter days. The lack of spiritual courage prevents them from fulfilling the commission that Christ has given to the remnant of the Philadelphia era of God’s one and only true Church.
The measuring of the Church (see Revelation 11), is simply a measuring out of those who don’t have the spiritual stomach for the job and a measuring into the inner court of God’s temple of those who are. In plain terms, it’s a separation of those who have the spiritual guts to do God’s Work in the face of all opposition from those who don’t.
In Malachi’s Message, under the subhead “Where Is Joshua’s Courage?”, Gerald Flurry writes: “It appears that the Joshua of Moses’s time had “one outstanding strength—spiritual courage.” There is a tremendous example of this spiritual courage in the leadership by Joshua of the Israelite nation into the Promised Land. When God gave Joshua his commission, He commanded him, “Be strong and of a good courage … [B]e thou strong and very courageous …” (Joshua 1:6-7). In three instances when the Eternal charged Joshua with his divinely ordained commission, He commanded Joshua to have courage (verses 6, 7, 9). Three is God’s number of ultimate endorsement, or finality. The Almighty triply reinforced that command to Joshua to lead the Israelites with great courage, in the face of the dangers ahead, and in the face of the Israelites’ general tendency to rebellion against government.
Joshua went on throughout the rest of his life to prove a fearlessly courageous leader, possessing tremendous faith in God, proving by his actions that he was deeply convicted of the Eternal’s promise, “I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” (verse 5).
God names His specially commissioned servants very deliberately. Their names describe their God-ordained work. Joshua means “the Eternal is salvation.” That name typed the work of Joshua, to lead the ancient type of the Church—the Israelite nation—into the Promised Land, itself a type of the World Tomorrow.
We know that Mr. Armstrong, a Moses type and the end-time Elijah, was no coward. Mr. Armstrong was prepared to stand up to any individual, knowing that he had the power of God behind him. His name typed his character: Herbert meaning “bright warrior,” Armstrong meaning “with a strong arm.”
Mr. Armstrong pounded away for almost 60 years as a bright warrior fighting with a strong arm against all opposition from within and from outside of the Church for the restoration and preservation of the gospel message and for the preaching of that truth in all the world (Matthew 17:10-11; 24:14).
Spiritual Courage in the Last Hour
But there’s another element to this present Work. It simply won’t be conducted nor finished without a small army of spiritually courageous men and women together with loyal, dedicated families to back up and support and encourage the “sudden stormy wind” of that prophet. This remnant of the Philadelphia era of God’s Church has depth. Its roots date back 1,977 years. It is a literal extension of the restoration era of the spiritual temple of the Most High—the sixth, Philadelphia era (Revelation 3:7-13). It is rooted and grounded in “all things” restored through the Elijah (Matthew 17:10-11). It is comparatively few in number, but strong in the quality of its membership.
The other part of the equation, attached to the courageous leader that God has granted this remnant of the Philadelphia era of His Church, is the courageous support network, scattered globally, as John Amos once described the membership of the Philadelphia Church of God, “like a pinch of salt across the face of the Earth.”
That’s where you come in as a vital part of the God-ordained equation that forms the living, vital, urgent link between the death of the end-time type of Elijah, Herbert W. Armstrong, and the soon-coming return of the Savior of mankind! If you are a member, prospective member, youth or co-worker, you are an integral part of that small group of courageous workers being used by Almighty God to back and support God’s apostle with prayers, tithes, offerings, encouragement, labor, skills and voluntary support to finish this most urgent commission in the last hour of the civilization of this world!
Not only is that spiritual courage necessary to meet the urgent demands of the last-hour commission of the Church, it can also greatly benefit the leadership of the Church. An example of this is given in the book of Acts. “And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage” (Acts 28:15). Thus the brethren were able to aid in rallying the Apostle Paul’s courage so that he was strengthened to continue on in his trek to Rome.
Raw physical courage is one thing. It’s great to see in battle. Moral courage is a tremendous quality of character that can really contribute to an orderly society. But without SPIRITUAL courage, we’re simply not going to make it in this job that God has drafted us to do.
Do you have that gift of great spiritual courage? Do you have it in proportion to the great need that the Church possesses for tremendous spiritual courage in the last hour? If not, you need to beseech God for it now, and most urgently!
Jesus Christ offered us a formula that is a guaranteed, surefire method of gaining an extra portion of spiritual courage for the last hour. Just ask God for it! Simply ask for it, ask in real, believing faith, in the name of your Savior! “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7). And again, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you … [A]sk, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:23-24).
As the Apostle James declared, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). Simply ask God in real, believing faith, for the gift of spiritual courage, then get up, go out and exercise it, doing your part in this marvelous work and a wonder that is the gift of the commission to the Philadelphia Church of God in the last hour!
Remember the words of our pastor general in Malachi’s Message: “It takes courage to warn the world”!
From the Archives: Royal Vision, July-August 2008